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Mr. Smarty Pants Knows 1,033 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.

July 19, 2018

According to Axios, the world's fastest-growing economy is Ethiopia even though it is one of the globe's poorest nations.

The plural of mongoose is mongooses, but occasionally is mongeese.

Aquavit is a distilled Scandinavian spirit that originated in the 15th century. It is distilled from grain and potatoes and is flavored with a variety of herbs. According to the European Union, the main spice should be caraway or dill. Linie brand aquavit is aged in ships that sail to Australia and back, crossing the equator twice.

Barbra Streisand's 1967 recipe for nutty chocolate sauce calls for crushed walnuts or toasted almonds – but not both.

According to Popular Mechanics, three of the U.S. military's oldest pieces of gear are the M2 heavy machine gun, KC-135 Stratotanker, and B-52H bomber. The M2 dates back to World War I when General John "Blackjack" Pershing requested a heavy machine gun for use in trench warfare.

July 12, 2018

A 2016 Georgetown Law report found that half of all American adults are recorded in police facial recognition databases. The databases are made up of "overwhelmingly ... non-criminal entities" and are built on state driver's licenses, passports, and visa applications.

One colony of 200,000 subterranean termites can consume 12 pounds of wood per year.

In the U.S., 82% of residents training to be gynecologists are women. In 1970, 7% of OB-GYNs were women. Currently, 59% of OB-GYNs are women.

Thomas Jefferson wore rectangular, blue sunglasses.

An iPhone contains about 0.0012 ounces of gold, 0.012 ounces of silver, and 0.000012 ounces of platinum. But a ton of iPhone Xs – each weighing 174 g. and costing at least $999 – would be worth about $5.2 million. A ton of very high-grade gold ore has about 1 troy ounce of gold, currently valued at about $1,257. So a ton of iPhones is 4,000 times more valuable than a ton of gold ore.

July 5, 2018

In 1941, the Screen Cartoonists Guild struck against Walt Disney Studios. For years after, Disney insisted the League of Women Voters was behind the strike, but he misspoke. Years later, he finally apologized, saying that it had been the League of Women Shoppers.

Wild boars are responsible for $1.5 billion in damage and cost controls annually, according to a study by the University of Nebraska.

Noah Webster started a dictionary so that Americans would have different spellings and ­pronunciations from British.

According to The Washington Post, the U.S. has a 1.39 billion-pound cheese sur­plus. That's enough to arm each American citizen with 4.6 pounds.

Hermann Rorschach developed a series of inkblots to treat patients with manic depression and schizophrenia. He died in 1922 and his test would have died with him were it not for the child psychologist David Levy, who trans­lated his work into English. Levy also came up with the term "sibling rivalry."

June 28, 2018

According to BBC, Japan alone accounts for around 20% of earthquakes worldwide with a magnitude 6.0 or greater.

Since George Washington's second inaugural address, the shortest U.S. presidential inaugural speech so far was FDR's 1945 speech, which lasted about five minutes.

When the federal food stamp program was restarted on May 19, 1961, after the first program was discontinued 18 years earlier, the first stamp redemption was for a can of pork and beans at Henderson's Supermarket in Paynesville, West Virginia.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) was a suffragette, pacifist, radical socialist, birth control supporter, opponent of Woodrow Wilson, and helped found the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

According to Smithsonian, in the eastern U.S., male fireflies flash while flying. In the western U.S., female fireflies glow while on the ground.

June 21, 2018

Keanu Reeves is afraid of being left alone in the dark.

According to author Paul J. Zak, hearing a compelling story releases cortisol and oxytocin, which triggers human ability to connect and make meaning.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1987 was not the first female athlete to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Even by the end of the Fifties, the magazine's covers had included prominent female athletes in gymnastics, alpine skiing, figure skating, scuba diving, archery, fencing, golf, springboard diving, tennis, and swimming.

Eighty Four, Pa., was originally named Smithville. Due to postal confusion with another town of the same name, its name was changed to "Eighty Four" on July 28, 1884. It serves as the world headquarters of 84 Lumber, which was founded in 1956.

The late pitcher Bill Faul claimed he ate toads to give him an extra hop on his fastball.

June 14, 2018

There is only one gun store in Mexico. The Directorate of Arms and Muni­tions Sales is located on an army base on the outskirts of Mexico City.

Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood has a cat named Smokey that taught himself to pee in a toilet. He doesn't know how to flush, however.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was later changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone because it sounded more magical.

According to Matthew W. Chwastyk of National Geographic, in about 250 million years, after additional tectonic plate drifts and collisions, the highest point on Earth will no longer be Mount Everest, but may instead be a location now situated on the Carolina coast in the vicinity of Myrtle Beach, Cape Hatteras, and Kitty Hawk.

There are 37,241 McDonald's restaurants in 120 countries, but not a single one in North Korea. New York Times writer Thomas L. Friedman once famously observed that no two countries that both had a McDonald's have ever gone to war with one another.

June 7, 2018

"Sprang" is the past-tense "spring," but according to author Bryan Garner, some use it for the past tense of "sprain," as in "I sprang my ankle."

While being chauffeured from Austin to College Station, the third time he ran for president in 1984, George McGovern ate a Hunger Buster at the Dairy Queen in Caldwell, Texas.

Seven in 10 U.S. adults own a grill or smoker, and in Canada, ownership is 8 in 10, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association.

Church steeples didn't always have such a high survival rate. Author Robert A. Scott estimates that at least 17% of all cathedrals built during the medieval period, Romanesque as well as Gothic, ultimately suffered catastrophic damage and collapse.

An electric eel can fire off enough bursts of electricity to kill a crab, according to authors Matin Durrani and Liz Kalaugher.

May 31, 2018

The U.S. is the only country with an advanced economy that'll see its public debt ratio increase over the next 3-5 years, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund. Experts believe that as the ratio rises, so will tax rates and America's inability to stabilize its economy during recessions.

In 1877, French businessman Honore Grenet turned the Alamo's nearby long barrack into a grocery and used the Alamo's chapel to string up and store hog carcasses.

In 1969, biologists discovered three lizards from New Guinea whose innards were green: bones, muscles, blood, and all. In these lizards, their hemoglobin is turned into green-colored biliverdin, which is responsible for the greenish color sometimes seen in human bruises.

According to The New York Times, wind energy now makes up 4% of the global energy supply.

As a senior in high school, Elvis Presley's standard lunch was two ice cream sandwiches.

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.

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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