Bill Bouldin

Bill Bouldin

NOTE TO MSNBC, severe difficulty in making arithmetical calculations is called dyscalculia. It’s like dyslexia, but with numbers instead of words. Most people diagnosed with the disorder were born with it, network news anchors are the exception.

SPEAKING OF CHINA AND THE FLU, researchers now believe the deadly Spanish Flu of 1918 probably originated in northern China and was introduced to Europe by the 140,000 Chinese laborers imported in 1917 by France and England to bolster their workforce on the Western Front. The idea is not without precedent. The bubonic plague that wiped out one-third of the inhabitants of Europe in the 13th Century is thought to have begun with a bacterium indigenous to the steppes of Mongolia and northern China, transmitted west by flea-infested traders on the Silk Road.

WHAT’S IN A NAME, PART I, the flu pandemic that swept across the globe in 1917-18 was called the Spanish Flu only because Spain, as a neutral non-combatant, did not enforce war-time news censorship. When Madrid fell victim to the same virulent disease that had been wracking the French and German trenches for a year unreported, news articles made it seem Spain was where it originated. Hence, the Spanish Flu. It could have just as well have been called the Kansas Flu, since it was first diagnosed at the US Army camp at Ft. Riley Kansas. Whatever its name, that particular strain of flu killed an estimated 50 million worldwide. 

LEFT ALONE, the 3 million cubic yards of concrete in the Hoover Dam would have taken until the year 2061 to “cure” or cool. Engineers sped up the process by threading 600 miles of steel pipe throughout the dam’s interior and pumping cold water through the pipes to carry off the heat. The water in the pipes was cooled  by 1,000-pound blocks of ice produced daily at the ammonia-refrigeration plant built at the site for that purpose. 

WHAT’S IN A NAME, PART II, When young Robert Zimmerman determined to escape his environment in Hibbing, Minnesota, his first choice was the US Military Academy at West Point. On the advice of his high school guidance counselor, he tore up his application to The Point, and decided to concentrate instead on his primary interest, music. He also changed his last name to Dylan.

IDEAL VS REAL, the purported ideal measurements for an American woman of 36-24-36 is almost laughable compared to reality. Averages for women in the US: Height - 5 foot 3; weight - 170 pounds; waist - 38.7 inches;  pant size - large or extra large; dress size - 18 to 20. Women’s waist size remains fairly constant throughout life, at 37.1 inches for mid-20s and 38.9 for over 60.

CORN produces the most calories per acre planted, and soy beans provide the most protein, but the most efficient crop is the lowly sugar beet.  

MOST EXPENSIVE ticket on the Titanic was $2,560 for a first class suite - about $61,000 in today’s dollars. Third class was as little as $15, or $350 today. Of the 12 dogs on board the ship, only three survived -  two Pomeranians and a Pekinese. A rat-catcher cat named Jenny went down with the ship. 

OF THE 58,148 men who died in Vietnam, five were just 16 years old. The oldest was 62. Ninety-seven percent of Vietnam veterans were honorably discharged; 91percent said they are glad they served, and 74 percent say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome.

INTERESTING HOLIDAYS THIS MONTH: March 15 - Everything You Know Is Wrong Day; 16th - Everything You Do Is Right Day; 18th - Goddess of Fertility Day; 19th - Poultry Day. Enjoy.

Bill Bouldin, a Virginian by birth and a Son of Texas by nature, is a former Air Force pilot and veteran journalist who has spent many tale-weaving years on the Texas-Mexico border.

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