Sunday, November 06, 2005


I have always loved little interesting factoids that don't (generally) provide useful knowledge but are fun to contemplate. So of course the era of the internet has been a treasure trove of these weird items. They are great if you want to bore people while waiting in line to check out, or if you are trapped on public transportation somewhere. Although it's embarrassing to realize the Poster Child for people like us is Cliff Claven from Cheers! Here is a list I came across recently that made me wonder if the compilers were under illegal influences. Did you know.... 1) It is impossible to lick your elbow. I think we all discovered this when we were approximately eight years old. We merely forgot in the interim. Anyway it isn't necessary to lick your elbow if you have a dog and something tasty you can stick your elbow into. 2) A crocodile can't stick its tongue out. I suppose they expect us to go around peering into crocodiles to see for sure. Not to mention wondering if this means that alligators CAN stick their tongues out. And who really wants to know what's past a dangerous carnivore's teeth? I would just as soon not find out. 3) A shrimp's heart is in its head. Which means they can make decisions about dating using both organs! I am not sure, though, that this is useful on the Shrimp Social Scene, which I expect is normally pretty serene. Another question: Are appetizers supposed to have organs? 4) In a study of 200,000 ostriches over eight decades, there was not a single reported case of an ostrich burying its head in the sand. Way to ruin a commonly understood image! So who is the 95-year-old person in charge of the study? I can't imagine 200,000 ostriches on the planet. I thought there were like, ten of them, and they got passed around from zoo to zoo with an occasional foray onto a movie set or nature documentary. I wouldn't be surprised if they are actually extinct, and what we see is just some animatronic thing created by Disney. Anyway, all it takes is ONE ostrich burying its head in the sand to cement the image for the entire species, courtesy the folks at Loony Toons. 5) It is physically impossible for pigs to look up into the sky. Unless they're on their backs? Or standing upright? Will this be a new metaphor to supplant the one about Pigs Flying? (Meaning, "fat chance.") Sure, I'll cut up all my credit cards, when WILBUR GOES STAR-GAZING. Is there anything up there that pigs need to see? Maybe they just don't care! Like, it is physically impossible for me to go to a NASCAR event. People who have been studying me closely for the past 80 years (give or take four decades) have NEVER seen me at one! 6) A pregnant goldfish is called a twit. Who decided that, the British? Maybe I will start referring to annoying people by saying, "Goldie has a bun in the oven!" or "My fishy friend is in the family way," or "Get back to me in nine months or you run out of fish food, whichever comes first." Maybe I will become so annoying with these obscure references that people with think I am a twit. 7) More than 50 percent of the planet's population has never made or received a phone call. Sorta makes you want to send quarters to Ethiopia, doesn't it? Just more proof that we live in an insulated, high-tech cocoon that is indifferent to how the rest of the world lives. (Gee, and we thought the PHONELESS people were out of touch!) Probably they get a lot more done during their day, since they aren't interrupted with pointless calls. Nor do they have to get caller ID to avoid the telemarketers. The telemarketers are forced to go door-to-door. I guess drums and smoke signals are not as obsolete as we imagined. 8) Horses can't vomit. So what do they do when they get drunk? Does this mean we should be DOUBLY suspicious of a horse's back end, especially if he or she is not feeling well? 9) "The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick" is supposed to be the toughest tongue twister in the English langauge. Yeah, well they loaded that one. Try saying, "Toy boat" four times fast and you get more bang for your buck, syllable for syllable. 10) Immutable Laws of Sneezing: If you sneeze too hard, you can fracture a rib. If you try to suppress a sneeze, you can rupture a blood vessel in your head or neck and die. And, if you keep your eyes open by force, they can pop out. Pardon me if I think this is more Folk Legend than something out of the New England Journal of Medicine. I believe the fracturing a rib part. I think the blood vessel that ruptures during a withheld sneeze was probably ready to go anyway. And as far as eyeballs popping out...if this were possible, don't you think we'd already have seen it on 20/20 or Jerry Springer? With six billion people on the planet, there are bound to be DOZENS of eyeballs popping out each day, if this were true. You'd see them rolling up the streets of Manhattan as people show off for the Today Show. I think it's about as likely as a dog staring up at the sky and seeing a pig licking a horse's elbow. 11) Rats are so prolific that in 18 months two rats could have a million descendents. Assuming, of course, that they live on a Rat Planet that is devoid of predators and rat poison. I guess that's what gave the Pied Piper tale its resonance. We don't know for certain that flea-bitten rats were the cause of the Bubonic Plague, but hey, their PR team is worse than the one retained by the ostriches!
12) Wearing headphones for an hour will multiply the amount of bacteria in your ears 700 times. Basically they are enjoying your ear canal as their own personal sauna as they endeavor to create more descendents than their buddies The Rats. I am wondering, though, if the bacteria will go deaf, or start becoming anti-social if exposed to too much rap, hip-hop or heavy metal music.
So that's it for this edition of "Did You Know?" Perhaps follow-up editions will answer the questions, "Do I care?" and "When will you stop?"


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