“Extraordinary Wave in the Channel”

The Weymouth and Channel Islands Steam Packet Company’s mail steamer Aquila left Weymouth at midnight on Friday for Guernsey and Jersey. On her passage across Channel, the weather was calm and clear, and the sea was smooth. When about one hour out, 1 a.m., 31st March, 1883, the steamer was struck violently by mountainous seas, which sent her on her beam ends and swept her decks from stem to stern. The water immediately flooded the cabins and engine room, entering through the skylights, the thick glass of which was smashed. As the decks became clear of water, the bulwarks were found to be broken in several places, one of the paddle boxes was considerably damaged, the iron rail on the bridge was completely twisted, the pump was broken and rendered useless, the skylight of the ladies’ cabin was completely gone, and the saloon skylight was smashed to atoms. The cabins were baled out with buckets, while tarpaulins were placed over the skylights for protection. Five minutes after the waves had struck the steamer, the sea became perfectly calm. Several of the crew were knocked about, but no one was seriously injured.

Symons’s Monthly Meteorological Magazine, April 1883

The Armistice Carriage

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rethondes_Wagon_de_l%27Armistice.jpg

The armistice that ended Word War I was signed aboard Marshal Foch’s private train in the forest of Compiègne in November 1918.

In June 1940, Hitler demanded that France surrender aboard the very same carriage in the same spot in the forest.

“The disgrace is now extinguished,” wrote Joseph Goebbels in his diary. “It is a feeling of being born again.”

The Germans destroyed the carriage during the war, but in 1950 a replacement, correct in every detail, was rededicated. It’s on display today in a memorial at Compiègne.

Black and White

kling chess problem

By Josef Kling. White to mate in two moves.

Click for Answer

Bedrock

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%D0%91%D0%BE%D0%B3_%D0%A1%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BE%D1%84.jpg

If all moral obligations originate from God’s commands, then so must our moral obligation to obey these commands. He commands us to obey his commands. But what is the moral reason to obey that command? An earlier command? What is the reason to obey that?

Do we have a moral obligation to follow God’s commands because we love him? This implies that we ought to love him. Why? Because he commands it? That’s a circle. Because he’s good? That seems to mean only that he follows his own commands — or else that goodness is a standard independent of God.

In a Word

vespine
adj. pertaining to wasps

vespiary
n. a nest of wasps

Lord Dunsany and John Drinkwater were appearing as guests of honor at the Poetry Society of America when they fell into a friendly dispute over the relative merits of rhymed verse and rhythmical prose. Dunsany asked, “Supposing you had a line of rhymed verse ending with the word wasp. Where, I ask you, could you find a rhyme for wasp?”

In the words of the Boston Transcript‘s Alice Lawton, “That was the evening’s Parthian shot. Mr. Drinkwater produced no rhyme for ‘wasp.’”

But Arthur Guiterman, who was in the audience, later recalled, “You can find a rhyme for wasp. There is a perfectly good one in the dictionary. I found it at home that night. It is knosp and means a flower bud, or a budlike architectural ornament. Of course, having found it, I had to use it at once.”

I saw a Melancholy Wasp
Upon a Purple Clover Knosp,
Who wept, “The Poets do me Wrong,
Excluding me from Noble Song –
Though Pure am I and Wholly Crimeless –
Because, they say, my Name is Rhymeless!
Oh, had I but been born a Bee,
With Heaps of Words to Rhyme with me,
I should not want for Panegyrics
In Sonnets, Epics, Odes and Lyrics!
Will no one free me from the Curse
That bars my Race from Lofty Verse?”
“My Friend, that Little Thing I’ll care for
At once,” said I — and that is wherefore
So tenderly I set that Wasp
Upon a Purple Clover Knosp.

Work Planning

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Archip_Iwanowitsch_Kuindshi_009.jpg

A logic exercise by Lewis Carroll — what conclusion can be drawn from these premises?

  1. I despise anything that cannot be used as a bridge.
  2. Nothing that is worth writing an ode to would be an unwelcome gift to me.
  3. A rainbow will not bear the weight of a wheelbarrow.
  4. Whatever can be used as a bridge will bear the weight of a wheelbarrow.
  5. I would not take, as a gift, a thing that I despise.
Click for Answer

Times Square

Prove that the product of four consecutive positive integers cannot be a perfect square.

Click for Answer

Ice Route

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

The largest gem-quality diamond ever found was discovered in a South African mine in 1905. The so-called Cullinan diamond weighed 3,106 carats, or about 1-1/3 pounds.

The Transvaal government purchased the stone and offered it to Edward VII on his 66th birthday, but the problem remained how to transport such a valuable object safely to England. Amid great publicity and heavy security, an ocean liner set out carefully for London.

It was carrying a decoy stone — the real diamond was sent by parcel post. It arrived safely.

(Thanks, Ross.)

A Leg Up

http://www.google.com/patents/US6161223

Allison Andrews had a brainstorm in 1999: If our pants could be easily divided in two, then we could mix and match their halves:

This system saves money by providing a pair of pants that is selectable from the set of all combinations of the left legs against the right legs. Since most members of the combination set do not physically exist at any given time, the user has a large selection set for a fraction of the price.

This way, your wardrobe increases geometrically with each new purchase.

Hell’s Kitchen

Probably you’ll want to skip this one — a recipe “to rost a Goose alive,” from Johann Wecker’s Secrets of Nature, 1582:

Let it be a Duck or Goose, or some such lively Creature, but a Goose is best of all for this purpose, leaving his neck, pull of all the Feather from his body, then make a fire round about him, not too wide, for that will not rost him: within the place set here and there small pots full of water, with Salt and Honey mixed therewith, and let there be dishes set full of rosted Apples, and cut in pieces in the dish, and let the Goose be basted with Butter all over, and Larded to make him better meat, and he may rost the better, put fire to it; do not make too much haste, when he begins to rost, walking about, and striving to flye away, the fire stops him in, and he will fall to drink water to quench his thirst; this will cool his heart and the other parts of his body, and by this medicament he looseneth his belly, and grows empty. And when he rosteth and consumes inwardly, alwayes wet his head and heart with a wet Sponge: but when you see him run madding and stumble, his heart wants moysture, take him away, set him before your Guests, and he will cry as you cut off any part from him, and will be almost eaten up before he be dead, it is very pleasant to behold.

Wecker credits this to a cook named Mizald. William Kitchiner calls it “diabolically cruel”; he quotes another commentator who says “We suppose Mr. Mizald stole this receipt from the kitchen of his Infernal Majesty: probably it might have been one of the dishes the devil ordered when he invited Nero and Caligula to a feast.”