This week on the Stuff You Should Know podcast we discussed a couple of interesting topics. Yesterday's show was about how to stop junk mail, which is something everyone definitely should know. Tuesday's show was a gem called "Can people really die of fright?" It was based on a stellar article by staff writer Molly Edmonds. Josh and I delved a bit into the science of fear and the potential medical issues that could arise if you were really scared -- aka the "Baskerville Effect."
We also looked at some interesting studies. One took a look at the death rate of people in China and Japan on the fourth day of the month, four being an unlucky number in much of Asia. They found that there was a 13 percent increase in heart failure on the fourth of each month compared to a Caucasian control group. So there's something to be said for chilling out on the fourth if you're Chinese or Japanese.
Here at HSW headquarters, we have the Captivate Network, a newsfeed broadcast on little televisions embedded in the elevators, since it's beyond imagination for humans not to be distracted at every possible moment of our lives. I actually made a New Year's resolution not to pay attention to the TVs, but that went the way of disco and this morning I read of a change in the government's stake in Citigroup.
CNN Money reports that the Treasury converted its 8 percent holding in the form of Citigroup preferred stock into a 40 percent stake in the form of common stock. At the same time, the bank announced a $9.6 billion goodwill impairment charge.
"What the heck's a goodwill impairment charge?" I asked another man in the elevator, figuring he was just some schlub like me. I'm a pretty friendly guy, on the order of Golden Retrievers, just making conversation.
CNN.com ran a story yesterday detailing one of the more comical anti-terror laws currently on the books. Was it protecting Americans from shoe bombers or hijackers? Not exactly. It's protecting Americans from people that dress in Colonial-era garb and lead mules alongside a Pennsylvania riverbank.
That's right -- some workers at the Hugh Moore Historical Park in Easton, PA are required to submit to a criminal background check as a condition of their employment. What kind of dangerous job do they perform? They pull a boat down a canal with two mules, just like in the good old days. Visitors to the park can take a ride in the boat as part of the tour. The employees who lead the mules at a staggering two mile per hour must apply for biometric Transportation Worker Identification Credentials, just like truckers and longshoremen.
Thanks to our friends at The Obscure Store for pointing the way to a story in the Naples Daily News. Down in Ft. Myers, Fla., this past weekend 17 kids (10 of which were underage) were busted at a house party. It happens, sure, but the problem was -- on top of the whole underage drinking thing -- is that the house party was thrown at house owned by Wells Fargo Bank.
It seems one upside of the housing bust is the ample foreclosed homes on the market that provide great places to throw ragers for bored teens. The house had been foreclosed on and had been empty for some time.
Apparently berserk on booze and hormones, the teens trashed the place: spraying graffiti on the walls, kicking in windows, and punching holes in the drywall. All told, the kids did around $75,000 worth of damage to the house.
Almost no one likes junk mail. It's seen as wasteful, unproductive and -- potentially -- harmful. Listen in as Josh and Chuck take a closer look at the nature and effects of junk mail in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
I've always found it interesting something so closely tied to oneself as their name is the one thing that you don't get to choose. Sure, you can change your name and create a new identity for yourself, but most of us go through life with the name our parent's gave us, for better or worse. This morning, BBC news turned me on to a recently published list of the most unfortunate names in the UK. It was compiled by The Baby Website after researchers dug into online phone listings in England.
Some of the more unfortunate names included Hazel Nutt, Justin Case and Stan Still. The site also checked out some American listings and found a Bill Board and an Anna Prentice, among others. Dr. Les Plack, a San Francisco dentist, seemed destined to live up to his name.
CNN, world news leader and supplier of Anderson Cooper's impeccably tailored suits, reports this morning on Leonard Abess, Jr., a banker and former majority shareholder in City National Bancshares, based in Miami. During his address to a joint session of Congress last night, President Obama singled out Mr. Abess as a model for CEOs the world around.
Thank you, ABC News for this story about a Hindu organization in India that will soon begin selling a soft drink containing cow urine. They plan to add some aloe vera and gooseberry to enhance the drinking experience and claim they don't know what the final flavor will be yet. My guess is cow urine.
The cow is sacred in Hinduism and urine in general has been used for its supposed medicinal properties for centuries. Believers of urine therapy claim that the practice can help cure almost any ailment. Problem is, mainstream medicine has never endorsed urine therapy as a safe or effective way to treat anything. This article from slate.com points out the numerous dangers of drinking your own urine and in my own survival research I learned that the U.S. Army Field Manual has urine on the list of no-noes.
Languages are a fascinating aspect of humanity. We certainly aren't the only species that communicates with one another using guttural noises, although our tongues help separate us from the rest of the Tree of Life through their ability to cut sounds into a vast array of polished words. We humans are, however, the only species that has managed to create written means of communication. As far as I know, we're also the only species that has chosen to dedicate an entire field of social science to the study of language.
Do you want to be the smartest person hovering around your water cooler on this post-Oscar Monday? Check out these cool facts and figures and get ready to wow your co-workers. Learn how much the Oscar weighs, what it cost to make and where it got its curious name.
It's not a new concept: Men look at women in bikinis differently than they do when women are fully dressed. A recent study by A Princeton psychologist has found just how deeply men objectify scantily-clad women. Men: prepare to cringe in shame. Women: prepare to be angry with men.
A Kansas City, MO woman discovered a superpower when her hair weave stopped a speeding bullet in its tracks. Was this dumb luck or can it be scientifically explained? We need our SYSK listeners to chime in on this one so we can get to the bottom of it.
Research examining the link between religion and a longer, healthier life is well-established and accepted in the scientific community. But is it a reward from God to his followers? More likely it's the self-control the pious practice that keeps them alive and out of the infirmary, says a new U of Miami study.
A new document released in England this week revealed some private details about German dictator's personal habits. Aside from having some poor table manners, Hitler was also reportedly known to suffer from excessive flatulence. Is this an important historical document or a case of too much information?
The sound of nails on a chalkboard elicits an almost universal reaction: The spine is electrified, the shoulders tighten, the eyes squeeze shut. Why does this sound affect us so? Despite the nefarious study of three men (and 24 hapless test subjects), the answer is ... we don't really know.
Since 1901, about 16 adventurous souls have gone over the falls in search of fame, usually in a barrel or sphere. Tune in as our resident experts take a look at the history of Niagara Falls in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.
The new pennies in circulation got us thinking -- how much does it cost to make a penny and is it worth it? The debate has been around for a while now and we want to know if you like your pennies or not.
As cruel as he was and as round as his comeuppance in the classic 1984 comedy, "Revenge of the Nerds," oversized geek hater Fred "The Ogre" Palowakski (correct spelling, In a survey of 65 male and 47 female college students, the s ...
The cookie is on the kitchen floor and it's decision time. Is there any scientific truth to the five-second rule? Chuck investigates and finds some interesting studies about this well-entrenched social code.