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Mr. Smarty Pants Knows 960 results

Mr. Smarty Pants Knows is a weekly humor/trivia column by R.U. Steinberg that has appeared weekly in The Austin Chronicle since September 1988.

February 23, 2017

The longest rubber band chain measured at 10,855.6 feet not stretched, and was achieved by Pavitra Patro in Gujarat, India, on May 31, 2016.

The coin-operated newspaper box was invented in 1947 by George Hemmeter. In the newspaper box heyday, Kaspar Wire Works in Shiner, Texas, dominated the U.S. market for manufacturing them. With newspaper boxes on the decline, most publications these days choose to refurbish old boxes, rather than buy new ones.

Scientists used to think female sea turtles lay about 3.5 clutches of eggs per year. New research suggests the true number may be twice as high.

Pianist and jazz singer Hazel Scott was the first African-American woman to have her own television show. The Hazel Scott Show premiered on July 3, 1950, but was canceled that September following her investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Abraham Lincoln was a prolific wrestler and is enshrined in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

February 16, 2017

"America First" was the name of the pro-Nazi group led by Charles Lindbergh that fought FDR to keep America neutral between Britain and Hitler's Germany.

Most birds don't have penises. However, ducks, geese, swans, and large flightless birds like ostriches and emus do.

In the 1850s, Karl Marx was a reporter for The New York Daily Tribune.

Butter was used in religious practices by the Sumerians, some theories say as early as 3500BC. Churning milk into butter was seen as magic, and milk was related to birth and lactation. One Sumerian text says, "The rocking of the churn will sing for you … thus making you joyous."

According to Nature, in childhood, you have more than 30 billion fat cells in your body, and that number remains essentially the same for the rest of your life. You gain weight by filling fat cells with fat and you lose weight by emptying them.

February 9, 2017

When he was starting off in comedy, Stephen Colbert had to learn how to play baritone horn in six days.

According to one expert, to get rid of an earworm, repeat the last two stanzas of the song in your head to bring closure to it. Other experts say chewing gum or phoning a friend works. The scientific term for earworm is "involuntary musical imagery."

The USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was decommissioned on Feb. 3, 2017.

The North American wolverine, the largest member of the weasel family, relies on deep snow to den and reproduce.

According to the Social Security Administration, in 2015, the 32nd most popular female baby name in the U.S. was "Alexa," a name you can now hear in homes all across America because it's used to address computers. In 2014, the name was 63rd most popular.

February 2, 2017

Emus have been known to go for weeks without eating.

Sarah Silverman thought her first comedy performance at age 17 in Boston was awful.

According to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Acad­emy of Sciences, densifying cities could cut emissions more than doing energy retrofits on buildings. Researchers found that people living and working in smaller units consume less energy, meaning lower emissions.

When a villain was up to no good in an old silent or talkie movie, the song often played in the background was "Mysterioso Pizzicato." Historians aren't sure if it was composed by J. Bodewalt Lampe or J.S. Zamecnik. Silent film director Ernst Luz said the piece should be used "for such dramatic action, usually quiet, wherein the ensuing action is in doubt."

Scientific studies of toe length ratio first appeared in the late 19th century when British anthropologists wondered why ancient Greek and Roman statues had longer second toes than big toes.

January 26, 2017

Your chances of being injured by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park are about 1 in 2.7 million, according to the National Park Service.

At her Dec. 29, 1971 concert at the Las Vegas Hilton, Barbra Streis­and wore a white lace gown with a red underskirt and a white choker.

Before the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision Eisenstadt v. Baird, only married people could legally possess contraceptives, and could only get them from doctors or pharmacists. When Baird lectured at Boston University in 1967, he gave a condom and contraceptive foam to a student, thus committing a felony according to the Massachusetts chastity law at the time.

In April 1918, California schoolchildren were urged by the state's Commission on Horticulture and Rodent Control Division to wage a war on squirrels, seen as a pest that destroyed food and crops. Children were recruited to sprinkle rodenticide outside squirrel burrows. By the time Squirrel Week ended, children had killed 104,509 squirrels.

According to Wikipedia records, the majority of selfie-related deaths have taken place in India.

January 19, 2017

When water droplets hit a larger body of water, they bounce because a layer of air gets caught between the two surfaces.

According to Better Homes and Gardens, cookies crumble because the recipe may contain too much flour, not enough fat, or the wrong kind of fat; overbaking; or the type of cookie sheet used.

According to, Franklin Roosevelt met with Winston Churchill in Casablanca on Jan. 14, 1943, about two weeks after watching, over the New Year holidays, the recently premiered movie named after that city and starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

Our planet is being monitored by aliens from Andromeda, according to Alex Collier (whose real name is Ralph Amigron).

According to anthropometrics specialist L.E. Eubanks in Social Progress, the Venus de Milo isn't perfect. "Any woman with a 26-inch waist and a 39-inch bust should have an ankle larger than 7.4 inches."

January 12, 2017

The last U.S. bayonet charge was in 1951 during the Korean War.

After licking or chewing an object of interest, hedgehogs create foamy saliva they'll deposit on various parts of their bodies. It's called self-anointing.

According to, the term "gridlock" was coined by Sam Schwartz during the NYC transit workers' strike in 1980. Schwartz has been everything from a cab driver to the New York City traffic commissioner and has spent nearly a half century working on transportation policy.

According to Armond Goldman and Frank Schmal­stieg, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Abraham Lincoln may have been in early stages of smallpox when he delivered his Gettysburg Address.

Bandy, also known as "Russian hockey," is the only sport officially supported by the Russian Orthodox Church.

January 5, 2017

According to, Stevie Wonder's first paid musical gig was as a drummer. He was 8 years old and was paid 75 cents. In 1974, Eric Clapton called him one of the best drummers of our times.

Sod's law, which is popular in the United Kingdom, is similar to Murphy's law in that it means, "If something can go wrong, it will."

George W. Bush has a picture of himself posing with ZZ Top. It is said to be one of his favorite photos.

According to University of Kansas researcher David Frayer, the earliest evidence for right-handedness in a fossil dates back 1.8 million years. The discovery was made after examining cut marks on teeth of a Homo habilis.

Writer Bryan Garner opines that one should avoid using the word "spit" in past tense or past participial form because it sounds dialectal.

December 29, 2016

According to psychic Cheryl Lynn, there will be more scandals in 2017 involving child porn, and a major cultist church in America will be exposed for engaging in underage sex.

According to Australian psychic Milton Black, due to the opposition of Jupiter and Uranus in 2017, some countries will oppose any form of carbon tax, pricing, or trading.

According to Know It Next Predictions, Mariah Carey is in danger of dying in 2017, but her death is preventable. If you know her, please warn her!

Some believe Quatrain 10.58 of Michel de Nostredame, also known as Nostradamus, means North and South Korea will merge in 2017 after Kim Jong-un is dethroned. The Quatrain reads: "In the time of mourning the feline monarch will make war upon the young Macedonian: Gaul to shake, the bark to be in jeopardy, Marseilles to be tried in the West a talk."

According to psychic Craig Hamilton-Parker, an ancient giant squid will be found frozen in ice in 2017.

December 22, 2016

For about 40 years, David by Michelangelo wore a prim brass wire girdle supporting 28 copper leaves. Leonardo da Vinci liked it.

In the Oscar-nominated 1962 movie Knife in the Water, directed by Roman Polanski, Polish actor Leon Niemczyk's character Andrzej smokes a pipe. His tobacco brand is Prince Albert (in a can).

In 2001, the Federal Reserve estimated that 90% of the $100 bills it ordered were paid out to foreign banks "to satisfy foreign demand."

Scientists now believe that woolly mammoths survived well past the end of the last Ice Age until about 5,500 years ago on St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea. No humans lived there at the time, so the mammoths' final demise must have been due to climate change and rising sea levels.

Frank Zappa was an early fan of Steely Dan.

The above is information that Mr. Smarty Pants read in a book, magazine, or newspaper; heard on the radio; saw on television; or overheard at a party. Got facts? Write to Mr. Smarty Pants. Why not visit
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