Thursday, February 3, 2011


Venerable John McLaughlin of TV’s “The McLaughlin Group” has a unique phrase he uses when he wants his guests to assign a numeral rating to the possibility of something happening – like “on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most likely…” Except instead of using the simple words “Most Likely” he always calls it a “metaphysical certitude.”

I think that’s a great description, and if I ever have to ask anybody to rate something, I hope I’ll be quick enough on the draw to get it out of my own mouth instead of some more common mundane label.

But that’s not exactly what I intend to talk about today. In the course of a day I see lots of things I think might have blog potential, and I have to put them down on paper (actual or electronic) so I won’t forget them. These ideas tend to gang up on me, so today I’m going to unload a few little odds and ends that need to be moved out to make room for others.


I have problems with many of the cartoons in The New Yorker. Most, I think, require a MENSA-type brain, which mine definitely isn’t. But recently there was one simple enough for even my brain to process. Two nice fat cows, obviously ready for milking, were standing in a field. Nearby was a scrawny cow with a very droopy udder. One fat cow nods at the skinny cow and says to her friend (under her breath, I’m sure), “She’s 2%.” I got that one real quick and it made me laugh.

This cartoon, then, made me think of an article I had saved about how giving names to cows somehow make them produce more milk. Scientists at England's Newcastle University reported the following:

Researchers Peter Rowlinson and Catherine Douglas studied the practices at 500 dairy farms and found that cows with names produced one to two pints of milk more a day than cows that weren't given names.

"Even if a herdsman gave a cow a number instead of a name, that cow just seemed to be more agitated around milking time," said Rowlinson. "It seems that cows with names are happier cows."
I wondered how one would go about remembering each cow’s name. And it occurred to me that actually, most happy cows live in California, not England, if you believe the California dairy association’s ads. And in case you don’t remember the cute commercial , “All us cows do our best for Jerseymaid,” (Jerseymaid pertained to the use of Jersey cows, not the state of New Jersey.) it makes me wonder if Jerseymaid named their cows.


Another little odd and end I’ve been saving is a script of a 2008 PBS program where several reporters discuss talking to themselves. One of the reporters said, “…I started looking into it and research shows that 96 percent, as many as 96 percent of people talk to themselves aloud, and deaf people have been observed signing to themselves while answering tough test questions…” Do you think that could be true?

Now, I know for sure that Jerry talks to himself – or rather to the computer, which might as well be himself. I don’t think I talk to myself much, except maybe when I’m alone in the car and am a bit peeved at something I’ve done, like get in the wrong lane to make a turn onto a freeway on- ramp. I usually say, “OK, Dobbins, you did it again!” Using my maiden name is the equivalent of Jerry calling me “Barbara” – it signifies irritation, mostly!

One of those reporters said he knew of an airline captain who, when he was faced with rough weather, always consulted with an imaginary Indian chief who rode in the cabin’s jump seat. Now you have to admit you’d probably rather be on some other flight if you knew your captain was doing that.


And another talker is a renowned oriental “scientist” who believes talking nice to water creates happy water crystals – and this fellow has a coterie of believers in his camp, so I make no overt sounds of dismissal when I read of him. I do try to keep an open mind, although sometimes it is difficult.

And the last is, of course, a fellow who finally was proven right about talking to plants. He was none other than Charles, the Prince of Wales who more that 20 years ago announced to scientists and scoffers alike that talking to plants caused them to grow better. These scientists and scoffers ridiculed him. Apparently at some point the Royal Horticultural Society took on a month-long study of this professed phenomena and assigned various readers to make tape recordings of certain passages: Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Darwin’s Origin of the Species, and Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids. The plants were in the same Greenhouse and treated identically. There were 10 plants that were going to get to listen to human voices and 10, the control plants, would not.

Each of the test plants received their human voice through the headphone of an MP3 player attached to its pot at root level. At the end of the month, the plant who listened to Darwin’s Origin of the Species, read by a great-great granddaughter of Darwin himself, grew 2/3 of an inch higher than any of the other plants. The experiment also found that female voices had the edge over male voices in helping plants grow. So the Prince of Wales was right, if you believe that this test was for real and not just a tongue-in-cheek report.

I think one could extrapolate lots of things from these experiments. I find all these tidbits awfully interesting, but of no practical use except maybe for filling up a page.


So I suppose the moral to all this is ….. well, maybe that blog writers need to get a life.


Story Connection - Our Memories Bring Us Together said...

I talk to myself. I regale my young teacher friends with how I proclaim my dinner each night. Since I live alone and usually eat dinner by myself unless I'm eating out with a friend, I stand up after I've finished and proclaim how good it was.
My young friends think that's hilarious for some reason.

Dee said...

I think that when you become a blogger a part of your brain that was lying dormant, gets awakened. Then all sorts of trivia begins to flow and swirl about trying to get out for the purpose of filling a page on a blog. I confess I talk to myself in my car. And like you do, use my name. :)