Reformer creates moral map

mullet over

– The Battle of Midway (June 4-7, 1942) is deemed by some historians to be the greatest victory in the history of the U.S. Navy. Strategy, skill, ordnance deployment, code deciphering, timing and luck were all factors that led to battle success for our fleet just 6 months after being pummeled at Pearl Harbor.

– By decree, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is also the chancellor of the Smithsonian Institution. John Roberts has occupied the chancellor’s office since 2005.

– Most mammals are born toothless. Typically the young later develop baby (deciduous) teeth. As the immature grow, they acquire “permanent” teeth. Humans and apes have 32 teeth at maturity. Cats have 30, dogs 42, giant armadillos 100 and the spinner dolphin can grin while displaying more than 250 dientes.

– In 1880’s London, a “reformer” named Charles Booth created a moral map for his city. Neighborhoods and even individual homes were color-coded according to the family incomes of occupants therein. Yellow represented wealthy while black coloring indicated the poorest and most untrustworthy folks including the vicious and thieving classes. Taking the Booth charts quite seriously, banks and other “reputable” lending institutions “red lined” particular districts and generally refused to make loans to anyone residing in tainted regions.

– I recently heard the claim that there existed a species of rattlesnake native to Alaska. I incredulously investigated and found the statement to be false. The only serpent native to any part of Alaska is the nonpoisonous garter snake. The 12 to 16 inch creature eats polar bears and blue whales. I made that up for purposes of entertainment. They never eat polar bears.

– The VR (Virtual Reality) world is achieving some amazing feats. In the July/August issue of a national science magazine, it has been announced the VR gurus have crafted devices that mimic food tastes. A person can have his/her taste receptors stimulated to offer sensations (vibrations & electric signals) that make one seem to be eating ice cream or steaks or whatever while never ingesting a single calorie. I did not make this up.

– In 13th century China, a detective that would make Columbo beam with pride solved a murder case by employing exceptional cerebral activity. A field worker was killed with a sickle. There were many workers and no one confessed or stepped forward as a witness. All the workers were lined up and were required to place their harvesting tools on the ground before them. Only one of the sickles attracted blowflies. Blowflies were known to seek out even small amounts of blood. Have a great week.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at