Facts about the good old U.S. of A. and the 50 states, including geography and history.
Facts about animals, animal companions and companion-challenged creatures.
Details about art, artists, popular culture, music, films, actors, and similar diversions.
Useless facts about stars, planets, space, and other places you will never visit.
Things you might not know about people you will never meet, most of whom are dead anyway.
Not so important facts about our favorite planet (except for that one Mr. Spock is from, maybe).
Stuff about food and why it might kill you to eat some of it (although you still ought to eat, maybe).
Mostly useless information about human beings and the bodies we all inhabit for now.
Juicy tidbits of fact about the everyday items we all take for granted.
Scientific facts that probably won't help you do anything, except use up neuropathways.
Facts that probably won't help you much in the garden.
Some facts about politcs and elections, just in case you weren't already apathetic.
Useless information about U.S. Presidents and their sordid lives.
Weird things that have happened in the U.S. that probably won't affect you in any way.
Some facts about words, their origins, what they mean, and why we don't let animals use them.
Weird things that have happened in the world. that probably won't affect you in any way.
Generally Useless Facts that defy these useless catagories.
American GUF
Animal GUF
Art and Culture GUF
Astronomical GUF
Biographical GUF
Earth GUF
Food GUF
Human Body GUF
Invention GUF
Legal GUF
Other Science GUF
Plant GUF
Political GUF
Presidential GUF
The GUF of Life
Word GUF
Worldwide GUF
Miscellaneous GUF

Generally Useless Facts
The GUF of Life

Note to visitor: this first one completely captures the essence of the GUF of life:

Several visitors to the Memphis Zoo in the 1990's demanded to have their admission fees refunded when they discovered that a special exhibit on dinosaurs did not include live dinosaurs.

In 1977, U.S. automobile manufacturers recalled more cars than they produced (10.4 million recalls and 9.3 million cars produced).

Santa Monica, California Mayor Dennis Zane once started a press conference by saying, "We have many things to celebrate today, not the least of which is the venereal (sic) equinox."

In October, 1992, a Los Angeles physician admitted to stealing $8 million by filing false insurance claims. The doctor later received state disability payments because of the stress of getting caught.

An ad for leather sealant in the 1990 version of the mail order catalog for Seventh Generation boasts, "Our leather seal is nontoxic and uses no animal products!"

Following the invasion of Panama, the Army claimed to find several pounds of cocaine in Manuel Noriega’s refrigerator. Analysis later showed that the substance was tamale stuffing.

Beverly Hills, California Mayor Maxwell Salter held a press conference to announce that local resident Dodie Marshall had set the American record for an IQ test. Reporters asked Ms. Marshall about the test and discovered that she had administered the test to herself and had it notarized "at the Supreme Court in Santa Monica." Further questions about the test results prompted Ms. Marshall to claim "I would never fraudulize them."

Representative Peter Smith of Vermont boasted in a newsletter to constituents that he had "traveled to cocoa-producing countries to again better understanding of cocoa addiction." To think he could have gone just a couple of hundred miles to Hershey, Pennsylvania instead.

In Iowa, a man was required to turn in his personalized license plate which read 3MTA3. The state claimed that, when viewed through a mirror, the plate read "EATME."

In 1992, an Alabama man admitted to trying to destroy the wild population of Alabama red-bellied turtles. He did it so that he could get a federal grant to reintroduce the species.

In New York, a state commission on multiculturalism mandated that teachers cease using the word "minority." Instead, they are to use the phrase "member of the world’s majority."

In Massachusetts, the mother of a boy who died after wrecking a car which he stole sued General Motors and the owners of the car.

A man in Greenville, South Carolina got a letter addressed to his dead brother. It came from the county department of social services and read, "Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances."

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has been sued by several people of Italian descent over its decision to recall all personalized plates with the words "dago" or "wop." The state fears that Italian-Americans might find them offensive. The problem is, all such plates seem to be owned by Italian-Americans who don’t like being told how they can refer to themselves.

In 1996, a man was hired as Boston’s transportation commissioner, but was soon forced to resign. Right after he was hired, officials found out that he had five traffic tickets and three accidents on his record. Also, he got a ticket for parking his car so it blocked a handicap ramp while he was interviewing for the job.

In 1994, a 405-pound man sued Denny’s restaurant for $1.3 million under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The man wanted a Grand Slam breakfast, but no seat in the restaurant was big enough to fit him.

In 1990, the Federal government spend $100,000 on a study of sand at Waikiki beach.

A Chicago woman sued her employer, claiming she had been passed over for promotion because of her disability. She claimed that she was disabled because she had a special microchip in her tooth that enabled her to hear the thoughts of others. The EEOC launched an investigation into her claims.

In February, 1994, 40,000 pieces of undelivered mail, some of it more than two months old, were found in a U.S. Postal worker’s truck in Chicago. Weeks later, another 500 pounds of undelivered mail, some of which was 20 years old, was found hidden in a Chicago post office.

In 1992, the U.S. Postal Service was the defendant in an employment suit. Lawyers for the Postal Service had to file papers with the court the next day, so they sent the papers via USPS Express Mail service, which promises next day delivery. The papers arrived ten days later, too late to be of any good.

From a Los Angeles teachers’ union newsletter article: "More than three out of four people, 69%, told the L.A. Times pollster that the February 23, 1993 strike would be justified."

A man who was fired when he brought a gun to work filed a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He believed he should not be fired because he was under psychiatric treatment at the time of the incident.

In 1994, the Telecommunications Commission of Northwest Ohio required TCI, a cable TV provider, to raise its prices 5%. The Commission said TCI’s fees were embarrassingly low.

In 1993, a consumer group issued a warning about 900 numbers: "Despite highly suggestive titles and pictures of half-naked women in many ads, the services provide only tame, non-sexual conversation."

In 1992, Canton, Ohio social workers charged a man with child abuse and neglect because his four daughters had cavities. The children were returned only after the man presented their dental records to prove that they indeed made regular dental visits.

In 1993, a student at Penn State went to police to try to get her $1,200 stereo back from a man to whom she had given it in exchange for taking a final exam for her. The man flunked the exam, so she wanted the stereo returned. Instead, the police charged both people with violating state laws against selling academic work.

During the trial of savings and loan magnate Charles Keating, it was revealed that his company once spent $1,948 on Silly String for an office Christmas party.

In 1993, General Motors Corporation designed and built a roomy car that could get over 100 miles per gallon. The car, called the Ultralight, was not marketed since it was estimated that the car could not be produced for less than $6 million each.

Washington, D.C. police ticketed the same illegally parked car three times in a 15-hour period. Only after a passerby called them to investigate the vehicle did they notice that the car’s engine was running and there was a corpse with a bullet in its head in the back seat.

In Buffalo, New York, a burglar alarm summoned three police officers to a convenience store. Later, the store’s surveillance tape showed that the police officers began to steal items from the store almost as soon as they arrived.

In 1993, a young man was elected to the Youth Hall of Fame in Tacoma, Washington. Before he could be inducted, he was arrested for second degree murder.

In 1994, parents in Greenwood, South Carolina demanded that school officials change the name of Springfield Elementary School. They were angered when they learned that the school had the same name as the school Bart Simpson attends on the TV show The Simpsons.

Between April 1993 and November 1995, the United States Postal Service engaged in a program of "downsizing." By the time it was over, the number of USPS employees had increased by almost 10%. About 99% of the new employees were permanent.

The city of Malibu, California has granted honorary citizenship to all whales and dolphins.

Electric shock therapy is covered by Medicare. That’s probably why one study found that seniors 65 and older are more than three times as likely to be given the treatment than are 64-year olds.

In 1994, Connecticut was forced to discontinue its gun buy-back program. People were buying cheap handguns and turning them in to the state for certificates worth $100. One man made a $1,200 profit doing this.

In 1993, the Environmental Protection Agency conducted a study to determine if people were being harmed by inhaling water vapor while taking showers.

In 1993 Chelsea Clinton had a minor injury at school and went to the school nurse. When the nurse asked which parent should be called for permission to treat the first kid, Chelsea replied, "Please don't call my mother. She’s very busy."

A Minnesota publisher has printed a version of Mother Goose in which the Three Blind Mice are now the Three Kind Mice. Their tails still get hacked off, though.

A man was arrested in 1996 for bank robbery in Cincinnati. When searching his hotel room, police found over 300 doses of heroin. The man was a New Jersey police officer, in town for a law enforcement convention

While concerned citizens and their lawyers filed dozens of suits against electric utilities in the 1990's, the National Research Council concluded in 1996 that there was no link between electromagnetic fields (such as one gets by living near power lines) and cancer. The NRC conclusion came after review of 500 studies and 17 years of published research.

In California, many professional athletes, including Joe Montana and Bo Jackson, collected workman’s compensation if injured during a game.

The United Church of Christ updated its hymnal for the 1990’s. The gender of Jesus is no longer mentioned in Silent Night, references to oneself as “poor, wretched, blind” have been removed from Just As I Am, and reference to the “right hand of God” has been changed to “mighty hand of God,” so that left-handed people are not offended.

In 1994, FCC chair Reed Hundt was quoted as saying that the government should make sure that more telecommunications firms are owned by previously excluded groups such as “minorities, women, the elderly, disabled and children” (emphasis added).

In Clearfield, Utah, city officials wished to discourage the wearing of gang-related clothing. Thus, they banned the wearing of certain items at the 1996 July Fourth celebrations. The items included baseball caps, baggy trousers, and the colors red and blue.

In 1993, the Massachusetts Division of Medical Assistance, which provides medical services for the poor, spent $50,000 on fertility drugs for 260 people. 80 of them were mothers on welfare and two of those already had eight children.

In the late 1990's the Environmental Protection Agency's fleet of cars for official use consisted mostly of luxury cars (Lincolns and Crown Victorias), and the fleet averaged about 6.3 miles per gallon of gasoline.

In 1994, two women in Minnesota were ordered to stop giving free haircuts to the poor, a service they had provided for ten years. The women didn't have barber's licenses and the state Board of Barber Examiners didn’t like that. The women faced jail time if they did not stop.

In 1996, a man in Washington state plead guilty to using his position at the state’s Department of Social and Health Services to commit welfare fraud costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. He was fired, and immediately applied for unemployment benefits. He soon was collecting $300 a week.

The U.S. Federal Government General Services Administration has, since 1990, used the private company Federal Express to carry all of its overnight mail, rather than the U.S. Postal Service. FedEx offers overnight service to large customers for lower rates than the USPS does. The GSA renewed their six-year contract with FedEx in 1996.

Economist W. Kip Viscusi has shown that cigarette smokers, by dying younger and collecting less Social Security and Medicare benefits, pay about ten cents more per pack in federal cigarette taxes than they cost society. This figure was estimated assuming that the most dire claims about second-hand smoke are true.

Although the United States Postal Service had spent billions of dollars automating the tasks of sorting and handling the mail, labor costs in 1995 were 80% of USPS cost, according to the Government Accounting Office. That is the same percentage as in 1969.

Between 1982 and 1994, the Internal Revenue Service increased its staff faster than any other federal agency except the Defense Department.

In 1994, Vice President Gore was debating Ralph Nader on a radio show concerning GATT. Nader gave out the telephone number of Gore’s legislative liaison office, and told people to call. The calls came in such numbers that the staff could get no work done. Then, someone thought of a clever way to solve the problem. They used call forwarding to reroute all the calls to Nader’s office.

Each year, the Federal Board of Tea Experts pays $200,000 of taxpayer money to hire tea tasters.

EPA regulation requires cities to remove 30% of the organic waste from their sewage before treating it. This gives Anchorage, Alaska a problem, since most of their sewage in the summer is water runoff from melting snow. To comply with the law, Anchorage has asked local fish-packing plants to dump fish guts and other waste into the sewer so it can be removed as the law requires,

In 1994, a Chicago man purchased an electric car to help clean up the air. Unfortunately, state law required that all vehicles be tested for emissions. Since the car has no emissions, it could not be tested, so the man was not allowed to register it.

In 1995, in Honolulu, a teacher in an anger-management class got so upset when one of his students showed up for class drunk that he beat the student, leaving him brain dead.

The U.S. Forest Service paints rocks in and around national parks that are exposed after landslides so that they will look more worn and natural.

In 1995, a woman was arrested for filing tax returns that listed non-existent dependents. Until then, she was an IRS special agent investigating tax evasion.

In 1994, the U.S. Postal Service began examining the records of businesses so that it could bill them if they used private carriers, such as Federal Express, to carry mail that the Postal Service did not consider urgent.

The state of Kansas spent $60 million of taxpayer funds on a Wizard of Oz theme park.

It takes three Philadelphians to change a light bulb at the Philadelphia International Airport. According to civil service rules, a building mechanic must be called to remove the panel, an electrician must be used to actually change the bulb, and a custodian must be called to sweep the dust.

When Vice President, Dan Quayle gave an order to his staff that they should spend less time reading books and journals and more time reading People Magazine.

In Orange County, California, undercover police routinely sell crack cocaine near elementary schools.

A year after being occupied, it was discovered that the building housing the Yakima, Washington Public Works Administration was never actually hooked up to the city’s sewer system. Raw sewage just built up in the building’s pipes until the building’s plumbing finally just exploded.

General Motors Corporation warned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that air bags could injure or kill small children, even if they operated as intended. The warning was made in 1979, but the NHTSA mandated that such "passive restraints" be put into cars anyway. By 1996, the NHTSA suggested that parents might want to disconnect their air bags.

In 1996, Mothers Against Drunk Driving demanded that Anheuser-Busch stop using television ads in which three bullfrogs croak the name "Bud-wei-ser." MADD claimed the ads encouraged children to drink beer.

In 1996, a man threatened to sue McDonald's for harming his image. The man's name is Ronald McDonald, and he wanted the hamburger firm to change its name.

Neuropathologist Dr. John Olney has created a panic recently by claiming that aspartame, the main ingredient in Nutrasweet, caused a surge in brain tumors in the 1980’s. Actually, the increase in brain tumors began in 1973, eight years before aspartame was approved for use. Also, the numbers of brain tumors peaked in 1985, even though consumption of aspartame continued to rise thereafter.

In 1994, the U.S. Army signed a 100-year lease on a luxury hotel at Walt Disney

In 1991, workers at a San Jose, California library hung a banner to greet a group of visiting Filipinos. The banner was supposed to read, "You are welcome" in the language of Tagalog. Instead, it said, "You are circumcised."

In 1990, the Federal government spent $5.1 million fighting witchweed.

In 1993, a student's parents sued the Contra Costa County School District and the student's teacher when the student got a C in math. The student's father was quoted as saying, "they wanted a C, we wanted an A, so why not compromise on a B?" The parents lost the case in 1994 after spending $4,000 in legal fees and forcing the school district to spend $8,500 on lawyers.

In 1990, a female student at Francis Scott Key High School in Union Bridge, Maryland, convinced the school to allow her on the football team, since to do otherwise would be considered sexual discrimination under Federal law. The student was tackled in her first scrimmage and suffered injuries requiring the removal of her pancreas and spleen. She then sued the school for $1.5 million, claiming that the school failed to inform her of the risks of playing football.

In 1991, the California state Air Resources Board considered making it illegal to sell perfume in California.

In 1990, homeless advocate Mitch Snyder announced that there were 3 million homeless people in America and that 45 homeless people die every minute. Calculation based on these figures would mean that 64,800 homeless people die every day, and that 2 million homeless people die each month. Snyder's figures would mean that all the homeless would be dead in a couple of months. In reality, only an average of 4.1 Americans died each minute in 1990.

In 1994, the state of Texas made it a felony to possess glass beakers or test tubes. The law was aimed at illegal drug labs, but certainly makes it hard to study chemistry.

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Generally Useless Facts

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