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July 24, 2014

Mozart may have died from complications stemming from strep throat or scarlet fever. His death has also been blamed on intentional poisoning, rheumatic fever, and trichinosis, a parasitic disease caused by eating raw or undercooked pork.

Lauren Bacall and Shimon Peres are first cousins.

In 2012, Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology discovered what may be the smallest moth in the world. Looking through unmounted insects from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he noticed a moth about 1mm long. The moth is a new species.

Only one U.S. president has ever received a patent – in 1849, Abraham Lincoln was given a patent (No. 6469) for a device to lift boats over shoals.

Do you sneeze when you see bright sky or light? Then you are one of the 18-35% of humans who have photic sneeze reflex.

July 17, 2014

The McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica are the driest place on Earth (there is no ice).

Empress Elizabeth of Russia used to hold "Metamorphoses" balls where guests were expected to dress as the opposite sex. She often dressed as a cossack or carpenter. On an unrelated note, after a botched dye job, she shaved her head and ordered all women in the court to cut off their hair, too.

July's full moon is called the "Full Buck Moon" by Native Americans after the velvety, full antlers of male deer this time of year.

It is estimated that Americans spend 200 billion hours a year watching television. It is also estimated that it took 100 million hours to create Wikipedia.

Paul Revere supervised Boston's outhouse inspectors (as president of the board of health).

July 10, 2014

The Texas Quilt Museum says there were 21 million quilters in the U.S. in 2010.

Chickens with red earlobes lay brown eggs.

Magnesium aluminum oxide sure forms spinel, a coveted gem whose red variant is sometimes confused with ruby. It was used in the Timur Ruby necklace made for Queen Victoria. And an egg-sized lump of it forms the centerpiece of the Imperial State Crown. Both are part of the British Crown Jewels, and there's an even bigger rock, the Samarian spinel, in the Iranian Crown Jewels.

The longest word in the English language has 189,819 letters, takes more than three hours to pronounce, and is the name of a protein that begins with "methio" and ends in "leucine." The protein is nicknamed "titin."

James Dean had a slice of apple pie and a glass of milk at a roadside diner before his fatal wreck.

July 3, 2014

Using data from the 1999 American Control Conference, we can estimate that the energy required to press a key is around 1.5 millijoules for a letter, and 2.5 for a big key like the enter key or space bar. That's enough energy to lift a squirrel 300 microns – all the way from the ground to the top of a stack of four sheets of paper.

Anatidaephobia is fear that you are being watched by a duck.

Orlando Cepeda believed each bat had only one hit in it. He always changed bats after getting a hit (2,351 career hits from 1958-74).

Be careful when nodding to mean "yes" and shaking your head to mean "no" in Bulgaria: Bulgarians do it the opposite way!

Qu Yuan is a highly respected poet born about 340 BC, whose poems got him in trouble with the government. He ended his life by jumping in a river. Each year on the fifth day of the fifth month according to Chinese lunar calendar, the Chinese throw balls of sticky rice into the Miluo River to keep the fish from eating Qu Yuan's body.

June 26, 2014

The earliest known "bill of mortality," predecessor of today's death certificate, was written in early 1512 in London. King James ordered parish clerks to also begin listing cause of death, other than plague.

The 1666 Great Fire of London killed rats and fleas, thereby ending the bubonic plague.

Oxygen makes up about 90% of the mass of water.

Lucille Ball shaved off her eyebrows for a role in Roman Scandals and they never grew back – she had to pencil them in for the rest of her life.

The "ICEE" was invented in the late Fifties by Omar Knedlik of Kansas. He owned an old Dairy Queen whose machinery kept breaking down; when his soda fountain went out, he put some bottles in the freezer to stay cool. Folks loved his new slushy "drinks" so he built a machine to make them using a car's air conditioner to create slushy soda.

June 19, 2014

President George Washington greeted his guests standing in a circle around him, equally distant from him. This was incorporated into the Oval Office in 1909, a symbol of equality.

For the first two weeks of June 1964, Jimmy Nicol replaced Ringo Starr as the Beatles' drummer.

The United Kingdom drinks the third-most tea per capita in the world: about 4.28 pounds per person per year, or some 650 to 1,000 cups per person. Turkey is No. 1 per capita at 6.96 pounds and Ireland is second at 4.83 pounds. China is the largest tea consumer, at 1.6 billion pounds a year, but that's only 1.25 pounds per capita.

If someone sneezes in China, tell him or her that someone misses him or her. He or she may respond, "No. Someone might be mad at me." It's all in fun.

You can't sharpen obsidian knives with a whetstone, according to Neil Gaiman, who accidentally wrote that into his book, Stardust.

June 12, 2014

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, "imzadi" is the Betazoid word for your ultimate soulmate. It is used when you and your lover connect in every single way beyond our physical realm.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's full name was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. And, yes, he was related to Francis Scott Key.

On June 24, 1947, a businessman named Kenneth Arnold became the first person to report sighting UFOs to the press, but he said they were boomerang-shaped, not saucer-shaped. Arnold described the boomerangs as moving "like a saucer if you skip it across the water."

In Mandarin, an owl is not an owl. The Chinese think the owl has a big head like a cat, so they call an owl "cat-head bird."

The oldest cat in history, called Creme Puff, lived in Austin, Texas, and survived for 38 years and three days.

June 5, 2014

According to one historian, King George V probably never told a joke, or if he did, it was probably a bad one.

In China, 520 means I love you, because the word for five sounds like I, two sounds like love, and zero sounds like you. People try to choose 520 for their cars.

Lesley Stahl of CBS's 60 Minutes recently discovered that 8-inch floppy disks are still used by the U.S. military for ICBM missile launch commands. The Air Force plans to spend $19 million on launch control center improvements in 2014 and is seeking $600 million for more upgrades next year.

Elvis Presley used Colgate toothpaste, Aqua Velva or Brut aftershave, and Hai Karate cologne. When sunning himself, he used Hawaiian Tropic. He wore Fruit of the Loom briefs. He died wearing yellow-and-black pajamas.

The rate of gun ownership in the U.S. is estimated at about 34%.

May 29, 2014

In 2012, close to 150 babies were named "Khaleesi"– after the character made popular in HBO's Game of Thrones – according to the Baby Name Wizard blog.

The Atlas moth is found in the tropical and subtropical forests of southeast Asia. Despite having a wingspan of over 10 inches, they are not steady fliers. In fact, the female does not stray far from her discarded chrysalis.

Mick Jagger recently became a great-grandfather.

Even though basketball has been the most popular U.S. youth team sport since at least the Eighties (when statistics were first compiled) the typical U.S. town has less than half the number of public basketball courts per capita as baseball diamonds (one court per 7,340 residents).

People have been getting tattoos for more than 5,000 years.

May 22, 2014

The Smithsonian Institution has a collection of over 20,000 skulls.

In order to bring luck and money to one's renovation project on an apartment in China, the owner and the contractor will light a huge string of red fireworks shaped in a figure eight on the raw concrete floor.

Nirvana's first album, Bleach, was recorded for $606.17 in 1989.

In Scottish English, "shoogly" means a table where one leg is shorter than the others. But in the phrase, "His jacket is on a shoogly peg," that means his job is in jeopardy.

The hex color code #bada55 (aka "badass") is composed of 72.9% red, 85.5% green, and 33.3% blue in an RGB color scheme.

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 mrsmartypants.com?
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