Why do humans kiss?
Why is a miserly person called a "cheapskate"?
Why is an evil adversary called a "villain"?
Why is football played on a "gridiron" and a leg injury called a "charley horse"?
Why is confetti thrown at a wedding?
Why do golf courses have 18 holes?
Why do the British drive on the left and North Americans on the right?
Why is a road called a "highway" and the ocean the "high seas"?
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.
Set the record straight!
Learn the truth behind fallacies, falsehoods, hearsay, and lies!
Isn’t it time you knew the honest-to-goodness truth? We’ve all come to believe hundreds of “false facts”—myths that we’ve blindly accepted as truth, misconceptions that we’ve ignorantly retold to others—Contrary to Popular Belief provides an instant remedy for your pounding head full of misinformation, giving you quick relief with enlightening and entertaining facts.
Inside you’ll learn:
George Washington was not the first president of the United States.
Leap year does not occur every four years.
The ostrich does not bury its head in the sand.
Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb.
Ship captains cannot perform marriages at sea.
Sound does not travel at the speed of sound.
The needle on a compass does not point to the North Pole.
Leonardo da Vinci did not paint the Mona Lisa.
And more than two hundred other bits of conventional “wisdom” that are completely bunk.
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.
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.
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
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").
What do horoscopes, hemlock, Star Trek, the Oscars, and sliced bread have in common? They're all overrated-and systematically skewered in this hilariously opinionated takedown of all things overhyped.
Discover the most overrated...
Wonder of the world
Way to die
Readers who are in no mood to celebrate Ulysses, doves, baby boomers, the curse of Tutankhamen, and many other icons of culture and lore will delight in this score-settling and take-no-prisoners volume.