Mullet Over

BY JAMES K. WHITE  | JULY 13, 2011

The world’s most populous island

Do you have some of those new footwear styles that feature flexible durable cork in the soles? The Greeks used cork as shoe/sandal soles more than 2,000 years ago.

There is an ongoing debate as to when the modern cellphone was invented (some say 1970). However, it is generally agreed that there are now 4 billion individuals using cell phones to communicate. In comparison, historians estimate that it was 40 years after the invention of broadcast radio before the medium was available to 50 million people. (50 million is 1.25 percent of 4 billion.)

Recognition and gratitude is well deserved by a plant pathologist named Norman Borlaug. In 1944 he began crossing-pollinating wheat varieties to develop a strain that would be resistant to the rust infections that were destroying grain harvests world-wide. Appraisals by social and agricultural scientists credit Borlaug with saving at least one billion people from death by starvation.

Recent flooding in Pakistan has produced a rather spooky landscape in some areas. Millions of spiders fleeing the high waters have covered several square miles with thick strata of webs. Rocks, fence posts, (formerly) bare ground and especially trees have become layered with arachnid silk. One observer suggested that the scene was similar to an exaggerated Halloween setting.

The oldest bricks yet discovered were thought to have been made about 7,500 B.C. The oldest brick structures in America are of the Native American adobe (not the computer thingy) ilk and date back to approximately 750 A.D.

The world’s most populous island is Java with about 122,000,000 inhabitants. Empty parking spaces are scarce.

Have you received your monthly allowance? Aurumania of Denmark has made available a fine bicycle for the list price of $103,000. I understand that the initial fee does not include delivery.

For many years, a bristlecone pine in the U.S.A. was known as the oldest tree in the world. However, dendrologists have recently declared that a 9,550 year old Norway spruce in Sweden (not to be confused with a Sweden spruce in Norway) now holds the oldest tree title.

Picasso’s painting entitled “Garcon a la pipe” was considered to be an average effort by the artist, definitely not one of his masterpieces.

This work sold for a record $104,168,000 in 2004 at a Sotheby’s (New York) auction. The 1905 painting had been purchased in 1950 for $30,000.

Well, be careful when tippy-toeing through Pakistan – and have a great week.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at

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To maintain a healthy level of insanity

1. In the memo field of all your checks, write 'For Marijuana.’
2. Order a diet water with a serious face whenever you go out to eat.
3. Specify that your drive-through order is 'To Go.'
4. Sing along at the opera.
5. Five days in advance, tell your friends you can't attend their party because you have a headache.
6. When leaving the zoo, start running toward the parking lot, yelling 'Run for your lives! They're loose!'
7. Tell your children over dinner, 'due to the economy, we are going to have to let one of you go.'
And the final way to keep a healthy level of insanity …
8. Pick up a box of condoms at the pharmacy, go to the counter and ask where the fitting room is.

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