YOUR LIST of animals who mate for life is incomplete if it does not include termites. Several species of that wood-eating pest have a queen who forms a lifelong bond with a solitary male who fertilizes all the eggs the queen produces. A typical colony of these termites consists entirely of brothers and sisters – tens of thousands of brothers and sisters
AT SIX YEARS OLD, longhorn bull Pancho Via carries the widest set of horns ever measured by the Guinness organization. Measuring 10 feet, 7.4 inches tip-to-tip, Pancho’s horns are twice as wide as a concert grand piano. His age is important, because the horns of earlier record holders continued to grow until they were 12-15 years old. Pancho is the pet of a farming family in Goodwater, Alabama, who think he’s capable of 11 feet, at least.
IF THE RUSSIAN SUBMARINE that caught fire this week was intent on disrupting the internet by cutting the undersea cables, it had a job of work ahead of it. There are more than 350 fiber optic internet cables on the seafloor, amounting to more than half a million miles of line. Finding the cables would be a chore, too, because most are no thicker than a garden hose.
THE TRAFFIC JAM on China’s National Highway 110 that began August 13, 2010, stretched for 62 miles and persisted for two weeks. Motorists reported days of making no more than half a mile progress while being preyed upon by roadside vendors selling gas, water, cigarettes and instant noodles for a king’s ransom. The problem began when the Chinese government shunted half of a major railroad’s coal shipments to that highway at exactly the same time half the roadway was closed for maintenance and construction. The jam was exacerbated by truckers who chose to use that highway to avoid regulatory inspections on other routes.
STEPHEN FOSTER, author of such quintessentially Old South songs as Camptown Races, My Old Kentucky Home, Old Black Joe, Swanee, Beautiful Dreamer and Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair, never lived in the South, and visited it only once during his 1852 honeymoon. He did all his work while living in Pennsylvania and New York. He died in Belleview Hospital in 1864 after an accidental cut to his throat. His entire personal effects at death consisted of a Civil War scrip for 38 cents, three pennies and a scrap of paper with the words “dear friends and gentle hearts.”
BEFORE 1862, American soldiers, sailors and marines were not recognized for individual acts of valor or conspicuous gallantry under fire. In that year, the Navy and later the Army petitioned Congress for authority to issue a medal in recognition of bravery in the face of the enemy. The medal that was authorized became the Medal of Honor, sometimes incorrectly called the Congressional Medal of Honor. Currently, 3,524 Medals of Honor have been issued to 3,504 men and one woman, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, for her exemplary service as a surgeon during the Civil War. MoH recipients are entitled to a monthly pension of $1,329.58 (currently), automatic enrollment of their children in the nation’s service academies and burial in Arlington Cemetery. Medals for less conspicuous acts of bravery would have to wait until 1919, when what would become the Silver Star was authorized.
DHAUTI, or intestinal cleansing, is an arcane form of yoga seldom practiced outside of India. In its simplest expression, it involves the forceful intake of air or water to physically flush the small and large intestine. A more intense form involves the ingestion of a long, thin cloth that is used to scrub the intestines. It’s most extreme form requires the yogi to stand in waist deep water and expel its own rectum, which is then hand-washed in the water before being re-inserted into the body. Even the yoga masters view this practice with a jaundiced eye. Says one “This practice seems a little excessive for people with less time on their hands.”
THE TIN LIZZIE, or Ford Model T, first rolled off the line in 1908 and was the 20th of Henry Ford’s designs. When the follow-on design was introduced in 1928 it was not designated the Model U as you might expect. It was called the Model A, because Henry Ford thought it was so good, it was like starting over. Thus, the Model T preceded the Model A.
INTERESTING HOLIDAYS THIS WEEK: July 7 - Build A Scarecrow Day; 11th - Cheer Up The Lonely Day; 12th - Pecan Pie Day (HINT HINT). Enjoy.