Jerome

On Sept. 8, 1863, two boys discovered a legless man struggling on the beach at Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia. Coughing violently and suffering from exposure, he appeared to be in his late teens or early 20s, and he seemed unable or unwilling to respond to their inquiries.

As the villagers nursed him back to health they found him angry and gloomy by nature, keeping his identity to himself. Rumors began to circulate: He was a Civil War veteran, a pirate, a spy, an exiled Habsburg, a murderer, a mutineer. His soft hands seemed to suggest high birth, but he had been found with only a tin box of hardtack and a jug of water, and he spoke neither English, Spanish, French, Italian, nor Latin. His legs had apparently been amputated by a skilled surgeon. As all attempts to communicate with him were unsuccessful, he came to be known simply as Jerome, after a response he had mumbled when asked his name.

That’s the whole story. For the next 50 years Jerome was lodged with various local families, maintaining his silence despite endless inquiries from curiosity seekers. His identity was never discovered. When he died, finally, on April 15, 1912, the Halifax Morning Chronicle wrote, “The people in this vicinity have given up the solving of the great mystery that closed today in death, thus ending one of the greatest secrets that ever occurred on this continent.”

See The Somerton Man.

Slippery

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Envase_WD-40.jpg

WD-40 has never been patented. The ingredients are a trade secret.

Misc

  • To frustrate eavesdroppers, Herbert Hoover and his wife used to converse in Chinese.
  • Asteroids 30439, 30440, 30441, and 30444 are named Moe, Larry, Curly, and Shemp.
  • COMMITTEES = COST ME TIME
  • 15618 = 1 + 56 – 1 × 8
  • How is it that time passes but space doesn’t?

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary gives no pronunciation for YHWH.

Black and White

brown chess problem

By Theodore Morris Brown. White to mate in two moves.

Click for Answer

Riding for Two

On Nov. 8, 2005, Candace Dickinson was pulled over for driving in the carpool lane on Interstate 10 in Phoenix. When police sergeant Dave Norton asked how many people were in the car, “she said two as she pointed to her obvious pregnancy.”

Dickinson argued in court that since Arizona traffic laws don’t define when personhood begins, she and her unborn child constituted a carpool. Judge Dennis Freeman favored a “common-sense” interpretation of the statutes in which a person occupies a “separate and distinct … space in a vehicle.” He upheld Dickinson’s $367 fine.

California courts have encountered the same argument — it appears on the frequently asked questions page of the California Highway Patrol. The answer: “California law requires that in order to utilize the HOV lane, there must be two (or, if posted, three) separate individuals occupying seats in a vehicle. Until your ‘passenger’ is capable of riding in his or her own seat, you cannot count them.”

Anomalous Cancellation

anomalous cancellation

In a Word

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Russia_stamp_1992_No_15.jpg

treen
adj. made of wood

The Predictor

A magician asks you to shuffle a pack of cards and to take some quantity of them. He takes a larger packet for himself. The magician counts his cards and says, “I have as many cards as you have, plus four cards, and enough left to make 16.”

You count your cards and find that you have 11. The magician counts 11 of his cards onto the table, sets aside a further four, and then continues counting: 12-13-14-15-16. The 16th card is the last, as he predicted.

He can repeat the feat as often as you request it. The number of cards that he sets aside sometimes varies, but he always arrives at the predicted quantity. How does he do it?

Click for Answer

Recalled to Life

In August 1857, 13-year-old Narcisse Pelletier left Marseilles as a cabin boy aboard the Saint-Paul, a three-masted ship bound for Sydney. The ship struck a reef in Papua New Guinea, and Pelletier was feared dead. His parents mourned him for 17 years, until July 21, 1875, when they received this letter:

papa mama i am not dead i am living narcisse I was on board the saint paul of bordeaux I had been shipwrecked in the rock of the savage of the island the chinese in the island stayed and died killed I came in a little boat to an island of savages I had looked for water to drink the captain left in the little boat I looked for water in the woods I stayed in the woods I then see the savages who live on its coast come who had found me the savage gave food and drink he did not kill I give my hand he did not hurt me I stayed in the wood for a very long time I was almost dead I had o great hunger and great drink I was in a lot of pain

Pelletier explained that after the sinking he, the captain, and the surviving crew had crossed the Coral Sea in an open boat to Cape York in northern Australia, where Pelletier was somehow left behind and discovered by a community of aborigines, with whom he lived until he was discovered that year by a landing party from pearling boat. He returned to France, where his thanksgiving mass was celebrated by the same priest who had baptized him 32 years earlier. He married and lived quietly as a lighthouse-keeper until his death in 1894.

Drive

http://www.google.com/patents/US3964560

Royce Husted’s “power-driven ski,” patented in 1976, adds a motor-driven belt to conventional skis to create, in effect, a standing snowmobile:

Applicant’s invention provides the skier on the one hand with some of the challenges, such as holding balance, etc., of downhill skiiing without the dependency on hilly terrain and ski lifts, and on the other hand it is much less cumbersome to use, to transport and to store than the snowmobile, and less expensive to produce and maintain.

This would make February commutes so much easier …