Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

November 2010


“Eating too much salt is a major cause of high blood pressure, which the Institute of Medicine, one of the National Academies of Sciences, last week declared a ‘neglected disease’ that costs the U.S. health system $73 billion a year.”

Reuters lead from Yahoo, March 2, 2010

How do you know if something is worth its salt? According to some sources, salt in ancient Rome was used to pay soldiers or they were instructed to use their pay to buy salt. Either way, Pliny was quite sure that “salary” came from salt.

When invited to dinner in the old Roman days, if there was salt on the table you were being hosted by a hot shot. Plus, if you were seated between the salt and the host, you were an even hotter shot. Below the salt, not so good. At least that’s what Pliny said, but then I never really knew the man.

You remember that scene from Gandhi where he and a bunch of his buds got whacked while harvesting salt on a string?

Salt is one big deal.

If you can believe everything you read (well, most everything), molten salt made by using a gazillion mirrors to reflect sunlight to a tower will create steam to generate electricity.

Salt mines, you say? Not a good place to work, according to my memory. Convicts, political prisoners, slaves were history’s salt miners. Salt mines are apparently everywhere, even today.

In Kansas, for instance — Dorothy’s Kansas — there’s a salt mine that’s been turned into a museum and is promoted as one of the eight wonders of Kansas.

I’ll get back to you on the other seven.

There’s a big sign proclaiming that the salt mine is 245 million years old. Isn’t Kansas the state where they teach kids that Earth is more like 5,000 years old?

Fine. So who’s going to believe 245 million years old anyway?

I suppose a year from now, some prisoner will have to change the sign to read 245,000,001 years old.

I’m not saying I’ve exhausted the subject of salt. There’s stuff like salty language spoken by old salts. And my most memorable truism from my brief service in state government: Don’t site salt sheds in flood zones unless you feel really lucky.

But I conclude. Feel free to take this column with a grain of salt.