Completely Useless Facts of the Week – Issue 33

June 15, 2015

uselessfacts header33The weekly collection of useless and fun facts.  In this week’s edition: The Failing “E”, Mr. T’s Gold Chains, A Hulkamania Mishap, A Honduran Problem, and The Driest Place on Earth.

GradeEGetting an “F” in school to represent failure or flunking hasn’t always been the case.  At one point “E” was the lowest you could get.  Assigning a letter grade to school work can be traced back to 1897 at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.  The lowest grade you could receive at the college was an “E” which meant “failure”.  Only a year later the college changed the “E” designation to an “F”.  Other schools followed, and the “E” letter grade was slowly phased out by the 1930’s.  But why, might you ask?  It was because of fears that students would misinterpret the grade to mean “excellent”.  That seems to be a good reason why they should be receiving an “F” in the first place.

Before the time that Mount Holyoke issued their grading system, grading a student’s performance varied.  In the 1800’s , many colleges had their own point scale that fit students into groups based on performance, or they used their own point scale.  Going back even further, colleges in the U.S. used the Oxford and Cambridge model, which simply determined if the student had completed the course and shown mastery of the material based on what the professor, or a group of professors, deemed to be acceptable, the student passed.

MrTChristmas1983Mr. T’s iconic gold chains originally came from customers at the night club where he worked as a bouncer in the 1970’s. People had either lost them or left them behind after a fight, and he would wear and return them if the person chose to reclaim them.  Later he used the chains as his iconic image, stating in his biography in 1984 that they were a symbol of the chains his African ancestors had when they were slaves.  The chains were reportedly worth $300,000 and took an hour to put on.  He stopped wearing the gold chains after the Katrina disaster in 2005 saying they would be an insult to all who were suffering.

Mr. T was born as Laurence Tureaud and earned a football scholarship to Prairie View A&M in Texas, but was expelled after only a year.  He enlisted in the Army and worked in the Military Police Corps, and after his discharge, he tried out for the Green Bay Packers.  A knee injury caused him to not make the team, and it was then that he began to work as a bouncer and created Mr. T.  He next became a popular bodyguard to people from all walks of life as his reputation grew.  It wasn’t until Sylvester Stallone saw him on on a show called, “America’s Toughest Bouncer”, that he made his way into the movies as Clubber Lang in Rocky III.  This is where he uttered his famous line, “No, I don’t pity Balboa, but I pity the fool.”  “I pity the fool,” became his catchphrase on the 80’s hit, The A-Team, where he starred as B.A. Baracus.  Source, Source, Source

Hulk hogan 2014
Megan Elice Meadows/wikimedia 

Hulk Hogan missed a call from his agent to sponsor a new indoor grill coming on the market. The agent’s other client, George Foreman, agreed to the sponsorship. The story has changed slightly through the years, but the end result was the same.  Hogan said he didn’t want to endorse the grilling machine and instead chose something else – a meatball maker.  He told his manager to give the other appliance to his other client.  You know the rest. George Foreman has earned around $500 million off that grill.  But the Hulkster summed it up best when he knew he made a bad choice by giving up the grill contract with, “How many people own a Hulkamania Meatball Maker?”  Yup, we can do the math.  Source

Flag of Honduras.svgThe murder rate is so high in Honduras that some cities have started programs to offer free funerals. There is a violent death in Honduras every 74 minutes in a nation of eight million people.  The murder rate is the highest in the world, and 104 people are killed for every 100,000.  What’s worse is it continues to be on the rise.  In 2010 it was 82 per 100,000, and in 2012, 86 per 100,000 people.  The mayor of the Honduran capital city, Tegucigalpa, even campaigned to offer free funerals to anyone who was unable to give their loved-one a decent funeral.  A vehicle goes to where the family wants the service to take place and is equipped with everything to give the victim a proper burial.  It’s free of charge to those who can’t afford it and has been in operation for ten years.  The top five countries with the highest murder rates are in the Americas (murder rate per 100,000 people), Columbia (43.9), Belize (44.7), Jamaica (45.1), Venezuela (57.6), and Honduras, which eclipses all the others (103.9).   Sorry, kind of a bummer, and not that useless.  Source, Source

AntarcticaThere is one place on Earth which can be considered the absolute driest, and it is surrounded by water.  It is in Antarctica in an area known as the Dry Valleys.  This particular spot hasn’t seen a drop of rain in almost 2 million years.  The almost 3000 square mile area has practically no water in it.  There are several lakes and one river but most are permanently encased in a think layer of ice.  One such lake, Lake Bonney, has an ice layer 10-15 feet thick.  The reason the area is so dry is because of the Katabatic winds.  They are winds from the mountains that are so laden with moisture that they are pulled away from the valley because of the force of gravity.  The only other area that is close to being as dry is in the Atacama Desert of Chile.  The town of Calama there hasn’t recorded a drop of rain in 400 years.  Don’t expect to grow anything in these areas.  Source

Past Issues of the Completely Random Facts of the Week

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of great trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium. I hope you find things here to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.

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  • Were you aware that the homicide rate in Flint, Michigan, population of 96,000, between 2007 and 2013 has averaged approximately 55 to 66 homicide deaths each year which makes it the most dangerous city of its size in the US and one of the most dangerous in the world. You can research the correct annual numbers. It is an unfortunate situation caused by unemployment and social problems resulting from the crash of the automobile industry in Flint, the birthplace of GM and Buick of the auto industry.

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