Presto

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Santa%27s_Portrait_TNast_1881.jpg

Raymond Smullyan offered this proof at a conference on self-reference:

A: Santa Claus exists, if I am not mistaken.
B: Well, of course Santa Claus exists if you are not mistaken!
A: So I was right.
B: Yes.
A: So I was not mistaken.
B: Yes.
A: Hence, Santa Claus exists.

Mind’s Eye #1

mind's eye #1

Another gift from designer Von Glitschka — he’s composing engraved artwork to accompany some of our quotations.

With each image he’s providing a high-resolution PDF (this one is 10 MB) suitable to collect, print, and hang.

We’re hoping to release a new image each month, here and on social media — as with the wallpaper, I’ll put the links on the About page as well. Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Von!

Wallpaper

futility closet wallpaper

Thanks again to the world-bestriding Von Glitschka for our new logo. At Von’s suggestion we’re calling the penguin Mr. Curious.

Von has also thoughtfully created wallpaper files for iPhone, iPad, and desktops, which are free for the downloading:

iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus

iPad Air, Mini, Pro

Desktop: 1920 × 1080, 2560 × 1440, 3410 × 1918

I’ll add these links to the About page as well.

As we get organized we’ll announce other offerings here and in the Patreon feeds, and Von will be creating custom promo graphics to download, print out, and collect. A million thanks again to him for all his contributions, and to you for your kind words about the redesign.

Redesign

We’ve upgraded our look today, to make the podcast and books easier to find and to make the site easier to use on mobile devices. Many thanks to Graph Paper Press for the new design and to the great Von Glitschka for our new logo (about which more in a future post).

Everything should work as it always has (including the RSS and email feeds), but hopefully things are easier to find now, especially for newcomers. If you spot any problems, please let me know.

This site is supported entirely by its readers. If you value Futility Closet and would like to contribute, either with a one-time donation or ongoing patronage, please see the support page. Thanks for reading!

Books

FC book covers

Just a reminder — Futility Closet books make great gifts for people who are impossible to buy gifts for. Both contain hundreds of hand-picked favorites from our 11-year archive of curiosities. Some reviews:

“A wild, wonderful, and educational romp through history, science, zany patents, math puzzles, wonderful words (like boanthropy, hallelujatic, and andabatarian), the Devil’s Game, self-contradicting words, and so much more. Buy this book and feed your mind!” — Clifford A. Pickover, author of The Mathematics Devotional

“Futility Closet delivers concentrated doses of weird, wonderful, brain-stimulating ideas and anecdotes, curated mainly from forgotten old books. I’m hooked — there’s nothing quite like it!” — Mark Frauenfelder, founder, Boing Boing

“Meant to be read in pieces, but impossible to put down.” — Gary Antonick, editor, New York Times Numberplay blog

“Futility Closet is a dusty museum back room where one can spend minutes or hours among seldom-seen curiosities, and feel that none of the time was wasted.” — Alan Bellows, DamnInteresting.com

Both books are available now on Amazon. Thanks for your support!

Books

FC book covers

Just a reminder — Futility Closet books make great gifts for people who are impossible to buy gifts for. Both contain hundreds of hand-picked favorites from our 11-year archive of curiosities. Some sample entries from the first book’s index:

gaiety, of bespectacled horses, 35
hallucination, useful in enlivening Bristol, 94
Nazis, poorly informed regarding Irish railway schedules, 36
chili sauce, and estate planning, 25
softball, at North Pole, 67
whinging, vaudevillian, placated, 86
corned beef sandwiches, weightless, 170
Nagel, Conrad, induced to reflect wearily upon his romantic choices, 116

And from the second:

communists, driving habits of, 73
trombones, and hair loss, 139
prayers, Canadian, private, whether, 179
James, Henry, not a refulgent fireball of novelistic rigor, 174
plunges, earthward, righted dangerously, 111
whales, exasperated, 193
Carroll, Lewis, beset by asparagus, 174
Story magazine, hard up for Ws, 19

Both also feature the curious words, odd inventions, intriguing quotations, and challenging puzzles that are regular features on the site. Boing Boing founder Mark Frauenfelder says, “Futility Closet delivers concentrated doses of weird, wonderful, brain-stimulating ideas and anecdotes, curated mainly from forgotten old books. I’m hooked — there’s nothing quite like it!”

Buy them now on Amazon!

Reminder

You can get bonus posts and other rewards by supporting Futility Closet on Patreon — interact with me and other readers, browse the growing archive of bonus material (there are now more than 100 bonus posts), see my book recommendations, and more. You choose the amount to contribute, and you can change or cancel it at any time. See our Patreon page for details. Thanks!

Reminder

This website is supported mostly by readers’ donations. You can help by pledging a monthly contribution to our Patreon campaign. You choose the amount to contribute, and you can change or cancel your pledge at any time. In return we offer bonus posts and other rewards — see the page for details.

If you prefer, there’s a separate Patreon campaign, with different rewards, for our podcast. You can also make a one-time donation via the Donate button in the sidebar. My sincere thanks to everyone who’s contributed — we couldn’t continue without you.

I also want to thank Dan Farrow for his recent help in fixing up the website’s design and Daniel Summers for his ceaseless reliability in administering the server.

Reminder

You can get bonus posts and other rewards by supporting me on Patreon — plus the satisfaction of keeping the site going. Interact with me and other readers, browse the growing archive of bonus material, see my book recommendations, and more. You choose the amount to contribute, and you can change or cancel it at any time. See the Patreon page for details. Thanks!

Housekeeping

A few miscellaneous things:

  1. I’m going to pull back a bit on the social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter) — there’s just no time to maintain them at the rate I’d been going. I’ll retain the accounts, but I haven’t really figured out exactly what I’ll do with them. Thanks again to Meaghan Walsh Gerard for setting them up.
  2. Just a reminder that we’ve updated the email feed to a new service with no advertising — you can sign up using the “Subscribe via Email” form at the bottom of the sidebar. If you’re subscribed to the old service, you can unsubscribe by clicking the link at the bottom of any of those mailings. (I’ll keep supporting the old service, so you can keep it if you like.)
  3. Thanks to everyone who’s contributed to the Patreon campaign to support the website. Through Patreon you can sign up to make a monthly contribution to keep me going — you choose the amount to contribute, and you can change or cancel it whenever you like. If you pledge at least $3 per month, you’ll receive 10-15 bonus posts per month, and there are other rewards as well — see the page for details. As the campaign ramps up I am hoping to remove advertising from the website, which has been a long-term goal of mine. More on that in a bit.

I suppose I ought to mention also that there are Futility Closet books and a podcast! The books include some of my favorite posts from the site’s 10-year history, and the podcast explores a variety of historical curiosities in greater depth. I’ve been pretty terrible at promoting these things, but they’re additional ways of supporting us. Thanks for reading!