Sideswipe: July 14: Proof son listens to mother

Unbelievable life

In her 1929 autobiography Cradle of the Deep, silent film star Joan Lowell revealed a dramatic childhood aboard her father’s trading vessel: She’d seen a man eaten by sharks, performed an amputation, and, when the ship caught fire and sank, swum three miles to the Australian coast with “drenched kittens” clinging to her shoulders: “I was conscious of only the pain caused by the salt water on my bleeding cuts and scratches. Each stroke I took was like a knife cut, and I couldn’t shake the drowning kittens off. Perhaps to those cats I owe my life, for the pain made me so mad I fought on and on, toward the lightship which seemed to go farther away instead of closer.” When it was published, sailing writer Lincoln Colcord identified 50 inaccuracies and called her to account. It turned out she’d made the whole thing up: Her father had worked on the boat for about a year, and she’d made one trip on it. Simon & Schuster reclassified the book as fiction and released a statement saying it had been “published in good faith, not as a literal autobiography but as a teeming yarn, fundamentally a true narrative but inevitably … embroidered with some romanticised threads”.

Goldfish released into the wild

They can survive for months without oxygen and live up to 25 years, Goldfish dumped in lakes grow to the size of a rugby ball and are threatening lake ecosystems. Officials at Burnsville, Minnesota, have been startled by a proliferation of the huge aquatic invaders, believed to have been dumped by bored owners when they were little more than tiddlers. An invasive species, the goldfish have harmed native plants and the habitat other fish rely on for their survival. Ecological destruction wrought by released aquarium pets is not new. Carnivorous lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific but believed to have been released by Florida pet owners after Hurricane Andrew in 1982, have killed off dozens of Caribbean species, allowing seaweed to overtake the reefs.

Forbidden places

Maya Bay in Thailand was also shut down to protect its environment from visitors, but the closure is only temporary. Following the release of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach in 2000, Maya Bay became a popular tourist destination. The beach was attracting millions of people a year at its peak, which wiped out a lot of the coral native to the area. Thailand made the decision to close Maya Bay in June 2018 to give the ecosystem a chance to recover. The plan is to reopen the beach with tighter restrictions at some point (potentially at some point in 2021), but as of now it remains a forbidden destination.

Cheese-less cheese board

A reader writes: “The simple answer why there is no cheese on the board is in the photo. It is a charcuterie board.  It is French for ‘meat products’.”

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