Monday, January 11, 2010

Moo


One of the gifts I received for Christmas was The World Almanac for 2010. This made me very happy. Until I opened that present, the most recent almanac I had in my possession was the 1999 edition. The world has changed a bit since then. If you’re as given to bloviating as I am, it helps to have up-to-date sources.

I can sit down with an almanac and be entertained for hours at a time. No matter where you open the thing, you’re bound to find something interesting. For instance, I just now flipped the thing open to page 450 and I see that members of the General Court (the state legislature) in Massachusetts are paid $61,440 a year, plus travel expenses. On the same page are the statistics for the New Hampshire legislature. Members of that body receive $200, biannually. You can make a career out of being a legislator in Massachusetts, but it’s pretty much a hobby in New Hampshire.

(It’s funny how different people interpret such information. I quoted those statistics to MY WIFE and opined that was why so much corruption and graft exists in Massachusetts politics. She countered by saying that the only New Hampshire residents who could afford to be legislators were those who were already wealthy. I suppose we’re both partly right.)

I now turned to page 344, and… well, you all remember Pluto, right? It used to be a planet (as well as Mickey Mouse’s dog, which is the standard joke – and a good one - and has to be included in all references per the Susan Harris Act of 1982.) Turns out it was only demoted! It is now classified as a "dwarf planet", which I suppose means it needs a stepstool to reach that can of beans on the top shelf in the pantry. I can’t find any other explanation that makes sense. The almanac says to turn to page 340 for a definition of a dwarf planet, which I did, and the definitions given for "Classical Planets" (well, La-Di-Dah!) and "Dwarf Planets" are identical. Now, granted, Pluto is about half the size of Mercury, the smallest of the eight classical planets, but it’s also at least twice the size of three out of the four other dwarf planets, which by the way are called Ceres, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake. Who names these things? Eris is the one that’s bigger than Pluto, so I guess maybe they decided it was better to diss Pluto than to insult Eris. Eris takes 560 years to go around the Sun, which is about twice as long as Pluto. I don’t see why we had to denigrate such a fine upstanding member of our solar system as Pluto in order to kowtow to such a lazy planet, but I don’t decide these things. In all probability, legislators on Pluto get paid $200 biannually, while legislators on Eris get the $61,440 plus travel expenses.

On page 258, I found out that the highest-rated TV program of 1963 was The Beverly Hillbillies, while for this past year it was American Idol. I’m still trying to decide if that constitutes progress of any sort.

If you turn to page 682, you find a list of all the rulers of France from the year 843 to the present. They include – and I’m not making this up (Dave Barry Act of 1993) – Charles The Bald, Charles The Fat, Charles The Simple, Charles The Fair, Charles The Beloved, Charles The Wise, Charles The Victorious, and Charles The Affable (who was great company at cocktail parties.) Then you have Louis The Stammerer, who was the son of Charles The Bald, as well as the grandfather of Charles The Fat. Surprisingly, Charles The Affable was the son of Louis The Cruel. It should surprise no one that Louis The Sluggard left no heirs. Then, of course, there was Phillip The Tall, who succeeded his brother, Louis The Headstrong. Having some French ancestry myself, and knowing my capacity for hyperbole, Phillip was probably 5'11", while Louis The Headstrong most likely suggested that it was OK to drink white wine with a steak.

On page 763, I found out that Canada has 709 television sets per 1,000 people. I immediately turned to page 852 to find out how The United States compared with their neighbors to the north. We have 844 television sets per 1,000 people. I also see that Canadian life expectancy is close to three years higher, so those people currently without a set have more time to get one and catch the re-runs. There were no statistics concerning how many Canadians had ever seen The Beverly Hillbillies, so that may figure into it, too.

Turning to page 102, we see that production of corn in America is up approximately 9% since 2005. That’s the year I started blogging. Ex post facto, raison d’etre, so mea culpa (page 716.)

Inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame are listed on page 948. These include "Toe" Blake, "Shorty" Green, "Tiny" Thompson, "Gump" Worsley, and "Phat" Wilson, all of whom would have made wonderful kings of France.

Finally, my favorite statistic of all-time is found on page 295. There’s a listing of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Human Activities, 1990-2007. One of the activities listed is "Enteric Fermentation." When I consulted a footnote, to find out exactly what enteric fermentation was, they used some pretty lofty language to describe it, but when you boil it down to its simplest form, it’s cow farts. Between 2000 and 2007, cow farts have increased 3.4%. I don’t know who has the job of measuring such things, but I’m glad it’s not me. I hope he’s being paid more than the New Hampshire legislature. In any case, this increase in bovine flatulence is more than 150% of what we gained via reduced use of coal as an energy source. So, the next time some PETA member accosts you on the street, tell him he’s the cause of the hole in the ozone layer, then go do your part for the environment by having a big porterhouse steak.

By the way, the largest selling beer in the United States (page 77) is Bud Light. It has a 19.3% market share. American Idol has a rating of 15.1, which was the percentage of households tuned in to the program. Taken together, that probably explains the success of both, as well as the higher life expectancy for Canadians (unless it’s all those farting cows we’ve got.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

41 comments:

Expat From Hell said...

I don't know if it's time for you to be on Jeopardy, or to run for public office. Maybe you can do both. On second though, maybe you SHOULD. Great post, friend. EFH

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

You take what is funny and make it even funnier!!! Great post - great way to start another snowy Monday morning.

Cricket said...

For a minute, I was hoping the entire post would consist of the cow photo with the caption "moo". I don't know why. Thanks for the morning yuks.

I love almanacs, too. Another thing we might share, though you don't have to admit it: I read the dictionary. Really. I can curl up with my American Heritage College Edition and read away. I particularly like that one because it includes etymologies, yet it's not too big to read in bed.

Jazz said...

You know how hard it is to type a comment when you're laughing out loud?

Brian Miller said...

lol...i imagine there is a definite hit on life expectancy when the tv stays on all day...

Moannie said...

I like to believe that I will learn something new everyday-here there is more than I can probably digest, and like swimming, it is impossible to do whilst laughing.

You are funny!

i beati said...

I'm a vegetarian

Ivan Toblog (aka IT) said...

Now you've done it. I was looking forward to learning some new stuff while sitting in my library... yeah, that library. Now I'm gonna have to get a different book.

Craig said...

I too am an Almaniac. The most recent edition on my shelf is the 2002 - it takes two years for the updated decennial census info to make it into the Almanac; so the 2012 edition will most likely be the next one I purchase. Also, my beloved Spartans last won the NCAA hoops championship in 2000, and that was also the first time that particular piece of data appeared. . .

And I first came across the connection between cow farts and the ozone layer sometime back in the 80s. . . It occurred to me then that cows had been farting for centuries, even millennia. Altho it's also likely that the modern cow population is significantly larger than in Roman times (to say nothing of the modern propensity to feed soybeans to our cattle in recent decades. . .)

(I actually made up that last bit about the soybeans; but at least here in Michigan, the parts of the state where you're most likely to see cattle in the fields are the same ones where you're most likely to see vast fields of soybeans. Coincidence? Perhaps not. . .)

Suldog said...

i beati - You're a vegetarian? Then not only aren't you helping out, by eating more meat, you're also likely contributing more to the methane problem than some of us. I still like you, though.

GreenJello said...

I want an almanac. I think my old one is from 1990 or something. Most excellent Christmas present!

Michelle H. said...

Bessie? You've found my cow! And I thought she was still wandering around in Wisconsin somewhere.

Sorry, don't know where that came from. Anyhow, interesting facts. I never had an almanac except for the farmer's one on when to plow and when to reap. It also had those home cure-alls and proverbs.

Cow farts? In all honesty, while raising cows as a kid, I've never heard one fart. They must be too bashful...

Daryl said...

I am still snorfling here .. that is a semi lady like way of snorting

Eva Gallant said...

I have been concerned about those cow farts!

Hilary said...

Terrificly funny post, Suldog but all these wonderful Canadian and cow references and not a single nod to the Arrogant Worms? You must be introduced .. ;)

slommler said...

ROFL!!!!!! My fav is the comparison of the Beverly Hillbillies and American Idol. I do believe they are related!! LOL!!!
Hugs
SueAnn

Buck said...

Like a couple of others here, I share your love of almanacs. I particularly like the CIA World Fact Book, which is one of the best things bureaucracy ever did for me, personally.

And thanks for the link to the Arrogant Worms, Hillary. (Wow. THAT reads weirdly, doesn't it?)

Sniffles and Smiles said...

I am laughing until the tears roll...You have a gift for exaggerating the ridiculous...and your humor certainly slams those who sell, pedal and encourage such absurdities!!! Brilliant, Jim!!! Loved this one!! Applause!!! Standing ovation!!! Soon...with more great stuff, PLEASE!!!!!! Okay, off to check out the recommended link ;-) Hugs, Janine

Uncle Skip, said...

It occurred to me that I hadn't ever heard a cow... or any bovine for that matter ...fart. It seems that they are clandestine about it.
It also occurred to me that bloviate could easily be substituted for fart when used as a verb.

lime said...

oh god, i love it when you talk nerdy to me.....do it some more.

seriously, i'm in geek heaven. i used to read funk & wagnalls and the dictionary for entertainment. the almanac ranks right up there.

Shammickite said...

I'm wondering what the difference is between cow farts, horse farts, pig farts, or any other domesticated animal farts.... or even human farts, come to that. And how the combination of animal and human in different quantities would affect the environment and/or the ozone layer, or the hole in it. And of course how many of the humans are veggie might make a difference.....
And Hilary's right, you really should pay mor attention to the Arrogant Worms.

Tim King said...

Don't know if you could come back with better stuff than this. Maybe it was because I had just read Michelle H's fortune-cookie piece, but this had me laughing so hard I cried.

Thanks. I needed that.

-TimK

Maggie May said...

The cow farts are hilarious.
They once measured people farts for medical science & it was all done by wearing disposable nappies & then they were put in a machine that could tell the quantity by smell.
Now, I bet you were glad I mentioned that!
We get the Guinness book of Records with the same kind of interesting stuff. It is addictive.

Nuts in May

Elizabeth Bradley said...

How dare those scientists diss Pluto! I'm fighting mad about this demotion.

Karen said...

I love looking through the Almanac, too. So many facts... only you could take them and write a hilarious post!

Ribbon said...

Where to now with this wealth of information?
endless possibilities :)

best wishes
Ribbon :)

Teacher's Pet said...

Daddy reads the dictionary....and every encyclopedia (no matter what year) he has in his house.
I'm buying him the World Almanac...and I'm buying it for him tomorrow!
I lived on a farm all my life...never HEARD a cow fart...but oh my word! the smell....! It had to come from that end.
Thank you for a great blog. You are one fun guy! I love your sense of humor...
Hugs to you from Jackie

Ananda girl said...

Gee Suldog... I'm going to read this to my kiddos the next time I teach them how to use an almanac. They think its boring. Ha!

Isn't Charles the Simple the one who was hunting on horseback inside the palace and brained himself out of the world when he forgot to duck in a doorway? If so, I think he's my favorite.

Jeni said...

Interesting. Veddy, veddy interesting. (Thanks, Arte Johnson for that classic line.)
Cow farts -amazing! Who -and how -measures these anyway? And why? And is this all done using grant money? Where's the senator from Wisconsin who used to give some award for the weirdest or dumbest studies and stuff like that?

Char said...

Bwahaha...while I'm sure cow farts don't smell like perfume, I'm telling you that you've not ever smelled anything as foul as a pig's fart. No shit!

ps~word verification=loodippr,how appropriate is that!!LMAO

She Writes said...

On page 258, I found out that the highest-rated TV program of 1963 was The Beverly Hillbillies, while for this past year it was American Idol. I’m still trying to decide if that constitutes progress of any sort.

You crack me up! No, no progress at all, is my take.

Good to see you back. I missed your humor.

Mr. Knucklehead said...

Classical Planets? Personally, I prefer the Cool Jazz Planets.

And we must find a way to decrease cow farts. Maybe the Massachusetts legislature can develop a program, earn their fat paychecks.

Land of shimp said...

We're great fans of the almanac here, too. Wonderfully entertaining.

Poor Pluto, we were discussing Pluto's fate about a year ago, during dinner and started talking about the density of a White Dwarf. Evidently my son had never head of one, and thought we were talking about short people, of pale complexion, with a tendency to hang around Snow White.

Hilarity ensued. So did some incidental choking. But I digress.

Fun post, and I wondered as soon as I saw the picture with "Moo" caption, if you were about to do a post about the "methane studies". Evidently a fair amount of money every year goes into the increase in methane of cow flatulence.

I feel so much better about my job. How about you?

VE said...

Isn't calling it a "dwarf" planet politically incorrect? Shouldn't they be saying "mass challenged"?

addhumorandfaith said...

You, and your Almanac are a virtual fount of information. I feel alot smarter just having read this post. I have to go lay down now, my head hurts. :)

Janet said...

"On page 258, I found out that the highest-rated TV program of 1963 was The Beverly Hillbillies, while for this past year it was American Idol. I’m still trying to decide if that constitutes progress of any sort."

This is my favorite part, although the discourse about Pluto is a close second.

I think the producers of the almanac should pay you to advertise for them. You'd increase their sales tremendously.

Chris Stone said...

On page 258, I found out that the highest-rated TV program of 1963 was The Beverly Hillbillies, while for this past year it was American Idol. I’m still trying to decide if that constitutes progress of any sort.

i see you've already been helped out with this question. but nope. no progress at all.

Mariann Simms said...

I, too, have been an avid reader of almanacs AND dictionaries. What are the odds we all gravitated here and admitted it?

I bet some almanac somewhere has that statistic. ;)

Fun reading - enjoyed it immensely...glad Knucklehead "steer"ed me over here. Oh...I had to. I am sooooo embarrassed now.

Suldog said...

Mariann - I've got no beef with your choice of words.

Jenn said...

I know you're not Mister Eco like I'm Mrs Environment so I won't bore you with all the reasons why actually eating that porterhouse is the central cause for the methane production, instead I'll just say that if you do eat it, stay away from beans.

Must get myself an Almanac one of these days, sounds like weeks worth of interesting information!

Word verification -- aging. Huh, wonder if blogger is trying to tell me something...

Absolut Ruiness said...

This reminds me of my days as a student of architecture. i had to write a dissertation on a topic of my choice and being the lazy bum that i am i chose a book in the library called "gastronomics and architecture" which tried to compare architecture to the culinary art. As lame as it may sound i took the topic to my guide professor. He directly asked me the name of the book from which i had copied all the text and i couldn't lie so i got him the book. He claimed that the author must be an American and so it was! i guess the Americans have this reputation of analyzing and statistically researching absolutely everything under the sun.