Odds and Ends

Dear Editor,

May 18, 2021

The Colonial Pipeline disaster has focused attention on a formidable problem. In 2020 alone the U.S. paid out $350 million for ransomware attacks (TIME, May 24-31, 21) In 1797 the U.S. was paying one-fifth of its budget in tribute to the Mediterranean pirates, but President Jefferson sent the Marines “to the shores of Tripoli” and they put an end to that abominable tradition. Unfortunately, the current problem is more convoluted.

Pound for pound human bones are stronger than steel. (R.D., June, 21)

Among our country’s most infamous crimes is the Valentine’s Day massacre of 1929. Seven members of the northside gang were lined up against a wall by an Al Capone gang dressed as police officers and gunned down. Those were Prohibition days and the assailants were never identified (Wik) Chicago streets are not much safer today, if I may say so.

The ancestors of dragonflies had two-foot wingspans. Alaska has about 30 species of this chief enemy of the mosquito. One was seen grappling with a hummingbird. (“Alaska,” Feb.,20)

In 1927 when Henry Ford began production of the Model-A, he conceived the idea of a factory town deep in the Amazon adjacent to his own rubber plantation. It would produce up to 2 million tires a year. He could turn the backward natives into modern productive citizens. For various reasons his idea never reached fruition. To reach his city of Fordlandia one has to fly to the city of Manaus, which once boasted its own opera house, go a short distance on the big river and turn up a tributary. About 2,000 Brazilians still live among the ruins.

One of the stars of Hitler’s 1936 Olympics was Jesse Owens, son of a black sharecropper. Owens, winner of four gold medals in track and field, thus helped crush the myth of Aryan superiority. Like Joe Louis, he was never invited to the White House. ESPN considers him one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. (Wik)

Robert Hall