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14 Weird Facts that Are Fun to Know

8. The U.S. military spent 20.2 billion US dollars every year on air-conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan until 2011. That is more than NASA’s annual budget in the last decade.

U.S. military Air conditioning Iraq cost
Image credit: Steven Anderson via NPR

In 2011, a former Pentagon official, Steven Anderson, revealed that the United States spent 20.2 billion US dollars every year only on air-conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan before the soldiers were called back.

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To understand why the cost is so high, let’s look at how it worked in Afghanistan. To get an air-conditioner functioning in Afghanistan was not easy. A gallon of fuel to power the air-conditioners had to be sent to Karachi, Pakistan and then taken 800 miles away over a span of 18 days to the outposts in Afghanistan where the American soldiers camped. Some roads in Afghanistan were like “improved goat trails.” As the air-conditioners were fitted in independent tents, they used to require a lot of fuel. These fuel tanks were targets, and so arrangements for their protection also had to be made. The 20.2 billion cost includes the cost of transportation, protection, equipment, and other infrastructure that was required to get the air-conditioning working. In 2019, NASA’s yearly budget is 21.9 billion US dollars. In 2011, it was 18 billion US dollars. (1, 2)

9. Two kids in 1978 were playing in the dirt and dug up their yard in Los Angeles. They found a Ferrari.

Ferrari found 1978
Image credit: Larry Sharkey / Los Angeles Times

Two children who had moved into a new house with their family in Los Angeles were playing in their yard and decided to start digging in it for fun. The stories of treasure being found in backyards are not unheard of, but these boys found a 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS buried right there! The police investigated the car and found that it had been stolen. When the owners of the Ferrari were having dinner at the Brown Derby Restaurant, the car had been stolen and hidden by burying it. The insurance was paid to the owners for the car so the car was auctioned to a man named Brad Howard back then, just for nine thousand US dollars. Howard got it restored and displayed “Dug Up” on his number plate. (source)

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10. “Wife-carrying” is the name of a sport in Finland where the males carry the females on their shoulders and race. The prize is the female’s weight in beer.

Wife-carrying sport
Image source: wife-carrying.org

Introduced in Sonkajärvi, Finland, wife-carrying is a unique sport that has a category in the Guinness Book of World Records. The men carry the females on their shoulders in different styles like piggyback, Estonian (the female is in an upside down position with her legs on the husband’s shoulders), and the fireman’s carry (the female is over the shoulder) through two dry and one water obstacle for 253.5 meters. The female must weigh at least 49 kilograms and if she doesn’t, more weight is added to achieve that number. Although the sport says “wife-carrying,” the man can carry his neighbor’s wife or any other woman who is at least 17 years of age. In Sonkajärvi, Finland, Wife Carrying World Championships are held every year since 1992. The prize for this competition is the female’s weight in beer. People also compete for this sport in parts of Australia, the United Kingdom, North America, and Asia. (1, 2)

11. The loudest word ever shouted is “quiet.”

loudest word
Image credit: BBC

In 1994, Annalisa Flanagan set the world record for the loudest shout ever and gained a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. She entered a Citybus shouting contest in Belfast where ironically, she screamed the word “quiet” at 121.7 decibels. That is almost equal to the level of noise a jet engine produces. The decibel level of thunder is 120 decibels. In 2000, her record was broken by Jill Drake, a classroom assistant who screamed at a decibel level of 129. However, since Jill did not scream a word, “quiet” continues to be the loudest word ever shouted. (1, 2)

12. Pizza Hut delivered to the International Space Station in 2001.

In a publicity stunt that cost them more than one million US dollars, Pizza Hut sent a pizza topped with salami to the International Space Station (ISS) on a resupply rocket. They did not use the popular pepperoni as a topping because it spoils after 60 days. The pizza had extra seasoning, especially salt, as the senses get a little numb in space. The Russians were paid by Pizza Hut for this stunt, but the U.S. astronauts at the ISS could not eat the pizza as NASA does not allow advertisements on their spacecraft. (source)

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13. London pays rent to the Queen for two pieces of land that were leased in 1211 and whose locations are not known to anyone anymore. The rent: two knives, six oversized horseshoes, and 61 nails.

London
Image credit: Pixabay

Every year in late October between St. Michael’s Day (October 11) and St. Martin’s Day (November 11), the City of London pays rent to the Crown for two pieces of land somewhere in Shropshire. The ceremony is held at the Royal Courts of Justice in Strand, London. For one piece of land, London pays two knives, one sharp and another blunt. For the second piece of land, the city pays six huge horseshoes and 61 nails as rent. This occasion is known as the “Ceremony of Quit Rents” and is the oldest legal ceremony in England, not including Coronation. The ceremony began in 1211, and it is so old that the exact location of these two pieces of land are not known. The rent is paid to the Queen’s Remembrancer (oldest judicial position in the country) who even today adorns a wig, a tricorn hat, and ceremonial robes for the ceremony. (source)

14. Many of Hong Kong’s high-rises have mysterious gaping holes in them. Locals believe the holes are there to allow dragons to fly to the water.

Building holes hong kong
Image credit: G.Solomon/Wikimedia

The facades of many of Hong Kong’s high-rises are similar to those in the other countries except for a huge hole created in the structures. These “gaping holes” are said to be for “spirit dragons” who reside in the mountains. Blocking a dragon’s way to the mountains is considered to bring bad luck and misfortune. This is the theory that the local people believe strongly. However, the reason for the hole is more practical. When a lot of high-rises began being constructed in Hong Kong very close together to save space, people began complaining of ventilation and view-blocking. These “wall-effect” structures then underwent a modification. In 2005, the city’s Planning Department published a report that led to the setting up of certain guidelines for such structures. One of the guidelines was for air-ventilation and to leave gaps in the middle of the buildings. But builders came to compromise as there wasn’t enough space and started leaving holes in the middle of the structures rather than between them. The local folklore about dragons is widely believed even today. (source)

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