Neat Stuff!

I know I often post “weird news” articles, with links to 3-4 mildly amusing news stories… but this post is different! It’s about really neat trivia-like stuff I’ve found over the past couple of weeks whilst otherwise busy with the Ashes to Ashes recaps. Check out some of these articles… they’re really cool!

– Chang and Eng were probably the most famous conjoined twins in history. In fact, they were so famous that for 150 years such twins were usually called “Siamese twins” in the United States, after Chang and Eng’s birth country (which is now Thailand). You might also know that Chang and Eng toured the world for several years with legendary showman P.T. Barnum. But what you might not know is that once they made a big pile of money, they decided to settle down in the place they considered the most beautiful on earth: Mount Airy, North Carolina!

Chang and Eng

Yes, the city that gave birth to Andy Griffith and was the basis for the fictional town of “Mayberry” became home to the Siamese twins in the early 1840s (they actually lived a few miles outside town, to be exact). But the twins faced one problem right off the bat – the lack of a last name (“Chang” and “Eng” mean “right” and “left”, by the way). This was solved when the person behind them in line at the courthouse, Fred Bunker, offered the twins his own name. Thus, they became known as “Chang and Eng Bunker”. They settled in to life in Mount Airy, buying two houses (they’d stay at Chang’s for three days, then Eng’s for three days, then alternate the remaining day). They joined, and became regulars of, the White Plains Baptist Church, where they are buried. The twins had 21 children, and two of their sons even fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War! Read more about the Siam\Mt. Airy connection here.

– What do Louis C.K., Desperate Housewives, Married With Children and That 70’s Show have in common? According to the nifty screencaps shown here, they all apparently used the same prop newspaper!

– A few years ago, the Euro was a fresh new currency, backed by all the economic strength of the European Union. Now, it appears that the currency might not last an additional five years. Only time will tell if we’ll have to use marks, francs and lira again… but things certainly don’t look very good for the Euro at the moment.

– During the Civil War, the register of the U.S. Treasury, one L.E. Chittenden, was charged with preventing the Confederacy from buying two warships from England. To do that, he had to offer more money for the ships, and to get that money, he had to sign a bunch of bonds… 12,500 of them, to be exact. In one weekend. He started at noon on a Friday afternoon, and by 7 pm that night he had signed 3,700 bonds. But things rapidly went downhill from there. Chittenden had to complete his task as quickly as possible, so sleep was out of the question. And his hand rapidly started to ache, and no cure seemed to help. Chittenden finished the task, exhausted, by noon on Sunday, and had the bonds, which formed a stack six feet high, transferred to a steamer ship. In the end, though, the Brits sold the ships to neither the Confederacy nor the Federals, making Chittenden’s heroic effort worthless.

– In 2007, native hunters caught a 50-ton whale off the coast of Alaska. Embedded in the whale’s neck they found a fragment of a lance that had been made in New Bedford, MA in 1890. This means that the whale was 115 to 130 years old, and might have been born the same year Rutherford B. Hayes was inaugurated as president.

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