On the Couch

In the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, the subject is asked whether he agrees with a series of statements, such as “There seems to be a lump in my throat much of the time,” “I am not afraid to handle money,” “I feel uneasy indoors,” and “My sleep is fitful and disturbed.” His responses give insights into his personality and psychopathology.

In 2006, poet Katie Degentesh fed these statements into Google and combined the results into a series of poems, which she published as The Anger Scale. Here’s an excerpt from “As a youngster I was suspended from school one or more times for cutting up”:

Everyone knows about Dallas
and its acts of terrifying gorgeousness

a chef in a tall hat piping meringue
discussing the “brain drain”

dropped a slab of concrete on his left foot
before being lured to the guitar

doesn’t recall details of cutting up friend
to create fake masterpiece

Poets Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith call this “a ‘pataphysical nosography, evaluating and diagnosing the mental stability of the Internet itself.” But how do we evaluate the results?

Black and White

agnel chess problem

By Hyacinth R. Agnel. White to mate in two moves.

Click for Answer

Archimedes’ Twin Circles

Pick any three points on a line and use each pair of them to define a semicircle, as shown.

Now draw a perpendicular between the two smaller semicircles.

Circles c1 and c2 will always have the same area.

Franklin’s Mint

Lesser-known maxims from Poor Richard’s Almanack:

  • Bucephalus, the horse of Alexander, hath as lasting fame as his master.
  • Who has deceiv’d thee so oft as thy self?
  • We are not so sensible of the greatest Health as of the least Sickness.
  • A temper to bear much, will have much to bear.
  • Content and riches seldom meet together; riches take thou, contentment I had rather.
  • Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge.
  • Vanity backbites more than malice.
  • In success be moderate.
  • A new truth is a truth, and an old error is an error, tho’ Clodpate won’t allow either.
  • What maintains one Vice would bring up two children.
  • The Golden Age never was the present Age.
  • Quarrels never could last long, if on one side lay the wrong.
  • If your riches are yours, why don’t you take them with you t’other World?

“Sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it is hurtful. Nor is a duty beneficial because it is commanded, but it is commanded because it is beneficial.”

In a Word

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Roman_Kramsztyk_Portret_Karola_Szustra_1927.jpg

bellytimber
n. food, provisions

magirology
n. the art or science of cookery

gastrosoph
n. an expert or skilled eater

Recommendation

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Glaspalast_M%C3%BCnchen_1889_095.jpg

In 1880, Sidney Lanier made an important announcement to his 11-year-old son Charley:

West Chester, Pa.
August 15, 1880

My dear Charley:

A young man came to our house yesterday morning who claims that he is a brother of yours and Sidney’s and Harry’s and that he is entitled to all the rights and privileges appertaining unto that honorable connection. … He is a most exemplary young man. He never stays out late at night; neither chews, smokes, nor uses snuff; abstains from all intoxicating liquors, and does not touch even tea or coffee; however much preserves and fruit-cake there may be on the supper-table, he never asks for any; he does no kind of work on the Sabbath; he honors his father and mother, particularly his mother; he plays no games of hazard, not even marbles for winnance; and I am positively certain that in the whole course of his life he has never uttered a single angry or ungentlemanly word. I am bound to admit that he has his shortcomings: he isn’t as particular about his clothes as I would like to see him; he has a way of trying to get both fists in his mouth which certainly does look odd in company; and he wants his breakfast in the morning at four o’clock — an hour at which it is very inconvenient, with our household arrangements, to furnish it to him. …

Earnestly hoping that this lovely little (for I omitted to mention that he is small of stature) brother Rob may find a good warm place in your three hearts without being obliged to resort to extreme measures, and with a hundred embraces for you, me dear big Charley,

I am
Your &c &c &c.

The Soul Trial

When Arizona copper prospector James Kidd disappeared in 1949, he left behind a curious will:

this is my first and only will and is dated the second day in January 1946. I have no heirs have not married in my life, after all my funeral expenses have been paid and #100, one hundred dollars to some preacher of the gospital to say fare well at my grave sell all my property which is all in cash and stocks with E F Hutton Co Phoenix some in safety deposit box, and have this balance money go into a reserach or some scientific proof of a soul of the human body which leaves at death I think in time their can be a Photograph of soul leaving the human at death, James Kidd

He left it in a safe deposit box, so it didn’t come to light until 1963, by which time Kidd’s estate had appreciated to nearly $200,000. This attracted more than 100 claimants, each of which argued it was best qualified to find the human soul. The Neurological Sciences Foundation of Phoenix, for example, said that it was working with hallucinogenic agents, biochemical controls of the brain, and the nervous system. “To the extent that the ‘soul’ is a function of the human body,” it insisted, “to this extent our work … is relevant to the intent of the will.”

Arizona superior court judge Robert L. Myers finally awarded the legacy to a local neurological institute, but after an additional six years of litigation it went to the American Society for Psychical Research. “The Kidd legacy was not only a windfall,” wrote Nicholas Wade in Science, “but proved the parapsychologists could at least convince a court of the seriousness of their intentions.”

Easy Rider

https://www.google.com/patents/US4735429

For the conservation-minded, in 1988 Joseph Beck patented a “sail attachment” for a bicycle. The mast extends upward from the rear wheel, and it’s mounted on a pivot so that it will swing out of the way if you run into something. I’m not sure how you’d store it, though.

Related: In 1826 George Pocock invented a buggy drawn by kites.

Waste Not, Want Not

An American, named Sanborn, living at Medford, Mass., in his will, dated 1871, bequeathed his body to Harvard University, and ‘especially to the manipulation of Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Agassiz.’ He requested that his skin be made into two drumheads, to become the property of his life-long friend, Warren Simpson, leader of a drum corps, of Cohasset, on condition that on Bunker Hill at sunrise, June 17th, each year, he should beat on the said drum the tune of ‘Yankee Doodle.’ On one drum-head was to be inscribed Pope’s ‘Universal Prayer,’ and on the other the ‘Declaration of Independence.’

‘The remainder of my body,’ he continues, ‘unless for anatomical purposes, to be composted for a fertilizer to contribute to the growth of an American elm, to be planted in some rural thoroughfare, that the weary wayfarer may rest, and innocent children play beneath its umbrageous branches rendered luxuriant by my remains.’

Current Opinion, 1902

A Little Romance

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Landing_on_Queen_Red_Beach,_Sword_Area.jpg

When the British Army went ashore at Normandy, private Bill Millin was wearing a Cameron tartan kilt and playing “Hielan’ Laddie” on his bagpipes. Unarmed except for a ceremonial dagger, he marched up and down the water’s edge, blasting out tunes, and miraculously was not hit. Millin was personal piper to Lord Lovat, commander of 1st Special Service Brigade. The War Office had banned pipers from leading soldiers into battle after many were lost in World War I. “But that’s the English War Office,” Lovat told him. “You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.”

“Mad Jack” Churchill enjoyed danger so much that he fought World War II with arrows and a broadsword — that’s him on the far right below, leading a training exercise in Scotland.

“Any officer who goes into action without his sword,” he said, “is improperly dressed.”

Churchill charged through the whole war this way — he’s the only British soldier to fell an enemy with a longbow — and yet he lived to be 90. He died peacefully in Surrey in 1996.

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

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