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

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

Peril at Sea

In crossing the Atlantic, in the month of November, 1749, the crew of an English ship observed a large ball of blue fire rolling on the water. It came down on them so fast, that before they could raise the main-tack, they observed the ball to rise almost perpendicularly, and within a few yards of the main chains: It went off with an explosion as if hundreds of cannon had been fired off simultaneously, and left behind it a great smell of brimstone. The main-top-mast was shattered into a thousand pieces, and spikes driven out of the main-mast which stuck in the main deck. Five seamen were knocked down, and one of them greatly burnt, by the explosion. The fireball was of the apparent size of a large mill-stone, and came from the N. E.

Cabinet of Curiosities, Natural, Artificial, and Historical, 1822

Accidentally Famous


In 1838, a man made history by having his boots polished.

The man, in the lower left, was the only thing standing still when Louis Daguerre took this photograph of a busy Parisian street. Because the film was exposed for 10 minutes, the rest of the traffic blurred into nothing — and the anonymous man became the first person ever to appear in a photograph.

“The Pig”


It was an evening in November,
As I very well remember,
I was strolling down the street in drunken pride,
But my knees were all a-flutter,
And I landed in the gutter
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.

Yes, I lay there in the gutter
Thinking thoughts I could not utter,
When a colleen passing by did softly say
“You can tell a man who boozes
By the company he chooses” —
And the pig got up and slowly walked away.

— Anonymous