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Fast facts


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Illustration by Holly Randall
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 11, 2004
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Things you always never wanted to know

  • There are 170,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 ways to play the 10 opening moves in a game of chess.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court once ruled federal income tax unconstitutional. Income tax was first imposed during the Civil War as a temporary revenue-raising measure. In the late 1800s, the government attempted to revive the levy again, but the Supreme Court ruled it in violation of the constitutional provision that direct taxes must be proportioned among the states according to their population. In 1913, however, Congress passed the 16th amendment, making federal impost legal once again.

  • All the proceeds earned from James M. Barrie's book "Peter Pan" were bequeathed to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London.

  • The Tasaday tribe in the Philippine Islands has no known enemies, no weapons of war and no words in their language for hate, war or dislike. They neither hunt nor cultivate.

  • The champagne used to christen a ship is a substitute for human blood. In bygone times the Vikings and various South Sea tribes sacrificed human beings on the prows of their ships so that the spirits of the murdered victims would guard the craft. Later wine was substituted for blood, and, in our day, champagne for wine.

  • Clouds fly higher during the day than during the night.

  • Members of the Dogon tribe in Mali, Africa, for many centuries worshiped a star known today by astronomers as Sirius B. The Dogon knew its precise elliptical orbit, knew how long it took to revolve around its parent star, Sirius, and were aware that it was made up of materials not found on earth - all this centuries before modern astronomers had even discovered that Sirius B existed.

  • William Howard Taft was both chief justice and president of the United States.

  • In 1898 P.T. Barnum's sideshow included a man who looked like a Skye terrier, a woman with a goatee, a woman with scaly alligator-like skin and a blue man (he had permanently dyed himself by accident with silver nitrate), among others.

  • Attila the Hun was a dwarf. Pepin the Short, Aesop, Gregory of Tours, Charles III of Naples and Pasha Hussain were all less than 3 1/2 feet tall.

  • The Mongol conqueror Timur the Lame (1336-1405), whom Christopher Marlowe called Tamburlaine, played polo with the skulls of those he had killed in battle. Timur left records of his victories by erecting 30-foot-high pyramids made of the severed heads of his victims.

  • There is no living descendant of William Shakespeare.


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