“Houston, we’ve had a problem”

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MULLETT OVER BY JAMES WHITEFew realize how historic the 19 days from April 12, 1945 thru April 30, 1945 turned out to be. Records indicate that during this brief span Franklin D. Roosevelt, Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler all died.

Prior to Europeans establishing settlements in Australia (1788), the indigenous population was estimated to total 750,000 to 1,000,000. By 1900, diseases (measles, smallpox, influenza) and “displacement” left approximately 90,000 Australian aborigines alive on the continent. In 2006, a census reported that the number of aborigines was 407,000. However, this figure included all Australian inhabitants who simply declared themselves to be of indigenous heritage.

In 1977, a Frenchman named Michel Lotito ate an entire bicycle (between March 17 and April 2). I mean he consumed the whole bike – tires, chain, etc. Michel refuses to eat hard boiled eggs because “they make me sick.”

More than 70% of all the fresh water in the world is in Canada.

Harry Potter’s birthday is July 31.

The exact wording of the famous communication from Apollo 13 to NASA was “Houston, we’ve had a problem” and not “Houston, we’ve got a problem.”

For generations, the Hapsburg royal family of Austria strategically married to not only avoid wars, but to acquire landed estates. In fact, it was said of the clan: “Bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube” which roughly translates “Let others wage wars while you, fortunate Austria, simply marry.” The tactic of marrying first cousins worked grandly for territorial expansion, but lousy for developing healthy bloodlines. An inherited physical disfigurement was the protruding lower lip known as a Hapsburg lip. It was considered to be a mark of beauty (mostly by Hapsburgs). Poor health and mental disorders within the family became increasingly common. Finally, a few in the lineage were sane enough to notice the problem and it became acceptable for Hapsburgs to marry members of some “degenerate” kingdoms’ royalty like those of Italy, France or Great Britain.

Fossil records indicate that about 390 million years ago, there were 400 days in an earth year. The cause of the slow-down for our planet’s rotation was a mystery for only a short while. Physicists quickly explained that the decrease in rotational velocity was due to the braking effects imposed by the moon. However, the deceleration has not been continuous. There were extended periods when the angular velocity of Earth increased, then slowed again. Some assert that the speed aberrations were due to climate changes. I hope that you experience no unpleasant aberrations.

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