Completely Random Facts of the Week – Issue 43

August 23, 2015

uselessfacts header 43
The weekly collection of random and fun facts.  In this week’s edition: Russian typewriters, the Metal Eraser Holder, Karaoke Meaning, Dish in Texas, and the U.S Highest and Lowest Point.

typewriter 623978 640Because of the problem with electronic leaks, the Russian Federal Protection Service (similar to the U.S. Secret Service) has taken steps to take themselves off the electronic grid.  They’ve resorted to the tried and true method of keeping things secret by reverting to paper.  The Protection Service ordered 20 Triumph Adler typewriters in 2013 so they could avoid online leaks and surveillance. Each typewriter has its own “signature” which allows it to be easily traced to find out where a possible leak came from.  The move came about because of leaks by Edward Snowden, the whistleblower that leaked thousands of classified U.S. documents.  One of the leaks revealed that Dimitri Medvedev, the Russian Prime Minister, had been eavesdropped upon during a G20 summit in London and top-secret messages had been intercepted.  The Russians are reverting to one of the most secure methods of communicating in the digital age; a person, paper, and a typewriter.  Source

PencilferruleThe metal band that is crimped to hold the eraser to the end of a pencil is a called a “ferrule”. A “ferrule” is commonly known as an object that fastens or secures another object.  Before 1964, ferrules holding pencil erasers were made with brass.  Brass was the material of choice even though they were more expensive because aluminum was too easily crushed.  J.B. Ostrowski found a way to strengthen the aluminum ferrules by putting small bends on the outside of the column.  This allowed a cheaper pencil to be produced in mass quantities.  You can see these small serrations on the modern pencil.  Now that doesn’t seem like such a useless fact.  Source

Karaoke irish pubKaraoke, the singing along to only the instrumental track of a song with the words being displayed on a screen, is popular around the world, and Karaoke in Japanese means “empty orchestra”.  It originated in Kobe, Japan, and its first known use was in 1969, by most accounts.  The karaoke box was invented by Daisuke Inoue who played keyboard around bars in Kobe.  One of the businessmen in the bar where he was working wanted to sing to his keyboard playing because he felt it was the only music he could sing with.  The man wanted him to record some songs for him, which Inoue did.  This gave him the idea for the Juke 8, a machine that would have a microphone, speaker, and an amplifier, along with music to sing with.  He knew a friend of a friend that agreed to build the boxes, and eleven were built to start in total.  They were made in 1969, and the first ones hit the market in 1971.  At first the boxes weren’t popular, but then they took off.  Within a year, Inoue’s new company had made 25,000 units, and the craze spread and took off by way of Osaka until it ended up in Tokyo.  The rest, as they say, is karaoke history.  Source

dishcitylimitClark, Texas, a small town north of Ft. Worth, came to a rather strange agreement in 2005.  They agreed to rename their town to DISH, Texas in exchange for 10 years of free DISH Satellite service which included basic service, installation, and equipment.  The official name of the town is in all capital letters like the company’s all-cap name.  While the residents have received free satellite service, it hasn’t been a boom like it has been for other town that have renamed themselves, such as Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which changed its name to match a quiz show of the same name in 1950.  The agreement is set to stop in 2015, and it’s not known whether DISH will continue the arrangement.  Source

mtwhitneydeathvalleyThe highest and lowest points in the contiguous United States are not only in the same state, but they’re also in the same county – Inyo County, California.  The lowest, Death Valley, is 282 feet below sea level, and Mount Whitney is the tallest at 14,505 feet above sea level.  What’s amazing is that the two areas are only 84.6 miles apart and have a difference of 14,787 feet.

Inyo county is large and sits in the western portion of central California.  Thirteen of the fifteen highest peaks in the state lie in Inyo county and these large differences come about because of the fault line that runs through the county which pushes up the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Inyo County can also add the oldest living thing on Earth to its resume.  The bristlecone pines are some of the oldest, with one particular old tree called Methuselah, which is believed to be around 4,847 years old.  Source

That’s it for another edition.  Until next time, and as always, use these facts to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.  Everyone will appreciate you for it

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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 (you can find out how to join below). I hope you find things here to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.

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