POTPOURRI #80  Friday August 10

More than 100 Billion unwanted msgs clog computer networks every day.  [If this is one of them, just hit ‘reply’ and ‘send,’ and you won’t get any more--no offense taken--I understand the volume you receive.]

Featured Quote:  “One man is king only because other men stand in the relation of subjects to him.  They, on the other hand, imagine that they are subjects because he is king.” --Karl Marx


286.  Did George Washington really have wooden false teeth?

287.  What does it mean to “cast your bread on the water” from Ecclesiastes? [to feed the ducks?]

288.  Which state has the highest suicide rate for men 15-24?

289.  When a dying star bursts, what shape does it make?

290.  Why no mention of Lucifer or Satan in the Old Testament until the 2-3 c. Latin translation?

Pay for Health or Services Rendered? In the U.S. nearly all doctors are paid piecemeal, for each test or procedure they perform, rather than a flat salary, so they have a financial incentive to do things that drive up health care spending.  And they are paid whether the procedures go well or badly, and whether they are crucial to a patient’s health or not.  Conclusion: Pay doctors fixed salaries, plus bonuses on the health of their patients--like France.

“Civilization will not attain perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest.”   --Emile Zola

The cost of phone service dropped 30% since 1999...soon it will be free.

Bush burns his last remaining bridges  As President Bush and Congress packed up to take the rest of the month off, he suggested that he's interested in proposing another corporate tax cut.  Bush also said he would veto the highly popular bipartisan bill reauthorizing the children's health program. He said he opposes a 5-cent-per-gallon increase in gasoline taxes to set up a trust fund to repair thousands of crumbling bridges in the wake of the Minneapolis bridge collapse. He shrugged off the nation's mortgage woes, indicating the market will take care of the credit crunch and the escalating rate of foreclosures.  Bush is clearly not intending to run for any elective office, ever again.  --Ann McFetters

To the Buddha, Everything is Suffering:

1.  Obvious physical or mental pain;

2.  Even pleasurable things cause sufferring when they pass away [change causes suffering]

3.  Pleasure that is based on illusion when recognized becomes suffering.

The hedge fund loophole costs taxpayers $6.3 Billion/year--the cost of providing health care to 3 million children.  --Economic Policy Institute

“A young cigarette smoker can begin to feel powerful desires for nicotine within two days of first inhaling...and about half of children who become addicted report symptoms of dependence by the time they are smoking only seven cigarettes per month.”  --N. Bakalar on rsch by J.R. DiFranza

One centimeter of your colon has more working bacteria than the number of all the people who have ever lived.

Bush Administration Secrecy: The National Zoo in DC in 2002 denied a request for medical records on ryma the giraffe, because, it said, the release would violate the animal’s privacy rights.  --David Carr

The average stagehand on Broadway earns $115,000/year.

If you eat food, you eat pesticides, and pesticides are poison.  The 12 worst:

Peaches, Apples, Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Pears, Grapes [imported], Spinach, Lettuce, Potatoes and Carrots.   --Environmental Working Group

America ranks near the bottom among advanced countries in how hard it is to get medical attention on short notice [altho’ Canada was slightly worse], and America is the worst place in the advanced world if you need care after hours or on a weekend.  --Commonwealth Fund

Between 1984 and 2002, the average vehicle got 20% heavier and its 0 to 60 acceleration improved 25%, while fuel efficiency stagnated.  In contrast:  between 1975, when fuel-efficiency standards were introduced, and 1984, avg fuel economy improved by 62%, w/o any decline in performance.   --James Surowiecki

“If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.”    --Kevin Trudeau

Number of plastic checkout bags used per year in the U.S.:  3 Billion...which are made from 12 million barrels of oil.  [No oil is used to make paper bags.]  And, it takes more than 1,000 years for a plastic bag to biodegrade.

France has a higher percentage of broadband subscribers than the U.S.  There’s is 3 times as fast as ours.  Japanese broadband is 12 times faster than ours.  And both countries have it cheaper than we do.  Why so bad here?  Government policy and no competition.

“I don’t see any God up here.”  --Yuri Gagarin [in space]

In the 1920s Alfred Sloan, president of GM, insisted they could not make windshields w/safety glass because it would hurt the bottom line.  In the 50s, auto execs told Congress that compulsory seat belts would slash their profits.  When air bags came along, Lee Iacocca told Richard Nixon that “safety has really killed all our business.”  A few years later, when Congress considered fuel-economy standards, auto execs warned that standards would crate “massive financial and unemployment problems.”  Now, with Congress considering raising fuel-economy standards, for the first time in almost 20 years, Detroit says it is technologically unfeasible and economic suicide to make such vehicles.   --James Surowiecki

Every decade, the average range of species moves north 4 miles, mostly due to climate change.

4/5 of the animals in the world are nematode worms. [16,000 species of them have already been found.]

Is it any surprise that we've lost track of over 100,000 guns in Iraq? A cynic might wonder if the guns even were manufactured, let alone made it to Iraq or were just billed for by defense contractors.  Either way, its our tax dollars not at work.

Missing body armor and five missing Iraqi cabinet ministers, and we're supposed to be winning this war? Can you imagine if five of Bush's cabinet went missing?  --Hal Brown

The 12 ‘master formats’ for ads:  cut/paste and watch the slide show:  www.slate.com/id/2170872/

Best time to buy: Air ticket:  Wednesday a.m. at week’s competition peak;  Car:  Monday, slowest day.

More Republicans than Democrats drive hybrids, and half hybrid owners are w/o a college degree.  --Readers Digest

Do we dare send our men and women to fight for an America in which the very rich are so favored by the government that it amounts almost to an aristocracy?

A market researcher knocked at the door and was greeted by a young woman with three small children running around at her feet.  "I'm doing research on Vaseline.  Have you ever used the product?"  She said, "Yes. My husband and I use it all the time."  "If you don't mind my asking," he said, "what do you use it for?"  "We use it for sex," she said.  The researcher was a little taken back.  "Usually people lie to me and say they use it on a child's bicycle chain or to help with a gate hinge.  But, in fact, I know that most people do use it for sex. Since you've been so frank so far, can you tell me exactly HOW you use it for sex?" The woman said, "I don't mind telling you at all.  My husband and I put it on the doorknob and it keeps the kids out."

English is not a Romance language, but a Teutonic one.  Our tongue is a development of a German dialect imposed on the natives of Britain by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes of early English history.  Though we have included more than 50% of the Latin vocabulary and almost 30% of classical Greek vocabulary, as roots and prefixes, our basic language is German.

The World uses 15 Trillion watts of energy;  3/8 comes from oil.  That’s 2,000 watts/person worldwide [7 Billion people].  We in the U.S. average 11,100 watts/person [twice what Europeans’ use].  The human body consumes 100 watts of energy.

KWIKWIZ answers:

286.  He had several sets of false teeth--none were wood.

287.  To sell your crops abroad.

288.  Utah.

289.  An almost perfectly symmetrical diamond.

290.  Probably the influence of Greece during the Hellenistic Period brought in the Devil.

CHALLENGE #79 was: In the early 1990s which country began a referendum to become the 51st state of the U.S.A.?  Answer:  The Muslim country of Albania.  [Several said Puerto Rico or Guam, but Jerry got it right.]

CHALLENGE #80: Which current off-Broadway show is set on my street?


"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.  WMWMWMWM [wmmathews@mac.com]

POTPOURRI #81  send Friday August 18

Featured Quote:  “To live long live slowly.”  Cicero


291.  What is the spinner called that is used in a board game?

292.  What does the Koran say about veiling of women.

293.  George Washington left the U.S. only once;  where did he go?

294.  How many students drop out of American high schools each year?

295.  What do Julius Caesar, St. Patrick and Cervantes have in common?

The Silk Road is a fretwork of trade routes dating back to 1500 B.C. where the great Chinese inventions went west:  printing, the crossbow, gunpowder, lock-gates and drive-belts, the mechanical clock, the spinning wheel, iron-chain suspension bridges, equine harnesses and deep-drilling techniques.

The Bush administration wants to limit Gen. Patraeus to a "private briefing" on the Hill and then the White House will release the "official report" for public consumption.

Quiz from Jim S.:

1.  What are the only two perennial vegetables?

2.  At noon and midnight the hour and minute hands are exactly coincident with each other. How many other times between noon and midnight do the hour and minute hands cross?

3.  What is the only sport in which the ball is always in the possession of the team on defense, and the offensive team can score without touching the ball?

4.  Only three common words in standard English begin with the letters "dw."

5.  Where are the lakes that are referred to in the "Los Angeles Lakers"?

6.  What’s the only vegetable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form but fresh.

We have 150 ‘medical-restraint’ deaths/year.  --Harvard study

Opulent is from Latin opulentus, wealthy.  No other English words derive from this root.

“It was this week in 1974 that Richard Nixon resigned the presidency after getting caught lying and violating the constitution.  Remember when that kind of thing used to get you kicked out of office!  Thank God those days are gone.”  --Jay Leno

Puzzle from Carl: What common 9-letter English word remains an English word each time you remove a letter?  [answer below]

Voters can easily look up the contributions made to elected officials, shouldn’t we hold doctors to similar standards, wrt payments they get from drug companies?

Portion size offered by fast-food chains are two to five times larger than when first introduced.  When McDonald’s opened in 1955 the largest soda [now made with liquid corn] was 7 fluid ounces; now a small soda is 16 ounces, and a child’s soda is 12.  And what was a  normal adult meal is now a child’s portion.  A patty the same size as the original McDonald’s hamburger and French fries is part of the Happy Meal.   --Marion Nestle & LIsa Young, NYU

Taking a woman to bed:  What is the difference between girls/woman aged: 8, 18, 28, 38, 48, 58, 68 and 78?

At 8   -- You take her to bed and tell her a story.

At 18 -- You tell her a story and take her to bed.

At 28 -- You don't need to tell her a story to take her to bed.

At 38 -- She tells you a story and takes you to bed

At 48 -- She tells you a story to avoid going to bed.

At 58 -- You stay in bed to avoid her story.

At 68 -- If you take her to bed, that'll be a story!

At 78 -- What story??? What bed??? Who the hell are you???

An ‘apple polisher’ to the Greeks was called a fig-shower:  sykon [fig]; phanin [to show].  Originally a fellow who informed when the figs in the sacred groves were being taken, or when the Smyrna fig-dealers were dodging the tariff.  This gives us sycophant:  one who ingratiates oneself with those in influence, or insinuates oneself into someone’s good graces by flattery, servile attention or other means.

“Word is that Karl Rove finally tired of being the butt of best buddy Bush's jovial jabs. ‘Turd blossom’ was tolerated, but being called ‘my own personal Capitol Rotunda’ is said to have been the last straw that Karl could gracefully take on his dromedary hump. He joins Tony ‘my personal snowball’ in leaving the center ring of Bush's increasingly lunatic circus.  So it ends, with the briefest ‘blink and you miss it’ hug (I think Putin got more hug time) and a lightening quick presidential ‘pat-pat’ on the back.”  --Hal Brown   [The lame duck becomes a lonely duck.]

A blonde was playing Trivial Pursuit one night. She rolled the dice and landed on Science & Nature. Her question was, "If you are in a vacuum and someone calls your name, can you hear it?" She thought for a time and then asked, "Is it on or off?"

Lehman Brothers considered investing in subprime mortgages and sent an exec to check out a possible partnership w/First Alliance, the biggest lender.  In a withering memo, the exec reported back that First Alliance was a financial “sweat shop” specializing in “high-pressure sales,” targeting “people who are in a weak state,”  and adding that the lender’s employees leave their “ethics at the door.”   The Lehman top-brass noted that First Alliance was not breaking any laws, so they invested half a billion dollars in the sleasy subprime operation.  --Wall Street Journal

Poppy Bush told the story about his ‘64 Texas Senate race, when a John Birch Society pamphlet suggested that Barbara Bush’s father, the president of McCall Publishing, put out a communist manifesto called Redbook.

It was in 1507, with the publication of a large cut-out map used to make a do-it-yourself globe, that Vespucci’s first name achieved lasting renown.  The feminine of Amerigo was chosen for the southern portion of the hemisphere where A.V. claimed to have landed.  In 1538, the noted mapmaker Mercator, copied that name to mark not just the southern but also the northern portion of the continent.

Wealth disparity between richest and poorest countries:  in 1800:  4 to 1;  today:  50 to 1.

Rudy Guiliani is running for President of 9/11.  --The Onion

When Saddam fell, the invaders didn’t secure the 500 million tons of bombs, artillery shells and ammo he had stashed around the country.  They have become IEDs.

Darwin’s brilliant inversion of thinking:  Simple things can produce complex ones.  That is, to make something, it is not necessary to know how to make it.

45% of women who take an ‘off-ramp’ from their careers do it for child-care, another 24% have elder-care duties, almost 1/3 break solely because their partner’s income is enough to support the household.  The percentage of women in banking and finance who used an off-ramp, and who wanted to return to their former employers, was zero.  --Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Latinos are opening new businesses at a rate three times faster than the national average.

“...hiding behind the troops is the last refuge of this war’s sponsors.”  --Frank Rich

Beginning about age 60 men & women sweat less, even if they become seriously overheated. So they are at greater risk of heat stroke during heat waves.

Titillate comes from a Latin verb meaning to tickle.  You can literally titillate by gentle touches in stategic places, or figuratively titillate people, or their minds or palates, by charm, brilliance, wit, promises, or in any other way you can imagine.  Titillation has the added meaning of light sexual stimulation.  [note the double L, not a double T]

New Yorkers live 78.6 years;  Americans live 77.9 years [2004 data]

KWIKWIZ answers:

291.  A teetotum

292.  Nothing.  Head scarves and head-to-toe coverings developed over the history of Islamic countries.

293.  Barbados

294.  Over a million.

295.  They each were kidnapped.


Note from Fred M.: “The Lucifer/Satan answer in the kwikwiz [290] -- which I enjoy immensely--is not entirely accurate.  It is thought that the dualism represented in the heaven/hell dichotomy and the whole development of Satan and the devil is a result of Persian influence in the centuries BEFORE Christ.  Unlike Persian dualism, however, satan is ALWAYS under the control and aegis of God -- he is not an equal nor an opponent.  In fact, Satan appears in the book of Job where he makes a wager with God (!) that he can corrupt the very faithful and devout Job.  The satan appears as just one of God's agents and it is important that in the Hebrew he is "ha satan"--that is, THE satan. (definite article - it means "the accuser).  Lucifer - means "day star" and the New Testament does not identify this with Satan.  The Church Fathers did, however.  Those of us of a more liberal slant always look askance at this kind of personalized evil - taking into consideration its grafting into the Judeo-Christian traditions from other cultures.”

Re: ‘Bush burns bridges’ from Ara: “I don’t mean to be violent but I think GWB will need an army of secret service agents around him forever after office.”

Re: ‘featured quote’ from Ara:  “Though I am most comfortable and productive in the system we live in, I do believe Marx’s statement is entirely accurate.  And for the very reason that the very large majority of people are essentially like sheep, as the Earth moves forward the United States and other nations all over will gradually continue to move toward governing systems that more closely balance democracy, socialism, and freedom and any other “isms” we want to verbalize, so there is a better balance of distribution of incomes throughout any population.  It’s man’s ignorance and naïve nature that leads to titles such as King, Lord, Baron, dictator, nepotistic leaderships, and so on. ”

Answers to Jim S.’s Quiz: 

1.  Asparagus and rhubarb

2.  Ten times (not 11 as most people seem to think)

3.  Baseball

4.  Dwarf, dwell and dwindle

5.  Minnesota, since the team was originally the Minneapolis Lakers.

6.  Lettuce

Puzzle from Carl:  STARTLING; remove L, T, A, R, T, G, S, N in order.

CHALLENGE #80 was:  Which current off-Broadway show is set on my street?  Answer:  “Surface to Air,” The characters live on Midway Avenue in Locust Valley, which is only 2-1/2 blocks long. [Jerry got it with a clue.]

CHALLENGE #81:  How many times does a reference to God appear in the Greek, Hebrew and Dead Sea Scrolls’ versions of the Old Testament Book of Ester?


"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.  WMWMWMWM [wmmathews@mac.com]

POTPOURRI #82  send  Friday August 24

Featured Quote:  “Don’t confuse ‘hypothesis’ and ‘theory.’  the former is a possible explanation; the latter, the correct one.  The establishment of theory is the very purpose of science.”  --Martin H. Fischer [1879-1962]


296.  Who is the #1 female box-office star of all time?

297.  Which current presidential candidate was declared dead (after a traffic accident)?

298.  How many black lawyers have been hired in the criminal section of the civil rights division since 2003?

299.  Which future president, while a college student, loved showing off his

manhood (which he named "Jumbo")?

300.  Why do sea otters wrap themselves in kelp?

Typical cost of a semester of college texts:  $900

Several cultures have their own crisp, starch chip. The potato chip began in upstate New York.  In the mid-1800s fried potatoes were on menus in resorts around Saratoga Springs.  In 1853 a customer of Carey B. Moon’s Lake House complained that the potatoes were soggy and tasteless.  The angry cook sent out extra-salty, thinly sliced potatoes so crispy fried they crunched.  Another version: Catherine Speck Adkins Wicks was frying doughnuts and slicing potatoes.  A slice fell in and the chip was born.

At the NYT, at least 5 people read/edit a reporter’s finished article.

Anything you own or belong to is better--simply because you own it or belong to it, although you will be quick to find more justifiable explanations.  Your religion, whatever it may be, is far superior to any other;  your political party is the only honest one;  your neighborhood puts all others in the city in the shade;  members of your own sex are more intelligent, more worthy, more emotionally secure, and in every way far better than people of the opposite sex;  your car is faster, more fun to drive, and gets better gas mileage than any other, no matter in what price range;  and of course your country and its customs leave nothing to be desired, and inhabitants of other nations are, in comparison, barely civiized.  In short, you are exaggeratedly, aggressively, absurdly, and excessively devoted to your own affiliations--and you make no bones about advertising such prejudice.  This is the classic definition of a chauvinist.

Miracle-Grow no more: cut/paste  http://www.terracycle.net/story.htm

Prescription drugs cost, on average, 30-50% more in the U.S. than in Europe, but the difference in doctors’ salaries is far larger.”    --RAND Corporation

Playgrounds came to the U.S. from Germany in the 1880s.  They spread to keep (particularly immigrant and working-class) boys from running wild on the streets of growing cities and from the seductive lure of pool halls and penny arcades.  Boys and girls were segregated and trained supervisors kept watch.  --Howard Chudacoff

Nancy suggests going to this site re Jon Stewart:  http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Stewart_slams_arms_sales_to_Saudi_0823.html

Five years ago, Bush signed the 2002 Farm Bill. One of its many initiatives requires country of origin labeling [COOL] for beef, lamb, pork, fish, perishable agricultural commodities and peanuts.  In 2004, Bush signed Public Law 108-199 to delay the implementation of mandatory COOL until  2006. In 2005, Bush signed Public Law 109-97, to delay the implementation until 2008.  Delays thanks to the food industry’s lobbyists.  “Cheap” imports [from China, e.g.] can come with a heavy price.

Zen. It is a Japanese mistranslation of a Chinese mistranslation of the Sanskrit word meaning ‘meditation.’:  Ch’an [or Jhana].   It is the meditation school of Japanese Buddhism.

Defense Secy Donald Rumsfeld offered the best standard to measure the Bush Administration’s performance:  “Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?”  [Leaked intelligence reports say NO.]

“More people play in Army bands than serve in the U.S. Foreign Service.”  --Sarah Sewall

50 years ago1/7 of the world was Muslim;  Today it is 1/5.

“The doctrine of immortality is more a pagan legacy than a religious one.  The notion that each of us is essentially an immortal soul goes back to Plato...Only near the beginning of the Christian era did one Jewish sect, the Pharisees, take the afterlife seriously, in the form of the resurrection of the body.  The idea that ‘the dead shall be raised’ was then brought into Christianity by St. Paul.’”  --Jim Holt

Positive Response rate:  for direct mail:  3,000/million sent;  for spam: 15/million.

The Birthplace of American Imperialism: 150 years ago the U.S. Congress passed the Guano Islands Act giving itself the right to claim any island in the world rich in bird droppings, so Navassa Island became an American possession.  The island had been the first sighted by Columbus on his 2nd voyage.  We still 'own' it, although Haiti claims it.

Less than 1/4 of U.S. households have a married man and woman.

After manipulating the religious right for years, Karl Rove admitted that he’s an agnostic.

A study with nuns demonstrated the life-extending benefits of keeping a daily journal of positive experiences.

ENERGY/CLIMATE  --Richard Wolfson, Middlebury College

•  Today’s atmospheric CO2 concentration is nearly 40% above its pre-industrial value and far above anything the planet has seen for a milliion years--maybe more. 

•  Fossil fuels provide 83% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.  Nuclear fisson produces nearly greenhouse-free energy.  Nuclear fusion could produce the equivalent of a gallon of gas from the ‘heavy water’ [deuterium] in a gallon of sea water.

•  Earth’s natural systems offer alternatives:  flows and fuels.  Flows are streams of energy that arrive continuously at Earth’s surface [solar--including wind and flowing water; geothermal; tidal motion].  Fuels are substances that store energy, generally in the Earth’s interior [coal, oil and natural gas arre stored sunlight; nuclear fuels via fission or fusion.].

•  The 20th century saw sea level rise about 1-2 mm/year--10 times the rate of the past few millennia.  Projections suggest a rise of 6-18 inches by 2100.  Even if greenhouse emissions stop immediately, the rise would be about 20 inches over the next few centuries.

•  Generating electricity from coal is 40% efficient [60% waste heat] and produce 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide/hour, 24 hours/day.  Cars are 15% efficient

The U.S. ranks 37th in effectiveness of health care, but we beat #38, Slovenia.

Alan sent Billy Joel’s song:  http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~yeli23/Flash/Fire.html

Two prostitutes were riding around town with a sign on the roof of their car: "Two Prostitutes... $150.00." A policeman pulled them over to remove the sign or be arrested. Just then, another car passed by with a sign saying: "JESUS SAVES." The ladies asked why he let the other car drive by without pulling them over. "Well, that's a little different since it pertains to religion."  The two ladies were furious, but nonetheless they removed the sign and drove away. The next day the two ladies had a sign on the roof of their car which now read, "Two Angels Seeking Peter... $150.00."

Of the 30 OECD nations, only 4 spend less on social programs as a share of their economy than the U.S.:  Turkey, Mexico, South Korea and Ireland.

Proscription:  In ancient Roman times, a man’s name was written on a public bulletin board if he had committed some crime or major offense to the society;  Roman citizens in good standing would thereby know to avoid him.  That’s how we got the word.

KWIKWIZ answers:

296.  Doris Day. She set the record over the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s.

297.  Mitt Romney

298.  None, and the section remains nearly all-white.

299.  Lyndon B. Johnson

300.  To keep from floating away while they sleep on their back.

CHALLENGE #81 was:  How many times does a reference to God appear in the Greek, Hebrew and Dead Sea Scrolls’ versions of the Old Testament Book of Ester?  Answer: None in the Hebrew version;  50 times in the Greek version;  and the Book of Ester is not part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. [Fred M and Jerry were close.]

CHALLENGE #82:  He bequested that his body be publicly dissected and displayed with a wax head at a medical school (real one was frozen). 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.  WMWMWMWM [wmmathews@mac.com]

POTPOURRI #83  send Friday August 31

Featured Quote:  “In the history of the world, there is no country where racism has been more importrant than in the United States.”  --historian, Howard Zinn


301.  How can you become an Angel for $15?

302.  Which current presidential candidate annually drove on family vacations with their dog in a cage tied on the roof?

303.  Why were video cameras installed in London parks?

304.  The 1950 radio show called “My Favorite Husband” moved to TV as?

305.  What is the original definition of the word: pandering?

Sub-Sahara Africa gains 18,000 new Christians every day.

A Love Story: In 44 B.C., Julius Caesar, according to Shakespeare, breathed his final “Et tu, Brute?” Mark Antony found himself on the wrong side of a coup d’état as a power vacuum engulfed the world’s greatest empire. So Antony signed a pact to split the empire and share power as a triumvirate with two other Roman generals, Lepidus and Octavian.  Meanwhile, in Alexandria sat the former mistress of Julius Caesar—Queen Cleopatra VII.  Fluent in nine languages and an accomplished mathematician, her storied looks came with brains and political cunning.  Antony coveted her and Egypt’s wealth.  In Antony, Cleopatra saw the control of a military far superior to hers. It was a match made in power-couple heaven  Despite the political risks, they married and planned to conquer Rome together. Antony declared Caesarion—son of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra—heir to the Roman throne.  Back in Rome, Octavian—adopted son of Julius Caesar—declared war against Antony and Cleopatra:  defeating the couple’s navy, and marching into Egypt and Alexandria.  Staring defeat in the eyes and thinking that Cleopatra had committed suicide, Antony fell on his sword. Days later, Cleopatra released the poison asp that brought the final end to not only an epic love affair, but 4,000 years of Egyptian pharaohs.

Carl S. suggests you watch this:        http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/video/shifthappens

Nixon “lost” only 8-1/2 minutes of tape; Bush “lost” 5 million e-mail messages.

Philip reports that Queen Nefertiti, the most beautiful woman in the world, had wrinkles added around the mouth of her famous bust, to appear more beautiful.

The Queens [NYC] library has the highest circulation in the country:  over 20 million/year.

From Nancy:  An 85-year-old man was asked by his doctor for a sperm count as part of his physical exam.  The doctor said,  “Take this jar home and bring back a semen sample tomorrow.” The next day the old man returned with the empty jar. The man explained, “Well, doc, it's like this -- first I tried with my right hand, but nothing. Then I tried with my left hand, but still nothing. Then I asked my wife for help. She tried with her right hand, then with her left, still nothing. She tried with her mouth, first with the teeth in, then with her teeth out, still nothing.  We even called up Arleen, the lady next door and she tried too, first with both hands, then an armpit,  and she even tried squeezin' it between her knees, but still nothing.” The doctor was shocked, “You asked your neighbor?” The old man replied, “Yep, none of us could get the jar open.”

Hire an illegal nanny and you are out of politics;  hire illegal gardeners and ...?  [Mitt Romney, e.g.]

Quote from Philip:  "As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."  --H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

To drive a mile in the U.S. typically takes 37% more gas than in Europe.  --McKinsey Global Insti.

He was born into poverty; family lost their home; mother died; business failed; lost an election and his job; rejected from law school; borrowed money from a friend and went bankrupt within a year--took 17 years to pay it back; his fiance’ died; he had a nervous breakdown, lost 3 more elections before he won one; lost reelection try; lost next three elections...finally elected president of the U.S.  He said, “The path was worn and slippery.  My foot slipped from under me, knocking the other out of the way, but I recovered and said to myself, ‘It’s a slip and not a fall.’”  He was Abe Lincoln.

From Mike W.: “Sir Arthur Eddington's summation of the only thing we can conclude based upon all of our millennia of scientific study and research: ‘Something unknown is doing we don't know what.’”

Sex Day: With the Russian population in decline, the region of Ulyanovsk declared Sept. 12 “The Day of Conception,” and all workers are given the day off from work to go home and have sex.  Anyone in the region who has a child exactly nine months later will win money, cars or other prizes.  --The Irish Independent

Simply breathing air for one year is equivalent to being bombarded by the radiation from 10,000 chest x-rays.  Albemarle Street in London had to be made one-way when John Tyndall, the Victorian scientist who discovered the link between CO2 and infrared radiation, drew large crowds to his lectures.  This was the first one-way street in Britain.

Cost of school supplies per family:  $563.

40% of all Japanese people own a product made by Vuitton.  --Dana Thomas

The cost to license Winnie the Pooh and the other A.A. Milne characters was purchased in 1930 for $1,000.

“Arya” is Sanskrit for “noble person,” i.e., someone who spoke Sanskrit.  They migrated out of central Asia in the middle of the second millennium B.C. and the word is still found in the name of two countries today:  Ireland and Iran

In the last 25 years, China has opened nearly 400 law schools.

The Council of Korean Churches of Greater NY has more than 420 congregations as members, 200 of them are in Queens.

Nearly all new US Army recruits are receiving a $20,000 bonus amid debate over whether the Pentagon is eroding standards to shore up its stretched ranks.  In return, the raw recruits must agree to start basic training within 30 days, much quicker than normal Army timelines.

2/3 of parents with guns at home, don’t store them safely.  --Pediatrics J.

#1 cause of death for 15-20 year-olds:  Car crashes.

"Badadvertisements" re milk:  "Amazon goddesses" doing amazing things w/their hair because milk makes it strong and healthy;  Yoplait yogurt helps women look trim in teeny-weenie bikinis;  and Nesquik as a health food for children.  --Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Legally required paid annual leave in days:  France: 30;  Sweden: 25;  Spain: 22;  U.K., Australia & Germany: 20; Canada & Japan: 10;  U.S.: 0.

KWIKWIZ answers:

301.  from the Universal Life Church...OR, you could get any of 150 other titles, e.g., Cardinal, Lama, Reverend Mother, Magus, Martyr, Goddess, Swami or Apostle of Humanity.

302.  Mitt Romney. He had a strict schedule of stops between Boston and Ontario.  One summer the dog urinated between stops and Mitt hosed down the car at the next scheduled stop.

303.  To protect children from pedophiles.

304.  “I Love Lucy”

305.  Pimping

CHALLENGE #82 was:   He bequested that his body be publicly dissected and displayed with a wax head at a medical school (real one was frozen). Who? Answer:  Jeremy Bentham, the father of Utilitarianism [the greatest good for the greatest number], left his body to University College, London--the first English college to accept students who were not members of the Church of England. [Jim S. and Jerry got it.]

CHALLENGE #83:   Which ‘related’ cells are about the smallest and largest in humans?


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Featured Quote:  “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”  --Horace Mann


306.  Most of Aristotle’s writings would, today, fit into which academic discipline?

307.  Who is the only American performer to have 5 different stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

308.  Dueling is legal in Paraguay under what condition?

309.  Which presidential candidate’s father served time in Sing-Sing for armed robbery?

310.  Why is an emu and a kangaroo on the Australian coat of arms?

The Japanese account for 40% of all luxury sales;  Americans: 17%; Europeans, combined: 16%; Chinese: 12% and growing rapidly.  --Dana Thomas

350,000 women served in the military during WWII.  1,000 were pilots [Women’s Air Service Patrol--WASPs].  39 died in service.

In a bus, bumping along a back road in the South, a wispy old man sat holding a bunch of fresh flowers.  Across the aisle a young girl’s eyes came back again and again to the man’s flowers.  When the man got off, he impulsively thrust the flowers into the girl’s lap.  “I can see you love the flowers,” he explained, “and I think my wife would like for you to have them.  I’ll tell her I gave them to you.”  The girl accepted the flowers, then watched the old man get off the bus and walk through the gate of a small cemetery.    --Bennet Cerf

The staff of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shrunk by 20% in the last few years.

At 89, Paul Harvey is the most profitable radio personality and gives 19 radio broadcasts/week.  His likely successor is another homespun, conservative, familiar voice, who is building and spreading his recognitiion by talking about running for president: Fred Thompson.

5.6 million mothers stayed home w/children in 2006, compared with 4.4 milllion in 1995.  --U.S. Census Bureau

U.S. shoppers waste $2 Billion on salt water in packaged chicken.  --Nutrition Action Newsletter

African women of the Sara tribe have stretched their lips out nine inches using clay discs, and the modern American woman applies Botox with a hypodermic needle.  Pagaung women of Burma stretch their necks with brass rings, Western women expand their breasts with silicone.

Shiite militants carried out 73% of the attacks that killed or wounded American troops in July.   --Michael Gordon, NYT

Bumper Sticker: To save a tree, eliminate a bush. 

“None of the great world religions have been good for women, but the Prophet Mohammed [6th c. B.C.] was ahead of his time allowing women inheritance and divorce--which didn’t come in the West until the 19th century.”  --Karen Armstrong

“Incarceration rate of Hispanic immigrants is lower than that of native-born non-Hispanic whites.”  --Paul Krugman

On the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in the Crypts of Westminster Abbey:  When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.  As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.  But it, too seemed immovable.  As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.  And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed my self first, then by example I would have changed my family.  From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.

Before water flouridation, teeth were the most costly part of the human body: $2 Billion/year to treat cavities.  NYC began in 1965

Merck spent > $3 Billion in legal fees successfully (so far) contesting the lawsuits of heart attacks, strokes & death due to Vioxx.  Their estimated liability is $5 Billion.

Bottled water in the U.S. cost $11 Billion last year;  40% of it was filtered municipal tap water including Dasai and Aqua Fina. [from Coke and Pepsi]

If there is light in the soul, There will be beauty in the person.

If there is beauty in the person, There will be harmony in the house.

If there is harmony in the house, There will be order in the nation.

If there is order in the nation, There will be peace in the world.

    -- Chinese Proverb

“Connie,” from Alan:  http://www.glumbert.com/media/connie

From Krishna:   My flight was being served by an obviously gay flight attendant,who seemed to put everyone in a good mood as he served us food and drinks. As the plane prepared to descend, he told us that "Captain Marvey will be landing the big scary plane shortly, so lovely people, if you could just put your trays up, that would be super." He noticed this well-dressed exotic-looking woman hadn't moved a muscle. "Perhaps you didn't hear me over those big brute engines but I asked you to raise your trazy-poo, so the main man can pitty-pat us on the ground." She calmly turned her head and said, "In my country, I am called a Princess and I take orders from no one." To which (I swear) the flight attendant replied, without missing a beat, "Well, sweet-cheeks, in my country I'm called a Queen, so I outrank you. Tray-up, Bitch."

More Americans use a piggy bank [42%] or change jar [65%] than a money market account [35%].  --Money Magazine

From Joe O’B: Due to a power outage, only one paramedic responded to the call. The house was very dark so the paramedic asked 3-year-old Kathleen to hold a flashlight high over her Mommy so he could see while he helped deliver the baby. Diligently, Kathleen did as she was asked. Heidi pushed and pushed and after a little while, Connor was born. The Paramedic lifted him by his little feet and spanked him on his bottom. Connor began to cry. The paramedic then thanked Kathleen for her help and asked the wide-eyed 3-yr-old what she thought about what she had just witnessed. She said, "He shouldn't have crawled in there in the first place... Smack his ass again!"

The density of billboards advertising tobacco is more than twice as high in black neighborhoods as in white, and a given billboard was 70% more likely to advertise tobacco in a black market than a white one.  --Public Health Reports

“The face of the Republican Party in Iowa is the face of a losing party, full of hatred toward immigrants, lust for government subsidies, and the demand that any Republican seeking the office of the presidency acknowledge that he’s little more than Jesus Christ’s running mate.”  --Ryan Sager. NY Sun

Half of the 10,000 guns tracked in D.C. crimes and 1 in 11 in NYC come from Virginia.

Abraham Lincoln once asked a man who had been arguing that slavery was not slavery but a form of protection how many legs a dog would have if you called its tail a leg.  The answer, said Lincoln, is four because calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.

KWIKWIZ answers:

306.  Biology

307.  Gene Autry: one each for films, recordings, TV, radio and live performances.

308.  Both parties must be registered blood donors.

309.  Rudy Giuliani

310.  Because they cannot walk backwards.

CHALLENGE #83 was:   Which ‘related’ cells are about the smallest and largest in humans?  Answer: Smallest is the sperm.  Largest is the egg, that is 30 times the width of sperm and visible with the naked eye. [Jim S. and Jerry got it.]

CHALLENGE #84:  He played major league baseball, but broke his pitching arm his first game, then he suffered a fatal heart attack on live TV.


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POTPOURRI #85  September 15

Featured Quote: “The accumulation of all power, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of Tyranny.”  James Madison in Federalist Papers


311.  Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of what?

312.  Who officiated at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding?

313.  Teenagers are more likely to die of a traffic accident in Wyoming or D.C.?

314.  Where is Hell’s Kitchen and Hell’s Bottom?

315.  Jules Verne, Edmond Halley, Cotton Mather, Edgar Allan Poe and Edgar Rice Burroughs.  What do they have in common?

Before the White House was built, US presidents lived in Philadelphia’s President’s House, located adjacent to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Washington kept slaves for extended periods in the free state of Pennsylvania, whose laws guaranteed slaves’ freedom after six months of residency. Yet there are no records of him ever freeing any of the nine slaves he kept in the President’s House. Recent excavations of the site reveal secret passageways between rooms so he could hide his slaves from visiting Pennsylvanian authorities while cycling them with his Virginian slaves before the six-month residency requirement was met.

John Eck. said about Living Wills:  Last night, my wife and I were sitting in the living room and I said to her, "I never want to live in a vegetative state.  I don't want to be dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle to keep me alive. Please, if that ever happens to me just pull the plug." She promptly got up, unplugged the TV, and threw out my wine. She's such a bitch.....

Concerning Disbelief:

•  “There is in every village a torch:  a teacher;  and an extinguisher:  a priest.”  --Victor Hugo

•  “So far as I can remember, there’s not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.”  --Bertrand Russell

•  The Two Questions of Epicurus:  Is He both able and willing to prevent evil?  Whence comes evil?

•  “Religion is excellent stuff for keeping the common people quiet.”  Napolean Bonaparte

•  “The universe is a machine for the making of gods.”  Henri Bergson

•   Humans are created in God’s image???

•  Why did Jesus come when he did?

“When President Bush says that leaving Iraq would make it more likely that our enemies would attack us at home, does he mean that warrantless  wiretapping, interrogation under torture, and the Dept. of Homeland Security are ineffective in protecting the American people from terrorism?”  --Patricia Kenney

Life expectancy has increased 30 years since the Constitution gave Supreme Court justices life tenure.

750,000 to 3 million Americans are transsexual--living as a member of the opposite gender with or w/o medical intervention.  --Nat’l Center for Transgender Equality.

English speakers call @, “at.”  Herodios.com says it would be Zavinac in Czeck [‘a herring wrapped around a pickle’], Shabul in Hebrew [‘snail’], Xiao Lao Shu in Mandarin [‘little mouse’], Sobachka in Russian [‘doggie’], and A tua yiukiu in Thai [‘wiggling worm’].

A study of popular dog/cat names in U.S. and Australia ranked Maggie, Molly, Daisy, Bailey and Abby for female dogs, and Buddy, Jake, Max, Hunter and Cody for male dogs.  Tiger was tops for m&f cats.

Between 600,000 and 800,000 people are taken across international borders against their will each year;  80% are women;  almost half are children.  --U.S. State Dept.,

Hollywood Revenue [in Billions] from:  DVDs=$16;  Box Office=$10;  Movie Rentals=$8.

There is not a single black Republican serving in either the House or Senate, and little representation of other minorities, either.  --Frank Rich

Scintilla, in Latin, is a quick, bright spark;  in English the word commonly means a very small particle.  Someone who scintillates sparkles with charm and wit, and flashes brightly with humor.

Lean & Mean: Over the past 6 years, airlines have laid off more than 100,000 workers [1/6 of their workforce], and 6 major carriers have shrunk their fleet by 20%.

Half a million Americans go overseas for quality medical care.  Savings can be $50,000 for heart bypass;  $30,000 for hip repair;  $40,000 for spinal surgery.   --AARP

Public school freshmen who graduate on time: White/Asian--75%;  Black/Hispanic:  50%.

The U.S. has a military presence in over 100 countries.  --Garth Cheff

In 1992 Singapore made chewing gum illegal;  3 years ago the gov’t relented to allow nicotine gum by prescription.

“The overall economy has grown at a reasonable pace over the past four years.  Where did the economic growth go?...Corporate profits rose 72% from the 2nd Q of 2003 to 2nd Q of 2007.  The real income of the richest 0.1% of Americans surged by 51% betwen 2003 and 2005....The absence of any gains for workers in the years since the 2003 tax cut is a pretty convincing refutation of trickle-down theory.”   --Paul Krugman

The global population is rising by 87 million people/year. Together, India and China have 40% of the world’s people.

Before the destruction, 31,149 people worked in the WTC and earned an average of $101,006 (compared with a NYC average of $59,448).  That $3.15 Billion earnings amounted to more than 1% of the NY metro area’s entire payroll.

Security for President Bush in Australia last week cost $250 Million, and Australians love Americans--but not Bush.

There has been no real raise in income in 7 years for 95% of Americans.

This life is a test. It is only a test. Had it been an actual life you would have received further instructions on where to go and what to do!    --found on a bulletin board

More than 7,000 U.S. servicemen married British war brides during WW II.

Coal burning is America’s largest emitter of climate-changing greenhouse gases.  More than 400 mountains have been flattened to remove coal, transforming their healthy woodlands into toxic sludge and rubble that has clogged more than 750 miles of streams.

A British company is developing computer chips that store music in women's breast implants. This is a major breakthrough. Women are always complaining about men staring at their breasts and not listening to them.

Rise in health coverage premiums for family of four since 2000:  87%

KWIKWIZ answers:

311.  Their birthplace.

312.  Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

313.  4 times more likely in Wyoming [binge drinking]

314.  Hell’s Kitchen is on the west side of Manhattan;  Hell’s Bottom is where the Pentagon was built.

315.  They each imagined people living inside a hollowed Earth.

CHALLENGE #84 was:   He played major league baseball, but broke his pitching arm his first game, then he suffered a fatal heart attack on live TV.  Answer: He played for the NY Giants in 1914: Robert LeRoy Ripley---believe it or not!  His TV discussion re Taps at military funerals.  Also, he was terrified of the telephone. [Jerry got it after a couple of extra clues.]

CHALLENGE #85:  Suppose a male-female pair of adult rabbits is placed inside an enclosure to breed.  Assume that rabbits start to bear young two months after their own birth, producing only a single male-female pair, and that they have one such pair at the end of each subsequent month.  If none of the rabbits die, how many pairs of rabbits will be inside the enclosure at the end of one year?


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POTPOURRI #86   Sept 21  friday

Featured Quote: “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or thousand;  instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.”  --David Thoreau in Walden


316.  Which college was the first to accept black students at a time when slavery was practiced 70 miles south of its campus?

317.  Why is the Pentagon five-sided?

318.  Who said; “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”?

319.  Who was the biggest producer of rye whiskey in early America?

320.  What is the hardest substance in the human body.

A blonde sees a sign in a travel agent’s window: "Cruise Special -- $99!" and signs up for it. The agent grabs her, drags her into the back room, ties her into a large inner tube, pulls her out the back door and downhill to the river bank, where he pushes her in to float down the river. A second blonde comes by a few minutes later, sees the sign, and buys the $99 special. She too is tied to an inner tube and sent floating down the river. She eventually catches up with the first blonde. They float side by side for a while before the first blonde asks, "Do they serve refreshments on this cruise?" The second blonde replies, "They didn't last year."

Nearly 1/2 medical releases after WWII were for psychological reasons--mostly in the Pacific Theater.

In Peter Michelmore’s biography of Einstein, he says that “Einstein’s bedroom was monkish.  There were no pictures on the wall, no carpet on the floor...He shaved roughly with bar soap.  He often went barefoot around the house.  Only once every few months he would allow Elsa [his wife] to lop off swatches of his hair...Most days he did not find underwear necesssary.  He also dispensed with pajamas and, later, with socks. ‘What use are socks?’ he asked.  ‘They only produce holes.’  Elsa put her foot down when she saw him chopping off the sleeves of a new shirt from the elbow down.  He explained that cuffs had to be buttoned or studded and washed frequently--all a waste of time.”  “Every possession,” Einstein said, “ is a stone around the leg.”

Fred B reminds us: “Old age is a gift denied many.”

The Latin root strepo means to make a noise.  Anyone who is unruly, boisterous, unmanageable--and in a noisy troublesome manner--is obstreperous.

Aristarchus of Samos, a 3rd c. B.C. Greek astronomer, proposed a heliocentric model, with all planets circling the sun, although his treatise was lost and is known only through comments by Archimedes.  Aristotle defended an earlier and excellent argument for the earth’s roundness.  During a lunar eclipse the earth’s shadow on the moon has a rounded edge that can best be explained if the earth is a ball.  The Ptolemaic model of the second century A.D. is a refinement of Aristotle’s.  We all know now, after a long controversy culminating in Galileo’s persecution, the helocentric model of the 16th c. Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus finally won out.

The record for one person finding four-leaf clovers is 20,179.

Patients develop 1.7 million infections in hospitals each year and they cause or contribute to the death of 99,000 people/year--about 270/day.   --CDC&P

WE WON!? In an interview billed as his first since leaving the top Pentagon post, Donald Rumsfeld calls Afghanistan "a big success," but says U.S. efforts in Iraq are hampered by the failure of Iraq's government to establish a foundation for democracy.  "In Afghanistan, 28 million people are free. They have their own president, they have their own parliament. Improved a lot on the streets," Rumsfeld says in the October issue of GQ magazine.

Water tables are now falling in countries that contain over half the world’s people.   --Worldwatch Institute

Since 1970 US farm subsidies were almost $600 Billion--a political gift.

Nancy K. tells us: Apple Computer announced today that it has developed

a computer chip that can store and play music in women's breast implants.  The iTit will cost $499 or $599 depending on size. This is considered to be a major breakthrough because women are always complaining about men staring at their breasts and not listening to them.

The number of male school teachers is at a 40-year low.

Texas Trivia from Mike W.:   

•  The Capitol Dome in Austin is the only dome in the U.S. which is taller than the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. (by 7 feet).

•  The name Texas comes from the Hasini Indian word "tejas" meaning friends.

•  Tejas is not Spanish for Texas .

•  The State animal is the armadillo, which always has four babies:  they have one egg which splits into four and they either have four males or four females.

•   Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in the state.

•  Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885.  There is no period after Dr in Dr Pepper.

•  Texas is the only state to enter the U.S. by treaty, instead of by annexation. This allows the Texas flag to fly at the same height as the US flag.

•  The King Ranch is larger than Rhode Island .

We have more contractors in Iraq [doing what soldiers have done in past wars] than we have soldiers.

From Alan D.: (written by a retired Methodist minister)

Bush is my shepherd; I dwell in want.

He maketh logs to be cut down in national forests.

He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.

He restoreth my fears.

He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace for his ego's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution and war,

I will find no exit, for thou art in office.

Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy media control, they discomfort me.

Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the presence of thy religion.

Thou annointest my head with foreign oil.

My health insurance runneth out.

Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow me all the days of thy

term .

And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever

Quadrillions of nurdles, microscopic plastic bits in the oceans, outweigh all the plankton by a factor of six.

Carla forwarded this msg: Dear Madam:  Thank You for your recent order from our sex toys shop.  You asked for the large red vibrator as featured on our wall display.  Please re-select.  That's our fire extinguisher!

Non-whites make up a majority in nearly a third of the nation’s most populous counties, with Houston overtaking LA in black population and metro Chicago surpassing Honolulu in asian residents.  --U.S. Census

Oliver Wendell Holmes once attended a meeting in which he was the shortest man present.  “Dr. Holmes,” quipped a friend, “I sould think you’d feel rather small among us big fellows.”  “I do,” retorted Holmes, “I feel like a dime among a lot of pennies.”

KWIKWIZ answers:

316.  The 155 year-old Antioch College, in Yellow Springs, Ohio, which is closing.

317.  That was the shape of the land made available.

318.  Although it could be attributed to several U.S. Presidents, Mao Zedong

319.  George Washington

320.  The white enamel of the teeth.

CHALLENGE #85 was:   Suppose a male-female pair of adult rabbits is placed inside an enclosure to breed.  Assume that rabbits start to bear young two months after their own birth, producing only a single male-female pair, and that they have one such pair at the end of each subsequent month.  If none of the rabbits die, how many pairs of rabbits will be inside the enclosure at the end of one year?  Backstory: The greatest Euroean mathematician of the Middle Ages was Leonardo of Pisa, better know as Fibonacci, meaning ‘son of Bonaccio.’  Born in Pisa, his father was an Italian mercantile factory official in Algeria, and it was there that young Leonardo received early math training from Moslem tutors.  He quickly recognized the superiority of the Hindu-Arabic decimal system, with its positional notation and zero symbol, over the clumsy Roman system still used in Italy.  In 1202 he wrote a comprehensive merchant’s handbook on arithmetic and algebra.  The arguments had little impact on his intended audience, but the book eventually became the most influential single work introducing the Hindu-Arabic system to the West.  Fibonacci is mainly remembered today because a 19th century French number theorist, Eduard Lucas, attached the name Fibonacci to a number sequence that appears in a trivial problem in the 1202 book.  Challenge #85 was Leonardo’s example. Answer: The number of pairs at the close of each month form the sequence 1,2,3,5,8,13,21... in which each number [as Fibonacci pointed out] is the sum of the two numbers preceding it.  At the end of 12 months there will be 377 pairs of rabbits.  Lucas called this the Fibonacci Sequence, and it shows up in inexpected places, e.g., arrangement of seeds  on the face of certain varieties of sunflowers:  clockwise and counterclockwise spirals. [The guesses that came in were low.]

CHALLENGE #86  What is interesting about the genealogy of a male bee?


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POTPOURRI #87  Sept 28 friday

Featured Quote: “War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.”  JFK


321.  Which word, in English, has the most definitions?

322.  Who was the greatest comic novelist of the 20th century?

323.  What was the best-selling CD of 2006?

324.  Identify Polypotamia, Cherronesus and Pelispia.

325.  Who was the first to call ‘America’ The New World?

Aristotle was Wrong: In “De Anima” he said there are five senses.  Scientists now agree there are more ways we gather information about the world around and inside us: Proprioception (the sense of how our body parts are positioned in space relative to one another), equilibrioception (the sense of linear acceleration and head position), thermoception (the sense of heat and cold), and nociception (the sense of pain).  Some scientists include hunger and thirst...maybe even balance.

Mike W. directs us to an eye-opening video:  http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/62

In 1493, Ivan III cleared wooden buildings on the site of today’s Red Square. This open space in the heart of Moscow evolved from a marketplace to a venue for ceremonies, proclamations and coronations for and by Russia’s tsars. The square acquired its modern name from the 17th-century Saint Basil’s Cathedral, which Russians described as “krasnaya,” meaning both red and beautiful.  Later Soviet leaders presided over their military might on annual May Day parades, standing atop Lenin’s Mausoleum.

A subpoena [Latin for “under penalty”] can be a document that compels a person to testify [then it is subpoena ad testificandum], or to hand over evidence [then it’s a subpoena duces tecum].

 Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred

2. Free your mind from worries.

3. Live simply.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less.

1/3 of all GIs serving in Europe in WWII had some German ancestors.

Three dead bodies turn up at the mortuary, all with very big smiles on their faces. First body: Frenchman, 60, died of heart failure while making love to his mistress. Hence the enormous smile. Second body: Scotsman, 25, won a thousand pounds on the lottery, spent it all on whiskey. Died of alcohol poisoning, hence the smile. Third body: Billy-Bob from Oklahoma, 30, struck by lightning, thought he was having his picture taken.

Last year we sold over $1 Billion of scrap paper to the country that invented paper:  China.  [We send 42% of all our exported scrap to China.]

The world consumed about 66.6 million barrels a day of oil in 1990;  Today it’s about 83 million.  U.S. demand grew 22% in that period;  China’s has grown nearly 200%.  By 2030 the global thirst is forecast to increase by another 40%.  Alternatives anyone?

In 7 years, GWB created a higher deficit than all the presidents before him, combined.

Philip S. sends a tour of botanical gardens: http://www.webshots.com/collections/botanicalgarden/slideshow.html

A man wrote a letter to a small hotel in a midwest town he planned to visit: “I would very much like to bring my dog with me.  He is well-groomed and very well behaved.  Would you be willing to permit me to keep him in my room with me at night?” The immediate response: “I’ve been operating this hotel for many years.  In all that time, I’ve never had a dog steal towels, bed clothes, silverware or pictures off the walls.  I’ve never had to evict a dog in the middle of the night for being drunk and disorderly. And I’ve never had a dog run out on a hotel bill.  Yes, indeed, your dog is welcome at my hotel.  And, if your dog will vouch for you, you’re welcome to stay here, too.”    -- Karl Albrecht and Ron Zenke

Of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken in the world, linguists say, nearly half are in danger of extinction and likely to disappear in this century.  In fact, one falls out of use about every two weeks.   --John Noble Wilford

Carla suggests you find your Real Age and Life Expectancy:


The combined worth of the world’s Billionaires is $3.5 Trillion, and almost 40% belongs to Americans.  Less than 2% of the assets of the country’s super-rich is given to charity.

More than 100,000 Japanese were interred for the whole of WW II.  12,000 Japanese-Americans joined the U.S. military and won more than 18,000 individual medals.  They were the most decorated unit in U.S. history.

Alan directs us to “The Real Rudy”:  http://therealrudy.org/?utm_source=rgemail

Pawnshops: grew in number from 4,800 ten years ago, to 12,000 today.  --J.P. Caskey, Swarthmore

TV Food Commercials: 97.8% seen by 2-11 year-olds were high in fat, sugar or sodium, as were 89.4% seen by 12-17 year-olds.  The Institute of Medicine found a link between TV ads and weight.  --L.M. Powell, U of Illinois

Jews nationwide dropped in a decade from 5.5 to 5.2 million.  --2001 Nat’l Jewish Population Survey.

An absurd situation: Paul Krugman tells of the I.E.D. that exploded prematurely with no one hurt. They followed the detonation wire for 1,500 feet. A Back Hawk helicoptor spotted a man fleeing by bicycle, and swooped down to blow him off his bike.  It took a $6 million plane and a highly trained pilot to catch him.  The Lebanese historian, Kamal Salibi said it best:  “Great powers should never get involved in the politics of small tribes.”

Breast cancer is not the scourge among Japanese women that it is among American women, but it takes only two generations in the U.S. before Japanese-Americans have the same rates.

Identify the presidential candidate who agrees with you, from Alan D.:


A tax is a membership fee.  --Steven Pinker

More than a dozen countries generate at least a quarter of their energy by nuclear power:  Sweden 47%;  Belgium 56% and France 80%.  But, the U.S. is the single largest producer of nuclear energy, and it has been growing since the reactors have become more efficient.

A quick qwiz from Carl S.:  www.members.shaw.ca/anabw/ballgame.html

It's better to lose your pride to the one you love, than to lose the one you love because of pride.

Italy and the EC from Alan:  http://www.piep001.de/PIEP001/Sites/European_Italy.htm

Footnote: Wednesday I went on a bus tour in NJ of the sights of “The Sopranos” and my car was stolen in Queens...a mob job?

KWIKWIZ answers:

321.  set

322.  Evelyn Waugh

323.  The psychotically cheerful sound-track to the Disney TV movie “High School Musical.”

324.  Some of the names that Thomas Jefferson proposed to give to the new states of the Old Northwest.

325.  Peter Martyr in 1499

CHALLENGE #86 was:   What is interesting about the genealogy of a male bee?  Answer:  A male bee, or drone, has no father.  A drone has 1 parent [its mother], 2 grandparents [its mother’s grandparents], 3 great-grandparents [because its mother’s father had no father], 5 great-great-grandparents, and so on into the Fibonacci sequence we discussed in last week’s Challenge.

CHALLENGE #87:  Why was Julius Caesar so pleased to be given the privilege of wearing a laurel wreath? 


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POTPOURRI #88  October 4 Thursday

Featured Quote:  “And now here is my secret,  a very simple secret;  it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  --Antoine de Saint Exupery


326.  What is the only English word ending in -sede?

327.  What is the oldest utopian fiction in the Western world?

328.  Which has more locations worldwide:  7/11, McDonalds or Subway?

329.  How many different ingredients in a Pop-Tart?

330.  As a French ambassador, 400 years ago, he bought some tobacco seeds from a Flemish trader, and helped popularize the plant in Europe.  Who?

Mike W. submits:  As Wittgenstein said regarding the existence of God and spirits:  "Whereof I cannot know, thereof I cannot speak.  Whereof I cannot speak, thereof I must remain silent."

The French word cheval means horse; and in medieval times only gentlemen and knights rode them--common folks walked.  Traditionally [but not actually] knights were courteous to women and self-sacrificing when their own interests came in conflict with those of the fair sex.  Today we call someone like that chivalrous.  A cavalcade was a procession of people on horseback, as in a parade.  A cavalier was once a mounted soldier.  As an adjective, cavalier describes actions and attitudes that are haughty and unmindful of others’ feelings--often associated w/people in power.

The avg. fuel efficiency of today’s cars is less than Ford’s Model T.

Don W. says that Jersey is based on the word Caesar, after Claudius Caesar’s army took over, and named, the Jersey Islands.

The economics of corn ethanol have never made sense.  Rather than import cheap Brazilian ethanol made from sugar cane, the U.S. slaps a tariff of 54¢/gal. on it and gives a tax break of 51¢/gal. to American ethanol producers--on top of generous subsidies that corn growers already get under the farm program.  Plus, corn-based ethanol requires lots of land.

Korean War death toll: 33,000 Americans, 415,000 S. Koreans, 1.5 Million N. Koreans/Chinese.  That war was where America first revealed its imperial ineptitude and, after which our military leaders vowed never again to wage a ground war in Asia...then came Vietnam, then Iraq.   --David Halberstam

Since 9/11/01 nearly 100,000 people have been murdered in the U.S.

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve. 

I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey...

I asked for health, that I might do great things. 

I was given infirmity, that I might do better things...

I asked for riches, that I might be happy. 

I was given poverty, that I might be wise...

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men. 

I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God...

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life. 

I was given life, that I might enjoy all things...

I got nothing I asked for--but everything I had hoped for.

Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.

I am, among men, most richly blessed!            --Roy Campanella

The divorce rate has been falling over the past 25 years, and is now at its lowest level since 1970.

4/5 of all animals on earth are nematodes--round worms [from the Greek for ‘thread.’]

It’s expensive:   •  not to have health insurance

      •  to have health insurance

      •  to use health insurance.    --Jim Guest, Consumer Reports

U R what U eat:  Americans get 20% of their calories from beverages.  --Michael Jacobson

Lisa F. asks you click on:  http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/  to "donate" clicks toward mammograms for underprivileged women in the U.S.  It takes 45,000 clicks/mammogram [daily avg of 58,000 clicks provides 1.3 mammograms/day]. Visitors can click once a day. Sponsors do it for advertising and PR. CharityUSA.com directs 75% of ad revenue to the National Breast Cancer Foundation and keeps 25% to run the site. (It exists to make a profit.) GreaterGood.com also allows visitors to other causes via The Rainforest Site, The Animal Rescue Site, and The Child Health Site.

In Japanese, han=group;  cho=leader, and han-cho=group leader, and tan-to carries out directions from han-cho....Tonto/Lone Ranger.

Union City, NJ, across from Manhattan, has more Cubans than Havana, and is second only to Miami in the U.S.

The Venetian word ghetto means 'a foundry for artillery.'  Ghetto as the walled and gated area in which Jews were required to live was first used for a section of Venice in 1516, with an iron foundry nearby. Jews were forcibly segregated from the 13th century on in some areas, but the word ghetto wasn't used until the 16th century.  It wasn't until the end of the 19th century (after the ghettos for Jews in European cities had been abolished) that ghetto came to be used for a crowded and poor section of a city in which members of a minority group live. Now Jews are building walls to contain Arabs.

27% of our taxes directly go to the military [more goes indirectly].

In 1975, 11 million Hispanics made up 5% of the U.S. population.  Today’s nearly 45 million Hispanics are now 15%. Meanwhile, the proportion of Hispanics in poverty has declined.

10 Overused Tests and Treatments.  1.  Back surgery.  2.  Heartburn surgery.  3.  Prostate treatments.  4. Implanted defibrillators.  5.  Cononary stents.  6.  Cesarean sections [30%].  7.  Whole-body scans.  8.  High-tech angiography.  9.  High-tech mamography.  10.  Virtual colonoscopy.   see Consumer Reports, Nov. 2007

“W. outsourced his presidency to Cheney and Rummy, and Cheney and Rummy went to war on the cheap and outsourced large chunks of the Iraq occupation to Halliburton and Blackwater....Once there was the military-industrial complex.  Now we have the mercenary-evangelical complex.”  --Maureen Dowd

On Secrecy: “Democracies die behind closed doors.”  --Judge Damon Keith

House for Sale: Built in 1212 as a stronghold by the Teutonic Knights, Bran Castle was also a defense point against the Turks, a customs post between Transylvania and Wallachia, and later a residence for the royal family.  Vlad the Impaler spent one night there.  The castle, inspired Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” still attracts thousand of visitors/year.  The 22-acre estate is going for $135 million.

Four guys and a woman are stuck in an elevator.  While they are stuck, they strike up a conversation.  The first guy says, "I'm a Y.U.P.P.I.E. , you know...Young, Urban, Professional, Peaceful, Intelligent, Ecologist.''  The second guy says, "I'm a D.I.N.K.Y.,...Double Income, No Kids Yet." The third guy says, "I'm a R.U.B., you know...Rich, Urban, Biker." The fourth guy says, I am a D.I.L.D.O., you know...Double Income, Little Dog Owner.'' They turn to the woman and ask her.''What are you?'' She replies: "I'm a WIFE, you know...Wash, Iron, F**k, Etc.''

Harvard College has 6,700 students, only 77 are math majors.

KWIKWIZ answers:

326.  supersede

327.  The story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis

328.  7/11

329.  56

330.  This act brought linguistic immortality to Jean Nicot.

CHALLENGE #87 was:  Why was Julius Caesar so pleased to be given the privilege of wearing a laurel wreath?  Answer:  Suetonius wrote:  “His baldness was a disfigurement which his enemies harped upon, much to his exasperation; but he used to comb the thin strands of hair forward from his poll, and of all the honors voted him by the Senate and the people, none pleased him so much as the privilege of wearing a laurel wreath on all occasions--he constantly took advantage of it.”

CHALLENGE #88:  Which major-league baseball team raised a curtain as a visual backdrop in centerfield only when the home team was at bat?


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POTPOURRI #89  Thursday Oct 11

Featured Quote:  “We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy.”   Thomas Friedman

BIG Q #1: What is the evidence for life after death?


331.  The median income of women 21-30 in NYC who are employed FT was 17% higher than comparable men.  Similar results in Chicago, Boston and Minneapolis, e.g.  Why?

332.  What is the oldest major trophy in international sports?

333.  Who was the 17th century English hangman who hoisted to death some of the most notorious criminals of the day?

334.  Born in India, this anti-utopian satirist wrote an autobiography under a pseudonym [an English river], after living w/tramps in England.

335.  Where was the first American industrial assembly line?

Nearly 90% of R&D dollars are spent on creating technologies that serve the wealthiest 10% of the world’s population.    --Amy Smith

“From Republicans we get the message that the most important thing to hold on to is fear itself.”  --Bob Herbert

Wonton Food, the largest fortune cookie maker in the country, produces 4.5 million cookies/day.  In 2005 110 people won about $19 million in the Powerball lottery by playing a ‘lucky number’ sequence from a Wonton fortune.

Near the end of his second term, George Washington sent a diplomat to Tripoli to settle the Barbary Coast-Piracy conflict.  Article 11 of the treaty says that “as the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” there should be no cause for conflict over differences of “religious opinion” between countries.  The treaty passed the Senate unanimously.

Coal is the biggest pollutant, and in the U.S. 33 coal miners die, on average, each year.  In China, more than 4,700 coal miners were killed last year alone--and the Chinese government calls it a vast improvement.

Coalition of the Billing:  In 2005, federally financed contractors were working in every UN-recognized country except Bhutan, Nauru and San Marino.  Contract spending has more than doubled since 2001.

One ton of fertile soil contains about 4 million species of unknown bacteria.

Around NYC, it costs a minimum of $150,000/day for the equipment needed to make a movie or TV show on site.

Bush Vetoes Child Health Insurance Bill:

•  “First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it’s a good idea.  I’m happy that the president’s willing to do something bad for the kids.”  --William Kristol

•  “I mean, people have access to health care in America.  After all, you just go to an emergency room.”  --G.W. Bush

•  The leading Republican candidates go out of their way to condem “socialism,” which is G.O.P-speak for any attempt to help the less fortunate.

A child runs away from home in the U.S. every minute.  Only half return within 48 hours.

From Nancy K.: A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease." "That depends, Sir, " said Disraeli, "on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

Synecdoche  [sin-EK-doh-kee] is the figurative device of using any subcategory for a larger category, or vice versa. Synecdoche can be using the part for the whole ("two hundred head" meaning "two hundred cows"), the whole for the part ("New York won the World Series," for "The New York Yankees won the World Series"), the special for the general ("a Croesus" for "a rich man," or "three souls" for "three lives"), the general for the special ("a lovely creature" for "a lovely woman"), or the like. The word synecdoche, is from Greek, with elements meaning 'together' and 'interpretation; sense'. It is first found in English in the fifteenth century.

In the U.S. 1 in 5 people over 5 years-of-age speak a language other than English at home.  --Census Bureau

Sex is like a bank account. You put it in, you take it out, you lose interest.

Lotteries account for less than 1-5% of total revenue for K-12 education last year in states that use this money for schools.  In reality, most of the money raised by lotteries is used to sustain the games themselves.  --Ron Stodghill/Ron Nixon

DeathWatch on industries:  Record stores, Gay bars [due to increased tolerance], used-book stores , pay phones and telemarketing.

The U.S. is the leading supplier of weapons to the developing world.  --Thom Shanker

“I’m not old enough to play baseball or football.  I’m not eight yet.  My mom told me when you start baseball, you aren’t going to be able to run that fast because you had an operation.  I told Mom I wouldn’t need to run that fast. When I play baseball, I’ll just hit them out of the park.  Then I’ll be able to walk.”   ---Edward J. McGrath, Jr.

Broadband service in Japan, S. Korea, Sweden France and Australia is much faster and cheaper than in the U.S.  Price/month for 1 megabyte/second:  Japan: 27¢;  U.S. $3.33.   Avg. speed, megabytes/second:  Japan 61.0;  U.S. 4.8.   --Ken Belson

Fewer than 1% of Americans serve in the military today [not counting contract soldiers and mercenaries].  16 million served in WWII [which was shorter than the Iraq war].

Just as sweating makes us thirsty, burning off calories makes us hungry.  --Gary Taubes

“Carbohydrates is driving insulin is driving fat.”  --George Cahill Jr.

“Blood samples from 100 unemployed people showed that their immune systems were 20% weaker than those earning a paycheck.”  three months after getting a job, their systems rebounded.  --Psychosomatic Medicine

“Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History”  --Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Six months of acupuncture provides more relief for back pain than conventional treatments.  --Tara Parker-Pope

CEO paychecks more than doubled between 2003 and 2006

KWIKWIZ answers:

331.  The gulf in education

332.  The America’s Cup

333.  Derrick by name...who also gave us an English word.

334.  Eric Blair [George Orwell] published Animal Farm in 1945 & 1984 in 1949.

335.  Whaling ships that processed oil on board in the 1750s.

CHALLENGE #88 was:  Which major-league baseball team raised a curtain as a visual backdrop in centerfield only when the home team was at bat?  Answer: The New York Yankees

CHALLENGE #89:  Which company issued the first discount coupon?


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