Tag Archives: fact

Man In A Pub Fact Check – Susan Boyle

Scene: last night at the Brass Monkey Leith.

Three men at a bar. The chat turns, as it inevitably does in these situations, to Susan Boyle.

One man lays out a fact:

“Susan Boyle is the ONLY artist to ever have a number one album in the UK charts AND the US charts at the same time.”

Usually when I’m given an astonishing FACT like this, the implication is that I use it in the quiz.

Fair enough

But before deploying, I know it’s always worth checking.

So, unsurprisingly, the actual FACT is slightly less astonishing than the initial claim.

Susan Boyle became the first solo female artist to have TWO simultaneous UK-and-US chart-topping albums in the space of less than twelve months.

Two other artists have already achieved this: The Beatles and The Monkees (both in the sixties), but they are bands rather than solo artists.

Note: Boyle’s albums were not in the same calendar year (2009 and 2010).

Note: The achievement is doing the simultaneous no.1 TWICE in 12 months.

Other artists have done the double twice or more, including Adele and Led Zeppelin, but over a wider span of time. The Beatles did it six times.

Plenty of other artists have been simultaneously top of the US and UK charts, including Pink Floyd, Phil Collins and Radiohead.

Tom Yhorke out of Radiohead dissing the quiz
Tom Yhorke, yesterday

And this is all albums. The singles chart has a whole different list. In fact, that might make quite a good list round. Noted.

By the way, none of this is to subtract from Susan Boyle’s amazing success. Her chart achievements are pretty phenomenal but the point of this article is to point out how easily the truth can get blended into something completely different.

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Quiz: How Old Are The World’s Earliest Playable Sound Recordings?

I thought that sound recording began round about the start of the 20th century but then I read this on Wikipedia the other night. It’s class:

The phonautograph, patented by Léon Scott in 1857, used a vibrating diaphragm and stylus to graphically record sound waves as tracings on sheets of paper, purely for visual analysis and without any intent of playing them back. In the 2000s, these tracings were first scanned by audio engineers and digitally converted into audible sound. Phonautograms of singing and speech made by Scott in 1860 were played back as sound for the first time in 2008. Along with a tuning fork tone and unintelligible snippets recorded as early as 1857, these are the earliest known recordings of sound.

Further reading shows that clips exist from as early as 1853. So the answer to the title of this article is 1853.

That’ll be in the quiz sooner or later.

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Baby Animal Murderer Sheds Light On Outdoorsmans’ Terminology at City Pub Quiz

I had a fairly inconsequential (first round) question last week where I asked for teams to give the four-letter word for the young of a deer.

Answer: Fawn (The additional clue was given by the fact that it was the same-letter round and the letter was F).

However, as I ask the question, one guy pipes up with “What species?”

I reply honestly enough: “I don’t know… a normal deer?”

Later, I asked him what he was talking about. He said that if it’s a red deer then it’s not a fawn, it’s a “calf”.

I asked him how he knew and he said that he used to disembowel them.


“I used to live on Knoydart,” he says, “We used to take them down off the hills and disembowel them. Big ones, and little ones too.”

The time to disemboweled by draws near.

“Was this for food?”

“Oh, they’re pests, they eat all the trees, and there’s millions of the buggers. There’s no wolves, see?”


So, although there is no strict logical connection between murdering an animal and knowing the technical term for its young, I thought there’s a chance me might know his onions so I head to God (aka Wikipedia) to check out the straight facts.

Wiki gives us this:

"For most types of deer in modern English usage, the male is a buck and the female a doe, but the terms vary with dialect, and according to the size of the species. The male red deer is a stag, while for other large species the male is a bull, the female a cow, as in cattle. In older usage, the male of any species is a hart, especially if over five years old, and the female is a hind, especially if three or more years old.[109] The young of small species is a fawn and of large species a calf; a very small young may be a kid. A castrated male is a havier.[110] A group of any species is a herd. The adjective of relation is cervine; like the family name Cervidae, this is from Latin: cervus, meaning stag or deer."

So there you have it. Blood-handed, wild-eyed, mountain-roaming outdoors type is correct.

Question edited.

Database saved.

Job done.


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Most Amazing Facts Ever, Again

Despite being rubbish the first time, I gave the idea of a best-fact contest another run a few Thursdays ago. Here are some of the sightly better “facts” that quizzers came up with:

  • There are 15 calories in one ejaculation of human sperm
  • Blind people who are allergic to dogs get a guide-Shetland-Pony. They have special little shoes.
  • The guy on Princes Street who stands on his upside-down, on his head, in  bucket holds the world record for standing upside-down, on your head, in a bucket and that record is 1 hour and 53 minutes
  • In 1999, all of the world’s Viagra came from Cork (in Ireland).
  • Roger Federer was gifted a cow by the Swiss Government for winning Wimbledon.
  • Russell Brand has a third nipple.
  • The guy who invented the ‘Segway’ died on a Segway by driving off a cliff.

I haven’t fact-checked any of the others but, thinking the last one has to be too good to be true, I’ve just looked it up and it’s true… nearly. The actual inventor of the Segway is an American fellow called Dean Kamen who is still alive and doing just fine. But in 2010, the Segway company was bought by an English entrepreneur, Jimi Heselden, who did indeed fall off a cliff in North Yorkshire while riding a Segway round his estate just a few months after buying the company.


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The Most Amazing True Facts In The World Ever

I had a wee bonus-prize contest at one of my quizzes last night where I asked teams to write down the very best fact they knew, with the winner to be judged on the “fact” that sounded more or less true and was the most entertaining.

Here is the list of what our teams came up with:

  1. Boiling water freezes faster than cold water.
  2. The Adelaide river is in the Northern Territory.
  3. The only male actor to play a woman in every film they made is Lassie.
  4. There are 239 beans in a tin of Heinz – just one more and they’d be 240.
  5. The main food ingredient in dynamite is peanuts.
  6. They can fit 2.6 billion transistors into a 22 nano-meter space, now powering our PCs.
  7. The Royal baby and Blue Ivy Carter are very distant cousins through French ancestors.
  8. The USA are the current holders of the Olympic Men’s Rugby gold medal.
  9. If you draw a circle around the outside of the Great Pyramid of Giza, then draw one inside as close to the [illegible] as possible, the difference in circumference lengths is equal to the speed of light.
  10. Hippos sweat their own suncreen. And it is red!
  11. The duck-billed platypus is the only venomous mammal in the world.
  12. The Mantis Shrimp can shut its claws so quickly it creates a sonic boom and stuns its prey.
  13. Rats can’t spew
  14. The Kimono Dragon has 2 penises and the female kangaroo has 2 vaginas.
  15. Kirkcaldy’s population is 52,000

What do you think was the winner?

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