Challenging what most of us assume to be verifiable truths in areas like history, literature, science, nature, and more,The Book of General Ignorance is a witty “gotcha” compendium of how little we actually know about anything. It’ll have you scratching your head wondering why we even bother to go to school.
Think Magellan was the first man to circumnavigate the globe, baseball was invented in America, Henry VIII had six wives, Mount Everest is the tallest mountain? Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong again. You’ll be surprised at how much you don’t know! Check out THE BOOK OF GENERAL IGNORANCE for more fun entries and complete answers to the following:
How long can a chicken live without its head?
About two years.
What do chameleons do?
They don’t change color to match the background. Never have; never will. Complete myth. Utter fabrication. Total Lie. They change color as a result of different emotional states.
How many legs does a centipede have?
Not a hundred.
How many toes has a two-toed sloth?
It’s either six or eight.
Who was the first American president?
What were George Washington’s false teeth made from?
What was James Bond’s favorite drink?
Not the vodka martini.
From the Hardcover edition.
Perhaps no other paranormal situation captures our imagination more than a haunted house. The idea of sharing a home with the dead is unsettling for the current inhabitants, but according to professor Hans Holzer, it can be equally as upsetting to the ghost. In The House Is Haunted, Holzer explores more than eighty haunted houses—all over the United States and abroad—dissects their history, and speculates on the reasons the otherworldly inhabitants continue to stay in their earthly abodes.
* HUMANS ARE THE ONLY ANIMALS THAT ENJOY SPICY FOOD (there’s a reason no one sells Tabasco-flavored cat food)
* NAPPING CAN SAVE YOU FROM A HEART ATTACK (assuming you are not operating heavy machinery at the time)
* PSYCHOLOGISTS CAN ASSESS YOUR PERSONALITY FROMHOW YOU DIP FRIES IN KETCHUP (nice fries, sociopath)
* SURFING THE INTERNET ACTUALLY MAKES YOU SMARTER (but not as smart as reading this book will)
Now the next time someone tells you smugly that Pluto isn’t a planet,you can counter with any one of these hundreds of weird facts and remain king or queen of the cocktail (or kegger) chatter.
As the Xerox Corporation's official webmaster, Bill McLain often fielded as many as 1,000 questions a day on just about everything under the sun -- and beyond. The wildest, funniest, and even most astute are collected here (along with their answers) in McLain's second volume that's as fascinating and enlightening as his first, Do Fish Drink Water? A "veritable Internet legend known for having all the answers" (San Francisco Chronicle), McLain explains what keeps squirrels from toppling off telephone wires; why the skin on your fingers and toes shrivels up in the water; how seedless watermelons are created; and more. Whether it's animal, vegetable, mineral, or something completely different, the answer is bound to be as interesting as the question itself, and certain to satisfy the trivia hound in everyone.
Questions about matters great and small, from ancient times to yesterday.
Illustrated with illuminating technical drawings and unusual vintage photographs.
How did they spend $40 million making Heaven's Gate?
How did they decide the length of a mile?
How did Beethoven compose when he was deaf?
How did they discover the Hope diamond?
How did they know the size of the Earth over 1,700 years before anyone sailed around it?
How did they set the price of the Louisiana Purchase?
How did the FBI devise the "Ten Most Wanted" list?
How did they decide which horses were Thoroughbreds?
How did they pick the Four Hundred?
How did they start the Guiness Book of World Records?
How did the Indians decide that cows were sacred?
How did they discover penicillin?
How did they build the Great Pyramid at Giza?
How did they decide how tall to make the Empire State Building?
How did they know there was an El Dorado?
How did they start the Chicago fire of 1871?
How did Hannibal cross the Alps?
Creative, alternative, and esoteric philosophical concepts of existence.
How did the universe really begin? Can we fluidly access our subconscious and communicate with each other? Did the Egyptians build pyramids differently than previously conceived?
These questions, along with many more, are addressed in Mysteries of the Universe; J.C. Vintner's second volume of the Ancient Earth Mysteries series. Volume II: Philosophy covers selected topics examining ancient cultures and their philosophical influence on the world while touching upon mankind's position in the universe. Explore new avenues of thinking through the mind's eye, and find out how we can change our future for the better. Mysteries of the Universe provides food for new thought as compelling inspiration for understanding our quantum purpose in the cosmos.
The “stay-behind,” a term coined by professor Hans Holzer, is a ghost who is not prepared to move to the “other side,” but prefers to remain among loved ones and its former home. In Stay-Behinds, Holzer reveals some of the most famous cases of these beings, including the haunting of Rose Hall Plantation in Jamaica and the strange case of Mrs. C.’s late yet lively husband.
What is the difference between a kit and a caboodle?
Why don't people get goose bumps on their faces?
Where do houseflies go in the winter?
What causes that ringing sound in your ears?
Pop-culture guru David Feldman demystifies these topics and so much more in Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise? -- the unchallenged source of answers to civilization's most nagging questions. Part of the Imponderables® series and charmingly illustrated by Kassie Schwan, Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise? challenges readers with the knowledge about everyday life that encyclopedias, dictionaries, and almanacs just don't have. And think about it, where else are you going to get to the bottom of why hot dogs come ten to a package while hot dog buns come in eights?
In this groundbreaking book, Hans Holzer tracks down the most famous and infamous ghosts who lurk among national monuments, historical houses and mansions, and even museums. Holzer searches for true encounters with eminent politicians such as Alexander Hamilton and Woodrow Wilson; literary ghosts such as Robert Louis Stevenson; and Hollywood ghosts, including Jean Harlow. Each new encounter is more fascinating than the last, as Holzer investigates notable souls who have moved to the world beyond.
Okay, so maybe you know all the stuff you're supposed to know--that there are teenier things than atoms, that Remembrance of Things Past has something to do with a perfumed cookie, that the Monroe Doctrine means we get to take over small South American countries when we feel like it. But really, is this kind of knowledge going to make you the hit of the cocktail party, or the loser spending forty-five minutes examining the host's bookshelves?
Wouldn't you rather learn things like how the invention of the bicycle affected the evolution of underwear? Or that the 1949 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to a doctor who performed lobotomies with a household ice pick? Or how Catherine the Great really died? Or that heroin was sold over the counter not too long ago?
For the truly well-rounded "intellectual," nothing fascinates so much as the subversive, the contrarian, the suppressed, and the bizarre. Richard Zacks, auto-didact extraordinaire, has unloosed his admittedly strange mind and astonishing research abilities upon the entire spectrum of human knowledge, ferreting out endlessly fascinating facts, stories, photos, and images guaranteed to make you laugh, gasp in wonder, and occasionally shudder at the depths of human depravity. The result of his labors is this fantastically illustrated quasi-encyclopedia that provides alternative takes on art, business, crime, science, medicine, sex (lots of that), and many other facets of human experience.
Immensely entertaining, and arguably enlightening, An Underground Education is the only book that explains the birth of motion pictures using photos of naked baseball players.
Richard Zacks is the author of History Laid Bare: Love, Sex and Perversity from the Ancient Etruscans to Warren G. Harding, which was excerpted in classy magazines like Harper's and earned the attention of the even classier New York Times, which noted that "Zacks specializes in the raunchy and perverse." The Georgia State Legislature voted on whether to ban the book from public libraries. He has studied Arabic, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, and Hebrew, and received the Phillips Classical Greek Award at the University of Michigan. He has also told his publisher that he made a living in Cairo cheating royalty from a certain Arab country at games of chance, although the claim remains unverified. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Time, Life, Sports Illustrated, The Village Voice, TV Guide, and similarly diverse publications. Zacks is married and busy warping the minds of his two children, Georgia and Ziegfield. He resides in New York City, and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Hardcover edition.
The Darwin Awards shares the stories of those human beings who improve the gene pool by removing themselves from it in a sublimely idiotic fashion.
Marvel at the thief who tries to steal live electrical wires. Gape at the lawnchair jockey who floats to a height of 16,000 feet suspended by helium balloons. And learn from the man who peers into a gasoline can using a cigarette lighter. All contend for Darwin Awards when their choices culminate in magnificent misadventures.
These tales of trial and awe-inspiring error-verified by the author and endorsed by website readers-illustrate the ongoing saga of survival of the fittest in all its selective glory. The Darwin Awards vividly portrays the finest examples of evolution in action, and shows us just how uncommon common sense can be.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
How much better would your life be if you had an army of Nobel Laureates, MacArthur ‘geniuses’ and National Medal of Science winners whispering tips in your ear about your body language, or how to resist that impulse purchase you’ll regret tomorrow, or when to sell your car—or even helping you trick your spouse into doing the dishes?
With this mighty little tome, you can have the next best thing--because Brain Trust is packed with bite-sized scientific wisdom on our everyday challenges, hand-delivered to you direct from the galaxy’s biggest brains. Based entirely on interviews with an incredible lineup of luminaries from the fields of neuroscience, economics, anthropology, music, mathematics, and more, Brain Trust is full of cutting-edge science that’ll help you see the real world better—and smarter.
--what advanced math can teach you about getting all your chores done today
--how creating a ‘future self’ can help you shop smarter at the grocery store
--what prairie voles can teach us about love
--how the science of happiness can help you trick lawyers into doing charity work
--the components of gullibility, and how they can help you scam-proof yourself
--the secrets to building your very own army of cyborg beetles
--how memetic information can help you exploit altruism for good…or evil
--why eating for eight hours can help you lose weight
--the behavioral economics behind selling your junk for big bucks on eBay
--how to get more plasure for less price
…And much, much more.
Do you want to know what a cockroach’s favorite food is, or how long it would take to drive to the sun?
Amaze your friends and family by telling them that a baby giraffe is six feet long when it is born, or that tigers have striped skin!
From the creators of The Book of Useless Information, this is an amazing collection of the wildest, oddest, funniest facts about history, science, food, animals, and more!
In the inevitable event of a vampire attack, the average citizen will be forced to engage in vicious hand-to-hand combat. To avoid serious injury, disfigurement, or death by exsanguination, you need to know the proper combat strategies and techniques to ward off a stronger, faster, more agile undead opponent looking to drain the life from your body. Are you prepared? With detailed illustrations and firsthand accounts from vampire combat veterans—as well as interviews with actual members of the undead—this manual provides you with the information you need to survive with your life and blood supply intact, including:
• Debunking myths, i.e.: vampire flight, animal metamorphosis, physical attraction to humans
• Crafting the most lethal vampire weapons from everyday materials
• The pros—and cons—of decapitation
• Weaponizing Ultraviolet (UV) light against an undead opponent
• Using the Domicile Histodiscordant Reaction (DHR), otherwise known as “The Vampire Invitation,” to your advantage
• Solo attacks, team-based combat, and much more…
The Vampire Combat Manual is your indispensable key to survival, whether in a one-on-one battle for blood or a face-off against multiple attackers. Don’t wait until the sun goes down—prepare yourself now!
The Big, Bad Book of Botany introduces a world of wild, wonderful, and weird plants. Some are so rare, they were once more valuable than gold. Some found in ancient mythology hold magical abilities, including the power to turn a person to stone. Others have been used by assassins to kill kings, and sorcerers to revive the dead. Here, too, is vegetation with astonishing properties to cure and heal, many of which have long since been lost with the advent of modern medicine.
Organized alphabetically, The Big, Bad Book of Botany combines the latest in biological information with bizarre facts about the plant kingdom’s oddest members, including a species that is more poisonous than a cobra and a prehistoric plant that actually “walked.” Largo takes you through the history of vegetables and fruits and their astonishing agricultural evolution. Throughout, he reveals astonishing facts, from where the world’s first tree grew to whether plants are telepathic.
Featuring more than 150 photographs and illustrations, The Big, Bad Book of Botany is a fascinating, fun A-to-Z encyclopedia for all ages that will transform the way we look at the natural world.
Join paranormal expert and storyteller extraordinaire Hans Holzer as he explores ghostly manifestations of every variety and delves into the true nature of “the other side.” In this groundbreaking book—featuring eye-opening photographs of ghostly apparitions and visitations—Holzer presents hundreds of case histories, tips on interpreting sounds and other signals from the beyond, and more.
HowStuffWorks.com is the source for credible, unbiased explanations of how the world actually works. Our premise is simple: Demystify the world in a way that anyone can understand. In response to our readers, who are particularly curious about doomsday scenarios, we present The End of the World. Drawing on our editors’ extensive research, this handy guide outlines the various theories of how the world as we know it could come to its end. There are more ways than ever to imagine our own doom, ranging from rogue black holes to solar superstorms to global pandemic. Our technological innovations in warfare alone mean that it would take very little—a push of a button—to destroy the planet in a nuclear cloud. Our world may seem robust and strong, but whether it’s hit with a mile-wide asteroid or a microscopic mutated virus, the end will come one day. Read on to see how it could happen, which possibilities have the slimmest chances, and decide for yourself which scenario you think is most worth worrying about.
Did you know that your odds of dying from drowning are higher than the odds of meeting your mate on a blind date? That the odds a child has seen Internet porn are the same as the odds a person is right-handed? That nearly one in three adults believes in UFOs and nearly one in six has reported seeing one?
Drawing from a rigorously researched trove of more than 400,000 statements of probability, based on the most accurate and current data available, The Book of Odds is a graphic reference source for stats on the everyday, the odd, and the outrageous—from sex and marriage, health and disease, beliefs and fears, to wealth, addiction, entertainment, and civic life. What emerges from this colorful and captivating volume is a rich portrait of who we are and how we live today.
Busy juggling so many responsibilities in our overextended lives, we often miss the precious experiences that are pure joy and the actual experience of humanity: wild laughter, phone calls with loved ones, coffee in the sun, crisp fall evenings, running in warm rain, long conversations at twilight, cooking and savoring a good meal, watching a craftsman at work, getting together with friends we’ve missed.
In this enchanting book—part letter, part prose poem, part charming and witty self-help guide— anthropologist Françoise Héritier lists with heartwarming and heartbreaking specificity all that we so easily overlook if we do not attend to the lightness and grace in our own lives.
Filled with profound insight and down-to-earth wisdom, The Sweetness of Life is the perfect gift to to share with everyone you love.
Unique features include:
*Compelling examples (presumed media influence, sex discrimination in the workplace, and more) with real data; boxes with SAS, SPSS, and PROCESS code; and loads of tips, including how to report mediation, moderation and conditional process analyses.
*Appendix that presents documentation on use and features of PROCESS.
*Online supplement providing data, code, and syntax for the book's examples.
This edition features a new foreword by Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-director of the Serpentine Gallery and author of Ways of Curating.
•Insist that the toilet paper hang "over"?
•Wait for the phone to ring at least twice before answering?
•Keep returning to the refrigerator hoping that something new to eat has materialized?
Everyone has at least one oddity in his or her daily way of life. Judy Reiser offers up outrageous, outlandish and downright ridiculous eccentricities exhibited (and confessed to) by otherwise normal people. From hilarious bathroom behavior, funny money routines, and unconventional clothing habits to eating and sleeping peculiarities, germ-a-phobia, sports and more. Reiser documents the zany traits that make us who we are.
Just what extremes do people go to in their everyday activities?
•Flipping through a magazine at a newsstand then reaching for a fresh copy to buy because the one they were flipping through is no longer new.
•Enumerating (1, 2, 3...) while urinating and trying to end their peeing on an even number.
•Eating the most expensive part of a meal first, just in case they can’t finish everything.
•Ironing the newspaper before reading it to protect themselves against germs.
•Wearing T-shirts an equal number of times so none of them will get offended.
You will laugh while gaining insight into yourself and others!
People do the darndest things!
Eight months on the bestseller lists in France!
From the timeless wisdom of the ancient Greeks to Christianity, the Enlightenment, existentialism, and postmodernism, Luc Ferry’s instant classic brilliantly and accessibly explains the enduring teachings of philosophy—including its profound relevance to modern daily life and its essential role in achieving happiness and living a meaningful life. This lively journey through the great thinkers will enlighten every reader, young and old.
'Reflexive Methodology is a textbook indispensable to any young researcher. It does not tell its readers how to do research. It does something much more important: It shows how research has been done in the qualitative tradition, thus encouraging the readers to make their own choices' - Barbara Czarniawska, Goteborg University
'I would go so far as to argue that this book should be on the reading list of all social scientists and philosophers with an interest in the theory and practice of research' - Prometheus
Reflexive Methodology established itself as a groundbreaking success, providing researchers with an invaluable guide to a central problem in research methodology - how to put field research and interpretations in perspective, paying attention to the interpretive, political and rhetorical nature of empirical research.
Now thoroughly updated, the Second Edition includes a new chapter on positivism, social constructionism and critical realism, and offers new conclusions on the applications of methodology. It also provides further illustrations and updates that build on the acclaimed and successful first edition.
Reflexivity is an essential part of the research process. In this book, Mats Alvesson and Kaj Skoldberg make explicit the links between techniques used in empirical research and different research traditions, giving a theoretically informed approach to qualitative research. The authors provide balanced reviews and critiques of the major schools of grounded theory, ethnography, hermeneutics, critical theory, postmodernism and poststructuralism, discourse analysis, genealogy and feminism.
This book points the way to a more open-minded, creative interaction between theoretical frameworks and empirical research. It continues to be essential reading for students and researchers across the social sciences.
After an introduction to cryptography and data security, the authors explain the main techniques in modern cryptography, with chapters addressing stream ciphers, the Data Encryption Standard (DES) and 3DES, the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), block ciphers, the RSA cryptosystem, public-key cryptosystems based on the discrete logarithm problem, elliptic-curve cryptography (ECC), digital signatures, hash functions, Message Authentication Codes (MACs), and methods for key establishment, including certificates and public-key infrastructure (PKI). Throughout the book, the authors focus on communicating the essentials and keeping the mathematics to a minimum, and they move quickly from explaining the foundations to describing practical implementations, including recent topics such as lightweight ciphers for RFIDs and mobile devices, and current key-length recommendations.
The authors have considerable experience teaching applied cryptography to engineering and computer science students and to professionals, and they make extensive use of examples, problems, and chapter reviews, while the book’s website offers slides, projects and links to further resources. This is a suitable textbook for graduate and advanced undergraduate courses and also for self-study by engineers.
Hayles relates three interwoven stories: how information lost its body, that is, how it came to be conceptualized as an entity separate from the material forms that carry it; the cultural and technological construction of the cyborg; and the dismantling of the liberal humanist "subject" in cybernetic discourse, along with the emergence of the "posthuman."
Ranging widely across the history of technology, cultural studies, and literary criticism, Hayles shows what had to be erased, forgotten, and elided to conceive of information as a disembodied entity. Thus she moves from the post-World War II Macy Conferences on cybernetics to the 1952 novel Limbo by cybernetics aficionado Bernard Wolfe; from the concept of self-making to Philip K. Dick's literary explorations of hallucination and reality; and from artificial life to postmodern novels exploring the implications of seeing humans as cybernetic systems.
Although becoming posthuman can be nightmarish, Hayles shows how it can also be liberating. From the birth of cybernetics to artificial life, How We Became Posthuman provides an indispensable account of how we arrived in our virtual age, and of where we might go from here.
An essential guide to ethical action updated for our challenging times, How Good People Make Tough Choices by Rushworth M. Kidder offers practical tools for dealing with the difficult moral dilemmas we face in our everyday lives. The founder and president of the Institute for Global Ethics, Dr. Kidder provides guidelines for making the important decisions in situations that may not be that clear cut—from most private and personal to the most public and global. Former U.S. senator and NBA legend Bill Bradley calls How Good People Make Tough Choices “a valuable guide to more informed and self-conscious moral judgments.”
Segnit has scoured thousands of recipes in countless recipe books, talked to dozens of food technologists and chefs, and visited hundreds of restaurants-all in her quest to uncover the planet's essential flavor pairings. The result is a reminder that there are almost infinite possibilities in an everyday kitchen, whether it means spinning celery and dill into a savory broth, orange and carrots into a crisp salad, or cabbage and sage into an elegant cream sauce. This book is also full of quirky observations, practical information (hundreds of recipes are embedded in the narrative) and more than a few good jokes.
Beautifully packaged, The Flavor Thesaurus is not only a highly useful, and covetable, reference book that will immeasurably improve your cooking-it's the sort of book that might keep you up at night reading.
Can Unseen University’s eccentric wizards and orangutan Librarian possibly shed any useful light on hard, rational Earthly science?
In the course of an exciting experiment, the wizards of Discworld have accidentally created a new universe. Within this universe is a planet that they name Roundworld. Roundworld is, of course, Earth, and the universe is our own. As the wizards watch their creation grow, Terry Pratchett and acclaimed science writers Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen use Discworld to examine science from the outside. Interwoven with the Pratchett’s original story are entertaining, enlightening chapters which explain key scientific principles such as the Big Bang theory and the evolution of life on earth, as well as great moments in the history of science.
In this fully revised edition of her bestselling text, Julie Pallant guides you through the entire research process, helping you choose the right data analysis technique for your project. From the formulation of research questions, to the design of the study and analysis of data, to reporting the results, Julie discusses basic and advanced statistical techniques. She outlines each technique clearly, with step-by-step procedures for performing the analysis, a detailed guide to interpreting SPSS output and an example of how to present the results in a report.
For both beginners and experienced SPSS users in psychology, education, business, sociology, health and related disciplines, the SPSS Survival Manual is an essential guide. Illustrated with screen grabs, examples of output and tips, it is supported by a website with sample data and guidelines on report writing.
In this third edition all chapters have been updated to accommodate changes to SPSS procedures, screens and output. A new flowchart is included for SPSS procedures, and factor analysis procedures have been streamlined. It includes extra examples and material on syntax. Additional datafiles are available on the book's support website.
Have you ever found that once you are between the sheets, Madame Bovary is too heavy, magazines are too slippery, and Crime and Punishment is too long?
The Gentleman's Bedside Companion is the answer-a bracing collection of information, humor, and curiosities that will help every man make his mark on the world with panache.
Spanning the arts, sciences, sports, and the opposite sex, topics include:
Bananas as proof of God's existence
Great bits from the Bible
Famous painters and how they died
The Monkees, a potted history
All about submarines
Useful foreign pickup lines
An international swearing dictionary
Let the horizontal reading begin.
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Thinking in Systems, is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. Edited by the Sustainability Institute’s Diana Wright, this essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life.
Some of the biggest problems facing the world—war, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation—are essentially system failures. They cannot be solved by fixing one piece in isolation from the others, because even seemingly minor details have enormous power to undermine the best efforts of too-narrow thinking.
While readers will learn the conceptual tools and methods of systems thinking, the heart of the book is grander than methodology. Donella Meadows was known as much for nurturing positive outcomes as she was for delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds readers to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to stay a learner.
In a world growing ever more complicated, crowded, and interdependent, Thinking in Systems helps readers avoid confusion and helplessness, the first step toward finding proactive and effective solutions.
Everything Is Under Control covers the range of Wilson's kaleidoscopic knowledge, from John Adams to the Voronezh (former Soviet Union) UFO sighting, the Campus Crusade for Cthulhu to the Mothman prophecies, and everything in between. What do the Freemasons, the Kennedys, and Princess Diana have in common? All are at the center of gigantic conspiracy theories with incredibly complex and endlessly multiplying twists, turns, highways and byways. Arranged by alphabetical entries which include cross-references to other entries in the book and also provide addresses to related sites on the Web, this book is truly interactive--you can dip in, read through, or follow one of the URLs from an interesting entry onto the internet.
What some famous people say about Robert Anton Wilson:"A dazzling barker hawking tickets to the most thrilling tilt-a-whirls and daring loop-o-planes on the midway to higher consciousness."
"Wilson managed to reverse every mental polarity in me, as if I had been pulled through infinity."
--Philip K. Dick
"One of the most important scientific philosophers of his century--scholarly, witty, scientific, hip and hopeful."
--Dr. Timothy Leary
According to Hans Holzer, only perhaps ten percent of all ghostly manifestations are true ghosts. The rest maybe impressions left behind by an emotional event in the past, which can be felt or seen by a sensitive person in the living world. Here Holzer explores several cases of various kinds of “non-ghosts” that are often confused with real ghosts, but are nevertheless remarkable, each in it’s own way.
When Hungarian professor Ernő Rubik invented the Rubik’s Cube (or, rather, his Cube) in the 1970s out of wooden blocks, rubber bands, and paper clips, he didn’t even know if it could be solved, let alone that it would become the world’s most popular puzzle. Since its creation, the Cube has become many things to many people: one of the bestselling children’s toys of all time, a symbol of intellectual prowess, a frustrating puzzle with 43.2 quintillion possible permutations, and now a worldwide sporting phenomenon that is introducing the classic brainteaser to a new generation.
In Cracking the Cube, Ian Scheffler reveals that cubing isn’t just fun and games. Along with participating in speedcubing competitions—from the World Championship to local tournaments—and interviewing key figures from the Cube’s history, he journeys to Budapest to seek a meeting with the legendary and notoriously reclusive Rubik, who is still tinkering away with puzzles in his seventies.
Getting sucked into the competitive circuit himself, Scheffler becomes engrossed in solving Rubik’s Cube in under twenty seconds, the quasi-mystical barrier known as “sub-20,” which is to cubing what four minutes is to the mile: the difference between the best and everyone else. For Scheffler, the road to sub-20 is not just about memorizing algorithms or even solving the Rubik’s Cube. As he learns from the many gurus who cross his path, from pint-sized kids to engineering professors, it’s about learning to solve yourself.
However, once you perfect the art of terminological inexactitude, you’ll be the one manipulating and one-upping everyone else! And here’s the beauty part: Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf, authors of the New York Times semi-bestseller The Official Politically Correct Dictionary and Handbook, have compiled this handy yet astonishingly comprehensive lexicon and translation guide—a fictionary, if you will—to help you do just that. If you want to succeed in business (or politics, sports, the arts, or life in general) without really lying, this is the book for you! (Your results may vary.)
Spinglish includes these nifty bits of spurious verbiage and over a thousand more:
aesthetic procedure – face-lift
dairy nutrients – cow manure
enhanced interrogation techniques – torture
“For your convenience.” – “For our convenience.”
hands-on mentoring – sexual relations with a junior employee
incomplete success – failure
rightsizing – firing people
zero-tasking – doing nothing
With each and every entry sourced from some of the greatest real-life language benders in the world today, you’re virtually guaranteed to have the perfectly chosen tried-and-untrue term right at the tip of your forked tongue. Wish you could nimbly sidestep a question without batting an eye? Not sure how to apologize while also . . . not apologizing? Spinglish has you covered. Simply consult this convenient, shoot-from-the-lip glossary, and before you know it, you’ll be telling it like it isn’t, it wasn’t, and it couldn’t ever have been.
If you find yourself transfixed by the most trivial of trivia, or mesmerized by the most minor of minutiae, The Useless Information Society's latest findings can satisfy your every need. This wide-ranging collection will fill every nook and cranny of your brain with information you'll surely never need, but will enjoy learning anyway!
Did you know...
- that penguins can jump six feet out of the water?
- that everyone is color-blind at birth?
Would you care to know...
- what the first meal eaten on the moon was?
- what country drinks the most Coca-Cola? (Hint: It's not the United States.)
In 1995, a secret society was formed comprising Britain's foremost thinkers, writers, and artists to trade and share in useless information (or, as founding member Keith Waterhouse, playwright and journalist, would have it, "totally bloody useless").
In this groundbreaking work, professor Hans Holzer provides a thorough introduction to the art and science of successful and lucid communication with the world beyond. Here he delves into the nature of life and death, shares invaluable information that every would-be ghost hunter should know, and explains the exact nature of what we understand to be a “ghost.”
Kafka is one of 161 inspired—and inspiring—minds, among them, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians, who describe how they subtly maneuver the many (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do, whether by waking early or staying up late; whether by self-medicating with doughnuts or bathing, drinking vast quantities of coffee, or taking long daily walks. Thomas Wolfe wrote standing up in the kitchen, the top of the refrigerator as his desk, dreamily fondling his “male configurations”. . . Jean-Paul Sartre chewed on Corydrane tablets (a mix of amphetamine and aspirin), ingesting ten times the recommended dose each day . . . Descartes liked to linger in bed, his mind wandering in sleep through woods, gardens, and enchanted palaces where he experienced “every pleasure imaginable.”
Here are: Anthony Trollope, who demanded of himself that each morning he write three thousand words (250 words every fifteen minutes for three hours) before going off to his job at the postal service, which he kept for thirty-three years during the writing of more than two dozen books . . . Karl Marx . . . Woody Allen . . . Agatha Christie . . . George Balanchine, who did most of his work while ironing . . . Leo Tolstoy . . . Charles Dickens . . . Pablo Picasso . . . George Gershwin, who, said his brother Ira, worked for twelve hours a day from late morning to midnight, composing at the piano in pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers . . .
Here also are the daily rituals of Charles Darwin, Andy Warhol, John Updike, Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Franklin, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, Anne Rice, and Igor Stravinsky (he was never able to compose unless he was sure no one could hear him and, when blocked, stood on his head to “clear the brain”).
Brilliantly compiled and edited, and filled with detail and anecdote, Daily Rituals is irresistible, addictive, magically inspiring.
In their groundbreakingly useless book, The Book of Useless Information, the members of the Useless Information Society proved that knowledge doesn't have to be useful to be entertaining. Now they present a new collection of their most fascinating, hilarious, and wholly trivial findings. The Ultimate Book of Useless Information includes such "did you knows" as:
- Peanuts are one of the ingredients in dynamite
- The average person spends two weeks of their life kissing
- And giraffes have no vocal cords
What were the "ghost airplanes" seen over the Parliament Buildings in 1915, or the flying saucers seen by military officers over Goose Bay Air Force Base, Newfoundland, in the 1940s and 1950s? Was a prospector burned by a UFO in Manitoba in 1967? Did a UFO crash off the coast of Nova Scotia? Was Quebec invaded by UFOs in 1973? Find out here.