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The GeekList of Totally Useless Knowledge
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As a writer my research often brings me face-to-face with all sorts of wierd facts that make me scratch my head. Presented below are a number of these. I have tried to keep them in something of a historical timeline. I hope you find them as useful as I have.
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26. Board Game: Moby Dick: Das Spiel vom weißen Wal [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Phil
Germany
Bremen
Bremen
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"Starbuck's" (the coffee stuff) is named after a character from Moby Dick. First they wanted to call it after the ship but then one of the guys thought "Who would drink coffee in Pequod?

EDIT: And "Seven Up" got its name because the previous six names were declined.
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27. Board Game: Nero [Average Rating:3.72 Overall Rank:10919]
Alex Bagosy
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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A few random, useless facts about some famous (and infamous) Roman Emperors...

Gaius (Caligula) is infamous for a variety of inhumane acts as Emperor. Fortunately, he reigned for only four years before being assassinated. During his assassination, Caligula was stabbed in the groin over thirty seven times. There are no records of his actual last words, but eye witnesses reported to Suetonius that he "cried for his mother."

Emperor Claudius is popularly believed to have been assassinated by being fed a dish of poison mushrooms. This is actually not the case;
Claudius was an extremely intelligent man, of diverse interests (including botany), and he would have immediately recognized such mushrooms as poisonous. Instead, the mushrooms themselves seem to have been poisoned after cooking; this too, failed to kill him. What actually killed him was the cure. In order to force Claudius to regurgitate the offending substance, his doctor insisted that the Emperor be forced to vomit with a feather. The feather became lodged in the Emperor's throat, Claudius choked to death, and the rest is history.

Emperor Nero did not fiddle while Rome burned, as is often claimed; the fiddle had not yet been invented. He was, actually, an accomplished player of an early form of the bagpipes! However, he didn't play the pipes while Rome burned, either. In fact, he became somewhat of a hero, risking his own life and limb to supervise the rescue and firefighting efforts. His rebuilding of Rome was actually quite well thought out - with wider alleyways between buildings to prevent the spreading of fire and a strict building code that limited the use of certain building materials. Of course, we remember him more directly for such charming acts as illuminating the Circus Maximus with torches made of Christians covered in tar, and forcing Senators to sit through his one man renditions of classic Greek choral arrangements, after which he would have anyone who'd fallen asleep killed.

The Emperor Vespasian often criticized his predecessors for their self-aggrandizement, including the arrangements they made for deification after death. He was known for his odd sense of humor. His last recorded words were, according to most sources, "Dear me, it seems I'm becoming a god."

Finally, we have the Emperor Elagabalus. He had his favorite slave castrated so that he could legally marry him under Roman law, and insisted that everyone refer to the slave as "the Empress." He was fond of practical jokes, and one of his favorites was to serve lavish meals made of inedible, artificial food, at which he insisted all guests would stay until their meals were finished. At one feast (real food in this one, apparently), a group of guests commented that the Emperor's gardens were lovely and that, if they had to die, dying amidst such beautiful blooms would be a peaceful way to go. Elagabalus had them invited to his next big suare, at which point several tons of flowers from the gardens were dumped from the ceiling onto said guests, smothering them to death and granting their wish.

According to one account, Elagabalus was murdered hiding inside the Imperial toilet, following a Praetorian coup. His body was stripped naked, beheaded, dragged through the streets behind a chariot, and finally, thrown into the Tiber.

(None of which changes the absolute fact that this particular game is an absolute stinker.)

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28. Board Game: Friedrich [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:271]
Christian Krach
Germany
Potsdam
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Friedrich II is not buried next to his wife but his beloved grayhounds. There names were Alkmene, Arsinoe, Thysbe, Phillis, Diana, Thysbe II, Diana II, Pax, Superb, Amourette and Biche. And he only speaks french with them.
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29. Board Game: 1960: The Making of the President [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:109]
Jim Wilde
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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An only child has never become President of the USA.
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30. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.45 Overall Rank:10978]
Jim Wilde
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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More Monopoly money is printed each year than real money throughout the world!
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31. Board Game: Cabal [Average Rating:4.83 Unranked]
John New
United States
Accokeek, Maryland/
New York, NY
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The term "cabal," meaning a group of individuals united to further a common purpose (usually political or religious) is derived from the initials of six ministers of Charles II of England:

Sir Thomas Clifford
Lord Arlington
The Duke of Buckingham
Lord Ashley
Lord Lauderdale
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32. Board Game: Mr. President [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:3263]
Alex Bagosy
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Nine U.S. presidents have failed to serve their full term of office.

Four presidents have died in office of health related causes.

William Henry Harrison was the first president to die in office; he served approximately thirty two days before succumbing to pneumonia. The president was the oldest elected to that point and wanted to prove his manliness; he delivered a stirring inaugural speech in the middle of pouring rain during a cold March day in Washington, D.C. During the speech, he had refused to wear a hat, believing that this would be seen as a sign of weakness.

Zachary Taylor died of complications of heatstroke and what was likely natural food poisoning after a little over a year in office. In July of 1850, Taylor attended a dedication ceremony for the Washington Monument. The summer was unusually hot, even for D.C., and Taylor tried to cool off rapidly by drinking iced milk and eating cherries. The cherries had not been properly cleaned, and they were likely infected with microscopic bacteria (possibly cholera, though that's been debated). He succumbed to high fever and intestinal distress and was dead within days.

Warren G. Harding, the last president on record to die of natural causes in office, succumbed to a massive heart attack and lingered for a short time before dying. He had been touring the country, attempting to restore his reputation after a series of disastrous scandals. The effort apparently exhausted him. Although Harding was quite the philanderer, the rumor that he died abed with his mistress is false. There is some belief, however, that he was poisoned while infirm by his notoriously ambitious wife, "The Duchess"; in fact, one author claims that the "heart attack" itself was actually caused by a slow regimen of poison. Whatever the case, the world will never know - Mrs. Harding refused an autopsy (illegal, actually - by Federal law all presidents who perish in office must have post-mortem examinations) and burned all of their personal papers and medical records.

EDIT: (Thanks for the reminder!) Franklin Delano Roosevelt died while vacationing in Warm Springs, Georgia. He was physically and mentally exhausted and had been resting there to recuperate; he was also, as it happens, secretly meeting with his mistress. Roosevelt complained of a headache and then slumped forward; he did not regain consciousness. His death was brought on by a sudden, massive stroke.

Four presidents: Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy were assassinated.

Lincoln was murdered by John Wilke's Booth, shot to the back of the head at close range with a derringer while he watched a performance at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Garfield was shot in the back while visiting a train station; his assassin was a depressed federal job seeker who blamed Garfield for his lack of employment.

William McKinley was shot three times in the stomach, in broad daylight, during the Pan American Exposition of 1901; his assassin claimed to be an anarchist, but was probably just mentally unbalanced.

Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, in 1963 under what are still highly controversial circumstances.

James Garfield need not have died; the bullet missed any vital organs. However, his doctors did not keep clean surgical instruments, and infected the wound, which lead to a painful death - they had become obsessed with finding the bullet, and the probes and fingers they used to look probably killed him. Alexander Graham Bell tried, in vain, to find the bullet that had wounded him using a metal detector device; however, he gave up after several attempts - noone had bothered to tell him that the mattress upon which Garfield was resting had a metal spring!

One president, Richard M. Nixon, resigned before completing his second term. He was accused of numerous misdeeds as a result of the Watergate scandal.

No president has ever been successfully removed from office by legal means, but three presidents (Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, and William Clinton) have had enough votes cast against them to begin impeachment proceedings. Impeachment only allows for the beginning of a Senate trial to remove the president from office - and no such trial was held for any of the three presidents. Jackson was not voted responsible of sufficient wrongdoing and was not impeached. Johnson was impeached, but avoided trial by a single vote. He was, however, censured in the Legislature. If I understand the circumstances of the last issue correctly, Clinton was successfully impeached, but the Senate voted that there was not sufficient wrongdoing to merit a trial; efforts to censure him failed in the House.












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33. Board Game: Common Knowledge [Average Rating:3.50 Unranked]
Richard Smeltzer
United Kingdom
Leeds
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The Queen never enters the House of Commons. The last reigning monarch to do so was Charles I, and he had his head chopped off. Best not to risk it, eh Liz?
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34. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.45 Overall Rank:10978]
Richard Smeltzer
United Kingdom
Leeds
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The Great Train Robbers (1963 - stole £2.6 million) played Monopoly after the blag, using the stolen money. Police traced them through fingerprints left on the set.
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35. Board Game: Jupiter [Average Rating:6.08 Unranked]
Me, sin? Pf! Nah! Chill
United States
Fountain Valley
California
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Jupiter has a magnetic north pole which, like Earth's, is offset slightly from its true north pole. However, unlike Earth, it's magnetic axis does not intersect with its rotational axis. This gives it a rather weird magnetic field - sort of like a pulsar, only about one millionth as massive.
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36. Board Game: Guillotine [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:809]
Laurence Koehn
United States
Champaign
Illinois
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The phrase "Let them eat cake" is often attributed to Marie Antoinette. More likely it was Marie-Thérèse, the wife of Louis XIV, who said "S'il n'ont pas de pain, qu'ils mangent de la brioche!" ("If they don't have bread, let them eat cake"), about 100 years earlier. Jean-Jacques Rousseau told the tale in his Confessions as an example of the callousness of the nobility, but didn't actually name the speaker, so it became popular belief that Marie Antoinette had said it.
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37. Board Game: 7 Wonders: Leaders [Average Rating:7.85 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.85 Unranked]
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New York
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Odd inventions:

Heron (Hero?) of Alexandria developed the world's first steam engine just to prove a point some 2000 years ago. He shelved the idea as impractical, unlike most of his inventions: the coin-operated water dispenser; automatic doors; etc.

A French surgeon invented the Guillotine as a quick, "humane" form or execution. He became one of the machine's victims fairly soon in its implementation.

An American preacher invented the Gatling Gun hoping to reduce the horrors of war. His idea was that, with a machinegun, each side would need less soldiers, as each individual soldier was now capable of throwing down a larger wall of lead.
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38. Board Game: Constantinopolis [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:875]
United States
New York
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Constantine the Great worshipped the god Apollo throughout his entire life, despite converting the Roman Empire to Christianity. It seemed a good ploy to appeal to 25% of his population, who would, in turn, provide him with (ahem) legions of fanatical troops. He did make a deathbed conversion "just in case".
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39. Board Game: The Constitution Quest Game [Average Rating:10.00 Unranked]
United States
Westland
Michigan
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The word "democracy" does not appear anywhere in the U.S. Constitution.

I leave it to you to decide how useless that fact is. devil
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40. Board Game: Robert the Bruce [Average Rating:6.21 Unranked]
Richard Smeltzer
United Kingdom
Leeds
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Robert's surname was actually de Brus. The family were Normans who, in addition to their Scottish holdings had land in the north of England. Robert's ancestors up to his grandfather, the 5th Lord of Annandale, were buried at Gisborough Priory in the North Riding of Yorkshire, which had been founded by the 1st Lord.

I grew up in Guisborough, so this is local history for me.
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41. Board Game: Around the World in 80 Days [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:984]
Phil
Germany
Bremen
Bremen
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If you take a bottle and put a cord around it and then increase the length of that cord by one meter and form a circle around it and put the bottle in the middle the distance to the bottle is 16cm.

If you do the same with a cord that has been spun around the world and increase its length by one meter there will be distance of 16cms to the surface too.

(great stuff to annoy a bunch of nerds with)
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