Food for thought

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In case it comes up in a conversation today: The first major movie to show a toilet flush was the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho.

The instrument generally recognized as the oldest existing violin is one made for King Charles IX (of France) about 1560. Possessor of the title “World’s Most Expensive Violin” changes with some regularity. While all of the 650 known Stradivari violins are quite valuable, an instrument made by Guarneri is currently on the market for $18,000,000 which could make it the most expensive, if sold. Check your attics — 18th century records indicate that there are approximately 450 Stradivari violins whose fates/locations are unknown.

Human tissue often tears easily. Spider silk is thin and stronger than steel. That is why spider silk has been used as an integral feature in the repair of human wounds. Medical researchers at Utah State University are developing techniques to mend damaged shoulders and knees by utilizing arachnid-spun strands. A separate group at MIT is applying spider silk proteins to bone grafts making the bones stronger and less brittle. Way to go, researchers.

A few years back (approx. 75,000,000), a 39 ft. sea-going reptile scientists have named “elasmosaur” patrolled above what is now Alberta, Canada. This creature had 76 neck vertebrae which is the most of any known animal. The giraffe is a total pretender with only 7 neck bones.

Not too long ago, citizens in Northern New York were aggressively waging an anti-drug campaign. Supporters of the local movement ordered some very attractive pencils imprinted with “TOO COOL TO DO DRUGS.”  This was fine except the direction and location of the imprint left the pencils declaring “COOL TO DO DRUGS” as the “TOO” was removed after the first pencil sharpening. Subsequent to additional sharpening, the pencils displayed “DO DRUGS” as more of the original message was removed. Community authorities organized a drive to confiscate each boo-boo imprinted pencil they could locate and shortly thereafter abandoned all pencil-message schemes.

Small bit of irony: The rock star Meat Loaf is a vegetarian.

For all you literary enthusiasts: Little Red Riding Hood has a first name, Blanchette.

Food for thought: Seven of the largest eight companies (measured by annual sales) in the world are energy enterprises. Wal-Mart is the exception of the eight and is a distributor that consumes large quantities of energy. I say “hang on to your oil wells.”

Well, watch those pencil messages – and have a splendid week.

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