Sunday, July 4, 2021


Friend Graham, for whom the G Spot is named (at least in Bytes), sent me another email with a feast of fascinating facts, a trove of tremendous trivia, a plethora of prodigious perspicacity, a . . . well, you get the idea.

Thanks, G.

Here is Graham's email, with occasional by the way comments from myself.

Hi Mr O,

Here are some amazing facts that I have come across over the years doing a trivial little pastime. . . . . . .

Woolly mammoths lived at the time of the pyramids

When construction of the Great Pyramids began 4,500 years ago, there were still woolly mammoths living on Wrangel Island, off the coast of Siberia.

Although, most woolly mammoths died out by 10,000 years ago, a small group of 500 to 1,000 survived there until 1650 BC.

Cleopatra lived closer to the invention of the cell phone than to the building of the Great Pyramid

The Queen of the Nile lived from 69 BC to 30 BC, about 2,500 years after the Great Pyramid was finished in 2560 BC, but only about 2,000 years before Motorola produced the first handheld mobile phone in 1973.

Queen Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe were born 41 days apart

Marilyn Monroe was the queen of Hollywood, but Queen Elizabeth II is the real thing, and actual queen.

Marilyn born Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles on the 1st June, 1926, just 41 days after Princess Elizabeth on 21st April.

Elizabeth became queen in 1952, around the time Marilyn was starring in Monkey Business with Cary Grant.

Ghengis Khan is as old as Notre Dame

In 1163,Temujin, who would one day be known as Genghis Khan, was born in the Hentiyn Nuruu mountains near Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

That same year, Louis VII and Pope Alexander III laid the cornerstone beginning construction on the cathedral in Paris that would become Notre Dame.

The guillotine was last used in the same year that Star Wars came out

The last guillotining in France was carried out on torture-murderer Hamida Djandoubi on September 10, 1977, almost four months after Star Wars hit theatres. New York’s World Trade Centre was also finished the same year.

Hamida Djandoubi was a Tunisian agricultural worker and convicted murderer. He moved to Marseille, France, in 1968 and six years later he kidnapped, tortured and murdered 22-year-old Élisabeth Bousquet, his nurse after a leg amputation as a result of a work accident. He was sentenced to death in February 1977 and executed by guillotine in September that year. He was the last person to be executed in Western Europe, and he was the last person to be lawfully executed by beheading anywhere in the Western world, although he was not the last person sentenced to death in France. Marcel Chevalier served as chief executioner.

Hamida Djandoubi

Marcel Chevalier

Marcel Chevalier (1921 - ) worked as the last chief executioner in France, succeeding his wife’s uncle as chief executioner in 1975, a position held until 1981, when capital punishment was abolished under president François Mitterrand. The method of application of the death penalty for civil capital offences in France from 1791 to 1981 was beheading with the guillotine. Military executions were by firing squad.

Chevalier, who started his executioner's career in 1958, performed about 40 executions. After his appointment as chief executioner, on 1 October 1976, he executed only two people. They were the last two executions in France. His son Éric was present at those last two executions in order to prepare him for succession to chief executioner upon his father's eventual retirement.

There is good reason for keeping it in the family, as explained in this extract from
Executioners, disparagingly nicknamed ‘les bourreaux’ ["the executioners"] by their countrymen, occupied a contradictory place in French society. Until the execution of German serial killer Eugen Weidmann in June, 1939 the French public hadn’t minded turning out in their thousands to watch these men work, but had always despised and shunned them at the same time.

Schools refused to accept their children. In the days of regional executioners they were forced to live just outside whichever town or village they lived in. Even bakers would keep the executioner’s bread separate so their other customers would know their bread wasn’t tainted, an old French folk tale said that anything touched by the executioner was also touched by the Devil himself. Even churches refused to marry them except into the families of other executioners. By the time Chevalier became the last to perform his office all French executioners could be traced to only a handful of families, not always illustrious ones at that.

On other point . . . prisoners in France who had been condemned to death did not know the date on which they would be executed until the day arrived. When the executioner, known only by staff cand condemned alike as “The Man From Paris” arrived at the prison, all condemned had to wait to see which would be executed that day.

Orville Wright Was Still Alive When The Sound Barrier Was Broken

The first powered flight, on December 17th, 1903, a few miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, earned Wilbur and Orville Wright a well deserved place in the history books.

Wilbur died early in 1912, but Orville lived until 1948, living long enough to meet Chuck Yeager and to learn of his breaking of the sound barrier in his Bell X-1 airplane, on October 14th, 1947.

Confucius, Socrates and Buddha all lived around the same time

Buddha was born Siddhartha Gautama in 480 BCE in present-day Nepal and died aged 80 in 400 BCE in present-day India.

Confucius was born Kǒng Qiū, in 551 BCE Zou, China and died aged 72 in 479 BCE in Si River, China.

Socrates was born in 470 BCE in Athens, Greece and died aged 71 in 399 BCE in Athens, Greece.

Mark Twain's birth and death coincide with Halley's Comet

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known more popularly by his nom de plume, Mark Twain, was born in 1835, the same year that Halley's Comet made its first appearance. The comet made a second appearance in 1910, the year that Twain died, and the author, according to the New York Times, famously predicted that the two events would coincide.

Stephen Hawking shares his birth and death with Galileo and Einstein

Theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author Stephen Hawking was famously born on the 8th January 1942, the 300th anniversary of Italian astronomer,

physicist and engineer Galileo Galilei's death, and died on 14th March 2018, what would have been German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein's

139th birthday. His ashes were interred at Westminster Abbey on 15 June 2018,in the nave between the graves of Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

John Wilkes Booth's brother saved Abraham Lincoln's son from death

While in a train station in New Jersey, Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln, leaned up against a stopped train, nearly falling onto the tracks as it started up again. Edwin Booth grabbed him by the collar and saved him just in time.

The younger Lincoln recognized his hero and wrote about the incident, but it wasn't until years later that Booth found out who he had saved.

Robert Todd Lincoln witnessed three presidential assassinations

Though he wasn't there at the theatre in Washington, DC, during his father's fateful shooting, he was rushed to his deathbed and sat by his side until the elder Lincoln passed away in 1865. In 1881 he was an eye-witness to the killing of President James A. Garfield in Elberon, New Jersey and then in 1901, as the guest of President William McKinley in Buffalo, New York, saw the president fatally shot.

Two Dennis the Menace characters emerged in different countries at the same time

Dennis the Menace, the lovable, mischievous, little boy, first appeared in March of 1951 with his dog, Ruff.

But in the same month of that very same year, across the Atlantic in the U.K., another cartoon Dennis the Menace was launched.

The British Dennis was a bit more sinister than his American counterpart, intentionally rather than inadvertently causing chaos.

Amazingly, there are no signs of plagiarism, as the characters were made independently but simultaneously, ultimately occupying a similar place in their respective country's cultural landscape.

Alec Guinness predicts James Dean's death

In 1955 while arriving for dinner at the Villa Capri in Los Angles, Alec Guinness saw James Dean’s new "sinister" looking car and told him, "If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week." Dean was killed exactly one week later when “Little Bastard” crashed head on into a Ford Custom Tudor coupe on US Route 466 near Cholame, California.

After Dean's fatal accident, the recoverable parts of the Porsche 550 Spyder were re-sold, and went on to cause several other accidents for their new owners, including two other independent fatalities and several injuries., the authoritative debunking site, credits as "true" that Dean made a public service clip for young people before his death in which he told thme not to speed.

The site acknowledges that Guinness claims to have given the advice but does not investigate whether it is true or not.

It states:
The future Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote of an encounter that took place in Los Angeles in September 1955 when he was dog-tired and starving after a 16-hour flight from Copenhagen and had failed to find seating in any of three restaurants because his female companion, Thelma Moss, was wearing slacks:
I became aware of running, sneakered feet behind us and turned to face a fair young man in sweat-shirt and blue-jeans. “You want a table?” he asked. “Join me. My name is James Dean.” We followed him gratefully, but on the way back to the restaurant he turned into a car-park, saying, “I’d like to show you something.” Among the other cars there was what looked like a large, shiny, silver parcel wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon. “It’s just been delivered,” he said, with bursting pride. “I haven’t even driven it yet.”

The sports car looked sinister to me, although it had a large bunch of red carnations resting on the bonnet. “How fast is it?” I asked. “She’ll do a hundred and fifty,” he replied. Exhausted, hungry, feeling a little ill-tempered in spite of Dean’s kindness, I heard myself saying in a voice I could hardly recognise as my own, “Please, never get in it.” I looked at my watch. “It is now ten o’clock, Friday the 23rd of September, 1955. If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week.”

He laughed. “Oh, shucks! Don’t be so mean!”

What else would you expect from a Jedi Master?

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