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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 15, 2018

According to law enforcement officials, Oregon is producing three times the amount of marijuana it can consume.

On Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, North Park University, located in a near-suburban Chicago neighborhood, hosted a men's basketball game against East-West University from Chicago's south side.

Before becoming Richard Nixon's adviser, Henry Kissinger didn't think he was fit to become president.

Baseball great Ted Williams, who died in 2002, is cryogenically preserved with Alcor Life Extension Foundation.

According to researchers at University College Dublin, relative to body size, only 19 mammal species are longer-lived than humans. Eighteen of them are species of bats – with some bats living more than 40 years. The other is an African rodent called a naked mole rat.

February 8, 2018

G. Gordon Liddy (of Watergate fame) used to like to sing German lieder (romantic art songs from the 19th century).

The swivel chair was invented by Thomas Jefferson and was the chair on which he drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Some red-sided garter snakes pretend to shift genders upon emerging from hibernation. Snakes try to "steal" heat by pretending to be females to fool male snakes into warming them up.

According to Reuters, of the 65,000 buses used for public transit in the U.S., 300 are electric. The city of Shenzhen in China alone has converted all of its 16,359 buses to electric, and its 17,000 taxis are next.

Modern wine glasses can hold up to half a bottle. Back around 1700, the typical wine glass held about two ounces.

February 1, 2018

Saddam Hussein wrote a romance novel called Zabiba and the King. It has bad reviews on Amazon.

Some veterinarians say it's not uncommon for horses to stand continuously for as long as a month or more.

IBM is studying ways to monitor health and living conditions of elderly people, to assist caregivers and loved ones. Using inexpensive sensors, their prototype dashboard can measure anything from wet diapers to a person's gait and whether or not it is gradually declining over time.

The archaic past participle "shapen" exists only in the forms "misshapen," "ill-shapen," and "well-shapen."

Bananas were first sold in New York City in the mid-19th century. As people of the time were used to throwing trash on the street, a banana peel epidemic ensued. A public agency called the White Wings, headed by Civil War colonel George Waring, cleaned up the mess. FYI, the "Banana Peel Slipping Gag" was allegedly originated in vaudeville by "Sliding" Billy Watson.

January 25, 2018

In remote Thailand forests, fireflies along miles of river banks blink on and off in synchrony.

According to a recent Census Bureau report on "predominately renter" cities, College Station is at No. 1 nationally, with nearly 60% of its residents in rental housing.

New York City had fewer murders in 2017 than in any year since the city began keeping track.

The Simpsons' character Barney Gumble is based on Frank Fontaine's Crazy Guggenheim character from The Jackie Gleason Show. Fontaine also inspired Lennie Weinrib's Danny Brewster character in the "Sam Pomerantz Scandals" episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Fontaine was a nondrinker in his private life.

Hand-stopping is a technique used by French horn players. By inserting a hand, cupped, into the bell, a player can reduce the pitch of a note.

January 18, 2018

Jackie Kennedy used to refer to LBJ as Colonel Cornpone.

Male weedy seadragons carry the developing eggs of their young under their tails for about six weeks.

Game 1 of the 2017 World Series in Los Angeles broke the all-time heat record. It was 103 degrees in the first inning.

The 1897 "Pi Bill" passed by the Indiana House tried to declare a new but incorrect "mathematical truth" in that it declared pi to be equal to 3.2 instead of the rounded 3.14. It never passed the Indiana Senate and therefore never became law.

England's notorious criminal Adam Worth was the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes' nemesis, James Moriarty. Scotland Yard Detective Robert Anderson nicknamed him "the Napoleon of the criminal world" because of his short stature. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called Moriarty "The Napoleon of Crime," though it had more to do with his genius (Doyle's character was tall).

January 11, 2018

When the Beatles played the Budokan in 1966, 35,000 police were used to guard the band from protesters who thought the show would desecrate the arena – it had been built in 1964 as a martial arts venue.

Neanderthals communicated vocally, according to researchers at the University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia.

The Hawaiian hoary bat is Hawaii's only native land mammal.

In 1810, Sake Dean Mohamed, a Bihari Anglo-Indian traveler, surgeon, and entrepreneur, was the first person to bring curry and shampoo to Britain.

The international finance firm Arton Capital ranks the passports of countries according to the number of other countries one may visit without a visa. In 2015, the U.S. tied for first place with the United Kingdom. In 2016, it slipped to fourth place. Now, the U.S. trails 18 countries on their list.

January 4, 2018

Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom was responsible for the creation of the PG-13 rating of films; an R rating would have killed the picture's box office opening, but pulling a still beating heart out of a living man's chest was too violent for a PG designation. Red Dawn was the first film to receive a PG-13 upon release.

Elephants like to eat mangoes.

From 2000 to 2017, the number of millionaires increased 170%, while the number of ultra-rich worth $50 million or more increased 500% (Credit Suisse 2017 Global Wealth Report).

The German word for speed limits is "Geschwindigkeitsbeschränkungen."

Porcelain was invented by the Chinese in the first century. Kaolin is the primary material from which porcelain is made, even though clay minerals might account for only a small proportion of the whole. The closely guarded recipe was not replicated in the west until the King of Saxony in the 18th century.

December 28, 2017

Psychic Lyndsay Edwards has predicted that Queen Elizabeth will retire in 2018.

Craig Hamilton-Parker, who predicted Brexit and the Trump victory, claims that in 2018 a volcano near Naples will erupt (could be Mount Vesuvius).

According to, World War III will start in 2018. Other Nostradamus aficionados predicted the same for 2017 and 2016.

Terry and Linda Jamison, internationally known as the Psychic Twins, have said it's unlikely that a nuclear missile will hit the U.S. during Trump's presidency. World-renowned psychic Betsey Lewis says Kim Jong-un's favorite number is nine and he could launch an attack on the ninth day of any month, any date ending in nine, or Sept. 27 (2+7=9).

According to psychic Jeanne Mayell, there will be more sightings of angels in 2018.

December 21, 2017

5,415 men have served in the Texas Legislature – compared to just 155 women.

According to a recent study published by the National Academy of Sciences, 80% of North Americans have X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis by age 65, and 60% have significant joint pain.

The endangered eastern indigo snake is nonvenomous and can grow up to nine feet long, making it the longest snake native to North America.

Cape Coral is now the largest city in America's fastest-growing metropolitan area. Its population has soared from fewer than 200 in 1960 to 180,000 today.

They wanted Cary Grant to play Jimmy Stewart's part in It's a Wonderful Life.

December 14, 2017

Gift is the German word for poison. So if you see German tourists posing in front of a sign that says gift shop, they're making a joke.

The pumpkin evolved from a mash-up between two different species of squash about 20 million years ago that cross-pollinated and created what's called an allotetraploid baby.

Underwater hockey is an internationally recognized sport started in the United Kingdom by Alan Blake in 1954.

According to Digiconomist, Bitcoin's price spike is driving an extraordinary surge in energy use. Mining Bitcoins uses more electricity than entire countries, and was up to 32.36 terawatt hours on December 6.

According to CNN reports, the North Korean government allows its citizenry to watch Tom and Jerry cartoons.

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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