No Laughing Matter

By Scott LaFee

April 1, 2015 4 min read

It's true; if one enjoys an abundance of social status and privilege, one tends to live longer. Researchers at Michigan State University looked at the telomeres of study participants. Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect chromosomes from deterioration. Shrinking telomeres signal cellular stress and an accelerated aging process.

The researchers found that participants who were high-ranking members of their clan or group tended to live longer, reproduce more and enjoy better health. But before you wring your hands about your station in life, you should know that the participants studied didn't have hands. They were hyenas.

Still, the scientists believe they can extrapolate some lessons for humanity. A good, long life, they say, one that can be measured biologically, appears to be based as much on environmental factors as it is on genetic factors.

Body of Knowledge

An infant's head is roughly one-quarter of its total length, but by age 25, it will, on average, constitute only one-eighth of the person's total body length.

Number Cruncher

A Rubio's grilled veggie burrito (445 grams) contains 770 calories, 315 from fat. It has 35 grams of total fat, or 54 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet, according to the Calorie Count database.

It also contains 30 milligrams of cholesterol (10 percent), 1,520 milligrams of sodium (63 percent), 83 grams of total carbohydrates (28 percent), 7 grams of fiber (28 percent), 8 grams of sugar and 22 grams of protein.

Mania of the Week

Typomania: an obsession with printing one's lucubrations. The tendency to use large, ostentatious words to mean "one's overly wrought writings" can be called sesquipedalian loquaciousness.

Never Say Diet

The speed-eating record for apple pie is 9 pounds, 8 ounces in six minutes, held by Jamie McDonald. This month, the world also marked a once-a-century National Pi Day, celebrating the irrational number with an extra couple of digits: 3/14/15. Most of us don't think too much about pi. Jamie McDonald may be the exception.


"The trouble with jogging is that by the time you realize you're not in shape for it, it's too far to walk back." — American humorist Franklin P. Jones (1908-80)

Medical History

This week in 1842, a Georgia doctor named Crawford W. Long used ether for the first time as an anesthetic during a minor operation. He placed an ether-soaked towel over the face of James Venable and successfully removed a tumor from his neck. The event predates William Morton's better-known public demonstration of ether by four years but was not disclosed until 1849 in the Southern Medical Journal. Nonetheless, Long's accomplishment is now widely considered to represent the discovery of surgical anesthesia. He was the subject on a U.S. stamp issued in 1940.


In a cemetery in Harescombe, England:

"On the 22nd of June

Jonathan Fiddle

Went out of tune."

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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