Unquote

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci

“Errors of the Press.”

“The following paragraphs will shew how completely the sense is altered by the omission of a single letter of the word in Italics”:

  • “The conflict was dreadful, and the enemy was repulsed with considerable laughter.”
  • “Robert Jones was yesterday brought before the sitting Magistrate, on a charge of having spoken reason at the Barleymow public-house.”
  • “In consequence of the numerous accidents occasioned by skaiting on the Serpentine River, measures are taking to put a top to it.”
  • “When Miss Leserve, late of Covent Garden Theatre, visited the ‘Hecla,’ she was politely drawn up the ship’s side by means of a hair.”
  • “At the Guildhall dinner, none of the poultry was eatable except the owls.”
  • “A gentleman was yesterday brought up to answer a charge of having eaten a hackney-coachman for having demanded more than his fare; and another was accused of having stolen a small ox out of the Bath mail; the stolen property was found in his waistcoat pocket.”

Salem Register, 1827, quoted in The Olden Time Series, Vol. 6: Literary Curiosities: Gleanings Chiefly from Old Newspapers of Boston and Salem, Massachusetts, 1886

Human Zoos

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tuareg_1907.jpg

Now decried as racist, “human zoos” attracted millions to fairs and exhibitions in the 19th century.

They purported to show how other peoples lived in their “primitive” state, but they often revealed more about their white organizers.

In 1906, the Bronx Zoo exhibited a Congolese pygmy next to an orangutan, as an example of the “missing link.” The pygmy was finally removed after a public outcry. Clergyman James H. Gordon said, “Our race, we think, is depressed enough, without exhibiting one of us with the apes.”

Self-Made Man

Jay Leno has hosted the Tonight Show for 14 years, but he has never touched a cent of his earnings, living off stand-up performances instead.

“My original profession was and still is a comedian,” he says, “not a personality.”

Neighborhood Watch

“Dryden and Otway lived opposite to each other in Queen-street. Otway coming one night from the tavern, chalked upon Dryden’s door, Here lives John Dryden, he is a wit. Dryden knew his hand writing, and next day chalked on Otway’s door, Here lives Tom Otway, he is oppo-site.”

Essex Register, 1802, quoted in The Olden Time Series, Vol. 6: Literary Curiosities: Gleanings Chiefly from Old Newspapers of Boston and Salem, Massachusetts, 1886

Ehrenstein illusion

An optical illusion. The square’s sides are straight.

Eddie Gaedel

Playing baseball for the St. Louis Browns, Eddie Gaedel had a career on-base percentage of 1.000, but most people have never heard of him.

Why? Because he had only one at-bat. Gaedel was a dwarf signed by the Browns as a publicity stunt in 1951. He had a legitimate contract, so the umpire had to let him play, but since he was only 3’7″, his strike zone measured an inch and a half. Tigers pitcher Bob Cain threw four balls, all high.

The Tigers won 6-2, but Gaedel got a standing ovation. Today his jersey (number “1/8″) hangs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Captive Candidate

In 1958 a rhinoceros ran for the city council of São Paulo, Brazil.

“Cacareco,” who lived at the city zoo, was nominated as a protest against political corruption.

Officials rejected his candidacy, but he received 100,000 votes anyway, more than any other party.

Brazilians still describe a protest vote as a “Voto Cacareco” (Cacareco vote).

Welcome to Town

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The “Hollywood sign” started as an advertisement for a housing development in the 1920s, but a deeper symbolism soon became clear.

In 1932, actress Peg Entwistle committed suicide by jumping to her death from the letter “H”.

Unquote

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” — Popular Mechanics, 1949