• It was 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes who made the following sage observation: “Curiosity is the lust of the mind.”
• At Christmastime in Greece, people traditionally give small gifts to orphanages and hospitals rather than to each other.
• A traditional Russian Christmas celebration would include spreading hay on a home’s floors and tables and clucking loudly. Evidently, this was thought to encourage horse feed to grow and chickens to lay eggs in the coming year.
• The antlers of a bull moose can spread up to 6 feet across — and they accomplish this astonishing growth in only four months.
• The battle between keepers of livestock and the biting flies that pester their herds is as old as the pastoral life. In recent times, pesticides have been applied with some success, but the expense — and especially the toxicity — worry many people. Japanese researchers have recently discovered a simple and inexpensive way to mitigate this concern: Paint zebra stripes on the cows. After several days of observing a control group of black cattle and a test group of the same breed of cattle painted with white stripes, they found that less than half as many biting flies landed on the striped cattle.
• We can thank beloved 19th-century English novelist Charles Dickens for the colorful phrase “eat my hat.”
• Wildlife documentarians have captured footage of elephant mothers spanking their calves; sometimes she uses her trunk, and sometimes she goes so far as to pull up a shrub and use it as a switch.
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Thought for the Day: “I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was 6. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.” — Shirley Temple
(c) 2019 King Features Syndicate, Inc.