Weekly Wrap Volume 19

This is a weekly wrap of our Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here.

John-LennonJohn Lennon and the Making of His Last Album

When John Lennon and Yoko Ono stepped into New York’s “The Hit Factory” on August 7, 1980, it was quite the occasion. John was returning to the music-making game after a five year absence. After being “under contract” since he was 21, John had walked away from making music in 1975 to become a “househusband”- instead of being a musician, for five years, John was busy taking care of, feeding, shopping for, and raising his newborn son, Sean. John had chosen to record at The Hit Factory because it was “out of the way”, and he wanted the entire project to be as hush-hush as possible. Before they were hired, the musicians,… (more)

Christmas-truce-340x239The Amazing Christmas Truce

On the whole, people don’t generally like to kill one another.  Most wars throughout history are often more about the agendas of the state’s leaders than the soldiers on the field actually inherently feeling any real malice towards those they are asked to try to kill or otherwise defeat.  Few events in history illustrate this as well as a remarkable episode that took place during WWI when, despite the orders of their commanding officers and leaders, the soldiers threw aside their weapons, got out of the trenches and had a make-shift Christmas party with those that just hours before they’d been trying to kill.  This momentous event has become known as The Christmas TruceLeading up to this impromptu truce in 1914, Pope Benedict XV… (more)

ice-ship-340x227England’s Proposed WWII Secret Weapon: A Massive Ship Made of Ice

Britain was taking a beating from the German ships and submarines and were looking for something to build a ship out of that couldn’t be destroyed by torpedoes, or at least could take a major pounding without incurring a fatal amount of damage. With steel and aluminum in short supply, Allied scientists and engineers were encouraged to come up with alternative materials and weapons. A scientist named Geoffrey Pyke was the king of alternative ideas (as you’ll see in the Bonus Facts below). One of his ideas was to build a 2,000 foot long, 300 foot wide and two million ton carrier. Pyke… (more)

basketballThe Lowest Scoring Game in NBA History and the Fix That Saved Professional Basketball

On a cold, late November Wednesday in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a crowd of 7,021 arrived to the Minneapolis Auditorium to watch an NBA game between the Fort Wayne Pistons and the Minneapolis Lakers. This was a new experience for many of the fans in the stands. The NBA had formed due to a merger between rival leagues, the Basketball Association of America (BAA) and the National Basketball League (NBL), less than 16 months before. The new league was still trying to find its footing. Each game represented a chance to win – and lose – fans.  This matchup boasted some of the brightest basketball stars of the day – most prominent of all, the great George Mikan. A basketball prodigy since his college days at DePaul in Chicago, he joined the Lakers in 1947 and dominated games right… (more)

fly-e1299577128887How Flies Land on the Ceiling

A popular notion of how they accomplished this used to be that the flies would do a half barrel roll sideways just before landing on the ceiling and then let their momentum carry them the rest of the way up.  This was shown to be incorrect when, in 1958, Natural History Magazine took and published photos of flies landing on the ceiling.  What is actually happening here is that as the fly approaches the ceiling, flying normally, it extends its forelegs… (more)

Bonus Quick Facts:

  • Veins generally look blue, despite the fact that the blood running through them is dark red, due to the way light diffuses in the skin.   Veins may appear blue from the way subcutaneous fat absorbs low-frequency light.  This permits only high frequency blue and violet wavelengths to penetrate through the skin to the vein, with the other wavelengths getting filtered off from the pigmentation of your skin.  In fact, when skin is removed, such as when dissecting a cadaver, the veins and arteries actually are a somewhat similar color.  While people with, for lack of a better word, “medium” skin color will typically have blue veins, veins often won’t appear blue if a person has darker or lighter skin.  Rather, the veins tend to appear green or brown.  On the other hand, people with extremely light skin, such as an albino, will typically have veins that show up as dark purple or dark red, more closely resembling the actual color of the blood running through the veins.
  • The character of Moe Szyslak on The Simpsons was based on Louis “Red” Deutsch, a bartender who was infamous for his profane tirades against prank calls in the mid 1970s.
  • The East-African country of Uganda has a population of over 35 million people. But the astonishing part is that, according to the 2010 census, 48.4% of the population is below the age of 15! A mere 2.5% of the population was 65 years and older, making it the youth capital of the World.
  • Before geek, nerd, dork, etc, the proper terms for these same ragamuffins were dewdroppers, waldos, and slackers.  Other common old slang words that were somewhat similar in meaning: pantywaist, oil can, drip, stinkeroo, mullet, roach, schnookle, kook, dimp, dorf, squid, auger, square, Joe Zilch, and dudd.
  • Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) once worked in advertising with his most famous ad campaign being one he created for Standard Oil who owned “Flit”, a popular insecticide of the day.  The campaign slogan was “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” which was more or less the “Got Milk?” or “Where’s the Beef?” of its day.

Other Interesting Stuff:

why-superheroes-wear-their-underwear-on-the-outsideWhy Superheroes Wear Their Underwear on the Outside

While there have been many fantastical proposed origins of this seemingly odd modish style amongst comic artists -my favorite of which being that most superheroes lost their parents at an early age, so they had no one to tell them underwear goes UNDER your clothes -the true origin is pretty simple. According to Julius Schwartz (famed editor of DC Comics from 1944-1986 who edited the most famous of all external-underwear superheroes, Superman), this was… (more)

CharlesHarrelson-e1287408864852Woody Harrelson’s Father was a Contract Killer

Charles Harrelson is most noted for having been convicted of assassinating U.S. District Judge John H. Wood, Jr. outside of a parking lot in San Antonio, Texas, as well as being convicted of killing a grain dealer, Sam Degalia, Jr., for money.  In the latter case, Harrelson received 15 years in prison, but was paroled and released from prison within 5 years, released in 1978.  One year later, he was arrested for allegedly killing Judge John Wood.  Charles denied having killed… (more)

booth-brothers-e1288604673828John Wilkes Booth’s Brother Saved Abraham Lincoln’s Son’s Life Shortly Before Lincoln Was Assassinated

As a rule, these types of historical anecdotes, that seem a little “too perfect”, are almost never true.  This, however, is one of the rare exceptions to that rule and it was no less than Robert Todd Lincoln himself who, in a letter to the editor of Century Magazine, Richard Gilder in 1909, recounted the story of how Edwin Booth had saved his life. The exact date of the event isn’t known, but it apparently took place sometime around late 1863 to early 1865 at the Jersey City railroad station, sometime before the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by… (more)

This Week’s Podcasts:

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