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September 06, 2006

Open Thread: "Facts"

I'm busy writing other things today, so I can't play around here. So here, have an open thread.

Suggested theme: "Facts." It's in quotes there for a reason.

Some examples:

1. The English words "Butter," "Buttress" and "Button" all have the same etymological root.

2. The ancient Hittites believed that the center of intelligence in the human body was the liver, and that the primary role of the brain was to cool the blood. Modern descendants of the Hittites, who live in Turkey, still feed their children cow livers before school tests.

3. The world record for tongue-typing -- typing on a standard computer keyboard using only one's tongue -- is 22 words per minute and held by Barbara Chalmers of Utica, New York. Mrs. Chalmers was also the world record holder for most consecutive cherry stems tied in a knot with a tongue (410 in a row), until that record was shattered by Kevin Gunton of Santa Barbara, California, who knotted 646 cherry stems in a row with his tongue before failing to tie the 647th.

4. New research suggests that the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was neither an apple nor a fig, but a variety of bael cultivated in western India.

You get the idea. Add your own!

Posted by john at September 6, 2006 09:19 AM

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Jon | September 6, 2006 10:01 AM

concerning (4):

Most people who worry about what the forbidden Eden fruit was don't even believe in Adam and Eve. How is this possible?

The Eden story I like is that some Europeans used to think the banana was the forbidden fruit. Interesting Freudian implications there.

Kelsey | September 6, 2006 10:05 AM

A beaver can hold its breath for 15 minutes.

Jas | September 6, 2006 10:09 AM

Nipple sensitivity is directly related to handedness, and inversely proportional to one's sense of smell.

Denis Moskowitz | September 6, 2006 10:20 AM

If you have a dent in your thumbs, your blood pressure is dangerously low.

BIll Marcy | September 6, 2006 10:24 AM

I would hazard to guess, but I do beleive that Ms. Chalmers would be rather entertaining as a date.

John Scalzi | September 6, 2006 10:28 AM

That's Mrs. Chalmers, so you'd need permission from the hubby to date her. Which I suspect you might not get.

John League | September 6, 2006 11:02 AM

Charles and Henry are the only first names shared by monarchs of England and France and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, of whom there are 159 altogether.

Stonyman | September 6, 2006 11:24 AM

87.5% of all statistics are pure fabrication.

Mary Robinette Kowal | September 6, 2006 11:39 AM

In 1648 Oliver Cromwell banned all theater in England, adding that anyone caught performing a play should be seized and whipped. People watching the play were fined five shillings.

Puppets were okay.

For ten years, if you wanted to see a play, you watched puppets.

Chang | September 6, 2006 11:39 AM

Scalzicce of Procrastinantia sez:
I'm busy writing other things today, so I can't play around here. So here, have an open thread.

Suuuure. So when can we expect that 3-part video series of Athena's advaneture's in astrophysics?

My money's on about 2:30 or so.

Chang | September 6, 2006 12:00 PM

The name "Turkey" in Turkish actually means "chicken."

Jeff Hentosz | September 6, 2006 12:02 PM

Speaking of beavers:

In some colonies, researchers have observed at least one member (sometimes several) harassing the alpha beaver while it is cutting material or fabricating the dam/lodge, and obstructing progress, despite typically being the first colony member killed by predators (in Ohio, that's normally coyotes).

Micah | September 6, 2006 12:04 PM

Giraffes have no sense of smell.

New Zealand has a secret program, the goal of which is to be the first country to put a penguin on the moon.

The tensile strength of toffee is five times that of steel.

Dr. Phil | September 6, 2006 12:23 PM

Before Hubble's observations in the 1920s, what we now call the Milky Way galaxy was considered to be the entire universe. Galaxies were thought to be small stellar clusters/nurseries inside the Milky Way. But if you consider the broad band of stars of the Milky Way to be the view from inside a spiral galaxy...

Here's some Hubble Space Telescope wallpaper, including some of the North and South Deep Field photos which are of tiny empty regions of the sky -- which turn out to be chock full of more galaxies!

Dr. Phil

JonathanMoeller | September 6, 2006 12:23 PM

It is possible to transpose the Necronomicon entirely to Perl scripts, thereby making the summoning of eldritch horrors an entirely automated process.

Rog | September 6, 2006 12:25 PM

Being able to roll your tongue into a tube is genetic.

John Scalzi | September 6, 2006 12:26 PM

Allow me to reiterate that the for this thread, the word "facts" is in quotes for a reason.

Steve Thorn | September 6, 2006 12:30 PM

A rabbit is not able to vomit.

Myrmidon | September 6, 2006 01:05 PM

RE: (2)

Loved the comments about the Hitties. It's my understanding that the Ancient Egyptians theorized that the heart was the center of the thought process (which is why it wasn't removed like the rest of the chest cavity organs during embalming). And that the brain was mearly a large mucus producing organ (which is why it was removed during embalming). Now that I'm in the midst of allergy season, it's my heart-felt belief that the Egyptians were correct. I just wish my brain would stop running.

fishbane | September 6, 2006 01:08 PM

Alan Turing had a deep and bitter ongoing dispute with John von Neumann over the color blue.

Margret Thatcher was deeply afraid of squid and once fired an assistant for wearing a tie with a picture of the same on it.

If you paint a dog's claws with nail polish, it won't be able to turn corners on slick floors.

A scandle in the Philidelphia mint erupted in 1922, when a run of pennies were released with a phallus replacing Lincoln's nose. The culprit was never found.

Peter Ahlstrom | September 6, 2006 01:35 PM

Ah yes, the Holy Grail of coin collectors.

Massive penguin marches across Antarctica are actually visible from space. Unfortunately any penguin sent to the moon would be at the wrong angle for viewing.

Paul | September 6, 2006 01:41 PM

That's Mrs. Chalmers, so you'd need permission from the hubby to date her.

That's a remarkable statement. When will you be taking Athena to that purity ball again?

John Scalzi | September 6, 2006 01:42 PM

You don't know Mrs. Chalmers like I know her.

claire | September 6, 2006 01:53 PM

okay, my favorite fact, which i'm sure i've mentioned before, but possibly not on the blogosphere:

"ketchup" is a chinese term. it means "tomato sauce".

Steve Buchheit | September 6, 2006 02:10 PM

Chickens can be cannibalistic.

PeterP | September 6, 2006 02:17 PM

People with green eyes can't see dogs.

fishbane | September 6, 2006 02:23 PM

The bark of a tree used by early Native Americans to treat gout has recently been found to be extremely useful for fixing damaged PVC plumbing when combined with Dr. Bronner's soap.

George HW Bush was once observed in a Shriner's hat and a little car at a Memorial Day parade in Aspen, CO.

The amount of earwax a person produces has been positively correlated with lifespan.

Pope Benedict XIII (1724-30) kept a total of 257 cats in a private study in the Vatican.

If one dresses in a patterned black and white outfit and paints one's face and hands, a skunk won't spray you even if frightened.

Chang | September 6, 2006 02:44 PM

Dr. Bronner's soap is made form antimatter and also can be used to prove TIMECUBE!!!

Lisa | September 6, 2006 02:46 PM

Suri Cruise's DNA studies have proven that she is part Asian, part Cyclops, and part L. Ron Hubbard.

Kelsey | September 6, 2006 03:21 PM

I'm invisible.

Susan Loyal | September 6, 2006 03:24 PM

Oh, help. I have green eyes. What have I been seeing all these years that I thought were dogs???

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 03:42 PM

Movie director Mike Nichols has no hair anywhere on his body.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 03:43 PM

Orca are not fish; in fact, they are birds.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 03:45 PM

Unlike that of the other 49 states, Louisiana's civil code is based on Catholic canon law.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 03:46 PM

Novelist John Updike won thousands of dollars on quiz shows in the 1950s.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 03:49 PM

Rhode Island is not technically a state; it is a "Free Port and Undertaking."

Tripp | September 6, 2006 03:49 PM

While science has known for many years what the limit is for the smallest unit of space - a length so small that it cannot be subdivided further, they have just recently determined the smallest possible unit of time, an interval of time so small it cannot be further subdivided.

Experiments show that it is equal to the time between when the stoplight turns green and the jerk behind you honks his horn.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 03:50 PM

Ethel Merman once shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.

Tripp | September 6, 2006 03:51 PM

Comedienne Phylis Diller once posed nude for Playboy magazine.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 03:52 PM

Technically, the tomato is not a vegetable; it is a flowering root, and a member of the "maxillae" family.

Chang | September 6, 2006 03:52 PM

PNH: Movie director Mike Nichols has no hair anywhere on his body.

HEY!!! This is PARTLY true!!! You broke the rules (in fact, I think it's entirely true!)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 03:52 PM

Neither pigs nor goats can hear music.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 03:53 PM

Portugese surnames are chosen by the child's godparents, and are generally derived from the names of martyred saints.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 03:54 PM

The Internet is not a series of tubes. It is, however, holy, Roman, and an empire.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 03:55 PM

In Virginia, it is illegal to yodel without a permit.

Chang | September 6, 2006 03:55 PM

The fez originated as a codpiece.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 03:56 PM

William Marcy "Boss" Tweed was a concert-level bassoon player.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 03:59 PM

After fomenting revolution in his native Italy, Garibaldi retired to the Lake District, where he invented the precursor to the Pez dispenser.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:00 PM

Liquid nitrogen has no effect on cats.

Jay | September 6, 2006 04:02 PM

"People with green eyes can't see dogs."

It's scary. All they hear is the barking.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:02 PM

The story that movie director Mike Nichols has no hair on his body originated as an offhand cocktail-party joke by Larry Niven's wife Fuzzy Pink, in 1966. Years later, she and her friends were amazed to discover that it had spread to Nichols himself, who had evidently taken to straightfacedly repeating it to reporters.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:03 PM

In her later years, Eleanor Roosevelt was an accomplished sharpshooter.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:05 PM

I, Communist, the first mass-market paperback to sell five million copies, was ghostwritten by Theodore Sturgeon.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:06 PM

Above 25,000 feet, beaten eggs stick to copper pans.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:08 PM

According to several medieval Doctors of the Church, any sacraments performed in the Southern Hemisphere would be invalid north of the equator.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:13 PM

Technically, the Japanese maple is not a tree; it is a vegetable.

Steve Buchheit | September 6, 2006 04:13 PM

If the Earth stoped spinning, all the Chinese would fall right off.

BIll Marcy | September 6, 2006 04:13 PM

Scalzi, who said I wanted to date her? I just wanted to borrow her for a few minutes.

Jay | September 6, 2006 04:14 PM

Every time Patrick Nielsen Hayden makes a post, God kills a kitten. With his mind.

BIll Marcy | September 6, 2006 04:15 PM

@Patrick Nielsen Hayden

"William Marcy "Boss" Tweed was a concert-level bassoon player."

I have the Origianl Bassoon sitting in a closet, family keepsake.

Chang | September 6, 2006 04:18 PM

Emmanuel Kant actually pronounced his last name "Won't."

Teresa Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:20 PM

Barbara Chalmers' sister Allis was Henry Ford's mistress for forty years. The shade of automobile paint called "Allis Blue" was named for her.

Chang | September 6, 2006 04:23 PM

In a pinch, tweezers, some wire and a nine volt battery can be used to defibirlate mice.

Steve Buchheit | September 6, 2006 04:26 PM

In a move to inspire jealousy in the current administration a large computer firm spied on it's own board of directors to find out who leaked information to the press.

Bill Blum | September 6, 2006 04:27 PM

Other writers make deadlines.

Scalzi makes lines dead.

Steve Buchheit | September 6, 2006 04:28 PM

TNH, I though Allis's favorite color was orange, go figure.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:29 PM

Contrary to popular belief, the original formula for Quaker Oats did not containe cocaine. It contained trace amounts of wormwood purely as a food coloring.

Scorpio | September 6, 2006 04:30 PM

When Harlan Ellison took his last wife to the dump to shoot rats, the revolvers did *not* have pearl handles.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:32 PM

In the Federal District of Ottawa, capital of Canada, marriages can be annulled by any government official.

Tripp | September 6, 2006 04:33 PM

Dogs will never allow themselves to be seen by people with green eyes.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:34 PM

Ottmar Mergenthaler's original Linotype machine, invented in the late 1880s, had no keyboard until 1892, when it was separately invented by Etienne Scherdlöw.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:35 PM

The East River is not actually a river; it is an artificial tidal channel dug in 1841.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:36 PM

The language of the Mangulay people of Washington's Olympic Peninsula contains three dozen words for "thumb."

Steve Buchheit | September 6, 2006 04:37 PM

Amish horses were replaced with animatronics back in the late 90s to conform with highway speed regulations.

Tripp | September 6, 2006 04:37 PM

Tip for business etiquette - workers in China dislike having their heads patted.

Steve Buchheit | September 6, 2006 04:39 PM

The Amish created and continue to fund an advanced genetics research facility in Ohio.

Chang | September 6, 2006 04:41 PM

Tip for business etiquette - workers in China dislike having their heads patted.

This is completely false. It's the higher officials who like to have their heads patted. In fact, the higher and more powerful, the more vigorous and sensual th' patting should become.

The lower the worker, the more intense the amrp[it massage. It's inscribed in the stones in front of the Forbidden Palace for god's sake!!

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:43 PM

One of the most beloved anecdotes of Harry S. Truman's 1948 whistle-stop campaign concerns the so-called "Salmon Arm Salute," the obscene gesture he delivered to a heckler as his train pulled away from the station. In fact, this event occurred, not in Salmon Arm, Washington, but in the small Idaho town of Malta.

Jeff Hentosz | September 6, 2006 04:44 PM

Had to check my reference before offering this one:

Giancarlo Dontino was a typecutter apprenticed to Aldus Manutius in the late 15th century. He came to believe it was possible to design a perfect alphabet -- a text face that would allow absolute reading comprehension (think of a Renaissance version of directly uploading content into the brain). He spent more than 10 years traveling the ancient Alexandrian empire, studying the work of Greek, Egyptian, Arab and Persian mathematicians, architects and symbologists. He only managed to finish the upper- and lowercase A, E and M, the cap S and the left side of the cap W of his typeface before committing suicide in Venice in 1512. He threw himself into the Grand Canal after his lover, the wife of a customs official, spurned him for the second time. His work was lost in a fire sometime during the Enlightenment.

Extra typography nugget: Comic Sans is based on the unofficial body copy face of the samizdat undergound publishing movement in the old Soviet Union.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 04:45 PM

Steve, you can look it up.

It is not true that Barbara T. Chalmers' first two names (Barbara, orig. Greek, meaning "foreigner", and Theresa, meaning "harvester" or "gleaner") were the origin of the "International Harvester" product name.

Chang | September 6, 2006 04:46 PM

In some states, bacon is acceptable payment for certain utility bills.

Chang | September 6, 2006 04:50 PM

Where John Scalzi walks, small piles of pennies are left behind.

Chang | September 6, 2006 04:51 PM

Shouting "John Scalzi!" and pointing off into the distance will often get you out of a mugging in most of the cities of Ohio.

Penny Hill | September 6, 2006 04:55 PM

Teresa -- Ottmar Mergenthaler's original Linotype machine, invented in the late 1880s, had no keyboard until 1892, when it was separately invented by Etienne Scherdlöw.

During the years between Linotype invention and keyboard invention, Barbara Chalmers set type with her tongue.

Chang | September 6, 2006 04:55 PM

"Pinkish" was once used by a reviewer to describe John Scalzi's complexion. That person was transfered to a smnall midwestern weekly's office where they were kidnapped and brainwashed by Nebraskan separatists.

And that reviewer... is Star Jones.

Chang | September 6, 2006 04:56 PM

John Scalzi can pee out an entire forest fire form a single one liter bottle of Dr. Pepper. The resulting belches from same will restart the fire, however.

John League | September 6, 2006 04:59 PM

William Marcy "Boss" Tweed was a concert-level bassoon player.

Perhaps, but Boss Tweed was not a member of the "Bassoonists' Club," a secret society whose sole purpose is to train a chosen few in the secret combinations of fingerings that make playing a bassoon easier than playing a kazoo.

Oh, and they also founded the Knights Templar and invented the Cotton Gin (Eli Whitney was in "the club," as they say).

Steve Buchheit | September 6, 2006 05:00 PM

The Amish aren't disappearing from the rural landscape, they are just moving farther back from the road.

Scraps | September 6, 2006 05:08 PM

David Cassidy was born David Bowie, but changed his name to avoid confusion with David Buoy, the inventor of the life raft.

Scraps | September 6, 2006 05:09 PM

Albert Fish Memorial, a pipe-fitter and contract bridge lawyer from Split Knuckle, Virginia, is responsible for all ska band names. He is still looking for bands willing to shoulder the names "Skatology," "Ska of the Antarctic," "Vichyska," "The Skashank Redemption," and "F. Ska Fitzgerald."

Scraps | September 6, 2006 05:11 PM

Hummingbirds shed their skin every ten seconds.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 05:12 PM

In the Scottish legal system, an accusation of murder can result in verdicts of Guilty, Not Guilty, Not Proven, Justifiable Homicide, and Laudable Homicide.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 05:14 PM

51% of American third-grade students believe that Wisconsin is a Photoshop filter and that Condoleeza Rice is a species of trout.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 05:15 PM

New York City SF writer Bill Shunn is permanently banned from visiting any International House of Pancakes.

Nathan Montgomery | September 6, 2006 05:16 PM

Lima beans contain 317 known carcinogens and 11 deadly neurotoxins, though in concentrations too low to be dangerous at normal levels of consumption. The consequences of long term exposure are currently unknown.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 05:17 PM

In Korea, saying "onion" to any woman will get you punched in the nose.

Scraps | September 6, 2006 05:17 PM

"It's all good" literally translates as "all right".

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 05:18 PM

The chemical that gives bourbon its distinctive flavor is turpentine.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 05:23 PM

Although he was known as the "Iron Chancellor," Otto von Bismarck was surprisingly sentimental about small lizards, and never went anywhere without a pet frog.

Scraps | September 6, 2006 05:26 PM

Marshmallow peeps are cleared for industrial use in most municipal areas.

Marshmallow peeps may be used as denture adhesive on a temporary basis.

The first marshmallow peeps to cross the Atlantic without a water vehicle were launched from Newport News, VA in September 1948 and arrived in Mauritania (then French West Africa) five months later.

King Charles II died from a surfeit of marshmallow peeps.

Marshmallow peeps have been anonymously answering children's letters from Paducah, KY during holiday season since a postal mixup in 1966.

Marshmallow peeps may now be inhaled without a prescription.

Each marshmallow peep is powered by pure love, and refuses to dissolve in the mouths of unbelievers.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 05:28 PM

The German philosopher Walter Benjamin was a cousin to the American silent-movie star Buster Keaton. In 1936, Bertolt Brecht nearly convinced Benjamin and his colleage Theodore Adorno to travel to Hollywood, where Keaton had arranged financing for a triptych of movies to be called "The Arcades Project." Only a fragment of this ambitious project survives, the script for a vignette entitled "The Pratfall In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction."

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | September 6, 2006 05:30 PM

"Harry Turtledove" is the pen name of a California writer born Leslie Lynch King, Jr.

Carol Elaine | September 6, 2006 05:36 PM

PeterP - People with green eyes can't see dogs.

Those of us with hazel eyes see only parts of dogs, the percentage of which is directly proportional to the amount of green in the iris. I'll leave you to guess which parts.

Chang | September 6, 2006 05:38 PM

Once, just for fun, John Scalzi proved Tesla's concept of broadcast power works. Then he blew up Saturn with it.

Chang | September 6, 2006 05:39 PM

In China, lobsters are considered a kind of dog.

Susan Loyal | September 6, 2006 05:41 PM

People with green eyes are unable to hear barking.

Nathan Montgomery | September 6, 2006 05:44 PM

The reincarnated have lower blood pressure and decreased risk of colon cancer compared to the newly incarnated.

Susan Loyal | September 6, 2006 05:44 PM

The singing of frogs was the inspiration both for Morse code and Gregorian Chant.

Chang | September 6, 2006 05:46 PM

John Scalzi can make Ken Wilbur cry nine different ways. One of them involves a penny and Batman trading card.

Chang | September 6, 2006 05:47 PM

In Chinese, Latin, Urdu and Linear A, John Scalzi translates as "His sadness envelopes worlds."

Carol Elaine | September 6, 2006 05:52 PM

Pluto was originally part of Mount Rushmore. The bits of mountain face carved away were launched into space by an advanced tortoise race living along Dell Rapids, who possesed the ability to turn stone into ice. Unfortunately, the entire race of peaceful tortoises was completely exterminated by the Hollywood chefs brought along for the filming of North by Northwest because Cary Grant was inordinately fond of turtle soup.

(Contrary to popular belief, the climax of North by Northwest was filmed at Mount Rushmore, not on a Hollywood soundstage. Grant's soup obsession - and subsequent tortoise genocide, which was not discovered by the area's residents until the last day of filming - caused the locals to run the entire production out of town under threat of forcing Grant to eat mock turtle soup, to which Grant was deathly allergic.)

True story.

Nathan Montgomery | September 6, 2006 06:51 PM

If a frog croaks after exposure to cocaine, it will explode.

"America the Book" is actually an autobiography.

Every calorie you eat of Devil's Food cake heats one kilogram of hell one degree kelvin.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden is the most prolific contributor to Uncyclopedia .

Jeff Hentosz | September 6, 2006 07:09 PM

Interesting side note about how the Amish genetics lab was initially funded:

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Amish abandoned their network of secret missle silos located in the Columbus suburb of Gahanna. The land was purchased by retail mogul Les Wexner as the site for the world headquarters for The Limited, Victoria's Secret, etc. The country decor of Wexner company Bath & Body Works is a nod to this transaction.

Owlmirror | September 6, 2006 07:18 PM

It is physically impossible to break a piece of uncooked spaghetti into exactly two pieces.

Yankee pitcher Mary-Anne Balabusta was born with a prehensile caudal appendage.

An incredibly powerful explosive can be constructed using asparagus, certain mushrooms, and baked beans.

Skinks that drink squid ink will not blink.

People with eyes can't see green dogs.

Anonymous | September 6, 2006 08:03 PM

Ooh, just remembered these:

1) Disney's Fantasia can be synced with eerie precision to the album Infinity by the rock-n-roll combo Journey. Simply start the album right at the last note of the "Toccata & Fugue," pause it just when the sorcerer begins to conjure his butterfly thingie, then start it again when Mickey shakes hands with Leopold Stokowski.

2) America agreed, in the treaty that ended the War of 1812, to pay Great Britain a licensing fee for the use of the English language. After World War I, Congress offered to make back payments by turning over ownership of all works published in English in the U.S. in perpetuity to the British crown. The offer is still technically on the table.

Mark DF | September 6, 2006 08:40 PM

"I" is the most used word in the English language. "Ciao" is the second.

Green-eyed dogs can see dead people.

Owlmirror | September 6, 2006 08:42 PM

One of the Phoenician trading vessels bearing an idol of Dagon was blown off course and sank over the Laurentian Abyss 35 centuries ago. The statue of Dagon, covered with seaweed and coral and barnacles, has been ever so slowly inching its way up out of the trench and up the North American continental shelf, towards Innsmouth.

People with dog eyes can't see green.

Penny Hill | September 6, 2006 08:47 PM

In 1501, after bringing italic type into existence, Francesco Griffo punched an elaborate mold for a new face, which he called Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Like his work for Aldus and Bembo, Griffo's new creation remained a favorite of printers and typesetters until offset printing destroyed the aesthetics of type. The publishing industry is presently experiencing a resurgence of Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and it is showing up in books, magazines, and on the Internet.

Mark DF | September 6, 2006 08:48 PM

At any given moment, someone on Earth is clapping, laughing or naked. Once every century that has an the autumnal equinox on a Tuesday, all three happen at once everywhere.

Dane | September 6, 2006 09:43 PM

What the hell... I read all 120 of them, I should have a go...

The oil extracted from a single apricot seed has enough cyanide in it to kill 600 people. But eating it whole (without chewing) causes no ill-effects.

Cauliflower is so named because its leaves resemble a vein covered placenta, or caul, and because when cooked there is a similarity in flavor.

Jon H | September 6, 2006 10:06 PM

If a dragonfly's tail end is maneuvered into reach of its jaws, it can be made to devour itself.

Dr. Phil | September 6, 2006 10:40 PM

Astronomers at the Big Horn radio telescope recently stuck a wireless microphone inside and "listened" to sounds from outer space.

They stopped the project when they realized that Pluto was crying.

Physics is, of course, the Senior Science. This isn't ego talking. Oh wait, there IS an "I" in PHYSICS. (grin)

Dr. Phil

Frank Dreier | September 6, 2006 10:46 PM

The berries used to make Arby's "Bronco Berry Sauce" only grow on the sites of Native American horse sacrifices. To gather the berries, you must claim a site for your own by defeating the spirit of a long-dead medicine man left to guard it. This has been illegal under Federal law since 1995, when undead shamans were protected as being "of special importance to the cultural heritage of the Native Americans".

Triarc Companies, Arby's corporate parent, has acquired all known sites claimed before the law went into effect. Activists have filed several lawsuits to force the company to release internal documents relating to horse sacrifices and their alleged part in the production process of its "Horsey Sauce". All have failed.

Cassie | September 6, 2006 11:17 PM

Once, just for fun, John Scalzi proved Tesla's concept of broadcast power works. Then he blew up Saturn with it.

As long as it wasn't Pluto. Athena would cry.

Hugh | September 6, 2006 11:19 PM

All comments in this thread are false.

Jon H | September 6, 2006 11:31 PM

Drat, I skimmed when I read the post. That dragonfly thing is actually true, at least according to Britannica.

Deb Geisler | September 6, 2006 11:54 PM

Although most of the modern world has heard of the tragic (some would say "histrionic") suicide of Socrates in 399 B.C.E., the acutal causes of that deadly act had nothing to do with a spurious trial...and remained largely shrouded in obscurity until the recent interpretation of compacted fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls (using ultrasonic and infrared technologies developed in conjunction with Japan's "Iron Chef" Masaharu Morimoto).

Modern scholars of the classic Greek vernacular have translated Socrates' penultimate words as "I shall not teach Freshman Composition again. Neener, neener." With great verve and thirst, Socrates chugged his hemlock, and then declaimed, "Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Do pay it. Don't forget."

It is not known if the subject of these final words was actually poultry...or if Asclepius was the first known recipient of the Pullet Surprise.

Rita | September 7, 2006 01:06 AM

Paddling along flat-water rivers, you can often see Tronychidae Concinna, a softshell river turtle, crawling up the branches of deadfall trees that are snagged out in the current. When a canoe approaches for a better look, the smaller turtles launch themselves into the water, sometimes from great (relative) heights. It's not that they are scared of the approaching object, but that they are young turtles, practicing their "pounce" technique. If you find an old, large T. Concinna high, high on a branch above you, it will also jump - but it's aim is better, and its jaws will be open, and it may be the last thing you see.

Rita | September 7, 2006 01:10 AM

Dougs with grain I's Kant sea pea poles.

Adam Rakunas | September 7, 2006 01:33 AM

Brussels sprouts were originally called flora vertis diabolicus, or "leafy green thing from Hell." In the Middle Ages, the English name was corrupted to "sprout of the Netherword" to "sprout of the Netherlands" to the current, common name.

Rob Schneider is currently wanted in The Hauge for crimes against humanity.

A Lithuanian physicist, Bebis Gulva, developed a theory that states that the Universe cools one millionth of a degree Kelvin every time Robin Williams mugs for the camera. At the current rate of mugging, the Universe will suffer the Big Freeze by next Thursday. Dress accordingly.

Chuck Norris is actually a creation of the Encylopedia Britannica.

abi | September 7, 2006 06:14 AM

Contrary to popular belief and his own claims, Thomas Cobden-Sanderson did not drop the parcels of Doves Press type off of Hammersmith Bridge, but rather sold them to an ironmonger in Grimsby in the dead of night. He then melted them down to fashion a suit of pseudo-medieval armour for use in East End brothels, where demand for courtly love role playing required more props than the antique trade could supply.

Most of the armour is long gone, but the helmet was purchased in a junk shop in Briceland, California by a young newspaper columnist. After years of wearing it during thunderstorms, he has begun to see visions of worlds that do not exist, where the genetically engineered clones of elderly people fight epic battles, or aliens who look like snot and smell like old shoes visit the earth.

After restoring the green plumes on the helmet, he lost the ability to see doggerel.

abi | September 7, 2006 06:35 AM

Frederick Goudy spent two weeks in jail in Alpine, Texas on a charge of sheep rustling.

Dean | September 7, 2006 08:04 AM

Fred L. Buntz of Lansing, Michigan founded a religion early this morning. He and his three followers believe that the universe will end when there are no further commonts to a thread called 'Open Thread: "Facts"' on the blog of a writer named John Scalzi.

Scalzi, in addition to being the inadvertent founder of a religion (a time-honoured tradition among science-fiction writers), has green eyes and cannot see his own dog. This makes dog-walking at the Scalzi household an adventure.

In Mongolia, dog-walking is considered an act of prostitution.

In an effort to combat prostitution, Bumford, Alabama banned everything in 1929. This affected the local economy deeply, which led to the Great Depression.

The Great Depression actually only lasted four days. Due to a little understood mass delusion colloquially called 'Hayden's Syndrome', it has grown in length and severity with each retelling.

'Hayden's Syndrome' was not discovered by anyone named Hayden. It was discovered by Emil Schilford Buntz, somewhere in Germany, who went on to become the great-grandfather of Fred L. Buntz of Lansing Michigan, who founded a religion...

Jp | September 7, 2006 09:01 AM

Confidential papers soon to be released by the British Government reveal that Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill were in fact the same, albeit rather confused, man.

Smurf | September 7, 2006 09:18 AM

Fun Fun Fun!

- Napoleon's penis was cut off his body at death, and has been sold repeatedly. It is currently in the possession of a German urologist, who picked up the "withered tendon" for $30,000.

- 1 in 5000 lobsters are born bright blue.

- Duxbury, MA tried to find the grave of Myles Standish. They narrowed it down to a pair of old graves, took a guess, and dug up one of the two choices to see if it had the battle wounds that Standish had (thus proving the corpse to be Myles). The guy they actually dug up... and this is true... was a boy who records show was put to death for "sodomizing the Brewster livestock."

- You cannot type "Lexington/Concord" in an AOL chat room, and even AOL Live Help gets nowhere when they try.

- 40% of McDonalds profits come from the sale of Happy Meals.

- In space, a frozen pea will explode if it comes into contact with Pepsi.

- The only golf course on the island of Tonga has 15 holes, and there's no penalty if a monkey steals your golf ball.

- British pop singer Baby Spice is the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandniece of Archduke William Pinkley-Hogue of Standishfordshire, making her 103rd in line for the throne of England.

Jeff Hentosz | September 7, 2006 09:41 AM

Author John Scalzi never held a contest among his blog readers for the cleverest original "fact." Prizes weren't signed advance reader's copies of his new novel The Android's Dream and his new non-fiction book on writing.

Tripp | September 7, 2006 09:44 AM

Because there is no letter 'i' in the word 'team' but there are three 'i's in "Minnesota Vikings" the Vikings will never win the Super Bowl.

Tripp | September 7, 2006 09:47 AM

Until they change their name to the "Mynessota Vykyngs."

andrew | September 7, 2006 09:57 AM

Italian has 352 words for Spaghetti, but none for meatballs.


Dean | September 7, 2006 10:59 AM

The orbiting body we call 'Pluto' is not, in fact, a planet.

It is a vegetable.

diplomachismo | September 7, 2006 11:24 AM

Future History textbooks of the Socialist Islamic States of America will cite the reasons for democracy's ultimate failure on the efforts of the last president to end terrorism and despotism in the world by trying to "outdo them".

In an ironic twist of fate, that same president died during a pissing contest with Gitmo Prison Guards in Cuba when his stream crossed over a high-voltage electric fence. It was during the ensuing power failure that the prisoners were able to overthrow the guards and initiate what would later be called "The Bay of Squealing Pigs".

Susan Loyal | September 7, 2006 11:26 AM

Green dogs will not eat blue lobsters or obey commands from readers of the Whatever blog, but they see frogs everywhere.

eB | September 7, 2006 11:31 AM


It's crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide.


Eric | September 7, 2006 12:53 PM

-"William Shakespeare" was actually a pseudonym used by disgruntled authors in Elizabethian England to disavow works which they felt had been badly edited or released in any unacceptable form.

-Mickey Mouse's dog, Pluto, was originally one of the titular characters in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, but director/producer Walt Disney felt Pluto was "major, not a dwarf, and children will hate me if I demote him." Disney briefly considered retitling the film, but new promotional materials would have bankrupted his fledgling company; consequently, he invented the character "Bashful," whose name was inspired during a bar-fight in which Disney broke a man's arm with a billiard cue.

Susan Loyal | September 7, 2006 12:57 PM

The Governer of Maine declared the coastal town of Small a disaster area this morning at 9:06 a.m. "It's been really peculiar around here," said Sheriff Dan Brown, "ever since sometime yesterday when things started to change." The Sheriff believes the first strange event was a 47 car pileup on Main Street, allegedly caused by a motorist who failed to break for a dog. John Smith, 42, a green-eyed native of Ohio, was charged with reckless endangerment and admitted to the Small General Hospital for acute gastritis, apparently the result of consuming frozen peas with Pepsi in a low-gravity environment.

Also admitted to the hospital was the famous Barbara Chalmers, visiting from Utica, New York. Mrs. Chalmers, attempting to render aid to victims of the accident, swallowed a fly. Her prognosis is unclear. Dr. Green, speaking on behalf of the Small General Hospital said, "I don't know why she swallowed that fly. Perhaps she'll die. We're overwhelmed here. The emergency room is flooded with people demanding sedatives and earplugs. They say they hear Pluto crying."

A grain farmer named Doug Immanuel lists among the trauma cases admitted to the ER. He impaled his right hand with a pea pole because, he claims, he was distracted by a flock of orca wheeling overhead.

Lenny's fishmarket has a special on lobster today. "It's the weirdest thing," said Lenny. "The whole catch came in blue. Who wants a blue lobster? If things keep up this way, I'll have to close the shop."

The Small Emergency Veterinary Clinic claims an unusual number of cases, including a dog that choked on one of Lenny's lobsters. "I know he's upset that I dropped that dye on him," said owner Bill Hodges, "but I think he's having a nervous breakdown. He behaves like he sees frogs everywhere. He's real afraid of frogs." The Clinic refuses to comment on the parrot with dropsy.

State troopers are attempting to assist with removing the wreaked vehicles on Main Street, but have had to send for special equipment. "Some of these cars must have been put together with toffee," said a trooper who declined to be named. She refused to comment on the presence of the fez and bassoon in Mrs. Chalmers' car.

An aide of the Governor assures us that everything possible is being done to determine why the nature of physical reality changed in Small. "Right now we think something happened in cyberspace. We're going to find the person or persons responsible. When we do, you better believe they'll be sorry."

Dr. Phil | September 7, 2006 02:19 PM

-"William Shakespeare" was actually a pseudonym used by disgruntled authors in Elizabethian England to disavow works which they felt had been badly edited or released in any unacceptable form.

The first disguntled author to use "William Shakespeare" was a part-time writer who worked in the local smithy and was only known as "Alan" to his friends at the Globe Theatre.

Dr. Phil

Anonymous | September 7, 2006 03:43 PM

Chang: "Shouting "John Scalzi!" and pointing off into the distance will often get you out of a mugging in most of the cities of Ohio."

Is that because most of the muggers in Ohio are OMW fans, or do they lurk among the readers of The Whatever?

Or is it because Martha Stewart has never ridden an ostrich naked?

Marc G. | September 7, 2006 04:03 PM

This is the only time I will comment on this blog.

Owlmirror | September 7, 2006 04:33 PM

A British general stationed in Hindustan tried to introduce a local delicacy made of monkey brains and goat eyeballs to English troops.

The best way to get to Carnegie Hall is to parachute.

The absolute best tracking dog in the world, winner of multiple prizes, has no nose.
This dog was named "Lycschitt" by its German-speaking Argentine owner, Siegfried Schickelgruber.

It is illegal to dye dogs green in the town of Small, Maine.

A blunt plastic knife was once used to perform an emergency tracheotomy on Lyndon Johnson before he became President.

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

Octopodes of the species scrivenersis have been known to create beautiful calligraphy using their own ink.

About 1 in 100,000 people with green eyes have a third eyeball that develops inside of their brain.

It is not possible to travel by car from Los Angeles to Boston without passing at least one hot-dog stand shaped like a hot-dog.

Smurf | September 7, 2006 08:02 PM

Even if Susan is funning us, Small is only like the third strangest non-Stephen King town in Maine.

Djscman | September 7, 2006 11:09 PM

Two-thirds of all American high school seniors are sexually active.

From this population, another two-thirds quickly become sexually out of shape.

Djscman | September 7, 2006 11:17 PM

Some tribes along the Kyrgyztan/China border are polyandrous, owing to the lack of attractive women in the general population. L. Ron Hubbard briefly married into one of these families in 1938, but abandoned them in the dead of night, later claiming the situation was "too weird".

Djscman | September 7, 2006 11:26 PM

The first draft of The Grapes of Wrath came to a climax when the Joad family stumbled across a sizable oil strike. Steinbeck changed the ending for obvious reasons.

Djscman | September 7, 2006 11:31 PM

One more for the night:

The mysterious subject of the Carly Simon song "You're So Vain" was Pope Paul VI.

fishbane | September 8, 2006 01:07 AM

A goat, rotated in 4 dimensions, not only resembles the Virgin Mary, but also won't eat cans while rotating.

Thomas Pynchon is actually a pseudonym used by Jimmy Page, because he doesn't want to dilute album sales.

fishbane | September 8, 2006 01:23 AM

_The Bat_ (1959, Vincent Price), was an allegory protesting the treatment of domestic pets in then-modern America.

I should go to bed.

Chinedum Ofoegbu | September 8, 2006 01:56 AM

Harlequin toads can copulate for months at a stretch - non-stop. Also, (female) pig orgasms can last up to half an hour.

Eric | September 8, 2006 09:39 AM

Harlequin toads can copulate for months at a stretch - non-stop. Also, (female) pig orgasms can last up to half an hour.

Male pig orgasms, however, are another matter. In 1963, a male pig achieved orgasm in under 14 seconds at Black Rock Desert in Nevada. The ejaculate was clocked at a speed of nearly 1,700 feet per second, or more than one and a half times the speed of sound, and traveled 56 feet before embedding itself in the hard surface of the flat.

Susan Loyal | September 8, 2006 11:01 AM

The Friday morning Bulletin from the Small Veterinary Clinic has been censored.

Susan Loyal | September 8, 2006 04:19 PM

Officials today announced that scientists have confirmed an "entanglement" between cyberspace and material reality in the town of Small, Maine. "Everything mentioned on the weblog "Whatever" manifests as physical reality in the town of Small within 24 hours," reported the Governor. "I am hereby issuing a travel advisory for the area around Small for Saturday, September 9, as I have been reliably informed that the Battle of Agincourt was mentioned on that site today. Much as I personally would love to watch this historic conflict, it is inadvisible for bystanders to gather."

The Small General Hospital has asked for volunteers to help staff the Emergency Room "just in case."

The Small Emergency Veterinary Clinic is seeking staff experienced in working with animals "in a state of heightened distraction," and apologizes for the "harsh and graphic language" used in this morning's bulletin.

On a positive note, Dr. Smurf, a distinguished professor of anthropology, commented: "The residents of Maine are experienced at dealing with the weird. I have every confidence that the citizens of Small will take this situation in stride."

Smurf | September 8, 2006 04:55 PM

Chuck Norris once punched a man in the soul.

Smurf | September 8, 2006 04:56 PM

Chuck Norris once punched a man in the soul.

Susan Loyal | September 8, 2006 05:19 PM


A representive of the federal government assured the press that there is no causal link between cyberspace discussions and events in the state of Maine. "No one needs to fear that the Battle of Agincourt will occur tomorrow. We have confirmed that the town of Small exists only in cyberspace, confined entirely to a single thread of comments on the "Whatever" blog. And we do not expect to hear anything more about it." Asked to comment on the extent of the hoax, the official replied, "Well, we're pretty sure that the state of Maine is really there. Field agents are confirming that, however. If there's anything we've learned from all this, it's to check our facts."

fishbane | September 8, 2006 11:52 PM

Recent advanced mathematics have proven that if you take the first derivative of parenting, grandparents are, in fact, always right.

Paul | September 11, 2006 10:56 PM

You don't know Mrs. Chalmers like I know her.

So, I am to assume you had permission?

John Scalzi | September 12, 2006 06:40 AM

Boy, did I!

MWT | September 13, 2006 02:15 AM

Chang said: In China, lobsters are considered a kind of dog.

Green-eyed Asians are unable to see lobsters.

bonnie-ann black | September 13, 2006 01:11 PM

>>Male pig orgasms, however, are another matter. In 1963, a male pig achieved orgasm in under 14 seconds at Black Rock Desert in Nevada. The ejaculate was clocked at a speed of nearly 1,700 feet per second, or more than one and a half times the speed of sound, and traveled 56 feet before embedding itself in the hard surface of the flat.

that was no *pig* it was my... oh, never mind.

Natsuki | October 4, 2006 04:37 PM

India has the world's most universities.

China has the world's most fast-food resturaunts.

Jolty | December 8, 2006 12:16 AM

In response to Patrick Nielsen Hayden:

There is no such place as Salmon Arm, Washington. Salmon Arm is in British Columbia, Canada, and the "Salmon Arm Salute" refers to the incident of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada, flashing an obscene finger gesture at protesters in said town. Having grown up in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, I know this for a fact.

Jolty | December 8, 2006 12:30 AM

Err, my apologies, but I didn't read the whole thread, as I only stumbled across this via Google while Internet-stalking myself. You can delete my comments if you want. In fact, please do.

Connie | May 11, 2007 07:07 PM

Green-eyed women are unable to see that some men just aren't worth it.

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