Stuff I've Googled, what I Googled a few minutes ago, what I'm Googling now, why I'm Googling, and other fascinating information.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Has a narwhal ever been in captivity?


Search: narwhal captivity

Why: I was just making a Ranker list of famous people who have been immortalized in Google Doodles, and I to play with the the interactive one for my birthday buddy, Jules Verne. You can see narwhals at 0:15.


Answer: Kind of! Many have tried, at least. Transcript from this video:
Attempts at keeping narwhals in enclosures in the late-1960s and early-1970s ended in failure, the animals dying within a few months. Their long, sensitive tusks post a great obstacle in successfully keeping captive narwhals. It would require not only a very large aquarium space, but consideration of several factors reference to the narwhals' physical and mental well-being.

It's unlikely the narwhals will be seen in a zoo or aquarium any time within the near future. Considering the concern that many have for keeping large marine mammals - like whales and dolphins - in captivity, this may be for the best.
Here is a sad article about a baby narwhal named Umiak who died at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island in 1969.
Umiak was captured by Eskimos after they had killed its mother for meat and the baby subsequently followed the Eskimos' canoe, apparently as a substitute mother.
Get out of here.

The narwhal (Monodon monoceros) is considered a "medium-sized whale," with males measuring 13-18 ft. long (horn not included). They live in pods in the Arctic waters around Russia, Canada, and Greenland. Some lady narwhals have tusks, and some narwhals even grow two tusks!



Magnificent! My horn can pierce the sky!

Source: YouTube, WWF

The More You Know: What do narwhals do with their long beautiful horns? From a 2005 New York Times article:
Scientists have long tried to explain why a stocky whale that lives in arctic waters, feeding on cod and other creatures that flourish amid the pack ice, should wield such a long tusk. The theories about how the narwhal uses the tusk have included breaking ice, spearing fish, piercing ships, transmitting sound, shedding excess body heat, poking the seabed for food, wooing females, defending baby narwhals and establishing dominance in social hierarchies. 
But a team of scientists has made a startling discovery: the tusk, it turns out, forms a sensory organ of exceptional size and sensitivity, making the living appendage one of the planet's most remarkable, and one that in some ways outdoes its own mythology.
The find came when the team turned an electron microscope on the tusk's material and found new subtleties of dental anatomy. The close-ups showed that 10 million nerve endings tunnel from the tusk's core toward its outer surface, communicating with the outside world. The scientists say the nerves can detect subtle changes of temperature, pressure, particle gradients and probably much else, giving the animal unique insights.
"This whale is intent on understanding its environment," said the team's leader. Contrary to common views, he said, "The tusk is not about guys duking it out with sticks and swords."
So sensitive.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What are flotsam and jetsam?


Search: flotsam jetsam

Why: In this article about Flight 370:
All the team has to go on at the moment, said Dr. Griffin, are pixelated satellite images of objects that may just be flotsam unrelated to Flight 370.
The first time I ever heard "Flotsam and Jetsam" was in The Little Mermaid. They were moral eels and Ursula's little eel butt boys.



Answer: They are terms for shipwreck debris!
  • flotsam - the part of the wreckage of a ship and its cargo found floating on the water
  • jetsam - goods deliberately cast overboard as to lighten a vessel or improve its stability in an emergency, which sink where jettisoned or are washed ashore  
So flotsam floats, but jetsam has been jettisoned. That is easy.

Source: Dictionary.com

The More You Know: There is a secret third related term:
  • lagan - anything sunk in the sea, but attached to a buoy or the like so that it may be recovered
And there's also this shitty band and this song, which was posted by 666graveviolator666:


Thursday, March 7, 2013

What diva is named Nona?


Search: nona singer

Why: I was just listening to the Hedwig and the Angry Inch soundtrack for the 490th time this year alone. In "Midnight Radio," which has recently become one of my favorite songs (after "The Origin of Love," natch), the lyrics go like:
Here's to Patti and Tina
And Yoko, Aretha
And Nona, and Nico
And me
at 1:45


I think I know who all those other ladies are, but not Nona.

Answer: Nona Hendryx! She was a member of the trio Labelle along with Sarah Dash and, doy, Patti LaBelle, best known for their hit "Lady Marmalade" in 1974.

She's the beautiful white goddamn rufio peacock below:



They also had lots of other singles.

Thereafter, she had some solo singles and also fronted a progressive art-rock band called Zero Cool. In 1981, she did the vocals for the club hit "Bustin Out" with the funky No Wave group Material.


Source: The Straight Dope, Wikipedia

The More You Know: Another singer named Nona is Nona Gaye, daughter of Marvin Gaye, but that's probably not whom we're talking about here. If it is, sorry, Nona.


Friday, March 1, 2013

What's the song playing in the square in "Groundhog Day"?


Search: groundhog day song square band has begun

Why: A few days ago, Chandler looked at me and said, "It's Groundhog Day." After a moment, I said, "I... don't think you know when Groundhog Day is." Because it was almost a month ago. His phone had sent him an alert to tell him it was Groundhog Day. Though we later determined that this was an old alert caused by an incomplete update, it didn't explain why, at 33, Chandler doesn't know when Groundhog Day is...

But that's irrelephant. The next morning, I was trying to sing that song from the major motion picture Groundhog Day, but found it difficult because I don't know the words. Not "I Got You Babe" -


- not that one. Obviously. The one that they play in Gobbler's Knob. To my brain, it sounds something like, "Wake up - the music - the band has begun - dum dum dum dum - another day for poking."

Answer: "Pennsylvania Polka"!


Lyrics go like:
Strike up the music, the band has begun
The Pennsylvania Polka
Pick out your partner, and join in the fun
The Pennsylvania Polka
It started in Scranton, it's now Number 1
It's bound to entertain ya
Everybody has a mania
To do the polka from Pennsylvania
While they're dancing
Everybody's cares are quickly gone
Sweet romancing
This goes on and on until the dawn
They're so carefree
Gay with laughter, happy as can be
They stop to have a beer
Then the crowd begins to cheer
They kiss, and then they start to dance again
That's some joyful noise.

Source: LyricSet

The More You Know: Two things:

1. Punxsutawney is probably spelled differently than you think. In fact, I spelled it wrong in this post about the first Groundhog Day more than 2 years ago. (Leaving unedited for posterity.)

2. According to the Internet, "Pennsylvania Polka" was performed by Frankie Yankovic, who, according to the Internet, is known as "America's Polka King." He is not related to Weird Al Yankovic, who is also known for making polka medleys - such as "Polka Your Eyes Out," which was on an album I acquired in 3rd grade:


This one from 2011 is called "Polka Face":


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Who played Freddie Mercury in the video for "The Miracle"?


Search: the miracle video

Why: Yesterday, I was watching a bunch of goat edition videos to do a yelling goat meme roundup for Ranker / because they are (occasionally) hilarious. I ran across this shitty one,


but even though it's super lazy and only has that one annoying shrieking goat - which I'm pretty sure is a sheep anyway - I was kind of like, "Wow, Freddie Mercury is was a pretty magnetic performer." I realized I had only really ever seen him perform "live" twice, in the video for "Bohemian Rhapsody" and in that one Queen Live Aid performance that is everywhere all the time.

So I clicked around a bit, and then I ended up looking at this video for "The Miracle":


Who is that kid? He's sprightly. I thought it was a girl until she showed his nips.

Answer: Why, it's Scottish actor Ross McCall!



Do you recognize him as Joseph Liebgott from Band of Brothers?


I don't, because I have not (yet) watched that thing. But I hear it's good!

Source: Wikipedia

The More You Know: I am a person who likes the character Aldous Snow a lot, both in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. Here he is performing "The Clap" with Infant Sorrow at my local amphitheatre.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where does the name Jonquil come from?


Search: jonquil name meaning

Why: We watched The Queen of Versailles a few weeks ago. The Siegel family has a combined, like, 10 kids, including an adopted daughter / niece named Jonquil. That is not one I hear often.

Answer: It means "Narcissus flower"! And you know what that is? The real name of the daffodil!!


Oh, how fun!

According to this Wiccan blog, when used to describe a color, "jonquil" means "a pale yellow." Also,
In Victorian flower language, jonquils mean "I hope for return of affection."
In this floriography chart here, these flowers mean these things:

  • Daffodil: Uncertainty, chivalry, respect or unrequited love, return my affection
  • Jonquil: "Return my affection"
  • Narcissus: Unrequited love, selfishness

tl;dr: don't name your kid Narcissus.


Source: BabyNamesWorld, Merriam-WebsterBewitching Names

The More You Know: A few other flower names you maybe didn't know were plant names and/or have never heard used on a person:

  • Bryony 
  • Calathea
  • Celandine
  • Daphne
  • Linnaea
  • Lobelia
  • Tansy
  • Zinnia
My grandmother has a friend named Zinnia.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

What is Omri Katz up to?


Search: omri katz 2012

Why: I'm watching Hocus Pocus for the first time this year. It's just as exquisite as I remember from last year. In 1993, Omri Katz was one of my first big screen boyfriends.


Answer: Oh gosh, just breaking my heart. Not being in things. These are literally the only credits to his name since 1993:
Here is some sort of abomination that was posted to the Internet in 2006.



I don't care.

Omri: If you are in LA but not a hairdresser like the Internet says, call me between auditions. We can have a romantic lunch at Umami Burger on Little Santa Monica.

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

The More You Know: Remember when Garry Marshall and Penny Marshall play husband and wife in Hocus Pocus? That was super weird.


Because they are brother and sister.

Also, remember the dad in that movie? Charles Rocket? He slashed his own throat in 2005, only 9 years after he starred in It's Pat. (He was also the bad guy in Dumb & Dumber.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

I want to watch a video of a platypus hatching


Search: platypus hatching; echidna hatching

Why: The other morning, Chandler said, "I sleep standing up! and-" and then - in unison - we both said, "I only eat at night!" He was very "How do you know that??" and "What is that even from???" and it was from this Wildlife Treasury commercial, which we both watched probably on Nickelodeon in the 1980s.



The duck-billed platypus has feet like a duck, but it's furry. Now it's all I can think about.

Answer: Well, I can't find a video of a platypus hatching, BUT! I did find this. Watch it, and then we'll talk about what we've learned:



Source: YouTube

The More You Know: Facts about echidnas and platypodes!
  1. Mammals that lay eggs are called monotremes. There are 5 extant species of monotremes (4 of which are echidnas - there is only one species of platypus [duck-billed]).
  2. Echidnas have pouches. Most animals that have pouches are marsupials (literally "having a pouch"), but echidnas are not marsupials. Platypodes do not have pouches.
  3. Echidnas lay one egg at a time. They keep their little baby blobs in their pouches for 7 weeks until they grow spin. Then the moms drop the babies off in burrows, which they visit every few days. They care for and nurse their little baby blobs for 5-6 months.
  4. Monotreme egg shells are leathery, kind of like reptile eggs. An embryo grows an egg tooth that it uses to break out of the shell, kind of like a bird or I guess a reptile.
  5. BABY ECHIDNAS ARE CALLED PUGGLES OMG. There is no official name for a baby platypus, but you could probably get away with calling it a puggle.
  6. For a little while, right after hatching, echidna puggles breathe through their skin. They also kind of look like tardigrades.
  7. Monotremes don't have nipples, but adapted pores that excrete milk on their tummies.
  8. Platypodes are born with teeth, but they drop off over time. Echidnas never have teeth (except the egg teeth).
  9. The male echidna has a four-headed penis. During mating, the heads on one side "shut down" and do not grow in size; the other two are used to release semen into the girl's hoo-ha. The heads used swap each time it bangs. Click here to see the four-headed echidna penis because you are a pervert. (Here too.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How big is a whale's blowhole?


Search: how big is a whale's blowhole; blowhole size

Why: You guys, guess where I finally went Sunday for the first time ever? I'll give you 3 hints:




That's right: Comic-Con!

Answer: Well, what kind of whale we talking here? 
  • Blue? According to this documentary about bleu whales, their blowholes are big enough for a toddler to fit inside.
  • The humpback whale blowhole is 8-10 inches long.
  • The sperm whale blowhole is about 20 inches long. It is also S-shaped.
  • I can't find any information about killer whale blowholes, but based on this photo (which must have been taken before this happened), I am going to estimate that it's something like... 4 inches in diameter? I have no idea. You could definitely fit your whole fist in it, if that's what you're wondering.

The blowhole leads to the whale's trachea, which then goes to its lungs, bypassing the mouth. The spray from a humpback whale's blow hole goes 10-13 feet in the air. The spray from a blue whale's blowhole can go up to 30 feet!

It takes a dolphin only a fraction of a second to empty its blowhole. Baby dolphins are too dumb to understand breathing, so they raise their heads out way above the water until they get the hang of it.


Source: Enchanted Learning, Neatorama, National Geographic, this site, Understand DolphinsPanda's Thumb (which also has part of an interesting essay about the evolution of whale nipples)

The More You Know: The blowhole is covered by a muscular flap that the whale contracts to open. When closed, the seal is water-tight. If water gets in there, the whale could drown.

Also, baleen whales (humpbacks, blue whales, gray whales) each have 2 blowholes! TWO!!


The other kind of whale (Odontoceti - sperm, killer, beluga, dolphin) is called "toothed."
One of the nostrils (air-passages) of toothed whales evolved into their echolocation system (the sensing system in which they make and receive high-pitched sounds in order to orient themselves, catch prey, and communicate), leaving them with only one blowhole.
Put that in your hole and smoke it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Are there any pets in the Bible?


Search: pets in the bible

Why: I made this list of the Best Fictional Pets the other day at my place of business, and I was looking at it again just now. I included Argos, the loyal puppy from The Odyssey, and then I thought "O wait! Maybe it's rude to call The Odyssey 'fiction'?" I don't know why I thought that, but then my brain obviously leapt straight to the Bible.

Answer: No! Not named ones, anyway. There are animals about, but they don't seem to be domesticated enough where you could have them live in your house and take naps on your tummy.


Interestingly (? you be the judge), there are exactly 40 references to dogs in "the Bible or citations in Scripture." The fellow who wrote this article believes that means that dogs are messengers of God, though it looks like he had to do quite a bit of finessing to come up with that nice round sacred number. After all, several of the verses are identical, and one time, he counts the verb "to dog," which I don't think translates the same way in Aramaic. (PS: One of the only words I remember from a billion years of Hebrew school is kelev, "dog.")

Also, most of the times they're mentioned, dogs are described as wild ominous beasts who eat people, get treated poorly, and/or are disgusting. For example:
  • 1 Kings 14:11
    Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country. The LORD has spoken!'
  • Psalm 22:16
    Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
They're coming.
  • Proverbs 26:11
    As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.
  • Philippians 3:2
    Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.
  • Revelation 22:15
    Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Dogs also did some shepherding, hunting, and companioning, and it looks like they were occasionally not dangerous:
  • Mark 7:27
    "First let the children eat all they want," he told her, "for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."
  •  Luke 16:21
    ...and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
  • Proverbs 12:10
    Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.
I don't know. Some of the other animals mentioned in the Bible were ones from the Middle East: cattle, camels, ostriches, locusts, fish, lizards... Not tigers or penguins or Galapagos turtles or velociraptors or anything, but they were all probably just lumped under categories like "birds" and "beasts" and then, obviously, on the Arc.

But anyway: no, there weren't any pets in the Bible. And I'll tell you something else that was for sure never said:


Source: Yahoo! Voices, Wikipedia, All About the Bible, answers2prayer

The More You Know: There are no cats in the Bible as we know it... But have you heard of the Book of Baruch? Most of the text of it has been lost, but it allegedly had a line or two about kitties. Nobody knows what they called them or anything, but I'm sure whatever the name was, it was adorable.


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