If there’s one honor you don’t want, it’s to be recognized as the world’s oldest person.
Without fail, often within months and sometimes even weeks of being declared as the planet’s senior senior citizen, the individual is dead.
The latest to fall victim to this curse: Japan’s Jiroemon Kimura, 116, who died today less than six months after being recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living person.
Kimura did far better than his immediate predecessor, though. Dina Manfredini lasted just 13 as the world’s oldest person before dying late last year.
And of the 32 previous record holders, only seven survived more than a year after being honored for their longevity. Sounds like a curse if I’ve ever heard of one.
In seriousness, one of the interesting aspects of news stories about the extremely aged is that they are almost never quoted. This is almost always, to put it delicately, because the faculties of the extremely aged aren’t quite what they once were.
The discovery of new animal species is unusual but certainly not earth-shatteringly rare.
Periodically, scientists will announce that a new variety of lemur has been found in Madagascar or a previously unknown spider has been located in a distant part of Sri Lanka or an unclassified frog has been uncovered in remote India.
Less common is finding a new species in a populated, scientifically advanced region such as the United States.
However, scientists in Florida last week announced that they came across a new species of black bass in the southeastern United States during a genetic study of fish in 2007, according to Field & Stream.
Researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission christened the species, found in the Chipola River, “Choctaw bass.”
The Chipola is a small tributary of the Apalachicola River that runs north-south along the middle of the Florida Panhandle.
Choctaw bass possess a DNA profile unlike that of any other species, scientists announced.
In a discovery certain to send shivers down the spine of anyone working in the Everglades tourism bureau, Florida officials Monday announced the capture of the largest Burmese python ever found in the Sunshine State – a leviathan more than 17 feet in length.
Not only was the python of record-setting length – at 17-feet-seven-inches it broke the old state record by nearly a foot – extremely long, it also contained 87 eggs, also thought to be a record.
“This thing is monstrous, it’s about a foot wide,” Kenneth Krysko, the herpetology collection manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Scientists at the University of Florida-based museum examined the 164.5-pound snake on Friday as part of a government research project into managing the pervasive effect of Burmese pythons in Florida, according to Agence France-Presse.
The giant snakes are native to Southeast Asia and were first found in the Everglades in 1979. They prey on native birds, deer, bobcats, alligators and other large animals.
Pythons kill their prey by coiling around it and suffocating it. They have been known to swallow animals as large as deer and alligators.
“A 17½-foot snake could eat anything it wants,” Krysko said.
A ship that survived the famous Battle of Mobile Bay during the War Between the States but sank less than two years later is about to become an underwater archaeological preserve.
The USS Narcissus was a tug involved in the famous Aug. 5, 1864, engagement in the waters off Alabama in which Federal Rear Adm. David G. Farragut is said to have uttered “Damn the torpedoes!” as he led Union forces against Confederate defenders in Mobile Bay.
The Narcissus, built in Albany, N.Y., in 1863, was commissioned as a Navy fighting vessel and armed with a 20-pound Parrott gun and a single smoothbore 12-pounder, according to the Tampa Tribune.
was ordered to return north for sale after the war ended the following year but sank in early 1866 off Florida’s Egmont Key during the journey, killing the entire crew. Egmont Key is just north of Anna Maria Island, in the mouth of Tampa Bay.
The 81-foot-6-inch Narcissus will become Florida’s 12th underwater archaeological preserve.
The ship headed south in January 1864 to support the Union Navy’s blockade of Confederate shipping routes, according to a report compiled by state researchers, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.
It took 26 years to translate the Bible into Gullah, but just six to create an audio version of the Good Book, which was released recently.
“Healin fa de Soul,” is a 5-CD set of readings from the Gullah Bible and includes a dramatized version of the Gospel of John.
It was released in November at the St. Helena Island-based Penn Center, founded in 1862 as one of the nation’s first schools for freedmen after Union troops captured the area during the Civil War.
The readings, which feature 24 local Gullah speakers, are based on the Gullah Bible, “De Nyew Testament.” Translation into Gullah began in 1979 and the full testament was published by the American Bible Society in 2005, according to the Associated Press.
Gullah, also known as Geechee, developed among Africans along the Southeastern coast as a way to communicate with people from other tribes and Europeans.
For years, people thought Gullah was poor English, but during the Great Depression scholar Lorenzo Dow Turner studied Gullah on the Sea Islands and determined that it was made up of English and more than 4,000 words from many different African languages.
Rest assured that if Larry Wayne Kelly of Pensacola, Fla., ever gets formal recognition as a “sovereign citizen,” the right to tasty crustaceans on demand will undoubtedly be included in any Bill of Rights he might draw up for his own government.
Kelly, 42, allegedly opened fire with an AK-47 from the window of his pickup truck at a Pensacola-area seafood market last Sunday after learning that they had run out of crawfish.
The Pensacola News Journal reported that Kelly allegedly called the L&T Seafood Market to order crawfish and became “incredibly irate” when an employee said the store didn’t have any, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.
From 4:50 p.m. to 5:20 p.m., Kelly called the market 11 times, according to the business’ caller ID. The later calls went unanswered because the business closed at 5 p.m., investigators said.
The Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission on Thursday unveiled three alternatives for preserving about 1,000 sites along the Southeast coast from encroaching coastal development.
The plans include everything from archiving the history of the culture to preserving natural resources and providing economic opportunities for sea island residents off the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida.
The culture is known as Gullah in the Carolinas and Geechee in Florida and Georgia. It largely remained intact because of the islands’ isolation along the coast, an isolation that has been challenged in recent decades.
Gullah communities were established by freed slaves after the War Between the States and most people made livings fishing or farming fields of vegetables and row crops.
The term transparency is thrown around a lot these days in reference to government officials, as in how easy do elected leaders make it for the public to see what they’re doing with tax dollars.
A second use of the term transparency might be that the actions of many of our politicians are so very easy to see through.
Take Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., who plans to introduce the Paid Vacation Act — legislation that would be the first to make paid vacation time a requirement under federal law, according to Politico.
“The bill would require companies with more than 100 employees to offer a week of paid vacation for both full-time and part-time employees after they’ve put in a year on the job,” according to Politico. “Three years after the effective date of the law, those same companies would be required to provide two weeks of paid vacation, and companies with 50 or more employees would have to provide one week.”
Rep. Grayson’s brilliant reasoning: More vacation will stimulate the economy through fewer sick days, better productivity and happier employees.
“There’s a reason why Disney World is the happiest place on Earth: The people who go there are on vacation,” Rep. Grayson was quoted in Politico.
And there’s a reason Rep. Grayson is shilling for mandatory vacation time and Disney: Orlando, the home of Disney, is part of his home district.
The fact is, most employers offer paid vacation, particularly those whose organizations value their employees and want them to stick around.
For Rep. Grayson to attempt to use the federal government as a cudgel to boost his constituents’ coffers is inane and draconian, and one that’s startlingly easy to see through.
(Hat tip: Cafe Hayek)