Martha, the very last passenger pigeon

At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, in a large glass case, “is a rusty-brown bird, wings mottled black and gray, mounted to appear as if she’s perching on a stick.”:

Her name is Martha. She was a passenger pigeon, the last of her kind, and she is one of the most famous birds in the world.

Martha died at the Cincinnati Zoological Gardens on September 1, 1914. To recognize the full 100 years since her death, she’s been taken out of a locked safe in the Smithsonian’s research collection and put on public display—her first public appearance since 1999. “She’s one of the Smithsonian’s most iconic specimens,” Helen James, curator of the bird division, says. “We had to have her back before her public in the year 2014.”

“Immediately after Martha’s body was discovered in the Cincinnati Zoo, scientists” packed her “into a 300-pound block of ice, then onto a train bound for Washington. Smithsonian officials received her three days later in “fine condition,” according to an account written by R.W. Shufeldt, the man who performed her dissection.”

Shufeldt, in an article published by the American Ornithologists’ Union, wrote: “With the final throb of that heart, still another bird became extinct for all time, the last representative of countless millions and unnumbered generations of its kind practically exterminated through man’s agency.”

The passenger pigeon was once “the most common bird in North America,” flying in flocks of “hundreds of millions, if not billions.”

Until the hunters came.

All blue-eyed people have a single ancestor in common

According to a Business Insider report, “New research shows that all blue-eyed people share a common ancestor. This person lived more than 6,000 years ago and carried a genetic mutation that has now spread across the world.”

Are sad songs better?  

Sing me a song of sadness
And sing it as blue as I feel
If a tear should appear it’s because she’s not here
Sing a sad song and sing it for me

—From Sing a Sad Song (by Merle Haggard)

Are we predisposed to prefer melancholy songs?

Could be:

Consider that of the nine best-selling songs of all time, most brim with melancholy, if not sadness and despair. Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, Elton John’s Candle in the Wind, Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You, Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On, — to paraphrase Elton, sad songs not only say so much, they sell really, really well. But do listeners really prefer melancholy music, and if so why?

Hard to say, but the charts do indeed suggest “we love tunes that rip our hearts out.”

Conflicts of interest helping to shape health care  

According to this article, practitioners involved in just about every “area of medicine” are to a greater or lesser extent, respectively, in the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry.

“More than two-thirds of patient advocacy organizations that responded to a survey indicated that they had received industry funding in their last fiscal year. For most, the money represented a small share of their budget. But 12 percent said they received more than half of their money from industry.”

We’re talking about “those who write guidelines that shape doctors’ practices, patient advocacy organizations, letter writers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even oncologists on Twitter.”

What it amounts to is that vast conflicts of interest are actually helping to shape health care.

“The very way we all think about disease — and the best ways to research, define, prevent, and treat it — is being subtly distorted because so many of the ostensibly independent players, including patient advocacy groups, are largely singing tunes acceptable to companies seeking to maximize markets for drugs and devices,” researchers Ray Moynihan and Lisa Bero wrote in an accompanying commentary.

She married one of the firemen who helped save her  

Twenty-year-old college student Melissa Dohme was stabbed more than 30 times and left for dead by her insanely jealous ex-boyfriend.

Melissa was desperately close to death, and the emergency services team that rushed to the scene, after a 911 call from a passerby, had to work frantically to keep her alive long enough to get her to the hospital.

According to the trauma surgeons who performed emergency surgery on her at the hospital, Melissa died several times on the table and had to be resuscitated time and again.

Miraculously, Melissa pulled through — and married one of the firefighters who helped save her.

And, oh yes, the jealous ex-boyfriend who tried to kill Melissa got what was coming to him — in spades.

Juvenile sea lion was so happy to be rescued  

After getting hooked by fishing gear off the coast of Southern California, but pulled free in the nick of time by the crew of a Coast Guard boat, a juvenile sea lion showed its appreciation by hopping aboard and posing for photographs.

Beards are the new growth industry  

It seems beards are becoming more fashionable by the day. If the trend continues, pretty soon it’ll be unusual to see a clean-shaven face.

This has created a rising demand for facial hair care products, which enterprising firms are rushing to fill. For instance, Beard Balm, a Detroit-based company, sells over 400,000 tins a year of its product — “a mix of bees wax, lanolin and other beard-taming ingredients — for $16 a pop.”

I decided to grow a beard once, but changed my mind and shaved it off after about a week. I just hated the feel of it on my face. My younger brother, on the other hand, has never ever shaved, as far as I know.

Can’t imagine what he’d look like without a beard.