Archive for the 'things I learned' Category

Things I Learned 2015-06

Things I Learned – July 2013

  • In 2005, a new dungeon opened in World of Warcraft, which featured a boss villain that cast a contagious Corrupted Blood spell on players.  The spell inadvertently spread to other cities and areas of the game (via magical hunter pets that caught the disease), before being shut down by a patch fix.  The incident has since been used by epidemiologists to model how hum an populations react to epidemics (some panicked, others started spreading the disease intentionally).  [via]  [more] [wikipedia]
  • Lye attacks, holy fuck.
  • A DivaCup is a re-usable cup worn to catch menstrual flow.  [via]
  • horological – adj. – of or related to time-keeping devices [via]

Things I Learned 2013-02

  • Under Icelandic law, a baby may only be given a name from an official list of 3,000+ approved baby names (which fit icelandic grammar and pronunciation rules).  [src]
  • epiphenomenonn. a secondary phenomenon accompanying another and caused by it; specifically : a secondary mental phenomenon that is caused by and accompanies a physical phenomenon but has no causal influence itself.  [via]
  • More than one swan is referred to collective as “a lamentation of swans” [src]
  • “Venery” has two very different meanings  (definition #1 –  n. the art, act, or practice of hunting;  definition #2 – n.  the pursuit of or indulgence in sexual pleasure) or exactly the same meanings, I guess. [via]
  • The most common hypothesis for the cause of motion sickness is that it functions as a defense mechanism against neurotoxins.  Motion felt but not seen is being interpreted as a hallucination (e.g., caused by some toxic berries), therefore let’s vomit. [src]
  • Mississippi ratified the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution thereby abolishing slavery in… 1995.  [via]



Things I Learned 2012-12

  • Shakespeare’s Sonnet 151 is considered one of the dirtier sonnets. (wiki)
  • Asians have the longest torsos relative to their body size. [WE WILL TAKE IT. -Ed.] (via)
  • The maximum prison sentence you can get in Norway is 21 years, war crimes and genocide notwithstanding. (via) Although, after which you can be preventively detained for 5 years at a time, so the man that massacred an island full of teens is probably never going to be freed. (via)
  • ineluctable – adj. Unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable (via)
  • TIP: You can remotely roll down your car windows by double tapping and holding the unlock button on the key-fob remote (on certain car models).  (via)
  • cornpone – adj. Informal – Folksy and homespun, as in manner or speech: a penchant for cornpone humor; cornpone political prose. (via)
  • “playa foot” – colloquially refers to a chemical burn on soles of feet due to exposure to alkali dust.  As found in Black Rock dessert (i.e., La Playa) where Burning Man is held. (via)  (See, also, a hula hoop  with video camera attached left on ground + Burning Man’s earnest sense of experimentation = male lizard brain food)
  • apiary – n. collection of beehives (via)
  • There once was a breed of dog called a turnspit, that was trained to work in the kitchen (okay, just to rotate a spittle over the fire, but still.) (via)
  • PATENT OF THE MONTH: Patent No. 6,469 –  Manner of Buoying Vessels over Shoals – by Abraham Lincoln, yes that Abraham Lincoln (via)lincoln patent


Things I Learned 2012-07

  • Starting in the 1930s, in regions of Spain captured by the anti-communist Nationalists during the war, doctors and nuns abducted over 300,000 newborn babies from “red parents” and gave them to families that would raise them in accordance with Nationalist and Catholic beliefs. [via]
  • Martha Gellhorn had one helluva life: considered one of the greatest war correspondents ever, covering every major world conflict from 1930 to 1990; married Earnest Hemingway  (third wife), divorced him when he kept trying to block her from battlefield assignments; cancer stricken and blind at age 89, committed suicide by drug overdose.  [wikipedia] [via no idea, I think I was reading about Earnest Hemingway’s family tree. His granddaughters are runway models]
  • “six of one, half a dozen of another” – idiom. two things are almost the same or equal  [via]
  • The modern Olympic pentathlon seems like a random hodgepodge of events (épée fencing, pistol shooting, 200 metre freestyle swimming, show jumping on horseback, and 3 km cross country running), but its origins are based on simulating the experience of a 19th century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines: he/she must ride an unfamiliar horse, fight with pistol and sword, swim, and run. [more info]
  • There is a species of termite that produces and stores toxic blue crystals in an external pouch on their abdomen.  When enemy termites attack the nest, older worker bugs are sent to the front lines along with soldier bugs (the younger bugs’ toxins are less potent). The poisonous blue crystals they have amassed react with salivary gland secretions to create a type of “toxic goo.” When an enemy takes a bite, the explosive backpack ruptures, covering nearby foes in a deadly, paralyzing venom that also kills the worker in the process.  Fucking suicide bomber termites.  [via]  [actual video of this]
  • Journalism sentence of the week:

    “Every now and again Isis disengages Deen’s cruller so that the camera can get a load of Proxy’s keister, which footage you should track down if you happen to adore the sight of a yawning, defanged lamprey with strep throat.”

    [via GQ: “The Well-Hung Boy Next Door,” a lengthy profile of male adult actor James Deen.  The article is a masterpiece of euphemism, and also almost entirely gratuitous.

  • Any human friendship  can be sundered.

Things I learned 2012-06

  1. ojeriza – a characteristic of the dog Fila Brasilerio, which roughly translates to xenophobia, or a deep dislike of strangers. Is often controversially selected for in that breed. [via]
  2. MOLLE – a system of webbing sewn into most modern military gear for modular attachment [via]
  3. Meanwhile, the Marines had their own system designed by outdoor outfitter Arc’teryx
  4. “The skunk’s scent glands have evolved into structures that look like swollen nipples, each able to swivel independently of the other to take perfect aim, and to perfectly calibrated effect”. [via]
  5. sinecure – n. well-paying job requiring little work. [via book Ghostwritten]
  6. Forget Battle Royale, Hunger Games is inspired by the legend of the Minotaur:

    “After his son was assassinated in Athens, King Minos ordered the Cretan fleet to set sail for Athens. Minos asked Aegeus for his son’s assassins, and if they were to be handed to him, the town would be spared. However, not knowing who the assassins were, King Aegeus surrendered the whole town to Minos’ mercy. His retribution was that, at the end of every Great Year (seven solar years), the seven most courageous youths and the seven most beautiful maidens were to board a boat and be sent as tribute to Crete, never to be seen again.”


  7. From the what-not-to-do-during-patent-litigation archives:

    The Cadence group Quickturn was also involved in an unusual series of legal events with Mentor Graphics/Aptix. Mentor purchased rights to an Aptix patent, then sued Cadence. In this case, the CEO of Aptix, Amr Mohsen, forged a notebook in order to make the patent case stronger. When suspicions were raised, he staged a break-in of his own car to get rid of the evidence, resulting in charges of obstruction of justice. Trying to avoid this, he attempted to flee the country, only to be caught with an illegal passport and a pile of cash. While in jail for this offense, he was recorded offering money to intimidate witnesses and kill the judge.[9] In order to fight these charges, he tried to show psychological problems, but left a trail of evidence of his research into this defense, and how it might be done. He was charged with attempting to delay a federal trial by feigning incompetency, but was convicted anyway. According to the lawyers concerned, the original notebooks were not needed for the trial. The patent filing date, which was not in dispute, would have sufficed.

    [via saisai]

  8. The Nickeldeon 90s stars, including Pete from Pete & Pete, Ferguson from Clarissa explaisn it all, and the kid in Salute Your Shorts have grown up and live in Brooklyn now, and they somehow agreed to be cast in some cheesy music video starring Marc Summers from Double Dare. [via]
  9. The old TWA terminal at JFK airport is being preserved historically and may one day e adapted for use as a hotel. [via]

Things I Learned 2011-09

  • Wikipedia article complexity comparison of the month: Worm vs Computer worm vs Sandworm (Dune)
  • The “Six Sigma” process was invited at Motorola. [source]
  • deipnosophist – a person who is an adept conversationalist at table. [via M. Park]
  • cloaca – the posterior opening that serves as the only such opening for the intestinal, reproductive, and urinary tracts of certain animal species, such as birds, reptiles, amphibians.  (Contrast: mammals have separate orifices for each process…) [source]
  • dyadic – two individuals (as husband and wife) maintaining a sociologically significant relationship.  [source: “If the data type of both operands of a dyadic arithmetic operator is exact numeric, then the data type of the result is exact numeric, with precision and scale determined as follows…”]
  • “vigorish”  is the longform of “vig” [source]
  • Adventures in Over-Writing on Wikipedia #1: “Before starting a verse, Wallace sometimes used onomatopoeic vocables to “warm up” (for example “uhhh” at the beginning of “Hypnotize” and “Big Poppa” and “whaat” after certain rhymes in songs such as “My Downfall”). – On Notorious B.I.G.
  • Adventures in Over-Writing on Wikipedia #2: “Although this might have just been dirty talk, a similar continuity error exists regarding the rank of Mack Gerhardt. In the season 1 episode ‘True Believers his wife says to him ‘come here Sergeant Major, and give me a report,’ but his rank is later established as Master Sergeant.”  – On The Unit
  • Orange in carrots is a completely human-bred trait from around 1700s. They used to be white, yellow, red, purple, etc. [source]
  • Ira Glass, host of This American Life, and Philip Glass, the composer, are cousins.

Things I Learned 2011-04 to 2011-08

Whoops, here’s a mega catch up post.
  • nurdle – a small amount of toothpaste akin to what consumers would use brushing their teeth [source]
  • Wikipedia article of the month: Calculator Spelling
  • Tongue eating louse is a parasite that attaches itself to a host fish’s tongue, causing it to atrophy, and eventually functions as a tongue replacement for the fish.   [unlikely source] [do not miss the photos]
  • pogrom (Russian: погром) is a form of violent riot, a mob attack, either approved or condoned by government or military authorities, directed against a particular group, whether ethnic, religious, or other, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres.   [Source: “Initially intended to express anger at the draft, the protests turned ugly and degraded into ‘a virtual racial pogrom, with uncounted numbers of blacks murdered on the streets’. “]
  • bricoleur –  visual art “jack of all trades”  [source]
  • No-break hyphen. Like the no-break space, this looks like a hyphen but isn’t treated as one; in Word, it’s accessed via Ctrl-Shift-“-“. Other useful dash characters are accessed in Word by holding down Alt and typing 0150 or 0151 on the numeric keypad; these dashes are longer than the usual “-” character.  [source]
  • tumescence – engorgement [source]
  • Founder of Zogsports had a close call on 9/11 [source]
  • Six Sigma was invited at Motorola

Things I Learned 2011-03

Things I Learned: 2011-02

In which I failed.

  • littoral – adj. pertaining to the shore area [source]
  • The following directors have never won a Oscar for Best Director: Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Sidney Lumet, Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick, Spike Lee. [source]
  • chundering – n. UK slang for vomiting [source]
  • The Green Bay Packers are a non-profit, community owner organization– the only one in American pro sports. [source] [more info]
  • Wikipedia article of the month: Toilet paper orientation.  Complete with 127 footnotes.
  • President Lincoln suffered from clinical depression for most of his adult life, and it was widely known to his contemporaries.  Sad Abe day? [source]

Things I Learned 2011-01

I like putting the via’s because it shows how new knowledge is everywhere if you just goddamn pay attention to what you do not know.
  • The kiwifruit used to be known as the Chinese gooseberry, until an international importer got their mitts on it. [via]
  • roustabout – n. a labourer typically performing temporary, unskilled work. The term has traditionally been used to refer to traveling-circus workers or oil rig workers. [via]
  • Aztec priests used to choose a man to represent one of their gods, Tezcatlipoca. The man would be worshiped as a god for a year, wearing expensive jewellery and having eight attendants. He would marry four young women, and spent his last week singing, feasting and dancing.  But at a preordained date during on a festival, he climbed the stairs to the top of the temple on his own where the priests seized him and sacrificed him, his body being eaten later.  Immediately after he died a new victim for the next year’s ceremony was chosen. [via]
  • Possums are formally known as opossums.  Oh, and they involuntarily excrete a foul-smelling liquid from their anal glands when they play dead.  Convincing bastards.  [via]
  • Patent of the month: Garment Device Convertible to One or More Facemasks [via]

Things I Learned: 2010-12

Sorry for the post-facto posto.   I might be losing the heart to keep doing this crap.
  • Korean chopsticks were made of silver initially to discourage assassination, as silver may tarnish in contact with poison in food.  [wikipedia]
  • Adventures in laughably inadequate Wikipedia entries:  “Etiquette in Asia”
  • skeuomorph – a derivative object which retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original. e.g. such as copper cladding on zinc pennies or computer printed postage with circular town name and cancellation lines.
  • Writer Jonathan Safran Foer  was originally studying pre-med at Princeton.  On a whim, he took a creative writing workshop.  His instructor, Joyce Carol Oates, was so impressed, she wrote a letter to his parents telling them he was literary gifted.  [source]
  • emetophobia – an intense, irrational fear or anxiety pertaining to vomiting [wikipedia]
  • Former starlet Denise Richards is emetophobic.  [source]
  • kummerspeck – German phrase for “weight put upon by emotional eating”. Literally translates to: “grief bacon”.   [source: Laci]
  • Rupert Murdoch has an Asian wife that has a very upwardly mobile history of marrying white men. [says: nymag, vanity fair, and telegraph]

Things I Learned 2010-10

  • philatelies – n. the collection and study of postage and imprinted stamps, stamp collecting [page 125, Lush Life by Richard Price]
  • giving dap – n.  a form of handshake and friendly gesture that has recently become popular in western cultures, i.e. a fist bump  [page ?, Id.] [more info]
  • Gargling with salt water does indeed mitigate cold symptoms, settling a decade-long argument with my mother [source: NY Times]
  • bottled out – v. slang, UK.  to lose courage [source]
  • reliquary – n. a container or shrine in which sacred relics are kept [source]
  • perspicacious –  adj. having keen mental perception and understanding; discerning: to exhibit perspicacious judgment.  [source: someone at a bar, yes wtf]
  • In NYC, cars must be parked at least fifteen (15) feet from a fire hydrant. [the goddamn hard way] [src: official]
  • appellation – n. a name, title, or designation.
  • Rabelaisian – adj. “to be totally outrageous, raunchy, crude in every way, absolutely stubborn in matters of truth, relentless against hypocrisy, and against all forms of popular opinion; but, also, in a more profound way, it means AXIOM BUSTING.” [encountered] [source]
  • chinoiserie – adj. a French term, signifying “Chinese-esque”, refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences.
    [encountered] [source]
  • I hate everything “chinoiserie”.

Things I Learned 2010-09

  • The classic bedbug strain that all newly caught bugs are compared against is a colony originally from Fort Dix, N.J., that a researcher kept alive for 30 years by letting it feed on him. [source]
  • In the UK, a “Victor Mildrew” is term for an archetypal grumpy old man. [source]
  • “The Room”, a 2003 indie film, is the Citizen Kane of bad movies.   No, really.  [sample 1, sample 2] [how I learned it]
  • Despite what everyone else believes, Treasury Secretary Geitner never worked at Goldman Sachs, or any investment bank, or any private bank, for that matter.  [source]
  • Bosu balls, those half balance ball/ half platform  apparatuses at the gym, are bullshit. [source]
  • Also bullshit:  Myers-Briggs Personality Test, created by two non-scientists, a mother-daughter team., a mother-daughter team. [source]
  • The protagonist of the film “Rules of Attraction”, Sean Bateman (played by James Van Der Beek) is brothers with the main character from “American Psycho”, Patrick Bateman.  Both are based on books by Easton Ellis. [source]
  • The fish became a Christian symbol largely because the Greek word for it, ichthos, is an acronym for iesous christos theou ouios soter, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour”. [source]
  • abattoir – n. a slaughterhouse.

Things I Learned 2010-08

  • A “Fata Morgana” is an unusual and very complex form of mirage. [source: a google map without the map]
  • How angler fish reproduce: Step 1) small male angler fish nibbles at much larger female.  Step 2) biting releases enzyme in female which dissolves the male’s lips and eventual entire body, resulting in male being fused to the female;  Step 3) nothing remain but a pair of gonads, which release sperm in reaction to hormones from the female. Wow. [source: very excellent comic illustrating the same.]
  • The Incans ruled their vast empire entirely without the use of a written language. Instead, they are believed to have used a system of knotted quilts called Quipus. [source]
  • Why Washington Post Company isn’t in deep shit like the other newspapers: they own Kaplan Test Prep, i.e. golden magical cash cow. [source]
  • It is extremely rare to see any Chinese man wearing a green hat because the Chinese term for “cuckold” is literally translated to “wearing a green hat” (戴綠帽, dài lǜ mào). [source]  Sometimes it is better if you do not ask how I get here.
  • Because of the extreme risks, Apollo program astronauts were uninsurable. So to provide for their families in case of death, they autographed postcards known as “insurance covers” whose value would go up if they died. [source]
  • This weeks’ Adventure in Wikipedia: an article about something you had no idea about, but could have been involved with anyway: Handkerchief code.
  • adenoidal – exhibiting the characteristics (as snoring, mouth breathing, and voice nasality) of one affected with abnormally enlarged adenoids [source]