Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Friday, January 30, 2009

It Should Be Obvious

Many things seem obvious, but obviously they're not. This explains why some advertisements for birth control devices or erectile dysfunction drugs note in fine print that said product cannot protect users from HIV or other Sexually Transmitted Diseases. The very fact this disclaimer appears indicates somebody somewhere assumed Viagra could keep him from getting gonorrhea.

So perhaps it would benefit the general public to compile a list of ideas that ought to be obvious, but for some reason have not made the rounds of common knowledge quite as well as they should. Observe:

Toads cannot give people warts.
Warts can be caused by a variety of viral infections and are sometimes passed from human to human, but never, as far as anyone knows, from toad to human. Even the toad-licking craze that swept across North America in the mid-1990s did not lead to an increase in warts, though it did drive home a curious dichotomy about certain members of the general public: on one hand, dumb enough to believe toads can cause warts, but on the other, dumb enough to seek hallucinogenic pleasure by putting one's tongue on this same type of creature.

The world won't end because someone you don't like is President of the United States.
Four of the five most recent Presidents--Reagan, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama--have generated adulation from their supporters and intense and vitriolic criticism from their detractors, and yet the nation and the planet carry on. Richard Nixon couldn't wreck the country, nor could Jimmy Carter. Neither paranoid narcissism nor hemorrhaging incompetence nor faulty intelligence nor White House soft pornography nor any of the myriad petty rivalries and scandals have ever managed to rend us asunder. So easy, tigers.

The Blues Brothers did not record the original version of "Soul Man".
No, sir, Sam and Dave did it first. And Little Willie John's rendition of fever came out before Peggy Lee's, too. To be fair, Lee did a superb job with it, though Willie John's is even better. Incidentally, it is not entirely clear who composed "Fever", but it might well have been Otis Blackwell, the same songwriter who penned "All Shook Up", made famous by Elvis Presley.

The severity of brown recluse spider bites has been greatly exaggerated.
Brown recluse spiders reside mostly in the American South and Midwest and hardly exist on either coast, though they turn up occasionally. Some arachnologists estimate that up to 80% of reported brown recluse bites are actually caused by something else, a different spider, an insect, an allergic reaction or rash. The kind of sickening necrotic damage depicted in a variety of Internet hoaxes is extraordinarily rare. People need to grow up about spiders, period. Understand, if a large, hairy, eight-legged gem were found on this writer's hand as he typed up this post, he would be understandably shaken. Otherwise, spiders are completely unworthy of the hysteria they generate. Sort of like the Jonas Brothers.


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