30th December 2020
Okay I have no idea what to talk about, call it writer’s block if you will.
I could run through the derisory dregs that today has been, but why would anyone be interested in the fact someone stayed in bed all day watching a computer?
I could go on about what I encountered on my trip to Lidl, a tense safari into the anthropological phenomenon that is grocery shopping and capitalism.
I could moan about the past and the future, both as elegantly clouded as the inland sea of Japan on August 6th, 1945.
I could fire off reports gleaned from today’s headlines, though likely we would all have doomscrolled through that already, and seen the proclamations on social media.
I could decry social media and screentime, like the grumpy old fart I am become.
Perhaps I should have a spinny thingy, to pick my subject each day. Just 2020 has turned too repetitive. Might instead be time for pizza.
For the new year that beckons, I will choose to finish on a high note (okay, not too high we don’t wanna be Disney about it all), plus some random shit. I mean, wtf is there to this world?
…So to start:
- Your cat can run faster than Usain Bolt (who runs at 34ft/ 10.3m a second) -30 mph versus 27.8 mph. Bear that in mind next time Mr Tiggles goes for the kitty bowl. Put it 100m away and time the little fucker if he gets it in 10 seconds.
2. -But humans can jump further than horses -8.95m versus 6.1m. Yes, Mike Powell (US) jumped nearly 30 ft. The triple jump record is 18.3m or 60ft by Jonathan Edwards (UK).
3. Cats are lactose intolerant, kittens aren’t
4. In 1919 the Toffee Apple Tsunami killed 21 and injured 150 when a 25ft wave of molasses washed away a Boston district. Yes, people drowned in treacle (told you it’d get dark). Thousands of Bostonians came to inspect the damage, walking bizarre through coated city blocks, then took their gooey footprints across the city. It was said you could work out everyone’s goings on.
5. An anaconda can be 90cm thick
6. The Titanoboa from prehistoric Colombia (of the Thankfuckitsgonic era), was twice as long -at 65ft. The one below’s eating a crocodile/ dinosaur.
7. When Tangled was released in 2010 it was the world’s second most expensive film (after Pirates of the Caribbean: World’s End), at $260 million. It cost more than Titanic, or Avatar.
8. Tianjin West is the second largest train station in Tianjin
9. If the sun was a football, the Earth would be 2mm speck -25 metres/ 82 feet away (look at the image below then scroll left for the length of a skyscraper to see the sun). As for the moon, it would take a commercial jetliner cruising at 450mph 5 weeks nonstop to reach it. Or half a swipe:
10. The Earth once had three moons, though not at the same time. Two crashed into each other to form the one we see today, which is why the side that faces us is smooth as a baby’s arse (plains known as ‘marias‘), and the ‘dark’ side -or the side that always faces away from us (as it has days and nights as per norm) is craggy and 1.2 miles higher.
11. The other ‘moon’ was a planet about the size of Mars, named Theia, that crashed into Earth 4.5 billion years ago wiping out any life. It turned everything into molten lava for 100 million years as debris slowly crashed back -one of which never did and gave us the moon we see today. This little ball spinning round us keeps us in check, the perfect size to keep our orbit in the ‘Goldilocks zone’ -not too hot, not too cold -for complex life to evolve. Lose the Moon and we’ll freeze to death every winter and ignite every summer.
12. Crocodiles aren’t dinosaurs, but they predate most of them by over 100 million years.
13. Frankenstein’s monster was a vegan: “My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment.” This is why he is sad.
14. The worst fireworks accident killed 300 (and some say as high as 800). It happened during the 1770 marriage of Marie Antoinette to Louis XIV, and deemed presciently unlucky.
15. On 2nd March 1657, a kimono inherited by three teenage girls -each haunted by a ‘beautiful shadow’ and dying shortly after (the original made by a courtesan copying the designs on a handsome visitor) was burned in exorcism. Midway through a sudden wind flared, setting light to 70% of Tokyo and destroying 500 temples, shrines, and palaces and 3,000 shops -killing 100,000. It was dubbed the Long Sleeves Fire.
16. The first modern warfare was in 1274 when the Mongols invaded Japan, employing Chinese gunpowder weapons: bombs, mines, grenades, flamethrowers and ‘fire lances’ (prototypes to the first guns), plus mechanised crossbows and Korean hwacha that fired 200 arrows at a time. Armed with Chinese armadas, Korean turtle ships and Mongol galleons they set sail with 900 ships, decorating them with the crucified bodies of courtier women. However a typhoon blew in after the first island, and their fleet was dashed.
17. In 1281 the Mongols tried again with a whopping 4,300 ships and 140,000 troops. They were beaten back with a new coastline wall and small attacks in which Japanese marauders would board vessels in the dead of night and leave with all their heads. -A second typhoon blew in a few days after the Emperor held a ceremony to swap his life for the nation’s, the storm creating the world’s largest underwater graveyeard -it would forever be known as the ‘divine wind’ aka kamikaze.
18. The temperature record for the UK -the same latitude as northern Canada or Siberia -is higher than Singapore’s (90 miles from the Equator).
19. Avocado means testicle in Aztec. Guacamole mean’s testicle sauce.
20. Before WWI children could be mailed. This annoyed the postmen.
21. The world’s tallest child for his age is Karan Singh at 6ft 6 (2 metres). He’s 8 years old.
Though no brainer as to why. Dad is 6ft 8 and mum 7 ft 2.
22. The biggest goldfish caught was 38lbs and may have been a century old, released into a US lake 😦
23. The record for an animal living without its head was Miracle Mike, a chicken that survived for one and a half years. He was fed with a pipette and would wander about attempting to cluck, peck at things and crow -producing a gurgling sound instead. At 25c a ticket he was soon earning his owner the equivalent of $50,000 a month. Mike finally died in a Vegas hotel room in 1947, after choking on a kernel of sweetcorn dropped down his neck.
24. During the filming of The Mummy (1999), Brendan Fraser nearly died during a hanging scene. Rachel Weisz said he stopped moving and breathing and had to be resuscitated.
25. Prepping for Bridget Jones’s Diary Renee Zellwegger gained several pounds and went undercover to work in a London publishing office for a month. No one recognised her and found it odd she had a framed photo of Jim Carrey on her desk -her real time boyfriend.
26. The clock on top of the Abraj al Bait in Meccah (the world’s third tallest building, and biggest skscraper) is as tall as St Stephen’s Tower aka Big Ben.
27. The world’s largest organism is a forest of Quaking Aspen in Utah, USA. Their interconnected root system makes it a single organism -called Pando, who has survived in one form or other for 14,000 years, with some estimates as high as a million. Note how all the trees are the same height:
28. Another competitor is a honey fungus colony in Oregon, believed to be 2,400 years old and weighing 605 tons. Mostly underground it covers nearly 9 sq km.
29. The oldest animal in the world was an Ocean Quahog, who was born in 1499, was 502 years old and named Ming, after the Chinese Dynasty at that time. Caught in Iceland they worked out how old it was from -similar to a tree -counting the rings in its shell. They did this by cutting it in half 😦
30. In 2016 they caught something older. A Greenland Shark measured at 512 years old, by carbon dating crystals in her eyes. Noone is sure how these zombie fish (bigger than Great Whites) catch anything at all, being supremely slow and spooky. They’re all infected with an eye parasite making them blind too -it’s thought they sneak up on sleeping seals. Our record breaker was killed as bycatch -byword for the billions needlessly killed when dredging for certain species, e.g. prawns. She, along with 28 others, was one of them 😦
31. This creosote bush in the Mojave desert in the US is believed to be 11,700 years old -multiple times older than any Giant Seqouia or bristlecone pine. It only grows at a few cm a year, in a ring that incrementally gets wider.
32. Humans have 21 confirmed senses, and 33 debatable ones. They include balance, pain, awareness of one’s body, temperature, hunger, thirst, vomiting, itching, acceleration and air pressure. The questionable ones include telepathy and the ability to find chocolate.
33. The world record for burpees was set by Stephanie Tennessen, at 716 in an hour. The previous record was also by a woman, at 709. Other records set by women over men are in the ultra marathon: Lizzy Hawker from the UK ran 320km through the Himalayas -from Everest Base Camp -and broke the record twice. Also free diving -Tanya Streeter from the US, diving to 160m/ 525ft, and Şahika Ercümen from Turkey, who hit 122m/ 400ft in the variable weight category.
34. Humans give off a tiny amount of visible light. We glow -though it’s mostly invisible to us.
35. By 2100 Lagos, Kinshasa or Dar Es Salaam will be the world’s largest singular cities, each nearing 80-90 million. Kabul and Niamey will have ballooned to over 50 million. The small country of Malawi will have its sleepy cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre (pictured below) each over 40 million.
36. London normally averages less rainfall than Tel Aviv, Melbourne and Mexico City. It has half the rainfall of NYC, and in summer the grass dies en masse. Every 20 years the city undergoes a 10 year drought (summat to do with the Gulf Flow) where technically it falls into semi-arid territory. It’s also hardly every foggy (which was a 19th and early 20th century thang, and was really killer smog).
But it is overcast, about 13 months of the year. Whenever the sun does come out UFO reports roll in and small children cry and run away.
Bonus – Wanda Marie Johnson was born on 15th of June 1953, eldest sister of two sisters and one brother. Wanda Marie Johnson was also born on 15th of June 1953, eldest sister of two sisters and one brother.
Both of the Wandas were former residents of the District of Columbia before moving to Prince Georges County in 1975, where they both became mothers of two children, attended to at the Howard Clinic and born at the Howard University Hospital.
They both owned 1977 two door Ford Grenadas – the eleven digit serial numbers of which were identical other than the last three. Their Social Security numbers had the same first four digits, and the following two, although transposed, were the same. They only discovered each other after a catalogue of mix ups at the hospital, paying bills, getting calls from strangers and the motor dept insisting one of them wear her nonexistent glasses for driving. They also resembled each other, though one outgoing, the other shy.
Okay, now you see what I’ve been doing with my time. Welcome to my world; I might as well be clickbait.
Tomorrow, New Year’s Eve.
To finish off, some random pics of Honduran White bats. Enjoy.