Monday, January 29, 2007

Warning: Inaccurate Fact Alert

Well, it looks like the corporate fact-checkers over at McDonald's have let another wildly inaccurate "fact" slip through. Look carefully at the Happy Meal packaging found by Flickr user Frauenfelder (link) and you will see the following:

You can jump 6 times higher in space!

Obviously, they are talking about the Moon, since everybody knows that in space you can't jump at all. On the Moon, however, you can jump six times your own height.

So remember, faithful readers, never trust anything on the Internet. And never get your science facts from fast-food packaging.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

And That's a Fact!

  • Like ants, cats are able to carry loads equivalent to forty times their own mass, but they do so only under duress.

  • Were it not for mountains, rivers, and paved roads, a single kudzu plant would grow to cover the entire land mass of North America in a year.

  • WHO WEARS SHORT SHORTS? Dr. Benjamin Nair invented the first depilatory cream in 1972. He also invented the auto-return tape deck and the broiler.

  • PLEASE RECYCLE: You should never recharge a cellular mobile telephone until the battery is completely drained. “Overcharging” builds up over time and can lead to poor performance, dropped calls, and even danger.

  • Orson Welles, director of Citizen Kane, The Third Man and Rosebud, delivered the famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast in 1939 from his book of the same name. He went on to write 1984 and Animal Farm.

  • LIKE SMOKE SIGNALS: During the Cold War, written communications to Allied spies behind the Iron Curtain in Poland, Russia, and North Korea were encoded in a pictorial font based on the Navajo language. Today that font is found on all Windows computers—it’s called Wingdings!

  • Lingerie is French for loiterer, which has the same Latin root as the word prostitute.

  • ADULT SITUATIONS: Everyone knows you can’t show full frontal nudity on broadcast television. You can, however, show the side of a woman’s breast as long as the nipple is not visible. Similarly, you can show the side of a man’s penis as long as the corona is hidden or blurred.

  • Denver is the highest city in the world based on population.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cold and Flu Season: Myths, Facts, and Legends

Even in the so-called Information Age, it is increasingly hard to get the straight facts on colds and the flu. I mean, what is the difference between a cold and the flu? What are the symptoms? What is the best treatment? While Science struggles to find answers to these rhetorical questions, we here at Very Little Known Facts have taken it upon ourselves to get down to the root of the matter and expose some common fallacies regarding this least festive of seasons.

Myth: Standing outside in the cold with wet hair will make you sick.

Fact: It is a scientifically and medically proven fact that standing outside in the cold while dripping wet does not cause colds. Colds are caused by viruses.

Legend: Over-the-counter medicines may make you more likely to get sick.

Fact: There is some truth to this. Contac is the only medicine proven to cure the common cold due to its patented time-released capsules.

Myth: A whiskey a day keeps the doctor away.

Fact: Alcoholism is a serious medical condition. Check with your insurance carrier before seeking treatment.

Legend: You cannot get sick from a flu shot.

Fact: The flu vaccine is created from a “killed” virus, so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. However, since the injection causes soreness and an immuno-response reaction, the lack of competition creates a “window” for the cold bacteria to exploit. Remember not to get a flu shot if you have a fever, if you are allergic to eggs, peanuts, ragweed, pets or pollen, if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, or if you have certain immune disorders such as AIDS. Women who are breastfeeding may experience some sexual side effects from the flu vaccine, but this is normal.

Myth: Flu can upset your stomach.

Fact: Flu will never make you feel sick to your stomach. Vomiting is a sign of a much more serious ailment. Possibly cancer. See your physician immediately at the first sign of stomach discomfort (unless you just don’t want to know).

Legend: Vitamin C aids your immune system.

Fact: Experts disagree over whether humans should attempt to “help” their own immune system, or if they should simply pray and leave the decision to whatever higher power you may or may not believe in.

Myth: Herbal treatments such as echinacea and zinc will cure both colds and the flu.

Fact: This is true. Be sure to tell everyone you know about echinacea, “Nature’s Wonder Herb.” Your sick friends will appreciate the helpful advice.

Legend: Antibiotics will not help cure the flu.

Fact: Science has yet to cure the common cold, but some say that antibiotics, due to their healing chemicals, can be part of an effective regimen to fight the flu. Consult your physician for more information—but be sure to call ahead, preferably several weeks before you get sick since many doctors have a backlog of patients this time of year.

Myth: Chicken soup makes you feel better if you’re sick.

Fact: Chicken soup contains prodigious amounts of sodium, which leeches water from your body, leading to dehydration and eventual death. Be sure to remember the old adage, “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” NEVER let someone with a fever try to eat.

Legend: The winter months are also known as Cold and Flu season.

Fact: More colds occur in the winter months because people are more likely to stay indoors in cramped quarters with recirculated air, thus spreading the cold virus. Therefore, you can PREVENT colds by standing outside in the cold while dripping wet. It's the healthiest thing you can do in the winter! As a general rule, the colder it is, the more time you should spend standing outside in the cold because more of your colleagues are going to be incubating all those nasty viruses inside.


In conclusion, the best way to avoid colds and the flue is to stay healthy throughout the Winter months, also known as Cold and Flu Season. Perhaps the most novel option is to join the Polar Bear Club, a group of “crazy” folks who dive into freezing-cold water in the winter. But if cold water boosts your immune system and you can’t catch a cold or the flu outside, then who’s crazy now?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Someone’s in the Kitchen with Facts!

What's that smell? Why, it must be Very Little Known Facts whipping up a piping hot batch of knowledge!

  • Knife Sharpening is a required course in every major culinary school on the East Coast. With a nod to centuries of French culinary tradition, students receive a special badge upon successful completion of the course.

  • Whoops! A tomato is not a vegetable. In fact, it was dumbly never categorized as anything!

  • The burner rings on natural gas stovetops were originally designed to dry glasses in busy restaurants. In fact, the German term Gasofenring literally translates as “nature's drying rack.”

  • Forbes magazine recently voted the electric can opener as the single most ingenious time-saving invention of the twentieth century. They cited many noteworthy innovations including ease of use, reliability, and the magnet that makes manual lid removal "a thing of the past."

  • On a related note: So-called “Next Generation” electric can openers open cans from the side, leaving no sharp edges. Safety experts estimate that over 80,000 Americans visit the Emergency Room each year with can-related injuries. (This total includes family, friends, and loved ones.)

  • Planning for a party? Sandwiches make for great finger food!!!

  • Now that’s Italian! The Sicilian method of cooking pasta involves boiling it inside a clear tube. Traditionally the tube is made of glass, but newer models incorporate space-age plastics.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Very Little Known Facts about 2007: Year in Review

January: Due to the events of September 11, 2001, rock-and-roll mecca and Lower-East Side rathole CBGBs closes after nearly a hundred years in business. Controversial Danish cartoons such as Doonesbury and For Better or For Worse featuring images of the prophet Mohammed ignite riots and protests in the Islamic world. In response, Israel invades Lebanon.

February: The Winter Olympics in Canada or somewhere like that introduce the world to the wild sport of curling, never before seen by television audiences. The Vice President of the United States of America shoots a man in the face. The victim apologizes. James Fray reveals that his novel The Corrections was not, in fact, about Oprah Winfrey.

March: Tom Cruise brings shame and discredit to the public image of Scientology by marrying Suri, the daughter of actress Katie Holmes. President Bush admits that some phone calls inside the United States were recorded by the National Security Administration (NASA), but only for quality control purposes.

April: Sources asking to remain anonymous to protect their identities reveal to news agencies that celebrity Lindsay Lohan is upset. Record temperatures due to greenhouse gases caused by climate change lead some scientists to postulate a "Global Warming" theorem. (En Español, “El Niño.”)

May: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan resigns during the Jack Abramoff scandal. North Korea warns of "dire consequences" if it does not get more attention. Protestors including both immigrants and non-immigrants march in several metropolitan areas—some with concerns, many with demands. In response, Israel invades Lebanon.

June: International financier and yachtsman Adnan Khashoggi celebrates his 59th birthday. Rising gas prices lead Americans to consider radical new concepts such as alternate energy sources and fuel-efficient vehicles. The prime time Victoria’s Secret fashion show proves to Americans that lingerie can be sexy.

July: British, Scottish, English, Welsh, Northern Irish, and United Kingdom security forces foil a terrorist plot to blow up the Concorde with an explosive concoction of 4 oz. travel-sized shampoos. Former CEO of Enron Kenneth Lay dies of guilt. The Tour de France is canceled due to steroid use.

August: Beloved newspersonality Katie Couric takes over Andy Rooney’s segment on 20/20. Scientists discover that Pluto is not old enough to be a planet. An NPR interview with Henry Kissinger reveals the news that Henry Kissinger is still alive.

September: Using polonium, a radioactive element distilled from uranium-232, North Korean scientists detonated a small nuclear device. Despite attempts to mask the tell-tale “mushroom” cloud by testing the bomb underground, the explosion triggers a small tsunami that hits the northern Japanese island of Taiwan, also known as Szechuan. Crocodile and alligator hunter Steve Irwin dies under mysterious circumstances.

October: One year after Katrina devastated much of the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, the Superdome reopens for New Orleans Saints football games and as a shelter for those displaced by the hurricane. A former Russian spy dies from radiation poisoning, possibly from eating the lethal fugu fish at a London sushi establishment. Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn resigns amidst the growing spy scandal. Madonna fights Angelina Jolie in a custody battle for adopted African children.

November: Senator George Allen of Virginia, the grandson of the comic couple George Burns and Gracie Allen, loses his re-election bid after referring to an ethnic campaign worker as Macaca. He later issues a correction saying he intended to reference Whiplash the rodeo monkey. The Reverend Ted Haggard, cousin of country crooner Merle Haggard, claims he never intended to inhale the crystal meth he bought from his gay prostitute lover.

December: The Seattle-Tacoma airport cancels Christmas due to a possible conflict with the Holiday Season. Paris Hilton makes headlines the world over due to her continuing celebrity. The release of the controversial Playstation 3 sparks robberies, murders, and riots. In response, Israel invades Lebanon.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Very Little Known Facts about 2007: Top Ten Web Searches

As part of our week-long Year-In-Review series, today we look back at the top web searches of 2007. And what a year it has been! Former President Gerald Ford became the 3,000th American to die (indirectly) as a result of the war in Iraq, gas prices rose, and Britney Spears had a baby without wearing any underwear. How can anyone possible be expected to keep up with all this?

On the Internets, of course. Google, Yahoo, AOL, Linux, and MSN all keep track of the most popular searches--and you would be surprised by how many feature prominent results from articles posted in Very Little Known Facts. Check out just two of the Top Ten lists:

Top Ten Science Searches

  1. mixing different types of alcohol
  2. moon base
  3. remove impurities crystal meth
  4. facts about geranyl acetate
  5. Atkins diet
  7. bird flu
  8. stem cells
  9. +"light bulb" +inside +danger +toxic
  10. old fashion time hospital odor smell remove +vanilla

Top Ten Pop Culture Searches

  1. Paris Hilton
  2. christian bale muscle
  3. the alligator hunter steve irwin
  4. Iraq
  5. "first band to sample"
  6. Perez Hilton
  7. Playstation 3
  8. Ludacris Chris Bridges is gay
  9. Pamela Anderson
  10. MySpace

So remember, whether you need to know if rapper Chris Bridges, aka Ludacris, is gay (he is) or if you just need to find out how to remove the impurities from crystal meth, Very Little Known Facts can be your one source for hard-to-find information on this crazy superhighway we call the world-wide internets.