By Samantha Weaver - Weekender Wire Service

Strange but true: Using rats to tell the future, mating rituals between polar and grizzly bears and a book lover’s dream come true

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It was 20th-century American historian, sociologist, philosopher and literary critic Lewis Mumford who made the following sage observation: “A man of courage never needs weapons, but he may need bail.”

• In the 1960s, American spies in the Soviet Union had a novel way to eavesdrop on conversations: They used cats. The CIA agents placed listening devices on the felines in order to hear conversations that might take place on a park bench or near an open window.

• Polar bears and grizzly bears are similar enough genetically to successfully mate. Any offspring produced from such a union is known as a “pizzly.”

• If you’re a book lover who is fortunate enough to be planning a trip to Japan’s capital sometime soon, then Book and Bed Tokyo needs to be on your agenda. For a mere $30-$40 per night, you can sleep in a bunk surrounded by bookshelves and have access to free Wi-Fi and a vending machine. The bathrooms and a large seating area (furnished, reportedly, with deep, comfy couches) will be shared with other guests — but that’s just an opportunity to meet like-minded literary travelers! You can bring your own reading material, of course, but with 1,700 titles provided in both English and Japanese, there’s no need.

• It’s common knowledge that the ostrich is a flightless bird, but many people don’t realize that, even confined to land, the ostrich can outrun a racehorse.

• If you use rats or mice to tell the future, you’re engaging in myomancy; if you prefer to base your divination on the flight or song of birds, you’re an ornithomancer.

Thought for the Day: “I would like to see anyone — prophet, king or God — convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time.” — Neil Gaiman

Reach Weekender at [email protected]

By Samantha Weaver

Weekender Wire Service

Reach Weekender at [email protected]