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11 Other Halls of Fame

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The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was in the news last weekend as it inducted a banner class that included Michael Jordan, David Robinson, and John Stockton. You might not have much of a shot at getting yourself enshrined at Springfield, but that doesn't mean you can't make a hall of fame. There are dozens of halls of fame out there for non-sporting endeavors, so you might someday end up in one of these:

1. The Insurance Hall of Fame

University of Alabama professor John Bickley came up with the idea for this hall in 1957, and since then it has grown to honor those who have "made a significant and lasting contribution to the insurance industry and therefore also to society as a whole." Members of the International Insurance Society elect a new class of hall inductees each year. Want to hit the actual hall for some actuarial excitement? It's on the campus of the University of Alabama. Be sure to check out the display for the hall's first inductee: Benjamin Franklin, who earned enshrinement as an early proponent of fire insurance in Philadelphia.

2. The National Toy Hall of Fame

This relatively young hall began in Salem, Oregon, in 1998, but later moved to new digs in Rochester, New York, in 2002. It doesn't honor toys' inventors; instead it honors the toys themselves. The inaugural class of inductees included Barbie, Crayola crayons, and Play-Doh, among others. More recent classes have included esoteric inductees like cardboard boxes and that most do-it-yourself of all toys, the simple stick.

3. The New Jersey Hall of Fame


Since its opening in 2007, this organization has honored many of New Jersey's finest citizens for their contributions to the arts, sports, and science. How could you say no to a hall of fame that had a 2009 class of inductees that featured Carl Sagan, Walt Whitman, Shaquille O'Neal, and Jon Bon Jovi?

4. The National Mining Hall of Fame

If you ever find yourself feeling curious about the brightest lights of the mining world, head to Leadville, Colorado. The museum, which is housed in a 71,000-square-foot building that used to be a junior high school, honors contributors ranging from Alfred Nobel to Phillip Deidesheimer, who invented the square-set method of timbering mine shafts.

5. The AVN Hall of Fame

The adult entertainment trade magazine AVN puts on a high-profile annual awards show, but there are some honors that are even more prestigious than Best New Starlet. Each year AVN also inducts several legends in the pornography field into its hall of fame, a group whose ranks include Larry Flynt and Ron Jeremy.

Interestingly, the adult entertainment industry apparently needs multiple halls of fame, as the X-Rated Critics Organization has been inducting porn stars and directors into its own hall of fame since 1985.

6. The Robot Hall of Fame


Every young robot surely hopes to someday be enshrined at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Science Center. The center's RoboWorld exhibit houses the Robot Hall of Fame, which honors real and fictional robots alike. The 2009 class of inductees features the T-800 Terminator (from The Terminator) as well as the Roomba and two of NASA's Mars rovers.

7. The Canadian News Hall of Fame

This Toronto-based hall of fame honors people who have made lasting contributions to Canadian journalism. Inductees include the currently incarcerated newspaper magnate Conrad Black.

8. The International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame

The next time your car needs a tow, don't just call the first guy you find in the yellow pages. Try to get a hall of famer. This Chattanooga hall and museum has enshrined the top contributors to the towing industry since 1986. The museum also includes a "Wall of the Fallen" that honors towers who have tragically lost their lives while on duty.

9. The National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame

The next time you're in Euclid, Ohio, you might have to hit this accordion-heavy hall. According to the hall's website, it "is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of polka music." If you're like me and didn't know that there was a Cleveland style of polka, the hall pleasantly describes the tunes as being derived from Slovenian folk music and being "the happiest sound around."

10. The Mascot Hall of Fame


Here's a hall you can visit without leaving your desk. This online-only hall is the brainchild of David Raymond, who is better known as the original Phillie Phanatic. Since 2005 Raymond and his executive committee, with a little help from online voters, have been enshrining some of the country's top mascots on the hall's website. Past honorees include Western Kentucky University's fabulous Big Red and the always-delightful Mr. Met.

11. The Quilters Hall of Fame

Ever wonder who has made outstanding and lasting contributions to the world of quilting? Take a trip to Marion, Indiana and wonder no more. The museum, which has operated since 1979, has a pretty neat location: it's in the former home of Marie Webster, a quilting pioneer who wrote the first American book on the subject in 1915. If all you know about quilts is that they keep you toasty warm throughout the winter, this could be a pretty informative trip.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.


"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.


"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles


"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole


"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles



"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole


"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles


"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
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Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."


A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.


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