SBUFs -- Suspicious But Useless Facts
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 98 21:17:40 -0700
Subject: SBUFs -- Suspicious But Useless Facts
X-From_: email@example.com Tue Sep 15 16:15:31 1998
[I suppose these might be useful for trivia games...
bad trivie games, that is...
Comments signed "cohn" are from David "Pablo" Cohn <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
comments signed "sef" are from Sean Eric Fagan <email@example.com>,
and comments signed "pardo" are from <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Forwarded-by: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Forwarded-by: Michael Cohen <email@example.com>
* The white part of your fingernail is called the lunula.
* Pinocchio is Italian for "pine head."
* The geographical center of North America is near Rugby, North Dakota.
* The infinity sign is called a lemniscate.
* Hacky-sack was invented in Turkey.
* If you stretch a standard Slinky out flat it measures 87 feet long.
* There are only three words in the English language with the letter
combination "uu." Muumuu, vacuum and continuum.
[Hmmm... Muumuu counts as English, but the following do not?
duumvir intermenstruum praecipuum suum
duumviral lituus residuum triduum
duumvirate menstruum semicontinuum vacuuma
equuleus mutuum squush vacuumize
individuum obliquus squushy zuurveldt
Making a random check I find that "suum" is in the Oxford English Dictionary
and the example they give is from Shakespeare... -- psl]
* The "Calabash" pipe, most often associated with Sherlock Holmes, was not
used by him until William Gillette (an American) portrayed Holmes onstage.
Gillette needed a pipe he could keep in his mouth while he spoke his lines.
* The only word in the English language with all five vowels in reverse
order is "subcontinental."
grep is your friend :). -- sef]
[Using that same grep to look for any "words" that contain all SIX vowels (a,
e, i, o , u, and sometimes y) in reverse order turns up:
Note that the "sulphate" is only needed for the "a"... -- psl]
* Most Americans' car horns beep in the key of F.
* Dirty Harry's badge number is 2211.
* The pupil of an octupus' eye is rectangular.
* The shortest French word with all five vowels is "oiseau" meaning bird.
[What about the Yiddish French word meaning "Oh no, water" -- "Oi eau!" -- psl]
* Camel's milk does not curdle.
* "Mr. Mojo Risin" is an anagram for Jim Morrison.
* The ball on top of a flagpole is called the truck.
* A person from the country of Nauru is called a Nauruan; this is the only
* The word "modem" is a contraction of the words "modulate, demodulate."
* Oliver Cromwell was hanged and decapitated two years after he had died.
* The longest word in the Oxford English Dictionary is
"floccinaucinihilipilification," which means "the act of estimating as
* In the last 4000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.
* The parking meter was invented in North Dakota.
* Des Moines has the highest per capita Jello consumption in the U.S
* The Western-most point in the contiguous United States is Cape Alava, WA.
* There are only three animals with blue tongues, the Black Bear, the Chow
Chow dog and the blue-tongued lizard.
[Several species of lizards have blue tongues. Most notably is the
Blue-tongued skink, of Australia and there-abouts. -- sef]
* The first fossilized specimen of Austalopithecus afarenisis was named Lucy
after the palentologists' favorite song, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, by
* Iowa has more independent telephone companies than any other state.
* The first prime number after 1,000,000 is 1,000,003.
[Some people might call that the first 7-digit prime... -- psl]
* Hamster Useless Facts: Many hamsters only blink one eye at a time.
* The only "real" food that U.S. Astronauts are allowed to take into space
is pecan nuts.
[And pecans aren't nuts - they're seeds. I'm told that the pecan fruit is
eaten in some parts of the world; I'd love to try it some day. -- cohn]
* The word "queueing" is the only English word with five consecutive vowels.
[grep on /usr/share/dict/words disagrees, but the four words it finds may not
[And if you allow "y" to be considered a vowel, you also get...
* The first Eagle Scout west of the Mississippi is buried in San Marcos, Texas.
* In every episode of Seinfeld there is a Superman somewhere.
* Roberta Flack wrote "Killing Me Softly" about singer Don McLean.
* The Greek version of the Old Testament is called the Septuagint.
* Spencer Eldon was the name of the naked baby on the cover of Nirvana's
* All three major 1996 Presidential candidates, Clinton, Dole, and Perot,
* The Madagascan Hissing Cockroach is one of the few insects who give birth
to live young, rather than laying eggs.
* The book of Esther in the Bible is the only book which does not mention
the name of God.
[Many oddities about the book of Esther have led biblical scholars to
conclude that it was actually a popular Persian melodrama which was slipped
into the canon by mistake (makes virtues out of things that are prohibited
by the rest of the old testament, Ester=Ishtar [Persian goddess],
Morduchai=Morduck [Persian god], plot resembles other known Persian
melodramas) -- cohn]
* Sheriff came from Shire Reeve. During early years of monarchial rule in
England, each shire had a reeve who was the law for that shire. When the
term was brought to the United States it was shortned to Sheriff.
* An animal epidemic is called an epizootic.
* Dracula is the most filmed story of all time, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is
second and Oliver Twist is third.
* The silhouette on the NBA logo is Jerry West
* The silhouette on the Major League Baseball logo is Harmon Killebrew.
* The name Jeep came from the abbreviation used in the army for the "General
Purpose" vehicle, G.P.
* Lucifer is latin for "Light Bringer". It is a translation of the Hebrew
name for Satan, Halael. Satan means "adversary", devil means "liar".
* A cat's jaws cannot move sideways.
* Geller and Huchra have made three-dimensional maps of the distrubution
of galaxies. In each layer of the map some galaxies are grouped together in
such a way that they resemble a human being.
* Avocado is derived from the Spanish word 'aguacate' which is derived from
'ahuacatl' meaning testicle.
* The company providing the liability insurance for the Republican National
Convention in San Diego is the same firm that insured the maiden voyage of
the RMS Titanic.
* Telly Savalas and Louis Armstrong died on their birthdays. Donald Duck's
middle name is Fauntleroy. Al Capone's business card said he was a used
[I see. But... Oh, never mind... -psl]
* Deborah Winger did the voice of E.T.
* Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt and
Eleanor Roosevelt were all cousins through one connection or another. (FDR
and Eleanor were about five times removed.)
* The Earth-Moon size ratio is the largest in the our solar system,
[Wouldn't that be *smallest* ratio? The earth is about 6 times the mass of the
moon, something like that; Jupiter is many, many, many times more massive than
any of its moons. -- sef]
* Each unit on the Richter Scale is equivalent to a power factor of about
32. So a 6 is 32 times more powerful than a 5! Though it goes to 10, 9 is
estimated to be the point of total tetonic destruction (2 is the smallest
that can be felt unaided.)
[I thoguht it was a standard exponential scale (base 10). -- sef]
[According to `http://www.earthsky.com/1996/esmi960804.html', you are right.
* Most snakes have either only one lung, or in some cases, two, with one
much reduced in size. This apparently serves to make room for other organs
in the highly-elongated bodies of snakes. A twelve-foot anaconda can
catch, kill, and eat a six-foot caiman, a close relative of crocodles and
alligators. While these snakes are not usually considered to be the
*longest* snake in the world, they are the heaviest, exceeding the
reticulated python in girth.
* Cinderella's slippers were originally made out of fur. The story was
changed in the 1600s by a translator. The story was probably not changed
deliberately by the 17th century translator. The glass slipper is more
likely to have arisen from a confusion between the French, "une pantoufle
en vair" (a fur slipper) and, "une pantoufle en verre" (a glass slipper.)
It was the left shoe that Aschenputtel (Cinderella) lost at the stairway,
when the prince tried to follow her. Cinderella is known as Tuhkimo in
* If you come from Birmingham, you are a Brummie.
* The names of all the continents end with the same letter that they start
with, e.g. Asia, Europe, Australia.
* There is a word in the English language with only one vowel, which occurs
six times: Indivisibility.
[Similarly, for six Es there are:
degenerescence, breeze-wheeler, ever-esteemed, and sleeve-defended.
and for six Os there are:
odontonosology and proctocolonoscopy (ouch!)
but this is obviously cheating because these Ys are vowels...
* The smallest port in Canada is Port Williams, Nova Scotia. The Canadian
province of Newfoundland has its own time zone, which is half an hour behind
Atlantic standard time. Cats in Halifax, Nova Scotia, have a very high
probability of having six toes.
* The second longest word in the English language is
"antidisestablishmenterianism." Rats like boiled sweets better than they
like cheese. Big Ben was slowed five minutes one day when a passing group
of starlings decided to take a rest on the minute hand of the clock.
[Does anyone have difficulty understanding why these three are combined into
one item? -psl]
* The little lump of flesh just forward of your ear canal, right next to
your temple, is called a tragus.
* Soweto in South Africa ws derived from SOuth WEst TOwnship.
* Murphy's Oil Soap is the chemical most commonly used to clean elephants.
© 1998 Peter Langston