On a regular basis I click into the various Internet fact checking sites to arm myself for the inevitable forward from some well-meaning friend who doesn’t want me to (as the latest Internet warning says) “die of a brain hemorrhage by innocently answering a call from a list of five deadly, high microwave frequency numbers, which have already killed 27 people”. These forwards, along with a myriad of other political “facts”, computer virus panics, calls for action to save a dying child and stories of imminent wondrous celestial events, are primarily the kaboodle part of the Internet’s whole kit and kaboodle ethos.
By visiting these fact checking sites you can learn what’s new in the lurid rumor department, which of the rumors are false and which are true. You can also learn which of your well-meaning friends are as gullible as Charlie Brown at a place-kicking competition.
In my most recent foray into the wonderful world of Internet legends I discovered some old news that is new again, slightly repackaged. First was the horrifying story of the entire troop of Boy Scouts who died during an overnight camping trip after they ate hot dogs and marshmallows skewered on oleander sticks; oleander being poisonous and all. This, I was relieved to learn, was not true. Actually, they all died from puncture and blunt trauma wounds inflicted by a mysterious one-armed man with a hook where his hand use to be. No really, it was confirmed by someone’s best friend’s cousin’s neighbor whose son is in that troop but who didn’t go camping because of an acne flare-up.
Oleander poisoning, give me a break!
On the 21st of June this year, the star “Aderoid” was scheduled to come withing 34.65 million miles of earth and “…look as large as the sun from naked eye”. The tortured grammar of the “naked eye” phrase was my first clue that this Internet information was suspect. That and the fact that on or about June 21, 2011 the Earth didn’t turn into a smoldering carbon slag heap. Then again, when it’s 112 degrees from Omaha to Dallas what’s one more fiery orb more or less?
“Someone in my sister’s EMT class told her that one may sell their left testicle to Vanderbilt University for $50,000. They told her it had to be the left one.”
“I heard that there is a medical place in Texas that will pay any male $50,000 for there (sic) Testicles (sic), can you tell me if this is true and where I can go for this? I have been hearing this for over 11 years now and can’t find where it is at (sic).”
Whoa now, wait just a gol-darn minute. Is it just the left testicle or can one sell the entire set? And, if the latter, is it $50,000 per testicle or is that a package price?
As it happens, the buying of human testicles, either left or right, isn’t happening at U.S. universities due to two factors: (1) it’s illegal to buy or sell any human organs and (2) universities don’t want more testicles on campus.
In researching this particular Internet factoid I learned that for men who have had a testicle removed for health reasons or in anticipation of a lucrative sale to Vanderbilt, there is a medical device company, also in the breast implant business, that produces and sells testicle implants. Because there is no clinical reason to replace a missing testicle with a small silicon sack, the reason rests solely on cosmetic concerns; same as breasts. This calls to mind a theoretical locker room exchange.
“Wow, Ted, your tee-to-green game today was really fantastic.”
“Hey thanks, Brian, and might I say, I really love what you’ve done with your scrotum.”
In May, 2008, 15-year-old Falicity Wishkeno of Topeka, Kansas, was hit by lightning while taking a shower.
In November, 2007, a (lightning) bolt hit a teenager who was washing her hair. “It hit my wrist and basically lit up my arm. The shower-head flew out of my hand.”
In June, 2001, Josephine Martine of Deal, England was blown out of her bath by a lightning bolt.
In August, 1988, as Elanor Loux of Exeter, Rhode Island, brushed her teeth at her bathroom sink, she saw a bolt of lightning leap from her toilet. The resulting ball of fire then bounced off walls and the ceiling of her bathroom until it dissipated.
These lightning/bathroom pieces are all verified and true. I’m pleased to report that no one died in these shocking events. What can we learn from these stories? Well first, when there is a thunderstorm nearby and you are a female, personal hygiene can wait. Second, indoor plumbing is not always our friend.
I also suggest, if at any time you are in your bathroom and a fireball leaps out of your toilet, you should immediately check the linen closet to see if Linda Blair is hiding inside with an open can of Campbell’s split pea soup.
Observoid of the Day: If you search for 11 years and still can’t determine whether you can sell your gonads to “some Medical place” in Texas for $50,000, perhaps you should donate both testicles just to limit the spread of your gene pool.