Indian heatwave, Mother’s Day backstory, 10-armed octopus, whisky biofuel

May 4, 2022 Episode 97

Subcontinent heatwave, Mama mia! Mother’s Day history, 10-armed octopus fossil found, whisky waste becomes biofuel

Episode Transcript


OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”


LEELA: Hello – it’s hot here in India, which is under the grip of a heatwave. We’ll of course have a special report on why it’s happening and the amusing ways in which people are keeping their cool.

And, Mama Mia – have you made your Mother’s Day cards? We’ll help you give your mom a treat this year with the sweet story on how it started.

Also, ever heard of a decipus? Neither have we, but that’s what we’re calling the 10-armed fossil that was recently found in Montana.

And finally, you won’t believe what the Scottish are doing with the waste on their most famous drink. Clue.


I’m Leela Sivasankar Prickitt joined by the big story explainer and sound effects finder, otherwise known as my Mama.

MAMA: Howdy?

LEELA: This is Newsy Pooloozi – the news pod for kids.

MAMA: And adults like it too!

LEELA: Alright – let’s begin with the…

BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”

MAMA: Most of you probably know India is a hot country. In May temperatures can often go over 40 degrees Celsius for weeks.

LEELA: That’s over 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

MAMA: But this year the heat has come early.

LEELA: Unfortunately! Like by two months.

MAMA: Yes, while March didn’t hit 40 Celsius or go over 100 degrees Fahrenheit it came close.

LEELA: Both March and April were the hottest on record since the records began, like 122 years ago.

MAMA: Well, for more on this story, we’re going to our New Delhi correspondent, who… wait… where are you going?


MAMA: Oh, yeah. Duh.


MAMA: For more on this story, we’re going to our New Delhi correspondent, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt.


LEELA: Ahhh haaa ha… Thanks, Mama.

So, you might not know this, but most of India’s workers actually work OUTSIDE. Yep, and I’m not just talking about the 150 million farmers either.


Well, this is a developing country, meaning India’s catching up with the US and Europe on building roads, brand-new housing complexes, office buildings and shopping malls. And that means a LOT of construction workers too.

I spoke with some in my own neighborhood – where old houses are often being torn down to make new, bigger ones – and they said they work 8am to 8pm, even in this heat! Every half hour they’re allowed to sit down in the shade for ten minutes, but still.

You know what they do to try and stay cool? They drench thin towels in water and put it on their head! Actually, I do that too – well, I wet my hat – and it really does work in cooling you off, I can tell you that.

And that’s not all.

There are all of the drivers of open-air 3-wheeled rickshaws. Remember the story we did a few weeks ago about the one who planted grass on top of his tuk-tuk in order to stay cool?

And did you know that most of the shops in India are still small, little kiosks, or huts, on the side of the hot road? And many of the bigger, concrete shops don’t have AC either.

Imagine how hard this heatwave must be on all those workers!

Even those lucky enough to have cooling systems in their homes or offices often have to deal with power cuts. Why? Because everyone is using electricity all at once – and there’s not enough to go around.

It’s not surprising that some people are painting their roofs white to deflect the sun.

No wonder an expression of joy here in India is called having an “AC feeling.”

Back to you in the studio, Mama.

MAMA: Thanks, Leela. The only thing I have to add that is very comprehensive is that most environmental experts agree – the heat is coming early and expected to last longer because of climate change. The sad thing is, ACs and cars are great inventions that help us be more productive, but… are definitely not good for the environment and only add to the problem. (Sighs) Maybe we should get out the white paint.

ACE STING – LEELA/MAMA: “Now it’s the ace part of our podcast: Arts, Culture and Entertainment. Darling.”

LEELA: Yes, we are talking about culture, folks. One of the biggest occasions on the calendar is upon us.

MAMA: Biggest! Really?

LEELA: Oh, yeah. Here’s a clue… “Mama mia, here I go again… my my…”

MAMA: Uh… Leela Leela… you know that’s a love song, right?

LEELA: Yeah! I loooove you!

MAMA: Awww… Thank you, darling… Thank you thank you. Yes, we are talking about

LEELA: Mother’s Day

MAMA: And now our gift to you the mothers listening – to this podcast and their children who might want to share this with their moms if they’re not listening, here’s a little history of this special day!


MAMA: So, Mother’s Day is celebrated in countries throughout the world, for most it’s the second Sunday in May.

LEELA: Though other countries, like Britain, mark it at other times.

MAMA: That’s true. Did you know that civilization has been honoring mothers and mother goddesses since ancient times?

LEELA: I believe it. I mean, in India there’s still celebrating an Indian goddess Durga which is huge in West Bengal, which is their biggest festival of the year, in fact.

MAMA: So true. And in the Middle Ages going back to history there was a custom of children who’d left their families to work in domestic service

LEELA: Kids were cleaners and cooks?

MAMA: Mmm-hmm. Or worked in the fields, yes. Well, they were allowed to go to their home or “mother” church, every year, three weeks before Easter Sunday. It became known as Mothering Sunday in Britain.

LEELA: Aaah, that’s why they celebrate it at a different time to us. It moves depending on when Easter is.

MAMA: Right.

LEELA: Wait then why don’t we celebrate that date in America?

MAMA: Ah-ha – good question. The Mothering Sunday custom wasn’t followed. It was just over a hundred years ago, in 1907, when a woman named Anna Jarvis from the state of Pennsylvania held a memorial service when her mom died. Well, her mom was well known for organizing women’s groups that promoted friendship and health and always wanted a day to celebrate mothers. So, her daughter kicked it off and within five years virtually every state in the US was observing the day.

LEELA: Ah, that’s a nice story… And isn’t there something about wearing carnation flowers too?

MAMA: Yes, Jarvis wore a white carnation as a tribute to her mother, so that’s what people wear to honor those who’ve passed away and red or pink is for the living.

LEELA: And today we also celebrate grandmothers and aunts and others who take on mothering roles.

MAMA: Exactly. But I’m afraid there’s a sad postscript to this story…

LEELA: Postscript as in PS – you’ve got more to say.

MAMA: Yes, Jarvis actually spent the last years of her life trying to abolish that means get rid of Mother’s Day!

LEELA: What?!

MAMA: Yeah, she saw how quickly the holiday became a great opportunity for people to sell things you know like gift cards and chocolate…

LEELA: And flowers and manicures, pedicures…

MAMA: Ooooh, really. Yes! But the point is, Jarvis felt it was turning way too commercial and forgetting the basic message.

LEELA: Which is to say… Thank you for being my most awesome Mama!

MAMA: That’s right… you’re welcome, darling. Now let go of my neck please…


MAMA: Ahh I love you too…


WORLD WRAP STING – LEELA: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… It’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.”

MAMA: A group of civilians, who were hiding inside a steel plant in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, made their way to a safer town 200 kilometers away. Hundreds of people, though, still remain trapped at the plant as Russia continues to bombard the eastern port city.

Russia is also said to have deployed trained dolphins at a naval base in the Black Sea, according to the US Naval Institute’s (USNI) review of satellite images. It’s not the first time that dolphins have been used in military operations. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the US trained dolphins to detect enemy divers and mines.

Another floating city is being planned. We reported in Episode 49 about the island nation of the Maldives wanting to build a floating city to survive rising sea levels. Well now South Korea is planning the same. But it hopes to actually begin construction next year.

And two women fought in a boxing match at the world-famous Madison Square Garden in New York City for the first time ever. “Look what we’ve just done,” said Katie Taylor who beat Amanda Serrano on points with a split-decision victory. This historic fight smashed expectations and a rematch is being planned.

LEELA: As ever, thank you so much for that whippity-whappity-zippity-zappity wrap of what’s making headlines elsewhere in the world, Mama.

MAMA: You’re most welcome. And now let’s hear the…

NATURE STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The call of nature. Get on your safari suit. Or squeeze into your scuba gear. And get ready to hop into a jeep. Or submarines. Submarine. Because Mother Nature is calling! Nature.”  

MAMA: So, you won’t believe what they’ve discovered in the US north-western state of Montana.

LEELA: I know the answer! An octopus fossil!

MAMA: Not quite…

LEELA: Oh, yeah…! I’ve missed out on the two extra arms!

MAMA: As if finding a marine fossil in dry and mountainous Montana weren’t weird enough –

LEELA: This was no octopus – but a decipus – it had ten, I repeat: ten – ARMS!

MAMA: Well, we do specialize in wacky world news, it’s true. Let’s cut across to Ezra Graham of the News Nerds podcast, who just happens to live in Montana, a couple hundred miles from where the discovery was made.

LEELA: Over to you, Ezra.

EZRA: When you think of the octopus, you almost always think of eight legs, right?

Well, 328 million years ago in Montana, you might just have caught a glimpse of a 10-armed octopus roaming the ancient seas!

Let me just explain something, Montana, where the fossilized octopus was found, was once an ocean separating the massive continent of North America into multiple landmasses.

You might be thinking, “What in the world did a 10-armed octopus even look like?”

Well, a lot like modern day squid, kind of like a torpedo.

Scientists have determined that this 12-centimeter-long wonder of the ancient seas was the first known organism to develop ‘suckers ‘that made it easier for the octopus to grasp things.

After all the scientists’ hard work identifying their species, they got to name it, Syllipsimopodi bideni. Any guess to who that refers to?

Yep, U.S. President Joe Biden. The team commented that they “were encouraged by his plans to address climate change and to fund scientific research.”

In Montana, I’m Ezra Graham reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Ah, bye-Denny, as in Bi-den. Got it. Snazzy name. Thanks a lot, Ezra.

MAMA: I still think “decipus” makes more sense.

LEELA: Me too! OK – let’s see what the lucky dip machine has for our final wacky world news story this week.

ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An oddball, no doubt!”

LEELA: OK this one is about an adult drink again – but at least it’s not about using elephant poop to make it.

MAMA: That was a good story.

LEELA:  Well, this is even better – because it’s about what to do with all the leftover stuff that goes into making the drink whisky.


Apparently for every one liter of Scotch whisky there’s around 2-and-a-half kilograms – that’s over FIVE pounds – of solid material, called “draff,” that gets thrown away.

MAMA: Five pounds of waste for one liter of drink? That’s a lot… Then again, think of all the wasted pulp and peel for orange juice. And at least it’s biodegradable.

LEELA: Sure – but wouldn’t it be great if you could use it, like, again. Kinda like paper plates is great, but we still try to reuse them for something, right?

MAMA: Ah, let me guess – they’ve turned it into compost – they’ll let it decompose and then use it as fertilizer.

LEELA: Even better. Thanks to the clever scientist who started the UK’s first biofuel research center at Scotland’s Napier University and now runs Celtic Renewables, we’re talking about this.


MAMA: Ohhh, biofuel!

LEELA: Exactly. How does it work?

Bacteria break down the sugars in the draff, which are then broken down further – into something called solvents, like butanol and ethanol – which can be added to petrol or diesel to power a car. Viola!

MAMA: Fabulous. Probably the only time whisky and cars can go together.

LEELA: But, you know, I wish we had a reporter in Scotland. Because Celtic Renewables is building a biorefinery, which means they’ll be able to do this on a large scale.

MAMA: Alright then folks – put the word out – we need an eco-warrior correspondent from Scotland to help us report on this story.

LEELA: And others!

FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – India is in the midst of a heatwave with unseasonably hot temperatures almost reaching 40 degrees Celsius, which is what in Fahrenheit?

104 degrees

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – It’s Mother’s Day this week, which started in America in 1907 by a woman from Pennsylvania – what was her name?

Anna Jarvis

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – What was the name of the custom from the Middle Ages where children who’d left their families to work as domestic helpers would visit their “mother” church three weeks before Easter?

Mothering Sunday

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – A fossil of a ten-armed octopus was discovered in the US state of Montana even though it’s a dry, mountainous place now because it was once an ocean separating the massive continent of North America into multiple landmasses. How many years ago?

328 million years ago

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – Biofuel is being made out of the 2-and-a-half kilograms of solid waste called what goes into making 1 liter of Scotch whisky? What is that waste called?


And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on, then go to the Lucky Dip page of our website,  newsypooloozi.com, that’s pool-o-o-z-i, and take this quiz online in your own time!

LEELA: And that brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!


Question – have you told a friend about us yet? Well, what are you waiting for? Think of the cool conversations about ten-armed octopuses, crazy gas, heatwaves and Mother’s Day you can have!

Alrighty, see you next week in the happy, splashy giant Newsy Pooloozi!