BY JAMES K. WHITE | DECEMBER 29, 2011
Not as old as Mickey Mouse, but older than Superman
Electric eels are interesting animals. They can propagate thousands of special cells that have the potential to generate 600 volts, which is 5 times the voltage available from standard U.S. wall sockets. Electric eels are not scientifically eels. They are members of the jackfish family, closely akin to catfish.
Conan the Barbarian made his comic book debut in 1932. This Conan is not as old as Mickey Mouse, but he is older than Superman.
In earlier times, rinderpest was a disease that attacked cattle and was disastrously deadly. In 1889 tens of thousands of the cattle in Ethiopia died from a rinderpest outbreak. During the ensuing famine approximately one-third of the human population in Ethiopia died from starvation. The good news is that international communities have combined resources and it is believed that rinderpest has been eradicated from our planet.
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. is supported by 36 Greek-style Doric columns. There is one column for each of the states in the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death. The original plan in 1867 (by Clark Mills) was to include 37 colossal statues in a 70 foot tall structure, but a lack of funds prevented the construction of the Memorial. The present structure (designed by Henry Bacon) was dedicated in May of 1922.
Either the Island of Samoa or the International dateline is being moved at the end of December in 2011. Either way, the official time in the Pacific nation is to be advanced 24 hours as the island will be newly located east of the dateline.
Bedbugs have long been irritating pests and have recently become a wide-spread nuisance once again. The current varieties of bedbugs are largely pesticide resistant and all seem to be quite skilled at concealment. Various breeds of dogs have been trained to detect the tiny critters. However, these efficient canines are not cheap and can cost as much as $70,000. A $200 electronic bedbug detecting device is planned for the U.S. market.
Several of our nation’s larger hospitals are considering the use of “robo-nurses” for medication dispensing. Medication errors cause significant injury or death to approximately 1,500,000 patients each year. The robots are programmed to traverse hospital corridors and wait outside designated rooms to deliver appropriate medications. A patient ID card is read by the robot and prescriptions are verified by nurses or physicians. Prototype nurse robots were first used in 2002. Well, be cautious when tickling certain jackfish and do have a great week.
James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heaven and hell
While walking down the street one day a corrupt Senator was tragically hit
by a car and died.
His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.
"Welcome to heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there
is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so
we're not sure what to do with you."
"No problem, just let me in," says the Senator.
"Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from the higher ups. What we'll do is
have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where
to spend eternity."
"Really? I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven," says the Senator.
"I'm sorry, but we have our rules."
And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down,
down to hell.
The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In
the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends
and other politicians who had worked with him.
Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake
his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at
the expense of the people.
They played a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and the
Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who is having a
good time dancing and telling jokes.
They are all having such a good time that before the Senator realizes it, it
is time to go.
Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises.
The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens in heaven where St. Peter
is waiting for him, "Now it's time to visit heaven...???
So, 24 hours passed with the Senator joining a group of contented souls
moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good
time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter
"Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose
The Senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: "Well, I would never
have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would
be better off in hell."
So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to
Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land
covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags,
picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from
The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulders.
"I don't understand," stammers the Senator. "Yesterday I was here and there
was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank
champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland
full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?"
The devil smiles at him and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning, Today, you voted."