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100 quirky things we didn't know last year
January 3, 2011 8:52 AM   Subscribe

100 quirky things we didn't know last year, such as that pea plants can grow inside a human lung, mafia members unwisely use Facebook and swans occasionally get divorced.
posted by philipy (38 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
You can assault someone without touching them.

Who the fuck didn't know that?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:10 AM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


People really don't know how to pronounce Van Gogh? Do they think there's lead in a lead pencil?
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:11 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Police say the man - one of the country's 100 most-wanted suspects - was responsible for the 2004 murder of a member of a rival clan, who was killed with a portable rocket launcher.
Portable rocket launcher. Say what you want about the mob, but they got style.
posted by dabitch at 9:12 AM on January 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


American and British sign language is different.

Some of these are clearly padding.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:16 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Number 53 is meant as sarcasm.
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:19 AM on January 3, 2011


yeah..this is more of a things-the-writers-didn't-know-last-year than anything else. to be fair some of the list is cool, and interesting, but overall it's a mediocre best-of-year list.
posted by edgeways at 9:21 AM on January 3, 2011


Insectariums? People sleep on average just over 8 hours a day? Lots of people only clean house on weekends? Some of these are really boring and not even vaguely quirky.

I will, however, have nightmares about plants growing in my lungs now.
posted by jeather at 9:22 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


100 quirky things we didn't know last year:
11. Face blindness - difficulty in remembering faces - is called prosopagnosia.

Charcot and the gang must be bugging OUT.
posted by mooselini at 9:42 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


So 19, a fave story of mine, turns out to be from Feb 2009, so 'last year' is a bit of stretch.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:43 AM on January 3, 2011


People really don't know how to pronounce Van Gogh?

Well, I've never heard it pronounced as Fun Cock.
posted by dobbs at 9:47 AM on January 3, 2011


1. The G-spot nearly came to be known as the Whipple Tickle.

And thenceforth it shall be!
posted by cmoj at 9:49 AM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought something similar about "assault" shakespeherian; basically "oh how cute that the rest of the world has figured out that they're using the word incorrectly."
posted by jph at 9:53 AM on January 3, 2011


Well, I didn't know Donald Trump's hair was real.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:55 AM on January 3, 2011


Squirrels can be black.

All the squirrels in the town down the road from where I grew up were black. It would have blown these people's MINDS.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:56 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This brings to mind a book review of Esquire editor A.J Jacobs' book The Know-It-All, subtitled One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World. The reviewer -- I think it was Joe Queenan -- opined that most of the stuff that Jacobs was expressing wonderment at learning was stuff that most reasonably well-educated people had grasped as teenagers. The reviewer concluded that Jacobs was at the end of the exercise not only not the smartest person in the world but not even the smartest person on the Esquire masthead.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:03 AM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


We have all-black and all-white squirrels in DC.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:23 AM on January 3, 2011


All the squirrels in the town down the road from where I grew up were black. It would have blown these people's MINDS.

A few months ago I was visiting the SO's college friends out near Buffalo. I came across a black squirrel and stopped, slack-jawed and terrified. I've spent a pretty significant chunk of my life outdoors—camping and whatnot—and I'd never even considered the possibility that such a thing could exist. The notion had never even entered my head. There was no “Wow, wouldn't it be totally weird if there could be such a thing as a black squirrel” moment.

So yeah, unless you're from a place where these things are common, it can be pretty mind-blowing to witness a creature whose existence you'd never even imagined.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:24 AM on January 3, 2011


"oh how cute that the rest of the world has figured out that they're using the word incorrectly."

I mean that's why you can say 'Assault and battery,' right? If they were the same thing you wouldn't say that.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:25 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


ricochet biscuit, Queenan's put-down was even more cutting than that: He said that Jacobs would not even be the smartest person at Entertainment Weekly. I'll never forget how satisfyingly cruel and widely-applicable that review was.
posted by pineappleheart at 10:30 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The review mentioned by ricochet biscuit. Some exerpts:

"The animating idea of this misguided endeavor is that corralling a vast array of unrelated facts will, in and of itself, make a person more interesting. This is idiotic. Facts absorbed without context merely magnify the intellectual deficiencies of the autodidact, because a poorly educated person does not know which facts are important."

"Deluded into believing that his enterprise has made him smarter, Jacobs constantly seeks to bedazzle the reader with his latest shocking discoveries, unaware that things he perceives as riveting arcana are common knowledge in many quarters"

"Far from becoming the smartest man in the world, Jacobs, at the end of his foolish enterprise, wouldn't even be the smartest person at Entertainment Weekly. Not even the great Flaubert could devise a condemnation harsher than that."
posted by James Scott-Brown at 10:50 AM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I mean that's why you can say 'Assault and battery,' right? If they were the same thing you wouldn't say that.

Now is an opportunity to shed some fun trivia: after the Norman Conquest, Norman French became the official language of the law. Seeking maximum clarity after the switch, court clerks often used both the Anglo-Saxon and Norman words for the same terms of art, thus creating such apparent redundancies as "breaking and entering," "null and void," "will and testament," and "cease and desist."
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:59 AM on January 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


And Jacobs's response.
posted by paduasoy at 11:04 AM on January 3, 2011


Wow. Queenan sure won that one.
posted by pineappleheart at 11:08 AM on January 3, 2011


I'm not an urban explorer, but I know Steve and he's really a nice guy. I think maybe he was hamming it up a little for the camera, but he's really genuinely interested in this stuff. I think some of the snark in this thread is a little unfair. If you have a real passion about something, why not share it? If people might buy them and enjoy them, and you might have more time to pursue your interest, why not have photos available for sale? I guess it's not my underground thing that I want to keep secret, but as far as I'm concerned, more power to him.
posted by snofoam at 11:49 AM on January 3, 2011


Obviously, last year I didn't know that I could have two threads open at the same time and then comment in the wrong one.
posted by snofoam at 11:56 AM on January 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Once again: I refuse to read articles that tell me what I do and do not know. I strongly recommend everyone else does the same.

Seriously, is this just me? Does no one else get how profoundly fucking rude it is for some suppurating twuntrag of a writer - or sub-editor - to presume to tell me what I know? Isn't anyone else aneurysm-inducingly outraged by such loutish impertinence? Really? Just me?

Oh well, fair enough. Carry on.
posted by Decani at 1:44 PM on January 3, 2011


3. Animal heaven is called Rainbow Bridge.

What? No, that's where your pets wait for you in heaven! Way to miss the point of the whole glurgy thing.

I went into it expecting the list to be terrible, but this list is terrible.
posted by mendel at 2:30 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Once again: I refuse to read articles that tell me what I do and do not know.

Why would you think the "we" in "things we didn't know last year" would include anyone but the writers of the article? Surely the only sensible interpretation of the headline is something like "Here's some stuff we learned this year...did you know...?"
posted by straight at 2:31 PM on January 3, 2011


What? No, that's where your pets wait for you in heaven!

I've always wondered about the whole Rainbow Bridge and pets thing. I mean, do the pets all die (again) when the bridge breaks during Ragnarok? Or are they going to swarm over the lands of men with the forces of Muspell, in retaliation for their enslavement? Or what?
posted by Justinian at 3:16 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Many people thought Queenan was cruel for that review. I didn't. If Jacob had simply written a stupid book I could have refused to read it. However, Jacob did not simply write the book: for a year prior to its publication, he appeared on "Weekend Edition" to chart his progress and progressively drive me out of my mind. It was that prolonged torture that caused me to feel Jacob deserved his fate.

So when I say I did not click the link and read, do not scorn me. I have done the right thing.
posted by acrasis at 4:11 PM on January 3, 2011


The pea thing and the mafia facebook thing both have doubles farther down the list. I didn't check to see how many more there were.
posted by wayland at 5:35 PM on January 3, 2011


I thought the bit about St. Helena was pretty interesting. I had no idea people still lived there post-Napoleon! I'm clearly not the smartest person on MetaFilter.
posted by sonika at 6:00 PM on January 3, 2011


51. Wonder Woman was originally an Amazon.

What? Had they also not heard of Wonder Woman before last year? Where did they think she came from?
posted by crossoverman at 1:11 AM on January 4, 2011


i wanna play with gorillas. also, the 1948 Olympics let me to this pic which am pretty sure has my father running in it for the Puerto Rican Olympic delegation.
posted by liza at 6:50 AM on January 4, 2011


Where did they think she came from?

Wonderland? IDK.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:23 AM on January 4, 2011


101. The BBC has a new intern that they need to keep busy.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:37 PM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why would you think the "we" in "things we didn't know last year" would include anyone but the writers of the article? Surely the only sensible interpretation of the headline is something like "Here's some stuff we learned this year...did you know...?"
posted by straight at 10:31 PM on January 3


No, actually. I make the assumption that writers of articles for public consumption are addressing that public in an inclusive, matey way when they say "we". I'm frankly astonished to learn that you think they're referring solely to themselves.
posted by Decani at 12:32 PM on January 5, 2011


I would guess that "we" refers to "we, the general public" or "we, the audience for this website, as represented by us the writers who mostly identify with our readers".

But it's pretty hard to know what the general public does or doesn't know, and there's no reason for any of us to think that what we personally know or don't know is representative.

All that is probably beside the point though, as I daresay the subtext in the snarky responses is "look how clever I am, compared to those stupid people".

Consider the title of the post re-written to:

"100 things, possibly quirky, some of which some of us possibly didn't know last year, and might find interesting."

Which might well also describe the list of Mefi FPPs on any given day.
posted by philipy at 7:19 AM on January 6, 2011


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