Bill Bouldin

Bill Bouldin

RENOWN AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHT Tennessee Williams died in a New York City hotel room on Feb. 25, 1983. Cause of death – asphyxiation brought on by a bottle cap lodged in his windpipe.

The bottle cap was described as a plastic screw-on cap of the type usually seen with nose sprays or eye solutions. Williams, author of such classics as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire, was an inveterate hypochondriac as well as a drug abuser and alcoholic. All sorts of plastic dispensers were found in his room. The autopsy ruling was accidental death. He was 71.

COUNTING THE NUMBER of people killed each year, the crown goes to the mosquito, by a wide margin. Humans come in second, followed in order by snakes, dogs, tsetse flies, assassin bugs, freshwater snails, roundworms, tapeworms, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, lions, elephants, wolves and sharks. Yet, we celebrate shark week on TV every summer, but never tapeworm week or freshwater snail week. Why is that?

SEVERAL CHINESE CITIES maintain a Strategic Pork Reserve, a stock of frozen pork that can be tapped to stabilize prices and maintain supply levels. As the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork, pigs loom large in Chinese culture.

For instance, the Mandarin word for meat is the same as that for pork, the Chinese ideograph for family is a pig under a roof, half of all the pigs in the world are rooting around somewhere in China right now and recent discoveries indicate the animal was first domesticated in what is now China at the very dawn of civilization 10,000 years ago. And what Chinese take-out order would be complete without sweet ‘n’ sour pork and pork fried rice?

IT IS THE HAGUE CONVENTION, not the Geneva Convention that outlaws the use of expanding bullets in warfare. Expanding bullets mushroom to several times their original diameter on entry, causing massive tissue loss and hemorrhage. They are used almost exclusively for hunting.

Military bullets are typically encased in a metal sheath that prevents deformity or expansion on entry. That’s where we get the term “full metal jacket.”

The claim made by at least one Democrat presidential candidate that bullets fired by military weapons are designed to tear up as much flesh as possible is simply untrue. The same can be said of his claim that military weapons are designed to wound rather than kill because a wounding takes at least two combatants off the field. That is not just untrue, it is downright silly.

MORE THAN 99.9 PERCENT of all animal species that have ever lived on earth were extinct before the coming of man.

THREE OUT OF FOUR of those who claim to have served in Vietnam, in fact did not. Department of Defense index of military personnel with Vietnam service list 2.7 million men and women. Census figures of Americans claiming Vietnam service were reported as 13.8 million. Hence, the discrepancy.

CROCODILES AND ALLIGATORS can neither chew nor move their tongue. They swallow their food whole and depend on their highly corrosive digestive juices to liquefy their stomach contents. It is said their digestive juices can dissolve a 20 penny nail.

CLAIM IS MADE that a person retains consciousness 15 to 20 seconds after decapitation. That strikes me as an uncommonly long time, and I would be interested in seeing the documentation for that claim.

NOT EVERYONE knows pubic wigs actually exist, much less that they are called merkins. They were first used in the 15th century to disguise hair loss as a result of disease, but have recently seen a revival of interest in the film industry. In fact, director Stanley Kubrick named the U.S. president Merkin Muffley in his movie Dr. Strangelove.

INTERESTING HOLIDAYS THIS WEEK: Oct. 7 - Bald and Free Day (hallelujah), 9th - Moldy Cheese Day; 11th - It’s My Party 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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