They say you learn something new every day, and today is just as good a day as any to learn something fascinating. Think of the feeling you get when you learn something new and pithy and cool — you want to tell your friends and your parents and even your coffee shop barista.
That’s what the folks lurking on Reddit’s /r/TodayILearned subreddit do — they start a post by saying “Today I learned” and then go on to describe a weird, funny, or interesting fact that only came across their desks that day.
Some of the facts will make you marvel at all that humanity can achieve and some will make you face-palm and roll your eyes harder than an overly-attractive put-upon wife from a ’90s family sitcom, but all of these facts will make you glad that somebody learned them.
After Colonel Shaw died in battle, Confederates buried him in a mass grave as an insult for leading black soldiers. Union troops tried to recover his body, but his father sent a letter saying “We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers.”
Dr. Donald Hopkins helped eradicate Smallpox, and is on the verge of killing another disease. He’s taken Guinea Worm Disease down from 3.5 million cases a year to just 28 cases last year.
A Japanese company has awarded its non-smoking employees 6 extra vacation days to compensate for the smoker’s smoke breaks.
When the Nazis burned Sigmund Freud’s books he said, “What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now, they are content with burning my books.”
Billy Joel never sells front row seats in order to see the real fans right in front of him. He gives them away to random people in the cheap seats so that front row isn’t always just wealthy people.
Carrie Fisher delivered a cow tongue inside a Tiffany box to a predatory producer who had assaulted her friend. She said, “The next delivery will be something of yours in a much smaller box!”
Willie, a parrot, alerted its owner, Megan Howard, when the toddler she was babysitting began to choke. Megan was in the bathroom, the parrot began screaming “mama, baby” while flapping its wings as the child turned blue. Megan rushed over and performed the Heimlich, saving the girls life.
In the early 1900s, there was an act named “Sober Sue”, who’s draw was she never smiled. A theater offered $1000 to anyone who could make her laugh, attracting big comedians. Crowds came out to watch them try, and fail, giving them a free show. Later it came out that Sue suffered from facial paralysis.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t allowed to dub his own role in Terminator in German, as his accent is considered very rural by German/Austrian standards and it would be too ridiculous to have a death machine from the future come back in time and sound like a hillbilly.
“The best bean and cheese burritos I’ve ever had. Five stars.”
A man created a fake restaurant on TripAdvisor and asked around for good reviews. Eventually, the fake restaurant was the #1 restaurant in London and was being called up 100s of times daily for bookings. For a day, the man set up a “cafe” in his backyard and served frozen food to rave reviews.
Kate Winslet keeps her Oscar in the bathroom so her guests can hold it and make acceptance speeches in the mirror without feeling self-conscious.
A 13-year-old opened a hot dog stand in front of his home in Minnesota, causing a complaint to the health department. Instead of shutting him down, the inspectors helped him bring his stand up to code and paid the $87 fee for his permit out of their own pockets.
Hundreds of love letters between two gay World War II soldiers were found and are being made into a book. In one, one of them wrote, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our letters could be published in the future in a more enlightened time. Then all the world could see how in love we are.”
Some farmers in Bangladesh have switched to raising ducks instead of chickens, because during catastrophic floods, ducks float.
Michael Jordan once tipped a waitress a $5 chip for bringing him a drink. Wayne Gretzky stopped the waitress, removed the five-dollar chip, grabbed one of the many 100 dollar chips on Jordan’s side of the table, and gave it to her. Then he said, “That’s how we tip in Las Vegas, Michael.”
Keanu Reeves often foregoes some of his paycheck so that producers can bring on other notable actors. On The Devil’s Advocate, he reduced his salary by a few million dollars so that they could afford Al Pacino, and he did the same thing on The Replacements to be able to work with Gene Hackman.
A depressed Manchester teen used several fake online personas to convince his best friend to murder him, and after surviving the attack, he became the first person in UK history to be charged with inciting their own murder.
Laurence Tureaud named himself professionally as Mr. T because he hated how his father, uncle, and brother who returned from Vietnam, were disrespectfully called “boy” by whites. He wanted the first word from everybody’s mouth to be “Mister” when speaking to him.
The Cuban Missile Crisis began when a CIA operative noticed soccer fields on a Cuban Military Base. “Cubans play baseball, Russians play soccer.”
When Nintendo had a fall in revenue from the less successful Wii U, its CEO Satoru Iwata cut his pay in half for 5 months rather than blame workers.
Eminem watched his daughter, Hailie, get crowned homecoming queen from an empty classroom in the school because he didn’t want to take the attention away from her.
An 86-year-old wrote an upbeat review for her local paper about a new Olive Garden. She was mercilessly mocked by the Internet. Anthony Bourdain thought she had a valuable POV on small-town dining. So he published a book of her reviews.
A Harvard study found that hiring one highly productive ‘toxic worker’ does more damage to a company’s bottom line than employing several less productive, but more cooperative, workers.
A Philadelphia woman named Marion Stokes began taping whatever was on television in 1979 and didn’t stop until her death in 2012. The 71,000 VHS and Betamax tapes she made are the most complete collection preserving this era of TV. They are being digitized by the Internet Archive.
After Beethoven went deaf, he found he could affix a metal rod to his piano and bite down on it while he played, enabling him to hear perfectly through vibrations in his jawbone. The process is called bone conduction.
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At the box office, Avengers: Endgame made roughly– let me just check my math here– ah yes, infinity dollars.
In 1998, Sony had the chance to buy the rights to almost every Marvel character for 25 million. They opted to only buy the rights to Spider-Man for just 7 million, stating, “Nobody gives a crap about the other Marvel characters.”
Apes don’t ask questions. While apes can learn sign language and communicate using it, they have never attempted to learn new knowledge by asking humans or other apes. They don’t seem to realize that other entities can know things they don’t. It’s a concept that separates mankind from apes.
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In the 1950’s, donut shops were some of the first food businesses commonly open late at night. They became hot spots for police working the night shift since it gave them a place to grab a snack, fill out paper work, or even just take a break. This is why donuts became associated with cops.
The crew of ‘Return of the Jedi’ mocked the character design of Admiral Ackbar, deeming it too ugly. Director Richard Marquand refused to alter it, saying, “I think it’s good to tell kids that good people aren’t necessarily good looking people and that bad people aren’t necessarily ugly people.”
Gary Gygax’s wife was convinced he was having an affair so she followed him to a dimly-lit basement and burst into the room. She found him and his friends hunched over hand-drawn maps. Gary would go on to invent the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.