Fun Facts Roundup

November 24, 2016

Because so many of you read and (seem to) enjoy the weekly link roundup, I've decided to add a facts roundup to the repertoire, because Facts are dying and the only way to revive them is to share them. I will share fun facts, and sad facts, and obscure facts, and occasionally gross facts. But prepare for many random facts to grace the pages of this blog. If you have a favorite fact that you would like to share with me, please write (my email address can be found at the bottom of the page). 

Without further ado, this week's facts:
Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda
Pink sand (a pretty champagne pink, not the lurid pink sometimes seen in edited photos), the kind you might find on a beach in Bermuda (pictured above), or the Bahamas, get their color from coral fragments, shells, and dead crushed Foraminifera that wash ashore. (Source: The Royal Gazette) 

Underneath polar bears' thick coat of transparent fur is black skin. (Source: National Geographic)

▪ The Kawah Ijen volcano in Indonesia spews lava accompanied by blue flames. (Source: SciShow on Youtube)

Killer whales (or orca) are part of the dolphin family. (Source: NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center)

▪ A group of feral cats is called a destruction; a group of kittens is called an intrigue. Collective nouns for animals are widely circulated online, but many have hazy origins. This is one of those "facts" that can't be summed neatly in a few sentences, so I would invite you to read this short Columbia Journalism Review article (penned by a former New York Times copy editor).

▪ The inspiration for Louboutin's red soles is Andy Warhol's "Flowers." (Source: The New Yorker) 

▪ To "beg the question" is "to use an argument that assumes as proved the very thing one is trying to prove"; what it is not is raising a question. (Source: The New York Times and BegTheQuestion.Info)

▪ While race may have a tenuous genetic basis, there is not a single distinctive characteristic or gene that all members of a "race" share. (Source: Nature Reviews Genetics)

▪ Approximately 7 million adults are under correctional supervision in the U.S. as of 2014, at a cost of about 80 billion dollars annually. This discounts the human cost of incarceration, of course, which some reports estimate at about a trillion dollars; this second item is more factoid than fact, since it is something of a guesstimate. (Source: this Council of Economic Advisers report)

McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets come in four shapes: boot, bow-tie, ball, and bell (Source: a Huffington Post article which references McDonald's-run sites)

▪ Chick-fil-A is not closed on Sundays because it's the "Lord's Day"; its founder, Truett Cathy, just "didn't like working on Sundays." (Source: ABC News, in an interview with Cathy's son)

▪ Only 56.7% of women in the U.S. labor market are employed, compared to 69.1% of men. (Source: DOL)

▪ Panera Bread sued Qdoba Mexican Grill in 2006 after it learned of the latter's plans to open in the mall in which it operates, invoking a clause in its contract which prevents the shopping center from renting to another sandwich shop. The judge presiding over the case ruled in favor of Qdoba, concluding that Qdoba's menu items are not sandwiches. (Source: Fox News)

▪ A newborn kangaroo is about the size of a jelly bean, or less than an inch (Source: National Geographic Video)

The Sun's color is "white." (Source: Stanford Solar Center)

▪ The average U.S. household expenditure in 2015 was $55,978, a 4.6% increase from the previous year (the average household income, before taxes, was $69,629). (Source: the Bureau of Labor Statistics)

▪ Bulls are dichromats, so the muleta used in bullfighting is red more to hide any blood spilled than because bulls have a color preference. And they charge at the matador because of the latter's incitation, not because they are enraged by the color of the cloth. (Source: Discovery Channel)

▪ The first New York Fashion week was held in 1943; its existence in part a distraction for buyers, editors, and designers who were unable to travel to then German-occupied France. (Source: Slate)

The botanical definition of a berry is "a fruit with seeds and pulp produced from the ovary of a single flower." Under this definition, bananas, eggplants, watermelons, and pumpkins are considered berries, while strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are not. (Source: Wikipedia)

▪ It is not possible for astronauts with unaided eyes to see specific human-made objects from the Moon, including the Great Wall of China. (Source: NASA)

There are currently only 18 female heads of state (excluding monarchs, PMs that are not heads of government, like Saara Kuugongelwa of Namibia, or de facto heads of government, like Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar) in the world: Erna Solberg (Elected Prime Minister of Norway since 2013), Patsy Reddy (Appointed Governor-General of New Zealand since 2016), Beata Szydło (Appointed Prime Minister of Poland since 2015) , Theresa May (Appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 2016), Angela Merkel (Elected Chancellor of Germany, in office since 2005), Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Elected President of Liberia, in office since 2006), Sheikh Hasina (Elected Prime Minister of Bangladesh, in office since 2009), Dalia Grybauskaitė (Elected President of Lithuania, in office since 2009), Park Geun-hye (Elected President of South Korea, in office since 2013), Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria (Elected President of Chile, in office since 2014), Marie Louise Coleiro Preca (Elected President of Malta, in office since 2014), Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (Elected President of Croatia, in office since 2015), Tsai Ing-wen (Elected President of the Republic of China, in office since 2016), Bidhya Devi Bhandari (Elected President of Nepal, in office since 2015), Bibi Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim (Elected President of Mauritius, in office since 2015), Doris Bures (Interim Co-President of Austria, in office since 2016), Hilda Cathy Heine (Elected President of the Marshall Islands, in office since 2016), and Kersti Kaljulaid (Elected President of Estonia, in office since 2016).

▪ (This is one of my favorite facts) Monotremes are the only mammals that lay eggs; the only extant members of this group are the platypus and four species of echidna. (Source: University of California Museum of Paleontology; for more on echidnas, this 2014 Economist piece is one of my favorite things ever.)

Happy Thanksgiving, all! And do check back for sporadic sale updates.

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