Completely Useless Facts of the Week – Issue 10

Daniel Ganninger
November 8, 2014

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The weekly collection of completely useless facts. This week’s edition: Israeli Stamps, Google, The Honey Badger, The First Balloon Flight, and a Naughty Bible.  Go behind the scenes on the facts behind the facts.

israels1Even though the glue on Israeli postage stamps is certified kosher, it’s not recommended to eat one. Kosher foods are those that conform to the regulations of Jewish dietary law, or kashrut. Exactly what is kosher can be confusing, unless you’re Jewish. Meat that comes from an animal with cloven, or split hooves, or chews the cud may not be eaten. Certain poultry products cannot be eaten. I’m not sure who would want to eat these, but birds such as owl, swan, eagle, pelican, stork, or vulture are off limits. Thank goodness. Meat and milk cannot be combined or eaten at the same time. Dairy must come from an animal that is already kosher. Eggs cannot contain blood (thank goodness, again), and only fish with scales and fins can be eaten. That cuts out lobster, shrimp, and crabs. Things that grow in the ground are okay to eat, but no insects or things with multiple or very short legs can be. Fruits planted within the past three years are a no-no, that is the forbidden fruit, no lie. This is just a short list and there is much more. I’m glad I’m not planning a dinner party.

Logo_Google_2013_Official.svg_Google’s founders were willing to sell to Excite for under $1 million in 1999, but Excite turned them down. What’s Google’s market value now? About $395 billion. Excite was one of the internet’s first portals, just as Google is today. Excite CEO George Bell turned down the famous offer. Bell had a second chance when Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were talked down to the price of $750,000. Bell turned them down again. Mistake number two. There’s no telling what Google would be like today if the sale had taken place, and they seem to be doing just fine on their own. Excite on the other hand has not fared as well. In 2004, Excite was sold to Ask Jeeves, the one with the butler that helped you search things. This later became It’s now owned by Barry Dillers IAC, a media and internet company. I’m sure those at Excite wished they had a do over.

honeybadger1The honey badger is listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the “World’s Most Fearless Creature”. The honey badger is found in Southwest Asia, Africa, and Indian Subcontinent and is a member of the weasel family, but they don’t act like weasels. Honey badgers are known for their strength and ferocity. They have been known to attack about any kind of animal when threatened. Their skin is thick, and the animals have an almost tireless endurance capacity during confrontations.

732px-Expérience_aërostatique_faite_à_Versailles_le_19_septembre_1783In France in 1783, a rooster, sheep, and a duck became the world’s first hot-air balloon passengers. The sheep was called Montauciel, meaning “climb to the sky”. Each type of animal was used for a specific reason. The sheep was the animal that most closely resembled a human’s physiology. The duck was used to determine the effects created by the balloon on the animal and not the altitude. And the rooster was added since it was a bird that did not fly at high altitude and could be used to test the effects of altitude. The flight took place at the royal palace of Versailles. It lasted about eight minutes and went up to around 1,500 feet.

Marked_Wicked_bibleA bible printed in 1631, often called the “Wicked Bible”, had the line, “Thou shalt commit adultery” included in the text.  The printers forgot to include the “not”.  They were fined and had their printing license revoked.  This particular edition is sometimes called the Adulterous, or Sinners’ Bible.  The printers were the royal printers in London and were fined 300 pounds, or about $43,586 in today’s dollars.  Charles I and the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Abbott, were of course beside themselves.  The copies were immediately burned, except for the few that exist today.  In 2010, a copy of the Wicked Bible was offered for the low, low price of $89,500 and supposedly was sold.  A copy is in the New York Library’s rare book collection, the British Library in London, and another is in the Dunham Bible Museum in Houston, Texas.

Annoy your friends with your new knowledge, and check back again for next week’s edition.