Facts I Wish I Didn't Know... commentary from Joan Carris

Jul 1, 2015

INTRO – There is what we know. There is what we don’t know. Then there is the stuff we just can’t mentally erase. Prepare yourself… commentator Joan Carris runs down some science you just can’t forget.

Now that the internet has supplanted encyclopedias, we can absorb new knowledge the way a whale eats krill: in voluminous gulps.  Today you can locate online any business impossible to find in your phone directory.  Medical conditions that you heard about only five minutes ago have multiple websites.  Before browsing, however, I’d suggest a double shot of bourbon.  For sure there are things we wish we did not know.

In particular, I know that most foods have way too many calories.  Is it fair for a piece of cherry pie to have 320 calories?  Cherries are fruit, for pete’s sake, and fruit is a dietary staple.  A small Carr’s water cracker with guacamole is 120 calories in one bite.  Worst of all is chocolate, which comes from the cacao bean, as we all know.  Beans are vegetables, another dietary staple.  But going from bean to one Ghirardelli chocolate square somehow adds 220 calories.  A few scientists should stop studying the water flea and turn their attention to this more pressing issue.

Next, I have learned that computers are not going to go away.  For years I have cursed them, encouraged other writers to keep their typewriters in peak condition, and prayed to the gods in all religions—to no avail.  I must bow to the pushy, intrusive E revolution.  The very least computer programmers could do is to realize that Real People out here want machines that do simple things simply.  Stop trying to be clever.

On another note, let’s consider pillows.  You probably have a favorite pillow, and like mine it may be over five years old.  Science tells us that this cherished pillow is stuffed with thousands of microscopic dust mites.  They live on the dead skin that we slough off, and on average each dust mite poops 20 times a day.  In.  Your.  Pillow.   So…perhaps it’s time for more bourbon, but for sure it is time for a new favorite pillow.

Still considering scientific facts, here’s a report from The Washington Post.  In a Belly Button Diversity project, led by J. Hulcr of NC State, scientists analyzed 95 separate navel samplings that revealed 1,400 different bacterial strains, some so new they couldn’t be classified.  I quote: “The human navel should be designated as a bacterial nature reserve.”  A bacterial nature reserve.  Hmm.  It’s doubtful that all 1,400 of these bacteria live in your personal belly button, of course, but you have at least a sizable village in there.  What do you suppose they do all day?  Well…maybe we don’t really want to know.

On a more visual level are bedbugs, found in nearly every bed in medieval days.  They’re much less prevalent now, but still active.   A brand new title by Brooke Borel, Infested, is touted as, “The biological and cultural history of bedbugs.”  Who knew that bedbugs had their own culture?

Science never sleeps.

©  Joan D. Carris    6 May 2015