Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Danger! Warning! Caution!

Peril and danger surround us at every turn, lying in wait until that singular moment when we let our guard down and all heck breaks loose.

  • CRASH COURSE IN FEAR: Every year seatbelts cause more accidents than they prevent.

  • Rugby, the most popular sport outside America, is also the most dangerous. Over a dozen professional rugby players are injured each year. Some require medical attention.

  • WEDGIE ALERT: History may have forgotten the identity of the first human to jump from a bridge with bungee cords tied around the crotch and thigh areas, but some say that this adventurous personage deserves a prize.

  • Emergency Room doctors tell us that it is better to be slashed six times with a straight razor or surgeon's scalpel than once with a rusty old kitchen knife.

  • DEATH VALLEY: The Grand Canyon is the deadliest national park in America. Since the beginning of time, it is estimated that over 5,000 people have died from falls, dehydration, altitude sickness and even murder. Because there are no roads into the canyon, the bodies must be lifted out by a clever system of ropes and pulleys.

  • The only animals higher on the food chain that human beings are bears.

  • CRASH COURSE IN FUN: Demolition derby drivers move the engines of their cars to the trunk to protect them from side impacts. This was the inspiration for the original Volkswagon Beetle.

  • Municipalities are changing the cautionary signs on water trucks to say "Do Not Drink" in lieu of the antiquated "Non-Potable." It seems that only 28% of the thousands sickened by ingesting the water understood that "Non-Potable" meant "Poisonous."

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Beatles Are the Opposite of the Rolling Stones

As you know, Friday is Opposite Today here at Very Little Known Facts. And have we got a good one! Britt Bergman was on vacation this week, but Jon took up the challenge to present both sides of this classic debate.

JON SAYS: The Beatles Were Unbeatleable

From the unlikely industrial slums of Manchester came the single greatest skiffle band of all time. I'm talking, of course, about The Beatles.

It was a chilly and fateful October night when half-brothers John Lenin and Paul McCartney met by chance in an open mic competition at their local pub, ironically named the Sergeant Pepper. Neither won, but this chance meeting of scruffy commoners inevitably led to the formation of the band universally cited as the most influential of all time, The Small Faces. John and Paul decided to start a band as well which played shows in several German bars. After the tragic death of original drummer George Best, the group hit the big time with a cover of Chubby Checker's "Twist and Shout." The rest, as they say, and it is true in this case, is history.

The Beatles went on to invent the concept album, the double album, the triple album, the tribute album, Eastern philosophy, the keytar and three-part harmonies. Their seminal recording of "Revolution Number 9" was the first song broadcast live around the world via satellite phone. George Harrison grew a moustache. Five GOLD records later the best boy band ever broke up due to contract disputes between their manager Colonel Tom Parker and famous Asian girlfriend Yoko Ono. Although that was twenty years ago, us true fans will always hope for a reunion tour!

JON SAYS: They Should Have Been Called The Rocking Stones

With their signature “in your face” brand of what can only be called rock ‘n roll, the Rolling Stones became one of the greatest stadium rock bands of the Eighties, Nineties, and even the Aughts. But the road to success was paved with potholes for this coterie of British upper-crusters.

Few alive remember the turbulent Sixties, but this long-forgotten era gave birth to the aristocratic “mod” (short for “modified”) music scene and subsequently the Stones themselves. Rebelling against the casual dress styles and large motorcars of the bourgeoisie, the foppish “mods” dressed in fluffy, period costumes to ride scooters and mopeds around London’s Hyde Park district in a brash display of fashion and exhaust fumes. Founding member Brian Jones brought this “mod” sensibility to early singles like “Brown Sugar” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” two songs inspired by a (then) Very Little Known actress named Whoopi Goldberg. Sadly, Brian Jones drowned during a mass cult suicide in South America, but the Stones soldiered on with blue-bloods Keith Richards and Brian's cousin Sir Mick Jones at the helm. For fear of tarnishing his family’s noble reputation, Mick later changed his last name to—guess what? That’s right. Jagger.

What followed was a wild ride: hit songs, groupies, fame and fortune, drugs and alcohol. But, amazingly, high living took its toll. Axman Richards became increasingly jealous of singer Mick’s boyish good looks, his knighthood, and his alleged affair with notoriously androgynous crooner David Bowie. Keith eventually decided to become a junkie. Drummer Charlie Watts could only watch in horror as his auburn locks turned white from stress and grief. Bassist Bill Wyman quit the band some twenty-odd years later, replaced by Ron Wood.

Despite these setbacks, or maybe because of them, the Rolling Stones continue to be the best band of all time, bar none. A popular music magazine was named for the band. An obscure b-side named "Start Me Up" became the theme song for Apple Computers, finally earning the bankrupt patricians some much needed cash. Plus they have that cool tongue logo inspired by The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This was recently voted the Best Tattoo of All Time.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


We here at Very Little Known Facts are not prefect. Ha! Just kidding. On a more serious note, however, it is true that we here at Very Little Known Facts are not perfect. Although our dedicated team of volunteer fact-checkers, researchers, interviewers, editorial assistants, and janitorial staff work around the clock to keep you updated on all the newest and littlest-known facts in this world in which we all live and breathe, they are only human. So it falls to us, the editors, to apologize for their mistakes.

Unlike many reputable news organizations, we at VLKF have a policy of prominently displaying all our corrections. Read on and accept our sincerest apologies.

CORRECTION: In our post Hot, Fresh New Facts dated August 21, we reported the following:
  • WHAT A WASTE! In Singapore they only eat the "walking legs" of the notoriously dumb langoustino. They throw the delicious tail away!
The phrase "notoriously dumb" should have read "notoriously stupid." The phrase was not intended to imply that langoustinos are unable to speak; nor was it our intent to slag, denegrate, or otherwise impugn the speechless community. We at VLKF sincerely regret any emotional inconvenience that may have been caused by this misstatement.

ADDITION: In our post Very Little Known History of This Week: July 28 dated July 28, the following item appeared:

  • 1928: Al Capone is arrested and tried on charges of embezzling funds from his own crime syndicate.
The editors would like to append another phrase to the item. The entry should read:

  • 1928: Al Capone is arrested and tried on charges of embezzling funds from his own and other crime syndicates.
We sincerely apologize for any confusion due to the omission of this appendment.

CORRECTION: In our post entitled Happy Zero-th Birthday dated June 26, the following fact appeared:

  • IF YOUR BABY WAS BORN TODAY: Your child will graduate from college in the year 2020, except by then "college" will be a robot.
In actuality "college" will be a cyborg in the year 2020. Only after 2037 will college be a robot. We apologize for any inconvenience or financial planning misadventures caused by this error.

RETRACTION: In our post A Fact Is a Fact Is a Fact dated June 9, the following entry appeared:

  • Cold water boils faster than hot water.
The editors would like to retract this item due to questions which have arisen in the scientific community regarding its accuracy. Although true to the prevailing supposition at the time of posting, recent discoveries in this area have lead to postulations that cold water and hot water may, in fact, boil at exactly the same rate. We apologize for the confusion.

CORRECTION: Our post entitled That Sounds About Right... dated May 15 contained the following:

  • 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.
In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that country crooner Waylon Jennings later died of grief. We mourn his loss.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hot, Fresh New Facts!

Check out the latest batch of Very Little Known Facts about food, straight from our ovens to your computer!
  • Although Marie Antoinette's famously callous remark, "Let them eat some cake," sparked the French Revolution and the War of 1812, many cakes are actually nutritious and delicious.

  • OUCH! Once designated as poisonous, blowfish are now the number one delicacy in China.

  • Contrary to the popular misconception, gazpacho soup is traditionally served piping hot and smothered in cheese. (See also our authentic Guacamole recipe.)

  • PENNY-A-POUND-PEACHES: By the time the average man reaches 59 he has consumed exactly one million peaches. That is enough matter (gross bulk) to equal 100 pounds of peaches on the moon!

  • Out of all foods, mustard is the best at cleaning stains. Sadly, the FDA refuses to approve its use for anything but human consumption.

  • AT LEAST YOU'LL DIE HAPPY: Scallions (also called green onions, leeks, or shallots) have no nutritional value. If you were to live on a diet consisting entirely of scallions and nothing else, you could eat all you want but still starve to death!

  • "True" Mexican tortillas are pressed under the wheels of an antique wagon pulled by a mule.

  • On a related not, the word "quesadilla" is Mexican for "armadillo." One word of warning: Armadillos are known to carry leprosy and require a permit to keep as pets.

  • WHAT A WASTE! In Singapore they only eat the "walking legs" of the notoriously dumb langoustino. They throw the delicious tail away!

  • Scottish haggis is the only dish made from an animal carcass that is considered vegetarian.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Editorial: An Open Letter to Jimmy Buffett

Dear Jimmy Buffett,

I have been putting off this letter for a long time. Maybe it was stubbornness, maybe it was pride, and maybe it was denial. But in any case, this communiqué addresses a point that is very much in order.

Mr. Buffet, I owe you an apology.

I have spent thirty-five years striving to become an aesthete, a scholar, a pupil of all I considered to be worthy and good; I aspired to the high-brow approach to life. I realize now that this was all in vain. To think of the time I wasted scoffing at you and your philosophies which I so rashly dismissed as trivial, simplistic, and hedonistic. This waste saddens me more than the failed sham of a life I attempted to lead with out your guidance, your words of wisdom.

You may wonder what brings me to this metaphysical discovery of self and why I now come to you humbled and seeking forgiveness. Well, to borrow one of your own dazzling allusions, it all “boils” down to a single masterpiece of a song. Which song? A little ditty called “Margaritaville.”

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp
They're beginnin' to boil.

Wasted away again in Margaritaville,
Searchin' for my lost shaker of salt.
Some people claim that there's a woman to blame,
But I know it's nobody's fault.

At first glance, these lyrics may come across as a light-hearted look at the trite laments and petty celebrations of a “beach bum,” and indeed they are. But I now realize the song contains a higher truth that eluded me for years. Let us delve deeper, dear reader.

Don't know the reason,
Stayed here all season
With nothing to show but this brand new tattoo.
But it's a real beauty,
A Mexican cutie, how it got here
I haven't a clue.

Here is hard evidence that Jimmy is far ahead of the “hipster” curve—truly he was an Advanced musician. “Margaritaville” was released in 1977, back in the day when “alternative culture” consisted of little more than stoner-inspired t-shirts with pithy sayings like, “Free Moustache Rides.” Yes, Jimmy sang about getting inked up before most of today’s trendies were even born.

On a personal note, I myself can attest to the bewilderment one feels gazing at a tattoo of uncertain origin with newly sober eyes.

I blew out my flip flop,
Stepped on a pop top,
Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home.
But there's booze in the blender,
And soon it will render
That frozen concoction that helps me hang on.

Ah, the meat of the matter—the constant and unremitting trials of everyday life. And our responses thereto. Seriously, folks, alcoholism is a life-threatening illness. If you or a loved one has an unhealthy dependence on alcohol or any other substance, please contact the appropriate authorities.

Some people claim that there's a woman to blame,
But I know, it's my own damn fault.

Certainly this last is nothing less than a repudiation of Western Civilization’s millennia of misogynistic scapegoat-ism. So kudos to you, Jimmy, for your clarion call to personal responsibility. As any therapist or counselor will tell you, this is a giant step towards self-actualization.

Can there be any doubt now that Mr. Buffett touches upon those very issues that define us as human beings? Can anybody now say that they have never been to Margaritaville, have never even been tempted by that eponymous potion so like the potent waters of the Lethe? Perhaps. But not I, dear reader. Like the song's hapless narrator, I had to find my own "lost shaker of salt," as it were.

How would my life be different had I understood the grave wisdom of this song earlier? I have no way of knowing. But I can say one thing with certainty: I will never underestimate the weight of your words again, Jimmy.


Britt Bergman
Very Little Known Facts

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fast Facts™: Pluto

Good news for fact enthusiasts: Pluto, the enigmatic ball of ice and molten lava at the edge of our Solar System, is still a planet!

Here are some Fast Facts about Pluto:

  • Pluto was named for the Roman god of war, Plutarch.

  • Pluto is composed mostly of ice, which technically makes it a comet. The last time Pluto passed Earth in its wildly erratic orbit was in 1936 during the famous "War of the Worlds" broadcast by a little-known wine salesman named Orson Welles.

  • Pluto and Earth are the only two planets in the solar system to have one moon. Pluto's moon is named Charon. Earth's moon is named The Moon.

  • No human has ever set foot on Pluto, as far as we know.

  • The planet was discovered in 1942 by Nazi scientists in a failed attempt to disprove the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard.

  • Plutonium, element number 75 on the periodic table, is composed of pieces of Pluto's tail which have drifted down to Earth. This is why the element is considered "unstable", or radioactive.

  • Pluto has one moon, Charon. It also has two other moons named Nix and Hydra. Pluto has one more moon named Pershephone, and another one named Fatima.

  • Some say that Pluto is green. This is true.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What Kind of Person Reads VLKF?

A lot of you out there already “get it”: Very Little Known Facts is not just about education. It’s about a lifestyle. It embodies a certain philosophy, a “Je Nais Se Qua,” a real sang-Freud. It’s about being a cultured, sophisticated human being. The ideal VLKF reader knows how to mix drinks, drive a car made in Europe, optimize analog stereophonic equipment, roll a cigar, appreciate the weave of a fine wool suit (not to mention warp and woof) and hold court on any number of intellectual topics such as politics, anthropology, R. Buckminster Fuller and human sexuality. The VLKF philosophy is about living the Good Life: good food, good clothes, good music, and (of course) good facts. So what kind of person reads Very Little Known Facts?

  • The VLKF reader is a trend-setter, not a trend-follower or a trend-ignorer.

  • Chances are the VLKF reader lives in either Pakistan, Norway, Yemen, or the United States.

  • The VLKF reader can always distinguish fine Corinthian leather from a cheap imitation.

  • Over half of VLKF readers list "Will and Grace" as their favorite television show of all time. Many are dues-paying members of NAGVA.

  • The VLKF reader knows the value of a dollar as well as a pound, a Euro, a yen, and a Deutschmark.

  • Most VLKF readers have never owned a personal computer.

  • The VLKF reader would rather hear the Phil Collins version of “You Can’t Hurry Love” than the original Peter, Paul, and Mary version.

  • Approximately 10% of VLKF readers own a cat named “Marco.”

  • The VLKF reader is not afraid to wear a white wife-beater after Labor Day.

  • The average VLKF reader has lunched with either a member of Congress, the CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation, or a nationally syndicated game show host.

  • The VLKF reader:
    • Learned to read by age 5.
    • Owns property in Arizona.
    • Is clean shaven.
    • Knows a good melon from a bad melon.
    • Rents to own.
    • Ferments their own microbrew.
    • Would never confuse a camel with a dromedary.
    • Believes that children are our future.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    The Heat Is On--Literally

    As the summer solstice is fast approaching, many areas of the world are experiencing record-breaking heat waves. We here at Very Little Known Facts have put together some trivia, helpful hints, and historical insights into the phenomenon known as Temperature.

    • Avoid drinking cold beverages in the summer heat. Although the drink may "seem" refreshing, your body will actually heat up processing the liquid.

    • Dogs have no sweat glands. This is the origin of the phrase, "Dog Days of Summer."

    • Global warming is a serious issue that may affect many people in certain climates outside the United States.

    • "Hot Hot Hot," the #1 hit single written by Buster Poindexter and the New York Dolls, is the national anthem of Jamaica.

    • In the Southern Hemisphere, summer is actually the coldest season of the year.

    • Heat stroke is caused by an aneurism, or blod clot in the brain due to sunburn.

    • Many people are daunted by the concept of the heat index. In reality nothing cold be easier to understand. Simply apply the following formulate to calculate the heat index: Heat=Temperature+Humidity

    • Mercury is naturally metallic silver colored. Manufacturers of thermometers add red food coloring to give thermometers that "trademark" look.