Odds and Ends

Jan. 1, 2022

With regard to the recent controversy over Crimea, I ask your indulgence while I play the role of devil’s advocate. Sevastopol, the main city, has for centuries served as the base for the Russian Black Sea fleet. Further, most of the people speak Russian at home. So Putin had some legitimacy when he occupied it. In WWII Hitler brought in an enormous railroad that took nearly 300 days to produce, thus giving it heroic status.

One would have to live in the dark recesses of the Amazon or the Congo to escape the bombardment of messages regarding enhanced Medicare benefits for 12 million Americans.

In August 1961, Jaqueline Cochran set a U.S> speed record of 653 mph in a 738-Talon soon eclipsed by French pilot Jaqueline Auriol. As the U.S. pilot became friends with Chuck Yeager, she set more records with the T-38. Her best flight came at the age of 58 in an F-104 Starfish when she reached 1,429 mph, setting a new record for female pilots. (“Smithsonian” mag. Dec.,21)

In the U.S. the pet industry is worth about a billion dollars a year. The average owner spent about $127 on each animal on Christmas. (Chan. 4, 11-27) I’ve owned both cats and dogs and it seems that most dogs are usually trainable but cats prefer to train their owners.

The earliest fossil bat found has been traced back to the Eocene, 95 million years after the first bird flew in the Jurassic Age. And long after the first flying reptiles had vanished. Teeth and skulls of fossil bats are like those of early monkeys suggesting common ancestors. An anonymous writer is inclined to believe they may be among our earliest relations. — maybe that’s why some people are called “batty.”(“The Gray Wolf Annual” by Ed Walker)

Hart Island is like N.Y. City’s graveyard. It is located just east of the Bronx. In the last 150 years more than a million people who lived on the edge—paupers, the sick, etc., have been buried there. The pandemics increased their numbers considerably. Some are buried there to be exhumed and buried elsewhere when they are identified. (TIME, 11-30/12-7, 20)

ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, has become more controversial in recent years. It is located just north of the Brooks Range, where the tundra meets the Beaufort Sea. Arctic Village is the epicenter of the Porcupine caribou herd’s 3,000-mile range. About 200,000 caribou meet here every year to give birth to their calves. The Gwich’in, who live there, depend on the herd for most of their needs and fear that oil and gas exploration are an existential threat.(“Smithsonian,” Dec., 21)

Aug. 30, 21, was the end of leaded gas use in the world after a gas station in Algeria, believed to be the last place on earth offering the fuel, was sold out. (TIME, Dec. 27-21/Jan. 2, 22)

Robert Hall