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Mr. Smarty Pants Knows 998 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.

November 16, 2017

Crocea Mors (Latin for "yellow death") was the name given to Julius Caesar's sword, according to the legends presented by Geoffrey of Monmouth.

The FBI launched the Most Wanted list on March 14, 1950.

In a study published in the Oct. 6, 2017, issue of the journal Science, Swiss scientists analyzed 198 honey samples from all over the world and found at least one neonicotinoid in 75% of the samples.

In the internationally standardized sport of cell phone throwing, competitors must use a device weighing at least 220 grams. On Sept. 23, 2017, in Vienna, Ivonne Wiener of Austria set a new women's world record of 67.58 meters (221 feet, 9 inches).

LBJ was not a big movie watcher.

November 9, 2017

According to analytics firm Inrix, the average American spends 42 hours a year in traffic.

Salvador Dalí's mustache is intact 28 years after his death, according the surrealist painter's foundation. His body, which is buried in the northeastern Spanish city of Figueres, was recently exhumed due to a paternity case. Dalí lived 1904-1989.

Aspen leaves contain sugar and protein in the spring. Beavers fell aspen trees to get to the sweetest and most nutritious leaves at the crown.

In 1966, Dave Marsh of Creem magazine described the musical style of ? & the Mysterians as "punk rock," which was the first time the term had ever been used. The band, made up of children of Mexican-American migrant farmers who traveled from Texas to Michigan, are best known for their hit, "96 Tears." The lead singer was ?, the stage name of Rudy Martinez.

Until Shakespeare's day, ache was pronounced "aitch" as a noun, "ake" as a verb.

November 2, 2017

When visiting others, Queen Victoria preferred to sleep on the ground floor of a manor in case of fire.

Cobra and coral snake venom attacks the nervous system, causing respiratory failure and paralysis. Rattlesnake and cottonmouth venom destroys cell tissue and the cardiovascular system.

As a boy, William Shatner used to go onto rooftops to pretend to be Buck Rogers.

A gurn or chuck, in British English, is a distorted facial expression. In America, we call it "making a face."

According to economist Brad DeLong, if the computing power of the iPhone X had been created in 1957 running on vacuum tubes, it would have cost $150 trillion in today's dollars, taken up a 100-story building, 300 meters high and three kilometers long and wide, and drawn 150 terawatts of power – 30 times the world's current generating capacity.

October 26, 2017

In 1872, Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for U.S. president.

"El Burrito Sabanero" ("The Little Donkey From the Savannah") is a popular villancico (similar to a Christmas carol).

Beppo the Super-Monkey may have looked like an Earth monkey, but he was really a lab animal from the planet Krypton that belonged to Jor-El.

Japan, where the cremation rate is 99.9%, also practices kotsuage, in which the mourners, each with a pair of chopsticks, pick up the bone fragments, starting with the feet and moving to the skull, and place them in an urn.

At the start of World War I, X-ray machines were only found in city hospitals, far from battlefields where they could help treat injured soldiers. Madame Marie Curie invented a mobile radiological car so X-rays could be given on location. She also trained women on how to use the equipment.

October 19, 2017

They say that Cornish, the language of the southwestern tip of England, could be making a comeback.

A 2016 ICM survey shared with BBC showed that 48% of vinyl record buyers do not play the records they buy.

The 1904 model of the Coldwell Steam Lawn Mower was also used for threshing grain, sawing wood, and spraying trees. It carried 60 gallons of water and 10 gallons of gasoline, enough for a good eight hours.

Cuckoos try to lay their eggs in another bird's nest, leaving the unsuspecting host to raise their chicks.

Doris Wishman's 1961 film, Nude on the Moon, was a science-fiction nudie. The film was banned in New York after their censorship board ruled that films featuring nudity in a nudist colony were legally permissible, but nudity in a fantasy film set in a "nudist colony on the Moon" was not.

October 12, 2017

As late as 2014, New York taxi medallions went for $1.3 million each. Last month, a cabbie was selling his for $100,000, and in all, 85 medallions were sold in foreclosures since 2015. According to The New York Times, taxis drove just 277,042 daily trips in July, a 16% drop from their 332,231 rides a year ago.

On Sept. 19, with two weeks left in the season, hitters broke the Major League Baseball single season record for home runs.

According to UCLA folklorists Timothy Tangherlini and Peter Broadwell, textual mapping of 30,000 witchy folktales shows witchcraft allegations in Protestant Denmark tend to rise in the vicinity of Catholic monasteries. They developed WitchHunter, an interactive "geo-semantic" map of Denmark.

"Foamer" is railroad slang for a person who gets unduly excited by the sight of a moving train.

Pliny, the Roman writer, claimed there was a copy of The Iliad so small it could fit inside a walnut shell.

October 5, 2017

The weight of record setting giant pumpkins has ballooned nearly 500% since 1975. A Belgium horticulturalist raised a 2,624.6-pound pumpkin, squashing the world record for heaviest fruit.

The North Korean calendar starts with the birth of its founder, Kim il-sung, in 1912.

There is only one remaining Howard Johnson's – in N.Y., and it's for sale.

The Dick Van Dyke Show premiered on Oct. 3, 1961. Van Dyke was so nervous, he had to change his wardrobe during filming two to three times a week because of his profuse sweating.

Uranus is probably full of giant diamonds.

September 28, 2017

As a youth, Albert Einstein screwed in lightbulbs at an Oktoberfest tent run by the Schottenhamel family.

During World War I, Walt Disney was an ambulance driver. He had to lie on his Red Cross application that he was age 17 (he was actually 16).

If you use a little savoir faire, the OQLF, Quebec's French language watchdog, won't mind if you slip some English words and phrases into your business practices. Vis-à-vis, "grilled-cheese" (with a hyphen) can be used on a restaurant menu instead of "sandwich au fromage fondant."

Voyager I and II were launched in a hurry because there was only a short window of opportunity to take advantage of the gravitational slingshot maneuver.

Lederhosen's popularity decreased in the 19th century and were seen as "uncultured." But on Aug. 25, 1883, Bavarian teacher Josef Vogl hatched a plan with his drinking buddies in Bayrischzell to found a club dedicated to preserving the breeches.

September 21, 2017

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 14,000 people, including 3,200 children, have been killed in all-terrain vehicle crashes since safety officials began keeping track in the Eighties.

Want to buy what seems to be a rare 18th century Scotch? Scien­tists can use carbon dating to determine if it's authentic or fake.

According to Speedtest Global Index monthly ranking, the world's fastest average broadband speeds: Singapore 154.38 megabits per second; Romania 91.48 Mbps; USA 70.85 Mbps.

The jaguar is found only in the Americas, is the third-largest species of feline (after lions and tigers), and is the only large American feline that roars.

According to Popular Science, Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling spread the myth that vitamin C prevents colds. He and a "Dr." Stone conducted a shoddy clinical trial that claimed to prove their point. Some studies have found evidence that regular usage might shorten the duration of your cold.

September 14, 2017

The Republic of Texas had 23 counties in December 1836 based on the existing Mexican municipalities. The state of Texas has 254 counties.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a "100-year flood" is not something that happens once every 100 years. Instead, it's a flood that has a 1% chance of happening in any given year.

In 1841, Robert Browning published a drama, "Pippa Passes," in which he mistakenly thought the word "twat" referred to a nun's habit.

According to author Russell Warren Howe, Mata Hari was an inept agent who may have been framed. Recently released documents suggest that she was a warm and loving mother.

According to Erin Falcone and her research team, the longest-held breath ever recorded in whales was 2 hours and 43 minutes.

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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