‘America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: ‘if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?’ There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register. […]
Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.’
– Vonnegut. K. 1969. Slaughterhouse-Five New York, United States: Random House (2007) p. 128-129
‘Consider, for instance, the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is now the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. The virus infects over half the American population and causes nearly five thousand women to die each year from cervical cancer; the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than two hundred thousand die worldwide. We now have a vaccine for HPV that appears to be both safe and effective. The vaccine produced 100 percent immunity in the six thousand women who received it as part of a clinical trial. And yet, Christian conservatives in our government have resisted a vaccination program on the grounds that HPV is a valuable impediment to premarital sex. These pious men and women want to preserve cervical cancer as an incentive toward abstinence, even if it sacrifices the lives of thousands of women each year.
There is nothing wrong with encouraging teens to abstain from having sex. But we know, beyond any doubt, that teaching abstinence alone is not a good way to curb teen pregnancy or the spread of sexually transmitted disease. In fact, kids who are taught abstinence alone are less likely to use contraceptives when they do have sex, as many of them inevitably will. One study found that teen “virginity pledges” postpone intercourse for eighteen months on average—while, in the meantime, these virgin teens were more likely than their peers to engage in oral and anal sex. American teenagers engage in about as much sex as teenagers in the rest of the developed world, but American girls are four to five times more likely to become pregnant, to have a baby, or to get an abortion. Young Americans are also far more likely to be infected by HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The rate of gonorrhea among American teens is seventy times higher than it is among their peers in the Netherlands and France. The fact that 30 percent of our sex-education programs teach abstinence only (at a cost of more than $200 million a year) surely has something to do with this.
The problem is that Christians like yourself are not principally concerned about teen pregnancy and the spread of disease. That is, you are not worried about the suffering caused by sex; you are worried about sex. As if this fact needed further corroboration, Reginald Finger, an Evangelical member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, recently announced that he would consider opposing an HIV vaccine—thereby condemning millions of men and women to die unnecessarily from AIDS each year—because such a vaccine would encourage premarital sex by making it less risky. This is one of many points on which your religious beliefs become genuinely lethal.’
In order to celebrate Knowledge Guild’s 5th anniversary we are going to take a closer look at the number 5. Do not worry, it is not as dull as it sounds.
The number of people killed by sharks since records began is equal to just five per cent of the number of toilet-related injuries in the USA in 1996.
In the 18th century, 75% of all children died before they were five years old. 90% of children born in workhouses died before they were five years old.
As a trick, the writer Arthur Conan Doyle once sent a letter to five friends that read, “We are discovered. Flee immediately.” One of his friends disappeared and Doyle never saw him again.
An enzyme found in pineapples called “Bromelain” destroys fingerprints. It was used as a plotline in an episode of Hawaii Five-O. This enzyme can also get rid of mouth ulcers.
Chelmsford was capital of England for five days in 1381 during the Peasants Revolt.
The Punjabi for the number “5” is “4”.
The most dangerous sport for American women is cheerleading. In 2002, 22,900 children between five and eighteen years of age went to hospital for cheerleading related injuries.
Charles Darwin is one of only five people who are not royal to be buried in Westminster Abbey.
Smoking takes five years off your health expectancy on average. However, as a man, removing your testicles adds thirteen years onto it.
The Hebrew for the number “5” is pronounced “Hey”.
The average height of an Eskimo is 5’4″ and the average life expectancy is 39. If you put five Eskimos in car, every Eskimo in the world could fit into the Los Angeles International Airport car park.
The best thing to do with an old Christmas tree is to contact your local zoo and see if they want to give it to their animals for food. In Germany people often feed Christmas trees to elephants, which can eat five of them for lunch. In Dresden Zoo they also give Christmas trees to giraffes, rhinos, camels, deer and sheep.
In Alexandre Dumas’ novel La Dem Aux Camelias, the main heroine, Marguerite Gautier, wears a white camellia for 25 days of month when she is available for sex, and a red one for five days when she is not available because she is having her period. The novel caused scandal in 19th century France when it was published and the flowers popularity grew.
The five appendages on most starfish exhibit pentamerism.
Only five people died in the Great Fire of London.
India has no speed limits and every car in the country within five years will be involved in a fatal road accident. The UK has the largest number of car thefts in the world.
Five pound notes are made out of a mixture of cotton and linen. Wooden paper is too fragile.
There are only five places in America which have an apostrophe in them which are Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; Ike’s Point, New Jersey; John E’s Pond, Rhode Island; Carlos Elmer’s Joshua View, Arizona; and Clark’s Mountain, Oregon.
In the British Army, you can tell which branch of the Brigade of Guards a soldier is in by the gaps between the buttons. If they are evenly spaced, they are in the Grenadiers Guards. Pairs mean they are Coldstream Guards, threes are Scottish Guards, fours are Irish Guards, and fives are Welsh Guards.
The ideal way to kiss a Frenchman depends on what region of France you are in. Two kisses are normal in central and southern France and four in northern France. However, in Corsica it can be as many as five kisses. In Belgium and the Netherlands, three kisses is the usual amount.
Anchovies are now mainly used for feed salmon in fish farms. For every salmon, five kilograms of anchovies are killed. Therefore, salmon farming is not really sustainable.
Each country in the world has their own idea of how many portions of fruit and veg you should eat every day. The reason it is five in Britain is because doctors are of the belief that you cannot persuade the public to eat more than that. In Japan they recommend eating nine portions of fruit and veg, in Denmark it is six, in France it is ten.
A Fitzroy is a bastard child of a royal. Charles II had five Fitzroys from his mistress Barbara Palmer.