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Mr. Smarty Pants Knows 955 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.

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.

December 15, 2016

John Quincy Adams served in Congress for 17 years after leaving the presidency.

Billy the Kid had buckteeth.

Chef Peng Chang-kuei, who recently passed away at age 98, is credited with inventing General Tso's chicken. Having fled China to Taiwan in 1949, he invented the dish at age 24 on a whim for a banquet held for U.S. Seventh Fleet commander Admiral Arthur W. Radford.

According to NPR, people who groom their pubic hair were found to be more likely to have an STD, with those who remove all of it more than 11 times per year more than four times as likely to have an STD.

On Nov. 30, 1954, Ann Hodges of Sylacauga, Ala., became the only person in recorded history to be hit with a meteorite. It came through the ceiling while she was taking a nap, bounced off a radio, and hit her on the thigh.

December 8, 2016

The accepted date for the end of World War II is Aug. 14, 1945. However, Japan did not formally surrender until Sept. 2, 1945.

Ever seen a "swile"? That's old whaler slang for seals. A "woggin" is a penguin.

In the 1948 Western film Four Faces West (They Passed This Way), not one gunshot was fired. The film, which starred Joel McCrea, bombed at the box office.

The pilgrims on the Mayflower dropped anchor in Plymouth Harbor on Dec. 16, 1620. On Dec. 21, the first landing party went ashore at the site of what would later become the settlement of Plymouth.

Winnie the Pooh has streets named after him in Warsaw (Ulica Kubusia Puchatka) and Budapest (Micimackó utca).

December 1, 2016

Researcher Patrick Krill says the rate of depression among lawyers is about three times higher than in the general U.S. population.

According to University of Copenhagen researchers, a genetic mutation about 10,000 years ago is the cause of all the people with blue eye color.

Barney Gumble on The Simpsons was based on the Crazy Guggenheim character on The Jackie Gleason Show played by Frankie Fontaine.

Computer engineer Raymond Tomlinson sent the first email in 1971 on ARPANET, the predecessor of the internet. He is responsible for selecting the @ symbol for email addresses, and it stuck, despite a brief period in the Eighties when some service providers tried using exclamation points and percent signs instead.

Gallerie, a store in Osaka, Japan, recently held a "fuckin' sale" (that's what their English signs said), but quickly corrected the faux pas. It was a pun on fukubukuro: "lucky bags." It's a New Year's tradition for Japanese retailers to put last year's overstock into grab bags and sell them at a discount.

November 23, 2016

Socks are the most requested clothing item at homeless shelters. To be hygienic, they have to be new.

The Ghent Altarpiece, also known as The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, is the most stolen work of art in history. In its entirety or in part, it has been stolen seven times, and has been at the center of no fewer than 13 crimes and mysteries.

A recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that the arrest rate for older American adults is higher than it was 20 years ago. The current generation of younger adults are being arrested 23% less frequently than their elders.

Luciano Pavarotti used to demand that there be no noise backstage or distinct smells anywhere near him. He also demanded a golf cart be supplied.

"Supplicant" means "one who earnestly beseeches; a humble petitioner."

November 17, 2016

In 1981, Medicare and Medicaid accounted for 9.5% of all federal outlays. In 2001, that number had jumped to 25%. A combination of CHIP, marketplace subsidies, Medicare, and Medicaid accounted for 25% in 2015.

The swastika was used as the official national marking of the Finnish Air Force and Tank Corps between 1918 and 1945.

Due to her offscreen loathing of her TV husband, Vivian Vance (Ethyl) refused to do an I Love Lucy spin-off with William Frawley (Fred).

In 2015, women working full time in the United States typically were paid 80% of what men were paid.

Norman Mailer coined the term "factoid" in his 1973 biography of Marilyn Monroe, but said it wouldn't be considered a fact because the suffix "-oid" usually means "resembling, but not really a member of some category." In her 2012 piece in The Atlantic about the word, Alexis C. Madrigal suggested a more appropriate term may be "factlet." Suffixes aside, "factoid" has come to mean "a brief, interesting fact."

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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