Useless But Compelling Facts – March 2014 Answer

Our last trivia question (UBCF) asked what connection storm and hurricanes have with the Beatles.

In August of 1962, The Beatles replaced drummer Pete Best with Ringo Starr (born Richard Starkey), a drummer who was with another popular local group known as Rory Storm & the Hurricanes. In September of 1962, Ringo Starr had been with the Beatles for only a few weeks when they recorded their first double-side singles recording – two songs written by Lennon-McCartney entitled "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You".

Useless But Compelling Facts – December 2013

As many people in the world are preparing to celebrate Christmas – traditionally associated with the birth of Christ – did you know that some countries, regions and even localities celebrate that event on January 6, or what the rest of the world considers the Feast of the Epiphany. As examples, but certainly not comprehensive, January 6 is celebrated as the birthdate of Christ by many Armenians and Greeks; the Irish refer to January 6 as Little Christmas, but in the Scottish Highlands, Little Christmas is used to refer to New Year’s Day, while January 6 (Epiphany) is known as the Feast-day of the Kings. In Norway and Sweden, Little Christmas Day is celebrated January 13, and in Scandinavia, Christmas Eve is sometimes referred to as "Little Christmas.” In other parts of the world (e.g., Slovenia, Ukraine), we find numerous references to “Little Christmas” and even to “Old Christmas.”

But it’s actually more complicated than that – as you will guess from today’s Useless But Compelling Fact Question. And if you want a present, try to get the complete and correct answer:

Why do Armenians in Armenia not celebrate Christmas on December 25, but rather on January 6 AND (bonus question) . . . explain why, if that is true in Armenia, the Armenian Patriarch travels from Jerusalem to Bethlehem on January 17, with celebrations and services starting that evening and continuing in the Cathedral of the Nativity, as Christmas Day is celebrated January 18????

Useless But Compelling Facts – August 2013 Answer

Last week we asked you to tell us what curious, but almost unnoticed, event took place in 1994 in the self-styled Republic of Abkhazia in the Caucasus. Well, unnoticed except to philatelists – stamp collectors!

In case you didn’t know – and why would you, it’s a useless, albeit compelling, fact – Abkhazia is on the eastern coast of the Black Sea and the southwestern flank of the Caucasus. Abkhazia considers itself an independent state, but the Republic of Georgia considers Abkhazia to be a part of the Republic of Georgia. Georgia officially characterizes Abkhazia as the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, whose government sits in exile in Tbilisi.

In 1994, officials in the self-styled Republic of Abkhazia issued a postal sheet containing two postage stamps depicting John Lennon and Groucho Marx – an obvious play on Marx and Lenin of Communist-era fame, and presumably a spoof of (or slap at) Abkahzia’s past.

The actual stamp design appears below.

Useless But Compelling Facts – August 2013

After the demise of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Soviet Union (as it was known to Cold War aficionados) split into republics and nations. The splitting process, as you can appreciate, was not an easy one, with factions and governments splintering and bickering and, yes, even waging war for control and for legitimacy. One such self-styled Republic was Abkhazia – a territory claimed to be owned and controlled by the Republic of Georgia in the Caucasus.

In 1994, the government of Abkhazia did something that was novel and quite humorous – ostensibly to gain both global credibility and revenue (and to serve a practical purpose for the emerging, would-be Republic), and in the process, put an indelible, although not particularly valuable, stamp on one of the oldest hobbies in the world. Can you tell me what they did?

Useless But Compelling Facts – April 2013


In a world of “firsts,” Legal Bytes is publishing a Useless But Compelling Fact – both the Question & the Answer at the same time. We will, of course, return to our normal (do we have a "normal") pattern shortly, but this one is too good and too timely to pass up.

Today is the 20th Anniversary or, if you prefer, the 20th Birthday, of the World Wide Web. Yes, exactly 20 years ago, the European Organization for Nuclear Research known as CERN made the technology, promulgated by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, that is the foundation of the World Wide Web, freely available for anyone to use. An international organization established in 1954, CERN also operates the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. The decision to open the technology to everyone transformed the Internet from primarily a communication and data transmission network into a platform where everyone can freely share anything and everything, from music and images and videos, to educational and scientific materials, and where interactions, networked globally, can reach millions and often billions at the speed of light.

To commemorate the event and mark the anniversary, CERN has republished the first website at the original URL from 20 years ago. Not particularly exciting, but definitely enlightening – it shows us how much the World Wide Web has changed and illuminates what may yet be ahead in the evolution of our use of this formidable and dynamic technology. Take a look at the original website and web page at the following URL:

What else do we need to say? Well, how about Happy Birthiversary WWW!!!

Useless But Compelling Facts – March 2013

This Useless But Compelling Fact question is a North American geographic conundrum in two parts.

First, on a standard U.S. English language keyboard (QWERTY), what is the only State in the United States that can be typed using letters on only one row?

Second, when one looks at a map of the United States, name the States that are the farthest North, South, East and West.

Good luck!

Useless But Compelling Facts – February 2013 Answer

Last month, on an arts & sciences theme, we focused on science and asked you to identify the scientific discovery associated with February 18th that was subsequently overturned in 2006. We asked you to tell us what the discovery was, who discovered it and what happened?

Guess who was first with all the right answers! None other than good friend, long-time Legal Bytes reader and a senior executive with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Mark S. Frankel. Congratulations.

Mark correctly told us that while Pluto, the ninth planet in the solar system, was discovered by American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh on February 18th, Pluto was recategorized as a dwarf planet and ‘plutoid’ in 2006.

Runner-up kudos goes to another friend and loyal reader, Samuel J. Dressler; who was a friend growing up in Washington Heights, a fraternity brother in university and remains a distant friend to this day. Sam noted that the name Pluto was first suggested by an 11-year-old English girl named Venetia Burney. The suggestion fit with the unofficial practice of giving planets the name of a Roman God (Pluto is the Roman God of the underworld). Coincidentally the name starts with the initials of the Planet X crusader, Percival Lowell, among other things, an astronomer best remembered as a key proponent of the notion that there were canals on Mars, founder of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona and who is widely credited with being responsible for starting the work that ultimately led to the discovery of Pluto 14 years after his death. Thank you Samuel!

I can’t resist also giving an honorable mention to another good friend, David A. VanderNaalt, one whom I have known since my days at American Express, for sending me this:


Thanks Dave!