How hot is the earth’s core? This is very interesting. I boiled an artichoke today for 25 minutes – artichokes are in season and they are great to eat just the way God made them (after He boiled them and taught you how to avoid the chokes), all you need is a little salt on the plate to touch the base of each leaf onto before you scrape off its meat between your teeth – and after I took it out of the pot I left it on a plate for 20 minutes while I went and did something very important. (If I have not made it clear to you over the years, I am very important.) Back from whatever that was (it may have involved reading the newspaper), I began, as one does with an artichoke, to eat it from the outside in. The outer leaves were cold, and I didn’t mind: there are few experiences better than the plot line of an artichoke, however predictable – culminating in the after-taste of the whole experience, which is just one more reason to celebrate life. But I’m getting ahead of myself, even though you know exactly where this is heading. Leaf by leaf, even as time itself was passing, yet, verily, did the leaves get warmer. In other words, the rate of decline in their temperature – even being exposed to the outer air just before it was their turn to get scraped – was less than the increase in temperature they retained from having been closer to the core. And that’s saying something, because you know it takes a while to go around the entire artichoke and scrape a layer of leaves. And yet warmer they did get, until – remember, the outer leaves were cold – as I neared the finale they were burning my fingertips.

Do you see what I’m saying here? Adjusting for the relative sizes of the Earth and an artichoke, and for the starting temperature of molten – nay, gaseous! – rock and stuff . . . and working back from estimates that the earth’s core is five billion years old . . . I calculate that the center of the earth is exactly . . . well, really, really hot. After 5 billion years.

Not that we didn’t know this already, but it’s always reassuring to have confirmation.

BANANAS – WHY SO CHEAP?

Don Goldberg: ‘Well, they do grow on trees.’

Nick Watson: ‘Enjoy them while we can . . .

The world’s most popular fruit and the fourth most important food crop of any sort is in deep trouble. Its genetic base, the wild bananas and traditional varieties cultivated in India, has collapsed. . . .

ABSOLUTE POWER

From the DNC: ‘Alphonso Jackson, the Republican Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, told a story recently during a talk he gave in Dallas. Here’s what he said, according to the Dallas Business Journal:’

Jackson closed with a cautionary tale, relaying a conversation he had with a prospective advertising contractor.

“He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years,” Jackson said of the prospective contractor. “He made a heck of a proposal and was on the [General Services Administration] list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something … he said, ‘I have a problem with your president.’

“I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘I don’t like President Bush.’ I thought to myself, ‘Brother, you have a disconnect — the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn’t be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don’t tell the secretary.’

“He didn’t get the contract,” Jackson continued. “Why should I reward someone who doesn’t like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don’t get the contract. That’s the way I believe.”

☞ Had enough?

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