Flat Lands

Countries with the lowest high points:

  1. Maldives: 2 meters
  2. Tuvalu: 5 meters
  3. Tokelau: 5 meters
  4. Cocos (Keeling) Islands: 5 meters
  5. Marshall Islands: 10 meters
  6. Cayman Islands: 43 meters
  7. Turks and Caicos Islands: 49 meters
  8. The Gambia: 53 meters
  9. The Bahamas: 63 meters
  10. Anguilla: 65 meters

The Maldives may eventually disappear altogether — sea levels have risen about 20 centimeters in the last century.


“To be agreeable in society, you must consent to be taught many things which you already know.” — Talleyrand

Trevanion’s Escape

Confined in Colchester Castle during the English civil war, the royalist officer Sir John Trevanion was awaiting execution when he received this letter:

Worthie Sir John:- Hope, that is ye beste comfort of ye afflicted, cannot much, I fear me, help you now. That I would saye to you, is this only: if ever I may be able to requite that I do owe you, stand not upon asking me. ‘Tis not much that I can do: but what I can do, bee ye verie sure I wille. I knowe that, if dethe comes, if ordinary men fear it, it frights not you, accounting it for a high honor, to have such a rewarde of your loyalty. Pray yet that you may be spared this soe bitter, cup. I fear not that you will grudge any sufferings; only if bie submission you can turn them away, ’tis the part of a wise man. Tell me, an if you can, to do for you anythinge that you wolde have done. The general goes back on Wednesday. Restinge your servant to command. — R.T.

Sir John studied the message for several hours, and then, apparently despairing, asked to spend some time alone in prayer. His captors agreed — and never saw him again.

Read the third letter after each punctuation mark.

Eternal Flame Falls


Under a waterfall in New York’s Chestnut Ridge Regional Park there’s a grotto that emits natural gas.

It can be lit to produce a flame.

What’s in a Name?

In the seventeenth century, André Pujom, finding that his name spelled Pendu à Riom, fulfilled his destiny by cutting somebody’s throat in Auvergne, and was actually hung at Riom, the seat of justice in that province.

— William Dobson, Poetical Ingenuities and Eccentricities, 1882

Bad Actor


Molière collapsed on stage in 1673 and died hours later.

The play was called The Hypochondriac.

Small World

“Formosa” is both a province in Argentina and the former name of Taiwan.

Curiously, those locations are on precisely opposite sides of the earth. Noon at one is midnight at the other, and midwinter at one is midsummer at the other.

Bread Alone

Andy and Bill are traveling when they meet Carl. Andy has 5 loaves of bread and Bill has 3; Carl has none and asks to share theirs, promising to pay them 8 gold pieces when they reach the next town.

They agree and divide the bread equally among them. When they reach the next town, Carl offers 5 gold pieces to Andy and 3 to Bill.

“Excuse me,” says Andy. “That’s not equitable.” He proposes another arrangement, which, on consideration, Bill and Carl agree is correct and fair.

How do they divide the 8 gold pieces?

Click for Answer

Where the Boys Are


Men per woman:

  • Northern Mariana Islands: 0.77
  • Russia: 0.86
  • Puerto Rico: 0.92
  • United States: 0.97
  • Canada: 0.98
  • United Kingdom: 0.98
  • Australia: 0.99
  • Iceland: 1
  • India: 1.06
  • Greenland: 1.12
  • Qatar: 1.87

The world average is 1.01.

In a Word

v. to attend a party to which one has not been invited