Somewhat Convincing Old Wives’ Tales

There is some truth behind these Old Wives’ Tales:

Baldness skips a generation.
There isn’t a single ‘hair-loss’ gene but pattern baldness is caused by the interaction of several different genes that can be inherited from either parent.

Shaved hair grows back thicker.
Hair width is determined by follicle size and shape which are unaffected by shaving. It may look or feel thicker though, because the ends are stubbly, due to the razor.

Knuckle cracking causes arthritis.
If done constantly it can cause swelling and restrict hand flexibility, but age and genetics are much more significant in the development of arthritis.

Reading in dim light ruins your eyes.
It might make your eyes tired, because the muscles are having to work harder, which in turn makes reading harder, but it won’t do any lasting damage, any more than running damages your legs.

Feed a fever, starve a cold.
In either case it’s important to keep the level of nutrients up to fight infection. The biggest risk in both is dehydration.

Masturbation causes blindness.
It doesn’t. However, semen does contain a high level of zinc and zinc deficiency can speed up macular degeneration leading to loss of sight. But based on a daily requirement of 11mg of zinc, and the 0.75ml contained in the average teaspoon of ejaculate, you’d have to ejaculate 15 times a day over an extended period to start seriously lowering the zinc levels in your body.

“Assure a man that he has a soul and then frighten him with old wives’ tales as to what is to become of him afterward, and you have hooked a fish, a mental slave.” – Theodore Dreiser

On Anything That Lasts

“Interruption, incoherence, surprise are the ordinary conditions of our life. They have even become real needs for many people, whose minds are no longer fed by anything but sudden changes and constantly renewed stimuli. We can no longer bear anything that lasts. We no longer know how to make boredom bear fruit. So the whole question comes down to this: can the human mind master what the human mind has made?”

– Paul Valery

Walk Towards The Sounds Of Gunfire

Fear is what stops us, everywhere in our lives, particularly the pointless fear of what other people will think. We know when something isn’t right. We should trust our instincts and risk saying so. It’s surprising how often things turn out for the best, when you do.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

See other: Philosophy of Interestingness

19/i mmxv

John Cleese’s father’s surname was Cheese. Cleese grew up 10 miles from Cheddar and his best friend at school was called Barney Butter.

In 2013, Monaco and North Korea had an unemployment rate of 0,0%.

The record for the most babies born to one woman is 69. She gave birth to 16 sets of twins, 7 sets of triplets, and 4 sets of quadruplets. While the woman’s name is not known, she was the first wife of Feodor Vassilyev, a peasant from Shuya, Russia who lived from 1707-1782.

There is a town in Finland called Leppäkummuntie.

Coco Chanel, Hugh Hefner, Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon, George Harrison, Aristotle Onassis, Jack Nicholson, Ronnie Wood, Elvis Presley, Rowan Atkinson, Jeremy Clarkson, Park Chung-hee, Josip Broz Tito, Nicolae Ceauşescu, Pol Pot, Enver Hoxha, Ferdinand Marcos, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-Il and Sadaam Hussein have owned a Mercedes-Benz 600.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts


Attacking, Aggressive, Calculating, Calm

Assassins are all about controlled aggression. They tend to play sharp openings (especially 1.e4 as white) and look to attack the opponent’s King. But their attacks are not wild or careless – everything is still governed by the objective demands of the position and exact calculation. Assassins tend to play “against the pieces” rather than “against the opponent”. They won’t alter their own play to try to take advantage of the opponent’s psychology.

“All I ever want to do is just play chess.” – Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer (1943-2008), the eleventh World Chess Champion, was one deadly Assassin. One of the most dominant players of all time, the American became a grandmaster at the age of only fifteen and eventually took the world championship in a 1972 match with Boris Spassky. Fischer’s perfect composure, along with accurate calculation and great will to win, caused his opponents to crumble. Fischer’s opening repertoire was very limited, but also very sharp and very well prepared. All in all, Bobby Fischer was a chess machine long before actual chess engines could play at anywhere near that level.

See other: Chess Personalities

Ancient Greek You Know (β)

Learning about the Classics can enrich one’s life enormously. Indeed, for some, understanding Greek is a κτῆμα ἐς ἀεί, a “possession for eternity”. Interestingly, people tend to know more Ancient Greek than they think. Consider the following words:

ἄγγελος – angelos meaning ‘messenger’; angel, a metaphysical spirit.

ἀπό – apo meaning ‘away from’; apogee, farthest point from the Earth.

ἐΰ – eu meaning ‘well’; eugenics, science of well produced babies.

ζῷον – zóon meaning ‘animal’; zoology, biology of the animal kingdom.

ξένος – xenos meaning ‘foreigner’; xenophobia, the fear of foreigners.

οὐ – oe meaning ‘not’; utopia, an ideal and imaginary place.

παράpara meaning ‘from / at / to’; parallel, lines beside each other.

πόλεμος – polemos meaning ‘war’; polemic, a warlike saying.

στέφανος – stephanos meaning ‘crown’; Stephen, common European name.

φίλος – philos meaning ‘friend’; philosophy, the study of wisdom.

χρυσός  – krysos meaning ‘gold’; chrysanthemum, a golden flower.

See other: Ancient Greek You Know

Paradoxical Pink

Pink is desaturated red, but it approximates in common usage to magenta, a colour which is odd in that it ‘doesn’t exist’ in nature.

On a colour wheel, magenta comes between red and blue, but red and blue light are at opposite ends of the spectrum. For magenta light to exist, it would have to have a wavelength longer than red and shorter than blue, which is clearly impossible.

So magenta, which is sometimes loosely described as ‘pink’, is a construct of the brain (‘a pigment of the imagination’): when we see red and blue light together, the brain interprets it as magenta.

Pink doesn’t really exist and this is why some optical scientists say the colour pink should actually be called ‘minus green’. 

“One should be a painter. As a writer, I feel the beauty, which is almost entirely colour, very subtle, very changeable, running over my pen, as if you poured a large jug of champagne over a hairpin.” – Virginia Woolf, The Letters of Virginia Woolf: Volume Six, 1936-1941

Funnily enough, in 2009, the Madison Common Council voted to name the plastic pink flamingo as the official city bird.