Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Well Known Fact: Our Readers Are Great

As expected, our readers have outdone themselves yet again! The call for your Very Little Known Facts has brought literally a ton of email submissions. Even now our intrepid interns are sorting through the thousands of entries. Here's just a taste of what we've received so far:

Alice contributed this mind-boggler:

  • Ferns are the oldest plants on the face of the earth. Some individual plants are over two million years old, dating back to the time of the dinosaurs.

    (Don't put those greens in your mixed salad! Thanks Alice!)

Nora B. gave us this priceless gem:

  • 70% of strawberries are hollow.

    (Who knew? You're the best, Nora!)

Jason from the Advanced Theory blog posted this:

  • There are more left turns in America than right turns.

    (All you lefties out there rejoice! Thanks, Jason!)

Adam J. clued us into this:

  • Whippets, Greyhounds, and other "sighthounds" are descended from Old English "second-sight hounds," dogs that could see the spirits of the dead.

    (Scooby Doo, where are you? Top notch, Adam!)

Do you have a dollop of Very Little Known wisdom you'd like to share? Email us at:

    Tuesday, May 30, 2006

    Doctor or Apple? You Decide!

    The medical profession has really come a long way since the days of bloodletting, leeches, and appendectomies. But the average person today still knows more about how their VCR works than they do about their own body! Benjamin Franklin (the first licensed physician in the 13 colonies) once said, "Cure a pound of flesh to save a pretty penny." With this is mind we have assembled some Very Little Known Medical Facts:

    • Sleep is the only proven cure for sunburn. "Aloe" treatments actually aggravate the situation.

    • THANKS MOM: Dandruff is hereditary from your mother's side.

    • So-called "snakebite kits" are, at best, lethal if you have been bitten by a venomous snake. The only medically recognized treatment for a poisonous snakebite is amputation.

    • LET YOUR FREEDOM FLAG FLY! 75% of men have hair growing from the "corona" of their penis.

    • The best cure for the common cold is air.

    • ON A RELATED NOTE: Flushing, New York has the highest air to water ratio in the country. Area hospitals report an average of one case of the common cold per year to health authorities.

    • "Blisters" have been around since the Bronze Age when humans first started doing manual labor.

    • STILL HUNGRY? If you were to finish eight cans of tuna in one sitting, you would ingest the same amount of mercury that you would get by eating a rectal thermometer or a non-stick frying pan.

    Monday, May 29, 2006

    Honoring Our Veterans Day

    We at Very Little Known Facts want to remind all Americans out there to take a moment to remember those who defended our country in the Ultimate Capacity, by serving in the armed forces. This Veterans Day observe a moment of silence at 3pm Greenwich Mean Time by bowing your head and closing your eyes. Unless you are driving, of course, in which case keep one eye open and put your left turn signal on. Or, should you be eating, tap a glass--but remember, tap it silently.

    Sunday, May 28, 2006

    The Evils of Weather: Hurricanes

    As part of our Pseudo-Monthly Online Community Awareness Campaign, here is a public service post on that most malicious and diabolical meteorological phenomenon: the hurricane.

    Hurricane season is upon us, and due to the national tragedy of 9-11, misinformation and urban legends about these vicious giant tornadoes are literally flooding the internet. We at Very Little Known Facts are here, as always, to set the record straighter.

    MYTH #1: Leaving windows “cracked” open will help equalize the air pressure and prevent breakage.

    FALSE! Leaving windows open, even a tiny bit, gives free passage to the negative pressure or “bad air” of the storm cell. Once inside, this negative pressure or “bad air” will react violently with the positive pressure or “good air” inside your home, causing an explosion. Be sure to never, EVER leave your air conditioner running during a hurricane, as the air conditioner will fill the house with positive pressure (“good air”) which will inevitably react with the negative pressure (“bad air”) of the hurricane and cause an explosion so virulent it will blow the roof off the house.

    MYTH B: Hurricanes only hit coastal areas.

    FALSE! Although coastal areas are the most exposed due to beach erosion, no place on the globe is safe from these killer storms. Here are just a few historic disasters caused by hurricanes, some of them miles from the ocean:

    • Atlantis, Greece, 200 BC—38 dead from hurricane flooding

    • The Great Chicago Fire, USA 1871—17 dead from hurricane-related fire

    • Krakatoa, Indonesia 1882—82 dead from volcanic eruption which caused a category 5 hurricane

    • Galveston, Louisiana, USA 1902—4 dead from debris and sadness

    • Flanders Fields, France 1916—18 dead from wind-borne viruses including avian flu

    • Tennessee Valley Authority, USA 1935—many minor injuries due to hurricane flooding

    MYTH #3: Typhoons are hurricanes located in the West Pacific and Indian Oceans.

    FALSE! Because typhoons spin the opposite direction of hurricanes due to the Coriolis Effect, they are in effect anti-hurricanes. Scientific theories vary wildly about the consequences of a collision between a typhoon and a hurricane. Many meteorological conferences have ended in fisticuffs between the Nihilists (who claim that the two storms would “cancel each other out”) and the Catastrophists (who postulate global cataclysm.) Splinter cells of weatherpersons actually believe a hurricane/typhoon collision would create wormholes, tesseracts, and other tears in the time-space continuum, but that is merely absurd.

    BONUS MYTH: Hurricanes, the Silent Killers, are impossible to defend against.

    FALSE! Unlike volcanoes, hurricanes do not attack without warning. Watch for the signs:

    1. Red sky at night

    2. Red sky in the morning

    3. Red sky at noon

    In Conclusion

    Always practice being in a state of preparedness. It might just save your life!

    Thursday, May 25, 2006

    In Case You Haven't Heard...

    • A country mile is equal to 1.43 miles.

    • LOSERS WEEPERS: Biometric and physiognomic studies have shown that the facial expressions of losing sports teams are measurably different than those of the winning side.

    • The ancient Sumerians invented cuneiform writing, bronze armor, and an early precursor to toothpaste made from the chitinous exoskeletons of locusts crushed in mint leaves. The Sumerian Empire later fell due (in part) to venereal disease.

    • PLAY THE PERCENTAGES: 80% of serial killers list fishing as their number one hobby.

    • The average cat has 24 whiskers--14 on one side, and 10 on the other. Can you tell which side is which?

    • NOW THAT'S ADVANCED: Lou Reed once played an entire concert during his 1989 Ecstasy tour wearing nothing but his "trademark" leather jacket. Due to creative lighting and a rockin' backing band including long-time guitarist Reeves Gabrels, nobody in the crowd even noticed!

    • In Las Vegas, craps is the only game with more winners than losers.

    • CHECK IT OUT: The average cash register made after 1990 has more vacuum tubes than UNIVAC, the first personal computer.

    • Norman Bates was the name of Alfred Hitchcock's cousin. James Bond was Sir Ian Fleming's dentist. Twilight was Rod Serling's favorite time of day.

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    [Your Very Little Known Fact Here]

    Webster's New World Dictionary (third edition) defines the word interactive as "referring to a complex interactive system in which two independent forces act upon each other in order to produce a sum greater than the product of the various parts." How true that is. And now we at Very Little Known Facts are "intering" a plea for your "action!"

    Do you have a Very Little Known Fact? Send it to us:

    We will pick the top 41 entries to post on this site! Stay tuned...

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    A World of Facts

    We all live and breathe in an amazing world where Egyptians can eat Canadian bacon on Italian pizza pie in Argentina, German shepherds can interbreed with French poodles, and anybody can become an American if they try hard enough. Chaos Theory tells us that a single drop of rain in one end of the ocean can cause a tsunami on the other end. With this is mind, it is more important than ever to learn as much as we can about this amazing world in which we live and breathe.

    For instance:

    • But Greece and Turkey claim ownership of the island of Cyprus, the last remnant of the ancient "land bridge" between Europe and Asia.

    • Many high-end sushi restaurants in Japan actually carve the flesh off of living (but anesthetized) fish at the patron's table to demonstrate freshness.

    • Contrary to popular belief, not all Australians are descended from convicts and debtors. Many proud "Austies" can claim aboriginal ancestry.

    • CHECK THE LABEL: Not all Mexican food is imported from Mexico.

    • During World War II, the French Resistance put up billboards with messages written in dialect and local idioms to communicate with Allied forces.

    • In the Northern Hemisphere, the rotors (or "blades") of helicopters always turn clockwise. In the Southern Hemisphere, they always turn counter-clockwise. Thus no helicopter can ever cross the Equator in the air.

    • WEARING OF THE GREEN: Ireland is the only country that celebrates Arbor Day.

    • The United States has more citizens of Chinese ancestry than any other nation on Earth.

    Monday, May 22, 2006

    Behind The Magic: Your Garbage Disposal

    In this wondrous world in which we live and breathe, it's easy to take things for granted. How many of us have heated up a delicious DiGiorno frozen pizza for dinner, eaten half of it, and then stuffed the remaining half into the "in-sink-erator." Did that pizza rot in the sink? Of course not! With the flick of a switch, viola! The pizza is gone. Magic? In a sense; it's the magic of modern living.

    But have you ever asked yourself, "How exactly does a garbage disposal actually work?"

    Luckily for our readers, Britt recently attended a conference for fact enthusiasts and sat in on the most interesting lecture on how a garbage disposal actually works. Here is what he learned:

    The Basics

    The way a garbage disposal functions is really easy to grasp. It is a basic machine with a few “easy to grasp” principles. The first thing to know is that a g.d. is basically a split circuit machine that runs off of simple 120 volt electricity. The circuit gets split (to 60 volts per cycle) when the wire, which naturally is not user-accessible as g.d.s are hard wired, comes up through the sink and splits to meet each end of the bi-orbital base where the wire tips are spot welded with a mig or tig. This is so the same pattern of mulching is not repeated, much like a chewing motion.

    Where Does the Food Go?

    Above the base made of steel is a cantilevered blade that has been impregnated with a magnetic field. The blade is usually alloy as it needs to be lighter than the base and it is attached to a beveled set of ball bearings that are free to move as far as the rotation arm will allow due to space constraints (see diagram). This is as long as the electric waveform stays positive which can be explained with this simple concept: waveform for power is always positive, never negative in a resistive circuit like this one. This means that power is always being dissipated by the resistive load and never returned to the source as it is with reactive loads. If the source were a mechanical generator, it would take 240 watts worth of mechanical energy (about 1/3 horsepower) to turn the shaft.

    How Does It Get Power?

    Being hard-wired, the garbage disposal is independent of the wall outlet ground system. This means that even if your wall outlets are two-pronged (polarized), you can still run a separate ground circuit for the disposal. Also note that the waveform for power is not at the same frequency as the voltage or current. Rather, its frequency is double that of either the voltage or current waveforms. This different frequency prohibits our expression of power in an AC circuit using the same complex (rectangular or polar) notation as used for voltage, current, and impedance, because this form of mathematical symbolism implies unchanging phase relationships in the garbage disposal. But phase relationships ALWAYS change! When frequencies are not the same, phase relationships constantly change. As strange as it may seem, the best way to proceed with AC power calculations is to use scalar notation, and to handle any relevant phase relationships with trigonometry. Counter-intuitive? Sure. But if you really stop to think about it, it should all become quite clear.

    In Conclusion

    Garbage disposals are used all over the world and have been a great help to mankind.

    Friday, May 19, 2006

    Little Known History of This Week: May 19

    • 79 BC: Mt. Aetna, the tallest volcano in the ancient world, violently erupts and buries the Roman city of Pompeii beneath a pyrotechnic flow of mud and ash. Recent archeological digs have revealed evidence that the majority of Pompeii's citizens died in the two weeks before the eruption due to an outbreak of the plague bacillus, Yersinia pestilence.

    • 1216: England's King John, son of the real-life King Arthur, is forced to sign the Magna Carta to prevent insurrection amongst his nobles and the potential loss of Canada, Australia, Bermuda, and other British colonies. The document itself is written in Latin, which no one in that period of history can read.

    • 1497: Columbus sets forth on his second voyage to the New World from the Spanish port of Lisbon. With much greater funding and more ships than his first voyage, Columbus will discover Florida, the Lesser Antilles, the Panama Canal, and the Equator.

    • 1849: Bavarian baker Adophus Busch immigrates to America with an idea for a "brewed grog" alcoholic beverage. In October that same year he marries Lilly Anheuser and introduces his "hopped up" version of the grog at the wedding reception, a little drink he liked to call beer.

    • 1921: Howard Hughes opens the sealed tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen in Tunisia despite his translator's warnings of a curse. Every single member of the expedition eventually dies. Hughes himself goes on to build the largest plane in the world, the C-130 Hercules.

    • 1955: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik, the first military spy satellite. Designed to gather intelligence and disrupt telecommunications, it orbits the Earth in a perfectly circular ellipse for 92 terrifying days. Ordinary Americans report disruptions due to this new "technological warfare" including loss of power, feelings of panic or inadequacy, and inexplicable "clicks and beeps" during long distance calls.

    • 1974: Vice President of the United States Spiro S. Agnew resigns amidst allegations of partisanship.

    • 1996: Cult leader Marshall Applewhite convinces his followers in the Heaven's Gate cult to commit ritual suicide, or seppuku, upon the appearance of Haley's Comet in the San Diego sky. The pseudo-religious group got its name from the infamous 1980 Hollywood flop starring Kris Kristofferson as a 19th century Harvard graduate making his way in the American West. In addition to berating the film's bloated length (the first version screened was nearly four hours long,) critics contended that any film featuring Christopher Walken, John Hurt, Brad Dourif, Mickey Rourke, and Willem Defoe would inevitably be too creepy for commercial success.

    • 2004: Actor Max Gail, best known for his portrayal of Detective Stan "Wojo" Wojeciehowicz in the hit sitcom Barney Miller, celebrates his 59th birthday.

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    How True It Is

    • Human hair does not grow in space.

    • WHY NOT THE NORTH POLE? The United States Postal Service has kept every single letter ever addressed to Santa Claus at a special facility in Fort Knox, Kentucky.

    • So-called "cowboy hats" were almost never worn by 19th century ranch hands due to the fact that they tended to blow off in a strong breeze. It was only after the massive popularity of the Hollywood Western that real life "cowboys" began to sport the hats named after them.

    • Spanish is the official second language of the United States.

    • BANK ON THIS: Bank employees are given 6-digit PIN numbers for their ATM and debit cards to differentiate them from non-employees with their regular 4-digit PIN numbers.

    • Butter was once thought to cause schizophrenia. Then in 1820 Louis Pasteur proved that it was actually the bacteria that grew on the wood inside butter churns that caused most forms of schizophrenia. This explains the obsolescence of the butter churn in today's world.

    • More buffalo roam the prairies of the American Midwest than before the Civil War. In fact, in Oklahoma they are considered pests!

    • Fishing with dynamite is more environmentally sound than other, more conventional methods of fishing because it opens up entire new ecosystems for competition and causes less litter due to tangled lines and lost lures.

    • The Appalachians are the oldest mountain chain on the planet, worn down over the centuries by erosion due to human farming and landscaping.

    • Public speakers suffering from stage fright or stuttering often find it useful to speak in a fake British or "Cockney" accent to their audiences.

    Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    Very Little Known Facts of Life

    No subject is too sensitive, too taboo, or too forbidden for Very Little Known Facts. We firmly believe that ignorance is the greatest impediment to understanding. Therefore we are proud to bring our Very Little Known Knowledge to bear on the hot-button issue of Human Sexuality.

    The Kinsey Report

    Volcanic? Explosive? Unbelievable? These are just a few of the superlatives that may have been used to describe Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, a report so shocking that it literally made the earth move upon its publication in 1949. Two years later Sexual Behavior in the Human Female finally came, and then again two months later as a second edition. Among the revelations:

    • The average length of a Caucasian man's penis is 6 inches flaccid and 9-10 inches erect. African American men were excluded from this study for obvious reasons.

    • The average bust size of a Caucasian woman is 36-38 c-d.

    • 100% of all males have had a homosexual encounter.

    • The average American male with no obvious physical defects has had over 100 sexual partners by the age of 21.

    • Almost every single woman interviewed for Sexual Behavior in the Human Female claimed to have had multiple instances of spontaneous orgasm merely from thinking about coitus. Only two women in the report said they had never experienced anything like this, and one of those women suffered from schizophrenia.

    • Kinsey also found that around 15% of the male population had masturbated at some point in their lives. Due to the stigmatization of onanism, he postulated that the actual figure was closer to 20%.

    Masters and Johnson

    Doctors William Masters and Virginia Johnson dedicated their lives to probing further and deeper into human sexuality. Their two classic texts, Human Sexual Response and Human Sexual Inadequacy, were not only titillating but also groundbreaking scientific works. Some of their findings:

    • The vast majority of women found that they most easily reached "climax" by using the missionary position and no other distracting stimulations. 83% reported that they "almost always " achieved orgasm within five minutes.

    • Although many consider it to be a mere annoyance or source of frustration, premature ejaculation is a serious medical condition that has been linked to prostate cancer and, in extreme cases, infertility.

    • The average duration of coitus between a man and a woman is one hour, not including foreplay.

    • Almost all women who have taken even a single dose of Viagra (tadalafil) have experienced serious side effects such as loss of libido, unwanted hair growth, euphoria, and blindness. In some cases these side effects manifest themselves after several years. Many doctors recommend Cialis (Sildenafil citrate) for women with sexual dysfunction, although as always patients experiencing arousal lasting for than four hours should seek immediate medical attention.

    Fact and Fiction

    Urban myths abound in the sensitive area of human sexuality, especially regarding methods of birth control. Consider the following:

    • You can't get pregnant your first time: FALSE! 75% of mothers reported that they only had one sexual experience before becoming pregnant, while 20% reported multiple sexual encounters.

    • You can't get pregnant if you have sex standing up, in the shower, or while watching television: FALSE! Because humans evolved from ocean-dwelling proto-mammals, water actually helps the conception process. Watching television facilitates the release of endorphines, which also aid conception. Coitus while standing does provide better odds against pregnancy, but the act itself is logistically impossible except for trained athletes.

    • You can't get pregnant during your period: FALSE! Just as the increased blood flow during menstruation make the female body more susceptible to infection, it also makes it more susceptible to conception.

    • You can't get pregnant if you practice the rhythm method or early withdrawal: TRUE.

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    Never Trust Anything On the Internet

    As a rule, we at Very Little Known Facts do not “raise the alarm” over every unsolicited email that lands in our inbox. But we felt obligated to take a stand against the odious, underhanded, and reprehensible missive we received earlier today from the developing nation of Nigeria.


    This was the title of the email we received, and of course we opened it—after all, urgency was called for in the very title!

    The email went on to explain that the authors were civil servants in the deeply troubled capital of Lagos (formerly Nigeria City). Their mastery of English grammar and proper usage left something to be desired, but despite this one thing was very clear: utmost secrecy was required. This was odd because the email itself was unencrypted. But consider this: if email encryption was made available to Sub-Saharan Africa, then this technology could fall into the hands of terrorists or even pirates.

    It was obvious that these besieged bureaucrats had contacted us because of our international reputation as peons of integrity, bastions of virtue and rightness. They knew they could trust Very Little Known Facts with their urgent request to transfer US$21,320,000.00 from the Central Bank of Nigeria into our account, 20% of which was earmarked for our Facilitator’s Fee.


    Apparently the aforementioned Nigerians INTENDED TO CIRCUMVENT ESTABLISHED FINANCIAL PROCEDURES FOR INTERNATIONAL MONETARY TRANSFER. Shocking! And without impugning the motives of these dedicated civil servants, we must point out that the aforementioned circumventation could be seen as an attempt to avoid such penalties, fees, and taxes as would fall due to the United States Government. We, for one, would not stand for such disregard for the Rule of Law.

    So take heed, dear readers. If you receive a similar request in your inbox, be sure to provide the sender your name, bank account routing information, social security number, mother’s maiden name, and all necessary user names and passwords. But when you provide them, MAKE SURE the recipient intends to fully comply with all applicable laws. As we told Dr. Clement Okon of Nigeria, only after the appropriate financial penalties have been assessed will we be willing to accept our 20% Facilitator’s Fee, because that is the right thing to do.

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    That Sounds About Right...

    Wolfgang Sebastian Amadeus Mozart famously said that music is the universal language. Others might contend that Esperanto holds that particular title. Either way, only a true fan would "know the score" about these Very Little Known music trivia facts:

    • Everybody knows that the Beatles were the first band to "sample" a portion of another artist's work and incorporate it into a new song with their chart-topping single "Revolution No. 9." What you may not know is that this song nearly spawned the first sampling lawsuit in recording industry history. The Beatles sampled an unreleased track from the Jeff Beck Group entitled "Sunday Porridge." Rhythm guitarist Eric Clapton threatened to sue the Fab Four, but was dissuaded by his close personal friend Patti Boyd-Hearst who also happened to be George Harrison's wife. Years later "Slowhand" would rework the song with longtime collaborator Derek Domino into the classic hit "Layla."

    • DESERT ISLAND RECORDS: In 1981 French anthropologists studying the indigenous inhabitants of the remote Pola Malu islands discovered a cargo cult based on the Jackson Browne album Lawyers In Love after thousands of copies of the LP washed up on the shores of the South Pacific atoll.

    • Pearl Jam was named after lead vocalist and keyboardist Eddie Vedder's first band, ironically named Pearl Jam.

    • THE DAY THE MUSIC STOPPED: Country crooner Waylon Jennings was the sole survivor of the 1958 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Havens, and the Big Bopper.

    • Due to a rare learning disability, Bob Dylan was never able to memorize the words to his own songs. In order to perform them live in concert he learned to sing the lyrics phonetically.

    • ONE FOR EACH FINGER: Some "bass" guitars have up to five strings.

    • After eighties techno band Devo broke up due to artistic differences, lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh not only became a writer for the hit Fox television cartoon The Simpsons, but he also wrote and performed all of the show's music!

    • NO WONDER THEY CALLED THEM THE BRAT PACK: Frank Sinatra had only one testicle and one lung. His sidekick Sammy Davis Jr. only had one testicle. Mario Lanza, the third member of the infamous trio, was bisexual.

    Sunday, May 14, 2006

    Your Electronic Mail Is Important To Us

    We here at Very Little Known Facts are overwhelmed and humbled by the volume of correspondence we've been receiving from every corner of the globe. (A big, old-school shout-out to our fans in Barcelona, Paris, Northhamptonshire, Switzerland, Nova Scotia, and--of course--Brooklyn in da house!) Unfortunately we won't be able to respond to every single inquiry, but several readers have asked about the common fallacy that plants grow towards the source of their light. False! Certainly it appears that way to the casual observer, but remember that plants have no muscle tissue and cannot "move" under their own power. No, plants and trees are at the mercy of the prevailing winds blowing towards the sun, always in the opposite direction from the solar wind. And that's another Very Little Known Fact for you!

    As always, please direct your comments and questions to

    Saturday, May 13, 2006

    Fiction and Fact

    Believe it or not, the world is full of misinformation. We here at Very Little Known Facts consider it our duty--nay, our privilege--to set the record straight.

    Fiction: Bats are blind.
    Fact: Bats are not blind, but sharks are. The shark's sense of smell is so advanced it can detect blood and urine in the water from hundreds of miles away.

    Fiction: Ulysses S. Grant had no middle name--he added the "S" to make his initials U.S. Grant.
    Fact: Ulysses S. Grant actually did have a middle name. It was Todd.

    Fiction: Plants grow toward the source of their light.
    Fact: Plants cannot "grow" in a certain direction any more than they can stand up and walk to a new location. However, a plant or tree may appear to grow towards the direction of its light source because of the wind, which always blows towards the sun.

    Fiction: The polar ice caps are melting due to "global warming."
    Fact: Misconceptions abound despite the extensive media coverage of this important issue. Think about it like this: since half of the Earth is perpetually shrouded in darkness, it is impossible for any two points of its surface to have the same temperature at any given point. Therefore the "average" temperature is merely the median (not the mean!) of all the temperatures, both daytime and nighttime, including summer, winter, spring and fall. Thusly it becomes apparently that while Siberia may be quite cold, at the exact same time Miami might be hot, hot hot! And both these extremes are factored into the median temperature. So any discussion of "global warming" is, by definition, pseudo-science.

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Very Little Known Fever Sweeping the Globe!

    It seems like just yesterday that we started this informative blog, when in fact it was the day before yesterday. So today, on our third anniversary, we'd like to share some of the new friends we have made just by bringing these Very Little Known Facts to light.

    Andrew Beaujon linked to us recently. A resident of Alexandria, Virginia, Andrew's house is currently on the market, so check it out on his blog site
    Jimmy Page's Sweater Vest. Andrew himself is an eccentric billionaire, and if you look carefully at the photos you will see that his house was built to the exact specifications of the blueprints included with the first edition of Edgar Allen Poe's famous story, "The Fall of the House of Usher." Also, it is haunted by the ghosts of several feral dogs. Thanks for the link, Andrew!

    Jason Hartley, co-creator of the
    Advanced Theory and long-time supporter of Worker's Rights, linked to us from NYC--the Big Apple, the City That Never Sleeps, capital of the great state of New York. He is married and has four Welsh Corgies named after The Three Musketeers plus The Count of Monte Cristo. Jason collects dulled razors and lo-fi stereo equipment from Scandanavia. His birthday is coming up on June 26, so be sure to drop him a line.

    Rachel Sterling first came to Hollywood in 2000 as a lingerie spokesmodel and pin-up model. Her exotic mix of Apache, Korean and Mexican heritage really allows her to stand out in a crowd. George Michael personally requested her guest appearance as Hedda Gabler in his video "Freek" that was banned in the U.S. Although her family is deeply rooted in Texas, Rachel calls Los Angeles her home. She still finds time to give back to the community through charity work and fundraising. Rachel also finds time to work on her art book and various projects. Check out Rachel's informative
    blog as soon as you get a chance.

    Little Known History of This Week: May 12

    • 29 BC: Romulus leads his Roman Legionnaires in a daring night crossing of the Danube River into Italy, thus avenging the death of his brother Remus. Within the month he is crowned Emperor of the Roman Republic.

    • 1917: A young boy named Cary Cain dies in Antwerp, Massachusetts, the first recorded American victim of the avian flu. This outbreak eventually kills over 9 million children in New England alone. Ironically, sixteen years later Cary's son-in-law Jonas Salk would invent the polio vaccine.

    • 1932: The International Astrological Association (IAA) officially designates the sign of Gemini for those born between the dates of May 12 through June 22. Previously the sign had been named for the constellation Andromeda, but this was changed after churchgoers objected to the sapphic overtones of the Andromeda myth.

    • 1951: President Dwight S. Eisenhower signs an executive order making Jesus Christ the first American.

    • 1968: North By Northwest is released in theaters around the globe, marking the first appearance of an African-American in a technicolor motion picture. The Reverend Jesse Jackson calls the movie, "An edge-of-your-seat, non-stop, action-packed thrill ride."

    • 1972: British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Sr. declares war on North Vietnam and Cambodia, entering the struggle alongside the United States, France, and Canada.

    • 1979: ABC becomes the first major network to post a television program on "The Internet," at the time nothing more than a loosely interconnected system of government and university computers. The opening sequence of "The Wide World of Sports" is converted to binary and stored on a mainframe at MIT. Downloading the two-minute video via modem takes the average user over four months.

    • 1993: Comedian Don Rickles celebrates his 59th birthday.

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Recipe For Authentic, Crisp Guacamole

    The Very Little Known Facts of True Mexican Avocado Dip

    If you're like most Americans, your only experience with guacamole involves reluctantly dredging a tortilla chip through a green and mushy mess. So why is guacamole almost always served in this manner? The answer is obvious. Avocados trucked in from Mexico are often old and overripe with a quaggy texture that borders on rancidity.

    Before your next "fiesta" do a little research: telephone your local Spanish specialty shop and ask if they carry good, firm avocados. Then you can be certain that your guacamole is authentic, fresh, and slightly crisp. Don’t be surprised if the shopkeeper gives you a knowing look about your "authentic” selection!

    Serves: 4

    4 avocados (should be extremely firm to the touch)
    1 medium onion, chopped
    2 chopped tomatoes
    2 tbsp of onion powder

    Simply mix ingredients in a medium sized bowl until they have thoroughly commingled. (Remember not to crush the avocado—you're not making mashed potatoes here.) Now you have a delicious and healthy low-fat snack. OLÉ!

    Helpful Hint:
    For an even more authentic Castilian-style dip, heat the mixture for 20-30 seconds in a microwave just before serving. Dust the top lightly with unbleached flour and enjoy it like the Latins do, you beautiful American!

    Scientists Agree...

    In going about our everyday lives, all of us use science every day, and we never even know it. Science has much to teach us about the world we live in and how to master it. For instance:

    • Blue light travels faster than any other color light.

    • Vegans and vegetarians regularly eat flesh from animals that die of natural causes since that meat is technically considered "carrion."

    • The inside of an ordinary 40-watt lightbulb can become hotter than the surface of the sun.

    • So-called "steam locomotives" are actually fuelled by coal or other combustible materials in a small, controlled nuclear reaction.

    • Ink from a computer printer, if ingested, is more toxic than mercury.

    • 30 is technically the lowest prime number.

    • Albinos are actually black--it is the refraction of sunlight that makes them "appear" white or colorless.

    • Dogs have eight more senses than human beings.

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    A Brief History Of Ping Pong

    A Fascinating Subject

    How many millions of people in this world would list ping pong as their favorite sport? Due to the current state of affairs in many parts of the globe, there is no way to know for certain, but you can be sure that it would be many, many millions indeed!

    Americans often relegate the sport of ping pong to the category of "past time," but in reality ping pong has much more to offer. A few hours of research at your local library could very well lead to a lifelong interest in this fascinating subject.

    The Beginning

    Our story begins in the vast continent of Eurasia, in the empire of China, which was once called Indochina. Imperial courtiers of the fifteenth century Han dynasty were quite partial to a parlor game in which a small "ball" fashioned from a hen's bladder was bounced back and forth over a "net" made from a section of fishing net. In this early incarnation of the sport, players did not keep score because it was considered improper to compete against someone of different social standing. You don't want to beat the boss in Beijing!

    Ping pong was actually named hundreds of years later by the world-famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng.* Due to language barriers, the name "Chang" was garbled into the word "Ping," but scholars disagree about the origin of the word "Pong." Some say it is a bastardization of the Mandarin dialect phrase Pon-gu, loosely translated as "table tennis." Say them ten times fast, and chances are you will discover that even the words "ping pong" sound Chinese!

    World War I

    It took a global cataclysm to popularize the sport of ping pong. As the 19th century British Empire expanded to counter the growing threat of Kaiser Wilhelm and communist Russia, soldiers stationed in Asia took up the sport, adding their own touches--for instance, the use of a small wooden "racquet" instead of the bare hand to hit the ball. Later, for simplicity's sake, the term "paddle" replaced the antiquated British word "racquet."

    The Rules of the Game

    Each round of ping pong is divided into 21 points. Players alternate serves, vying to capture as many points as they can before a certain time limit expires. In tournament play, the time limit is to be determined by a judge and written in a small, sealed envelope. The time can vary between two and seven minutes, depending, but in general hovers near the two minute mark.

    A player scores a "point" by forcing his opponent to touch the ball with his body (as in the rules of fencing) or by tricking his opponent into hitting the ball Out of the Bounds. The Bounds are determined by the white lines along the edge of the table, which extend infinitely upwards and to the sides. Corresponding boundary lines exist on the ground around the table. These are popularly known as The Grid, and they are used to determine the service areas and also to demarcate special zones where shots may be eligible for extra points.

    Since professional-level match play in Korea often moves quicker than the human eye can see, officials there resort to high-tech cameras to "call the shots."

    In Conclusion

    Ping pong surely ranks alongside gunpowder, mathematics, and spaghetti as one of the greatest Chinese contributions to Western Civilization. It is not only a sport that encourages quick thinking, but also one that is considered by many experts to be as strategic as chess. Ping pong paddles come in all shapes and colors. In conclusion, ping pong has a rich and varied history.

    *N.B. After the globalization of the sport they helped popularize, Siamese twins Chang and Eng died of grief.

    Did You Know...

    I believe it was Shakespeare who wrote, "You live and you learn." How true this is. This world we live in is full of very little known facts, and it's up to us to learn as much as we can.

    Did you know...

    • The lowest four keys on the piano are inaudible to the human ear.

    • Wild horses can regenerate a leg if the herd has been culled too low.

    • Originally, the city of Phoenix was spelled with a "F."

    • Some midgets grow to nearly six feet tall.

    • Ghee, an ingredient often used in Indian and Middle Eastern style cooking, is actually just butter clarified with selenium.
    • Certain soups can be used to "water" your plants.

    • Tennis is the oldest competitive sport, dating back to 1885.
    • Ceiling fans cause more finger and lower arm amputations each year than all the wars in the world combined.

    • By definition, only white people can be racist. Also, only white people can be sexist.