POTPOURRI #60  sent march 28

“Thoughts lead to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny.”  Tyron Edwards

“One of the most enduring lessons of social psychology is that behavior change often precedes changes in attitudes and feelings.”  --psychologist, Timothy Wilson


186.  Who coined the term “big apple” for NYC?

187.  Which country has more lakes than the rest of the world combined?

188.  What major U.S. city was originally called Pigs Eye?

189.  What is a yactosecond?

190.  Half of the ten most polluted cities are in which country?

There are no chocolate Easter rabbits in Australia.  Rabbits were introduced from Europe in the 1800s and multiplied and destroyed cropland;  so, you can get a chocolate Easter BILBY--a long-earred marsupial--once common, now threatened.

Half the IVY’s have a female president.

An OPUS is a  musical composition by a particular composer;  its plural is opera (the first syllable rhymes with mope);  not to be confused with OPERA (first syllable rhymes with mop).  [Or to be confused with Oprah.]

47 White House officials gave testimony under oath to Congress during the Clinton administration [ten w/Rove’s job];  Congress held 140 hours of testimony, under oath, on the issue of Clinton’s Christmas card list.

Last year, 59% of casino income on the Las Vegas strip was from nongambling.

Currently, there are 15 significant armed conflicts in the world [i.e., >1,000 deaths], and another 21 ‘hot spots’ or potential wars.  --Friends Comm. on Nat’l Legislation

ENGLISH is the most widely used language in the history of our planet.  One in every seven humans can speak it.  More than half of the world's books and three-quarters of international mail are in English.  Of all languages, English has the largest vocabulary--perhaps as many as two million words, and growing--and one of the noblest bodies of literature.  Nonetheless, English is a crazy language:  quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, public bathrooms have no baths and a guinea pig is neither a pig nor from Guinea.

Main error by WOMEN Bosses:  Veering between being “Ice Queens, cool and distant,” and “Earth Mothers,” who “invited too much emotionality into their relationships with employees.” --Suzy Welch

ORTHOREXIA is the clinical word for “fixation on righteous eating.”

2/3 of U.S. adults played the LOTTERY last year.  Households with regular players spend an average of 2% of income on the gamble.  The proportion is higher among very-low income households.

More than 160,000 U.S. women have served in the Iraq/Afghanistan war.

NYC had 15,000 saloons before PROHIBITION;  within a few years there were 32,000.  Prohibition agents were not law enforcement professionals, but were chosen by the drys themselves (faith-based Christian zealots, idealistic social reformers, flat-out bigots, a few solemn feminists and cynical businessmen), who insisted on political (or theological) agreement as a primary credential.  [Note any similarity in government today?] It was 13 years, 10 months and 18 days of an American utopian delusion, and the first time the Constitution was used to limit personal liberties.  Today, some have similar angry visions, longing to make them law.

Great white sharks can detect the electrical current of a person’s heart.

“The growth industries are gay divorce and tattoo removal.”  John Waters


•  45% of Americans have been w/o health coverage at some point. 

•  The percentage of Americans with health insurance has DECLINED since 2000. 

•  18,000 die prematurely each year due to lack of health insurance. 

•  Every 30 seconds there is a bankruptcy filing due to medical bills. 

•  The average employer-based family premium rose 87% from 2000-2006.

A MIDGET is a person who is diminutive in stature and well-proportioned;  a DWARF is also a diminutive person, but whose head or other extremities are disproportionately large.

CHOWDER:  New England has milk;  Manhattan has tomato;  Rhode Island has neither.

The founding principle of the Universal Life Church, begun in 1959 by a renegade Baptist minister, is that legal and social privileges tranditionally enjoyed by men of the cloth--e.g., to perform marriages--should be available to all.  So the church has enrolled over 18 million ministers at $10 each.

"Sometimes I think WAR is God's way of teaching us geography." Paul


Incadescent bulbs use lots of energy, but turn only 5% of it into light.

Anemone live forever.

The LONDON Festival Orchestra is funded, in part, by the U.S. Postal Service.

The typical 50-year-old driver needs twice the light to see as well after dark as a 30-year-old.  Traffic deaths are 3X greater at night than during the day, though only 20% of driving is done after dark.

In the late 1940s, Cajun music was strongly influenced by blues and jazz, and a new style--ZYDECO--was born. In the mid 1950s, "the king of zydeco," Clifton Chenier, recorded the song "Les haricots sont pas salés" (the green beans ain't salty). The title was a comment on hard economic times when there was no salted meat to add to the beans. It is also the origin of the word zydeco: "les haricots" is really lay za ree ko. Now, drop the "lay" because that is just the article (the) and not really part of the word. Now we've got ZA ree ko. Change the r to a d (a normal change for an intervocalic r), dipthongize the stressed vowel, and reduce the others (because that's what English likes to do), and--voilà: zydeco.

In 1960, there was no Republican senator from the South. In Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory, for the first time in history, a Democrat won the presidency without carrying the South.  In 2000, for the first time, a Republican won the White House while losing the North.  --George F. Will

Although fewer than 10% of the vehicles in Los Angeles are more than 15 years old, these cars account for more than half the smog.

Last week, the Mississippi senate rejected cutting grocery tax and raising cigarette tax.  Mississippians pay the highest grocery tax (7%) and they rank among the lowest paid households in the nation.  They also have the 3rd lowest cigarette tax at 18¢/pack.

Is Duelling dead?  The Queen of England has an official champion who stands ready to challenge anyone who disputes her sovereignty.

From the books of sociologist, Barry Glassner:

•  Road rage is less a problem than lightning strikes.

•  Gun control, not more prisons, is the best way to stop violent crime.

•  Obesity is caused by a complex mix of genetic predisposition, economic hardship and antismoking campaigns. [The poor and some ethnic groups are disproportionately overweight related to economic hardship and insecurity.  Therefore: higher stress levels causing the body to produce less of a growth hormone that reduces fat deposits and revs up metabolism even as it yields more ‘stress hormones’ that ‘provoke cravings for soothing substances like doughnuts and ice cream.’]

“We fought two wars on oil in the last 15 years, and yet we are not willing to fight against oil dependence.  If we simply had the same gas-mileage average as Europe does, about 43 MPG, we would import no oil from OPEC. Zero.” -- Bill Bradley

Have we ever had a top level DOJ official (Goodling) take advantage of the Fifth Amendment, to the constitution? Ever? I think not. It is striking that a document Alberto once described as "quaint" has become so important to his cabal of criminal cohorts and top aides. 

The DEVELOPING WORLD is typically defined as all countries except the 29 wealthiest.

From Kumar:  Results of a new study about women and how they feel about their asses:  25% of women think their ass is too fat...10% of women think their ass is too skinny... The other 65% say that they don't care; they love him, he's a good man, and they would have married him anyway.

The $100 billion Congress authorized to pay for the continuing war in Iraq translates into $5,500 per second through Sept. 30, and could purchase 111 Queen Mary 2 cruise ships at $900 million a piece.

A study of 2,500 adults in Framingham, MA linked cola drinking (regular & diet) to the thinning of hip bones in women.

Alabama is the only state that refuses to provide indigent death row inmates with lawyers.

69% of the public believes that “it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health care coverage.” [59% in 2000] --Gallup

KWIKWIZ answers:

186.  Touring jazz musicians of the 1930s used the slang expression "apple" for any  town or city. Therefore, to play  NYC is to play the big time - The Big Apple.

187.  Canada

188.  St. Paul, MN was called Pigs Eye after a man named Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant who set up the first business there.

189.  One trillionth of a trillionth of a second (10-24).

190.  China.

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

Too vague a Q, so here’s a hint:  It’s a musical reference.

CHALLENGE #50: The inventor of the phonograph, Thomas Edison, had partial hearing loss.  How did he compensate for it to hear his recordings?


"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]

POTPOURRI # 61  sent  April 4

“Minority groups have always been very slow to realize they have rights.  Whenever I see historical movies, I see all those peasants and serfs and think, ‘What are you doing?  Kill Marie Antoinette!’  People think we can’t do anything, that this is our lot in life.  We are a gay minority so our relationships are not as good.  We don’t even [get] legal protection.”  --Playwright Terrence McNally


191.  Why was the U.S. Navy founded?

192.  What was the original conception of the French sculptor for what became The Statue of Liberty?

193.  Who was the first “angry young man”?

194.  Rainy weekends increase the supply;  helmet laws reduce it.

195.  What helped influence President Truman to back the creation of Israel?

Remember the story of the great flood from the Bible?  The same story, and others that are in the Bible, appear in”The Epic of Gilgamesh.”  Gilgamesh lived about 2,700 B.C. in what we now call Iraq.  The inscribed clay tablets were decoded in 1872 in the British Museum.

“Practically everything that our government does, plans, thinks, hears and contemplates in the realms of foreign policy” is marked secret--and then released or unraveled when most convenient.  --Max Frankel

The huge Airbus A380 can carry 853 passengers.  One has been ordered as a private plane at about $410 Million.  Currently about 20 individuals won 747s.

A LOVE STORY:  Prince Edward in the 1920s commanded the kind of attention usually reserved for movie stars, and set fashion trends, including the large Windsor knot.  During the 1930s, Edward began a series of relationships with the powerful married women of his day, including Wallis Simpson.  American and already on her second marriage, Mrs. Simpson was not the Royal Family’s choice and the couple was placed under government surveillance.  Finding royal compromise impossible, Edward abdicated the throne to be with his “Eanum Pig,” [mini-challenge: meaning?] and became the third-shortest-reigning monarch in British history.  They married in France in 1937 and spent most of their days as minor celebrities and socialites.  Queen Mary summed up the royal objections by saying, “To give up all this for that.”  --ElderHostel

Americans are eating about 12% more calories/day than they did in the mid-1980s according to government statistics.

10% of dogs in the U.S. get cancer.

59% of workers believe that it’s harder to earn a decent living today than it was 20 or 30 years ago.  --Pew Research Center

At Canterbury in the Middle Ages, 24 men were required to ring one bell.   In general, bells could not be too large because of the difficulty of ringing them. Not only were they difficult to ring, but bell ringing required a great deal of practice. So a device was invented, consisting of a heavy weight suspended from a rope, to be used by novice bell ringers to develop their strength and skill. Later, a similar device was used by gentlemen to develop their physique. The term dumbbell is first recorded in 1711 by Joseph Addison. Since these exercise devices had heavy weights instead of real bells, they were "dumb" in the sense 'silent or mute.'

A msg from Philip: [cut/paste] http://www.frontiernet.net/~jimdandy/specials/blessed.htm

“Rich-country governments spent $283 Billion in 2005 to support and subsidize their own agriculture, mainly agribusiness.  Artificially cheap food exported to poor countries might seem like a gift--but it is often a Trojan horse.  Corn, rice or cotton exported by rich countries is so cheap that small farmers in poor countries cannot compete, so they stop farming.”  --Tina Rosenberg

DIGAMY and DEUTEROGAMY  are the same thing:  marriage to a second wife after death or divorce of the first.

George Bernard Shaw invited Winston Churchill to the opening of his latest play via telegram, and added:  “Bring a friend if you have one.”  Churchill wired back:  “Will attend your second night, if you have one.”  Tallulah Bankhead was noted for her risque opening-night telegrams.  To Helen Hayes she sent:  “A warm hand on your opening.”  Too bad Western Union stopped delivering telegrams in January of 2006.

We Invent; They Improve:  SUDOKU can be translated as “bachelor numbers,” since only single-digits are used.  Originally called Number Place in an American puzzle magazine by Dell in 1979.  Simplified and improved in 1984 in Japan.

FLASHBACK:  April 14, 1994 CEOs of the 7 largest American tobacco companies each raised his right hand and solemnly swore to tell the truth to Congress.  Each said he did not believe tobacco was a health risk and that his company did not manipulate nicotine levels in its cigarettes.  That was 30 years after the surgeon general declared smoking a health hazard...these men, it seemed, believed otherwise.  REALLY?  And the nicotine manipulation continues today.

1/3 of the people in the world have no electricity, and 30,000 people die each day of hunger.

PRIDE is the origin of all sins...Aristotle

Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others.  Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowed in zoo moats trying to save others.  Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.

Never use the term “begging the question” to mean “plead for an answer.”  The term is a logical fallacy of circular reasoning, from “petitio principi” or “to assume what needs to be proved.” Use “begs the question” only when you mean “ducks the question.”  --William Safire

In 1960, the average women weighed 140 lbs.;  today:  164.  [of course, men stayed the same average weight.  :-)  ]  Extra gallons of fuel that cars consume because of the weight gain compared with 1960:  938 million--which cost an extra $2.2 Billion/year.  --Women’s Health

CIRCUIT CITY laid off it’s 3,400 most experienced salesclerks last week, to save money, while its CEO received almost $10 million last year. Top Exec at Wal-Mart wrote in 2005: “the cost of an associate with 7 years of tenure is almost 55% more than the cost of an associate with 1 year of tenure, yet there is no difference in his or her productivity.”

From Nancy:  Laura Bush bought George a parrot for his birthday. She told Dick Cheney, "The bird is so smart,  George has already taught him to mispronounce over 200 words!" "Wow, that's pretty impressive," Cheney said. "But you realize that he just says the words.  He doesn't really understand what they mean." "That's true," Laura replied.  "But neither does the parrot."

Four times more Israelis and Palestinians died fighting each other during the “realistic,” “pro-Israel,” side-sitting Bush years of 2001-5 than in the “naive” decade of intense U.S. peacemaking--dominated by Clinton--from Madrid to Oslo, 1991-2000.   --Dennis Ross

RE: commentary on “What Q would you ask GWB?”  [cut/paste] http://www.capitolhillblue.com/cm/content/view/368/162/

In the last 10 years, 1/4 of all tech companies formed in the U.S. had at least one founding member who was an immigrant.  Last year, 24.2% of international patent applications were by non-resident immigrants.   --Duke U.

In Japan, McDonald’s customers can point their cellphones at a hamburger wrapper and get nutritional information on their screens.

About 21% of calories consumed by Americans over 2 come from beverages, mostly soft drinks and sugary fruit drinks.  These drinks account for half the rise in caloric intake by Americans since the late 1970s.

One in ten light bulbs in the U.S. contain uranium from Russian nuclear weapons that we purchased from them.

Median income rose only 17% since 1980, while the income of the richest 0.1% quadrupled.

KWIKWIZ answers:

191.  To fight in the Middle East.

192.  An Egyptian peasant girl intended to adorn the Suez Canal

193.  Theater critic Kenneth Tynan named John Osborne for his play “Look Back in Anger.”

194.  Supply of human organs.  94,000 Americans are on the wait-list.  More than 2/3 need kidneys.  Living donors account for about 40% of kidney donations.

195.  “I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism, I do not have hundreds of thousand of Arabs in my constituents.”

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

Hint:  It’s a musical reference.

Answer:  Sally Benson wrote a series for The New Yorker in 1941/42 titled “5135 Kensington” that was turned into a movie and Broadway show: “Meet Me in St. Louis.”  A popular song from the show was “The Boy Next Door” who lived at 5133 Kensington St.  Other songs include “Trolley Song” [Judy Garland] and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  Jerry got it.

CHALLENGE #50 was: The inventor of the phonograph, Thomas Edison, had partial hearing loss.  How did he compensate for it to hear his recordings?

Answer:  Usually by placing one ear directly against the phonograph’s cabinet.  He also admitted: “I bite my teeth in the wood good and hard and then I get it good and strong.”  His daughter reported that Maria Montessori was in tears watching Edison listen the only way he could:  “She thought it was pathetic;  I guess it was.” Jerry got it.

CHALLENGE #51:  O.K., you’ve seen the bad guys swap briefcases of cash.  How many crisp $100 bills would it take to fill an average briefcase?  [Yes, you can try this at home.]


"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]

POTPOURRI #62 sent april 11

“The profound irony is that our noblest achievement--morality--has evolutionary ties to our basest behavior--warfare.  The sense of community required by the former was provided by the latter...[The] function [of religion] may have to do with social life, and enforcement of rules and giving a narrative to them, which is what religions really do.”  --primatologist Frans de Waal, Emory U.


196.  Why helped influence the Saudi king to offer oil rights to American prospectors and not the British?

197.  Four crops account for 2/3 of the calories humans eat.  Which?

198.  Why did the rate of heart disease temporarily plummet during WWII?

199.  4 of the 10 leading killers in America are linked to what?

200.  Where is the room where England’s first cup of coffee was drunk?

55% of mothers said they would not hire a BABYSITTER who was more attractive than they are.  --Parenting Magazine

OPTICAL PHENOMENA:  The black shimmering--like a body of water--seen over a level paved road on a sunny day is called ‘laurence.’  A “mirage” in a desert is the projection of distant objects, frequently inverted and above ground level.  “Scintillation” is the apparent twinkling of stars.

“The Vikings of Iceland were among the fiercest people on earth, and now they are the most peaceful.”  --David Sloan Wilson, evolutionary biologist

The top 300,000 Americans had almost as much income last year as the bottom 150 MILLION Americans.

The reason FIREHOUSES have circular stairways is from the days of lore when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

From FRED:  A church with a strong positive-thinking emphasis - "turn your lemons into lemonade" - that type of thing, had the slogan "There are no problems, only opportunities." The youth group went on a retreat.  At the Church Camp the female leader was approached by one of the boys form the youth group who said, "Mrs. Smith, I have a problem."  She turned and looked at the boy and said, "Now Justin, what have we taught you at church?"  She pointed to a big sign over the doorway that said, "There are no problems only opportunities."  The boy replied, "Okay, have it your way, Mrs. Smith, but I wanted to tell you there is a girl in my room."

“If America is to remain a first-class nation, she can no longer have second-class citizens.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

We can’t swim or fish in 44% of U.S. lakes and streams.

A LOVE STORY:  At only 4’11” and 90 pounds, Bonnie was an attractive, precocious and strong-willed teenager who earned good marks for her creative writing and spelling. After her first marriage, she was a waitress in Dallas and met Clyde “Champion” Chestnut Barrow. It was love at first sight.  Clyde had never cared much for schooling and, as a teenager, he and his brother stole and sold everything from cars to turkeys. Shortly after their romance began, Clyde was arrested again and Bonnie smuggled in a gun to help him escape. Bonnie was singularly loyal to Clyde and followed his every example. Her poem, Suicide Sal, is a reflection of her life of passion and crime:

There I fell for "the line" of a "henchman,"

A "professional killer" from "Chi;"

I couldn't help loving him madly;

For him even now I would die.

One year we were desperately happy;

Our "ill gotten gains" we spent free;

I was taught the ways of the "underworld;"

Jack was just like a "god" to me.

— The Story of Suicide Sal, Bonnie Parker, 1932

In 1934, the robberies, kidnapping and killings continued. Their romantic trysts were interspersed with criminal doings and prison time.  Law enforcement discovered their pattern of crossing state lines, and set up an early morning ambush on a desolate road in Louisiana. Around 9 a.m., a speeding car approached. Officers stopped the automobile, confirmed the passengers and unloaded 167 steel jacketed, high-velocity bullets into the car. Bonnie was 23 and Clyde was 24.  --ElderHostel

A msg from Alan: http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=ZS43976949

“Never write what you can say; never say what you can wink.”  Irish wisdom

Ingrown toenails are hereditary.

To "testify" was based on men in the Roman court swearing to a statement made by swearing on their testicles.

SOCIALITY has a basis in four kinds of behavior:  empathy, fairness or reciprocity, the ability to learn and follow social rules, and peacemaking.

YOU SHOULD KNOW:  Alcoholics Anonymous® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; it is self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. AA’s primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

The symbol on the "pound" key (#) is called an octothorpe.

UPDATE:  John H. says Sinatra’s version is “The GIRL Next Door” and he reverses the addresses.

"A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed."  The previous sentence uses all nine different pronunciations of “ough.”

Los Angeles's full name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula" and can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size, "L.A."

KWIKWIZ answers:

196.  He was influenced, in part, by the altruism of missionary doctors’ work in the area.

197.  Corn, soybeans, wheat and rice.

198.  Meat and dairy products were strictly rationed.

199.  Diet.

200.  In Balliol College of Oxford

CHALLENGE #51 was:  O.K., you’ve seen the bad guys swap briefcases of cash.  How many crisp $100 bills would it take to fill an average briefcase?  Answer:  A maximum of $1.2 million according to Sherlock Investigations.

CHALLENGE #52:  WHO SAID WHAT?  a match game

[to keep you busy since there will be no Potpourri for two weeks]

[Don’t look them up on the I’net...go with what you know]

__ 1.   “Hindsight is always 20/20” 

__ 2.   “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” 

__ 3.   “Sue the bastards!” 

__ 4.   “Elementary, my dear Watson.” 

__ 5.   “Play it again, Sam.”

__ 6.   “Nice guys finish last.” 

__ 7.   “When I hear the word ‘culture,’ I reach for my gun.” 

__ 8.   “No Vietcong ever called me a nigger.”

__ 9.   “If this be treason, make the most of it!”

__ 10. “You dirty rat.” 

__ 11. “Come with me to the Casbah.” 

__ 12. “You can’t go home again.” 

__ 13. “Never give a sucker an even break.” 

__ 14. “You can’t trust anyone over 30.” 

__ 15. “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”

__ 16.   The first person to “call a spade a spade.”

__ 17. “There’s a sucker born every minute, but none of them ever die.” 

__ 18. “I didn’t really say everything I said.” 

__ 19.   During the 1968 campaign: “[Richard Nixon] is unfit to be President.”

__ 20. “He don’t smoke, he don’t drink, he don’t chase women and he don’t win.” 

__ 21.   When asked what he thought of the Great Wall of China, he said “This is a great wall.” 

__ 22. “They cheer me because they all understand me, and they cheer you [Einstein] because no one understands you.” 

__ 23. “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” 

__ 24. “Give me liberty or give me death.”

__ 25. “Greed is good.”

__ 26. “War is hell.” 

__ 27. “Go west, young man.” 

__ 28. “Let them eat cake.” 

__ 29.   The family maid called him “the dopey one.” 

__ 30. “[Kissinger is] just a funny little man. He is shuddering all over with nerves every time he comes to see me.” 

The following may be used more than once, or not at all:

A.  Joey Adams

B.  Muhammad Ali

C.  Marie Antoinette

D.  P.T. Barnum

E.  Ingrid Bergman in “Casablaca”

F.  Yogi Berra

G.  The Bible

H.  Charles Boyer

I.   G.W. Bush

J.   James Cagney

K.  Charlie Chaplin

L.  Michael Douglas in “Wall Street”

M.  Leo Durocher

N.  Albert Einstein

O.  Erasmus

P.  Hermann Goring

Q.  Horace Greeley

R.  Patrick Henry

S,  Sherlock Holmes

T.  Henry Kissinger

U.  Vince Lombardi

V.  Mao Tse Tung

W.  Walter Murrow

X.  Richard Nixon

Y.  Henry Sanders

Z.  William Shakespeare

AA. William Tecumseh Sherman

BB.  Casey Stengel

CC.  John Wayne

DD. Jack Weinberg

EE.  Billy Wilder

FF.  Thomas Wolfe

GG. Victor Yannacone

HH. None of the above


"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 curmudgeon, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]

POTPOURRI #63  SENT april 29

“To be a friend we must recognize our wealth [strengths] and poverty [weaknesses].”  Aristotle

KWIKWIZ:  CLICHES.  Fill in the blanks without looking them up.

201.  Pride goeth before ______.

202.  To ____ the lily.

203.  A little ______ is a dangerous thing.

204.  Water, water, everywhere, _______ drop to drink.

205.  Music hath charms to soothe a _________.

206.  Imitation is the sincerest _______ flattery.

207.  Ask me no question, and I’ll tell you no _______.

208.  Give him an inch, he’ll take ______.

209.  Variety’s the ______ of life.

210. _______ is the root of all evil.

The spellings blonde and blond correspond to the feminine and masculine forms in French. Although the distinction is usually retained in Britain, American usage since the 1970s has generally preferred the gender-neutral blond. The adjective blonde may still refer to a woman’s (but not a man’s) hair color, though use of the noun risks offense (See that blonde over there?) the offense arises from the fact that the color of hair is not the person. The adjective applied to inanimate objects (wood, beer) is typically spelled blond.

“Where you are worth nothing, you should want nothing.”  Flemish philosopher Arnold Geulincx

A CAT has 32 muscles in each ear.

From LISA F.:  At Three minutes and Four seconds after 2 AM on the 6th of May This year, the time and date will be 02:03:04 05/06/07. This will NEVER happen again in our lifetime.

The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose.  --John Mason Brown

Otto Von Bismark, about 100 years ago, set retirement age at 65.  FDR did the same, when American life expectancy was 63.  “65” then is equivalent to 97 today.

Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.

— Benjamin Franklin

OBSOLAGNIUM means “waning sexual desires resulting from age.”

Donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes.


•  Western Vegetarian:  "Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian," contains no meat or seafood but does include dairy produce such as butter, cheese, milk and eggs...

•  Strict Western Vegetarian:  "Vegan," contains no meat, fish or dairy products.

•  Oriental Vegetarian:  prepared and cooked Chinese-style without meat, fish or game, dairy products or root vegetables including ginger, garlic, onion, spring onions etc, or anything that is grown underground.

•  Indian Vegetarian:  spicy and contains no meat or seafood but does include limited dairy products, for the majority of Hindus who cannot eat meat or fish.

•  Strict Indian Vegetarian:  does not contain any meat, fish, egg, diary products, game, seafood or root vegetables including ginger, garlic, onion and potato.

People who cannot find time for recreation are obliged sooner or later to find time for illness.  --John Wanamaker

Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten.

Having older brothers substantially increases the chances that a man will be gay.  Older sisters don’t count, nor does it matter whether the brothers are in the house when the boy is reared.  Some 15% of gay men can attribute their homosexuality to it, based on the assumption that 1-4% of men are gay, and each additional older brother increases the odds of same sex attraction by 33%.  --Canadian researchers:  Ray Blanchard & Anthony Bogaert.

It is indeed a desirable thing to be well descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors.

From JIM T., Bill Maher explains it all:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dnx4IlE1JDo

HUMILITY is “a reverent love of the truth.”  --St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Cracking the PRICE CODE:  At Target a price ending in “8” means the item is starting its descent, while a “4” is at the bottom.  Gap and Radio Shack use “7” to mean “clearance price.”  At Circuit City:  “.99” is full retail price; “.98” matches local competitors;  “.96” product is in limited supply; “.95” is the lowest price.  --Money Magazine

Four major world-concerns of each of us:  Poverty, Hunger, Peace, Ignorance.

The word PANDERING came from the behavior of Panderus, the uncle of Criseyde, who “hooked her up” with Troilus in Chaucer’s epic poem.  He was in the room while they made illicit love, and his name became to mean “pimp.”  We now use the term to mean indulging in a distasteful desire.

“It is enough that the arrows fit exactly in the wounds that they have made.” --Franz Kafka

During the early Middle Ages, few in Europe knew Greek and the writings of PLATO were lost [altho’ they had Aristotle who wrote in Latin].  Plato was reintroduced to England in the 12th centrury by Arabs who had preserved the texts.

The longest one-syllable word in the English language is "screeched."

Two current presidential candidates used the term “tar baby” last year....Romney and McCain.

The nursery rhyme Ring Around the Rosey is about the plague. Infected people would get red circular sores ("Ring around the rosey..."), these sores would smell very badly so common folks would put flowers on their bodies somewhere (inconspicuously), so that it would  cover the smell of the sores ("...a pocket full of posies..."). People who died  from the plague would be burned so as to reduce the possible spread of the  disease ("...ashes, ashes, we all fall down!").

KWIKWIZ answers:

201.  destruction (Proverbs 16:18)

202.  paint (Shakespeare, King John)

203.  learning (Pope, An Essay on Criticism)

204.  nor any (Coleridge, The Ancient Mariner)

205.  savage breast (Congreve, The Mourning Bride)

206.  of (Colton, The Lacon)

207.  fibs (Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer)

208.  an ell (Ray, English Proverbs)

209.  very spice (Cowper,The Task)

210.  The love of money (I timothy 6:10)

CHALLENGE #52:  answers to the MATCH GAME:

1.   “Hindsight is always 20/20”  BILLY WILDER

2.   “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”  WALTER MURROW

3.   “Sue the bastards!”  VICTOR YANNACONE

4.   “Elementary, my dear Watson.”  Not Sherlock.

5.   “Play it again, Sam.”  Actually, Ingrid said “Play it, Sam.”

6.   “Nice guys finish last.”  Actually, Leo said “The nice guys are all over there, in seventh place.”

7.   “When I hear the word ‘culture,’ I reach for my gun.”  Not Hermann Goring

8.   “No Vietcong ever called me a nigger.”  Not Muhammad Ali

9.   “If this be treason, make the most of it!”  Not Patrick Henry...it was cooked up by his biographer, William Wirt

10. “You dirty rat.”  Not James Cagney

11. “Come with me to the Casbah.”  Not Charles Boyer

12. “You can’t go home again.” The line was given to Tom Wolfe by Ella Winter

13. “Never give a sucker an even break.”  Rivals of Barnum falsely ascribed the “sucker” quotes to him in the 1880s and Fields used the ‘sucker...break’ line in a 1936 film.

14. “You can’t trust anyone over 30.”  JACK WEINBERG of Berkeley Free Speech Movement

15. “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”  JOEY ADAMS

16.   The first person to “call a spade a spade.”  ERASMUS

17. “There’s a sucker born every minute, but none of them ever die.”  Rivals of Barnum falsely ascribed the “sucker” quotes to him in the 1880s.

18. “I didn’t really say everything I said.”  YOGI BERRA

19.   During the 1968 campaign: “[Richard Nixon] is unfit to be President.” HENRY KISSINGER

20. “He don’t smoke, he don’t drink, he don’t chase women and he don’t win.”  CASEY STENGEL on Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Rex Barney, about whom a sports writer said “would be the best pitcher if the plate were high and outside.”

21.   When asked what he thought of the Great Wall of China, he said “This is a great wall.”  RICHARD NIXON

22. “They cheer me because they all understand me, and they cheer you [Einstein] because no one understands you.”  CHARLIE CHAPLIN

23. “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”  Lombardi said it, but got it from HENRY SANDERS 

24. “Give me liberty or give me death.”  Not Henry...cooked up by his biographer, William Wirt

25. “Greed is good.” Actually Douglas said “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”

26. “War is hell.”  Not Sherman

27. “Go west, young man.”  Not Greeley

28. “Let them eat cake.”  Not Marie Antoinette

29.   The family maid called him “the dopey one.”  ALBERT EINSTEIN

30. “[Kissinger is] just a funny little man. He is shuddering all over with nerves every time he comes to see me.”   MAO TSE TUNG

Surprise!  No Bush, Shakespeare or Bible quotes.

Thanks to Louis Menand of The New Yorker for most of them.

CHALLENGE #53:  Which American author was the son of the creator of Life Savers candy?


"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. 

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

POTPOURRI #64  sent May 3

“Everything of importance has been said before by somebody who did not discover it.”  Alfred North Whitehead


211. What is Donald Duck’s middle name?

212. What is a twit?

213. What money was in Lincoln’s wallet when he was shot?

214.  When could the child of an unmarried woman legally collect debts owed to the mother or sue for a mother’s wrongful death?

215.  When was the right to inherit from an unwed father guaranteed?

94% of mid-career field-switchers say they’re happy.  --Money Magazine

The word CHECKMATE in chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," which means "the king is dead.”

On a recent list of the 14 worst mass shootings in Western democracies since the 1960s, the U.S. claimed 7, and no other country on the list has had a repeat performance as severe as the first--because they took action and changed their laws.  [Is there any good reason for a private citizen in a democracy to own a handgun?]

The average American, by several estimates, generates more than 20 tons of carbon dioxide or related gases per year;  the average resident of the Planet about 4.5 tons.

APPLES, not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in the morning.

It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink.  Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month ... which we know today as the honeymoon.

“I am what survives me.”  --Erik Erikson

A LOVE STORY:  At the age of 15, Shah Jahan, head of the Mughal Empire, wed his second wife, the 19 year-old Arjumand Banu Begum, in 1612. She was renamed Mumtaz Mahal, or “beloved ornament of the palace,” and bore him 13 children. While giving birth to their 14th child in 1629, she died.

Inconsolable, Shah Jahan retreated from his official duties to morn in solitude for a year. Reappearing, his hair was as white as the monument he would create for his eternal love — the Taj Mahal.

Construction of the Taj Mahal complex took nearly 20 years, 20,000 workers and 1,000 elephants. Symmetry reigns supreme in the translucent white marble with its inlaid jade, crystal, sapphire, lapis lazuli and 24 other precious and semi-precious stones. Adorned with calligraphy, geometric forms, vegetative motifs and carvings, the interior was no less impressive.

Shortly after completing construction, Shah Jahan was deposed by his son. Legend has it that he spent the rest of his lonely life imprisoned in the Red Fort of Agra, his eyes fixated on the monument to his beloved across the Jamuna River. Following his death, Aurangzeb buried his father beside Mumtaz in the Taj Mahal, creating the only glaring asymmetry in the three-acre complex.   --Elderhostel

UNDERGROUND is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with the letters "und."

BIPOLAR DISORDER  replaced “manic-depressive disorder” in the D.S.M. in 1980.  “The illness is as old as humankind, and has probably been conserved in the human genome because it confers great energy and originality of thought.  People who have had it have literally changed the course of human history:  Manic-depression has afflicted (and probably fueled the brilliance of ) people like Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Johann Goethe, Honore de Balzac, George Frederic Schumann, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton.”  --psychiatrist, Steven Hyman

A study shows that FOX viewers know less about current affairs than do viewers of THE DAILY SHOW.  --New York Magazine.

YIDDISH PROVERBS, from Elizabeth G.:

1.  A man is not honest simply because he never had a chance to steal.

2.  If the rich could hire other people to die for them, the poor could make a wonderful living.

3.  The wise man, even when he holds his tongue, says more than the fool when he speaks.

4.  What you don't see with your eyes, don't invent with your mouth.

5.  One old friend is better than two new ones.

6.  One of life's greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn't good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world. 

7.  When you teach your son, you teach your son's son.

American baking creations:  blueberry muffins, chocolate chip cookies and brownies [chocolate cake w/o baking powder].

BULLDOGS are often too barrel-chested to fit through the birth canal and must be delivered by Caesarean section.


•  Livestock not only pollutes our water, air and soil, it’s also “responsible for 18% of greenhouse emissions...a higher share than transport.”  UN-FAO

•  In Brazil, 70% of onetime forest land is pasture to grow animal feed.

•  Worldwide, 34 million acres of trees are cut & burned/year and provide 25-30% of all carbon into the atmosphere.

•  Cattle belch huge volumes of methane (which is 23 times more potent at trapping heat than CO2.)

•  Livestock manure is the source of 2/3 of man-made nitrous oxide--a greenhouse gas that’s 300 times more potent than CO2.

•  See: www.eating green.org

65% of Americans spend more time with their home computers than they do with their spouse or significant other.  --Kelton Research

WHISKY comes from the Gaelic for “water of life.”  VODKA is a Russian word, a diminutive of water.  The Poles put the word vodka on the bottle, but they call it “gorzalka,” from the root “to burn.”

KWIKWIZ answers:

211.  Fauntleroy

212.  A pregnant goldfish

213.  a Confederate five-dollar bill

214.  1968.

215.  1977.

CHALLENGE #53 was:  Which American author was the son of the creator of Life Savers candy?  Answer:  Hart Crane, who threw himself off a ship after having been badly beaten during the night by a sailor he propositioned.  Jerry got it.

CHALLENGE #54:  What is the smallest sovereign entity in the world?


"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. 

Your Humble Research Assistant, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]


“You know, when I campaigned in 2000, I said, I want to be a war president.  No one wants to be a war president, but I am one.”  --George W. Bush, October 26, 2006


216.  What is “Suji wa dokushin ni kagiru” known as in the U.S.?

217.  How long is ‘porn star’ Ron Jeremy’s penis?

218.  What happened to the presidential papers of Chester Arthur?

219.  What was interesting about Jefferson Davis’s Mississippi seat in the U.S. Senate?

220.  What/where started the demand for African slaves in this country?

1/4 of health-care dollars are spent in the last year of life.

Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II were made of wood.

“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”  -- Mark Twain

The only 15-letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.

IRAQ FAQS:    [hightowerlowdown.org]

•  The military has raised the maximum enlistment age from 35 to 42, which means that if you and your wife had kids when you were 20 and you’re now 40, the whole family could go to war.  Wow--the Brady Bunch does Iraq!

•  Recent West Point graduates, the Army’s elite, are saying “no thanks” to Iraq, choosing to leave active-duty service at the highest rate in more than three decades.

•  Rumsfeld said that the budget office forecast “a number that’s something under $50 billion” for the invasion of Iraq.  It now costs $6 Billion/month [not counting the ‘surge’], and total direct costs through the end of this year will top $500 Billion.

•  Included in that is $12 Billion that was airlifted in 2003 to the interim Iraq government in shrinkwrapped stacks of $100 bills [363 tons] which promptly disappeared.

•  Only 30% of Iraqi children attended school last year;  pre-war nearly 100% did.

•  The president of Iraqi National Council of Women goes nowhere w/o a bodyguard.  “I started with 6,” she said, “then I increased to 12, and then to 20, and then to 30.”

•  Iraq sits atop the world’s second-largest oil reserve--about $25 Trillion of crude.  Regarding the invasion of Iraq, Rumsfeld barked to the media: “It has nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil.”

•  In a 1998 speech, Chevron’s CEO said “I’d love Chevron to have access [to the oil in Iraq].”

•  In 2004 the Bush administration drafted a secret legislative proposal to deliver Iraq’s oil to the oil giants.  This February the proposal was introduced to the Iraqi parliament.

•  The law would transform Iraq’s oil reserves from a nationally owned resource to a privatization model controlled by Big Oil.

•  Now, why did we invade Iraq?

“But isn’t plagiarism just the purest form of quotation?”  --Lewis Menand

To CAROUSE is to engage in boisterous, drunken revelry: The word looks like it might be related to "arouse" or "carousel," but...In German, when a mug of beer is completely empty, it is "gar aus," and there is the expression "trinken gar aus" (to drink until the mug is empty). The contraction "Garaus" was used in much the same way that we might say "Bottoms up."  When the expression first entered English, it was only used as an adverb: "Those poor sots drank carouse and made utter fools of themselves." Later the word became a verb, and it also became possible to have a carousal (rowdy drinking session).

24.9% of Americans still smoke cigarettes.

Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence of July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson.  Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.  And it was written on hemp (marijuana) paper.

Half the gun-buyers in the U.S. avoid background checks by buying guns from a private seller or at a gun show from a “private” individual or a “collector.”

“The only proof I need of God...is music.”  Kurt Vonnegut

REMEMBER THIS LOVE STORY?:  “What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. The Beatles…and me.”— Actor Ryan O’Neal as Oliver Barrett, IV

Sitting alone in the bleachers of a deserted, snow-covered ice rink, actor Ryan O’Neal as Oliver Barrett, IV, sets the scene for his love story.  In a flashback to their first meeting at Radcliff Library, Jennifer Cavilleri, played by Ali MacGraw, is thwarting Oliver’s efforts to check out a book.  Harvard hockey jock, heir to the Barrett fortune and, less appreciatively, the Barrett shadow of success, Oliver’s background and personality clashes instantly with the more modestly raised but outspoken and artistic Jennifer.  Against all odds, the couple begins dating.  Oliver is constantly subjected to Jenny’s provocations, particularly her pet name for him, “preppie.”

The story comes to a head when Oliver’s baron-esque father threatens to disinherit his son if he marries the lower-class Jenny.  As any star-crossed lover would do, Oliver defies his father and trades his loveless life of luxury for a humble, hard-scrabble but passionate life with Jennifer.  Years go by and corporate ladders are climbed when the couple find the cause for their lack of children: Jenny has cancer. Their love story ends in tragedy as Jennifer dies in Oliver’s embrace at a New York City hospital.

While entirely fictional, the film and subsequent book resonated with moviegoers across America.  Released in 1970, it was one of the highest-grossing movies of the decade. Producer Robert Evans attributed its success to the movie’s aphrodisiac quality that inspired guys to take a different girl every night. The film spoke to a wider audience than any other contemporary love story and had people everywhere quoting the sobbing Jenny:  “Love means never having to say you're sorry.”

The ratio of injured/disabled to deaths in Vietnam was 2.6 to 1;  for Iraq it is 16 to 1.  Estimated healthcare costs for Iraq vets:  $300-600 Billion.

Quotes from GOLDA MEIR [from Elizabeth G.]:

•  It is true we have won all our wars, but we have paid for them. We don't want victories anymore.

 •  Let me tell you something that we Israelis have against Moses.  He took us 40 years through the desert in order to bring us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil!

KWIKWIZ answers:

216.  Sudoku

217.  9-3/4 inches, which is smaller than John Holmes’.

218.  2 days before he died he burned them in a trash can.

219.  It was won by the first black senator.

220.  Tobacco planters in Jamestown.  The first cargo arrived in 1619.

CHALLENGE #54 was:  What is the smallest sovereign entity in the world?

Answer:  The  actual smallest sovereign entity in the world is the Sovereign Military  Order of Malta (S.M.O.M.). It is located in the city of Rome, Italy, has an  area of two tennis courts, And as of 2001 has a population of 80, 20 fewer people than the Vatican. It is a sovereign entity under international law,  just as the Vatican is.

CHALLENGE #55:  The contiguous 48 states are frequently grouped:  New England, Northeast, Middle Atlantic, Middle West, Plains States, Upper Midwest, South, Deep South, Southeast, Southwest, West, Northwest, Pacific Northwest, Sunbelt, Panhandle.  Which state is usually left out of all of them?


"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. 

Your Humble Servant, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]


“The 19th century has been called the Century of Hygiene.  The 20th century was the Century of Medicine.  This century will be the Century of Behavior Change:  reducing risky behaviour and making changes in exercise and nutrition.”  --Brian Wansink


221.  Which U.S. president killed three men in duels?

222.  Each  continent has a city named after this ancient capital city.

223.  What effect does heartburn during pregnancy have on a baby?

224.  Who is/was Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPierre?

225.  What was the 2nd country in the New World to win full independence from its colonial masters in the old?

FREE DRUG SAMPLES [a bad idea]...

•  The number of doctors who treated high BP with the “first line” drugs recommended by national guidelines was low, but increased sharply when free samples were removed.  --Annals of Family Med.

•  11% of the statements drug company representatives made during presentations were inaccurate, and all of the inaccuracies were skewed in favor of their products.  --JAMA

•  Free drugs drive up the cost in the long run, since only the most expensive brand-name drugs are given, and are usually required for lifetime treatment--so the patient would have to buy the medicine sooner or later.

•  You may do just fine with the tried-and-tested, old-fashioned generic.

The Bush administration now officially calls Americans who suffer from hunger as being “food insecure.”

From 2003 to 2004, the average American spent 41% more on travel and 17.4% more on alcoholic beverages.  --from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

THE RICH & THE REST:  The 1895 tax return of the richest man of the Gilded Age, J.D. Rockefeller, showed income of $1.25 million, almost 7,000 times the average per capita income in the U.S. at the time.  Last year James Simons, a hedge fund manager, took home $1.7 Billion, more than 38,000 times the average income.  [The top 25 hedge fund managers made $14 Billion combined, and $14 Billion would more than provide health care to the 8 million children in America, unlike children in any other advanced country, who don’t have health insurance.]  --Paul Krugman

“There are biologically active materials present in cigarette tobacco.  These are:  a) cancer causing;  b) cancer promoting;  c) poisonous;  d) stimulating, pleasurable and flavorful.”  --a 1961 tobacco-industry memo

Bush’s proposed budget cut for National Institutes of Health research is 1/2 Billion dollars.

GAMUT.  The system of musical notation from which the do, re... developed was created by Guido d'Arezzo, an eleventh-century musician and Benedictine monk.  His system was based on six notes, then called ut, re, mi, fa, sol, and la.  Each note was named after the opening letters of the lines in an eighth-century hymn to St. John the Baptist, each line of the hymn beginning with successively higher notes:

Ut queant laxis

Resonare fibris

Mira gestorum

Famuli tuorum

Solve polluti

Labii reatum

Sancte Iohannes

This roughly translates as, "That your servants can be able with full voices to sing about the wonders of your deeds, and remove the sin from their unclean lips, Holy John."  In the 17th century, Guido's six-note system was replaced by octaves, and the note si (from the first two letters of the last line of the hymn) was added to the top.  By the 18th century, ut was replaced by do, probably in part because the latter was easier to sing. In the 19th century, si was replaced by ti, to avoid confusion between si and sol, and thus leaving us at the familiar system of today.

The gamma, in Guido's system, signified to the lowest line of the staff (G). The phrase gamma ut apparently referred to the ut note falling on the gamma line, that is, the lowest note in Guido's system. The gamma ut was contracted to gamut, and was used as shorthand for the entire musical scale.

By the 17th century, gamut became applied to an entire range (of anything, not just a musical scale), just like “from soup to nuts” or "from A to Z."

Even with the more difficult bankruptcy laws, more people file for bankruptcy than divorce.

The Romans identified three kinds of KISSING:  ‘basium’ is the standard romantic kiss;  ‘osculum’ is the friendship kiss;  and ‘savium’ is the most passionate kiss, aka French kiss.  Monkeys don’t kiss, but apes do, but usually onlyon the arm or chest to show respect.  Bonobos give sexual kisses.  The earliest written record of humans’ kissing is in the Vedic Sanskrit texts--in India--from around 1500 B.C., where lovers were “setting mouth to mouth.”

AMERICA’S DIRTY LITTLE SECRET:  More mentally ill are housed in the prison system than in psychiatric hospitals.  Between 1960 and 1980 over 400,000 chronically mentally ill patients were turned out into the streets, ill-equiped.  Within a decade, the prison system was bursting with these new “prisoners.”  Last year the U.S. DOJ reported that over half the prisoners suffer mental illness.  They spend six times longer in jail when charged with the identical crime.  from the book “Crazy” by Pete Early

Last year Americans spent $275 Billion dollars on prescription drugs.

The ‘guardian angel’ of the genome, p53, protects against tumors--initiating repair of damaged DNA and shutting down cancerous cells.  More than 50% of all human tumors have alterations of p53.  Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Lab can switch p53 off and on at will in mice.  --Lowe in Nature.

U.S. households, on average, spend $5,781 a year for groceries.  CouponMom.com claims it can cut those bills by 40-50% if you stockpile coupon circulars.

Dog owners 50 and older see their doctors less often, have fewer illnesses, and recover more quickly when they are sick than is the case w/dogless counterparts.  The benefits go beyond the added exercise of regular walks.  The simple act of petting an animal lowers blood pressure.  And animal owners have a higher one-year-survival rate following a heart attack, and have lower cholesterol levels, than those w/o pets--even with the same exercise level.  Even watching fish has been found to help slow Alzheimer’s deterioration in some patients.  AARP

More than 80% of respondents confessed to cursing out loud at a machine [U. of Md.].  One in four computer users have physically attacked their machines [British survey].

TAXATION has become much less progressive:  average tax rates on the richest 0.01% of Americans have been cut in half since 1970, while taxes on the middle class have risen.  --economists Piketty and Saez

KWIKWIZ answers:

221.  Andrew Jackson.  He also had “shot” lodged in his body.

222.  Rome

223.  A greater likelihood the baby will have a lot of hair.

224.  Cher

225.  Haiti in 1804 after the only successful large-scale slave revolt on France’s St. Dominque.

ADDENDUM:  Matt got last week’s Challenge.

CHALLENGE #55 was:  The contiguous 48 states are frequently grouped:  New England, Notheast, Middle Atlantic, Middle West, Plains States, Upper Midwest, South, Deep South, Southeast, Southwest, West, Northwest, Pacific Northwest, Sunbelt, Panhandle.  Which state is usually left out of all of them?

Answer:  Arkansas is sometimes thought of being in the South and sometimes in the Midwest, but doesn’t seem to fit in either.

CHALLENGE #56:  Which famous American fathered an illegitimate child with a department store clerk and arranged to have his son taken from her by force and adopted by another family?  And when the mother objected, he had her committed to an insane asylum.


"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.  Your Obedient Servant, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]


“We don’t have a health care system.  We have a disease management system--and it doesn’t work.”  Andrew Weil, M.D.


226.  How did J. Edgar Hoover claim he was right all along that there was no such thing as a Mafia?

227.  What is the “wait time” for tickets for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at its home?

228.  How many countries have a nuclear bomb, and how many voluntarily don’t?

229.  What proportion of American women have had an abortion?

230.  When was the last time a senior government official quit over his own job failure?

Human toll collectors collect 400 cars/hour;  EZ-Pass accepts 1,400/hour

From 1989 to 1995, Congress gave, on average, ‘earmark grants’ of less than $1 million/year to religious groups;   over the two-years including the 2004 presidential election, Congress gave religious groups about $180 million.

The American wedding is an exercise in cheap sentiment, high prices and self-indulgence, orchestrated by an industry that cunningly plays on the romantic delusions of the betrothed.  --Rebecca Mead in “The Selling of the American Wedding”

48% of abortions in the U.S. occur after age 25.  Most are for women who already have a child.

Life expectancy in the U.S.:  Males: 75 [33rd place in the world--tied w/Cuba];  Females:  80 [32nd in the world]. [And we thought we had great medical care!]   --World Health Organization

Americans spent 1 in 7 of their take-home dollars on debt payments last year.

from Anthony Gottlieb in THE NEW YORKER:

•  “A large survey in 2001 found that more than half of American Catholics, episcopalians, Lutherans Methodists, and Presbyterians believed that Jesus sinned--thus rejecting a central dogma of their own churches.”

•  “... 44% of Americans believe that Jesus will return to judge mankind within the next 50 years.”

•  “Surveys by the Barna Research Group, a Christian organization, have found that most Christians don’t know who preached the Sermon on the Mount.”

•  “Even the low estimate of 500 million would make unbelief the fourth-largest persuasion in the world, after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.”

•  “In the 2nd century, it was Christians who were called ‘atheists,’ because they failed to worship the accepted gods.”

A moderate dose of caffeine [about 2 cups of coffee] increases the ability to be influenced by others--particularly in the morning.  --Working Mother

1.1 billion people did not have access to safe water in 2000.

Half of all marriages end in divorce, and while a man’s standard of living actually rises after divorce, a woman’s falls.  The average age of widowhood is 55.  Women live longer than men, yet typically have far less money for retirement.  --Leslie Bennetts in The Feminine Mistake

74% of Americans 40 or older report having had sexual intercourse in the last 12 months, versus 94% in China, 80% in India and 58% in Britain.

Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in the correct order,

as does arsenious [meaning "containing arsenic"].

In 1787, two days before their work was done, the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention “adjourned to a tavern for some rest, and according to the bill they drank 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 8 of whiskey, 22 of port, 8 of hard cider and 7 bowls of punch so large that, it was said, ducks could swim around in them.  Then they went back to work and finished founding the new Republic.”  --Barbara Hollad in ‘The Joy of Drinking’

In his 1890 book ‘The Principles of Psychology,’ William James observed “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

Daily there are 274,000 substitute teachers used.

The first product Motorola started to develop was a record player for automobiles.  At that time, the most known player on the market was the Victrola, so they called themselves Motorola.

“I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.”-- Groucho Marx

Edward Said described imperialism as “geographical violence.”

Exposure to advertising in 6th grade strongly predicted drinking in 7th grade.  The most consistent predictor of drinking was ownership of a hat, poster, or T-shirt that advertised alcohol, and 1/5 of 6th graders who owned such items were almost twice as likely to take up drinking as those who did not.  --J of Adolescent Health

Dylan Thomas defined an alcoholic as “someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you do.”

315 entries in Webster's 1996 Dictionary were misspelled.


A worldwide survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was:

"Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food

shortage in the rest of the world?"  The survey was a huge failure,

In Africa they didn't know what 'food' meant,

In India they didn't know what 'honest' meant,

In Europe they didn't know what 'shortage' meant,

In China they didn't know what 'opinion' meant,

In the Middle East they didn't know what 'solution' meant,

In South America they didn't know what 'please' meant,

And in the USA they didn't know what 'the rest of the world' meant.

“There are no whole truths;  all truths are half-truths.”  --Alfred North


18.5 milliion trees/year, and untold postage, would be saved if Americans banked on line.

The U.S. has slipped to 15th in the world in high-speed internet penetration per capita.

31% of health-care costs goes to administration, more than twice Canada’s.

40 barrels of oil/year are consumed by the average person in a developed country. [Of course, we use lots more.]

KWIKWIZ answers: 

226.  Attorney General Bobby Kennedy’s TV hearings revealed a new name for the Mafia:  La Cosa Nostra, so Hoover claimed there was no Mafia, just a Cosa Nostra.

227.  6 years for a weekday ticket and nearly 13 on the weekend.

228.  9 have it;  183 voluntarily don’t.

229.  1 in 3 women under 45 have an abortion in their lifetime [only 7% as minors]

230.  20 years ago, Robert McFarlane, Reagan’s national security adviser, resigned during the Iran-Contra scandal and swallowed an overdose of Valium out of “a sense of having failed the country.”  He survived.

CHALLENGE #56 was:  Which famous American fathered an illegitimate child with a department store clerk and arranged to have his son taken from her by force and adopted by another family?  And when the mother objected, he had her committed to an insane asylum.

Answer:  The future President Grover Cleveland.  [Jerry got it.]

CHALLENGE #57:  Which countries have the Southern Cross on their flags?


"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.  Your Obedient Servant, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]


The dominant religion in any society is always the religion of its economically and politically dominant group, and it always provides a justification for existing inequalities and injustices.  It legitimizes the interests of those in control and offers ‘pie in the sky’ to the powerless to keep them satisfied with their lot.  --Karl Marx

In the Clinton years, the target was soccer moms;  In the Bush era, it switched to NASCAR dads;  now it seems to be unmarried women whose top issues are:  Iraq, health care, equal pay and education.  Most don’t vote.

DESULTORY (DESS-ul-tawr-ee) is an adjective that means lacking in consistency, method, purpose, or visible order; disconnected: “She made a half-hearted, desultory conversation with her dinner partner, while eavesdropping on the table behind them.”  In Roman times, a ‘desultor’ was a skilled horseman who could vault from horse to horse mid-gallop--a fitting image for a conversational "leaper" who flits from topic to topic.

69.3 gallons of water used indoors per person in a typical single-family American home each day.

A LOVE STORY:  In 1944, Humphrey Bogart was well into his third marriage to the famed actress and alcoholic Mayo Methot.  While filming ‘To Have and Have Not,’ he met Lauren Bacall, 24 years his junior.  Months later, Bogie married his “Baby,” in Mansfield, Ohio.  Of Bogart, Bacall explained, “You had to stay awake married to him.  Every time I thought I could relax and do everything I wanted, he’d buck. There was no way to predict his reactions, no matter how well I knew him.”  The couple’s early years played in both the newspapers and on the silver screen in films such as ‘The Big Sleep’ in 1946, where they branded memorable and not-so-fictional lines into public consciousness:  Bogie: “What's wrong with you?”  Bacall: “Nothing you can't fix.”

Bogart became a father at 49, in 1952, with the birth of his son, Stephen, and daughter, Leslie. He was much more comfortable as a passionate husband than father, asking a friend, “What do you do with a kid? They don't drink.” During their married years, they starred together in four films.  Decades of hard drinking and smoking caught up with Bogart and, in 1955, he was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus.  Before passing away in 1957, his final words are said to have been, “I never should have switched from scotch to martinis.”  At only 33, a distraught Bacall phoned actor David Niven at 4 a.m. and announced quietly, almost in disbelief, “My darling husband is gone.”            --Elderhostel

“Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too.”  from John Lennon’s “Imagine”

“Dirt is matter out of place.”  Dame Mary Douglas

20% of Denmark’s electricity is wind-generated.

In what other language do people drive on a parkway and park in a driveway?  Recite at a play and play at a recital?  Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?  Have noses that run and feet that smell?  How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?  How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while ‘quite a lot’ and ‘quite a few’ are alike?

You can’t learn when you are afraid of being wrong.

“Square-board race games” go back at least a thousand years to India where “The Game of Knowledge” was played much like today’s table games:  if you land on a virtue, you get to climb a ladder toward the god Vishnu and karmic liberation;  land on a vice--or karmic impediment--and you’re swallowed by a snake.  Beginning in 1892 the game was sold in Britain as Snakes and Ladders;  in the U.S. it survives as Chutes and Ladders.  --R. C. Bell

“Deadline” was coined in the Civil War to denote a line drawn before a prisoner could not venture without being shot.

A principal reason some health standards in Cuba approach ours is that they emphasize early intervention and clinics are free and the focus is on prevention, not treatment.  --Dr. Robert N. Butler

Credit card debt carried by American consumers [“revolving credit”] was up 9% last month to $888.2 Billion.   --Federal Reserve

Until 1949, Britain gave extra votes to some business owners and graduates of elite universities.

FUN SITE:  overheardintheoffice.com.  Example:  Salesman: I’m just trying to help you.  Every time I see you, you’re eating.  Purchasing manager w/mouth full of cookies:  Every time I see you, you’re ugly.  [Also: overheardinnewyork.com]

Close to “70% of American women with children under 10” have jobs outside the home.  --Jessika Auerbach in “And Nanny Makes Three”

200 inmates have been cleared due to DNA evidence.  On average, they had served 12 years in prison and ranged in age from 14 to 56 when convicted;  14 were on death row.  3/4 of the convictions had inaccurate eyewitness identification, and there were confessions or admissions in about 25% of the cases.  In about 4%, the people had pleaded guilty.  --Chris Conway

“Simplify, simplify.”  Henry David Thoreau

We’re paying 40% more for health benefits than in 2000.

The U.S. is ranked 96th on the list of ‘peaceful nations’ on a study commissioned in Australia.

June 2 is “Yell Fudge at the Cobras in North America Day.”  Created by Ruth and Tom Roy “to keep poisonous cobra snakes out of N. America, all citizens are asked to go outdoors at noon local time and yell ‘fudge!’  Fudge makes cobras gag...and skeedadle.”      --wellcat.com

As of 2005, the Government Accounting Office had identified more than 1,000 legal rights and responsibilities attendant to marriage.  And that’s just the Fed;  states and localities have their own marriage provisions.  E.g., a husband is the legal father of any child born to his wife regardless of biological paternity.

If stores had no advertising, there would be a decrease of 11% in children who try smoking.  If promotions were eliminated, there would be a decrease of 13% in the number who become habitual smokers.   --Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine

'Stewardesses' is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand.

“[Dust mites] eat dead skin.  Their droppings cause allergic reactions in humans.  The average mattress doubles weight over ten years as a result of being filled with dust mites and their debris.  Each dust mite produces 20 droppings a day.  The average bed has about 2 million dust mites, and it ranges from a new bed, which has 100,000 dust mites, to a ten-year-old bed, which has 10 million dust mites.”  --Ajit Khubani

CHALLENGE #57 was:  Which countries have the Southern Cross on their flags?  Answer:  Brazil, Samoa, Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand  [Jerry got it on his second try.]

CHALLENGE #58:  Where was hip-hop born?


"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.  Your Obedient Servant, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]


“By nature all men are pretty much alike;  it is by custom and habit that they are set apart.”  --Confucius

CHINA:  officially, the People’s Republic of China [PRC]

  •  Settled 13-15 thousand years ago, with a 5,000-year history.

  •  Slightly larger than the U.S., with 2/3 the cultivatable land of the U.S., to feed four times the population. [7% of the earth’s cultivated land to feed 22% of the world’s population--1.3 Billion people] 

•  80% uninhabited;  60% farmers

•  Over 90% live on less than 15% of land.

  •  They call themselves ‘the middle kingdom,’ i.e., the center of the world.

  •  Qin, first feudal empire, was founded 221 BC, for ‘10,000 generations,’ but only lasted 4 years after his death.  But the name of China still reflects the name of Qin  [pronounced Chin] as does the prefix ‘sino-’.

•  A common system of writing was enforced in 220 B.C., and the adoption of Confucianism [about 100 B.C.] marked the beginning of “Chinese civilization.”


231.  What is the rationale of ‘walking’ a caged bird?

232.  Which is larger:  Connecticut or municipal Beijing?

233.  Who is/was ‘The Great Helmsman’?

234.  What is the ‘steel bird’s nest’?

235.  The World Tourism Assn. says this will be the most popular tourist destination by 2020.

Fu Hsi [first monarch] 2,900 BC invented the 8 trigrams:

______  ____  _______

______  _________  __ 

______  ____  _______ 

heavenearthwater fire

__  _______  _______  __

_______  _________  __

_______  ____  _______

river       mountain wind        thunder

Yin     =  __  __   +  male,  dry,  hot,  sunny

Yang  =   _____  -   female, wet, cold , shady

Aside from the anwers to the Challenge, below, other successes:

  •  Tea is indigenous [3,000 B.C.]; widespread drinking by 3rd c. A.D. [first tea to Europe 1610 on Dutch ships]

  •  Silk

  •  Kite

  •  Deep drilling for brine [1000 years before Europe]

  •  Crossbow [12 centuries before Europe]

  •  Stirrups 300 A.D.

  •  Wheelbarrow

  •  Paper money

  •  Civil Service system [6th c.]

  •  Zither:   2,700-year history

  •  Flute

  •  Roast Duck:  origin in Nanking [Peking Duck], 600 years ago...force-fed for 2 months [now 20 days];  air & water blown under skin and baked 40-50 minutes til crisp outside/tender inside [since boiled], then cut into 140 slices.

  •  Medicine [5,000 year history].  The World Health Organization said accupressure/puncture is effective for 47 programs re joints, muscles, nerves.

According to an old Chinese proverb, the most beautiful and talented daughter is not as desirable as a deformed son.  A  married woman is known by two surnames:  husband’s and father’s, and regardless of age or status, generally addressed as “aunt” or “grandmother”...she could be divorced if barren, chronically ill or neglectful of father-in-law.

The original Great Wall was made of dirt and sticky rice in 220 BC; construction ended in 1644.  The Ming wall was the last of 16 built by 7 different dynasties--there is no single Great Wall, but a succession of walls.  One estimate:  collectively they would stretch 31,000 miles were they all still standing.  

CHINA FACTS [as I know them]:

•  Chopsticks : 11 c. B.C.  Unlike Japan:  blunt and round on eating end, symbolizing heaven;  square on other end: earth;  maintaining an adequate food supply was always their greatest concern, and, therefore, the greatest concern between heaven and earth.

•  45% of wealth held by the richest 10%; the poorest 10% have 1.4% of the nation’s wealth.

• 1950 Marriage Law:  abolished foot-binding, buying/selling for marriage, child-brides and polygamy, and it gave women equal legal status with men.

•  To balance the trade of tea and silk, European traders brought opium to China in the late 1700s.  China outlawed the drug, so Europeans smuggled it in. UK easily won the Opium War and took Hong Kong.

•  Since 1978 China has been moving from a Soviet-style centrally-planned economy to be more market-oriented.

•  ‘Feng shui’ [fung-shway] means “wind and water” --we call it geomancy--the art of placing or arranging buildings or other sites auspiciously.  Geomancy required true points of the compass:  they discovered lodestone and invented magnetic compass before 100 B.C.

•  Money:  100 fen =10 jian = 1 yuan.

•  56  ethnic groups, called ‘flowers of China’;  Han = 91%.

•  Yichang Museum [one of top 4 in China] sells 2-300 year-old artifacts.

A Funeral depends on status: none for bachelor; no respects paid to younger child who is buried quietly [called ‘white happiness’]. 3-year mourning in traditional family.

K'ung-fu-tzu, "Master Kung,” Latinized by a Jesuit to Confucius, was/is the most influential and respected philosopher in Chinese history.  Born in 551 B.C., by 100 B.C. his teaching was official in China.  His most famous teaching is shu: Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.  Confucianism lacks an afterlife, any deities, and is unconcerned with spiritual matters such as the nature of the soul.  Five constant virtues:  benevolence, rightousness, propriety, wisdom, fidelity

Confucionism’s 5 relationships:

1.  father--son

2.  elder brother [owes gentility]--younger brother [owes humility]

3.  husband [righteous behavior]--wife [obedience]

4.  elder [consideration]--junior [deference]

5.  ruler [benevolence]--subject [loyalty]


•  “joe” means an alcoholic drink;  “p-joe” means beer.

•  Remarkably ruthless haggling, aside from price, is about feigned camaraderie and emotional manipulation.  If you don’t feel like a heartless, exploitative, colonialist sleezeball after buying something, you have overpaid.

•  The most auspicious dates to get married include a 6 or an 8.

• “ni hao” means ‘hello’ and can be used anytime.

“Learning is like rowing a boat against stream;  if one stops, one goes backward.”  --Mao Zedong

KWIKWIZ answers:

231.  The bird gets exercize by balancing on the moving swing.

232.  Beijing which has 15 million people.

233.  Mao Zedong.

234.  The nickname of the Beijing Olympic Stadium for 2008.

235.  China

CONFUCIUS gets the last words:

"Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous."

"It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them."

"To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it."

"To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice."

"If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher.  I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself."

“The leading goat will be killed first.”

CHALLENGE #58 was:  Where was hip-hop born?  Answer:  1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the west Bronx in its first floor community room by Clive Campbell in 1973. [Matt got it.]

CHALLENGE #59: What are the four greatest inventions of China?


"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.  Your Obedient Servant, Walter M. Mathews  [wmmathews@mac.com]