Jan. 2, 2002

Laughter is the 5th-Best Medicine

By Roy Rivenburg
Out of Sight, Out of Mind: It’s time for the deception to end. For years, humans have been brainwashed to believe countless annoying proverbs, such as ‘‘Birds of a feather flock together’’ and ‘‘A penny saved is a penny earned.’’ Now, scientists are discovering that many of these sayings are untrue. For example, researchers at Harvard recently analyzed the claim that ‘‘a picture is worth a thousand words’’ and found that a picture is actually worth only 967 words. Other sayings have also come under scrutiny:

-- ‘‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’’ Government records reveal that Necessity adopted Invention after its biological parents were killed in a car crash.
-- ‘‘Laughter is the best medicine.’’ Not quite. According to a double-blind study in Finland, laughter is the fifth-best medicine, behind aspirin, penicillin, placebos and Vicks VapoRub.
-- ‘‘Beauty is only skin deep.’’ Actually, in a comparison of the spleens, gallbladders, livers, pituitary glands and pancreases of 500 cadavers, a panel of judges found the internal organs of attractive humans to be 32 percent prettier. The adage should be adjusted to ‘‘Beauty is only internal-organ deep.’’
-- ‘‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’’ Although this is technically accurate, the proverb is still misleading. As it turns out, Rome was built in 36 hours, using prefabricated materials.
-- ‘‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’’ This was true for centuries, but thanks to a 1972 federal highway grant, the road is now paved with fire-retardant bricks and also has carpool lanes, scenic turnouts and emergency call boxes.

Odd Business Names, Part II: In a recent item about the Sit On It chair manufacturing company and Tic Tac Tow towing company, we invited readers to send in other clever business names they’ve seen. A sampling:

-- Edifice Wrecks, a demolition company in St. Petersburg, Fla. (submitted by Claire Martin of Denver).
-- Vicious Cycle, a motorcycle dealer in Portland, Ore. (submitted by Josiah Bartlett of Hillsboro, Ore.).
-- Hung Far Low, a Chinese restaurant in Oregon (Josiah Bartlett).
-- No Cats Allowed, a dog-grooming business in the Pacific Northwest (courtesy of Robert J. Bradley).

The Buzz on Fibbing: An 81-year-old Iowa woman has been named World Champion Liar of 2001, according to a spokesman for the Burlington Liars Club of Wisconsin. Then again, how do we know the spokesman is telling the truth? Perhaps the real winner is the runner-up whose entry in the annual lying contest claimed that a Pennsylvania beekeeper created the world’s most productive bees by crossing honeybees with fireflies so the insects could work at night.

Accidental Tourist Bureau: Most people who visit this Website do so deliberately, but others stumble across it while searching the Internet for esoteric topics. Our webmaster compiled a list of search phrases that have led Internet surfers to offkilter.org. Our favorites: ‘‘How to become a rap singer,’’ ‘‘National Hairball Awareness Day,’’ ‘‘plans for building a moat,’’ ‘‘Burt Reynolds’ toupee,’’ ‘‘Bigfoot mating calls,’’ ‘‘Bin Laden show tunes,’’ ‘‘camouflage caskets,’’ ‘‘cologne worn by Napoleon,’’ ‘‘perverted pumpkin carving,’’ ‘‘Puerto Rican hairstyles,’’ ‘‘hotwire ignition Dodge van,’’ ‘‘Saddam Hussein action figure’’ and ‘‘canines in the Oval Office.’’

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Mail-Order Midgets! They’ll Clean Your House, Wash Your Car -- and Even Be Your Friend!’’ (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: Mark Petix, Ann Harrison, Associated Press.

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate