-- They're nasty and mean and have been known, in their multitudes, to strip an unwary cow crossing a river to the bone. But now it turns out that the don't-mess-with-me piranha has a verbal side as well. There is a usefulness to diplomacy before the blood-letting begins.
-- And speaking of piranhas, billionaire Warren Buffett has told a super-committee of Congress that he would be willing to release his tax returns if others who are similarly well-heeled will do the same. The offer came in the wake of Buffet's argument that the very wealthy deserved to be taxed at a higher rate. The committee is struggling to find a way "to reduce the mushrooming national debt by at least $1.2 trillion over the coming decade." Whatever Buffet's motives -- and his maverick stance is refreshing -- let's not hold our breath.
-- And, in other news of moribund times, home foreclosures are on the rise (14% from July to September) and some of those doing the foreclosing find it more economical simply to tear the structures down. I guess it makes some kind of sense -- when more people are homeless, tear down structures in which they might be housed.
-- On a brighter death-and-decline note, scientists have unraveled the genetic coding of The Black Death, a 14th century plague that claimed 50 million lives in Europe. No word on the influenza epidemic that began in the year after the United States decided to join World War I. The war killed 16 million. The flu killed an estimated 50 million worldwide. Officers and politicians tried to keep the troops separated during the shipment of men and materiel to war, but it didn't work ... troops headed for a cauldron of death at the hands of an enemy were killed before they ever set foot on shore...courtesy of Mother Nature and political 'necessities.'