Sourced with thanks from nytimes.com
2020 was a year where we were all focussed on news about the pandemic and the related developments around it. However, there was a lot happening and there seems to have been many facts embedded in the various articles that appeared in New York Times. Their editors kept track of such facts and have collated in one place to make for some interesting reading that will probably help you look at last year a little differently. In Part 2 those facts gleaned from July to December 2020 are covered. Team RetyrSmart
These are a few of our favourite facts from 2020 – Part 2
- Ghulam Sarwar Khan, the Pakistani aviation minister, told Parliament in June that of around 860 pilots working for Pakistani air carriers, 260 had fraudulent licenses.
Suspension From European Airspace Is Latest Blow to Pakistan’s Troubled Airline
- The word “homosexuality” was coined by the Austro-Hungarian writer Karl-Maria Kertbeny in 1869.
Overlooked No More: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, Pioneering Gay Activist
- “Brave New World,” Aldous Huxley’s 1932 science fiction novel, is set in a future with chemical birth control, mood stabilizers, genetic engineering, videoconferencing and television.
‘Brave New World’ Arrives in the Future It Predicted
- We breathe roughly 25,000 times a day.
Breathe Better With These Nine Exercises
- The self-storage industry got its start in the 1960s, when swelling consumerism led Americans to buy more stuff than they had room for.
Americans Hunker Down, Threatening the Self-Storage Industry
- At 17, Lucille Ball left her upstate New York high school for Broadway, only to be told: “You just don’t have it. Why don’t you go home?”
The ‘Wildcat’ Episode, or, Did Broadway Love Lucy?
- Bayes’s theorem is a device for rationally updating your prior beliefs and uncertainties based on observed evidence.
How to Think Like an Epidemiologist
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- After getting swallowed by a frog, the beetle Regimbartia attenuata can scuttle down the amphibian’s gut and force it to poop, emerging soiled but alive.
There Are Two Ways Out of a Frog. This Beetle Chose the Back Door.
- Penicillin, which was discovered in 1928, would have vanquished the pneumonia that killed many people during the 1918 influenza pandemic.
In N.Y.C.’s Coronavirus Surge, a Frightening Echo of the 1918 Flu
- The fist bump was reputedly popularized by Fred Carter, a high-energy N.B.A. player of the 1970s.
Will We Ever Touch (Professionally) Again?
- Before taking what would become a famous photograph of Florence Owens Thompson known as “Migrant Mother” in 1936, Dorothea Lange drove 20 miles past the camp where Ms. Thompson was staying before deciding to turn around.
America at Hunger’s Edge
- The beaches of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago, are covered with “blubberstones” — gravel mingled with rendered fat, vestiges of the mass killings of seals and whales.
Grief and Geology Both Take Time in ‘The Book of Unconformities’
- Martha Stewart, who has a line of CBD products, including pâte de fruit, was introduced to the palliative effects of cannabis by Snoop Dogg, a friend, at Comedy Central’s 2015 “Roast of Justin Bieber.”
Martha Stewart, Blissed Out on CBD, Rides Out the Pandemic
- In the United States, prison life sentences have quadrupled since the 1980s.
Making Art When ‘Lockdown’ Means Prison
- In Belgium, the wealthy Dutch-speaking region in the north and the poorer French-speaking region in the south each have their own governments, political parties and cultures.
After 2 Years of Paralysis, Belgium Forms a (Very Fragile) Government
- Standard plastic will take 450 years to degrade in ocean water.
Why ‘Biodegradable’ Isn’t What You Think
- Because of the atrocities of the Nazi era, Germany doesn’t maintain data on racial demographics.
Black Germans Say It’s Time to Look Inward
- By one estimate, the K-pop group BTS adds more than $3.5 billion annually to South Korea’s economy.
BTS’s Loyal Army of Fans Is the Secret Weapon Behind a $4 Billion Valuation
- News Corp controls about two-thirds of daily newspaper circulation in Australia.
Petition Targeting Murdoch Swamps Australian Parliament’s Website
- The world’s population is expected to start shrinking in about 45 years.
Matthew Yglesias Thinks There Should Be ‘One Billion Americans’
- A small contingent of the population carries a mutation that makes them immune to the odious funk that wafts off fish, according to a study published in the journal Current Biology.
People With This Mutation Can’t Smell Stinky Fish
- Often, the screams we hear in movies and TV are created by doubles and voice actors. One stock scream is so well-used it’s got a name, the Wilhelm. It’s in hundreds of films.
They Scream! We Scream!
- In the United States, 80,000 acres of wetlands are lost to development annually.
These Wetlands Helped Stop Flooding From Sandy. Now a BJ’s May Move In.
- Cacerolazo, Spanish for casserole, is a form of protest involving pot-banging.
Make Some Noise and Move: A Choreographer Provides Instructions
- Sports teams first visited the White House in 1865, when President Andrew Johnson welcomed baseball’s Washington Nationals and Brooklyn Atlantics.
Even With a New President, Sports at the White House Won’t Be the Same
- Once rare off Southern California beaches, great white sharks are beginning to show up more often. The newcomers are mostly juvenile sharks, which prefer the warm waters closer to shore.
When Sharks Turned Up at Their Beach, They Called in Drones
- Many stories have been told over the years about the inspiration for the song “Lola” by the Kinks. The group’s singer, Ray Davies, said it came from an encounter at the Castille Club, a Paris nightspot the group frequented.
Ray Davies on 50 Years of ‘Lola’
- Underground, trees and fungi form partnerships known as mycorrhizas: Threadlike fungi envelop and fuse with tree roots, helping them extract water and nutrients in exchange for some of the carbon-rich sugars the trees make through photosynthesis.
The Social Life of Forests
- The Olympic track star Rafer Johnson was a regular in Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign entourage in 1968. Johnson helped to tackle Sirhan Sirhan after the assassin shot Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
Remembering Rafer Johnson in a Long Year of Lost Sports Legends
- John le Carré did not compete for, nor accept, book prizes. In 2011, when he was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize, he asked that his name be withdrawn.
John le Carré, a Master of Spy Novels Where the Real Action Was Internal
- In Hawaiian, the word for salt is pa’akai, meaning “to solidify the sea.”
How to Collect Salt