52 Things I Learned in 2021

Thomas Mallick
6 min readDec 11, 2021

This year, I was poked in the arm three times, I found out my neighbor invented the Pumpkin Spice Latte, and I talked to people, a lot.

Here’s some of what I learned from conversations in a pandemic-ridden world:

  1. In 2012, at a busy Seattle beach, a teenager dove 85 feet underwater to catch an 80-pound Giant Pacific Octopus by hand. He wrestled and punched the nine-foot octopus for 25 minutes, eventually dragging it to the surface; he then brought it home, cooked it, and ate it. His hunt was completely legal and part of a school project. [Marnie Hanel]
  2. The summit of Mount Everest is about the size of two Ping-Pong tables. [Kai Schultz and Bhadra Sharma]
  3. Japan’s legal system has a 99% conviction rate. [Vivian Yee and Hwaida Saad]
  4. “Kalsarikännit” is the Finnish tradition of getting drunk at home in your underwear. [Alyson Krueger]
  5. Rat teeth grow around four to five inches a year, forcing them to gnaw constantly. [Caity Weaver]
  6. If cows were a country (as ridiculous as that sounds), they would be the world’s sixth-largest emitter of methane gas, releasing more methane than Brazil, Japan, and Germany. [Adam Satariano]
  7. A quarter-mile increase in distance from a polling booth reduced voting rates by 2 to 5 percent. [Sendhil Mullainathan]
  8. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone With the Wind” has earned $3.44 billion, making it the highest-grossing film of all time. [Jennifer Schuessler]
  9. As of June 2020, 260 of the ~860 pilots working for Pakistani air carriers had fraudulent licenses. [Salman Masood]
  10. If swallowed by a frog, the Regimbartia Attenuata beetle can move down the amphibian’s gut and force it to poop, escaping through the back door. [Katherine Wu]
  11. K-pop group BTS adds more than $3.5 billion to South Korea’s economy annually. [Ben Dooley and Su-Hyun Lee]
  12. Every year, for the past 510 years, 10,000+ loincloth-clad men have gathered to fight over two twigs that symbolize good luck. [Vanita Salisbury]
  13. Twitter’s blue bird logo is named Larry. [Sam Laird]
  14. Humans smell geosmin, a chemical released by dead bacteria, at a level of 5 parts…
Thomas Mallick

🚀 SRE dev @CapitalOneTech. @VanderbiltU alum. 🦖