Be alert for screw pines

james k white

Sir Robert Walpole served as Great Britain’s first Prime Minister. He held the high office from 1721 to 1742. There have been 54 British PM’s with David Cameron being #54.

Nail polish originated in China about 3000 years ago. The Zhou Dynasty chose royal hues for their leaders’ nail coloring. For decades, gold and silver polish were the royal trademarks for nails, but later years found that red and black had become dynasty favorites. Mummified remains indicate that some Egyptian pharaohs used henna as fingernail paint.

Literacy rates for young citizens of the world’s countries were recently released by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). The United States ranked an embarrassing 21st in the world while England was an even worse 23rd. South Korea was graded to be number one.

“Nebraska” is an Otoe Indian word meaning “flat water.”

Geologist Stephen Haggerty has made what may be a rather lucrative discovery. In Liberia (Africa), he has connected the surface growth of a palm-like plant similar to the screw pine (I am not making this up) to be a compelling indication that diamonds lie beneath the ground surface. Diamonds often occur above a volcanic formation called kimberlite pipes and this particular variety of screw pine (stop giggling) grows only in soil rich with kimberlite pipes.

Different ideas have been offered as to why horse riders predominantly mount their rides from the left side. One popular theory is that most combatants in history were right handed. Those donning sword scabbards, toting spears, carrying rifles, etc. would transport their weaponry on the left side making it easier to use their right hands to quickly access weaponry. Mounting from the left meant that scabbards, etc. would not need to be dragged or lifted over the horses’ backs. There are a few exceptions even among expert horsemen. Rodeo Cowboys competing in calf-roping events mount and dismount from the right in order to save precious time prior to reaching the targeted calves. A tenth of a second saved can sometimes mean a difference of $20,000 or more in prize monies.

The honey bee continues to amaze scientists. Researchers from Finland and Arizona State University have learned that honey bees can be vaccinated with effects similar to inoculated vertebrates. The discovery could be very beneficial for protecting the bees from several deadly diseases that have recently devastated numerous local Apis mellifera populations. Well, be alert for screw pines – and have a great week.

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