Saturday, February 24, 2007

Small Talk

One of the books I'm currently reading is called The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World. Which, of course, would be impossible for the author, A.J. Jacobs, because I am the smartest person in the world. There's just no way he can surpass me. But I digress. Jacobs decides the best way to become smart is to read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica. While I won't actually review his book here (I will on my book blog as soon as I finish it), I will share some nuggets of knowledge and wisdom from the book:

Elves: "Elves in traditional folklore sat on people's chests while they slept to give them bad dreams. They also stole human children and substituted deformed fairy children."

Gandhi: He wasn't always the hero and saint the world views him as today. When he was a teenager he smoke, dabbled in atheism, stole minor goods, and even ate meat. Gasp!

Jefferson, Thomas: He apparently paid reporters to "libel his nemesis John Adams."

Language: A capitonym is when two words are spells identically, but the meaning changes when it begins with a capital letter. Ex: Polish and polish. A miranym is the word halfway between opposites. Ex: flat is the miranym of concave and convex.

Mechanics, fluid: If you buy gas on colder days you get more for your money. Liquids compress when chilled so you're getting more gasoline per gallon.

Nursery rhyme: "'Jack and Jill' is actually an extended allegory about taxes. The jack and jill were two forms of measurement in early England. When Charles I scaled down the jack (originally two ounces) so as to collect higher sales tax, the jill, which was by definition twice the size of the jack, was automatically reduced, hence 'came tumbling after.'"

Oyster: Can change their sex depending upon the temp. of the water! Crazy eh?

Patriotism: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, exactly fifty years after signing The Declaration of Independence.

Raspberry: Strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are really aggregate fruits, while bananas, pumpkins, and oranges are really berries.

Spanish-American War: "Spain declared war on the United States on April 24, followed by a U.S. declaration of war on the 25th, which was made retroactive to April 21." If the U.S. government can declare things retroactively, so can I. Like shotgun. Or in break-ups.

Time: Daylight hours used to be split up into 12 hours no matter the season. The length of one hour therefore constantly fluctuated.

I hope you all feel enlightened after reading this. Or at least like you have some interesting small talk for the next time you meet someone you have absolutely nothing in common with.


ellesappelle said...

Retroactive declarations sound like a fantastic idea!

It's not just oysters that can change their sex. Eels can too. Depending on how much food there is available, I think. If there's heaps of food, suddenly there's heaps more females. And vice versa. In a lake near my city apparently most of the eels were turning male because of pollution or over-stocking or something!

ukrainiandiva said...

I now want to buy this book. I suddenly feel very smart!

Stacy said...

I feel so much smarter now. I especially enjoyed the info about oysters and raspberries.

Bawdy said...

HEy girl...
This comment has nothing to do with this particular blog, but i don't know how else to contact you!! I have a friend that lives in CO springs...I told her your were coming out there and she wants your contact info and stuff! She might be able to help you find a job and get settled in the ward...let me know if you want her info.

Andrea Jolene said...

Ooooo - I very much liked your hodge-podge of tid-bit and knick-knack. Very good! I particularly enjoyed the bit about language...of course.