Cumberland Times-News

Maude McDaniel - Living

June 18, 2011

It’s amazing, what you learn by reading

Desperate for something to write about this week, I came across some old newspaper articles paperclipped together under the words, “What you can learn about the world without looking anything up.” And there they were — the answer to my despair.. (Yes, believe it or not, sometimes I do sweat over what in the world I’m going to come up with next for this 32-year old public record of my brainstorms. And you thought all this running off at the mouth just came naturally?)

Here are some facts of life out of clippings I have saved from as far back as 1995, confident that there would be a time when both of you would be ready to find them useful. I can’t vouch for them with you; all I know is that there was a time (when I read them) that I said to myself, “Hmmmmmmmmm.”

I hope you will both agree.

The hawksbill sea turtle forages near rocks or reefs in clear tropical shallows and it is particularly fond of sponges. Its absolute favorite kinds have hard silica spines on them that other animals leave strictly alone, and I would too. However, the hawksbill easily digests them, with the result that its feces appear close to the consistency of solid glass. Ouch. (National Geographic)

I have never been a particular fan of dinosaurs except in theory. (Dogs make better pets). Still, I found it interesting that there has apparently been some uncertainty about just how vicious a predator Tyranosurus Rex was, with some experts suspecting that he was acually maybe a bit of a pussycat in spite of his looks.     

Recent dental tests have strengthened that possibility by estimating the forces required to produce the bites found on unfortunate Triceratops’ bones. Using metal replicas of T. Rex teeth to munch on cow bones, scientists found that the mighty dinosaur bit no more forcefully than American alligators in our very own time. (They’re measured in newtons, not the fig ones, or Isaac either.). T.Rex come out at between 6,410 and 13,400 newtons. Contemporary American alligators can bite with a force of 13,300 newtons. Somehow, considering their larger size and appearance, not to mention their alleged roar and all, you kind of expect more from T. Rex.     

Humans? We can bite with a force of 749 newtons.  Dogs, surprisingly less, about 550 at their best. Lions, 4,168. (Washington Post)

You’ve heard of perfect pitch? That’s the ability to hear a tone and name it by its note. Not all musicians have it, but the ones who do have significantly larger left-brain regions called planum temporales. I just knew you wanted to know about that. (Washington Post)

Do you have any idea how much the earth weighs? The latest estimate: slightly down from the last official estimate: 5,972 000,000,000,000,000,000 metric tons. The original estimate was 5,978 000,000,000,000,000,000 metric tons. I would assume this includes the people on the planet so maybe  recent weight-loss campaigns are beginning to have some effect. No one can be absolutely sure about all this, of course, and I believe they are still looking for a scale that is big enough to do the job right. (Cumberland Times-News)

You win some, you lose some, that is, if you’re a horse. It seems that horses with white coats, while much prized among humans, are more susceptible to skin cancer and vision ailments than horses with brown or black coats. But then there’s the good side: blood-sucking beasties like flies, ticks, and other such bugs detect their prey by seeking out the polarized light reflected from the hair of their victims. And white hair reflects light differently than dark hair, more or less protecting the animal from the attacks of such predators — well, anyway, I guess, as long as Black Beauty’s around the farm. (Smithsonian)

Getting back to the brain; here’s a tip that might change your life — or your spouse’s. Did you know that the human brain processes emotions asymetrically? The left hemisphere of the brain, which is fed into by the right ear, specializes in positive feelings and “approach behavior,” while the right side of the brain is more susceptible to negative feelings and avoidance — and gets its messages from outside through the left ear. (Folks, I only know what I read.)            

Now try that paragraph over again and see if you can come to the same conclusion as the scientists did, in an Italian study recently. They found that if you ask your spouse in the right ear to do something, he/she is more likely to do it without as much fuss and bother, than if you ask him/her in the left ear.

Folks, would somebody please tell this to President Obama before he goes abroad to meet the big shots next time? This could well change the world that we live in.

Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on alternate Sundays in the Times-News.

Text Only
Maude McDaniel - Living
  • Rusty writes about the nature of doghood

    I am a dog.
    Therefore I bark.
    I don’t understand why it is so hard for humans to understand this.
    I mean, there are certain things that come with the territory, right?

    April 5, 2014

  • Free-range reminiscing and occasional nostalgia

    When I was in grade school, (many more years ago than when either of you were in grade school) my daily winter (fall, spring) routine included walking to school across a railroad track.

    March 22, 2014

  • Beatles return us to what might have been

    Here’s a a free gift from Goldy (to your left), and it should get us going with a good laugh, that both my readers will approve of. Then, after that (fair warning) I am going to turn a little sour.

    March 8, 2014

  • What’s missing in TV cooking shows? Lots

    As if badmouthing cupcakes isn’t bad enough — I have to go on and say this: I think the plates of food that are winning so many of the prizes on the Food Channel are well — boring.

    February 22, 2014

  • Only one person doesn’t like cupcakes

    Cupcake-wise, the last four or five years have ballooned into a huge plus for almost any bakery that attempts them. (Not to mention the ballooning of many of the individuals involved.) You could call cupcakes the up-cakes of our time. Well, you could, but I guess only I would, and even then only in a column on a very good day, when everything else was go!

    February 8, 2014

  • Some of us are ‘privy’ to certain information

    Outhouses used to be an object of fascination for me. (and in fact I wrote a column about them in 2007. Since we have all forgotten that, I decided to write another one this week.

    January 25, 2014

  • Just the right thing for very cold weather

    Beginning the new year with a tasty recipe always seemed like a good idea to me. Unfortunately, in this day and age, it should be a healthy recipe, and I’m a little short of those. It turns out that the period I learned to cook in (the 40s and 50s) was not noted for its general nutritional values. Although, of course, we thought we were pretty much on course there. Later, the next generation informed us that we were way off track and what did we mean by raising them in such unwholesome habits. (Foodwise, I mean. They arrived at certain other unwholesome habits on their own.)

    January 12, 2014

  • Who thinks these things up, anyway?

    Here are some of the best jokes (of the email world) in 2013. Have a Happy New Year, as I plan to!

    December 28, 2013

  • How do we compare with rest of the U.S.?

    I recently purchased “The World Almanac 2014,” reviewing events of this year, energy, government, science and technology, past and present celebrities, U.S. and world history, nations of the world and sports.

    December 14, 2013

  • Old houses and furnaces and a different world

    Nine houses and four dorms. That’s how many places I have lived in my lifetime, and I remember each of them, well, not vividly but with great fondness. Not a one of them was a bad experience, in fact, good things happened at each place. (Bad things too, but that’s life.)

    November 30, 2013

Latest news
Must Read
House Ads