What Is It Good For? The Osage Orange

Humor, Plants
[caption id="attachment_18317" align="alignright" width="440"] Osage oranges[/caption] You've heard of the Osage Indians, but have you heard of the Osage orange? Latin name Maclura pomifera, the Osage orange is a grapefruit-sized, pale green, bumpy, ordinarily uneaten fruit with a woody, pulpy consistency that smells a good deal like its citrus namesake. If these fruits are seldom eaten, are they useful for something else? If so, what about the tree? Finally, if the tree is generally undesirable, what of its wood? Is Osage Orange Fruit Worthless? Most foraging animals pass by an Osage orange, with exceptions being the squirrel and the deer, which eat its tiny seeds. Is there something useful in its chemistry? The fruit does contain two isoflavones, namely osajin and pomiferin. Of the two, only pomiferin is classified a…
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Is Economics a Science? Giffen’s Paradox Shouts “No!”

Education, Humor
[caption id="attachment_16247" align="alignright" width="440"] A pair-o-ducks, get it? Paradox?[/caption] Giffen's Paradox? Economics is the study of the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth. Some view economics almost like a religion—certainly as if it was a science complete with laws and principles, predicting behavior and outcome. We are told the value of an object relates to the law of supply and demand. If three people want an object and there are only two available, it should command a higher price than if there were only two people and three were available. [caption id="attachment_16546" align="alignleft" width="270"] Namesake Sir Robt. Giffen.[/caption] Giffen's Paradox But now, say you have a new hand-held device. Sales are not the best, even though you offer a low, get-acquainted price. What do you do as a businessman to…
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The Northern Catalpa in Southern Virginia

[caption id="attachment_20110" align="alignright" width="440"] Photo courtesy C. Mehring[/caption] The blooming peak of the Northern Catalpa in Nelson County, Virginia is about the 24th May. Although some call it the Catawba tree, in these parts it is called the Monkey’s Cigar tree. This is because of its elongated dark brown pods. I well remember my becoming acquainted with the Northern Catalpa. Reason for My Trip South I had lived in Camden County, New Jersey for 33 years. In my teen years, my parents had taken my sister and I on a trip to Sprouse's Corners in Buckingham County, Virginia to see a friend of my mother from her childhood days. The woman had lost her parents when she was still young. Still in her youth, she had boarded with my mother's…
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Ennui: The Historic Illness of Wealthy Ladies

History, Humor
[caption id="attachment_5179" align="alignright" width="220"] Peignoir[/caption] Ennui? What in the Dickens is that? My friend Bernice and I found ourselves musing about what illness, if any, might prove a benefit. Here is a list we started. I have finished the compilation in her memory. One - Ennui In French novels of long ago, wealthy ladies would occasionally suffer from ennui, a kind of lassitude. They would spend days in their boudoir dressed in lovely peignoirs and receive gentlemen callers. They probably enjoyed some light refreshment and interesting discussions including gossip and mild flirtation. It was probably a welcome diversion from routine. We could revive this “illness” and even, perhaps, have employers allow “ennui days”, as they do sick days. Men as well as women could take part in this diversion. The…
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Nouns Have Gender; People Have Sex – A Wandering into the Vagaries of Language

Humor, Language
[caption id="attachment_3714" align="alignright" width="480"] Word Puzzle[/caption] Language is straight-forward, right? Wrong. In speaking English or any language, much can happen. Usages Changes Some decades ago the word “sex” was used to describe the reproductive function of a human being. Now the word’s use in this way is apparently unacceptable and been replace by “gender”. In my 1979 dictionary, “gender” is defined as “… any set of two or more categories, such as masculine, feminine and neuter into which words are divided…”; “sex is defined as “The property or quality by which organisms are  classified according to their reproductive functions”. When Ruth Bader Ginsburg came to the Supreme Court and used “sex” in some of her written communications, she was advised by an assistant to use the more polite word, “gender”,…
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