adj. liable to sin
adj. liable to sin
Let’s hope this isn’t true — Francis Joseph Baigent’s History of the Ancient Town and Manor of Basingstoke (1889) records the story of a woman who was buried alive twice. Baigent cites two sources, an undated tract from around 1675 and a book published in 1786, The Uncertainty of the Signs of Death. Mrs. Blunden, the wife of a local malt trader, was “a fat gross woman” who in July 1674 drank so much poppy-water (opium) that she fell into a deep sleep that arrested any apparent breath or pulse. The apothecary declared that he supposed she would never wake, and her husband left for London on business, directing that she be buried on his return. But the woman’s relatives noted that the weather was warm and that the body would not last four days, so they buried her on the following day, a Wednesday. Now the tract reads:
The Friday following toward the evening some of the Scholars of the Town being at play in the Churchyard near her grave, they fancied they heard a kind of hollow voice, as it were under ground, to which laying their ears and listening more attentively they plainly heard somebody say:
Take me out of my Grave,
which words the complaining voice repeated several times, intermixing them with fearful groans and dismal shriekings.
The boys reported this to several people but were dismissed. They returned to the chuchyard on Saturday and heard the voice again, “if not with so distinct yet with a louder accent,” and that afternoon the clerk finally exhumed Mrs. Blunden. “And now surveying her body, they found it most lamentably beaten, which they concluded to proceed from the violence she did herself in that deplorable an astonishment, but upon the most diligent scrutiny they could not apprehend that she had the least breath of life remaining, and therefore they again let her down into the grave, intending on the morrow to send to the Coroner.”
Guards were set to watch the resealed grave, but as the night was wet they abandoned their post, and “on the morrow morning at their return to the grave, they found she had torn off great part of her winding sheet, scratched herself first in several places, and beaten her mouth so long till it was all in gore blood.”
A number of citizens were indicted for their negligence, but a town doctor testified that he had held a mirror to Blunden’s mouth before her burial and could see no sign of breath, so “only the Town had a considerable fine set upon them for their neglect.”
Steve Lacy played soprano saxophone in Thelonious Monk’s quintet for 16 weeks in 1960. He took down the pianist’s advice in a spiral notebook:
“Monk’s tunes were ideal and difficult, and interesting, intriguing, and satisfying,” Lacy remembered later. “I started and I’ve never stopped looking into his music.”
Briefcase security, then and now:
In 1925, August Eimer invented the case above, which emits smoke when torn from its owner’s hand “in the form of a continually issuing cloud that will envelop the container and serve to unmistakably identify its purloiner, necessitating discard of the container by the thief if he would make his escape.”
In 1989, Isaac Soleimani offered the model below: As the thief is running off, you activate a radio signal that releases a latch, “with the result that the briefcase falls on the ground, leaving the thief only with the handle.”
It seems there’s always an element of slapstick. “The handle could also be spring-loaded so that upon remote triggering it could clamp down hard onto the thief’s hand, clamping the fingers between the handle and the top of the briefcase, thereby inflicting pain to the thief, causing him to drop the briefcase.”
How very intimate the bodily sense is can be seen by performing a little experiment in your imagination. Think first of swallowing the saliva in your mouth, or do so. Then imagine expectorating it into a tumbler and drinking it! What seemed natural and ‘mine’ suddenly becomes disgusting and alien. Or picture yourself sucking blood from a prick in your finger; then imagine sucking blood from a bandage around your finger! What I perceive as belonging intimately to my body is warm and welcome; what I perceive as separate from my body becomes, in the twinkling of an eye, cold and foreign.
— Gordon W. Allport, Becoming: Basic Considerations for a Psychology of Personality, 1960
New Zealander Nancy Wake fought fearlessly for the Allies in World War II, first for the French resistance and later as a spy for Britain’s Special Operations Executive.
Parachuted into the Auvergne in April 1944, she was hanging from a tree when a resistance fighter told her, “I hope that all the trees in France bear such beautiful fruit this year.”
She said, “Don’t give me that French shit.”
Another puzzle from Henry Dudeney:
“It is a glorious game!” an enthusiast was heard to exclaim. “At the close of last season, of the footballers of my acquaintance, four had broken their left arm, five had broken their right arm, two had the right arm sound, and three had sound left arms.” Can you discover from that statement what is the smallest number of players that the speaker could be acquainted with?
Chinese poet and palindromist Su Hui lost her husband to a concubine in the fourth century. To console her grief and to lure him back, she composed an ingenious array of 841 characters that can be read forward, backward, horizontally, vertically, and diagonally:
Each seven-character segment corresponds to a poetic line, and can be read in either direction. At the end of each segment, “you encounter a junction of meridians and can choose which direction to go,” explains anthologist David Hinton. “You can begin anywhere, and the poem ends after four lines have been chosen. This structure generates 2,848 possible poems.”
It’s said that Su Hui’s husband was so moved that he sent away the concubine and rejoined her.
“It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” — J.B.S. Haldane, Possible Worlds, 1927
From the 1977 all-Soviet-Union Mathematical Olympiad:
Seven dwarfs are sitting at a round table. Each has a cup, and some cups contain milk. Each dwarf in turn pours all his milk into the other six cups, dividing it equally among them. After the seventh dwarf has done this, they find that each cup again contains its initial quantity of milk. How much milk does each cup contain, if there were 42 ounces of milk altogether?