• Asked to invent the perfect bestselling title, Bennett Cerf suggested Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog.
  • The two most common birthdates for Nobel laureates are May 21 and February 28 (seven apiece).
  • ALASKA is the only U.S. state name that can be typed on a single row of keys on a standard typewriter.
  • 13177388 = 71 + 73 + 71 + 77 + 77 + 73 + 78 + 78
  • “I don’t know much about medicine, but I know what I like.” — S.J. Perelman


  • James Buchanan’s niece was his first lady.
  • FIVE THOUSAND is the highest number name with no repeated letters.
  • Ardmore, Tennessee, borders Ardmore, Alabama.
  • 9306 × 2013 = 3102 × 6039
  • “So that’s what hay looks like.” — Queen Mary

If God exists outside space and time, then how can he be omnipresent, present in all places at all times? If he exists within it, how could he have created it? How could a creation (or anything) take place outside time?


  • Most Muppets are left-handed.
  • The largest prime number in the Bible is 22273 (Numbers 3:43).
  • SEE, HE, and IS are spelled identically in Morse code (ignoring spaces).
  • Maine is the only one-syllable state name.
  • “More things grow in the garden than the gardener sows.” — Spanish proverb

Fritz Zwicky referred to his colleagues at the Mount Wilson Observatory as “spherical bastards” because they were bastards whichever way one looked at them.

In a Word


adj. of or resembling a goose

In 1936, Polish mathematician Stanislaw Mazur offered a live goose to the first person who could determine whether every Banach space has a Schauder basis. Thirty-seven years later, his Swedish colleague Per Enflo claimed the prize. The ceremony was broadcast throughout Poland. (Thanks, Jeremy.)

In the public gardens at Halifax, there is an eccentric goose that seems to manifest a genuine affection. Whenever a certain old gentleman, whose name we do not know, approaches the pond and calls ‘Bobby,’ the goose will leave the pond and sit beside him, and when he leaves to go home, will follow close at his feet, like a dog, to the gate, and sometimes into the street, when it has to be forcibly put back, to its manifest disgust, for it goes off to its native element twisting its tail with indignation, and giving vent to sundry discordant squeaks. The old gentleman says he has never fed it, or petted it in any way, which makes it more remarkable; but we are told by a frequenter of the gardens that about two or three years ago a man used to come there and feed this identical goose regularly, so we are inclined to think that it is a case of mistaken identity on the part of his gooseship. Anyway, it is an interesting question for ornithologists to solve, whether geese (supposed to be the most stupid of birds) have memory and can experience the sensation of gratitude.

— James Baird McClure, ed., Entertaining Anecdotes From Every Available Source, 1879

A Key Point

Complaint received by a French typewriter shop, reprinted in a local newspaper on the Île de Ré:


Il y a quxlquxs sxmainxs jx mx suis offxrt unx dx vos machinxs à écrirx. Au début j’xn fus assxz contxnt. Mais pas pour longtxmps. Xn xffxt, vous voyxz vous-mêmx lx défaut. Chaqux fois qux jx vxux tapxr un x, c’xst un x qux j’obtixns. Cxla mx rxnd xnragé. Car quand jx vxux un x, c’xst un x qu’il mx faut xt non un x. Cxla rxndrait n’importx qui furixux. Commxnt fairx pour obtxnir un x chaqux fois qux jx desirx un x? Un x xst un x, xt non un x. Saisissxz-vous cx qux jx vxux dirx?

Jx voudrais savoir si vous êtxs xn mxsurx dx mx livrxr unx machinx à écrirx donnant un x chaqux fois qux j’ai bxsoin d’un x. Parcx qux si vous mx donnxz unx machinx donnant un x lorsqu’on tapx un x, vous pourrxz ravoir cx damné instrumxnt. Un x xst très bixn tant qux x, mais, oh xnfxr!

Sincèrxmxnt à vous, un dx vos clixnts rxndu xnragé.

Xugènx X—-

From John Julius Norwich, Christmas Crackers, 1981.