It is more important to do the right thing than to do things right.  Peter Drucker

WHICH IS YOU?  According to the UTILITARIANISM of Jeremy Bentham, the right action is the one that results in the greatest happiness for the greatest number.  For Immanuel KANT, the right action is the one that conforms to a certain idea of duty, regardless of consequences, thus it is always wrong to kill an innocent person...even to save the world.  According to VIRTUE ETHICS, morality can’t be captured in a universal code;  the right thing to do in a particular situation is what a virtuous person would do. 


136.  According to the Volstead Law, what % alcohol made liquor intoxicating?

137.  What is Eleanor Roosevelt’s first name?

138.  Where is Thomas Edison’s last breath?

139.  A 1934 reference to “heavenly crisp” is called what today?

140.  Play Doh was invented in 1956, for what use?

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING.  TowerGroup estimates that of the $80 billion spent on gift cards in 2006, roughly $8 billion will never be redeemed.  Consumer Reports estimates that 19% of the people who received them in 2005 never used them.  Best Buy earned $16 million last year in unused gift cards.

Recent USDA data found that the highest PESTICIDE residue is in apples, nectarines, peaches, pears and strawberries.

Orthodox Jewish women cover their hair once they are married;  all Muslim women are expected to.  Both are expected to cover their bodies, legs and arms.

TAXES:  IRS spent 21% less time auditing fewer large corporations in the past 5 years (according to Syracuse U. researchers who had to litigate to get the data), contrary to IRS Commissioner Everson.   Even so, $13.7 billion of cheating was found.  IRS admitted that since 1990 corporate profits to shareholders have been about half the profits reported on individual tax returns.  Ten years ago there were 1/3 more tax auditors

PIGEON POOP is made rock-hard when they are fed white bread [processed flour].

COMPUTER JUNK.  Apple will take back their old equipment, and some states require it.  See the guide at www.computertakeback.com.  Unfortunately, most recyclers are not responsible in their disposal methods.

To fight aloud is very brave

but gallanter I know,

who charge within the bosom

the cavalry of woe.         Emily Dickinson

MUSLIM countries that have had WOMEN prime ministers.  Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh.

WHY OUR MILITARY IS SO LARGE.  For years it has been noted that the government subsidized gasoline by spending billions of tax dollars to keep ships in the Persian Gulf and troops on the ground to assure the flow of oil.  Milton Copulos testified to the Senate Foreign Rel’ns Comm. in March:  The “hidden costs” of gasoline imports in 2005 include $780 billion in military costs which would add $4.05 to the price of each gallon of gas.

The MOST ORNAMENTED BUILDING in America is Philadelphia’s Second Empire-style City Hall with over 250 sculptures--credited to Alexander Milne Calder, grandfather of Alexander Calder, creator of the mobile.  It is not supported by steel, but by stone and brick stacked on stone and brick.  Its 548-foot tower, which surpasses all the cathedrals of Europe, is topped by the largest statue on any building anywhere:  a 37-foot-high William Penn.  With 27 acres of floor space, it is bigger than every other municipal seat in the nation, all 50 state capitols and the national Capitol.  Philadelphia set out to build the world’s tallest building, but delays allowed the Washington Monument to beat it [by 7 feet] and then the Eiffel Tower.


UofP:  “You have just completed your 300-page autobiography.  Please submit page 217.”

Cal Tech:  “Please fill the rectangle below with something you think is interesting.”

Northwestern:  “If you could pose for a formal oil portrait in the style of Hans Holbein’s ‘The Ambassadors,’ what possessions would surround you and why?”

Princeton:  “Your favorite word.”

UN RESOLUTION 181 [11.29/1947] created an Arab state and a Jewish state, with special international status for JERUSALEM.  The city’s status is still in dispute.  From 1949 to 1967 the city was divided:  Jordan controlled the Old City and East Jerusalem;  Israel controlled West Jerusalem.  Since the 1967 war, all of the city has been controlled by Israel and the boundaries have been expanded.  Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority are happy.

37% of American Catholics are Hispanic.

ALI BABA and ALLADDIN were not characters in the original “Arabian Nights” of 300 years ago.  They were 18th century French additions.

The newly necessary modification of an old noun is called a RETRONYM says William Safire;  defined as “a word or phrase created because an existing term that was once used alone needs to be distinguished from a term referring to a new development.”  Examples:  analog watch, snail mail, console TV, hardcover book, true freshman, rotary phone, whole milk, tap water.  Can you think of others?

NEW TECH CONCEPT from Popular Mechanics:  SMART PILLS.  When swallowed, this tiny sensor transmits data about pressure, acidity and temperature as it goes through the G-I tract.

Elizabeth G suggests you take the TEST:  www.flashbynight.com/test/

From ARTICLE 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Code: 

“For the purpose of this Statute, ‘crime against humanity’ means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

(a) Murder;  (b) Extermination;  (c) Enslavement;  (d) Deportation...; (e) Imprisonment...;  (f) Torture;  (g) Rape...;  (h) Persecution...;  (i) Enforced disappearance of persons;  (j) The crime of apartheid;  (k) Other inhumane acts. ...”

I find Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld et alia guilty of at least seven of them.

KWIKWIZ answers:

136.  One half of one percent or more.

137.  Anna

138.  In a test tube in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan

139.  S’mores:  toasted, gooey marshmallows put inside a graham cracker and chocolate bar sandwich.

140.  Wallpaper cleaner.

CHALLENGE #39 was:  The oldest known geological map is the Turin Papyrus from 1150 B.C.  What is the next oldest?  Answer:  the mid 1700s--almost 3,000 years later--Jerry got it!

CHALLENGE #40:  A famous author who lived on Long Island and didn’t mow his lawn, drive a car or have a job.  He read avidly from the local library, but refused to enter;  the librarian delivered his books to him outside.  Who?


"Potpourri" is issued each week on an opt-in/opt-out basis.

Please respond if you would like to be added to or deleted from distribution. 

panem et circenses from Your Obedient Servant, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]


A NEW CIVIL WAR?  Shites and Sunnis have been fighting and killing each other for about 1,400 years over who was the righful heir to Muhammad.

NANOTECHNOLOGY.  The Environmental Protection Agency said it would classify Samsung’s SilverCare line of washingmachines as a pesticide because the machines ionize silver atoms and add them to the wash--100 quadrillion per load--to kill bacteria and viruses.


141.  Where do most of the tornadoes in the world strike?

142.  10 calories of fossil fuel produce how many calories of food?

143   Who gave the name Dalai Lama to Tibet’s spiritual/national leader?

144.  Which famous movie director invented a tatooing method to prevent lost/stolen household pets?

145.  Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein II, Frank Loesser, Al Pacino, Maya Angelou and Kareem Abdul Jabbar were born here.

“The dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those of nuclear weapons.”  Bulletin of Atomic Scientists [thebulletin.org]

The U.S. and Russia have 26,000 nuclear weapons.

“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”  Dorothy Parker

TORAH SCHOLAR from Alan:  A Jewish girl brings her fiancé home to meet her parents. After dinner, her mother tells her father to find out about the young man.

"So what are your plans?" the father asks the fiancé. 

"I am a Torah scholar," he replies. 

"A Torah scholar," the father says. "Admirable, but what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in, as she's accustomed to?" 

"I will study," the young man replies, "and God will provide for us." 

"And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring, such as she deserves?" asks the father. 

"I will concentrate on my studies," the young man replies, "God will provide for us." 

"And children?" asks the father. "How will you support children?" 

"Don't worry, sir, God will provide," replies the fiancé. 

The conversation proceeds like this, and each time the father questions, the fiancé insists that God will provide.  Later, the mother asks, "How did it go?" The father answers, "He has no job and no plans, but the good news is he thinks I'm God."

There is 60% more MONEY deposited in NYC banks than in all the banks in California.

Thanks to GOVERNOR BUSH, almost 25% of Texans have no health insurance.

ABOUT 3,000 Americans were lost on 9/11 and in Iraq and are now on death row.

CALIFORNIA held its per-capita consumption of electricity CONSTANT for 30 years, while the rest of the nation increased usage by 50%.  [They set steadily higher standards for E efficiency of buildings/appliances, and created incentives for utilities to work/consumers to use less.]

BEST THING SINCE...In 1928 Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented sliced bread.

Before invading Iraq RUMSFELD said the cost would be about $50 Billion [WH advisor Lawrence lindsey was fired by Bush for saying it would be as high as $200 Billion].  It is now about $300 Million/day for a likely total of about $1.5 Trillion.

PRIORITIES:  Bush’s planned escalation will cost $20 Billion.  In contrast, the annual budget for cancer research is $6 Billion.  To immunize ALL the world’s children against 6 diseases:  $600 Million.  Universal healthcare would cost $100 Billion.

“While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?”  George Bernard Shaw

Schools train teachers...colleges just give them a readiness program.

TERMS from the British weekly New Scientist:

- EGO-SURFING: When you frequently check your name and reputation on the Internet.

- BLOG STREAKING: "Revealing secrets or personal information online which for everybody's sake would be best kept private."

- CRACKBERRY: "The curse of the modern executive: not being able to stop checking your BlackBerry, even at your grandmother's funeral."

- CYBERCHONDRIA: "A headache and a particular rash at the same time? Extensive online research tells you it must be cancer."

- PHOTOLURKING: Flicking through a photo album of someone you've never met.

- WIKIPEDIHOLISM: Excess devotion to contributing to the online collaborative encyclopaedia, Wikipedia. (Wikipedia even has a page where you can test whether you're an addict).

GASOLINE accounts for almost 1/2 U.S. oil use...therefore, we need an energy tax [3¢/gal/month?] and federal fuel efficiency standards [now it’s 27.5 mpg exc. for SUVs and “light trucks”]

LOST IN TRANSLATION:  GM learned too late that “No va” in Spanish means “it doesn’t go.”  The slogan “Got Milk?” translated in Mexico asked: “Are You Lactating?”

At least 18% of the global-warming effect comes from livestock--more than from all the world’s transportation systems.  UN Food and Ag. Org.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired represents, in the final analysis, a theft from whose who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed.  This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower

KWIKWIZ answers:

141.  Central plains of the U.S.

142.  One.

143   The sons of Genhis Khan--it means Ocean of Wisdom.

144.  Robert Altman who died November 2006--He convinced President Truman to use “Identicode” for one of his dogs.

145.  Harlem.

CHALLENGE #40 was:  A famous author who lived on Long Island  didn’t mow his lawn, drive a car or have a job.  He read avidly from the local library, but refused to enter;  the librarian delivered his books to him outside.  Who?

Answer:  NOT F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Jack Kerouac lived in Northport, L.I. from 1958 to 1964, with his mother Gabrielle.  He dressed like a bum, wore an old ratty overcoat and always needed a shave.  In summer he wore khakis and a T-shirt--usually barefooted.  Dressing up was putting on a nice pair of bedroom slippers to walk around town.  He drank heavily with the local clammers and went along with groupies on raids to abandoned North Shore mansions. 

CHALLENGE #41 [from Nancy]:  What do these words have in common?

Banana, Dresser, Grammar, Potato, Revive, Uneven, Assess.


"Potpourri" is issued each week on an opt-in/opt-out basis.

Please respond if you would like to be added to or deleted from distribution. 

panem et circenses from Your Obedient Servant, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]


If you work hard you can’t think.

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.”  Paul McCartney


146.  Which President is the father of American oenophilia?

147.  The flower fleur-de-lis has what name in America?

148.  What is the best selling garment of all times?

149.  What man, later to be President, lost his wife and mother the same day?

150.  In the U.S. there are about 380 million pets [and 300 million people]. The top three total:  185, 78 and 65 million respectively.  Name them.

70% of elementary-school children in Iraq no longer attend school regularly.

60% of the carbon emissions generated by a simple cotton T-shirt comes from the 25 washes and machine drying it requires.  A polyester blouse takes more energy to make, but upkeep is more fuel-efficient since it cleans easier and dries faster.  Over a lifetime a polyester blouse uses less energy than a cotton T-shirt. Cambridge University

ANGER MANAGEMENT from Eliz G:   Husband: "When I get mad at you, you never fight back. How do you control your anger?"  Wife: "I clean the toilet bowl."  Husband: "How does that help?" Wife: "I use your toothbrush!"

If RONALD REAGAN had not rolled back the higher fuel efficiency standards imposed on Detroit, we might need no Middle East oil today.  High standards force innovation, and innovation leads to conservation at scale.

TIC-TAC-TOE trivia game from John E.: 



•  In 2008, the spending of most large businesses on employee health insurance will exceed net income. [McKinsey & Co.]

•  Government pays 40% of total health spending:  $1.99 Trillion in 2005

•  29% of low- and middle-income families with credit card debt used credit cards to pay medical expenses--in most cases for major medical problems.

•  There are more Ethiopian medical doctors in Washington, D.C. than in Ethiopia.

CONFUCIUS SAYS [from the Analects]:

•  Shall I teach you what knowledge is?  When you know a thing, to recognize that you know it, and when you do not know a thing, to recognize that you do not know it.  That is knowledge.

•  In serving his father and mother a man may gently remonstrate with them.  But if he sees that he has failed to change their opinion, he should resume an attitude of deference and not thwart them;  may feel discouraged, but not resentful.

•  Do I regard myself as a possessor of wisdom?  Far from it.  But if even a simple peasant comes in all sincerity and asks me a question, I am ready to thrash the matter out, with all its pros and cons, to the very end.

•  It is only the very wisest and the very stupidest who cannot change.

In the 1970s there were 800 sandboxes in NYC parks;  now there are only 52.  They are cleaned regularly and at least every other year, new bleached, lead-free playground-grade sand is replaced.

HABEAS CORPUS [Latin for “you have the body”] is the legal instrument or “writ” via which a detained individual can seek release from unlawful imprisonment.  It has been part of Western law for 800 years and included in Article One of our Constitution. It is the foundation of the limits on executive power, intended to protect due process and prevent indefinite detention without judicial review.

12 million Americans have a blog.

PANTS ON FIRE [as usual].  Before the November US elections, President George W. Bush promised never to put US troops “in the crossfire” of Iraq’s warring sectarian groups. Last week, he made clear that his new strategy would do just that.

10% of girls ages 13-18 said they “never” ate meat, poultry or seafood. [2005, Harris poll].  In 2006, 30% of college students said it was “very important” to them to have vegetarian food options on campus...up from 26% in 2004. [Aramark]

Call centers are coming home:  there are 112,000 home-based agents in the U.S.--expected to triple by 2010.

In 2000, 60% of homes sold on Long Island were “affordable” for families earning up to $100,000/year--under the rule-of-thumb of spending no more than 2.5 times income on housing.  Last year, just 2% were in that range, and 60% of LIers make less than $100,000.

COMEUPPANCE (Come-UP-uhnce) is a noun that means just deserts — usually unpleasant, but richly deserved--typically in the expression: "received his (or her) comeuppance." The chastening is often fairly mild and less severe than the traditional bad guy's "getting what's coming to him." It may have evolved from that dread, oft-repeated moment in days of yore when a recalcitrant student heard the teacher say sternly, "Come up here."  At that point, the question was, Would it be the switch on the backside or the dunce cap in the corner?

More than half of the COASTLINE of the entire United  States is in Alaska.

40% of global GRAIN output feeds animals, not people;  half that grain would eliminate world hunger if distributed equitably.  UN Food & Ag. Org.

•  There are more Irish in New York City than in Dublin, Ireland;

•  More Italians in New York City than in Rome, Italy;

•  And more Jews in New York City than in Tel  Aviv, Israel.

KWIKWIZ answers:

146.  Thomas Jefferson.

147.  Iris.

148.  Blue jeans

149.  Theodore Roosevelt.

150.  Freshwater fish, cats, then dogs.

CHALLENGE #41 was from Nancy:  What do these words have in common?

Banana, Dresser, Grammar, Potato, Revive, Uneven, Assess.   Answer:  Take the first letter, place it at the end of the word, and then spell the word backwards, it will be the same word.  Ron P. got this one.

CHALLENGE #42:   If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"?


"Potpourri" is issued each week on an opt-in/opt-out basis.  Please respond if you would like to be added to or deleted from distribution. 

panem et circenses from Your Obedient Servant, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]

POTPOURRI # 53  sent February 7

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.  H.L. Mencken


151.  What does the ending “wick” in names like Southwick mean?

152.  What causes the foam on waves?

153.  What is the only naturally occuring disease to be wiped out?

154.  In 1945 “Happy Days are Here Again” became the unofficial theme for the Democratic Party.  What song preceded it?

155.  Elvis is #1 at selling records.  Who is #2?

Four of the ten RICHEST people in the world made their money in OIL.

More WOMEN filed for bankruptcy in 2003 than graduated from college that year.  Harvard study

Lies, damn lies and GWB.  One word will define forever the sad and despicable legacy of George W. Bush: Liar.  Bumper sticker:  BUSH BIN LYIN  Bush’s budget:  Cut domestic spending to fund Iraq war.  Hypocracy:  Saturday he claimed no one’s patriotism should be questioned because they oppose his Iraq war policies — an incredible piece of political hypocrisy from an administration that has long branded opponents as “un-American” and “aiding the enemy.”

The company that made $15 Billion profit last year and has the best selling drug in the world [Lipitor], PFIZER, is cutting 10,000 people [10% of its workforce].

VIAGRA was originally intended to alleviate angina, but one of it’s side effects created a new market.

The $2.7 Billion the administration proposes to spend on a larger oil reserve each year for the next 20 years is three times what Congress authorized last year for the entire budget for alternative energy sources.

HANDY:  Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people do.  Polar bears are left handed.  (If you're ambidextrous do you split the difference?)

The FIRST ZIONISTS to settle in Palestine were American Protestants who planted successive, ill-fated colonies aimed at “restoring” the Holy Land to Jews, so that their subsequent conversion to Christianity would speed the Second Coming.

Soaring costs, growing ranks of uninsured and a steady erosion of corporate health benefits add up to a giant drag on the nation’s future prosperity...France, Britain, Canada, Australia and others have functioning single-payer systems at significant savings w/o hurting overall health of the population....The U.S. has 46 million w/o hlth ins...The U.S. spent $6,102/person in 2004;  Canada spent $3,165, France $3,159, Australia $3,120 and Britain just $2,508...At the same time life expectancy in the U.S. was slightly LOWER than those countries, and the U.S.  has a higher infant mortality rate.  --economist, Anna Bernasek

A GAME from Elizabeth G:  “run over” the numbers in order ASAP:


NRA RULES.  20 years ago the Florida Legislature allowed “law abiding” citizens to carry concealed weapons for “self defense.”  Last July they decided to make the list a secret.  Before the law there were <25,000 licensed gun holders;  now it is over 410,000.  The South Florida Sun-Sentinel found >1,400 of them who had pleaded guilty or no contest to felonies, including manslaughter.

The GREEN TREE PYTHON starts out yellow or red and on the ground.  At 20 inches it turns green and climbs trees.

In November, California voters rejected Prop. 87 which would have taxed gasoline and used the money for alternative energy.  Initially there was strong voter support, but it was defeated after $100 Million lobbying effort by oil companies.

Ronald Reagan started having a marine salute him at the White House helicopter, and he returned the salute.  Pres. Eisenhower, a real general, knew the salute is for the uniform, and as president he was not wearing one.  An exchange of salutes is out of order in this case, Mr. President.


  “GENIUS is eternal patience.”  Michaelangelo

  “SUNSHINE is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, snow is exhilarating;  there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”  Ruskin

  “THE SECRET of being tiresome is to tell everything.”  Voltaire

   “IF ALL our misfortunes were laid in one common heap, whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be content to take their own and depart.”  Socrates

   “MANY of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn’t spend half our time wishing.”   Alexander Woollcott

   “HE WHO sacrifices his conscience to ambition burns a picture to obtain the ashes.”  Chinese proverb

   “THERE can be no such thing as a necessary evil.  For, if a thing is really necessary, it cannot be an evil and if it is an evil, it is not necessary.”  Tiorio

   “DO NOT trust to the cheering, for those very persons would shout as much if you and I were going to be hanged.”  Oliver Cromwell

   “DIGNITY does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.”  Aristotle

“Your DESK is probably dirtier than the office bathroom...toilet seats are usually the cleanest objects in an ofice because they get cleaned nightly.”  Worst offenders:  elephone, desktop, computer mouse, keyboard and copy machines.  Charles Gerba, U of Arizona

Did you ever notice that we talk about certain things only when they are absent?  Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown, met a sung hero or experienced requited love?  Have you ever run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable?  Can you think of any others?

In 2005 Wealth Management asked 792 of its rich privat-banking clients what they would ned to feel financially secure;  virtually all said they needed to double their money.

The 4-second musical intro at the start of Window Vista took 20 people and 18 months to create--it’s defined as a ‘peaceful theme.’

THE TIGER.  When Confucius was crossing the T’ai mountain, he overheard a woman weeping and wailing beside a grave.  He sent a disciple to inquire saying: “Some great sorrow must have come upon you that you give way to grief like this?”  “Indeed it is so,” replied she.  “My father-in-law was killed here by a tiger; after that, my husband; and now my son has perished by the same death.”  “But why, then,” inquired Confucius, “do you not go away?”  “The government is not harsh,” answered the woman.  “There!” cried the Master, turning to his disciples: “remember that.  Bad govenment is worse than a tiger.”  from the Book of Rites

MEAT  CONSUMPTION in pounds per capita from 1981-2002: U.S.: 239.1 to 275.1;  China:  33.1 to 115.5;  India:  8.4 to 11.5;  worldwide:  62 to 87.5.

Learning is like rowing a boat against stream:  if one stops, one goes backward.  Mao Tse-tung.

KWIKWIZ answers:

151.  Village.

152.  The salt in the water.

153.  Smallpox, by a vaccine developed by Edward Jenner in the late 1700s.

154.  “Anchors Aweigh!”

155.  Barbra Streisand:  50 gold, 30 platinum; 13 multi-platinum.

CHALLENGE #42 was:   If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"?   Answer:   Jim S got it with “one thousand.”

CHALLENGE #43:  Ian Fleming’s first Bond book was incorrectly titled “Casino Royale.”  What’s wrong with the title?


"Potpourri" is issued each week on an opt-in/opt-out basis.  Please respond if you would like to be added to or deleted from distribution. 

panem et circenses from Your Obedient Servant--the Curmugeon, Walter M. Mathews [wmmathews@mac.com]


OBSTACLES are those terrible things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.   Hannah Arendt

OBAMA’s right:  no progress at home until we leave Iraq.


156.  The State with the highest percentage of people who walk to work?

157.  What is the 9th most-spoken language in the world?

158.  Which country has the beginning of the Great Wall?

159.  Nevada has the highest divorce rate;  which state is #2?

160.  How long do ants live if they meet no accidents?

Alan sent this cool CLOCK:  http://home.tiscali.nl/annejan/swf/timeline.swf

A third of men surveyed by Money magazine said they preferred that their partner not get them anything for Valentine’s Day.  On avg., men spend $138;  women spend $74.

President Bush’s spending blueprint for the rest of his term is what his father used to call VOODOO ECONOMICS — cut taxes, increase spending on the military and balance the budget — with a lot of devils in the details.

WOMEN and CATS will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.

More than 100 million people DIED in wars in the world during the 20th century.  At the beginning of the century, most were soldiers;  by the end of the century 80% were civilians.

Amazing TYPE & SPEAK from Philip:  http://www.oddcast.com/home/demos/tts/frameset.php?frame1=talk

From Jim S.:   There were three Indian squaws. One slept on a deer skin, one slept on an elk skin, and the third slept on a hippopotamus skin. All three became pregnant, and the first two each had a baby boy. The one who slept on the hippopotamus skin had twin boys. This goes to prove that the squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.

ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS for U.S. health care was 31%.  New England J of Med, 2003.  We NEED single-payer health care in the U.S.

Human SPERM must swim through the female reproductive tract for 15 minutes to get to the egg.  Then it pushes into the egg with 20 times the force of swimming and doesn’t give up until it runs out of energy.

KFC breed chickens with breasts so big they have difficulty walking.

A man and his wife are dining in a plush restaurant, and the husband keeps staring at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she sits alone at a nearby table.  The wife asks, "Do you know her?"  "Yes," sighs the husband, "She's my ex-girlfriend. I understand she took to drinking right after we split up seven years ago, and I hear she hasn't been sober since." "My God!" says the wife, "Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?"  from Ken

Nobel prizewinners live two years longer than their colleagues, and the lifespan of Oscar winners increases with every statue they win. [U. of Warwick]  One theory they are buoyed by their achievements and butteted against subsequent adversities:  stress doesn’t bother them as much. [U. of Toronto]

Did you ever hit a PINATA at a birthday party when you were the last kid in line?  President Bush has been that pinata for so long that there’s nothing left inside the poor man.  It’s sort of pathetic.  Mean critics swing at him and only bits of newspaper fall out ... and he doesn’t even read newspapers.  You could say he was a lame duck but Vice President Cheney might take a shot at him.

Do more than exist, live.

Do more than touch, feel.

Do more than look, observe.

Do more that read, absorb.

Do more than hear, listen.

Do more than listen, understand.

Do more than think, ponder.

Do more than talk, say something.   John H. Rhoades

States with the greatest number of guns in the home also have the highest rates of homicide.  Social Sciene & Medicine, Feb. issue

Kinshasa, the capital of CONGO, is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world.

The term STEREOTYPE comes from printing--the stereotype was the image of a page in papier-mache, which could then be used to produce duplicate plates.  Pundit Walter Lippmann popularized the metaphor.

The limp RAGGEDY ANN doll was created in 1915 by a man whose daughter had died shortly after being vaccinated at school w/o parental consent.  Authorities blamed a heart defect; her parents blamed the shot.

The first appearance of WINE in the Bible is after the Flood when Noah got drunk naked.

Republican President FORD used his Presidential Powers to impose a $3/barrel fee on imported  oil to reduce consumption.  That was almost a 30% tax.  Where are you GWB?

ANTARTICA is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country.  90% of  the world's ice covers it [and shrinking].  This ice also represents 70% of all the fresh water in the world.  As strange as it sounds,  however, Antarctica is essentially a desert, with average yearly total precipitation of about 2 inches.  Although covered with ice (all but  0.4% of it, but changing fast),  Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert.

1/5 of the state budget in Mississippi in 1866 was used to provide artificial limbs.

Actual hybrid DOGS:  PEAGLE [Pekingese+Beagle], PUGGLE [Pug+Beagle], LABRADOODLE [Labrador+Poodle], MALTIPOO [Maltese+Poodle],  BAGEL [Basset+Beagle] and BOGGLE [Boston Terrier+ Beagle]

One in four combat deaths in Iraq were in unprotected vehicles.  The military is 1,500 armored vehicles short for the “surge.”

PAKISTAN.  The name was coined by Chaudrie Rahmat Ali from appropriate letters of the words Punjab, Afghan Border States, Kashmire, Sind and Baluchistan.

KWIZWIZ answers:

156.  Alaska

157.  French

158.  North Korea

159.  Arkansas--each have over 11/1,000 people.

160.  4 to 5 years, and queens can live for 15 years.

CHALLENGE #43 was:  Ian Fleming’s first Bond book was incorrectly titled “Casino Royale.”  What’s wrong with the title?  Answer:  Although he lived in France and spoke French, “casino” is masculine and “royale” is feminine--a grammatical error that was corrected in the first French translation of the book. Jerry got it.

CHALLENGE #44:  Who coined the term “The United States of America”?

answer:  Thomas Paine in Crisis #3

alternate CHALLENGE #44:  What is the most famous Hunanese dish in the world that is virtually unknown in the Chinese province of Hunan?


"Potpourri" is issued each week on an opt-in/opt-out basis.  Please respond if you would like to be added to or deleted from distribution. 

panem et circenses from Your Obedient Servant, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]


We learn our virtues from the friends who love us; our faults from the enemy who hates us.  We cannot easily discover our real character from a friend.  He is a mirror, on which the warmth of our breath impedes the clearness of the reflection. Richter

In 1968 federal law decreed the 3rd Monday in February to be Washington’s Birthday;  it was local department stores that changed it to “Presidents Day” to sell more stuff.  Of course Washington’s Birthday is not Washington’s birthday.  He was born Feb. 11, 1731 [the Julian calendar of the time], or on Feb. 22, 1732 [Gregorian calendar].  But the 3rd Monday can only be between the 15th and the 21st...so his birthday can never fall on his Birthday.  Nor can any other past president’s b’day fall on “Presidents Day.”  Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker 


161.  The 30-minute record was trademarked as “Lp” by whom?

162.  The vehicle of which President was canary yellow decorated with cupids?

163.  How many cows are needed to supply the NFL with a year’s supply of footballs?

164.  Uniquely, you need a hunting license to catch what in Cleveland, Ohio?

165.  Brazil:  Which came first the country or the nut?

The average city dweller is exposed to 5,000 ads/day, up from 2,000/day three decades ago.

The TRUTH re WMD:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0wbpKCdkkQ

And then THIS happened:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYBA9JD5oW4

The American Veterinary Medical Assn. issues and reviews recommendations for euthanizing animals.  No one in the U.S. does anything similar for condemned inmates.

McKinsey & Co. found that one reason America spends so much more on health care than other wealthy nations:  We spend $98 Billion/year in excess administrative costs, with more than half for marketing and underwriting--costs that don’t exist in single-payer systems.  McKinsey estimates the cost of providing full medical care to all of America’s uninsured at $77 Billion/year.  That could be paid by either eliminating excess administrative costs of private health insurers or paying what the rest of the world pays for drugs and medical devices. [And that doesn’t count the many other costs due to our fragmented system.]

Ron sent this changing map of the Middle East region over 3,000 years--in 90 seconds:  http://www.mapsofwar.com/images/EMPIRE17.swf

Robert E. Lee was offered $50,000 for his name to be used for an insurance company.  He refused, saying, “no money for no work.”  He became president of Washington College, which paid him $1,500.  After his death it was changed to Washington and Lee College.

NOTE TO RUDY:  No former mayor has been elected president since Grover Cleveland of Buffalo and Calvin Coolidge of Northampton, MA.  No former mayor of NYC has won federal elective office since Fernado Wood was elected to Congress in 1862 [6 years later he was formally censured for bluntly speaking his mind].  Even tho’ Giuliani presided over a city with a larger population than all but about 10 states and a bigger budget than about 7.

•  Camel No. 9 cigarettes comes in a package that is hot-pink fuchsia and minty-green teal, with the slogan, “Light and luscious.”

•  There are now almost 30 varieties of Camels, and this intro will cost up to $50 Million.

•  Already, more women die of lung cancer than breast cancer, by a wide margin.

“The strongest man is never strong enough to be always master unless he transforms his power into right and obedience into duty.” Rousseau

QUO WARRANTO is an ancient legal challenge to authority:  “By what right do you say so?”

New England J of Medicine, this month:  3 preteen boys who used shampoo, etc. w/lavender oil or tea tree oil grew breast tissue;  it receded when they stopped use.  NOTE:  In 2004 the European Union banned >600 chemicals from cosmetics;  In 2005 the EU required more package info re shelf life and allergenic ingredients;  In 2007:  EU requires data on possible risks of substances on human health and environment. THE QUESTION:  What is our FDA doing?

If it’s a rule that behind every great fortune lies a great crime, MILTON HERSHEY was the exception:  he founded the world’s largest chocolate factory, built a utopian worker-village (that still draws millions of tourists/year), and placed much of his fortune in trust for a school for orphans.

A marine biologist developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if they were fed a steady diet of seagulls. One day, his supply of the birds ran out so he had to go out and trap some more. On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road. Afraid to wake them, he gingerly stepped over them. Immediately, he was arrested and charged with transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.

The U.S. Treasury lost $40 Million minting pennies and nickels last year due to the cost of zinc, copper and nickel.  Canada, Britain and Euro-based countries abolished their smallest coins.  The U.S. ended the 1/2¢ coin in 1857 when it was worth the equivalent of 8¢ today.  The first silver penny was minted by Charlemagne around 800 A.D.

ABRACADABRA.  From Hebrew Ab (Father), Ben (Son), Rauch Adasch (Holy Spirit).  A cabalistic charm, formerly used against ague, flux, etc.

OVERBLOWN, a book by John Mueller:  9/11 was probably a one-time event that cannot be repeated;  the threat from domestic terrorist groups in the U.S. is almost nonexistent; and the administration, politicians, security bureaucracy and news media have whipped the American population into a state of terror over terrorism that is simply not justified by the facts.  Our reaction to terrorism is a greater threat than terrorism.  Fear of flying after 9/11 led to increases in long-distance driving that killed more people in accidents than died on the 4 hijacked planes on 9/11. There is a tradition of American overreaction to vastly overblown threats:  from German-Americans during WWI, Japanese-Americans during WWII, American Communists during McCarthy era, the JFK ‘missile gap,’ the S. Vietnam ‘domino theory.’  Homeland Security lists 80,000 potential terroist targets in the U.S. including the Weeki Wachee Springs water park in Florida.

By law, the FBI can only prosecute ACCURATE leaks of classified information.

“the immense mass of stock is owned by the wealthiest 10% of families in this country--by some measures as much as 80% of all stock.  And a very, very large portion of it is owned by the wealthiest 1% of families.  In fact, the upper 1% owned about 44% of financial assets in 2001...roughly 80% of Americans have no or virtually no savings.”  Ben Stein, NYT,  2.11.7

A CUCKOLD is a man whose wife carries on sex with another, with or without his knowledge.  A WITTOLD is a cuckold who knows, but not necessarily with whom.

MORAL WAIVERS:  Last year the Army accepted 900 convicted felons;  the Marines 500.  That’s >2,100 for the Army and >1,600 for the Marines in the past 4 years.  Plus, over 4 years, they each enlisted over 15,000 with a record of “serious misdemeanors.”

One 20th century student at Oxford demanded a flagon of claret during his exams, having discovered an ancient rule in the University Statute Book entitling him to it.  The investigator was able to annul the request because the student was improperly dressed:  according to another statute, he should have been wearing a saber.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 16-20 year olds, with 5,500 teenagers killed every year

KWIKWIZ answers:

161.  Columbia Records invented and trademarked it in 1948.

162.  George Washington.

163.  3000.

164.  Mice.

165.  Brazil got its name from the nut, not the other way around.

CHALLENGE #44 was:  Who coined the term “The United States of America”?

Answer:  Thomas Paine in Crisis #3  [I gave that one away!]

alternate CHALLENGE #44:  What is the most famous Hunanese dish in the world that is virtually unknown in the Chinese province of Hunan?

Answer:  Several said chop suey or chow mein.  General Tso’s (or Zuo’s) chicken is lightly battered chicken in a chili-laced sweet-sour sauce, named for Tso Tsung-t’ang (now usually transliterated Zuo Zongtang) the 19th c. general.  The dish was created by Peng Chang-kuei in the 1950s. [He fled to Taiwan after Mao Zedong’s victory in 1949.]  Originally w/o sugar, he altered the recipe for U.S. tastes.  In 1973 Peng opened his first eponymous restaurant in NYC.  Jerry got it right.

CHALLENGE #45:  The most popular female names in NYC in 2005 for Asian, black, Hispanic and non-Hispanic whites were Ashley, Emily, Kayla and Sarah.  The male names were Angel, Joshua, Michael and Ryan. Match them up.


"Potpourri" is issued each week on an opt-in/opt-out basis.  Please respond if you would like to be added to or deleted from distribution. 

panem et circenses from Your Obedient Servant--the Curmudgeon, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]

POTPOURRI #56  Sent Feb 28

“M’goy, san nin faai lok.”  [Happy New Year--the year of the pig]

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.  Benjamin Franklin


166.  What does the Indian word Canada mean?

167.  How many natural lakes does Ohio have?

168.  What was the first city to reach a population of one million people?

169.  What are opossums doing when they are “playing ‘possum”?

170.  Which painting did DaVinci have with him on his death bed? [his favorite]

A simple number trick from Mary M.:  http://digicc.com/fido/

Despite the Bush administration’s insistence it has no plans to go to WAR with IRAN, a Pentagon panel has been created to plan a bombing attack that could be implemented within 24 hours of getting the go-ahead from President George W. Bush, The New Yorker magazine reported in its current issue.

25% of bicycle deaths nationally in 2005 involved alcohol use.  In NJ, e.g., it is not illegal to ride a bike while drunk.

A contraDICKtion?  Cheney said that British troops’ getting out of Iraq is “an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well,” while he says that Democrats who push to get America out would “validate the Al Qaeda strategy.”

10% of beer drinkers drink 43% of the beer. [J. of Studies on Alcohol, 1999]  Therefore a core drinker would consume nearly a gallon of beer a day.

“The insurgency is in its last throes.”  Richard B. Cheney, May 30, 2005.

Influenza deaths in WWII almost matched the number lost in battle [44,000 to 50,000].

When ZSA ZSA GABOR was asked how many husbands she has had, she said, “You mean apart from my own?”

The old expression “coming down the pike” came from the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition/St. Louis World’s Fair.  ‘The Pike’ was a mile-long midway featuring rides, amusements and fantastic attractions.  You never knew what you would see next.  The Pike was the birthplace of the ice cream cone. 

The largest weapons manufacturer in the world is Lockheed-Martin.  Newt Gingrich said: “Don’t salute waste, even if it wears a uniform.”

In the evolution of languages, red is w/o exception the first color word to enter the vocabulary, and in some languages, it is the only color word apart from black and white.  It is also the first color that most children learn to name and that most adults will cite when asked to think of a color, any color. In Olympic combat sports, red and blue shorts are assigned randomly, but those in red shorts won significantly more often than would be expected by chance alone.

GWB promoted alternative energy cars last Friday by demonstrating two of them on the WH lawn. “To a repeated question as to whether he would consider one of the vehicles for his ranch in Texas, Mr. Bush simply wished the assembled reporters a good weekend and returned to the Oval Office.” NYT, 2/24/7

The pharmaceutical industry spends $12 Billion/year marketing to doctors:  much of it is free samples and lunch for the office staff.  When the U. of Mich. health systems banned such lunches in 2005 they calculated the lunches had been worth $2.5 Million/year from YOUR drug bills.  Other medical centers ban lunches, “free” drugs, pens, etc. include: Yale, U. of PA and Stanford.

Over a million photos were taken during the Civil War, but since there was so little interest in them after the war, most were lost and destroyed:  many of the glass slides were used to build greenhouses...and the pictures slowly faded.

Tintoretto [1518-94], the most mercurial of the five undisputed immortals of Venetian painting [Bellini, Giorgione, Titian and Veronese], was really named Jacopo Comin and known as Robusti, but called Tintoretto,  or “Little Dyer,” after his father’s profession.


“WELL DONE is better than well said.”  Benjamin Franklin.

   “SYMPATHY is never wasted except when you give it to yourself.”  John W. Raper

   “ANY FOOL can criticize, condemn, and complain--and most fools do.”  Dale Carnegie

   “The bigger the man’s HEAD gets, the easier it is to fill his shoes.”  Henry A. Courtney

   “The test of good MANNERS is to be able to put up pleasantly with bad ones.”  Wendell Wilkie

   “Only FOOLS and DEAD MEN don’t change their minds.  Fools won’t.  Dead men can’t.”  John H. Patterson

TOWARD ENLIGHTENMENT by Wei Shou [A.D. 506-572]

The essential teaching of Buddhism can be summarized in one statement:  i.e., the sufferings inherent in the endless cycle of births and rebirths are caused by man’s attachment to this world.  There are three worlds altogether, the past, the present, and the future.  The important thing is to understanad that despite his transmissiion from one world to another a person’ spiritual self cannot be obliterated.  Those who do good things will be rewarded;  those who do bad things will be punished.  A great deed is the gradual accumulation of many small deeds:  a coarse, rustic nature can be refined through constant effort.  Whatever forms life may take, the ultimate goal of all lives is the attainment of enlightenment, an enlightenment which can be achieved only through hard, diligent work.  By then there will be no more births and rebirths, and the Way of Buddha will be finally attained.

Carla found:  Dick Morris (local news anchorman) looks at the four leading GOP presidential contenders in 2008 --  John McCain, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani -- and notes: "The only one of these guys who hasn't had multiple wives is the Mormon."

HAMMURABI instituted one of the earliest known RULE OF LAW in what is now Iraq.

NRA loyalty:   The "gun lobby" unabashedly supported the crooked Congressman Tom DeLay (R-TX) and racist Senator George Allen (R-VA) in the mid-term elections.

Cow’s MILK did not start as a nutritious food for humans;  in fact it made them sick until humans who lived around cows evolved the ability [enzymes, etc.] to digest lactose as adults.

I support a SURGE of 21,500 troops:

-  to find who sent the anthrax;

-  to find Osama bin Laden & his top operatives [“dead or alive”]

-  to salvage & rebuild NO after Katrina.

HIP! HIP! HURRAH!  The old fanciful explanation is that Hip is a notarikon, composed of the initials “Hieroslyma (Jerusalem) est perdi,” and that when German knights headed a Jew hunt in the Middle Ages, they ran shouting “Hip! Hip!” as much as to say “Jerusalem is destroyed.”  Hurrah was similarly credited to Slavonic Hu-raj (to paradise), so that “Hip! Hip! Hurrah!” would mean “Jerusalem is lost to the infidel, and we are on the road to paradise.”

Joe O’B sent this Superman game:  http://hk.promo.yahoo.com/movie/superman/Stop_Press_Game/


•  D. R.  Carney of Harvard found that offices and bedrooms of conservatives tended to be neat and contain cleaning supplies, calendars, postage stamps and sports-related posters; conservatives also tended to favor country music and documentaries.  Bold-colored, cluttered rooms with art supplies, lots of books, jazz CDs and travel documents tended to belong to liberals.

•  Jonathan Haidt of UVA found:  “Areas with less mobility and less diversity generally have the more traditional” broadened definition of morality, “and therefore were more likely to vote for GWB--and to tell pollsters that their reason was ‘moral values.’”

•  Jost & Kruglanski found those who enjoy bending rules and embracing new experiences tend to turn left;  those who value tradition and are more cautious about change tend right.  Studying 50 years of research on the psychology of conservatism they concluded conservatives tend to be “rigid, close-minded and fearful,” less tolerant of minorities and more tolerant of inequality.  “Fear of death has the highest correlation with being conservative.”

The EISENHOWER interstate system requires that one-mile in  every five must be straight.  These straight  sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other  emergencies. Chances that a road is unpaved in the U.S.A.:  1%;  in Canada: 75%.

Every gallon of GAS burned produces more than 19 pounds of CO2--even in “clean” cars that reduce nitrogen oxides or unburned hydrocarbons.

The war is over: We lost.  The WAR ON DRUGS has been going on for several decades without any discernable benefit to either our country as a whole or the American people. It has produced this minimal benefit while exacting a very high price, both in terms of dollars spent and the toll on the lives of people caught up in its net.

DISCREET means “prudent; careful in exercizing judgment; tactful.”  DISCRETE means “separate; distinct.”

KWIKWIZ answers:

166.  “big village”

167.  None...they are all man-made.

168.  Rome in 133 B.C.

169.  They are not playing, they have passed out from sheer terror.

170.  Mona Lisa.

CHALLENGE #45 was:  The most popular female names in NYC in 2005 for Asian, black, Hispanic and non-Hispanic whites were Ashley, Emily, Kayla and Sarah.  The male names were Angel, Joshua, Michael and Ryan. Match them up.

Answer: Asian:  Emily&Ryan; black:  Kayla&Joshua; Hispanic:  Ashley&Angel; non-Hispanic white:  Sarah&Michael.  Jerry and Jack S. got it right. Others were close.

CHALLENGE #46:  What caused the end of the production and performance of Shakespeare’s plays in England?  Was it his death, taxation, religion, bad reviews, competition, a labor strike or destruction of the Globe theatre?  [Take a guess!]


"Potpourri" is issued each week on an opt-in/opt-out basis.  Please respond if you would like to be added to or deleted from distribution.  

panem et circenses from Your Obedient Servant--the Curmudgeon, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]

POTPOURRI #57  sent March 7

The man who questions opinion is wise; the man who quarrels with facts is a fool.  Frank A. Garbutt

Truth is always an absolute defense.


171.  What is the unofficial mascot of the U.S. Marines?

172.  In 1634, this was a form of currency in Holland.

173.  How many sesame seeds on a McDonald’s Big Mac bun?

174.  Of the 160 memorials in D.C., are there more monuments to presidents or wars?

175.  How many American factory jobs were created during the GWBush administration?

AMT:  When the Johnson Administration learned that 155 rich families paid NO income tax, the ‘Minimum Tax’ was passed in 1969 disallowing deductions for 7 ways the wealthy avoided taxes.  Reagan changed it to the ‘Alternative Minimum Tax’ in 1986 and disallowed deductions for personal exemptions, state/local tax, some medical expenses, home-equity loans, etc.  Today, the ATM affects 23.4 million of the nation’s 90 million taxpayers, but the number of untaxed high-income famlies, once 155, grew to 2,824.

Of the 1700 words said to have been coined by Shakespeare, hundreds have become fixtures in our language, e.g., assassination, suspicious, barefaced, bump, castigate, critical, countless, denote, dwindle, eventlful, foppish, gnarled, hurry, impartial, lapse, laughable, lonely, leapfrog, misplaced, monumental, sportive.

Antipasto and hors d’oeuvres are the same--appetizers--just in different languages.  Antipasto means “before the food.”  Hors d’oeuvre means “outside the main course.”   The former is collective;  the latter either singular or plural. 

There are 27 novels published every day in the U.S.

Men would leave the seat DOWN for women, if they would leave it UP for them. 

What the White House Knew and When It Knew It: Time Lines of the Selling of the War.   http://www.frankrich.com/rich_timeline_no_print_final.pdf

SMOKING remains the #1 cause of preventable DEATH in the U.S.  The tobacco industry spends over 15 Billion/year to promote its products. Help ban smoking in PG-13 movies.

1.4 MILLION U.S. troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and since the first gulf war, almost 40% of vets have received disability benefits.  Linda Bilmes, budget expert at Harvard

Tug McGraw was asked what he would do with the salary he was making as a pitcher, said, “Ninety percent I’ll spend on good times, women and Irish whiskey.  The other 10% I’ll probably waste.”

ANNA NICOLE SMITH accounted for 21% of cable news coverage in the week she died. 

A FAMOUS hunter/outdoorsman, Jim Zumbo, recently voiced misgivings on his blog about using assault rifles to kill prairie dogs.  He quickly disavowed his words and apologized, but lost his blog, his cable TV program, his writing job w/Outdoor Life, his corporate sponsors, and was disowned by the National Rifle Assn. after 40 years of membership.  The NRA sent a chilling statement warning members of Congress to take heed of Mr. Zumbo’s fate:  he is professionally dead.

Survey of MDs in New England J. of Med:

17% were against terminal sedation;

42% were against birth control to adolescents w/o parental approval;

52% were against abortion for failed contraception.

ANXIOUS means “filled with anxiety.”  EAGER means “earnestly longing; keen.”  I was eager to see her, but anxious about what she might say.

1/4 of working women make more than their spouses.

In the Navy, a BOAT is a “vessel that can be hauled aboard a ship,” a SHIP being somewhat larger, though a submarine is a boat, maybe since the early ones were small.

BINGE eating is by far the most common eating disorder [1 in 35 adults: 2.8%]--almost twice the combined rate for anorexia (0.6%) and bulimia (1%).

4 Million KIDS ages 25-34 move back home each year.

AZTECS forbade drunkenness except among those at least 52 years of age.

The average doctor/hospital has between 5 and 100 reimbursement rates for the exact same procedure negotiated with health plans and kept secret.

WHY ARE WE ARROGANT?  The U.S. was not established, like many European countries, around a shared culture or history, but was founded on the idea of exceptionalism, which held that “Americans were a chosen people delivered from corruption and evil to a New World” and destined to serve as “an example to the world.”  The Silence of the Rational Center by Halper and Clarke

NYC is composed of five COUNTIES [their BOROUGH names are in parentheses]:  Richmond (Staten Island), Kings (Brooklyn), New York (Manhattan), Queens and the Bronx have no differences.

GREENLAND’s vast ice cap is twice the size of California, and holds as much water as the Gulf of Mexico.  If it melted, sea levels would rise more than 20 feet.

FERROUS SULFATE, the iron supplement in enriched flour and vitamin pills is used as a disinfectant and weedkiller.

SELTZER is CLUB SODA  w/o salt.

By law, Britain in the 19th century required its Navy to be larger than the next two largest navies combined.  Today, the U.S. “defense” budget is larger than the total of all other countries combined.

Some more quotes from GWB:

•  “I’m sleeping a lot better than people would assume.”

•  “It will take time to restore chaos.”

•  “I think we ought to raise the age at which juveniles can have a gun.”

•  “As long as I sit in this chair, all future catastrophes will be planned by me.”

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s AIDS drugs cost 4x more in Mexico than in developing countries.

Bumper Sticker from Lisa F:  “My Child is an Honor Student, and My President is an Idiot.”

SLAVERY divided not only the U.S. but also its churches:  The Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists and others all splin North/South, and some didn’t reunite for more than 100 years.  The Southern Baptist Convention never did.  NOW the issue is homosexuality.

FDR’s Second Bill of Rights:  “The right of every family to a decent home...The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health...The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.” January 11, 1944  [Are we there yet?]...AH, but have you read the current IRAQI CONSTITUTION?:  “Every citizen has the right to health care...Free education, in all its stages is a right for all Iraqis...Every individual has the right to live in safe environmental conditions.  The state shall undertake the protection of the environment and its biological diversity.”

--thanks to Nat Hentoff

Jessica simpson, a spokeswoman for PIZZA HUT, admitted she is allergic to cheese, tomatoes and wheat.  Elle magazine

LONDON charges about $15/day for a car to enter 15 sq.  miles of the city, M-F during the work day.  The 60,000 residents of the district pay only $1.50. [Stockholm has a similar program.]  The U.S. Embassy refuses to pay and now owes $1.95 million in unpaid congestion charges and fines.

KWIKWIZ answers:

171.  The ENGLISH bulldog.

172.  Tulip bulbs.

173.  18, on average.

174.  6 presidents and 7 wars.

175.  The LOSS of three million.

CHALLENGE #46 was:  What caused the end of the production and performance of Shakespeare’s plays in England?

Answer:   Religion!  The Puritans took over the government and deemed it immoral to pretend to be someone/thing you’re not [i.e., acting];  in addition, they noted that almost all plays portrayed sin [or at least very bad behavior] which playgoers were likely to copy.  So, the show must not go on!  [And then they moved to the New World.]

CHALLENGE #47:  In language, there are many cases in which two negatives make a positive.  Is it possible for two positives to make a negative?

ERRATUM:  Jerry tells me that the old “one mile in every five of the interstate highway system has to be straight” is an urban legend. See www.snopes.com/autos/law/airstrip.asp


"Potpourri" is issued each week on an opt-in/opt-out basis.  Please respond if you would like to be added to or deleted from distribution. 

panem et circenses from Your Obedient Servant--the Curmudgeon, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]

POTPOURRI #58  sent March 14

“You always regret the one you don’t get away with.”  August Wilson in King Hedley II


176.  Hugo Chavez changed the direction of which animal on his country’s flag?

177.  Which shape joined the Red Cross and Red Crescent last year?

178.  Which single-sex universities were the first to open to the other sex?

179.  What is the name of the pop music artist formerly known as Cat Stevens?

180.  What was the #1 cosmetic surgery in 2005?


•  “God loves you the way you are, but he knows you can do better.”

•  "In our time all it takes for evil to flourish is for a few good men to be a little wrong and have a great deal of power, and for the vast majority of their fellow citizens to remain indifferent." 

•  "For Christians, the problem is not how to reconcile homosexuality with scriptural passages that condemn it, but how to reconcile the rejection and punishment of homosexuals with the love of Christ."

•  The U.S. government should have vowed "...to see justice done, but by the force of law only, never by the law of force."

•  “What we and other nuclear powers are practicing is really nuclear apartheid. A handful of nations have arrogated to themselves the right to build, deploy, and threaten to use nuclear weapons while policing the rest of the world against their production. . . . Nuclear apartheid is utopian and arrogant. It is a recipe for proliferation, a policy of disaster."

•  "Without love violence will change the world; it will change it into a more violent one."

CAKE can be made with just flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, water and egg.  Why are TWINKIES made with 39 ingredients?  SHELF LIFE, stupid!  They contain no eggs or butter [which would limit their “life”] so they are sold for 25 days.  [Remember “day-old” bread and cake?]

SIBERIA contains more than 25% of  the world's forests.

150,000 lives could be SAVED every year [mostly stroke and heart disease] if SODIUM in processed and restraurant food was cut 50%.  AMA

Fred B. added to last week’s note:  A submarine is also called a 'pig boat,' whereas a destroyer is referred to as a 'tin can.'

“The most serious threat to the U.S. is not someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan but our own fiscal irresponsibility.”  David M. Walker, the comptroller general of the United States.  [Most of us missed that...being consumed by Anna Nicole and Walter Reed]

Bill C. sends this:  Hemingway and Fitzgerald were in a bar half-loaded and arguing who could write the shortest short story. I can write one in 30 words, Scott said, and I'll lay a $100 on it. Hem said he could do one for $500 in 20 words. Fitzgerald countered by upping the bet to $1,000 and saying he could write on in 15. Hemingway was out of patience and said he could write one in six words for $5,000. Show me, roared Fitzgerald.  FOR SALE.  BABY SHOES.  NEVER WORN.

Nearly 80% of CREDIT CARD users who asked their lenders for a lower rate got one.  Half of the people who were turned down canceled their card.  --Kiplinger’s

There are more LANGUAGES spoken in NYC than in the Olympics.

Coke Classic is only ‘the classic Coke,’ with SUGAR, in the ‘Kosher for Passover’ version...the rest of the time it has the artificial chemical ‘high fructose corn syrup’ as a sweetener.  Mexico still gets sugar in its Coke--they buy sugar on the world market, not the expensive, tariff-protected, government-subsidized sugar we grow in Florida.

The Bridesmaid’s Dress is a “modern tool of female ritual humiliation” and bridesmaids have become “collateral damage in the female quest for the perfect wedding.”  --Siri Agrell in “Bad Bridesmaid”

The male equivalent of nymphomania is SATYROMANIA.

In almost all ancient societies, BEER was considered a gift from a goddess, never a male god.  Most often, women began the brewing process by chewing grains and spitting them into a pot to form a fermentable mass.

From Fred B:  A little old lady was running up and down the halls in a nursing home. As she walked, she would flip up the hem of her nightgown and say  "Supersex."  She walked up to an elderly man in a wheelchair. Flipping her gown at  him, she said, "Supersex."  He sat silently for a moment or two and finally answered, "I'll take the soup."

THE MYSTERY METHOD is a new pickup guide with four rules:  Feign Lack of Interest;  Spark Attraction;  Build Comfort;  and Commence Seduction. [I won’t say more about “the method” since it will produce too much competition for me.]

The JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE has a root used as a vegetable and is not part of the artichoke family, rather the sunflower family.  It’s name is a corruption of “girasole,” the Italian word for “sunflower.”

In January, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee, under OATH, that he “would never, ever make a change in a U.S. attorney for political reasons.”  But it’s clear he lied.  The interesting part is to look at those attorney’s he KEPT.

TOYOTA expects to be in the automotive business 100 years from now, long after oil had been depleted or rendered unusable due to its carbon content, and, therefore, has placed all its bets on hybrid technologies--beginning in 1990.

 WALMART has identified three classes of shoppers at their stores: "brand aspirationals," low income but obsessed with prestige labels;   "price-sensitive affluents," wealthier shoppers who love deals;  and "value-price shoppers," who like low prices and can't afford much more.

80% of the world lives in sub-standard housing;  70% can’t read and write; 50% go to bed hungry.  --Bob Edgar, Nat’l Council of Churches

Freshly brewed TEA contains 10 to 100 times more antioxidants than bottled teas.  --Ore. St. U. & U.S. Dept. of Ag.

In music, DOWNBEAT is an accented beat or the first beat of a measure, marked by the conductor’s arm in a downward stroke;  the UPBEAT is the unaccented beat, usually occurring just before the downbeat.

Percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28.  Percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38.  [Hands off, GWB!]

Chuck suggests this site for insightful animated commentaries:  www.hightowerdownload.com/node/30

A PYKNIC is a person with a fat, somewhat squat figure.

FOX DESIGNING THE HENHOUSE: “IRS is asking tax lawyers and accountants who create tax shelters and exploit loopholes to take the lead in writing some of its new tax rules.”  --NYT 3/9/9, C1

6 in 10 Americans believe in the devil and hell;  7 in 10 believe in angels, heaven, miracles and life after death.   --from a 2005 Harris Poll

The word is DOUGHNUT, not donut [as the Dunkin’ folks would have it] since they are made of dough, not do.

Beautiful sights/sounds from Alan:  http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xp7vr_verdi-traviata-choeur-bohemiens

KWIKWIZ answers:

176.  Horse

177.  Red Crystal

178.  University of Wisconsin--Madison admitted women in 1863;  Florida State admitted men in 1947.

179.  Yusef Islam

180.  Liposuction:  more than 455,000 patients at $1.2 billion.

CHALLENGE #47 was:  In language, there are many cases in which two negatives make a positive.  Is it possible for two positives to make a negative?

Answer:  “Yeah, yeah.”  Originally answered by philosopher Sidney Morgenbesser.

Jerry and Jack S. suggested “Yeah, right!”

CHALLENGE #48:  Of what would we each receive 30 pieces, if the world’s supply was divided equally?


"Potpourri" is issued each week on an opt-in/opt-out basis.  Please respond if you would like to be added to or deleted from distribution. 

panem et circenses from Your Humble Research Assistant--the Maven, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]

POTPOURRI # 59  sent March 21

Action is easy;  thought is hard.   Goethe


181.  Which languages are on Israeli stamps?

182.  Who is the largest private employer in Canada and Mexico?

183.  How many Japanese-Americans were convicted of sabotage during and after WWII?

184.  Who was “cereal” named after?

185.  Warsaw has the largest Polish population.  Which city is second?

WHO PAID for the last election?  REPUBLICAN contributors: P&G, ConAgra, Wal-Mart, Reynolds, Home Depot, Loews, Int’l Paper, Publix, Wendy’s, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Outback, Amway, Limited, Pepsi, Altria, Molson Coors, etc.   DEMOCRATIC contributors: E&J Gallo, Gap, Costco, B&N, Riese, FL Sugar Cane, Flo-Sun Sugar, Connel Sugar/Rice, Vector Group, etc.  --From the Federal Election Commission...Of course some obvious big winners who have cased in recently:   DRUG makers who wrote the Medicare drug bill and made billions;  COMPUTER giants who got visas for tens of thousands of low-wage engineers/programmers;  MEAT processors who fought off action vs. mad-cow disease and country-of-origin labeling.

Half of all government farm spending [$12.5 Billion/year] goes to just 22 of 435 Congressional districts.

Of the 415 American Billionaires on the FORBES list, NY had the most--50, with a total net worth at nearly $157 Billion.  And the number of homeless families in NYC reached 9,287, a record high, reported the Coalition for the Homeless.

The average American uses three gallons of gasoline/day.

Last year MOLLY IVINS reminded her readers of a curious pattern during Karl Rove’s time in Texas:  “In election years, there always seemed to be an F.B.I. investigation of some sitting Democrat either announced or leaked to the press.  After the election was over, the allegations often vanished.”

In the Middle Ages, Latin scholars tried improve English spelling by adding silent letters to show where words came from:  “debt” acquired its ‘b’ from the Latin ‘debitum;’  “island” its ‘s’ from ‘insula;’   “people its ‘o’ from ‘populus.’

WHICH KIND OF TRAVELER ARE YOU?   Sociologist Stanley Plog’s classifications: 

•  Venturers [3.5%] constantly seek remote places, usually w/o a plan

•  Authentics [2.5%] enjoy structure, stability and routine and fully escorted tours.

•  Midauthentics [17%%] prefer TV to reading and driving to flying [e.g., Las Vegas and Branson, MO].

•  Centric-authentics [30%] are dependable, thrifty and discerning; favor major brands; demands value [e.g., package to Hawaii].

•  Centric-venturers [30%] avoid highly developed tourist areas but require comfortable accomodations and some infrastructure [e.g., self-driving tour of Sicily].

•  Midventurers [17%] are avid travelers seeking new experiences and destinations;  they’re physically active and enjoy adventure, a fine meal, a cozy room, history and luxury.

Eating, drinking and adjusting the radio and climate controls EACH cause more crashes than cellular phone use.  Hands-free cellphones have not reduced the risk significantly.    American Academy of Pediatrics

Halliburton stock BEFORE the war:  $20.50;  March 16th it was $64.12

Why they calll it ‘AMAZING.’  The AMAZON rainforest produces  more than 20% the world's oxygen supply. The Amazon River pushes so  much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than one hundred miles at  sea, off the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the  ocean.  The volume of water in the Amazon river is greater than the next  eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all  rivers in the United States.

IDENTITY THEFT:  73% of victims incur no out-of-pocket expenses whatsoever;  the unlucky minority loses, on average, $2,000.  And in most cases the thief is a relative, friend or co-worker.  [Javelin Strategy and Research]

A LOVE STORY:  Born to a wealthy family in Pennsylvania, Gertrude Stein traveled the world with her family. In 1904, she moved in with her brother, Leo, in Paris. An avant-garde writer, Gertrude found a fervent intellectual and artistic atmosphere unlike any in America. She would not return to her homeland for 30 years.  Meanwhile, in San Francisco, 29-year-old Alice Babette Toklas decided to visit Paris after meeting Gertrude’s brother, Michael, and  4’11” Alice met 5’1” 33-year-old Gertrude at a dinner party.  Alice was in absolute awe of Gertrude, claiming to have heard bells that signaled her greatness.  They often wrote love notes to each other such as this Cubist-inspired poem by Gertrude to Alice:

Do you really think I would yes I would and,

Do you really think I could, yes I could,

Do you really think I should yes I should,

Do you really think I do love all you with all.

Gertrude, awaiting what would be her final surgery for colon cancer in 1946, was just about to be wheeled into the emergency room when she asked Alice, “What is the answer?” When Alice failed to reply, she asked, “In that case...what is the question?” Alice would live 21 years longer, always anticipating a reunion with her “immortal” Gertrude in heaven.   -ElderHostel

In a recent survey, half the HS students, when asked to identify Sodom and Gomorrah, said they were a married couple.

More than five million citizens were barred from VOTING in the U.S. in the last presidential election.  Virtually all would have been free to vote in nations like Canada, France or Britain.  The laws are remnants of late 19th/early 20th century efforts to restrict political influence of African-Americans.  They are still common in the Deep South, with Florida being the most egregious.

The number of CELLphones in INDIA went from 3 million to 100  million in 5 years, while almost 300 million Indians can never be sure where their next meal will come from.  It is a country of gleaming billion-dollar info-tech industries and wooden plows, where a million engineering graduates are trained every year but almost the same number of malnourished children die annually from contaminated water.

MDs interrupt patients before 12 seconds and diagnose within 20 seconds.

In the U.S., most Arabs are not Moslems, and most Moslems are not Arabs.

KWIKWIZ answers:

181.  Official languages are Hebrew and Arabic.  The English on the stamps is an international regulation to use the Latin alphabet.

182.  Wal-Mart

183.  None.

184.  Ceres, the goddess of agriculture

185.  Chicago

CHALLENGE #48 was:  Of what would we each receive 30 pieces, if the world’s supply was divided equally?    Answer:  Lego

CHALLENGE #49:  What is the address of “the boy next door”?


"Potpourri" is issued each week on an opt-in/opt-out basis.  Please respond if you would like to be added to or deleted from distribution. 

panem et circenses from Your Humble Research Assistant--a language maven, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]