Missouri


Missouri was named after a tribe of Sioux Indians called the Missouris. While often mistranslated as ‘muddy water,’ the word actually means ‘town of the large canoes.’

Most people who are vaguely familiar with Missouri probably think of a place where all the festivals are named after a fruit, vegetable, or grain; where most local gas stations sell live bait; and, where everyone ends their sentences with an unnecessary preposition. E.g. “Where’s my coat at?” or “If you go to the mall I wanna go with.”

According Business Insider research, in 2014, Missouri was considered one of the ‘most normal’ States in the US. Now, before we discard Missouri as one of the most – if not the most – average, unassuming, bland, vanilla US State, consider the following points:

  • In 1865, Missouri became the first slave state to free its slaves.
  • Missouri is known as the “Show Me State”, and the state animal is the Mule.
  • The tallest man in documented medical history was Robert Pershing Wadlow from St. Louis. He was 8 feet, 11.1 inches tall.
  • In 1811, New Madrid, Missouri was struck by the most powerful earthquake in US history; it was felt over 1000 miles away.
  • The state musical instrument of Missouri is the fiddle and the state folk dance is the square dance.
  • At the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, Richard Blechyden, served tea with ice and invented iced tea.
  • In 1904, St. Louis, Missouri hosted the first Olympic Games held in the US. It lasted for four and a half months. ‘Climbing a greased pole’ was one of the events. Also, during the marathon almost half of the runners got heat stroke.

“I’ll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missouri”
– Abe ‘Grandpa’ Simpson

  • Samuel Clemens, more familiarly known as Mark Twain, author of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was born in Florida, Missouri and grew up near a place called Hannibal. Other famous writers from Missouri include T.S. Eliot and Maya Angelou.
  • On March 18, 1925, Missouri was hit by the most destructive tornado in US history, at least 695 people were killed, over 15,000 homes demolished, and ninety percent of the city of Annapolis was destroyed.
  • President Harry S. Truman was born in Lamar, May 8, 1884. Harry Truman was the only U.S. President to hail from Missouri. After he left the White House in 1953, he and his wife Bess moved back to the Independence home they shared with his mother-in-law and lived off his $112.56 monthly Army pension.
  • Some of the names of Frontier Missouri chewing tobacco include “Scalping Knife,” “My Wife’s Hat,” “Lock and Chain,” and “Wiggletail Twist.”
  • In 2007, St. Louis, Missouri was dubbed ‘the most smoker-friendly city in the US’ by Forbes Magazine.
  • Dr Pepper was introduced at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. 7-Up also was invented in St. Louis.
  • To appeal to as many voters as possible, politicians sometimes pronounce “Missouri” two different ways—Missouree and Missourah—in the same speech. The Missourah pronunciation is usually more prevalent in rural areas.

2/x mmxiii


The 23rd tallest tree in the world is called Adam.

Depiction of Dorando Pietri staggering across ...

Depiction of Dorando Pietri staggering across the finish line of the 1908 Olympic marathon, unfortunately for him, he was later disqualified

In chess, the Shannon number is an estimated lower bound on the game-tree complexity (the total number of possible games that can be played) which is estimated to be at least 10123. As a comparison, the number of atoms in the observable universe is estimated to be between 4×1079 and 1081.

Charles Hefferon, a South African runner who competed in the Marathon in the 1908 Summer Olympics. Hefferon was in the lead until, with just a few miles to go, he drank a glass of champagne offered to him by a well-meaning fan. He promptly slowed down and was overtaken by other runners.

The night before his first race at the 1972 Olympic Games, legendary swimming champ Mark Spitz almost decided to shave off his famous moustache. However, when a Russian coach started giving him a hard time about sporting facial hair, Spitz joked that the moustache made him swim faster by keeping water away from his mouth. Spitz kept his moustache and went on to win 7 gold medals at the Games. At the next Olympics, all the Russian swimmers were sporting moustaches.

According to the Talmud, the central text of mainstream Judaism, Adam only lasted 12 hours in the Garden of Eden.

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Strange Former Olympic Sports


Quite a number of events have come and gone during the run of the modern Olympics. When you add them up, it makes up quite an odd list of activities. In fact, most of them weren’t even sports.

Thomas Hicks running the marathon at the 1904 ...

Thomas Hicks running the marathon at the 1904 Summer Olympics.

Tug-of-War

Nowadays reserved for picnics and summer camps, tug-of-war was an actual Olympic sport. From 1900 to 1920, the Olympic tug-of-war was an eight-on-eight battle and would be won when one team pulled the rope six feet. Britain won the gold medal twice. In 1908, their gold medal team consisted entirely of London police force employees.

Poodle clipping

The second modern Olympic games in 1900 in Paris featured an event called poodle clipping. For this event 128 competitors assembled at the Bois de Boulogne, a park in western Paris. A giant crowd of 6,000-plus watched as they competed to see who could trim the most poodles’ fur in a two hour period. The gold medallist was 37-year-old Avril Lafoule from Auvergne, France, who clipped 17 poodles.

Fire fighting

The 1900 games also featured fire fighting; an event in which a fire was lit and had to be put out as quickly as possible. In the volunteer competition, the winner was a team from Portugal; in the professional division, the winner was a group of fire-fighters from Kansas City.

Solo synchronized swimming

From 1984 to 1992 the games featured the solo synchronized swimming event. Instead of synchronising to a partner, the solo swimmer synchronized to music. Points were awarded to the most elegant performance.

Delivery van driving

The 1900 Paris Olympics featured a ton of different motor races, including delivery van driving. The French got all three medals, although, curiously, their names are not on record. The motor racing events also included small cars, large cars, seven-seat cars, trucks and taxis. Except for a US silver and a German bronze, the French dominated the event winning every motor race medal.

Plunge diving

At the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, there was an event called plunge diving. A diver would stand stationary on the edge of a pool, then, from that stand still, jump as far as possible. Once the athlete got underwater, they could swim forward for up to 60 seconds. Only five people competed and all of them were from the US And, like most of the events on this list, plunge diving was a one-and-done event, never appearing again.

Live pigeon shooting

There’s only been one Olympic event in history where animals were intentionally harmed. Live pigeon shooting went down at those absolutely absurd 1900 Paris Olympics.The goal of the event: shoot and kill as many pigeons as possible. More than 300 pigeons were shot and killed for this event. Leon de Lunden of Belgium won the event with 21 kills. It was the first and last time animals were killed for an Olympic event. At the Paris games that year, there was also a shooting competition centered around shooting running deer, except those were moving cut-outs, not actual animals.

Swimming obstacle race

This is another 1900 Paris event which took place in the river Seine. First, competitors had to swim to a pole, then climb up it, then slide down it. Then they’d swim toward some boats, which they had to climb over. After that, more swimming to more boats, but this time they had to go under. Overall, they’d swim 200 meter, with a lot of climbing in between. Frederick Lane of Australia won the swimming obstacle race, completing the course in 2:38.4. It turns out he also won the 200-meter freestyle at the Paris Olympics in 2:25. In other words, all the pole and boat climbing only slowed him down by 13 seconds.

Rope climbing

Rope climbing featured in four Olympics: 1896, 1904, 1924 and 1932. It was incredibly simple: fastest climb to the top wins.

Hot air ballooning

And one more from the 1900 Olympics for good measure. During the Paris Olympics, they held several hot air ballooning events, including distance, duration, elevation and targeted stopping. The French competitors won every single event.

The Silver Medal Psyche


“I think if I was an Olympic athlete, I would rather come in last than win the silver, if you think about it. You know, you win the gold, you feel good. You win the bronze, you think, well, at least I got something. But you win that silver, that’s like congratulations, you almost won. Of all the losers, you came in first of that group.”

Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld may actually be on to something here. A group of psychologists actually studied the effects of winning silver versus bronze, and they found out that, on average, taking the bronze is much more satisfying than getting silver.

The reverse side of the medals of the 2008 Sum...

The reverse side of the medals of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing

We all know the gold medal winners are quite elated. That’s almost a given. But Tom Gilovich, the chairman of Cornell’s psychology department, argues that bronze winners are actually happier than people who get silver.

The bronze medallist realizes what they have, a medal, and compares that to what they almost did not have. They’re one step away from no medal. And that feels good. So it fosters a psychology of ‘Well, at least I have a medal,’ whereas the silver medallist is one step away from the coveted gold, and that fosters a psychology of: ‘Oh, if only. If only I’d done this slightly different.’

In research based on the expressions of silver medallists, Gilovich found that they were significantly less happy-looking than the bronze medallists, and that was verified also in terms of how they looked on the medal stands later on. Videotaped interviews of the athletes conducted in the studio after the event were also studied. Results based on this material showed on the part of bronze medallists: ‘at least I got this medal,’ whereas the overall commentary on the part of the silver medallists was: ‘if only…’

The research team of Gilovich was unable to track how long the average medallist senses a regret for failing to win the gold medal. However, Gilovich mentions an account of a long-distance runner who was well ahead and then faded at the end and got the silver medal and later said, when he was 92 years old, that a day doesn’t go by when he doesn’t think of how he let the gold slip away.

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