Saturday, September 1, 2007

Some Things You Never Knew You Never Knew

Thoughts extracted from the thoroughly enjoyable book “The Book of General Ignorance: Everything you think you know is wrong” by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson.

Goldfish actually have a memory of three months (not three seconds or three minutes). And they lay eggs, rather than get pregnant, so a pregnant goldfish can’t be called a ‘twit’ because (ahem) they don’t get pregnant.

The tallest mountain in the world (from base to tip) is Mauna Kea, in Hawaii, at 33,465 ft (although only 13,799 are above sea level). Everest is the highest mountain (with its tip at 29,029 ft above sea level), but it cheats by already being on the Tibetan Plateau.

Antarctica is the driest place on Earth (places there have not seen rain in over 400 years). It is also the wettest (with 70% of the world’s fresh water), and the windiest (with recorded windspeeds of over 200mph).

The European Earwig has two penises. This was discovered when a couple of gentlemen in Tokyo were watching a pair of mating earwigs, and playfully pinched the male back end. The bug’s penis snapped off, but he calmly brought out a backup. Apparently this is not an uncommon occurance.

In other weird penis facts, barnacles’ penises are seven times their own body length.

Tigers cannot abide the smell of alcohol, and will attack anyone who has been drinking.

The surface of Mars is roughly the color of butterscotch. The red is dust.

Eskimos only have four words for snow; maybe only two. (There are several related languages spoken by the Inuit peoples, thus the confusion…most Eskimo groups only give two words, but consideration of various root words leads to the possibility of as many as four.)

The Canary Islands are not named after the bird; rather, the bird is named after the islands. The islands were named Insula Canaria after the many dogs found there (both wild and domesticated). Canaria, you know, like canine…not canary. People sure are weird. Kinda like Nome, AK got named when some explorer saw a villiage, and put a dot on his map with the notation “Name?” and somebody couldn’t read it and concluded that it was a town called Nome. Or like Sequim, WA (pronounced “Squim”) where the mapmaker was feeling fancy and added a flourish to his ‘S,’ and the printer thought it was an ‘e’ and so now the town name is spelled stupidly. Really, people, get a brain here.

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