Monday, February 8, 2010

The Book of Totally Useless Information

The Book of Totally Useless Information
by Don Voorhees

http://www.geoclan.com/arts/bookshelf/images/UselessInfoSmall.jpg

Just by its name, one would expect this is a dull book talking about very trivial matters. If you look at the book cover, you will be convinced that it is so, because the design of the book cover is very plain and dull. It must be a useless book.

Surprisingly, it is a fun book to read. There are many questions people ask but unable to get a satisfactory answer. However, as the questions are trivial, no one bothers to go at great length to find out. As a result, there are many urban myths leading to people believing in the wrong reasons, or letting many misunderstandings have their roots buried deep in people's mind. But what the hell. These are unimportant matters anyway and the information is useless even if known. Luckily, we still have Don Voorhees doing useless researches to get to the bottom and let us have the answers to these trivial questions. As such, the answers are short, usually last only one page, making the book very easy and interesting to read.

There are hundreds of answers and I can only quote four as some short reading notes.

Is it dangerous to go swimming after eating?
The conventional wisdom of digesting food taking blood from the muscle to the stomach, causing cramping and possibly drowning, is not true. The danger of cramping comes from cold water and fatigue. Eating increases blood sugar level and decreases fatigue, and also help keep the body warm. A little food can keep the swimmer safe. Just do not gorge yourself, as always.

Is it illegal to kill a praying mantis?
Kids are taught at very early age that killing a praying mantis is an offense subject to a fine of a few hundred dollars. In fact, praying mantis is not protected by law. Some well-intentioned people would preach not to kill a praying mantis because it is a beneficial insect. The truth is that the mantis is praying to kill. The posture is a prepared attack to other insects, whether good or bad. It is a ferocious insect which kills everything in its way. The female even kills the male while mating.

Why is a score of zero in tennis called love?

The word has nothing to do with the affection to the losing tennis players. It is a distortion of the French word oeuf, which means egg, representing zero.

Why do we say god bless you after a sneeze?
People do not need blessing after a sneeze. That is no such custom for cough and hiccup. In ancient times, there was a superstition that the soul would leave the body at sneezing and the evil spirit would take the chance to enter. During the Dark Ages, it was believed that the heart would stop momentarily when one sneezed. He was dead for an instance and had to be blessed. Sneezing is the response of the body to irritation to the nasal passage, causing the lungs to compress a sudden blast of air. This blast will cause mucus-laden air to spread to the surrounding, together with viruses. Those who are next to the sneezer should need the blessing instead.

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