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Tuesday, February 14, 2017


It was just about a century ago that Robert Ripley founded the BELIEVE IT OR NOT (BION!)! franchise.  STRANGE AS IT SEEMS (SAIS), created by John Hix, came a decade later.  They were competing options in your daily newspaper, and showed up on radio and TV programs, plus a range of books.  But that was so long ago that most of you only vaguely remember them.

The Amazing Mr. Ripley:
  • during his prime received a million letters/year
  • personally traveled to 201 countries to gather his oddities, and collected 25,000 items
  • built seven Odditoriums, usually at world fairs
  • pioneered live radio broadcasting
  • was U.S. handball champ in 1925
  • voted most popular man in American in 1936
  • passed away in 1949 at the age of 55
  • was responsible for the eventual opening of 33 Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museums
    • two-headed calf
    • albino blue-eyed alligator
    • Chinese shrunken head
    • Mexican Vampire Woman

SAIS and BION were somewhat similar, and provided oddities and surprises of interest to some.  Oh, about that black flamingo, here is a photo:

The condition is known as melanism, where the bird produces more melanin.  Two years earlier, in 2013, a black flamingo was seen in Israel:

It's possible this was the same bird.  Makes sense, for I once flew from Cyprus to Israel, a distance slightly longer than 250 miles.

Here is the best I could do today.  I was reading the 13 February 2017 issue of TIME and learned that the Hispanic population of California surged past Whites in 2015:  39% to 38%

According to The Huffington Post, New Mexico has the largest percentage of Latinos, with California #2.  Hawaii, Texas and Washington DC also show white minorities.

Who is #1 in car sales?  You must recall that Volkswagen has recently been having all kinds of scandal problems.  Well, last year, they nevertheless became #1 by selling 10.3 million cars.  Toyota's four-year reign at the top ended.  General Motors was #1 for seven decades until surpassed by Toyota in 2008.  Because of China, GM almost caught up with V and T with 10 million.

Last year, Trick, a border collie, was #1 at the 140th Westminster Dog Show.  The best in show for the 141st will be announced today.

However, for the first time, cats were invited to be displayed during the "Meet the Breeds" segment.  Not exactly earth-shaking as a news item, but the first time in 141 years deserves some notice.

In 2015 there were 98 shark attacks on humans.  This past year, only 81, with the U.S. having 53 and Australia 15.  The number of us killed by this ferocious marine predator wavers around 15/year.  In turn, we kill anywhere between 63 million and 273 million sharks each year, an average of 11,417 sharks/hour.  Even worse, I guess, we eat 56 billion farm animals/year, mostly chicken.  Cows, including bulls, though, actually kill 22 Americans/year, more than sharks.  Fish and shellfish?  We consume around 71 billion/year.  Life is unfair.

Enjoy classical music?  You no doubt listen to your public radio FM station, for AM stations are just not good enough.  Norway will tune out FM this year, switching to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), supposedly because the sound quality is even better and cost was mentioned as a factor.  This was not a popular decision, as two-thirds of Norwegians did not like this.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average today rose up to 20,504, once again breaking its all-time record:

Haven't seen a serious ocean storm in many weeks, so I feel compelled to report Tropical Storm Dineo popped up between Madagascar and Africa, will become a cyclone, and roll into Mozambique:


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