Letter to the Editor: What Has Become of Our Nation?

Election 2012: Knowing Importance of Constitutional CongressLetter to Tawa City newspaper editor from a concerned citizen:

Election 2012 - Tax Reform Not Campaign Issue, AgainHas America become the land of the special interest and home of the double standard?

Let’s see: if we lie to the Congress, it’s a felony and if congress lies to us its just politics; if we dislike a black person, we’re racist and if a black dislikes whites, it’s their 1st Amendment right; the government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals and they do almost nothing for the victims; in public schools you can teach that homosexuality is OK, but you better not use the word GOD in the process; you can kill an unborn child, but its wrong to execute a mass murderer; we don’t burn books in America, we now rewrite them; we got rid of the communist and socialist threat by renaming them progressives; we are unable to close our border with Mexico, but have no problem protecting the 38th parallel in Korea; if you protest against President Obama’s policies you’re a terrorist, but if you burned an American flag or George Bush in effigy it was your 1st Amendment right.

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Light Side of Lighthouse: Kids Say the Darndest Things

HM, Illinois sends her contribution to the Light Side
A little boy opened the big family bible. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out of the Bible. He picked up the object and looked at it. What he saw was an old leaf that had been pressed in between the pages
“Mama, look what I found,” the boy called out. “What have you got there, dear?”
With astonishment in the young boy’s voice, he answered, “I think it’s Adam’s underwear.”

Trivia 101: November 2010

Trivia from Joan B., Illinois:
1. A rat can last longer without water than a camel. 
2. Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks or it will digest itself.
3. The dot over the letter “i” is called a tittle.
4. A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.

5. A female ferret will die if it goes into heat and cannot find a mate.
6. A duck’s quack doesn’t echo. No one knows why.
7. A 2 X 4 is really 1-1/2″ by 3-1/2″.
8. During the chariot scene in “Ben Hur,” a small red car can be seen in the distance (and Heston’s wearing a watch).
9. On average, 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents daily!
10. Donald Duck comics were banned from Finland because he doesn’t wear pants.
11. Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II were made of wood.
12. The number of possible ways of playing the first four moves per side in a game of chess is 318,979,564,000.
13. There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with orange, purple and silver.
14. The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan. There was never a recorded Wendy before.
15. The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin in World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.
16. If one places a tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion, it will instantly go mad and sting itself to death.
17. Bruce Lee was so fast that they actually had to s-l-o-w film down so you could see his moves. That’s the opposite of the norm.
18. The first CD pressed in the US was Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born in the USA.”
19. The original name for butterfly was flutterby.
20. The phrase “rule of thumb” is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn’t beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
21. The first product Motorola started to develop was a record player for automobiles. At that time, the most known player on the market was Victrola, so they called themselves Motorola.
22. Roses may be red, but violets are indeed violet.
23. By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you cannot sink into quicksand.
24. Celery has negative calories. It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with.
25. Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
26. Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.
27. Sherlock Holmes NEVER said, “Elementary, my dear Watson.”
28. An old law in Bellingham, Washington, made it illegal for a woman to take more than three steps backwards while dancing.
29. The glue on Israeli postage is certified kosher.
30. The Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from public libraries.
31. Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans before they go into space because passing wind in a spacesuit damages them.
32. Bats always turn left when exiting a cave.

Myth Blaster: Old Hoax Back – Two Moons

Kritter Girl sent this recirculated chain email:

Planet Mars will be the brightest in the night sky starting August. It will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. This will cultivate on Aug. 27 when Mars comes within 34.65M miles off earth. Be sure to watch the sky on Aug. 27 12:30 am. It will look like the earth has 2 moons.

MYTH BLASTER VERDICT:
FALSE – then and still is.
This is probably the shortest Myth Blaster entry since its conception!

Myth Blaster: The Case of the the Toxic Pancakes

Tara M, Wisconsin sent an email and suggested that this makes a good notation for Myth Blaster …

BerryPancakeI recently made a batch of pancakes for my healthy 14-year-old son, using a mix that was in our pantry. He said that they tasted “funny”, but ate them anyway. About 10 minutes later, he began having difficulty breathing and his lips began turning purple. I gave him his allergy pill, had him sit on the sofa and told him to relax. He was wheezing while inhaling and exhaling. My husband, a volunteer Firefighter and EMT, heated up some water, and we had my son lean over the water so the steam could clear his chest and sinuses. Soon, he breathing became more regular and his lips returned to a more normal color. We checked the date on the box of pancake mix and, to my dismay, found it was very outdated. As a reference librarian at an academic institution, I have the ability to search through many research databases. I did just that, and found an article the next day that mentioned a 19-year-old male dying after eating pancakes made with outdated mix. Apparently, the mold that forms in old pancake mix can be toxic! When we told our friends about son’s close call, we were surprised at the number of people who mentioned that they should check their own pancake mix since they don’t use it often, or they had purchased it some time ago. With so many people shopping at warehouse-type stores and buying large sizes of pancake mix, I hope your readers will take the time to check the expiration date on their boxes. Also, beware of outdated Bisquick, cake, brownie and cookie mixes.



The email then references the following source: http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/pancake.asp
The email didn’t mention that this story originated in a Dear Abby column in an April 2006 submitted by Sue in Wantskill,[sic] N.Y. Abby’s reply:
Thank you for the warning. I certainly wasn’t aware that pancake mix could turn moldy and cause an allergic reaction in someone with an allergy to mold – but it’s logical. I wonder if the same holds true for cake mix, brownie mix and cookie mix. If so, then a warning should be placed on the box for people like me. …
And, of course, the email sent to Tara had a Snopes (Urban Legends) link, which reads, in part:

… There is truth in this tale. Yet its inherent warning is overblown.
While we cannot vet the incident described by “Sue in Wyantskill”
 [sic] involving her 14-year-old son, the underlying claim is demonstrably true …
In 2001, two pathologists practicing in Charleston, South Carolina, reported an unnamed 19-year-old who died in such a manner. … The cause of his death was determined to be anaphylaxis due to an allergic reaction to molds. … The pancake mix that delivered a toxic payload was analyzed and found to contain four rather nasty molds: Penicillium, Fusarium, Mucor, and Aspergillus. …
It needs to be kept in mind there is noting inherently toxic about pancake mix that has passed its freshness date, the product’s getting old does not transform it into a poison, nor does the growth of mold within opened boxes of flapjack powder turn it into something that will fell all who ingest it. Only those who have allergies to mold are at risk, and even then, for the pancake mix to pose a hazard it has to contain mold spores, not just be over the hill. For mold to gain access to a food product, the foodstuff has to be exposed to its spores. Pancake mix cocooned in an unbleached wax paper, plastic, or a foil pouch within its outer packaging wouldn’t have this contact and should still be safe no matter how old it gets. However, mix sold unpouched in cardboard boxes, or paper sacks would likely be at risk even if the box or sack hadn’t been previously been opened, because such packaging would not necessarily keep dampness out, and mold thrives in damp environments.
What does all this mean? If you don’t have a mold allergy, you needn’t fear your pancake mix; if you do have such sensitivity, you shouldn’t keep your flapjack makings around for a few years opening the box or pouch it came in. …

Myth Blaster Verdict
Of course, I agree with Snopes findings and add that there are many food pouches and packets that the military and civil defense folks use in case of some kind of emergency and they all recommend to replace them if the package is damaged and if they expiration date has come and gone. In all my born days I have never heard of anyone keeping an opened box of pancake mix (or any other type of mix) sitting in their pantry for years, or even months. And those that are in to keeping an emergency food supply for survival reasons et cetera, rotate their stock by using and replacing the emergency supply just before the expiration date arrives.
And the gist of what Snopes writes is that one should use caution, but do not become panicked over the tale of the 14-year-old and the verified story of the 19-year-old with allergies. Just with many things – use common sense. There is truth to it, but some email embellishes upon the original causing the situation to become “overblown”.
Thanks Tara for this submission.

Myth Blaster: Case of the Shoplifting Seagull

This Myth Blaster is brought about by an e-mail sent to Kritter Girl who received it from Diane S., Wisconsin and who received if from ?
The story goes …

A seagull in Scotland has developed the habit of stealing chips from a neighborhood shop. The seagull waits until the shopkeeper isn’t looking, and then walks into the store and grabs a snack-size bag of cheese Doritos® Once outside, the bag gets ripped open and shared by other birds. The seagull’s shoplifting started early this month when he first swooped into the store in Aberdeen, Scotland and helped himself to a bag of chips. Since them, he’s become a regular. He always takes the same type of chips. Customers have begun paying for the seagull’s stolen bags of chips because they think it’s so funny.

What a unique advertisement for this store!

The video can be seen at YouTube in its entirety, the e-mail sent to Kritter Girl and Diane S., was just a segment of that video transcribed from a news broadcast. A segment of the film can also be found at – The Bosun’s Locker. I believe the person who originated the e-mail obtained the story from the Bosun‘s website, but there was no source given. The words are the same in his article as written in the e-mail form unknown source. However, the original news release and video is attributed to FOX News – some versions complete with Mission Impossible theme song in the background. 
Myth Blaster Verdict: Obviously, TRUE. Although the mention of the seagull’s readily sharing the prize of a bag of chips with “other birds” doesn’t fall in line with the character of a seagull. I know because when I catch the invasive species of fish, the Goby (also spelled Gobie), in Lake Michigan and the bays surrounding Door Peninsula, I feed them to the seagulls – the Wisconsin DNR states that they would prefer that they are not put back in the lake because of their over breeding capacity.[i] But I digress. …
Urban Legends provides some background information in more detail …

Seagulls are regarded as nuisances by many people (especially in urban coastal areas) not only because of their tendency to drop large globs of avian doo-doo on unsuspecting pedestrians, but also because they are aggressive, opportunistic scavengers. These birds are not just resourceful, they are also patient: Once a seagull has identified a potential food source, it may stand still with its eyes locked on the prize, waiting as long as necessary for just the right opening to dash in, snatch some edibles, and escape safely – much to the consternation of many an outdoor diner.
In July 2007, a seagull in
Aberdeen, Scotland, made the news for a rather unusual manifestation of sneaky scavenging behavior. The bird, named “Sam” by the locals, developed the habit (as shown above) of strolling through an open door into the RS McColl newsagents shop there, snatching bags of cheese-flavored Doritos from a rack just inside the entryway, and dashing away. According to store personnel, Sam always birdlifted the same flavor of Doritos (perhaps due to the color of the packaging), carrying the bags outside the store, where he ripped them open and (along with other birds) devoured their contents. …
A spokesman for Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) also noted of Sam:
“I’ve never heard of anything like this before. Perhaps it tried some crisps in a shiny packet in the street, and was just opportunistic one day at the shop when it saw what was inside. As everyone knows, gulls can be very quick and fearless, and clearly this one is no exception. We’d discourage people from feeding gulls though, as gulls in towns generate lots of complaints every year, and the availability of food is the only reason they live in urban settings.”

The case of the shoplifting seagull has been solved and now an ongoing attraction in Aberdeen, Scotland.

[i] Specifically, the Round Goby, a freshwater bottom-dwelling goby of the family Gobiidae, native to central Eurasia that includes the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

Myth Blaster: ‘Flashing Lights’ Urban Legend Becomes Reality in Wisconsin

Diane S., Wisconsin received a “chain mail” alert concerning a Highway 41 (Wisconsin) attack whose background story resembled the e-mail hoax of the past. So, I checked it out. Here is what she sent …

Hey everyone…I just wanted to give you a warning about something that
happened in our family last week. I always get the emails telling people
to be careful, don’t stop your car for anyone, etc and I always think that
these things happen somewhere else. Not so anymore. This happened to my cousin’s husband:
He was driving home on Wed night from a friend’s in
Appleton back to
Kaukauna and a car behind him started flashing their lights. So wondering if there was something wrong he pulled over and got out to ask if they needed help. He had Julie’s bug at the time, and they said to him – “your taillights are out” and when he looked the other direction the 3 in the car started to beat him, one had a baseball bat. They asked for money and all he had on him was his cell phone so they took that. He lost his shoes and his glasses too. He managed to drive home and then Julie took him to the ER at St E’s where he passed out. He was in ICU because of a bleeding spleen. He also had to have stitches on his temple and elbow. He has since been sent home. They don’t want him to do much laying around to recoup, they want him to be moving around. He looks good with clothes on but his body is full of bruises. He has to have someone be with him 24 hours a day for awhile. He has no idea who these 3 kids are. So pass the word to NOT pull over if someone is flashing their lights at you from behind. This happened on 41. Isn’t that just scary and awful?
He is a young, very sweet guy who probably had nothing but the best
intentions in mind for these people and got the crap beat out of him. I
guess it doesn’t pay to try and help anyone out! As far as I know, it was
only on WBAY news, I didn’t hear about it until I got this email so just be
careful!

AND ANOTHER INCIDENT:THIS IS SERIOUS NO JOKE.
One of our employees pulled over on 41 by
Oshkosh 2 weeks ago for the same reason (a car flashing his lights) and he was beaten as well, with a
baseball bat. He was in an
Oshkosh hospital for over a week in ICU. And for no reason at all.

Myth Blaster Verdict: TRUE
The Oshkosh incident was verified at an article by John Lee, Post-Crescent East article.
My thinking is that the e-mail hoax (See Urban Legends) was read by these characters and maybe gave them the idea to perform this criminal/violent act. But that part is just conjecture. The original e-mail chain notice of the flashing lights event was supposed to be a gang initiation. No one knows what was behind the real incident here, except to commit robbery.