Friday, December 3, 2010

Still Learning

When I was a child I thought that every adult knew everything.

I looked forward to the day when I was all grown up and knew everything, too.

A good chunk of my childhood was spent being secretly afraid that I was going to be the first person in the history of the world to grow up without ever learning how to tell time or comb my hair.

I'm proud to say that after many years of effort, I've managed to master one of those two tasks.

The effort to learn everything else continues.

Here are a few of the things I've learned since posting my last update on this subject on Nov 21:

----- Some 50 films have been nominated for Best Picture in the last decade. According to Time magazine, nearly 60% of them were set in the historical past. More than 10% were set in Britain. (You know that chart of the brain someone made in which the number of neurons devoted to each body part are depicted proportionality so that tongues and lips and thumbs and genitalia are revealed to be where our interests primarily lie? I've often wished someone would do the same for pop culture, history, etc. The horrors of the Holocaust would undoubtedly be the size of our tongues while the horrors of the Hun invasions would be something akin to the dead zone of our backs. And tiny Britain would be as huge as our thumbs while all of Africa would probably amount to part of an earlobe, maybe. Got time? Please develop this further for me.)

----- After ceasing to be president in 1909, Theodore Roosevelt went on a year-long safari in Africa. He bagged 296 animals. (Roosevelt is known to this day as one of the Republican Party's biggest conservationists. Please hold your applause until after the next Great Extinction so as not to give any doomed species any undue hope.)

----- The premiere episode of "Sarah Palin's Alaska" drew 5 million viewers. The next episode drew only 3 million. (No word on how many people might tune in to see "Sarah Silverman's Alaska.")

----- Americans bought (and presumably used) 1.7 million coffins last year. That's down from 1.9 million ten years ago, but still seems like an awful lot of coffins to me. If you laid them all out, end to end, they'd form a line about 2000 miles long - and you'd probably be arrested for blocking traffic. (If you simply MUST block traffic, please do so in a somewhat less disturbing way. Thank you.)

----- The average cost of a traditional funeral is nearly $8000. That's roughly how much it costs to keep a cat or dog alive for 8 years.

----- 25% of US households lack a computer. That's some 28,000,000 homes without a single PC or Mac. (As tempting as it may be to make fun of the people in these households, I'll refrain. It isn't nice. And it's not really fun if they can't read what I'm saying about them.)

----- US businesses replace aproximately 40 million computers a year. About 75% of those computers being replaced are just 4 years old or younger. (I guess this means that if the Statue of Liberty had been a computer owned by GM or GE, she would probably would have been replaced by 1890.)

----- According to the latest research, there are about 300 sextillion stars in the universe. That's about how many cells are in all the human bodies on earth (50 trillion a body times 6 billion bodies). This not only proves there's a gOd - it proves that he wants each of our cells to have its own star. (My neurons are smart enough to have hired an agent, however, and are holding out for TWO stars each, plus a $100,000 signing bonus.)

----- "The Young and the Restless" is now the #1 soap opera on TV. It has some 5.15 million viewers. I've never, ever been one of them. (Since it's been on the air for nearly 38 years now, I suppose its first stars have been spun off into a series entitled "The Old and the Tired.")

----- Deer season began here in Ohio on Monday. I'm told that exactly 37,805 deer were shot dead on that one day. I didn't shoot any of them. (And despite what some people may think, I didn't talk any of them to death, either.)

----- There are an estimated 750,000 deer in Ohio. (Or at least there were before Monday.) There are 34 "Welcome to Ohio!" signs on the roads coming into Ohio from other states. If there had been only 30 such signs in 2010, would there now be 10% fewer deer? Explain.

----- When Ohio's new governor takes office in January, it will cost the Ohio Department of Transportation a total of $7500 to put his name up on these "Welcome to Ohio!" signs. Would a true fiscally conservative Republican just say, "Oh, that's ok - just leave the old name up"? Why or why not?

----- About 17,000 deer end up as roadkill in Ohio every year. State workers spend about 29,000 hours annually (at a cost of about $725,000) to remove the carcasses. How much time and money could we save if we outsourced this work to India?

----- The brain chemistry of Siberian hamsters is more like the brain chemistry of humans than the brain chemistry of mice is. (If you find it easier to pick up a Siberian hamster in a bar than a mouse, that might be why.)

----- It takes about 3 apples to make 1 cup of cider.

----- Nebraska is the only state in the United States with a unicameral legislature. It seems to get along just fine with just half the number of chambers of a standard legislature. How much money could all the other states save if they followed suit? (Why haven't I ever heard a single fiscally conservative Republican advocate this?)

----- There are about 13 million hotel and/or motel rooms on earth. Only 400,000 are allegedly in the "luxury" class.

----- There are supposedly 650 million adult Pacific salmon in the ocean at any one time. (This means that our hotels and motels could accommodate them all if they don't mind staying 50 to a room. And judging from some of the rooms I've stayed in, they don't.)

----- 90% of the food mammals eat goes to maintaining their core body temperature. (I guess this means that cold-blooded killers need to eat less than other people.)

----- The largest mammal ever was the rhino-like Indricotherium. It was about four times as large as today's elephant. (If it wasn't now extinct, how many do you think would end up as roadkill on Ohio's highways?)

----- There are 793 plants and 578 animals in the US that are considered to be threatened or endangered. President Obama's administration has added 51 to the official list. (How many of these do you think President Palin will serve at her first state dinner?)

----- Despite the often repeated claim that smiling takes fewer muscles than frowning, at least one plastic surgeon says that it's actually the other way around. Smiling may take less effort, however, because our smile muscles tend to be in better shape. If less effort is your goal, though, you should know that frozen, insincere smiles involve just two muscles and take the least amount of effort of all.


  1. Kasich could invest in painting over Strickland's name. In one stroke (or maybe two coats) it would remove the false advertising and avoid the need for future innaugural-related maintenance.

  2. "90% of the food mammals eat goes to maintaining their core body temperature."

    I always wondered if calisthenics in the cold would increase calories burned vs. calisthenics at room temperature.
    I asked somebody with a masters degree in exercise science and she insisted that sweating was much more work than offseting the cold.

    In retrospect, she was dogmatic about many things she had no way of knowing for sure, so I am keeping an open mind about it.

  3. 25% of homes don't have a computer!! wow! I wonder what the stats are for Australia.

  4. Hehe, I still have trouble telling time which is why all time counting devices I purchase are digital. No one ever actually taught me to tell time on a regular clock until I was in 6th grade. Apparently no one realized I was completely unaware of what time it was. It was like being functionally illiterate.