Sunday, November 1, 2009


It takes 30 bone and joint movements and 50 muscles to manipulate chopsticks, a factor some Chinese insist is behind their success at table tennis - the Chinese have used chopsticks when eating for 30 centuries

Starving children in Angola have discovered that sucking on a rag soaked in gasoline can quell hunger pangs for hours at a time - children routinely dash between cars, competing to mop up spilled gas near filling stations

Things to throw at weddings:
African-American: Black-eyed peas
Nepal: Lava (a type of popcorn roasted over a mild flame)
Morocco: A mix of dried grapes, dates and figs
Serbia: Local candies
Other American: White rice

Due to scientific intervention, modern dairy cows produce 10 times more milk than their bodies are intended to (to burn the amount of energy a modern cow expends lactating, you would have to jog non-stop for six hours a day) - newer interventions have produced cows that deliver semi-skimmed milk right from her udder

Children in Brazil, Peru, Bolivia and Uruguay have 6.5 cavities before they reach age 12, the worst rate of child tooth decay in the world

If a woman had the exact proportions of a typical clothes mannequin she would be unable to menstruate

The reason male mannequins do not have genitalia, according to manufacturers, is that clothes do not "hang well" when life-like genitalia are added

Pubic wigs, also known as "night flowers," are sold in Japan as fluffy clumps of recycled hair to be worn on the pubis of schoolgirls and young brides ashamed of their relative lack of pubic hair (no similar product is sold for boys)

Leading health risk for dogs and cats in the U.S.: Obesity (over 50 million dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight and at-risk for diabetes, liver disease, and other illnesses)

To perform rhinoplasty, or a "nose-job," surgeons slit open the nose, put a chisel against the bone, and break it with a small hammer, afterward molding the bones back together by hand until the nose attains the desired new shape

90% of mouth cancer is caused by tobacco use

Beer is made, in part, by fermentation caused by bacteria feeding on yeast cells then defecating

Eating burns 72 calories an hour; sleeping consumes about 50 calories an hour

1 in 14 American women is a natural blond, while 1 in 16 American men are naturally blond

Number of turkeys raised in the U.S. last year to be sold commercially: 272 million (the turkey industry is worth approximately $3 billion annually; to meet the increased demand for turkey for the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving, an additional $10 million worth of turkeys are imported from Canada each year)

Your bladder can hold between 350ml and 550ml of urine - at around 250ml, you will feel the need to urinate - childbirth, disease, age, or a weak bladder wall can cause some to leak urine - 5-10% of the world's population are affected by this condition, known as incontinence

Two-thirds of turkeys sold in the U.S. come from 6 states: Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia (Americans consume an average of 13 pounds of turkey a year)

At the time of the U.S. Revolutionary War, Philadelphia was the second-largest English speaking city in the world, surpassed only by London

Despite being nominated five times, Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace Prize and only made the short-list of candidates twice - after Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, the Nobel Committee announced that no peace prize would be awarded that year since "there was no suitable living candidate"

Guinness beer is not black, but is a very dark shade of ruby

Most death penalty executions in the United States are carried out one minute past midnight

The average North American gray squirrel lives about 9 years

3000 out of 3001 calico cats is born female

Your body has 40 miles of nerves

In the U.S., more money is spent annually on cigarettes and alcohol than on life insurance by a ratio of 20:1

A "micro-nation" is a country that is not recognized by any other as a sovereign - one example of the literally thousands that exist is the Principality of Sealand, located on an ocean platform off the coast of England, which has its own currency, flag, postage stamps, and issues its own passports but has argued in court for independence (and lost) more than a dozen times (other terms for micro-nations include Model Country and New Country Project)

The average paper currency note in the United States is meant to take up to 400 folds in each direction before it rips, and is made of 25% linen fibers

There are 191 officially recognized currencies worldwide

On average, 300,000 people starve to death each year - 50,000 are children under age 5

In developed nations the median age is 40 years, while in developing countries the median age ranges between 15 and 20 years

Major Languages (native and secondary speakers):
Mandarin Chinese: 1.12 billion
English: 500 million
Spanish: 325 million
Russian: 290 million
French: 270 million
Hindi/Urdu: 255 million
Arabic: 222 million

Percent of Americans over age 20 that are considered obese: 32% (66.5% of the American population over age 20 is considered overweight)

Maggots were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a "live medical device" - placed on serious wounds, maggots eat bacteria and dead tissue, stimulating healing and helping to prevent infection

82% of U.S. households speak English-only in the home

Most hungry people live in countries that have food surpluses rather than deficits - instead of growing food to feed local communities, industrial agriculture produces crops to sell on world markets (world crop production has tripled since 1950, but more people have died of hunger in each of the past twenty years)

At the dawn of agriculture, around 8000 BCE, world population was approximately 5 million - from 8000 BCE to 1 AD, population grew to about 200 million with an average growth rate of 0.5% a year - annual world population growth rate reached its peak in the 1960s when it was at 2% and currently the growth rate is 1.5% and steadily declining

In the forty year span between 1959 and 1999 world population doubled from 3 billion to 6 billion - United Nations reports project world population will stabilize at about 10 billion people after 2200

Males aged 25-29 die at a rate of 1 in 721 in the U.S. each year

Joseph Merlin of Belgium demonstrated his new invention, roller skating, at a masquerade party in London in 1760

What Keeps Us Pretty:
*Placenta: The uterus lining expelled during childbirth is called the placenta - products were aggressively marketed in the U.S. that contained placenta in the 1940s with claims of wrinkle-removal and initiating tissue growth for "younger-looking skin" - the U.S. Food and Drug Administration admits that placenta does contain high amounts of protein, but bans companies from making specific claims that placenta is more effective than other proteins in skin-care products - today, many skin creams continue to contain placenta

*Whale vomit: Otherwise known as ambergis, a flammable waxy substance that is used in perfumes and some beauty creams, whale vomit contains proteins that aid in keeping skin smooth

*Cow dung: Expected to hit store shelves in 2010, Japanese researchers have found a way to create sweet vanilla fragrance through special heating and pressure processes so that cow dung, which is inexpensive, can be used as a fragrance in shampoo, soap, and cosmetics

*Semen: Contains a very powerful antioxidant called spermine that is five-times more effective than Vitamin E for the healing process of human skin - a Scandanavian company makes an entire line of skin-care products that use spermine, while companies around the world use bull semen in shampoos to give hair extra strength and shine

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