The Sunday Funnies & Factoids… ‘Just Because Edition’

07/19/14   by Keith Lennox, All-len-All

Happy Sunday, gang.  Hope your week went well and your weekend is going even better.  I’m sitting on my deck under glorious blue skies editing this weeks Sunday Funnies & Factoids, sucking on a few Coronas, and feed the chipmunks peanuts out of my hand.  Question…. should I deep fry or grill them after the novelty wears off.  ;-)  Well enough about my goings on and on with this edition of The Sunday Funnies & Factoids.

hindenburg funny1) Despite the horrific display, nearly two-thirds of those aboard the LZ 129 Hindenburg survived its fiery crash in 1937.  Jesus Christ…. wonder what that hospital ward smelled like?

2) Arthur Miller’s original title for Death of a Salesman was The Inside of His HeadWhheeew, that was close to being disasterous.

3) The notorious Roman emperor Nero was also a wannabe musician.  He employed 5,000 knights and soldiers  to accompany him on his concert tours just to applaud his brilliant lyre-playing skills.  And that ego pales in comparison to Kanye West.

4) Before he wrote Jaws, Peter Benchley was a speechwriter for LBJ.

5) To deter nativity scene theft, BrickHouse Security provides free GPS trackers that can be installed in Baby Jesus.

6) Do People Only Use 10% of Their Brains?

A 2013 poll surveying over 2000 Americans found that 65 percent thought that this statement is true. And yet, the simple and unequivocal answer is: No. Despite a myth so prevalent that it is easily accepted as a pivotal plot point in movies or a motivational tactic or even justification for psychic claims, everyone uses 100 percent of their brain.

homersimpson36There are a number of logical refutations of this myth–why would big brains evolve if they’re nothing but dead weight?–but outright proving its fallacy is relatively easy with modern technology. PET and MRI scans show that even when we’re sleeping, our entire brain is active on some level. But even before imaging techniques allowed scientists to definitively debunk this myth, how did it arise in the first place? And why has it held on into the era of such increased understanding of how the brain works?

Although it’s impossible to prove as the exact origin of the myth, there is a traceable misappropriation of a vague claim that seems to be the first written mention. In 1907, prominent philosopher and psychologist William James wrote in The Energies of Man that “We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.” He meant–probably–that we all had untapped potential within us, a likely, although hardly inflammatory, assertion. Twenty-nine years later, in the introduction to Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People, Lowell Thomas wrote, presumably referencing that quote, “Professor William James of Harvard used to say that the average man develops only ten per cent of his latent mental ability.”

Again, there’s no overt neurological claim–mental ability does not mean brain mass–but from here the sentiment seems to have spun off; versions of it found use in the science fiction and spiritual communities. It didn’t help matters that in the 1920s and ’30s, prominent psychologist Karl Lashley attempted to isolate regions of the brain by removing areas of the cerebral cortex in rats. When he found they were still able to learn and remember specific tasks, it contributed to the idea that there are large swatches of “inactive” brain mass.

Decades later, the myth has persevered because of the attractive possibility it seems to present. It absolves us for not reaching our full potential, offers a persistent insecurity for self-help gurus to appeal to, and provides a pseudo-scientific explanation for the limits of human comprehension.

I had a psychology professor in university tell the class that if someone believed that humans only used 10% of their brains, there was a 90% chance that they were wrong.  hehehehehehe

7) Behind every successful man is a surprised woman.

8) Between 1878 and 1890 of the Hatfield-McCoy feud, three dozen lives were lost. And it all stemmed from a dispute over the ownership of a pig.

9) Despite the optical illusion, the Gateway Arch is exactly as wide (630 feet) as it is tall.

10) The Beach Boys were the founders of surf rock; however, only Dennis Wilson knew how to surf. He died of drowning in 1983.

11) Two missionaries in Africa get apprehended by a tribe of very hostile cannibals who put them in a large pot of water, build a huge fire under it, and leave them there.

A few minutes later, one of the missionaries starts to laugh uncontrollably. The other missionary can’t believe it! He says, “What’s wrong with you? We’re being boiled alive! They’re gonna eat us! What could possibly be funny at a time like this?”

The other missionary says, “I just peed in the soup.”

12) The 1983 film The Right Stuff featured an interesting stepping-stone of cast and character last names: Ed Harris played John Glenn, Scott Glenn played Alan Shepard, and Sam Shepard played Chuck Yeager.

13) Is Laughter the Best Medicine?

Laughter: The best medicine? No. Any sort of medicine at all? Well, that one is at least debatable. It’s hard to get funding for work that examines the health effects of humor, but there are some studies out there that show regularly laughing out loud–not just quietly enjoying something funny–can have real benefits.

toilet paper cartoonLaughing, among other things, releases endorphins; these pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters set off a chain of reactions that result in your blood vessels widening–and wider blood vessels are good for a host of reasons. A 2005 study supported this: Participants showed an average 22 percent increased blood flow after having watched a comedy (sad movies, on the other hand, resulted in contracting blood vessels).

Laughter has also been shown to burn calories, reduce stress, and improve mood, although it’s hard to imagine laughter–or at least the situations that cause it–failing to do the latter two. But even if the health benefits are obvious and minimal, it can’t hurt to go out and enjoy yourself.

Okay, folks, I am so outta here.  Got the BBQ heating and really looking forward to my world-famous chicken, chili, cheese dogs.  Mmmmmmm….. hot dogs all dressed up….. mmmmmmmmm.

Have a great Sunday and an even better upcoming week.  Pay it forward once this week and make yourselves feel good.  It works every time.