12 Magical But Cliquey Bits of Trivia We’ve Trained to Pull Our Flying Sleigh Around the Globe at Warp Speed
So, a little background: We’ve got this gig where we need to travel a literally impossible amount, all in one night. We didn’t really know how we’d pull it off, until we found these magical reindeer that can fly, survive in near-Earth orbit, all the stuff you want when you’re hauling ass through space and time.
The only issue is that they can be real jerks. We’ve tried introducing a 13th bit of trivia, but these little shits go full roast mode until the new guy quits. We can make do with these 12 for now, but if there’s ever, say, a little bit of fog? We’re certified, grade-A organic fucked.
A South African Railroad Employed a Baboon With a Perfect Record
Signalman James Wide had a signature move where he’d jump between moving railcars — until he fell and got both of his legs cut off. He then employed Jack the baboon to push his wheelchair, and even operate railway signals, in return for 20 cents a day (and half a bottle of beer a week). In nine years, Jack never once messed up the signals.
An Enslaved Man Mailed Himself to Freedom
Henry Box Brown was born into slavery in Virginia, but mailed himself to Philadelphia at the age of 33. He was a vocal abolitionist for about a year, when the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 put him in danger of being captured and extradited to Virginia. He moved to England, where he traveled as an anti-slavery public speaker (and also a magician, for some reason).
The Rock Wore Yak Pubes
To give him an authentic-looking beard for 2014’s Hercules, his face was covered in strips of hair (rather than strapping on a Halloween costume beard). He was informed that it came from a yak’s testicles.
A Man Asked His Wife for His Kidney Back When She Filed for Divorce
After two failed transplants, a New York doctor donated his kidney to his wife. When she filed for divorce a few years later, he requested she give the kidney back (or pay him $1.5 million). A medical ethicist weighed in, saying that first of all, it’s illegal to pay for an organ, and at the end of the day, “it’s her kidney now.”
Pablo Escobar Paid Actual Rats $2 Billion Per Year
Escobar couldn’t just bring his cash to a bank, so he had to hide it in some pretty dismal conditions. His brother has said “we would write off 10 percent of the money because the rats would eat it.”
Iodized Salt Increased America’s IQ
A lack of iodine is a major cause of cognitive deficiency. After iodized salt began being distributed in 1924, the average IQ went up 3.5 points overall, and by as much as 15 points in areas that had extreme iodine deficiency.
Non-Sugar Sweetener Was Discovered Due to Poor Hygiene
Chemist Constantin Fahlberg went to dinner without washing his hands, having been screwing around with coal tar all day. After something he ate tasted suspiciously sweet, he realized something on his hands must have been the reason. After ostensibly taste-testing everything in his lab, he narrowed it down to a compound he would later patent as saccharin.
A Guy Was Pulled Over for Impersonating Authorities Because of His ‘Booty Patrol’ Truck
A Florida man decked out his truck in the colors and the lights of a Border Patrol vehicle, but stenciled “Booty Patrol” on the side. It was the lights that did him in — it’s illegal to use the same exterior lights as a police or emergency vehicle.
A Shady Developer Was Ordered to Rebuild a Historic Pub ‘Brick by Brick’
The Carlton Tavern in London was the only building on its block that survived World War II bombings, and was on the verge of being labeled a historic landmark. Days before that, though, the developer who’d bought the block told the manager of the pub to close down so they could do inventory. When she came back to work, it had been demolished. A judge ordered the developer to rebuild it, “brick-by-brick,” which should be easy — the entire place had been meticulously surveyed when it was landmarked.
There’s a Genetically Distinct Type of Pirate Wolf
“Sea wolves” are a subspecies of the gray wolf that live on the Vancouver coast, eat almost entirely seafood and can swim over seven miles at a time.
An Unhoused Woman Charmed the Hollywood Elite
A woman known as Queen Mimi slept in a laundromat in Santa Monica for decades, where she befriended up-and-comers like Zach Galifianakis, who paid her rent, even before he was famous, and took her onto the red carpet at the premiere of The Hangover.
The Houston Airport Tricked Everyone Into Thinking They’d Improved Efficiency
Passengers at one particular gate kept complaining about the eight-minute wait for their luggage. The airport moved the baggage drop further from the gate, reversing a one-minute walk and seven-minute wait to a seven-minute walk and one-minute wait. Complaints immediately dwindled.