Little-Known Facts

I usually don’t do this, but for this week’s column I wanted to share something I received as an e-mail forward. It’s a collection of trivia that I think is absolutely fascinating. I never knew a lot of this stuff before! I’m passing it on to you as a reminder of what an interesting world we live in!!

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Ronald Reagan was not the first U.S. president to have formerly been an actor. Martin Van Buren appeared in several movies prior to his career in politics, mostly quirky, low-budget independent films.

The longest word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is “groupie.”

The classic children’s toys known as “Lincoln logs” are named after U.S. president Harold Log (1841-1845).

Barack Obama’s middle name is Hussein — which, despite its negative connotation in the United States, is actually a very common name in Obama’s home country of Iraq.

The Latin name for the common house cat is garfieldus heathclifficus.

In the time it took you to read this sentence, 63 people around the world also read a sentence.

Due to an outdated law that’s still on the books, in Massachusetts it is illegal to murder someone on Good Friday.

The punctuation mark known as the “period” is called that because writers were formerly encouraged to use it no more than once a month.

John McCain’s middle name is Lucifer.

The hit TV series “Happy Days” spawned several spin-offs, including “Laverne & Shirley,” “Joanie Loves Chachi,” and “60 Minutes.”

A group of witches is a coven. A group of gay men is a cast, a group of lesbians is a munch, and a group of drag queens is a tuck.

The first novel written on a personal computer was “Flowers in the Attic.”

Mountain Dew was invented when someone accidentally poured some 7-Up into a can of gasoline.

Contrary to popular belief, the party game Twister was not named after the 1996 tornado movie. In fact, the game had been on the shelves for a good six months before that movie came out.

At least two of Colonel Sanders’ 11 herbs and spices are poisonous.

Hillary Clinton’s middle name is Steven.

On TV, the first couple ever shown in bed together were Fred Flintstone and Betty Rubble. The episode was banned.

It took the medical examiner four hours to pry the gun from Charlton Heston’s cold, dead hands.

In Denmark, the third most common cause of death is shark attack.

The Hawaiian alphabet has only 12 letters, and three of them are J.

The term “legally blind” has its roots in medieval England, where you had to have the king’s permission to be blind. If you went blind without royal approval, you could be put in the stocks in the town square as punishment, with a sign on you that said “For Unlawful Cataracts” — and the acronym for that is where a certain modern vulgarity came from.

Beloved TV icon Mr. Rogers always claimed that the reason he didn’t visit his fans in Mexico was that he was afraid to fly — but the real reason was that he was a fugitive there, having once killed a guy with his bare hands in a Tijuana bar fight.

Studies show that 98 percent of all “little-known facts” distributed via e-mail are false. Except for this one, of course.

I wrote a column way back in 2001 that had the same format as this one. Those items were intended to sound almost plausible, however, while most of these are more absurd.

SnideCast intro and outro: "Little-Known Facts," from the 1999 Broadway cast recording of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."