Fact-checking for fun
There has been a lot of talk about “fact-checking” after the most recent episode of this summer’s newest reality TV series or the presidential debate, as some people insist on calling it. Much like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton I have no interest in serious political issues but unlike either of them, I do enjoy fact-checking, so let’s take a look at some facts I checked out this week.
Tug-of-war was an Olympic event until 1920. I think they started filming the Olympics around that time and I don’t imagine that tug-of-war would have made a great spectator sport. Now I’m kind of bummed that we’ll never know if a bunch of big corn-fed American lugs could beat a team of thick hairy backed Turks in the gold medal match. It could have been a tug for the ages…but now we’ll never know.
By now there surely would have been a women’s tug-of-war event as well. Who wouldn’t want to see the women of the world who aren’t tall enough to play volleyball get a chance to wear bikinis and sweat on the beach at an Olympic level? I know I would!
Studies have shown that babies cost new parents an average of 750 hours of sleep in their first year of life. The research wasn’t clear if that was per parent or per couple so I did some quick math and determined that 750 hours over the course of a year adds up t … let’s see … carry the two … a couple of hours per night. Given that none of my kids ever slept more than a total of four hours a night it has to be 750 per parent. That’s what you call cross checking your fact check; you just don’t find that kind of quality journalism anymore!
In a related fact check I discovered that in the 1800s there was an opium based baby product marketed in England called “Quietness.” The article I read didn’t make it clear if the opium was for the baby or the parents but given the 750 hours of sleep most parents lose I’m guessing it worked either way. It also helps explain the steady decline of the British Empire in the late 19th century.
In 1945 there was a Japanese businessman who took an unfortunate day trip to Hiroshima, arriving just as the first atomic bomb was dropped. He was wounded but managed to escape the devastated city and return home to Nagasaki in time for the second atonic blast the next morning. That seems unlikely but it’s a fact; the man’s name was Tsutomu Yamaguchi, and he lived to the ripe old age of 93 and you should think of him the next time you think you’re having a streak of bad luck.
It’s a fact that more people are bitten annually by New Yorkers than are bitten by sharks. I have no idea what that means sociologically, biologically or even statically but I thought it was funny.
Grasshopper mice are able to turn scorpion venom into a painkiller, upon confirming that fact the FDA immediately put a limit on the number of scorpions that can be prescribed to any single grasshopper mouse. Sheesh… Obama-Care …right?
While I did not personally count them, my research indicates there are an estimated 1.6 million ants for every human on earth. There are no facts to prove this but I believe that at least half of those ants live in my garage.
It is true that when you take the letters in the word “wizard” and exchange them with letters from the opposite end of the alphabet (a=z, b=y etc.) it spells the word wizard. I fact checked this by consuming three beers and counting on my fingers so I’m reasonably confident it’s so. It’s also the only interesting thing I’ve ever read that included the word ‘wizard.”
Finally, I verified that Pepsi was sued by a customer who claimed that he found a dead mouse in his Mountain Dew. Pepsi’s attorneys won the lawsuit when they proved that Mountain Dew would dissolve a mouse in 30 days and that the man had purchased his drink more than 70 days after it was bottled. Isn’t justice a beautiful thing?
You should never believe anything a humor columnist or a politician tells you. The difference is that I did actually check my facts and it doesn’t matter if you trust me. Now excuse me; I must throw away the sodas in my fridge.
Rick Seley is an award-winning humor columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.