Joseph Grinnell’s Game Birds of California (1918) notes that the avocet is known as the lawyer bird because of “its long bill and its oft-repeated vociferations.”
The smallest U.S. state, Rhode Island, has a larger population than the largest U.S. state, Alaska.
- When written in all caps, the title of John Hiatt’s song “Have a Little Faith in Me” contains no curves.
- Tycho Brahe kept a tame elk.
- It isn’t known whether the sum of π and e is irrational.
- Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses Grant, and James Garfield died without wills.
- “Selfishness is one of the qualities apt to inspire love.” — Nathaniel Hawthorne
The medieval Latin riddle In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (“We enter the circle at night and are consumed by fire”) is a palindrome. The answer is “moths.”
Cimarron County, Oklahoma, is the only county in the United States that borders four states (Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas).
It’s also the only U.S. county to border six counties in five different states (two in Texas and one each in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma).
I can’t think of anything to say about this.
- The clock face on the Marienkirche in Bergen auf Rügen, Germany, has 61 minutes. Does this mean time moves more slowly there — or more quickly?
- To ensure quiet, poet Amy Lowell hired five rooms at every hotel — her own and those on either side, above, and below.
- A perplexing sentence from a letter by Dorothy Osborne, describing shepherdesses in Bedfordshire, May 1653: “They want nothing to make them the happiest people in the world but the knowledge that they are so.”
- OVEREFFUSIVE is a palindrome in Scrabble — its letter values are 141114411141. (Discovered by Susan Thorpe.)
- The sum of the digits of every multiple of 2739726 up to the 72nd is 36. (E.M. Langley, Mathematical Gazette, 1896)
- I’ll bet I have more money in my pocket than you do. (Of course I do — you have no money in my pocket!)
- In 1996 a model airplane enthusiast was operating a remote-controlled plane in Phoenix Park in Dublin when the receiver died and the plane flew off on its own. It flew five miles to the northeast, ran out of fuel, and glided to a landing … on the taxi-way to Runway 28 at Dublin Airport.
(Thanks, Brian and Breffni.)
It’s possible to sail in a straight line from Pakistan to Siberia — a carefully plotted great-circle route will thread a line between Madascar and the African mainland, between Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica, and through the Aleutian Islands to arrive at the Kamchatka Peninsula, a total distance of nearly 20,000 miles, about 80 percent of the Earth’s circumference. You can reverse course to get back to Karachi.
- Juneau, Alaska, is larger than Rhode Island.
- After reading Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria, Byron said, “I wish he would explain his explanation.”
- If A + B + C = 180°, then tan A + tan B + tan C = (tan A)(tan B)(tan C).
- Five counties meet in the middle of Lake Okeechobee.
- “Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life.” — George Sand
No one knows whether Andrew Jackson was born in North Carolina or South Carolina. The border hadn’t been surveyed well at the time.
The given name of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, is Edward Anthony Richard Louis.
Thus his initials are E.A.R.L.
Nobel Prize-winning chemist Herbert Charles Brown studied compounds of boron and hydrogen in organic chemistry. He joked that his initials reflected his field of study.
- Seattle is closer to Finland than to England.
- Is a candle flame alive?
- ABANDON is an anagram of A AND NO B.
- tan-1(1) + tan-1(2) + tan-1(3) = π
- “A thing is a hole in a thing it is not.” — Carl Andre
Detractors of Massachusetts governor Endicott Peabody said that three of the state’s towns had been named for him: Peabody, Marblehead, and Athol.