People are always asking me, “Mark, how do you get ideas for your excellent and often hilarious blog posts?”*
Well, folks, some ideas come from stupid things I encounter personally, while others come from stupid things I see on TV or the web.
Often, when I come across a ridiculous story online and I don’t feel like writing a post just then, I’ll bookmark it and come back to it at a later date, so that I can then ask myself, “Why did I bookmark this article about a study which concluded that posters with eyeballs deter crimes?”
I must have had something in mind, right? The study hypothesized that people act differently when they think they are being watched, and that even a picture of eyes is enough to fool the brain into believing it is under surveillance. Months later, I couldn’t think of anything funny to write about it, other than a possible line about placing Margaret Keane posters in high crime areas.
Sometimes when I try to go back to something, the article I had bookmarked is gone. Such was the case with a story about archaeologists discovering 50-million-year-old sperm inside a fossilized worm cocoon from Antarctica. That just had to be good for some big yuks, so I tried to find another story about it by Googling “oldest sperm.”
One of the first results was “The World’s Oldest Sperm Becomes a Baby.”
Well, that certainly got my attention.
My first thought was “a baby worm?” Was this a Jurassic Park sort of thing with scientists resurrecting an ancient species, which would then get loose and go on a rampage? And, if so, how terrifying would rampaging worms be?
Greedy Theme Park Owner: Don’t close the park. The security gates will contain them.
Jeff Goldblum: I don’t think so. Nature wants to be free.
Scientist: If they start reproducing…
Jeff Goldblum: We’re going to, um, be needing a lot of fish hooks.
Anyway, I clicked the link and discovered that the baby was a human baby, which made the whole thing even creepier. They made a human baby from 50-million-year-old worm sperm? There was a picture of the baby, and, if that was the case, I can tell you it looked nothing like the father.
This would be a good time to point out that Google searches can sometimes result in odd juxtapositions.
It seems that, in the months since I had seen the worm sperm story, a baby had been born using 23-year-old human sperm. Twenty-three-year-old human sperm, while a mere infant pre-infant compared to 50-million-year-old worm sperm, was, nevertheless, the oldest human sperm to ever produce a baby and possibly the oldest sperm of any kind to produce an offspring of any kind, since no worm womb had yet birthed a wee worm from the worm sperm.
The birth of that baby turned out to be fortuitous, though. Because once I scrolled down the list of search results far enough to find an article about the worm sperm, I had forgotten what I was going to write about it.
In Other Archaeological News…
… a 22-pound lump of 2,000-year-old butter has been found in Ireland. In a typical Irish way, it was discovered by “a turf-cutter who was cutting peat for fuel.” This is typically Irish because I have no idea what the hell that means. Is turf-cutting something you do with a lawn mower? Why was the turf-cutter cutting peat? Shouldn’t he have been cutting turf? Is peat the same thing as turf? How come you never hear about people cutting peat in America? If you cut some peat, put it back and cut it again, is it a repeat? Is there such a thing as Astropeat? How much turf can a turf-cutter cut if a turf-cutter actually cuts turf?
Where was I? Right…butter.
So this turf-cutter found this butter which, evidently, people are finding all the time in the bogs of Ireland. In fact, according to the CNN story, “Hundreds of lumps of bog butter have been found in Ireland and Scotland.”
And that’s in addition to World War II lard that has washed up on shore in Scotland, about which I have previously reported.
And here’s the interesting thing about the butter: according to experts, it’s still edible. This puts an end once and for all the discussion about the validity of “use-by” dates.
Now all we need is some 2,000-year-old Irish soda bread to spread it on.
And, with that line, I was going to end this post, until I was searching through my refrigerator for margarine to spread on my bagel and I found a tub of Irish butter. Not only that, it was reduced fat Irish butter. I asked my wife why we had such a thing, and she said she saw it in the supermarket and wanted to try it.
This was amazing! Apparently, they were digging up so much ancient butter in the bogs of Ireland that they could package it and export it so that American lovers of antique dairy could enjoy it. Not only that, but they could reduce the amount of 2,000-year-old fat that was in it!
I asked my wife if it tasted different than our usual 21st century American butter. “A little saltier, maybe,” she replied.
Ah, yes. That must be the peat.
See you soon.
*Someone asked me once, possibly because they thought I was someone else.