Friday, December 21, 2007

2007: What a Year in Review


January – A Muslim (or Moslem) congressman is sworn in using a Quran (or Koran) once owned by Thomas Jefferson; the TSA immediately adds Thomas Jefferson to the No-Fly list. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announces that although he has no recollection of personally authorizing the firing of federal attorneys based on politics, he will definitely investigate himself. With 0% of the primary returns tallied, the press anoints Senator John McCain as Frontrunner and Foregone Conclusion with all other Republican contenders vying to be his running mate. Hogzilla’s reign of terror over South Georgia comes to a violent end; local residents describe the boar as huge, horrifying, and delicious.

February – President George W. Bush accuses Iran of destabilizing the security situation in Iraq; Iran responds by saying that the U.S. is doing a great job of destabilizing Iraq without their help. Footballer David Beckham arrives with great fanfare in Los Angeles only to discover that the city’s football team moved to St. Louis years ago. Astronaut Lisa Nowak is arrested after driving from Texas to Florida while wearing a diaper in a bizarre space-sex kidnapping plot. When asked if she planned on using the diaper during the trip or stopping for bathroom breaks, she replies, “Depends.” Anna Nicole Smith dies tragically of untreatable celebrity.

March – The Democratic Congress finally stands up to President Bush by funding the Iraq war with no timetable for troop withdrawal. They do include a caveat in the spending bill stating that the President can’t make them like it. An audit reveals that the FBI misused certain provisions of the USA Patriot Act to spy on the Facebook accounts of American citizens. Philosopher Jean Baudrillard dies—really. With 0% of the primary contests decided, TV talking heads unanimously declare former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani as the de-facto Republican nominee due to the events of 9/11.

April – In response to a subpoena for any e-mails from White House adviser Karl Rove, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he has no recollection of anyone by that name. Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz loses his job as president of the World Bank—not for being one of the chief architects of the disastrous U.S. occupation of postwar Iraq, but for giving his girlfriend a raise. Radio personality Don Imus loses a game of horse against the Rutgers women’s basketball team; he only gets two letters. With 0% of the primary votes cast, political pundits tap Senator Barack Obama as a shoe-in for the Democratic nomination due to his unstoppable momentum and his natural African-Indonesian-Hawaiian-American charisma.

May – Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney reveals that his favorite books are the Bible and Battlefield Earth; John McCain says his favorite books are the Quran (Koran) and Atlas Shrugged; Rudy Giuliani announces that his favorites are the Torah and whatever Christian Scientists read. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claims he has no recollection of getting his job by visiting John Ashcroft in the hospital and tricking him into altering his will. As a direct result of Congress’s boycott of French fries in favor of Freedom fries, the conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy is elected president of France.

June – Inspired by America’s plan to bring democracy to the Middle East, the democratically elected terrorist organization Hamas takes over the Gaza Strip. Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) urges Congress to finance his proposed "Bridge to Nowhere" because Alaska has less bridges and more nowhere than any other U.S. state of equal size. Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Keith Urban, Robin Williams, Brigitte Nielsen, Richie Sambora, and David Hasselhoff make the news and ensure their continuing celebrity by checking into rehab. Always one step ahead of the curve, Paris Hilton goes to prison. President George W. Bush, facing flagging popularity, reminds the American people that he once went to rehab also.

July – An internet hacker discovers that the CIA has been editing wikipedia entries, but a quick wikipedia search finds no evidence of the existence of such an agency. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales denies having any recollection of the CIA or any other acronym. TV actor Fred Thompson announces that he just might consider declaring himself a theoretical contender for the presidency, possibly. Republican officials immediately enthrone him as the future of the party after carefully weighing the 0% of actual votes cast in the primaries. Bowing to FEC rules, NBC gives each candidate from both parties their own Law & Order spin-off.

August – David Vitter, a Republican Senator from Louisiana, admits to having sex with a prostitute and apologizes for perpetuating the stereotype of the senator from Louisiana who has sex with prostitutes. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigns, saying that he has no recollection of ever being attorney general. With 0% of exit poll results from the primaries in, the nation’s media pronounce that Senator Hillary Clinton’s fundraising prowess will most definitely make her the first female to head the ticket of a major American political party. Former President Bill Clinton smiles and claps politely. Senator Larry S. Craig of Idaho is arrested for attempting to use the bathroom in a homosexual fashion.

September – In response to Turkey’s threats to attack Kurdish separatist camps inside Iraq, Washington reminds its NATO ally that large, complex, socio-political issues can’t be solved simply by invading another country. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the United States to deny the following:
  • The support of terrorist organizations by Iran.
  • The existence of a secret nuclear weapons program in Iran.
  • The existence of homosexuals in Iran.
  • The existence of Israel.
  • The Holocaust.
  • That he is now or ever has been a member of the Communist Party.

October – When asked by Congress about the controversial practice of waterboarding, Michael Mukasey (the nominee for Attorney General) points out that anyone with a computer can look up “torture” on wikipedia and see that waterboarding does not qualify. Al Gore wins the Nobel Prize for inventing the internet. With exactly 0% of the American people having spoken at the voting booth, news outlets posit either Scientologist Mitt Romney or Arkansian Mike Huckabee as the single, solitary, inevitable choice for the Republican nomination due to the fact that they both believe in some kind of Supreme Being, unlike any other candidate of either party.

November – FEMA apologizes for orchestrating a fake press conference about its response to the San Diego wildfires; the agency goes on to say that the fake press conference was still more constructive than anything it did the first week after Hurricane Katrina. Home run champion Barry Bonds is indicted for perjury, quarterback Michael Vick is convicted for running a dog fighting ring, and runner Marion Jones loses her five Olympic gold medals after admitting to steroid use. Experts urge parents to buy more video games for their kids to keep them from developing a dangerous interest in sports.

December – The CIA divulges that it destroyed videotapes of prisoner interrogations by posting them to wikipedia. A new National Intelligence report reveals that Iran abandoned its secret nuclear weapons program in 2003. The report does not address the existence of homosexuals in Iran. President Bush sends Senator Larry S. Craig to investigate. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he has no recollection of going to the bathroom with Senator Craig. Since the beginning of primary season (and therefore the end of primary season) is right around the corner, Washington insiders, bloggers, wags, and other windbags proclaim that unlike any other election in history, this one is up for grabs.*

*Unless you are John Edwards, Ron Paul, Joe Biden, Alan Keyes, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Tom Tancredo, Mike Gravel, Duncan Hunter, or Bill Richardson. Then you have absolutely no chance ever, ever. And don’t even think about mentioning a third party candidate. Are you kidding? Having more than two choices is NOT what democracy is all about. It’s in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence or something. Maybe the Gettysburg Address. In any case, you don’t want to throw away your vote, do you? Do you?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cold and Flu Season Strikes Back!


Ah yes, as Christmas and/or the Holiday Season approaches, so also lurks the sinister specter of Cold and Flu Season 2007-2008.

But take heart! Scientists are beginning to understand the diabolical mechanisms of this potentially deadly or possibly just annoying duo of illnesses.

As a supplement to our groundbreaking post for last year's Cold and Flu Season, our crack researchers have found the following articles that pretty much tell you all you need to know about how to avoid getting sick:

Cold and Flu germs are spread indoors much more easily than outdoors. Remember that you get sick from people, so always avoid other people at all cost. This article also tells you to bundle up since lowering your body's temperature do to cold hampers your immune response and makes you more susceptible to infection.

Cold and Flu germs are spread outdoors much more easily than indoors. This article highlights new research showing that germs hang in the cold air, so whatever you do don't leave your house. Additionally, a slate.com article about this article tells you that dressing warmly is absolutely no protection against getting sick, so let's all party naked in the snow!

For even more internet health information that is even more definitive than this internet health information, check out our previous article Health Info on the Internet: Lethal? If you don't read it, you might already have cancer.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Name That Name


Isn’t it inconvenient when famous people have similar names? I mean, how are you supposed to keep up with your favorite celebrities when you can’t remember the difference between Bruce Jenner and Bruce Jennings, Rod Serling and Rod Steiger, or Liv Tyler and Lili Taylor and Liz Taylor?

Well, we here at Very Little Known Facts have come up with some handy pneumatic devices to jog your memory about who’s who,what’s what, and which one is which!


Sheena Is a Punk Rocker…Or Was it Sheila?

Even the most rabid Prince fans have trouble distinguishing between Sheila E. and Sheena Easton. Here’s an easy way to keep them straight:
  • Sheena E. actually had the last name Estefan—which meant she was the sister of Miami Vice Sound Machine singer Gloria Estefan.
  • Sheila Easton also went by the name Apollonia.


Obama, Osama, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off

Much has been made of the fact that the Senator from Illinois and official candidate for President of the United States is named Barack Hussein Obama. Any relation to Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein? Not that we know of—but then again, you never can tell.


Mary Carey, Quite Contrary

Although their names sound similar, there really is no confusing the porn star Mary Carey who ran for governor of California and the singer Mariah Carey. But that didn’t stop Mariah from suing Mary, who was forced to change her name to Brittany Speares.


Simply Reds

Many people get Red Skelton, Red Buttons, and Red Foxx mixed up. How can you keep track of these three redheads? Try this method:
  • There was a widespread rumor that actor Red Skelton was so named because he had a red skeleton due to a rare condition. To quell these rumors, in 1996 a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered his corpse exhumed, and a post-mortem autopsy revealed that he died tragically of natural causes.
  • Red Buttons was actually just a stage name. He died in 2003 and had no confirmed autopsy.
  • Red Foxx played the role of Sanford and Son on the TV show with the same name. His real name was Red Fox, and foxes have red fur. Ironically, Red Foxx died of a heart attack, just like his TV character. He will be missed by some.


Who Gives a Rip?

Could anyone really confuse the wacky antics of confetti-tossing Rip Taylor with the gravitas of actor Rip Torn? Perhaps. But one way to keep them “straight” is to think of R.I.P. which stands for Rest In Paradise, a homonym often seen on gravestones. You can apply this memory device to whichever one of the two Rips dies first. To make it more fun, perhaps you can start an office betting pool!


That’s a Fact, Jacks

Many people get the popular actor Jack Nicholson and the popular golfer Jack Nicklaus confused because they have similar names. A good way to remember the difference is that Jack Nicholson is the son of Jack Nicklaus.


They Call Me Mr. P.

Actor Sydney Poitier and director Sidney Pollack have both had distinguished careers in Hollywood, but sometimes it's hard to know which one is which. Sidney Poitier is the black one.


He Coulda Been Somebody


Oftentimes moviegoers are often perplexed by the fit, attractive actor named Marlon Brando who starred in On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire and the bald, overweight ham named Marlon Brando who starred in Superman 2 and The Island of Dr. Moreau. Bizarrely, these are the same person!


The Fabulous Baldwin Brothers Boys

How many Baldwin brothers are there? Surprisingly, the answer is several. Here’s how you can keep them straight:
  • Alec Baldwin is an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated actor of screen and stage who was named by People magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world. His film credits include Beetlejuice, The Hunt for Red October, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Pearl Harbor. Alec currently plays the boss in the hit NBC sitcom 30 Rock.
  • Daniel Baldwin played a vampire in the movie Vampires. He also played a homicide detective in the TV show Homicide.
  • William Baldwin is Alec’s brother. He changed his stage name to Emilio Estevez to make it on his own outside his big brother's shadow.
  • Adam Baldwin got his big break in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket and now stars in the TV show Chuck.
  • Stephen Baldwin followed up his role in The Usual Suspects by co-starring with Pauly Shore in Bio-Dome. Recently he was in that one episode of The Sopranos.
  • Billy Baldwin was in that movie about firemen.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Conspiracy against the War on Thanksgiving!


Much has been made of the so-called "War on the Holidays" in which sinister, unnamed forces have manipulated their behind-the-scenes machinations toward unknown (and possibly unknowable) ends. But how much of this is true fact, and how much is conjecture?

The answer, shockingly, is BOTH!


MYTH: President Harry S. Truman issued the first Presidential pardon to a White House turkey.

TRUTH: Truman never pardoned the turkey; in fact, he probably ate it.

THE WHOLE TRUTH: After dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagano, Truman felt that the "sins of a nation" were upon his shoulders. In the great Jewish tradition of the scapegoat, President Truman transferred America's guilt to the unsuspecting fowl, which was then ritualistically sacrificed according to the ancient traditions of Yale University. Some say this dark rite led to his "surprise" re-election victory over Dewey, a vegan, while others maintain that this was chiefly due to the majority of Electors who voted for him 41 days after the general election of 1948, thus leading to his electoral college victory and subsequent second term.



MYTH:
The first Thanksgiving was a religious holiday created by the Pilgrims to give thanks to God for his blessings, peace with the
Native Americans, and their freedom of religion in America.

TRUTH: The Pilgrims were religious extremists who were themselves intolerant and disapproved of the natives for gambling and growing hemp.

THE WHOLE TRUTH: Nobody alive today knows the fate of the Lost Colony of Plymouth Rock, but controversy swirls around which group of European Caucasians was the first to exploit the resources and native peoples of North America. Italians and Italian-Americans proudly point to Christopher Columbus as the first white to enslave the indigenous peoples. Others contend that Viking settlers were murdering aboriginal Americans long before the Spanish or the English. In any case, we can all agree that the United States was made great despite the tragic sacrifices of Native Americans who, face it, never built any skyscrapers for themselves on the island of Manhattan.
MYTH:
Turkey makes you sleepy.


TRUTH: Tryptophan, aka triptophan or "trips" or GHB, is a central nervous system depressant that is used to relieve pain, particularly at the synapses of the nucleus accumbens. Scientists tell us that no other compound is as effective at pain relief as tryptophan; however, it's side effects (including drowsiness, loss of appetite, and lethargy) and it's highly addictive qualities make it a dangerous compound.

THE WHOLE TRUTH: Most Americans get sleepy on Thanksgiving after eating too much and sitting in front of the television.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Line Everybody Says from That Movie


Everybody loves the movies, and everybody loves hearing people quote lines from their favorite movies. Here at Very Little Known Facts, we have compiled the most popular lines quoted from the most popular movies. Check out these Hollywood quotes from your favorite celebrity actors and actresses, and see how many you can work into everyday conversation!


“Show me the money!” and “You had me at hello.” Jerry Maguire

“Love means never having to say sorry.” Love Story

“I see dead people.” The Sixth Sense

“Houston, we have a problem.” The Right Stuff

“Nobody puts baby in a corner.” Dirty Dancing

“Hello, Vietnam!” Good Morning Vietnam

“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Gone With the Wind

“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…”
“You can’t handle the truth!” A Few Good Men

“May the Force Be With You.” Star Wars, Episode 3: A New Hope

“Who ya gonna call?” Ghostbusters

“Today we declare our Independence Day!” Independence Day

“Play it again, Sam.” Casablanca

“Top of the world, ma!” Titanic

“Do you feel lucky, punk?” Every Which Way but Loose

“Gentlemen, the sky is falling.” Armageddon

“Make me an offer I can’t refuse.” The Godfather

“I’m going to kill that gopher.” Caddyshack

“Hi, I’m Fletch.” Fletch

“You can ride in my jet any time.” Top Gun

“I coulda been a contender.” Rocky 3

“You go girl!” Tootsie

“I’ll have what the woman with the orgasm was eating.” When Harry Met Sally

“The first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Fight Club. The second rule is that there are no other rules.” Fight Club

“Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!” Cheech and Chong Go Bananas

“You wanna look good in Mexico.” Pocket Money

“Yippee-ki-yay, Mr. Falcon.” Die Hard (overdub for broadcast television version)



Of course, we had to give the oft-quoted governor of the California his own section. The most popular Arnold Schwarzenegger quotes:


“I’ll be back.” Terminator

“I’ll be back…AGAIN.” Terminator 2

“Get your ass to Mars.” Total Recall

“The hunter becomes the hunted.” Predator

“Live by the sword, die by the sword.” Conan the Destroyer

“Remind me not to have kids.” Kindergarten Cop

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

RIP: The Golden Age of Television (1946-1992)


Andy Warhol once famously said, “In the future, everyone will be on TV for fifteen minutes.” Nowadays, of course, with the internet, that is finally possible. But back in the Golden Age of Television (1948-1992) we depended on the networks to keep us entertained—whether it was Milton Berle’s bold subversion of traditional sexual roles in society, Fonzie’s bathroom humor, or Bill Cosby’s non-threatening black family. See how many of these Very Little Known Facts about the old Boob Tube you knew!

  • Televisions in the United States do not have channel 1. Neither do FM radios.

  • JUMP ON THE BANDWAGON: American Bandwagon, which originally featured co-hosts Dick Clark and his wife Pet Clark, is the only television show from the 1950’s that is still being produced today.

  • The Anthropology department at Harvard recently released the results of a two-year study that attempted to answer the eponymous question Who’s the Boss? Comparing the relative leadership roles of Tony Micelli, Angela Bower and Mona Robinson with their counterparts in archetypal societies, the study definitively concluded that Mona was the boss due to the fact that she was the elder.

  • MASTER OF HIS DOMAIN: Every episode of Seinfeld contains at least one joke about Superman. This is a reference to the real-life Jerry Seinfeld, one of the show’s co-creators.

  • The nickname “Idiot Box” was given to TV by none other than President Richard S. Nixon. The idiot in question? Walter Cronkite.

  • THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT THE CATHODE RAY TUBE: Watching an hour of television subjects your eyes to more radiation than sticking your head in a microwave oven for an hour. Of course, this is only true because you can’t close the microwave door with your head in there, and microwaves don’t run when the door is open! But seriously, folks, use safety and common sense when operating any household appliance.

  • Smoking used to be common on television. Everybody remembers the episode of Leave It to Beaver where Ward Cleaver catches the Beave sneaking one of June’s Virginia Slims and memorably makes him eat the entire pack. Nowadays smoking is banned on TV except for in documentaries about mental institutions and France.

  • LITTLE BUDDY WASN’T SO LITTLE: Bob Denver, the first actor to play Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island, was 62 when the last episode was filmed on location in 1970.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Health Info on the Internet: Lethal?


The results are in, and they are conclusive. We here at Very Little Known Facts are quite aware that the massive amount of health information available on the internet can be confusing and overwhelming. Often alarming headlines are used to rope in traffic, and just as often passive voice is used because of the positive effect on readership numbers that has been shown to have been created by this use.

As part of our ongoing commitment to commit to the well-being of our readers’ collective and individual being—a series we like to call Towards a Better Wellness for Tomorrow—we have compiled a digest of links to articles that present a definitive picture of what you should do (and what you should not do) to live a full, healthful, virtually endless life. Enjoy!


Drinking coffee is good for you and good for your health.

Drinking coffee will kill you within an hour, possibly.

Wine prevents cavities.

Wine gives you breast cancer.

Wine can make you live forever even if you are morbidly obese.

Wine will kill you.

Wine is good for your heart. (But not really.)

Exercise is good for you.

Exercise is bad for you.

Antidepressants increase the risk of suicide in teenagers.

No they don’t.

Eat more fish, it is good for you.

Eating fish will poison you with mercury and kill you.

Depression makes you feel bad.

Lack of sleep weakens your immune system and gives you cancer and diabetes.

But whatever you do, don’t get too much sleep.

You might very well have AIDS right now and not even know it.

Don't stress about this because stress leads to backaches, cancer, and irritable bowel syndrome.

The good news is that stress is good for you.

If you think you may be schizophrenic, you probably are.

If you are worried about losing control due to mental illness, you are probably not mentally ill.


Conclusion

In conclusion, the internet is a new and powerful tool in our lives. Since studies have shown that googling your symptoms produces the correct diagnosis, be sure to look up medical information on the internet at the first sign of illness. Unless you are a hypochondriac. But what if you just think you are a hypochondriac? You might not be a hypochondiac at all—you might just be psychic.

Either way, we support you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Non-Dairy Creamer: How Do They Do It?


This week in our continuing investigative journalistic series How Do They Do It, we delve into the dark, hidden realms of the edible.

The culinary world is full of mysteries. How many times have you pondered such imponderables as:

  • Just what exactly are the fifty-seven secret herbs and spices in Kentucky Fried Chicken?
  • What makes the special sauce of a Big Mac so special?
  • Why is there no squid in Squid Brand(tm) fish sauce?

We here at Very Little Known Facts have burrowed deep into the underbelly of the food we eat every day. Indeed, our sources have given us unprecedented access to the world of chemical flavoring and artificial ingredients, and today we share with you one of the never-before-disclosed secrets of the Non-Dairy Industry.


How Powdered Non-Dairy Creamer Is Made

The very name seems to be straight out of Jumbo Shrimp and Other Oxymorons by Jon Agee, available on Amazon.com.

How can cream be non-dairy, you might very well ask? And what exactly is creamer? Does that imply that cream is a verb? (Actually, cream is a verb, and one of the definitions does refer to adding cream to coffee, but it’s like the fifth one down in the list.)

But we digress. Why is non-dairy creamer also called whitener? Sure, the powder itself is white, but it doesn’t actually turn your coffee, tea, or soda white. Why would anyone want to call a food-related powder whitener as if it’s some kind of laundry product? For that matter, how can one refer to something as a cream and a powder simultaneously?

Above all, where does non-dairy creamer come from?


Where Non-Dairy Creamer Comes From

It starts with a cow, of course. Ironic? Indeed—one might say that the irony was delicious. In an industrial factory, cow’s milk is dehydrated through the standard process. The resulting mass is chemically rendered with potassium benzoate (a benzene derivative) to yield casein, a protein. Next this protein is mixed with sodium hydroxide (common table salt) and blasted with ionic radiation until it reacts, forming sodium caseinate—the only milk derivative that is non-dairy and therefore kosher.

WARNING: Since casein is technically milk protein, it is NOT safe for people with allergies to dairy products. Non-dairy creamer should never be given to infants or young children. Lactating or breast-feeding mothers should consult a doctor before resorting to non-dairy creamer. Women who are or may become pregnant should not ingest or even handle non-dairy creamer due to the risks of a specific kind of weight gain. The elderly should never user non-dairy creamer unless they are terminally ill or they are scheduled for some kind of doctor-assisted suicide, in which case what difference does it really make anyway—go for it with the non-dairy creamer.


Maize: My People Call it Sweetener

Just like ethanol, cornmeal, soda concentrate, candy, popcorn, and creamed corn, the number one ingredient of non-dairy creamer is—you guessed it—corn!

Since every trace of water must be extracted from all components of non-dairy creamer, the first step in the process is dehydrating the corn (naturally) by spreading the kernels or “cobbs” out in the hot sun over a three-week period to dry. Then the painfully sweet corn syrup is extracted by “pressing” the dried corn, a process involving a steam roller and carefully cut pavement grooves to direct the effluvia and runoff. Often this syrup is purified somewhat before being crystallized in a pure vacuum to create corn syrup solids.

Of course, corn syrup is almost entirely glucose, and sometimes it has been enhanced to include High Fructose. So remember before adding your artificial sweetener—you’ve already got dried, extracted, and crystallized corn syrup sweetener in your non-dairy creamer! And it’s completely natural!


Who Put the Horse Hooves in My Creamer?

Monoglycerides and diglycerides impart the “creaminess” to powdered non-dairy creamer through the use of water-soluble fatty acids terminating in a tasty glycerol molecule. Of course, those “in the know” will immediately recognize glycerine as the key ingredient of soap, which can be rendered from human fat a la Brad Pitt in Fight Club. (Did you see Brad Pitt in Fight Club, by the way?)

What you may not know is that glycerin is chemically identical to gelatin, which is extracted from the hooves of living horses by scraping the inner core or “viscera” of the hoof and boiling the resulting pulp until the gelatin (in the form of collagen) rises to the surface to be skimmed. As a side note, this is also the origin of collagen injections used by plastic surgeons in the lips, forehead, and noses of their badly disfigured or highly vain patients.


Is Your Oil Partially Hydrogenated or Partially Non-Hydrogenated?

Up next the oil powder goes into the mix. Dried vegetable oils such as corn, soy, palm, and coconut oil replace the nasty cholesterol from actual dairy cream with the same chemically enhanced trans-fats that make margarine so healthy. And don’t worry—non-dairy creamer is no longer made with pork lard. Not since the Eighties!


Dipotassium Phosphate: Twice as Good as Monopotassium Phosphate

At this point in the process we have created something very similar to non-dairy creamer save for the fact that your body would never be able to digest it, at all, no matter how long it lingered in your system. To remedy this, food scientists add dipotassium phosphate to the mix, also known as phosphoric acid. This ingredient aids the body in breaking down sugar, fat, and protein—so your non-dairy creamer comes partially digested for your convenience.

Have you ever wondered why Coca-Cola is so effective at chemically dissolving corrosion on car battery terminals? It’s all the phosphoric acid they cram in there. Besides adding some “zing” to Coke and non-dairy creamer, dipotassium phosphate also makes a great pesticide and fertilizer.


Feldspar: Not Just for Insulation Any More

After that we are left with a chalky mass that clumps into hard-to-dissolve chunks. To alleviate this, industrial mixers incorporate sodium alumionosilicate, aka sodium silicoaluminate, aka feldspar.

Feldspar is a mineral most often used in insulation, ceramics, and Bon Ami household cleanser. In non-dairy creamer, it is an anti-caking agent that also contributes to the highly explosive quality of non-dairy creamer.


Replicating Taste and Visual Appeal through Science

For the finishing touch, chemically-derived artificial flavors are added. These “secret ingredients” are the magic that make non-dairy creamer almost indistinguishable from non-non-dairy creamer to the human palate. Also, annatto is added for that distinctive “yellowish” color.

Now your non-dairy creamer is finally ready for that morning cup of Sanka with your choice of NutraSweet, Splenda, Equal, or Sweet’N Low!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Corrections


As accurate as we are here at Very Little Known Facts--and our level of Relative Accurateness, as compared to others, is unparalleled--there are still so-called "gray" areas where our readers may have slight differences in interpretation from ourselves. Hence we encourage a constant and vivacious dialog with reader comments and electronic correspondence. We value your input; after all, our readers by definition have the good taste to turn to us for all their fact-based needs!


Longtime reader, first time commenter Black Shoes sent us this little gem regarding our article The History of Americans in America:

charles lindbergh was a nazi.

Now, many non-grammarians may assume that Black Shoes is referring to Lindbergh's well-publicized association with Germany's National Socialist party before World War II, or his anti-semitic statements in speeches, or possibly even to his unpopular efforts to keep America out of the war altogether. But a close reader will note that the word "nazi" is not capitalized; thus, the comment itself must needs refer to Lindbergh's authoritarian, controlling personality--especially in regards to members of his immediate family. Kudos, Black Shoes! An astute addition to the conversation. Thanks for your comment!


Reader Jassie sent us this comment about our recent article That's a Fact Jack--and Jeff via electronic mail:

I am sure you know that jihad means "holy war" but the interpretation of which war that is (internal struggle, conflict of mankind, against sin, blah blah) I think is pretty subjective.

Interpretation is a dicey area for non-experts, Jassie. Naturally the term jihad is often misconstrued by many Americans who don't appreciate the subtle difference between both Muslims and Moslems and themselves. Of course, your comment "blah blah" seems to imply a lack of seriousness in this discourse. Many Moslems (Muslims) might have the objective of objecting to the subject of a subjective interpretation of the term "jihad." (Literally translated: "to the tooth.") Anyway, thanks for your comment!


Finally, VLKF partner Scott Thong commented on our article Beware April Fool's Day as follows:

dood... Cowgodland is India. Hatepigsland is any Muslim nation.

A salient point, but "dood" is spelled "dude," Scott. Thanks for your comment!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fact-Finding Mission Accomplished!


Do you ever get the feeling that you're not "in the know?" That you are missing some key facts in any given situation? Don't worry, our crack team of fact-finders will locate the missing facts and bring them directly to you, right here in Very Little Known Facts!


  • DON'T BLAME ME, I GAVE AT THE OFFICE: Officials estimate that charitable contributions in the United States and, indeed, throughout the world help many millions, but some still suffer from ongoing difficulties.

  • Condensed milk is six times denser than uncondensed milk.

  • IS YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE? A single jogger running 1.2 miles (500 metric meters) emits more carbon monoxide in one hour than a nuclear power plant does in one week.

  • Just like snowflakes, no two Social Security numbers are alike.

  • IT'S PELICAN, NOT PELICAN'T: If for some reason a pelican cannot catch enough fish during an ocean flight, it will starve to death.

  • The phrase "no man's land" refers to the unclaimed or disputed territory between opposing armies. Originally the term was "nomad's land" because during World War I transients and gypsies often slept in the ruins of buildings in these dangerous areas. In 1953 the phrase was officially changed to Demilitarized Zone (DMV).

  • TASTES LIKE CHICKEN: Insects and human semen contain more protein than a pound of lean ground beef.

  • Asbestos, though popular in the 1980's due to its inexpensive qualities, is now considered to be a lethal building material because it is highly flammable. Modern ceiling tiles are made from asbestos coated with an ultra-thin layer of plastic for safety.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Lowly Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?


For centuries, scientists and philosophers have debated the Big Questions. Now, finally, we have an answer to one of these age-old conundrums: is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? (SPOILER ALERT: the next paragraph contains the answer to this question.)

Shockingly, the tomato is apparently a fruit. Of course, linguists have long suspected this since the word "tomato" comes from the Latin expression, "Tu Mater" which literally means "Fruit Bearer" and figuratively means "Fruit of the Womb."

Are you wondering WHY experts consider the tomato to be a fruit? Well, it turns out that there are four (4) scientific reasons often cited by those "in the know." (Hint: it is not just because they are red.)


1. Tomatoes grow on trees. Much like other fruits such as oranges and canteloupes, most varieties of tomatoes can be plucked directly from the branch when ripe. Tomato vines, despite being technically barkless, are still trees since they grow upwards from the ground in the direction of the prevailing winds. Vegetables such as green beans and iceberg lettuce do not grow on trees.
2. Tomatoes have seeds. Seeds are used to grow new tomato plants from existing tomatoes, a reproduction method similar to that of apples or pomegranates--both fruits. Potatoes, which are not fruits, do not reproduce using the "seed" method.


3. Tomatoes have skin. The skin of a tomato is the outer layer that protects the more delicate inner layers of the fruit including the aforementioned seeds. You can remove the skin of a tomato by "peeling" the skin away from the inner layers, a process similar to peeling a banana or grape--both fruits. Okra and mushrooms, which are not fruits, have no skin and thus cannot be successfully peeled.

4. Tomatoes have juice. The juice is the liquid contained in the inner layers of the tomato. This juice is both nutritious and also useful. All fruits produce juice, which is where we get fruit juice. The popular drink V8 (named for the powerful automotive engine) is labeled "vegetable juice" on the product packaging, but this is a misstatement of fact since tomatoes are actually fruits. V8 is therefore, in reality, fruit juice.


5. Tomatoes are genetically fruits. Scientists unraveling the genes of tomatoes have announced that DNA evidence indicates tomatoes contain the fruit gene. This effectively closes the case on the age-old debate as to whether tomatoes are fruits or vegetables.


Opposing Viewpoints

But what, you may ask, about the landmark 1893 Supreme Court decision classifying tomatoes as vegetables? An excellent question. In Nix v. Hedden, the Court ruled that tomatoes must be classified as vegetables due to their inclusion in ketchup, which was considered a vegetable for school lunch classification purposes. However, subsequent research revealed that the number-one non-aqueous ingredient in ketchup was high-fructose corn syrup, and fructose is by definition fruit sugar. Hence, ketchup itself is not actually a vegetable but a fruit.

Do you have a Big Question? Send it to the fact experts at verylittleknownfacts@yahoo.com and maybe you'll get the answer you need.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Facts on Parade


If there is one thing that America learned from the Seventies, it's that everybody loves a parade--literally! Here is a parade of Very Little Known Facts to get your day started right.

  • "Fortnight" is an old-timey Scottish word meaning two weeks. A "baker's fortnight" is 15 days.

  • IT'S GENETIC: Every great pianist throughout history has had blue eyes.

  • The proboscis, or stinger, of a mosquito is not long enough to pierce human skin in the winter--only in the summer when dead layers of skin slough off due to the heat. Thus, all mosquitoes die in the winter.

  • PARADES ON PARADE: Due to the events of 9/11, New York City has restricted parade permits to four days a year: New Years, July 4, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. As an unintended consequence, St. Patrick's Day and President's Day now share a parade.

  • You can never exactly convert metric measurements to English units. This is why standard and metric socket sets are slightly different sizes.

  • DON'T DRINK THE WATER: "Non-potable" is Latin for "Do not drink." Water trucks with this warning on the side have deadly ethyl alcohol added to the water to ensure that construction workers do not drink it.

  • Parade magazine is the oldest continually-published publication in America.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Moslems or Muslims: A Comparative History


Due to the unfolding events in the world today, and indeed the previously unfolded events from days prior to this current day, and finally mindful of possible events that may or may not subsequently unfold in the days to come after today (Thursday), we here at Very Little Known Facts have undertaken to provide some of the deep background on Islam as it compares to the other, less Muslim (Moslem) religions. This information, though vitally important in an esoteric/geopolitical/impractical sense, is nonetheless very little well known amongst Americans and other citizens of the Coalition of the Willing, i.e. Poles and Australians. As part of our ongoing mission to enlighten the unenlightened and to elucidate the unelucidated, we present a comprehensive and all-inclusive history of one of the most historical world religions in the world.


The Little Religion that Could

Like every other religion in the world, Islam has its roots in the Fertile Crescent, today known as the Middle East. The prophet Muhammed (Mohammad) introduced the teachings of the Koran (Qu'ran), the Moslem (Muslim) holy book. The Qu'ran (Koran) has never been translated from the original Arabian, but sources say it encourages living a life of righteousness amongst other things. The face of the prophet is traditionally hidden or obscured due to the similarity of his appearance to Jesus Christ, who is worshiped by Christians and grudgingly admired in a strictly platonic fashion by Jews.

Muhammad (Mohammed) quickly became a leader both in a religious and civil and military sense. In the 7th century he conquered most of what is now Saudi Arabia and what was then the future modern-day Saudi Arabia. His primary weapon in this conquest was force, but he did not hesitate to use secondary weapons, such as the threat of the usage of force. By the time of his death at a tragic age, the entirety of the then-Islamic world had been converted by himself.


Beliefs

Muslims (Moslems) hold strong opinions on a variety of issues including:
  • pork
  • Jews
  • women
  • holiness
  • war (peace)
  • those weird marks on the center of the forehead (they don't have them)
  • America
  • God
  • the relative roles of religious and secular authority in civil society
  • head scarves

Many Islamic religious leaders have the authority to issue an edict, or a FATWA which translates as For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Moslems (Muslims) also participate vocally in the countries of which they are constituents, such as Iran, Syria, Indonesia, and Afghanistan, where Prime Minister Musharraf himself is a Muslim (Moslem).



A Comprehensive and Definitive Comparison of the World's Four Major Religions

The easy-to-follow chart shown below details the major beliefs of the world's four most major religions as determined on a per-capita basis. (Note: Hinduism and Mormonism were discounted because of the patent absurdity of their beliefs.)



Summary

In short, the world is a diverse and interesting place, full of interesting people and religions with divergent yet not necessarily invalid sets of beliefs. (Hindus and Mormons excepted.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Take a Seat!


  • FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD: Franklin Deleanor Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to wear a prosthetic leg due to a bad reaction to the polio vaccine in his own, biological legs. This is why he insisted on always having his picture taken "relaxing" in various chairs.

  • The term "chairman" originally referred to the elected (or appointed) head of an executive board such as those that govern companies, schools, and governmental entities. During board meetings, the actual physical chair reserved for the "chairman" was traditionally larger and more comfortable than those of his subordinates. Today this term has largely been replaced with the gender-neutral "chairman or chairwoman."

  • HE DID IT HIS WAY: In his heyday, Frank Sinatra was known as "The Chairman of the Board," although this was purely an honorific and conveyed no actual power.

  • The popular "Barcelona" chair was the first piece of furniture designed by brothers Charles and Ray Eames for the Barcalounger company. Later this selfsame chair would be featured prominently in an episode of Thirtysomething.

  • LOUIS LOUIS, OH BABY, WE GOTTA GO NOW: The Louis XV chair was the successor to the wildly popular Louis XIV chair in 17th century France and England. However, due to the antique nature of furniture from that era, the Louis XV chair may look older than it appears.

  • The first electric chair was invented by Nicola Tesla in 1892 and debuted at the St. Louis World Fair that same year in 1894. The crowd was electrified (figuratively) by the spectacle of Indian-warrior-turned-sideshow-act Geronimo being "shocked" by a non-lethal voltage. Later, the death penalty was abolished in America, only to be re-instated by popular demand.

  • USA! USA! A recent study concluded that over 90% of Americans use chairs every day, as opposed to the rest of the world, which apparently employs these useful devices to a measurably lesser extent.

Friday, September 21, 2007

OJ Simpson: Innocent Again


We here at Very Little Known Facts believe in America. And the last we heard, in this country (again, America) a person is innocent until proven guilty. And since O.J. Simpson has never been convicted of any crime, this means ipso facto that he is innocent.

This man is a widower trying to raise two mixed-race children as a single parent after suffering serious financial hardship. As if that were not enough, he has been forced to travel with an armed entourage to protect him from the stinging swarm of paparazzi who are nothing but vultures and parasites feeding on his celebrity. Although that is literally a metaphor, it is nonetheless the truth.

At the same time, O.J. has taken it upon himself to FIND NICOLE'S REAL KILLER, a task that law enforcement has apparently given up on. Do you think this can be easy for him? Really, if you think about it, the man is a hero.

Not to overplay the race card, but we cannot help but feel that this is yet another case of society keeping the black man down. Sure, he was a national hero when he won the Theismann trophy and went on to break every major NFL rushing record. Sure, he was a well-known and beloved spokesman for a popular rental car company. But once his acting career starting to take off, well, let’s just say it doesn’t pay for a black man to get TOO successful in this country.

Sadly, America turned on this well-spoken, intelligent polymath—a true Renaissance Man for our day and age—eventually resorting to baseless and hurtful accusations. Is this any way to treat a man? Do you not think that Mr. Simpson, behind that fetching grin, has human feelings like the rest of us? Surely he was hurting that fateful day in May of 1994, driving around Las Vegas in a white Chevrolet Bronco with a gun to his head. Methinks you would do the same if society accused you of heinous crimes. (And lest we forget: the glove did not fit.)

The official word from your friends at VLKF is that the gleeful celebration of Mr. Simpson's continuing misfortune is simply reprehensible. How many times must this poor man be exonerated before the general public can come to terms with his perpetual innocence?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

It's Raining Facts! Hallelujah!


  • Word to Your Mother: The hip-hop term "homeboy" is derived from the French word "homme" meaning "home" or "neighborhood." Similarly, this is also where the slang terms "da hood" and "hoodie" come from.

  • Just as many seafood restaurants let you pick your own lobster from a tank, several "authentic" Mexican restaurants allow you to choose your own live chicken from a coop for their signature dish, pico de gallo.

  • Who Is the Real Spoiler? Spoilers can increase the speed of automobiles by 20% to 30% without using more gas. Both the EPA and Greenpeace have urged that all cars on the road be retro-fitted with these energy-saving devices, but they have met with resistance from conservative consumers more concerned with the aesthetic appearance of their vehicle than saving the environment.

  • Your fingers and toes never stop growing throughout your entire life.

  • Since trichinosis and salmonella have been eradicated from uncooked pork through industrial farming techniques, tasty raw bacon dishes have been appearing on sushi menus throughout the United States.

  • Movie critics recently voted Steven Seagal, son of actor George Segal, as the Best Caucasian Martial Artist of the Decade.

  • Whoa, Nelly! Unicycles are the only wheeled vehicles that cannot coast downhill.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Today Is Labor Day


Very Little Known Facts wishes all of you a “Happy” Labor Day today!

(And a Happy Labour Day to our friends in England, Happy Canada Day to our readers in the Great White North.)


What Is Labor Day?

Although Labor Day (formerly called Memorial Day) is observed by government offices, schools, and businesses alike on the first Monday in September, the actual holiday is September 2nd. It was changed from the original day (the last Thursday in August) in 1946 as a way to benefit war orphans.

Labor Day began as a pagan holiday to celebrate the end of August, which was famously referred to by the poet George Eliot as:

August, the cruelest month
Aye, inferno! the dregs of summer
Devour the new-born foal, the calf of spring;
The center cannot hold.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,
And into the valley of death
Rode the six hundred.


Later it was Teddy J. Roosevelt, America’s only Socialist president, who dedicated the holiday to the proletariat. Ironically, it wasn’t until the Nixon administration that federal workers got Labor Day off as a holiday—and this was only after Congress marked Labor Day as the official “beginning of the Holiday Shopping Season.”

Other interesting Labor Day facts:

  • It is a myth that Labor Day refers to the large number of babies born nine months after New Year’s Day, although it is true that going into labor is a lot of work for a pregnant woman--and it can be hard on the dad too!

  • Spooky Fun: Nobody knows the origin of the Labor Day tradition whereupon widows and widowers bedeck their mailboxes with black bunting and lace. Some say this macabre ritual is still practiced in remote areas of Appalachia.

  • Americans consume more hamburgers on Labor than any other day of the year aside from the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Spring Break, and Christmas Eve put together.

  • Don’t Let the Upbeat Tone Fool You: The lyrics to “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend,” the smash #1 hit from Danish band Loverboy, actually refer to a man who has to go into work on Labor Day weekend.

  • Labor Day is the birthday of playwright Arthur Miller (62), professional athlete Ed “Too-Tall” Jones (47) and celebrity impersonator Rich Little (deceased).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Horses: Man's Best Friend or Man's Best Fuel?


Welcome back to Very Little Known Facts!

Recently our friends over at the Submarine World Network (long-time devotees of VLKF) have posted a Very Little Known thread in their forums. The original fact at issue:

  • The word "horsepower" originally referred to the amount of energy released by burning the carcass of one dead horse, the primary source of fuel for early American steamboats.

And here was the post from Submarine enthusiast Donmac:

I only checked out "Horsepower" as I know the above is wrong. So I must assume that since the above highlighted words in quote are false, so then the whole article (posting) may not be true...."Horsepower is defined as work done over time. The exact definition of one horsepower is 33,000 lb.ft./minute. Put another way, if you were to lift 33,000 pounds one foot over a period of one minute, you would have been working at the rate of one horsepower. In this case, you'd have expended one horsepower-minute of energy."


Of course, we here at Very Little Known Facts always encourage our readers to verify everything for themselves, since we are inevitably vindicated. In this case, it is obvious that no human being could possibly lift 33,000 pounds one foot over a period of one minute (or even an hour!) because this is why steamboats were invented in the first place.

Naturally, this pretty much moots the entire point of Donmac's post. But since we are committed to providing added value to our product, what follows is an in-depth analysis of the subject matter at hand. Enjoy!


A Brief History of Steamboat Horsepower Technology

The invention of the steam engine (or 'engine' as we call it today) revolutionized 17th century England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Soon steamboats, steam locomotives, and steam automobiles replaced horses as the primary means of transportation in the civilized world--and beyond! This inexorably led to a glut of unwanted horses--large, cumbersome beasts that were expensive to maintain and likely to turn on and attack their human masters with or without provocation.


What to Do with Excess Horses

The wholesale slaughter of horses in Europe and America in the Steam Age (1848-1910) seemed wasteful to many concerned. In fact, many rivers became almost completely clogged with horse carcasses. The inimitable Mark Clemens described the Mighty Mississip' (short for "Mighty Mississippi") as "a river almost completely clogged with the carcasses of horses." Truer words were never written.

It was legendary inventor, generous philanthropist, and alleged misogynist Robert "Bob" Fulton who first came up with the idea of burning horse carcasses to power steamboats. The idea, brilliant in its simplicity, quickly lead to horse-corpse-free waterways throughout the United States and later Europe. Of course, as the demands for steamboat fuel increased, horse-hunting came into vogue in the Midwest. Unscrupulous poachers even resorted to passing off the rotting meat of ponies, mustangs, stallions, goats, nags, and even large dogs as steamboat fuel.


Horse Carcasses Today

With the advent of nuclear energy, horse-powered steamboats became an antiquated concept fit only for local museums dioramas. However, history buffs still visit "authentic" Mississippi River steamboat casinos to try their hands at Five Card Draw or Blind Man's Bluff as the scintillating scent of burning equines fills the air--just as it did way back when.