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Mr. Smarty Pants Knows 1,025 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.

May 24, 2018

Nine percent of Americans own some form of cryptocurrency, according to Dalia Research in Berlin.

Johnny Carson was 10-0 as an amateur boxer in the Navy during World War II.

Researchers in Australia recently published in Pacific Conservation Biology that they had monitored what was likely the world's oldest spider on record. The trapdoor spider, who recently died at age 43, built herself a hole and then just stayed there.

According to author Chris Conrad, hemp farmer Thomas Jefferson and paper maker Ben Franklin were ambassadors to France during the initial surge of the hashish vogue.

Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management includes a recipe for a toast sandwich. 1) Toast a thin slice of bread. 2) Butter two slices of bread and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. 3) Place the toast between the two slices of bread-and-butter to form a sandwich.

May 17, 2018

The Mona Lisa was driven away from Paris before World War II in an ambulance specially fitted with elastic rubber-sprung suspension.

Every bottle of Chanel No. 5 contains about 12 roses grown in Pégo­mas, France, and 1,000 jasmine flowers grown in Grasse, France.

According to a recent report about the rates of breastfeeding from UNICEF, among high-income countries, Uruguay ranked the highest with 98.7%. In Ireland, only 55% of babies were ever breastfed. In the U.S., 74.4% of babies were breastfed.

Ronan Farrow, investigative reporter for The New Yorker, lawyer, and son of Mia Farrow and either Woody Allen or Frank Sinatra, graduated from Bard College with a degree in philosophy at age 15: the youngest person in that institution's history to do so.

The Presidio de San Saba is not near Presidio or San Saba, Texas, but is a mile west of Menard, Texas.

May 10, 2018

Danish audiologist Ole Bentzen died laughing from watching the scene from A Fish Called Wanda in which Kevin Kline tortures Michael Palin by putting "chips" up his nose and then raiding Palin's beloved aquarium for the other half of the English cuisine that goes with the chips. Bent­zen's heart rate soared above 250, and he succumbed to cardiac arrest.

According to the Sierra Club, more than half of the world's industrial CO2 emissions have occurred since 1988.

Thomas Edison developed and patented a large-scale affordable housing method for building them from a single concrete pour into an iron mold. Concrete would form walls, roof, stairs, floors, even tubs. The business failed; molds were costly, houses weren't attractive, and the home was marketed as "the salvation of the unwashed masses."

Moths are mostly nocturnal; butterflies are moths that evolved to be diurnal, or active during the day.

May 3, 2018

Washing machines are teeming with bacteria that find their way onto your clothes – and then onto you. Hot water and bleach are the answers.

On his first-ever attempt at a horseshoe toss, at Camp David in 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev threw a ringer.

Duct tape has been brought on every NASA mission since the Sixties and saved the lives of everyone aboard the Apollo 13.

What do Beethoven, Marilyn Monroe, and Agatha Christie have in common? According to the Chinese zodiac, they were all born in the Year of the Tiger. Had they all lived in the same era, they might have had trouble getting along because Tigers find it hard to compromise with one another.

Queen Elizabeth, like many British monarchs before her, has two birthdays: the actual anniversary of the day she was born, and another day that's labeled her "official" birthday (usually the second Saturday in June). Why? Because the actual birthday is too cold for a proper parade. The tradition started in 1748, with King George II, who had the misfortune of being born in chilly November.

April 26, 2018

According to the late author Benjamin Creme, in The Gathering of the Forces of Light: UFOs and Their Spiritual Mission, our space brothers and sisters live on the etheric plane, but can temporarily be seen on the physical plane by lowering the vibration of their etheric bodies and spaceships to come within our range of sight.

On Sunday, April 8, 2018, at the Commonwealth Games in Carrara, Australia, Toka Badboy of Lesotho was disqualified in the 5,000-meter run.

The only astronaut to fly on all five space shuttles is Story Musgrave.

According to, the percentage of income that U.S. households spend on apparel has fallen to half of that for 1977. People dining out, technology spending, casual workplace dress, and traveling have filled in that gap.

The technical term for insect excrement is frass.

April 19, 2018

The TSA has an official policy on packing a toy lightsaber in your airplane luggage: OK for carry-on and checked bags. May the force be with you.

Zachary Scott Sr. (father of actor Zachary Scott) teamed up with Dr. Frank C. Gregg to form the Scott-Gregg Clinic, precursor to the Scott & White Clinic.

Cream of tartar is a product of grape fermentation that Persian alchemist Jābir ibn Hayyān first isolated around AD800. The grape sediment, called beeswing, is scraped from the bottom of wine barrels, purified, and ground.

On April 13, in Cortland, N.Y., SUNY Cortland junior Storm Malone won the men's 110 hurdles, running 14.72 into a headwind, at the "Please Stop Snowing Team Challenge." The meet was an ad hoc supplement to the team's schedule, added "after the Red Dragons were unable to compete in 2 of the season's first 3 weekends due to the weather."

The iPhone's shutter sound was created by Jim Reekes, a former sound engineer at Apple. It came from a Canon AE-1 film SLR camera he bought in high school and had during the Seventies and Eighties.

April 12, 2018

If you were Bart and Lisa's age during the first few seasons of The Simpsons, this year you'd be the age of Homer and Marge.

Women accounted for 52% of moviegoers in the U.S. and Canada in 2016, according to the most recent annual study by the Motion Picture Association of America.

The bootlace worm is one of the longest known animals, with specimens up to 180 feet long and up to 3.9 inches wide being reported.

Several stories have been created and spread, purporting to reveal who broke the Sphinx's nose. The blame usually points to Napoleon Bonaparte for leading the French campaign in Egypt in 1798, but that has been disproven. Arab historian Al-Maqrizi documented that the Sphinx's nose has been lost since at least the 15th century.

Between 65 and 81% of people can roll their tongues in a sort of taco shape, according to a 1940 study published by Alfred Sturtevant.

April 5, 2018

Not all insects are bugs, properly speaking. Some insects chew their foods. A bug is an insect that uses its mouth to pierce and suck its foods.

For a 2000 performance art piece, the artist Pope.L ate copies of The Wall Street Journal while sitting on a toilet atop a 10-foot tower.

A 1925 article in Australia's The Age said a Greek salad consisted of boiled squash dressed with sour milk. A 1934 article in the Rochester, Pa., Daily Times said a Greek salad was made with one diced raw carrot, half a head of cabbage, five stalks of celery, and two green peppers, mixed with one teaspoon of salt and three-quarters of a cup of mayonnaise.

The word "jazz" used to be spelled "jass," as in the Original Dixieland Jass Band.

Home runs spiked by about 46% from 2014 to 2017. Comparing balls used in 2015 to 2017, the newer balls' cores weigh about half a gram less than the older balls, which might be enough for a ball hit on a typical home run trajectory to fly about six inches farther. Half a gram is about the weight of a paper clip.

March 29, 2018

Doris Day declined an offer to play Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate.

In 2010, Amtrak launched a yearlong test to see whether biodiesel made from beef byproducts could efficiently run the Heartland Flyer passenger train between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, while reducing emissions. The results: Air emissions were below EPA limits for this generation of locomotive.

Eyjafjallajökull is a cone-shaped ice cap in south Iceland that covers an active volcano.

According to some beer historians, traditional English ale was made solely from malt – hops were introduced from the Netherlands in the early 15th century.

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

March 22, 2018

According to Arcadia Power, Miami is the least energy-efficient U.S. city.

As a teen, Ringo Starr took a messenger job with the British Railroad, but had to quit when he failed the medical exam.

Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse are Mickey Mouse's twin nephews.

About 5.5 million people died prematurely in 2013 because of indoor and outdoor air pollution, according to data presented at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting.

The character Owl from Winnie the Pooh has the persona of the wise old owl who can read and write, and spells his name "Wol." Actually, in the southern England Kentish and Sussex dialects, that is the correct word and spelling.

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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