Mullet Over

Spirited debates amongst dog lovers

By James K. White | October 28, 2009

james k whiteThere are more than three hundred recognized breeds of dogs and at least 146 of those varieties are the results of deliberate cross-breeding efforts guided by humans. Determining the particular type of canine that is the most intelligent or the most lovable can generate spirited debates amongst dog lovers.

In 1747 (I was but a lad) a German chemist (Marggraf) determined that the sugar in sugar beets was identical to the sugar in sugarcane. Marggraf’s revelation triggered the production of large quantities of sugar from climes that had been labeled as too far north for growing sugarcane. It is estimated that the average American annually consumes about 61 pounds of refined sugar. That quantity seems incredible – more than one pound per week.

One hundred twenty-six years after the Homestead Act was signed (Lincoln) in 1862, Alaskan Ken Deardorff became the very last official homesteader. In 1854 a clever man in Connecticut named Daniel Halladay invented a wind-powered water pump that became known as “the windmill.” This device was used by many thousands of homesteaders across America.

Thomas Jefferson is thought to have popularized spaghetti in America. He apparently developed a taste for the pasta during his months spent in Paris.

I have marveled at some of the rapids along the mighty Colorado River in our Grand Canyon. It is easier to comprehend the ferocity of the rushing waters when one is informed that the river descends almost 2000 feet while in the canyon.

In 2007 China’s economy attained the rank of number three in the world. China trails only the USA and Japan and its markets are expanding rapidly.

In New Zealand there was once a unique bird called the laughing owl. The bird had a cry described as “dismal shrieking” or “small dogs yelping.” Introduced predators, especially cats, as well as the loss of food sources led to the demise of the species. The last confirmed sighting of a live laughing owl was in 1914. There have been occasional unconfirmed sightings as late as 1977, but the feathered creature is assumed to be extinct. Specimens preserved in the 1840’s are in British museums. These preserved birds might one day be used with advanced DNA technology to reintroduce the laughing owl, but such an accomplishment is currently only a dream.

Well, do be cautious when rafting down the Colorado and I hope to see you next week.

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

GBA banner

Old Butch

John was in the fertilized egg business. He had several hundred young layers (hens), called ‘pullets,’ and ten roosters to fertilize the eggs. He kept records, and any rooster not performing went into the soup pot and was replaced. This took a lot of time, so he bought some tiny bells and attached them to his roosters. Each bell had a different tone, so he could tell from a distance, which rooster was performing. Now, he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report by just listening to the bells.

John’s favorite rooster, old Butch, was a very fine specimen, but this morning he noticed old Butch’s bell hadn’t rung at all! When he went to investigate, he saw the other roosters were busy chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing, but the pullets, hearing the roosters coming, could run for cover. To John’s amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn’t ring. He’d sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one.

John was so proud of old Butch, he entered him in the Renfrew County Fair and he became an overnight sensation among the judges. The result was the judges not only awarded old Butch the No Bell Piece Prize but they also awarded him the Pullet Surprise as well.

Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making. Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most highly coveted awards on our planet by being the best at
sneaking up on the populace and screwing them when they weren’t paying attention. Vote carefully next year, the bells are not always audible.