Unquote

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Moonrise_Frederic_Edwin_Church_1889.jpeg

“Civilization is not inherited; it has to be learned and earned by each generation anew; if the transmission should be interrupted for one century, civilization would die, and we should be savages again.” — Will and Ariel Durant

Commentary

Reviews of a test pattern on Netflix:

  • “Not as good as the book. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve pretty much seen the whole thing. I hope ‘Downscaling 2998fps: Too Down, Too Scaler’ is better.”
  • “This is truly some of the best acting I’ve ever seen Keanu Reeves do. Hands down.”
  • “Not since Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist has there been such a grim exploration of nihilism, peppered with gratuitous exploitation as ‘Test Pattern: Downscaling 2997fps 10Min.’ I found it beautiful and filthy with a soundtrack that puts Frozen‘s ‘Let it Go’ to shame.”
  • “I had not seen any of the previous test patterns, and I was afraid I would not ‘get’ this one. Boy was I wrong! Talk about exciting! Going in my list. I’ll be watching this one again!”
  • “I turned it off at 01:17:18. Pretty obvious where this thing was going. Really sad to see that cyan has resorted to doing test pattern work, another hue that started out with so much potential. The circle with the spinning colors showed promise and that ‘bleep’ sound was kinda clever.”
  • “What happened Netflix? A year or two ago your test patterns were good clean fun. Yes, you might attract more subscribers with this kind of material, but at what cost? You’re better than this Netflix!”

Reviews of a gallon of milk on Amazon:

  • “Unfortunately, after a terrible night’s sleep, I have concluded that this product is not suitable for use as a pillow.”
  • “This is a fine milk, but the product line appears to be limited in available colors. I could only find white.”
  • “I cannot say that Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 gal, 128 fl. oz. was entirely responsible for my winning the Sveriges Riksbank Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. However, I would be remiss in not mentioning it.”
  • “Has anyone else tried pouring this stuff over dry cereal? A-W-E-S-O-M-E!”
  • “Bought it for my cousin who had cancer, item never arrived and my cousin died.”
  • “You know, if you click on the different image views, it looks like it’s coming to GET you…”
  • “WANTED: Somebody to buy milk on the internets with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we drink it. Must bring your own weapons and be able to crawl through a series of tubes. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”

See Beach Reading.

Escape Suspenders

https://www.google.com/patents/US323416

In 1885 George C. Hale had the bright idea of weaving a zigzag cord into a pair of suspenders. Now if the wearer is trapped in a burning building, he can free the cord, lower it from a window to receive a rope, and escape to safety.

Hale’s patent application says, “I have found by experimenting that from fifty to one hundred feet, or even more, of the cord can be secured to the suspender in the manner heretofore described.”

The application was granted. I wonder if he ever went into business with this.

End State

http://nationalatlas.gov/

Starting in Delaware, you must tour the 48 contiguous United States, visiting each state exactly once.

Where will you finish?

Click for Answer

Orthography

One afternoon, in mood très gai
Because of paying the gourmet
(I’d taken wine with déjeuner —
A light and lilting Beaujolais —
Plus biscuits, cheese, and pousse-café),
I dared a blazing sun, à pied,
To pay a little visit chez
Miss Janet, who said “You OK?
You may have had a coup de soleil.”

Said I, “I’ve writ a poem, J.,
With no last letter twice in play
And yet the whole thing rhymes with a.”

— Willard R. Espy

(“The trick would, of course, be impossible without using Anglicized French terms.”)

Last Words

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Amelia_earhart_1937.jpg

Amelia Earhart left behind what she called “popping off letters,” to be opened in the event of her death. This one, discovered by her husband and biographer, George Putnam, was addressed to her father:

May 20, 1928

Dearest Dad:

Hooray for the last grand adventure! I wish I had won, but it was worth while anyway. You know that.

I have no faith we’ll meet anywhere again, but I wish we might.

Anyway, good-by and good luck to you.

Affectionately, your doter,

Mill

Another, addressed to her mother, read simply, “Even though I have lost, the adventure was worth while. Our family tends to be too secure. My life has really been very happy, and I don’t mind contemplating its end in the midst of it.”

Human Relations

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Poets;_twenty_portraits_of_writers._Engraving_by_J.W._Cook,_Wellcome_V0006823.jpg

Satirists must make difficult masters. Jonathan Swift spent 28 years amassing grievances about his servants and published them in a sarcastic list in 1731:

  • To save time and trouble, cut your apples and onions with the same knife, for well-bred gentry love the taste of an onion in everything they eat.
  • Never send up a leg of a fowl at supper, while there is a cat or a dog in the house that can be accused of running away with it: but, if there happen to be neither, you must lay it upon the rats, or a strange greyhound.
  • When you are chidden for a fault, as you go out of the room, and down stairs, mutter loud enough to be plainly heard; this will make him believe you are innocent.
  • When any servant comes home drunk, and cannot appear, you must all join in telling your master, that he is gone to bed very sick.
  • In order to learn the secrets of other families, tell your brethren those of your master’s; thus you will grow a favourite both at home and abroad, and regarded as a person of importance.
  • When you have done a fault, be always pert and insolent, and behave yourself as if you were the injured person; this will immediately put your master or lady off their mettle.
  • Never submit to stir a finger in any business but that for which you were particularly hired. For example, if the groom be drunk or absent, and the butler be ordered to shut the stable door, the answer is ready, An please your Honour, I don’t understand Horses.
  • Leave a pail of dirty water with the mop in it, a coal-box, a bottle, a broom, a chamber pot, and such other unsightly things, either in a blind entry or upon the darkest part of the back stairs, that they may not be seen, and if people break their shins by trampling on them, it is their own fault.

Samuel Johnson remarked that Swift must have taken copious notes, “for such a number of particulars could never have been assembled by the power of recollection.”

Black and White

loyd chess problem

By Sam Loyd. White to mate in two moves.

Click for Answer

In a Word

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gr%C3%BCtzner_Benediktinerm%C3%B6nch_mit_Wein_beim_Fr%C3%BChschoppen.jpg

abbey-lubber
n. a monk living in idleness and self-indulgence

Chinese Magic Mirrors

During China’s Han dynasty, artisans began casting solid bronze mirrors with a perplexing property. The front of each mirror was a polished, reflective surface, and the back featured a design that had been cast into the bronze. But if light were cast from the mirrored side onto a wall, the design would appear there as if by magic.

The mirrors first came to the attention of the West in the early 19th century, and their secret eluded investigators for 100 years until British physicist William Bragg worked it out in 1932. Each mirror had been cast flat with the design on the reverse side, giving the disk a varying thickness. As the front was polished to produce a convex mirror, the thinner parts of the disk bulged outward slightly. These imperfections are invisible to direct inspection; as Bragg wrote, “Only the magnifying effect of reflection makes them plain.”

Joseph Needham, the historian of ancient Chinese science, calls this “the first step on the road to knowledge about the minute structure of metal surfaces.”

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