Trivial Knowledge – Part II

“There is no trivia in a strategic mind.”

― Toba Beta

Yesterday’s post, “Trivial Knowledge”, elicited a reader email that agreed with my premise that anything known, even if it is just “trivia”, is knowledge, and asked for evidence that duck quacks don’t echo. Never one to back down from a challenge, I did the research:

Duck quacks don’t echo? In fact they can, and do, echo, as do all sounds in the right circumstances – repudiates, as an urban legend, the meme that duck’s quacks don’t echo. I am happy to acknowledge that this “factoid” is false. I didn’t make it up, don’t shoot the messanger, it’s something that I read. 

But what about all the other trivia I mentioned?

Most shopliffted food – candy in the U.S. and cheese in Europe? “The cheese and meat aisles are popular stops for thieves in grocery stores around the world, according to a recent report by the U.K.-based Center for Retail Research…Cheese is the most stolen food globally, followed by meat…Cheese is a hot commodity in Europe, while candies and infant formula are stolen at higher rates in the United States” ( But that still doesn’t answer my question, wondering if it’s because Europeans are more health conscious than Americans.

No natural blue food and why are most natural foods green? “The blue of Blueberries not blue enough for you?…The inside of the blueberry is purple. However, the skin of the blueberry is blue… And search online for images of blue quandong or Decaisnea fargesii, both of which bear fruit that’s blue to the point of being unnerving — the fruit of D. fargesii, in fact, is popularly known as dead man’s fingers… Green is the default plant color due to the chlorophyll needed for photosynthesis. Why chlorophyll is green is a question for another day.” (

The tone of American automobile horns? All sources online pretty much agree that the use of the single automobile horn in America today is in an F tone. In England, (and similarly, in much, if not all of Europe) they use a pair of horns that sound separated by an interval (in Britain, approximately B4 and G♯4, minor third) that give that “WHA-wha” sound Americans find so humorous (

Eavesdropping? The best I can find about the claim that 72% of people eavesdrop comes from that reports, “84% of us eavesdrop on other people’s conversations on public transport, research by O2 has revealed.” (O2 is a leading provider of mobile phones and mobile broadband in Britain.) Regardless of the percentage, most people eavesdrop. The reason why is probably a question better asked of mental health experts.

Apples or coffee the better wake-up? According to one online site, , “[An apple hasn’t] any compound like tryptophan that is known for triggering sleep. It does not contain caffeine that drives away sleep and keeps you awake. It has…large amounts of simple sugars. The amount of sugars does not give much stimulation to us as much given by chocolates or coffee. The reason for some people to feel that apple wakes them up was probably the way we eat apple starting with a strong bite and chewing it in order to swallow, its crunchiness, the energizing sugars and its sweet taste. It is only in our mind which gets recorded that either coffee or apple is responsible for waking us up and keep us energetic.” So maybe both work, coffee “drives away sleep” and the act of chewing an apple is sufficient to wake us up.

Honey can’t spoil? According to , “Honey is something of an oddity, in that, unlike most foods, it doesn’t spoil over time. In fact, the oldest known sample of honey, found in an Ancient Egyptian tomb and dated to approximately 3000 years ago, was still perfectly edible…The water content of honey is a key factor in why it doesn’t spoil. At 17%, its water content is much lower than that of bacteria or fungi. Honey also has a low water activity [which] makes it resistant to spoiling…Another factor that helps honey avoid spoiling is its acidity [which] boosts honey’s antibacterial properties, as many bacteria thrive in neutral rather than acidic conditions. Hydrogen peroxide is also produce[d] by the production of gluconic acid – this too can inhibit the growth of bacteria. Honey’s antibacterial properties are actually potent enough for it to be effective as an impromptu wound dressing.”

There is no rhyming word for “orange”? Well, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the only word that perfectly rhymes with “orange” is “sporange,” an uncommon botanical term for a part of a fern. And it also rhymes with Blorenge, a mountain in Wales.  Another – like the no duck quack echos – that isn’t true. Just goes to show that not everything you read or hear is factually true. 

Trivia, yes, but don’t you feel more knowledgeable now?

– Bill


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