Knowledge Stew
Make Yourself a Little Smarter Today
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A work by Henry Darger dionyssos1/Flickr

Henry Darger worked for most of his life as a janitor and dishwasher at three different Chicago hospitals. He was frequently spotted picking through garbage, which he would take into his apartment. He was also known for attending a Catholic Mass four to five times a day and largely kept to himself.

Near the end of his life, Darger was moved into a nursing home, and the landlord of his one-bedroom Chicago apartment went to clean out the man’s home shortly before he died in 1973. He was shocked at what he found.

Within the mass of things Darger had collected over the years were two trunks, and in them were Darger’s life works. One work was an eight-volume, 5,000-page written piece titled The History of My Life along with several diaries that detailed his everyday events and his prolific Mass attendance. There was also a weather journal that covered a span of 10 years from December 31, 1957, to December 31, 1967. …

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A cruise is usually a fun getaway, but sometimes on a long voyage, there is a death at sea. Because of this possibility, most modern cruise ships have a morgue on board the ship.

Death at sea is not a common occurrence. Out of approximately 21.7 million people that travel on cruises each year, only about 200 people die. Some of these deaths are from accidents or intoxication, while many occur because of a medical condition.

The cruise ships are prepared for this type of problem, and it begins with an announcement. When “Operation Bright Star” is announced, it means there is a medical emergency, and “Operation Rising Star” means there has been a passenger death. …

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A vast majority of us probably began our schooling in kindergarten. Among other educational things, we pasted things on paper, colored pictures, and learned the alphabet. But why was it called kindergarten and not something else?

Kindergarten is usually the beginning of school, although, in some states, it is not required to enter elementary school. From the name, you can deduce that the word “kindergarten” has some specific meaning. If you had guessed it’s German in origin, then you would be correct. Kindergarten originated in Germany.

Friedrich Froebel, a German educator, established a school in Blankenburg, Germany, in 1837. Froebel characterized the children in his school as plants and the teachers as the gardeners. Kinder in German means “children,” and garten means “garden,” thus kindergarten. The teachers in this school were actually the ones who were called kindergartners. …

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Is it a cookie or a candy?

Due to an item in 24 states called the Streamlined Sales Tax, which taxes foods that aren’t considered a grocery item, Twix is not taxed because it contains flour while Hershey’s chocolate bars are taxed since they are considered a candy. Why the difference and where did the tax come from?

Many states have a candy tax since candy is generally regarded as not being all that healthy. In general terms, if too much of the product is consumed, then the state has to spend more on health care. That’s at least the thinking, and that’s where the Streamlined Sales Tax came into play. …

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The opossum often gets maligned as being nothing but common vermin that resembles a large rat. While the image of the opossum doesn’t help its cause, it is a quite fascinating animal. Here are some amazing facts about this creature that might change you from an opossum hater to an opossum fan.

Discovery

First off, it helps to know how the opossum was discovered. While the native people in the Americas knew of the animal, it wasn’t until Vincente Yanez Pinzon, who incidentally was the commander of Christopher Columbus’s ship the Nina, came upon an opossum with its young after landing on the coast of Brazil in the late 1400s. …

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You better think hard before naming your newborn in Sweden. So far, you’re not allowed to name your child Superman, Veranda, Metallica, IKEA, or Elvis there. The reason is because of a 1982 law called the “Naming Law.” It was enacted so non-noble families wouldn’t give names of noble families to their children.

This is what the law states about first names:

“First names shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name.”

The Swedish Tax Agency runs the registration of names in Sweden, and parents must submit their proposed names within three months of birth. Of course, the law has caused some controversy. …

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The man with the most active credit cards is Zheng Xiangchen of Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. He has 1,562 active credit cards and got a place in the Guinness Book of World Records on July 30, 2019.

Zheng Xiangchen was inspired to start and grow his collection of credit cards by the previous world record holder for many years, Walter Cavanagh, of the US.

Walter Cavanagh, who is known as “Mr. Plastic Fantastic” and the former record holder, has 1,497 active credit cards, and amazingly, has no credit card debt. The line of credit on all those cards equals $1.7 million.

Cavanagh held the credit card king title from 1971 up until 2019, and his unique hobby began in the late 1960s because of a bet. …

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Statues of famous and noteworthy people are a usual sight in a city or town, but one particular statue of Nikola Tesla in Palo Alto, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, doesn’t just stand there and do nothing. It emits free Wi-Fi.

The statue was unveiled on December 7, 2013, and was the idea of a local resident named Dorrian Porter. Porter raised $127,000 through a Kickstarter.com campaign in 30 days to fund the making of the statue. He then commissioned a local artist named Terry Guyer to design a bronze statue of the famous inventor.

The statue is 6' 2" tall, Tesla’s actual height, and he is holding a large light bulb. The bulb is what holds the router for the Wi-Fi signal. The statue is based on an iconic picture of Tesla holding a disconnected bulb that is being lit by wireless electricity. …

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When the run for the presidency begins to heat up, things can get a little strange. While the previous and the current U.S. presidential elections have proved to rank high on the strange scale regardless of who you supported, just be happy to know there have been other strange presidential elections throughout the history of the United States.

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The First Election in 1788

We need to start from the beginning since, in the grand scheme of things, the first election for president could be considered strange. …

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Do you know these famous slogans from the world of advertising? Test your slogan knowledge to see how well the ad companies have done their jobs.

Start me up.

Microsoft had the “Start me up” campaign created for the Windows 95 operating system roll-out. The company paid to use the Rolling Stones song of the same name to get people to want to push the program’s new start button.

The song came from the group’s 1981 album, Tattoo You. Rumors circulated for years that Microsoft paid the Stones between $8 million and $14 million to use the song, but the actual amount was $3 million according to retired Microsoft COO Bob Herbold. …

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