12 Bits of Trivia to Wallop Into Your Temple Like You’re in a Slap-Fighting Championship
These bits of trivia really pack a punch, but you can take it. This is what you’ve been training for. Now, you might feel a little woozy for a few hours after reading them, but that’s just the info making its way into every neuron.
William Buckland was a paleontologist who made a point to try to eat one of everything on the planet. He chomped through a ton of animals (including puppies, unfortunately), bat urine and even the heart of King Louis XIV. The only thing he ever found “disgusting” was a garden mole. Charles Darwin, who notably pulled this exact same shtick, hated Buckland because, according to Darwin, he was only doing it for clout.
Itzcoatl founded the Aztec empire, which is kind of rad. But he also ordered the destruction of the venerated Aztec codices, which had recorded the entire cultural history of the Aztec people, so that he could literally rewrite history. He’s the reason the Aztecs are so “mysterious” to modern historians — he replaced his own people’s history with propaganda.
The crew of the HMS Brilliant was so nervous and trigger-happy during the Falklands War, they mistook whale calls for enemy submarine signals and bombed a pair of whales. A nearby British helicopter saw the skirmish and joined in, murdering a third whale from above. Months later, the Brilliant brilliantly collided with a fourth whale, taking on enough damage that it had to limp home for repairs.
He’s said he would spend $2,600 per day at his peak, which lasted six years. That works out to $5,694,000, which is agonizingly close to such a nice, round, rock star of a number.
In 2022, thieves broke into France’s Fécamp Abbey and grabbed all the expensive-looking loot they could find. They probably didn’t realize until later that one little copper dollhouse contained two vials of what’s purported to be Jesus’ blood, collected fresh from the crucifix. Once they figured out how hot their goods were, they got in touch with an art detective, and anonymously dumped it all on his doorstep.
A lot of tropes we associate with Halloween were originally Christmas things, and that’s still evident in some surviving popular Christmas culture. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” includes the lyrics “There’ll be scary ghost stories,” and it’s no coincidence that A Christmas Carol is a straight-up ghost story. The whole idea that the veil betwixt the spirit realm and the world of the living is thinnest on Halloween night was first a part of Christmas lore.
A lot of Halloween games in the Victorian era revolved around young ladies manifesting their future husbands. They’d pour molten lead into a bowl of water, and the shapes it made would foretell his occupation. Then they’d eat an apple in front of a candlelit mirror, hoping to catch a glimpse of him in their reflection. Finally, the game “Three Luggies” was played by blindfolding a girl and having her stick her hand in a random bowl — the water bowl meant her husband would be a bachelor, the milk bowl meant he’d be a widower and the empty bowl meant she’d be alone forever.
The first known instance was when a Carthaginian ship surrendered to the Romans with a white wool banner and olive branches in the Second Punic War (218 B.C.). Independently, the Han Dynasty developed the same symbology in the first three centuries A.D.
A Swedish neuroscientist conducted studies that found both musical ability — recognizing pitch and rhythm — and propensity for practicing are very likely to be genetically inherited. Natural ability seems to trump practice, as a pair of twins, one of whom practiced and studied for over 20,000 hours, displayed basically the same amount of skill.
A shameful slice of history was either callously ignored or intentionally forgotten for hundreds of years. More than 400 bodies were discovered under Chambers Street during construction, and historians eventually figured out that it was a mass grave for about 20,000 enslaved people who built the city. While it was still known as New Amsterdam, slaves weren’t allowed to be buried in the city, so their bodies were disposed of just outside of city limits. Their graves were usually unmarked, and the modern city was slowly built over top of them.
The Great Revolution of 1689 started because people were absolutely convinced that King James II and Princess Mary faked a male heir for complicated political reasons. Disinformation was already spreading during the pregnancy, so they invited 70 officials to watch her give birth and certify the legitimacy of the child’s claim to the throne. Even so, people came to believe that a baby had been smuggled in through a hidden door and a freaking pan, and the revolution was on!
When Happy Days first aired in the mid-1970s, leather jackets had a complicated, but largely scandalous reputation. Henry Winkler in a leather jacket with a motorcycle meant he was just kind of a bad boy, but Henry Winkler in a leather jacket alone implied he was a dangerous criminal. The writers weren’t willing to lose the jacket outright, so they wrote the motorcycle bizarrely into some indoor scenes.