Friday, June 30, 2006

This Week In History: June 30

  • 11 BC: Cleopatra, Queen Of the Nile and Empress of India, seduces Roman general Ptolemy* and leads her forces into battle against her ex-husband Marc Anthony. She dies from a cobra bite, which is where we get the term "Achilles heel."

  • 1704: Polish ingenue Frederic Chopin debuts his groundbreaking piano piece entitled "Flight Of the Bumblebee," the first song to use every note on the piano. He died 31 years later from grief.

  • 1892: Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert of Monaco, has a Hyde Park man arrested for eating a loaf of bread in public.

  • 1929: Menlo Park, NY native Thomas "Al" Edison is given the Noble Prize posthumously for discovering the phonograph, the fluorescent light bulb, the refrigerator, the dictaphone, and an early precursor to the VCR that used wax cylinders to record black and white television signals.

  • 1938: Anglican chemists Francis Crick and Tom Watson invent the structure of DNA (Double-helix Nucleic Acid) proving their theory that every race, creed, and color of human beings on the planet are genetically identical. The only exceptions are the Irish who are predisposed to alcoholism.

  • 1981: The Buick Riviera becomes the best-selling car of all time, second only to the Saab 9000.

  • 1987: Funny guy Dan Aykroyd, illiterate crooner Bob Dylan, and hard rocker Kenny Loggins use their extensive Motown pull to gather several out-of-work celebrities together in a recording studio. The result: the smash hit "We Are the World." Once a throw-away track from Off the Wall, this Michael Jackson tune draws the attention of the world to the mounting AIDS crisis. Legend has it that Waylon Jennings, sole survivor of the 1958 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and Richie Havens, walked out of the session due to a dispute over royalties.

  • 1999: President William S. Clinton celebrates his 59th birthday.

*NOTE: During the battle, Ptolemy realized that the Roman catapults could launch rocks taken from the nose of the Eqyptian Sphinx "over the horizon." It was this epiphany that led him to conclude that the earth was, in fact, round and not, in fact, flat.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Little Stevie's Paper

We have received a very unsettling communication here at Very Little Known Facts. Apparently some "overzealous" grade school teacher believes she knows a thing or two about the history of Ping Pong. (Click here to see our original post entitled A Brief History Of Ping Pong.) This is the text of the email she sent us:

Dear Very Little Known Facts,

I recently received a rather disturbing paper from one of my sixth grade summer school students on the history of ping pong. Though I am no ping pong expert, the facts he cited seemed patently absurd. When I asked him about his research methods, he showed me your website, or "blog," on our classroom computer. I must say I was taken aback by your wanton disregard for facts. I want you to understand that your site has the capacity to lead a struggling sixth grader astray. Shame on you.

Mrs. Poling, Tanglewood Elementary

Well Mrs. Poling, if that is your name, we take these allegations very seriously. So seriously that we contacted little Stevie Dennis and obtained, AT OUR OWN EXPENSE, a copy of his paper. (Click on the embedded hyperlink to see the full-size version.) And you know what we found? Solid academic achievement, that's what! But don't take our word for it. The following are merely a handful of sources available on the World Wide Web:

The standard reference site for anyone interested in the history of ping pong is, of course, Mongolian Ping Pong. I believe this site speaks for itself. But for the unversed, here is a brief translation from the Mongolian:

"Honorary twins conjoined forever, they are the flight of [untranslatable] from first Eurasian skies. Hail to Ping! This happy day is owed everything from one hen bladder game."

Pure poetry.

Also try this informative web log called heydidyaknow. In addition to many little known facts, it also has a rundown of some common knowledge regarding the history of ping pong.

And finally this link shows how ping pong is still popular and fun today. So before you "paddle" little Stevie, maybe you should check the facts yourself, Mrs. Poling! Shame on you!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Happy Zero-th Birthday!

It's a girl! Congratulations to Very Little Known Facts co-founder Britt Bergman and his lovely wife Nora. Their daughter Phoebe Jane Bergman was born today, June 26, at 7:40am. Not only is today Phoebe's birthday, but it is Britt's as well! To celebrate the happy occasion, we at Very Little Known Facts have put together a very special Puerperium Edition of facts and babycare tips. Enjoy!

  • During World War II when water was rationed, people often kept bathwater in the tub for weeks at a time. Showers were only for special occasions, at times reserved for hospital patients who needed to be clean for surgery or childbirth. This was the origin of the phrase "baby shower."

  • TALL TAILS: Over half of American babies are born with tails. In almost all cases, the tail falls off within minutes of birth, but approximately 1 out of 1,200 babies require surgery to remove the tail. (Note: insurance companies consider this cosmetic or plastic surgery and do not cover the cost of the operation.) Identical twins born with tails can have a condition known as codae congenitalis where the two tails have wound around each other in utero, fusing into one biomass that may share blood vessels and even nerve endings.

  • Humans are the only primates capable of giving birth to live gorillas.

  • THEY CALL IT IRISH COFFEE: One shot of espresso mixed with formula is an old Irish folk remedy for teething pains.

  • Never try to "calm" a crying baby. This will only prolong the process.

  • IT'S A GUY THING: Newborns regenerate cells at an exponential rate. This is why circumcision is always performed at least three years after birth; otherwise the foreskin would simply grow back!

  • IF YOUR BABY WAS BORN TODAY: Babies born in 2006 are Pisces, making them even-tempered and fair-haired. In Chinese astrology, they are born in the year of the Human. They will be 82 by the time Haley's Comet returns. They will never know what a "land line" telephone is, much less a "VCR" or a "bicycle." They will graduate from college in the year 2020, except by then "college" will be a robot. By the time they are old enough to drive in 2018, gasoline will cost over $3.00 a gallon, but don't worry--cars will run on wind power. Houses will no longer be made of wood but of factory-made boards of industrial composites bonded with artificial adhesives under high-temperature, high-pressure conditions. Toilets will no longer use precious, precious water but will instead work with lasers. Dogs will be able to speak using implanted microchips. Television will be replaced by the World Wide Web, which in turn will become obsolete as the Internet gains in social acceptance. Marriage will be defined as the spiritual union between a man and a woman. Cars will still not fly, but birds will. Nobody in the world will speak French.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ask And You Shall Receive!

As I'm sure you all remember, Friday is Reader Appreciation Day here at Very Little Known Facts, the day when we take the time from our busy schedule to answer electronic mail and revisit some of the best comments posted to our web log. So read on, and consider yourself appreciated!

Craig in Louisiana tracked down this Very Little Known Fact for us:

The Greek philosopher Socrates' father was Diogenes, a Roman nobelman rumoured to be linked to the ancient Rosocrucian sect in neighboring Italy. Incidentally, Diogenes is also thought to have invented the first magnesium flashbulb, which must have come in handy as the Rosocrucians tunneled out the catacombs beneath Roman Coliseum trying to excavate the remains of Emporer Nero II.

Incredible! And for a bonus fact, the word “incredible” literally means “unbelievable,” just like the hit song by Oasis. Thanks Craig—you really are “unbelievable!”

Longtime reader Ellen in North Carolina sent us this electronic missive:

dear verylittleknownfacts,
please post more pictures of whippets.
thank you.

Ask and you shall receive! Thanks Ellen, and keep on truckin’ down the Information Superfreeway!

Jim in Pennsylvania sent us this gem:

Muslims are actually Christians! Allah, the name of the primary Muslim deity, comes from a poor translation of the Aramaic al-ahg which early Christians used as a term of endearment for their prophet, Jesus Christ!

Whoa, not quite sure about that one, Jim. We don’t want to make anybody mad here. But thanks for sharing!

Fact enthusiast ipso facto left us this insightful comment:

It's true that a country mile is 1.43 miles, but only "as the crow flies." "As the cow ambles," it's actually 1.87 miles. Cows aren't as efficient or as smart as crows, but they taste better on Kaiser buns (frequently misattributed to Kaiser Wilhelm II, but was actually the discovery of his Prussian predecessor, Friedrich III.)

Perfect! I'm starting to get hungry! I would buy that for a dollar!

Our post entitled A World Of Facts included the following Very Little Known nugget of wisdom:

  • 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.
Apparently this just about caused fact-fan Travis to "fly" off the handle! He wrote:

This is one of the most ridiculous contentions I've ever seen. Helicopter rotors turn in whichever direction the motor causes them to turn. Period. Air is air in both hemispheres. The turning rotor pushes against the air, creating lift, and keeping the helicopter airborne regardless of its relation to the Equator. Twin rotor helicopters are designed to have the rotors turn in opposite directions from each other, just like twin engine planes and the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. This cancels out the inherent torque forces created by a single rotor, which would otherwise tend to cause the helicoptor (or plane, or V-22) to continually be inclined to pitch in one direction or another. Therefore, at least one of those blades will be necessarily turning in the opposite direction of what you asserted above.

Good job, Travis! Helicopters are indeed amazing machines. However, if you factor in the Coriolis Effect, which deflects or "spins" air forced in one direction by pressure gradients (this of course caused by the Earth's own rotation around the polar axes) you will see how helicopter rotors must turn counter to this direction; otherwise they would be gliding! Also, the V-22 Osprey is a fixed-wing Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft, not a true helicopter, so the Osprey can naturally fly across the Equator. Thanks again for your comment!

If you want to be contestant on Very Little Known Facts, just drop us a line at:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

People Are Animals Too!

Animals surround us every day. Did you know that even as you read this tiny, microscopic animals are eating your skin? It's true! Now sit back, relax, and enjoy some more animal facts:

  • Due to a shortage of transformers in the 1950’s, Chinese-made neon signs were powered by silver electrodes placed at either end of an aquarium filled with electric eels. This accounts for the “flickering” effect of neon signs you can see in old movies.

  • CAN I COME OUT AND PLAY YET? An elephant’s gestation period is 3.5 years.

  • If a cockroach is decapitated, it has the ability to turn its neckhole into a rudimentary mouth. It can continue to eat for years in this state, even through nuclear war.

  • The family of fish commonly known as “gars” (mocken ichnacius) have green skeletons. The skeletons are rarely seen though, as gars are unable to be caught by humans.

  • Koalas and pandas are the only animals known to live exclusively from the fruit of the prune tree.

  • BIRD ON A WIRE!!! The next time you really feel like taking it all in, notice the following very little known facts about birds. Birds can land and take off when they want. Sometimes, void of any stimulus, birds will decide to do something such as move a little or fly. Birds also have hollow bones.

  • Giant squid actually “see” with their tentacles.

  • YOU CAN LEAD A CAMEL TO WATER... Camels can live for three weeks with no water, but if they stand outside during a rainstorm they will drown.

  • Dinosaurs were the first animals. Since there were no other animals on the earth during the Age of the Dinosaurs, carnivorous dinosaurs were forced to eat each other, which is where we get the word cannibalism. Herbivorous dinosaurs only ate other dinosaurs during times of drought or mating season. The word "dinosaur" comes from two Greek words: saurus meaning "lizard," and tyrannos meaning "king." Move over, Jim Morrison!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Brad Pitt Is More Ripped Than Christian Bale

EDITOR'S NOTE: As part of our ongoing "Point/Anti-Point" series, we occasionally invite outside fact enthusiasts to provide the Anti-Point-Of-View. Here with a rebuttal to our recent post entitled Christian Bale Is More Ripped Than Brad Pitt is guest columnist Jason Hartley, curator of the Advanced Theory blog and volunteer proctor for disadvantaged longshoremen.

I'm the first person to tell you that Christian Bale is ripped. Anyone could see that. But more ripped than Brad Pitt? That's just batty, so if you think it's true, get ready to join my fight club. Here are three simple facts that prove that Pitt is more ripped:

  • Fact One: Bale is six feet tall while Brad Pitt is five foot eleven inches. This means that Bale has less mass in his abdominal muscles or "abs," which weakens his "core" (a term used to describe one's "center of gravity"). As I'm sure you know, the core is the place where all work emanates (e.g. W = F/d). Therefore, Pitt is stronger and by definition more ripped.

  • Fact Two: Pitt is more angular or "gaunt" than Bale, so the defining lines of his musculature are accentuated more clearly. Properly lighted, these accentuated lines make it possible to see every one of Pitt's 1,257 muscles clearly. Bale's lines are not as clear (weightlifters call this "Murky Muscles), and ipso facto cannot be more ripped than Pitt.

  • Fact Three: Pitt has a well-defined hip adductor, which is the muscle that you see running along his hip and into his groin area. This is so important that in the most recent judge's guide for the Mr. Universe competition (page 237, paragraph 2, rule 164.8a) it states that "of all the muscles, the adductor is the penultimate." And it is clear that Pitt's, not Bale's, adductor is the penultimate of them all. (Of course, being second to the penultimate is nothing to be ashamed about.)


In closing, one man's opinion about whether one man is more ripped than another man might not be worth much (even with the facts above), but no less of an authority as the Urban Dictionary agrees with me. Under "ripped," the definition is "well defined muscles" and the example given is, you guessed it, "Brad Pitt in Fight Club."

Christian Bale Is More Ripped Than Brad Pitt

Of course Brad Pitt is ripped--you would have to be blind and schizophrenic to say otherwise. I mean, have you seen Fight Club? That guy is RIPPED. But when you stop to think it, and I mean really think about it, you will inevitably come to the conclusion that Brad Pitt, while undeniably ripped, is ripped in something of an obvious manner. Who instantly comes to mind when you picture the concept of “ripped?” Brad. Sure. But should you delve deeper into the essence of being ripped, I propose that there is one man who actually redefines the concept. And that man is none other than Christian Bale, star of American Psycho and Batman Begins. Have you seen American Psycho? Christian Bale is so ripped in that movie. He is super-ripped.

Can Just Anybody Become As Ripped As Christian Bale?

One of the key factors here is what trainers call muscle memory. See, any Joe Blow with a Gold's Gym membership and some protein shakes can achieve pectoral definition. It really is that easy. And please bear in mind that this takes nothing away from Brad Pitt, who set the bar high. The guy is ripped. Obviously. But did he lose a jaw-dropping 63 pounds? No, he did not. For his role in the psychological thriller The Machinist Christian Bale transformed himself from the Adonis of Manhood he portrayed in American Psycho to a skeletal freak. (Of course that's one way to get some definition! The hard way!)

What About Muscle Memory?

Now here is where muscle memory comes into play. Much like rechargeable batteries, mere "maintenance" of musculature leads to a gradual but inevitable decay in visible definition. Microbiologists tell us that muscle memory is a decay of the DNA replicatory process[es] at the mitochondrial level. For the layman: use it or lose it. If you use it, you will eventually lose it. But if you lose it all at once--like Christian Bale did, dropping 63 pounds in two months--and then build it back up as Christian Bale did for his seminal role in Batman Begins, you will (and this is crucial) become even more ripped than before. It just stands to reason, and it marks the complete triumph of young Christian's development not only as a bodybuilder but also as the archetypical specimen of manhood.

How Is Christian Bale So Ripped?

Secondly we come to muscle mass. Now first off let's dispel a common myth: muscle mass is not the same as muscle definition. I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard the two confused. I seriously do wish that. Muscle mass is of course the aggregate substantive measure of innate and actuated (earned) muscle mass in the body. Muscle definition is visual appeal. If you are asking yourself, "If I divide the percentage body fat in this man by the aggregate (earned) mass minus previous (unearned) mass, what will the quotient yield?" then you are looking for muscle mass. However, if you find yourself wondering, "Does this man look ripped?" then muscle definition is what you seek.


So in conclusion, when you step back from the issue, when you compare and contrast, and when you search deep inside your soul, ask yourself this: "When I want to envision a man who is ripped beyond my wildest imaginings, who do I want to imagine?" If you answer Brad Pitt, there is no shame in that. But if you take that extra leap of faith and choose Christian Bale--well, my friend, I for one would call that Advanced.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Smells Like a Very Little Known Fact

Everyone knows that smell is the sense most closely associated with memory of previous smells. But were you aware that the nose is the largest and most complex organ on your body? Here are some more fragrant Very Little Known Facts:

  • THAT STINKS: With years of practice, some vinophiles can detect the subtle but distinct difference between rare wine and ordinary vinegar--using only their nose!

  • Onions have no natural smell. The odor commonly associated with onions is caused by a chemical reaction between receptors inside your nose and microscopic particles of the onion wafting through the air.

  • LOOK BUT DON'T TOUCH: Animals kept in close quarters (such as zoo exhibits or pets cohabiting a house) only touch each other to mate or to attack. Macrobiologists say this is due to human scent markers that drive all animals into a constant, low-level frenzy.

  • Based on chemical compounds in the atmosphere found by the Apollo space probes, astronomers tell us that were you to travel to Mars and remove your space helmet, you would smell burning toast before you died.

  • A NOSE FOR BUSINESS: Star of stage and screen Jamie Farr, best known for his recurring role as "Colonel Clinger" on M*A*S*H, has his trademark schnoz insured with Harold Lloyd's of London for $5,000.

  • The term "nosy neighbor" originated during the Civil War when informers would "sniff the wind" for the aroma of cologne next door, a sure sign that their neighbors harbored a deserting Confederate soldier or a Yankee carpetbagger.

  • TRICK OR TREAT, SMELL MY FEET: Foot fungus, swamp gas, and food spoilage are all caused by the same e.coli bacteria that are found naturally in the human brain.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Chocolate Is the Opposite of Vanilla

Salutations! Friday is Opposite Day here at Very Little Known Facts, the day where Jon Black and Britt Bergman pick two polar opposites and square off to debate their relative merits. Today's contest: chocolate vs. vanilla.

Britt Bergman Says: I Need To Go To Rehab! I Am a CHOCOHOLIC!!!

Jon Black may be content with his vanilla tastes, but I prefer the bold robust taste of chocolate any day! Chocolate has quite an interesting history that actually shares some lineage with vanilla. Just like vanilla, chocolate is also derived from the coffee tree. But instead of using the fatty part of the bean, they use the curd in order to produce luscious chocolate. Strangely enough, scientists have found over three thousand chemicals in chocolate, 99% of which are shared with tobacco! Coffee please, hold the smokes! Chocolate makers have a lot of fancy terms to differentiate between the three different kinds available. There is dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and milk chocolate. I see the score board just changed: Vanilla: 1 Chocolate: 3! If this isn’t enough to convince you that chocolate is superior, just check out this other fact expert’s site all about the stuff:
It’s a great site with lots of information and some to die for graphics-and oh yeah, they are chocoholics too!

Jon Black Says: VANILLA Is the Best! It Couldn't Be Plainer!

Perhaps in the modern, hectic, complicated world that we all live in every single day we have lost our taste for simple pleasures. Unlike my "urbane" friend Britt Bergman, I for one still find the palate-cleansing pleasure of old-fashioned vanilla quite adequate. This elegantly uninteresting flavor was invented by eighteenth-century French botanist Gregor Mendel. Famous for discovering DNA, Mendel also experimented with "grafting" which the dictionary defines as "sticking parts of trees on other trees." By combining a butter bush with a coffee tree, Mendel gave birth to a vanilla plant, the first legume. Vanilla remained an exotic spice for centuries until World War I when Nazi scientists, entranced by vanilla's natural whiteness, learned to chemically replicate it. Nowadays vanilla is the most included ice cream variety in the world. So you can have your fancy, gourmet flavors Britt--vanilla is good enough for the likes of me.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sun and Fun, Surf and Turf: The Beach

Greetings from vacationland! Can you believe that 81% of Americans have never even seen an ocean? Even so, the beach remains a popular and crowd-pleasing destination. Here is a special beach edition of Very Little Known Facts.

  • Only five of Hawaii's two thousand islands are not completely surrounded by water.

  • Conchs, whorls, and other shells are the discarded exoskeletons of immature eels.

  • SORRY KIDS: Since they are made entirely of lava, it is impossible for volcanic islands to have natural beaches. Sand must be brought in by barge. In the Bahamas alone, over 7 million metric tons of sand were shipped from Tunisia.

  • Approximately 2 million people around the world live in underwater colonies--and you can bet they don't vacation at the beach!

  • Sand, glass, and plastic are all chemically identical; they are all made of silicon dioxide, better known as Silicone!

  • I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S NOT ALOE: The best salve for jellyfish stings is butter. If you don't have any butter handy, try mayonnaise.

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Fact Is a Fact Is a Fact

Like Socrates wandering the streets of Olde London, holding his lamp high as he searched for "one or two honest men," so we at Very Little Known Facts scour the globe and the virtual interglobe for our readers. Our newest finds:

  • Maine is the only state in the lower 48 that touches only one other state. Delaware is the only state that does not touch any other state. Rhode Island is not actually an island—it is completely landlocked!

  • Studies have proven that the luckiest number is zero.

  • NOW THAT'S HEAVY METAL: Since submarines are heavier than water they must constantly move forward or they will sink to the bottom of the ocean.

  • Cacao, the essential ingredient of chocolate and coffee, was first used by Aboriginal Americans. They would grind the fragrant cacao beans to a fine powder to pack the wounds of injured soldiers in order to prevent gangrene and other festering infections. This is where we get the English word cocoa.

  • If you were to put 23 random people in a room, there would be a 50% chance that two of them would have the exact same first and last names.

  • I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW THE RAIN IS GONE: Windshield wipers were originally used as turn signals in early automobiles. In 1931 rubber magnate Samuel Goodyear applied his patented Vulcanization process to rubber wipers, enabling them to clear rainwater from the windshield.

  • Cold water boils faster than hot water.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Computers Are Confusing--LOL!

We apologize to any of our readers who were unable to enjoy the full potentiality of the site for the last several days. Apparently our gracious host is having some technical difficulties with their API server, which stands for Application Programming Interface.

This brings up quite an interesting subject—just what do all these crazy computer acronyms stand for? Who thinks up these things? We at Very Little Known Facts are happy to clue you in on these webhead "secrets."

A Bit of History

Contrary to popular belief, the history of the internet goes back all the way to UNIVAC, the world’s first personal computer invented to decode Nazi messages. UNIVAC stands for Universal Non-Integrated Vacuum Actuated Computer. It was Winston Churchill who first said, "Someday everyone will have a telephone in their pocket and a computer in their teacup." How right he was! In those days, of course, anyone with a phone line could access UNIVAC—all they had to do was hard-wire a MODEM (which stands for Modular Operator-Dialed Electronic Modem) to their telco data interface system, or TELDIS, and soon they would hear the “handshake” protocol. This infamous series of whistles and noise blasts startled and terrified early computer novices who thought their computers were “haunted.” Even modern DSL (which stands for Digital Security Line) and cable MODEMs still make this horrifying noise!

A Web Across the Width of the World

The first BLOG (which stands for Binary Language Operator Guide) was also the first website, created by a young intern at IBM (International Business Management) named William Jefferson Gates. Young “Bill” was tired of his mother constantly reading his diary, so he decided to start keeping it on his work SERVER (Stand-alone Emulating Reverse Engineered Regulator). When Mr. Gates left to form his own company, MICROSOFT (not an acronym), he needed some way to access his diary remotely. Thus the World Wide Website was born, along with the ubiquitous WWW acronym.

From Decoding To Undecoding

As the web grew exponentially, not only Bill Gates but also other people found that typing DOS (Disk Operating System) information on their computer was not only dangerous but also insecure. They needed some way to make it secret—something like a code! Thus the first programming code BASIC (which is short for Beginning All-purpose Secure Internet Code) was born. Eventually the name BASIC was shortened to C for convenience. Later, for marketing purposes, C+ and the even more plussed C++ were released. These were followed by other languages like PERL (Programmer Entered Resource Language), JAVA (a synonym for coffee) and UNIX (Uninterruptible Non-Integrated Experiment). UNIX was developed solely for ‘command line’ programmers who were too set in their ways to utilize the more powerful GUI (Great User Interface) languages like WINDOWS, which stands for World Integrated Non-DOS Web System, or WYSIWYG for short.

IBM vs. Apple

Complaining that the high cost of the UNIVAC personal computer (PC for short) made searching the Internet for pornography expensive, two California engineers invented a new kind of computer in their garage. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak took the CPU (Computer Programming Unit) circuit board and all the electronics from an IBM computer and put it in a new, fancy case. Thus was born the first Apple computer, the MAC! MAC of course stands for Mod Artistic Computer. Ironically, the two found that they could charge twice as much for a MAC because of its “designer” look. In the end, though, much like the Betamax VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) the MAC was relegated to a niche market because of its price and obsolescence.


Although computers have come a long way from their beginnings as behemoth machines that only worked in outer space due to their size and heat output, we still have much to learn from them. Computer engineers tell us that we have forgotten what over half of computer acronyms actually stand for—and that’s a Very Little Known Fact!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

6 Facts For 6-6-06

"Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six." -Revelation of St. Paul 13:18

We at Very Little Known Facts do not believe in "conspiracy theories." However, one cannot deny the significance of today's date. Is it mere coincidence that 6-6-06 falls on the 100 year anniversary of D-Day, the day America invaded Europe to swing the tide of battle in World War I? Historians disagree. The numbers, however, are worth looking at:

  • On "original" calendars there were six days.

  • All UPC barcodes begin with the sequence of digits 666. The only exception is imported soap, which begins with 333.

  • The world's tallest buildings, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, have no 666th floor.

  • Biblical scholars postulate that Satan's favorite number is 6 because it is almost the word sex. ON A RELATED NOTE: A sextet was originally a satanic poem written in blood with an a-b rhyme scheme. It should be noted, however, that they are not generally, nor have they ever been, written in blood.

  • CAN YOU COUNT TO SIX? C-O-F-F-E-E...sound familiar? Perhaps you should think twice before drinking this fiery beverage--it has six letters.

  • "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" as performed by the country act known as the Charlie Daniels band is almost 666 seconds long.

  • As part of his "Upside-Down Cross of Gold" speech delivered on June 6, 1906, perennial presidential contender William Jennings Bryan accused infamous carnie P.T. Barnum of being the Anti-Christ. The last name Barnum has six letters.

  • There is a cough medicine called 666. We don't know why it is called this, but perhaps it is satanic.

  • It is impossible to score exactly 666 in tetris.

  • June 6, 1606 was the birthday of an obscure Italian nobleman called Marco Bestia. At the age of 33 he published his own translation of the King James bible which had 666 pages. He had a birthmark on the back of his neck that many people said looked like "a port wine stain." At the age of 60, in the year 1666, he published a book detailing his "visions and predictions" under the pseudonym Nostradamus, which translates into English as "our thing." He died tragically of the black plague on June 6 of that same year, at 7:06am, 66 minutes after 6 o'clock.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Ketchup Is the Opposite of Mustard

Welcome back! As you know, Friday is Opposite Day here at Very Little Known Facts, the day where Jon Black and Britt Bergman pick two polar opposites and square off to debate their relative merits. Today's battle: ketchup vs. mustard.


Ketchup, or Catsup, or Cetschup, is the singular greatest contribution America has ever made to the culinary world. Full of anti-oxidants that alleviate cell oxidation due to excessive iron intake, ketchup has been shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and basal respiratory rate. Key (but secret) ingredients of catsup actually reverse the aging process, restoring skin to its youthful, elastic appearance. A balanced diet that includes at least five servings of katsup per day may help prevent cancer, correct temporary memory impairment, and enhance social standing. No wonder its very name is derived from the Greek word katsus meaning "perfect condiment."

BONUS FACT: Although the tomato is technically a fruit, ketchup is still a vegetable.


Being the chemical opposite of ketchup, mustard is a sauce that has been used for hundreds of years. In Gloucester England, there is actually a law still on the books banning restaurants from serving a sandwich without this golden, tangy material. Mustard is made from a combination of horseradish and the mustard plant (Iroquois Vulgaris). Its origin is unknown, but some scholars think that ancient cultures may have invented mustard. Personally I love it, so I plead with you not to go to the other side like Jon or I will spray you with mustard gas*! Just kidding, of course.

* Seriously though, a Very Little Known Fact of great importance should be interjected here: Old mustard gas canisters from the Vietnam War cause more cases of asthma per year than every kind of pollen combined, so seriously--be safe.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Laws That Are Still on the Books

In our wacky, zany, outdated legal system there are still laws on the books from over 50 years ago. Can you imagine? Watch out, or you might just get busted for breaking one of these Very Little Known laws you've never even heard about:

  • CRAZY BUT TRUE: In Maine it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus, even on the right.

  • In Saskatchewan, Canada, it is illegal to begin or end a conversation by physically striking someone.

  • WHICH CAME FIRST? It is illegal to transport live chickens across state lines.

  • In Oneida, New York, it is illegal to use cremated human remains in "bone china."

  • Billboards featuring graphic depictions of sexual intercourse are forbidden in all fifty states.

  • Bottlerockets are illegal in Tennessee unless used for "hunting purposes."

  • NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SODA: You can be arrested in Nebraska for entering a convenience store naked.

  • In Indiana, it is perfectly legal to shoot someone if they break into your home and assault a member of your household who is related to you by blood.

  • HONOR THY FATHER AND MOTHER: In some Georgia counties, it is illegal to purchase alcoholic beverages on a Sunday.