Things I knew and things I didn’t know

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The Week published a booklet, “All you need to know about everything that matters.” Some of the things listed I already knew, the others I did not know. Categorized below are some of the included entries.

First are those I already knew.

– The American family is falling apart (Salt Lake City Deseret News). The percentage of adults who are married has declined substantially in the decades since 1960, and the number of children being born to unmarried females has increased dramatically. This, despite the fact that ample research shows that the health and well-being of children depends on having stable, married parents.

– Young men are less inclined to go to the altar than ever before. The no. 1 reason men give for not marrying is that sex is available without marriage. They share the philosophy of young Elvis Presley when he was single. Asked if he would marry, he replied, “Why buy a cow when you can get milk through the fence?” (Time, 1956)

– Norway says it will defy a ban on commercial whaling. (I did not know that it plans to export 15 tons of minke whale meat, most of it to Iceland.)

– Chronic wasting disease, also called “mad deer disease,” is infecting wildlife in at least eight midwestern and western states. Whether it can be contracted by humans is not known, but the deaths of five people who have succumbed to an unusual brain-wasting illness called Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease are concerning medical authorities. Three of the five regularly ate venison or elk.

– Women are better liars than men. I learned this from my many years as a college teacher. Coeds could tell me a fib and convince me they were telling the truth. Boys seldom could. It may be because women are more fluent than men.

– Women can remember marital spats much longer than men, as almost every married man will readily attest.

– I knew that someone was, or had been, offering to sell property on the moon. I did not know that moon property could still be purchased. It can, for $27 per acre. A California company, The Lunar Embassy, reports having sold moon real estate to more than 300,000 people. “There’s a sucker born every minute,” is a remark allegedly made by P.T. Barnum, but it’s questionable if he ever said it. Whoever did utter the phrase underestimated the number of suckers being born.

* * *

Following are things I learned for the first time.

– Britain’s Prince William and his newly wedded wife, Kate Middleton, who was recently photographed with her breasts exposed, had been “shacking up” for eight months prior to their marriage, reportedly with Queen Elizabeth’s quiet approval.

– A drug, Donepezil, given to people with Alzheimer’s, apparently can help improve the memory of people who don’t have the disease but whose memory has been impaired by normal aging. If it does what it’s believed to do, I’ll be among the first to try it.

– Falling coconuts kill 150 people throughout the world every year – 10 times the number killed by sharks.

– Caffeine reportedly reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s. People who drank three or four cups of coffee per day, beginning at age 25, were 60 percent less likely to develop the disease than those who drank one or fewer cups per day. This, according to medical research scientists in Lisbon, Portugal. I’ll have a refill, please.

– Solid dark chocolate is an antioxidant, and like red wine and blueberries, it helps defend against air pollution, smoking, and ultraviolet radiation. Only tea has more antioxidant power.

– Climate change is causing premature blooming of plants in England, with flowering dates five to 15 days earlier than usual, and some are blooming 55 days earlier.

– The New York Times cites a study revealing that bees are at least or more sensitive than dogs to odors and can easily be trained to recognize the smell of explosives. Trained bees, using sugar-water as a reward, located explosives in 99 percent of the tests. One of the Pentagon’s plans is to place hives of trained bees near security checkpoints, and if they detected explosives, would swarm toward them, alerting authorities.

– Italian women are complaining that the Italian men are becoming increasingly less interested in engaging in sex. Reportedly, some young men, nearly 20 percent, have no sex life at all and don’t seem to miss it. Some experts say they are too busy working and going to the gym to have any energy left to make love.

– America’s most popular soft drink, Coca-Cola, was first bottled not in Atlanta, but in Vicksburg, Miss.

Bob Mount is a Professor Emeritus with the Dept of Zoology and Entomology, Auburn Univ. He is also chairman of the Opelika Order of Geezers, well-known local think tank and political clearing house.

He writes about birds, snakes, turtles, bugs and assorted conservation topics.

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