Living in the internet age, one tends to get overwhelmed with (often useless) facts on a daily basis. Fueled by hundreds of articles and studies via my RSS reader, social media, podcasts, journals and other content providers, the human brain meets more disposable knowledge than it can process. In 2021, I decided to keep track of one such piece of trivia every single day.
During the Cold War, Switzerland put TNT in hundreds of bridges to remotely detonate them in case of a foreign invasion. Also, they don’t want to say if they really demined them or merely replaced the explosives for security reasons.
The very start of political theory had people worrying about ‘the power of an angry mass’. In the past decades, the times it was deployed was primarily pro-democratic (Berlin Wall, Arab spring, etc.) whereas ‘mob rule’ is now shifting toward anti-democratic sentiments.
Political parties changing their stance on a subject ‘magically’ affects that of its voters, too. Note: this research was just released, but conducted before (political) social media really blew up. One could say people follow parties/people, not ideologies.
The K-Pop world has a dark side. For a long time, it was a standard industry practice to lure aspiring idols into signing ‘slave contracts’, forcing them to earn back any costs incurred by the label in training them – sometimes taking up to a decade to fulfill.
That one time in US history when there were serious, concrete plans about reparations for slavery… it was for Kentucky slave owners – and rejected by the receivers (in exchange for continued slave labor).
The Matrix defense has been used in 4 US court murder trials, and comes down to ‘I killed because I believed I was in the Matrix.’ Interestingly, this has always helped the defendant to get placed in a mental institution rather than a federal prison.
Wine tasting is mostly BS, for multiple reasons. Most interestingly, because visual cues can effectively override our senses of taste and smell – as demonstrated in an experiment that dyed white wines and presented them to self-proclaimed experts as red.
Colors in Chinese are mysterious, up to the point where no one really knows what a certain subset (colors with the same name) means. Also, it calls certain colors after objects that don’t have that color at all. Or just ‘dark’ and ‘light’. Confusing!
Sheet music from popular television or movie scores is harder to come by than I thought.
At ages 6-17, I lived 200 metres from a former airport and never knew.
Today, I learned the hard way that there’s a big difference between hosting providers.
Follow-up on my 15/03/2021 entry: there are serious doubts if it was a deepfake after all, raising even more issues (detection on the one hand, the possibility of refuting any video evidence as fake and people blindly believing that claim on the other).
Before adopting the metric system, German-speaking countries had their own units of measurement. Those units also varied from (literally) city to city, making the need for a standard all the more pressing.
Hukuo, a concept in Chinese law, restricts citizens access to public services (such as education) and movement to the region of their birthplace in order to “maintain a healthy balance between rural and city populations”.
Modern Monetary Theory, which states that currency-issuing states’ national debt is a fictional construct and that the control of inflation – not debt – is key, may gain ground in the upcoming decades.
I want to believe. The FBI UFO report notes 18 incidents spotted by the US military that are completely inexplicable (“remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernable means of propulsion”).
Mispronouncing sucks, don’t do it on purpose. Also, “nearly half of black and Asian job applicants who altered their resumés [while applying at Stanford] did so by changing the presentation of their name in an effort to erase any racial cues.”
Since 1900, India has only won 35 Olympic medals (including the Winter Olympics) despite having the second largest population in the world, making it by far the country with the fewest medals per capita.
Buying a non-smart TV is becoming impossible.
The prefix Ever- is very popular with Chinese brands, not only because it is short and sounds international, but also because follows the Feng Shui rule about the transposition of names to the qualities of the things they are given to.
Yves Leterme was known as Mister Pork with Chinese diplomats because he mentioned Belgian pigs farms in every negotiation.
(Somewhat) proven: the urge to riot is not predicted by age, gender or politics. “The most common caricature of riots suggests criminal young men are the culprits, but […] that is not necessarily the case.”
There is no Japanese adjective for ‘old’ (when referring to people).
There’s a (at first sight) pretty convincing conspiracy theory that reads: “Cola has so much sugar in it that you’d throw up from drinking it, except they add an anti-vomiting drug to stop that from happening.“