— Louis Phillips, Academe, February 1979
— Louis Phillips, Academe, February 1979
Thomas Jefferson looks on nervously while Lyndon Johnson “confers” with Sen. Richard Russell (D-Ga.). At 6’4″, Johnson tied Abraham Lincoln as the tallest U.S. president, and he used his physical presence to advance his agenda, cornering his targets in out-of-the-way places and leaning “so close to you,” one staffer recalled, “that your eyeglasses bumped.” In their 1966 book The Exercise of Power, Rowland Evans and Robert Novak dubbed this The Treatment:
The Treatment could last ten minutes or four hours. It came, enveloping its target, at the Johnson Ranch swimming pool, in one of Johnson’s offices, in the Senate cloakroom, on the floor of the Senate itself — wherever Johnson might find a fellow Senator within his reach. Its tone could be supplication, accusation, cajolery, exuberance, scorn, tears, complaint and the hint of threat. It was all of these together. It ran the gamut of human emotions. Its velocity was breathtaking, and it was all in one direction. Interjections from the target were rare. Johnson anticipated them before they could be spoken. He moved in close, his face a scant millimeter from his target, his eyes widening and narrowing, his eyebrows rising and falling. From his pockets poured clippings, memos, statistics. Mimicry, humor, and the genius of analogy made The Treatment an almost hypnotic experience and rendered the target stunned and helpless.
LBJ denied this. “I’d have to be some sort of acrobatic genius to carry it off,” he told an interviewer, “and the senator in question, well, he’d have to be pretty weak and pretty meek to be simply standing there like a paralyzed idiot.”
Vienna’s Café Central was crowded with intellectuals at the turn of the 20th century, including Freud, Lenin, the Vienna Circle of logical positivists, and endless chessplayers.
When Victor Adler made the argument that war would provoke a revolution in Russia, Leopold Berchtold replied, “And who will lead this revolution? Perhaps Mr. Bronstein sitting over there at the Café Central?”
Mr. Bronstein was Leon Trotsky.
The index to the fourth edition of George Thomas’ Calculus and Analytic Geometry contains an entry for “Whales” on page 188. That page contains no reference to whales, but it does include the figure above.
German mathematician Erich Bessel-Hagen was often teased for his protruding ears.
In 1923 his colleague Béla Kerékjártó published a book, Vorlesungen Über Topologie, whose index lists a reference to Bessel-Hagen on page 151.
That page makes no mention of Bessel-Hagen, but it does contain this figure:
Is that libel?
n. a list of written stupidities
Unfortunate lines in poetry, collected in D.B. Wyndham Lewis’ The Stuffed Owl, 1930:
In The Razor’s Edge, Larry Darrell says, “The dead look so terribly dead when they’re dead.” Isabel asks, “What do you mean exactly?” He says, “Just that.”
Bilingual palindromes, offered by Luc Étienne in Palindromes Bilingues, 1984:
I offer you a sentence which does not indeed read backward and forward the same, but reads forward in English and backward in Latin,– making sense, it seems to me, both ways; granting that it is hardly classical Latin.
Anger? ‘t is safe never. Bar it! Use love!
Evoles ut ira breve nefas sit; regna!
Which being freely translated, may mean,
Rise up, in order that your anger may be but a brief madness; control it!
— John Townsend Trowbridge, ed., Our Young Folks, 1866
From Benoni Lanctot’s Chinese and English Phrase Book (1867), phrases for English-speaking employers of Chinese-Americans:
Phrases for Chinese speakers:
From a letter from Theodore Roosevelt to his son Kermit, Oct. 2, 1903:
There! You will think this a dreadfully preaching letter! I suppose I have a natural tendency to preach just at present because I am overwhelmed with my work. I enjoy being President, and I like to do the work and have my hand on the lever. But it is very worrying and puzzling, and I have to make up my mind to accept every kind of attack and misrepresentation. It is a great comfort to me to read the life and letters of Abraham Lincoln. I am more and more impressed every day, not only with the man’s wonderful power and sagacity, but with his literally endless patience, and at the same time unflinching resolution.
From Martin Gardner, via Michael Stueben: Obtain a slab of gold measuring 10″ x 11″ x 1″. Divide it diagonally and then cut a triangular notch in two corners as shown. Remove these notches as profit, and slide the remaining halves together to produce a new 10″ x 11″ x 1″ slab. The process can be repeated to yield any amount of money you like!