Weekly Wrap Volume 166

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

octopus2The Curious Case of Octopus Wrestling

Arising out of the peace and prosperity of the post-war world, in the middle of the 20th century Americans threw themselves into a variety of weird fads, with goldfish swallowing, pet rocks (see: How Did the Pet Rock Fad Start?), streaking, dance marathons, and sea monkeys (see What are Sea Monkeys?) among the most popular. One that received less attention internationally, but whose participants and spectators ardently loved, was the curious case of octopus wrestling. At the time, the general perception of giant octopuses was that they were fearsome predators of the deep. As such, wrestling one seemed the height of manliness. As for the developed sport itself…(more)

RooseveltThat Time Teddy Roosevelt Got Shot in the Chest but Gave a 90 Minute Speech Anyway

To most of the approximately 10,000 people packed into Milwaukee Auditorium on October 14, 1912, nothing seemed out of the ordinary in the moments before Teddy Roosevelt was scheduled to give what was supposed to be a simple campaign speech. The former President of the United States was running for a near unprecedented third term, this time as the Progressive Party candidate. However, when Roosevelt stepped onto the stage with a sort of wobble, his friend and fellow Progressive Party member, Henry Cochems, felt obligated to tell the audience what had happened – Roosevelt had been shot only moments before. Most people were stunned, while others couldn’t believe it – one person even reportedly yelled “Fake!” Chuckling…(more)

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Bonus Quick Facts:

  • While Amanda McBroom is probably best known for her role as Judge Advocate General Captain Philippa Louvois in what is generally considered one of the best Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, The Measure of a Man, it might also surprise you to learn that she wrote the song, The Rose, first made famous by Bette Midler in the film of the same name. According to McBroom, she wrote the song in under an hour in 1977, attempting to make something “Bob-Seger-like” in hopes of getting a record deal. She performed the song over the next couple years with little fanfare before it was tabbed to be used in the 1979 Midler film.
  • The inability to create mental images of any sort is an exceptionally rare condition very recently dubbed by Dr. Adam Zeman as aphantasia. One sufferer of the condition, Tom Ebeyer, notes that “It had a serious emotional impact. I began to feel isolated – unable to do something so central to the average human experience. The ability to recall memories and experiences, the smell of flowers or the sound of a loved one’s voice; before I discovered that recalling these things was humanly possible [at age 21], I wasn’t even aware of what I was missing out on.” What causes this condition is currently unknown.
  • A few years ago a man from Singapore became an Internet sensation thanks to his unique name, “Batman bin Suparman” which in English would translate as “Batman son of Suparman.” So what happened after? He was arrested in 2013 for robbing a store. He also had previously stolen his brother’s (Nurazman Suparman) ATM card, using it to buy $680 worth of purchases before he was discovered. Beyond that, he also plead guilty to taking heroin, among a few other things. For his crimes, he was sentenced to three years in prison.
  • According to famed entomologists Derek Wragge Morley, who studied ants for the better part of his professional career (and before, beginning at 14 years old, including publishing his first academic paper on ants at the tender age of 16), ants stretch just like humans when they wake up and also look like they’re yawning too.
  • Despite most movie fans connecting the nickname “Braveheart” with William Wallace because of the award winning film with Mel Gibson (1995), in real life the specific nickname actually belonged to one of the semi-bad guys depicted in the film- Robert the Bruce. In real life, while Robert (then the Earl of Carrick) really did switch sides several times during the Wars of Scottish Independence, there is no record of him betraying Wallace and the Battle of Bannockburn wasn’t waged spontaneously as it seemed in the movie. He had been battling the English for nearly a decade up to that point. Robert ultimately became the King of Scots from 1306 and held that title until his death in 1329.

Other Interesting Stuff

richard-nixon-340x509Nixon’s Tactic of Acting Unbalanced as a Political Strategy – The Madman Theory

Developed from game theory and a key tactic of his early administration, President Richard Nixon came into office with a clear plan – scare the hell out of other world leaders to get them to do what he wanted. Called the “madman theory,” it depended on possessing a massive nuclear arsenal, then simply acting sufficiently erratic and unbalanced to convince people that you were crazy enough to use it. During the 1968 Presidential campaign, Nixon promised to end the war in Vietnam and obtain “peace with honor,” yet nearly one year into his first term, he was having little success. Peace talks between the…(more)

CicadaThe Bizarre World of Cicadas

Cicadas are big, green and gross. They fly, have giant eyes and make loud clicking noises. (A male swarm of these insects can produce noise at over 100 dB!) Oh, and they are often seen in large groups – like by the millions. If you think this sounds like a nightmare or a beginning of a cheesy horror movie, you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. However, cicadas are harmless and essentially only survive as a species because of their sheer numbers and weird life-cycle which has ensured that no predator has evolved to specifically depend on them as a food source…(more)

pizza-340x450The Origin of Pizza

Pizza has become such a staple of the modern diet that certain people, often found in Computer Science labs at 2 a.m. the world over, practically consider it one of the basic food groups. For such a popular food, its origins are difficult to pinpoint, as it all depends on your definition of what pizza is. If you choose to loosely define pizza as flat bread with toppings strewn on it, there is evidence that the Persian army around the 5th and 6th centuries used their shields to cook flat bread in this way out in the field. The soldiers would then cover the bread with things like cheese and dates for a quick meal. Further, it is very likely that people have been…(more)

the-endThe Actress Who Died on Stage While Portraying Her Own Death

Several artists have died on stage while conducting live performances; however, one case is highly unique and probably the most ironic at the same time. The incident involved actress Edith Webster. Webster was a relatively unknown actress who never managed to make a name for herself during her lifetime, but left her mark in history with her bizarre death. During The Drunkard, which was being performed at the Towson Moose Lodge in Baltimore, the 60-year-old Edith Webster was playing the role of the grandmother. According to the plot of the play, during the second half of the show, just before…(more)

scorpion-340x507Scorpions Can Live for as Munch as a Year Without Eating

Scorpions are amazing little creatures. With almost two thousand known species found on six of the seven continents, these arthropods have been able to adapt to some of the harshest environments on earth. One evolutionary benefit they have gained is the ability to slow down their metabolic rate. Scorpions also have an organ called the “hepatopancreas” which is extremely efficient and fulfills the functions equivalent to the liver and pancreas found in humans. In addition to this, scorpions have the ability to consume large quantities of food compared to their body size. For instance…(more)

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