Completely Useless Facts of the Week – Issue 15

December 21, 2014

uselessfacts15The weekly collection of useless and fun facts.  In this week’s edition: The Most Stolen Book, Non-working Crosswalks, Russian Beer, The Goodyear Blimp, and Toothpaste Blobs.

library 488690 1280The Guinness Book of World Records holds the record for being the most stolen book from public libraries.  The origin of the Guinness Book began in 1951 when the managing director of Guinness Breweries, Sir Hugh Beaver, got in an argument about what the fastest game bird was in Europe.  He realized there was not a book to settle arguments that occurred throughout pubs in Ireland so he decided to make one.  A pair of twins named, Norris and Ross McWhirter, compiled the first book in 1954, and an edition has been printed every year.  Guinness World Records sets the requirements on the records, and the 2015 edition is the 60th year of publication.  Why it’s the most stolen from the public libraries is a mystery.  What is believed to be the most overall stolen book from bookstores and any other place for books?  The Bible.  Source
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Rachel Haller/flickr
About 2,500 of the 3,250 crosswalk buttons in New York City don’t work, but New Yorkers push them anyway out of habit. Most were deactivated by the late 1980’s when traffic lights became automated.  It’s believed that about 90% of the crosswalks don’t work.  Why is that?  Many of the crosswalks have been programmed with a fixed-time operation when the “walk” signal will be displayed.  Many of the crosswalks with push buttons are considered “mechanical placebos” and were installed in the 1970’s.  By the late 80’s, many of the crosswalk buttons had been deactivated.  There are about 750 spots where the buttons actually work.  Why weren’t they removed?  Mainly because of cost.  It would cost about $1 million to remove the mechanisms at the crosswalks.  The city decided that amount could be used more beneficially elsewhere.  Source 
Barry Kent/Wikimedia
Russia didn’t consider beer to be an alcoholic beverage until 2011. It had been previously classified as a soft drink. On New Year’s Day 2013, the law that was signed in 2011 went into effect changing the classification.  Beer was really consumed like a soft drink.  It was completely unregulated and anyone could drink a beer purchased from anywhere, anytime.  The change brought a tax on the beer industry as well as time constraints on when it could be sold.  It was a blast to the beer industry since beer sales in Russia had risen 40% when classified as a soda.  Russians still drink more vodka than beer, however, drinking five liters of vodka to four liters of beer.  On average, Russians drink about 12.5 liters of alcohol per year.  That is two times of the critical level for alcohol consumption set by the World Health Organization.  I doubt this new law will slow them down.  Source
Goodyear Blimp
Redondo Beach, California passed a resolution in 1983 to adopt a new official bird for the city. Their choice? The Goodyear Blimp.  The Chamber of Commerce of the city decided it would draw attention to the city before the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.  The city council agreed and voted the blimp as the official bird.  The city previously didn’t have a city bird, but the only bird close was a cartoon character drawing named Sandy Seagull that was the symbol of the city’s clean beach program.  The Goodyear Blimp was a shoe-in for the honor.   Source
toothbrush 304194 1280The toothpaste blob you see on toothpaste packages and in advertisements is technically called a “nurdle”. I couldn’t find exactly why it is called a “nurdle”, however.  I did find that it is also a cricket term, meaning “to score runs by gently nudging the ball in vacant areas of the field”.  It’s also used to describe a cylindrical shaped plastic object used in the plastics or manufacturing industry.  But the world of the “nurdle” is quite heated.  Colgate-Palmolive, the toothpaste maker, filed suit to prohibit the use of the nurdle in other companies’ toothpaste packaging.  It seemed to be a pre-emptive strike against GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Aquafresh, and their application for a trademark for the nurdle on their packaging.  Glaxo filed their own suit after Colgate did theirs.  It’s all rather confusing.  Why can’t everyone just use the nurdle and get along.  It seems the war is only beginning.  If you find it all to hard to fathom, just look it up if you don’t believe me.  Source, Source

Here’s all the facts wrapped up in a neat little package.  Feel free to share.  Until next time, remember to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge (and the facts to back them up).

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites. I hope you learn many new things here that add to your knowledge.

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