“Among those whom I like, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can; all of them make me laugh.” — W.H. Auden

Field Report

The longest item of news ever telegraphed to a newspaper, was the entire New Testament as revised, and all variations of the English and American committees, from New York to Chicago, and the whole published as an item of news in the Sunday morning Chicago Tribune for May 22, 1882. That day’s Tribune comprised 20 pages, 16 of which were required for the New Testament.

Miscellaneous Notes and Queries, May 1889



Our eyes tend to assume that light comes from above, so this looks like a mound of earth.

In fact it’s an image of Arizona’s Meteor Crater … shown upside down.


So It Goes

Halfway between Hawaii and the mainland United States, there’s a vortex of ocean currents where plastic flotsam accumulates.

It’s known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” — and it’s the size of Texas.

Math Notes

93 + 13 + 93 = 1459
13 + 43 + 53 + 93 = 919



A razor company once invited George Bernard Shaw to shave his famous beard. He responded with a postcard:


I shall never shave, for the same reason that I started a beard, and for the reason my father started his. I remember standing at his side, when I was five, while he was shaving for the last time. “Father,” I asked, “Why do you shave?” He stood there for a full minute and finally looked down at me. “Why the hell do I?” he said.


“Strange Instance of Sympathy”

The Duke de Saint Simon mentions in his ‘Memoirs’ a singular instance of constitutional sympathy between two brothers. These were twins — the President de Banquemore and the Governor de Bergues, who were surprisingly alike, not only in their persons, but in their feelings. One morning, he tells us, when the president was at his royal audience, he was suddenly attacked by an intense pain in the thigh; at the same instant, as it was discovered afterwards, his brother, who was with the army, received a severe wound from a sword on the same leg, and precisely the same part of the leg.

— Frank H. Stauffer, The Queer, the Quaint and the Quizzical, 1882

Clinician, Heal Thyself

In The Elements of Style, his popular guide for writers, William Strunk declares:

“The subject of a sentence and the principal verb should not, as a rule, be separated by a phrase or clause that can be transferred to the beginning.”

Unwelcome Coincidence


Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert seemed to carry an odd curse — he was present or nearby at three successive presidential assassinations:

  • On April 14, 1865, his parents invited him to accompany them to Ford’s Theater. He remained at the White House and heard of his father’s death near midnight.
  • On July 2, 1881, he was an eyewitness to Garfield’s assassination at Washington’s Sixth Street Train Station.
  • On Sept. 6, 1901, he was present at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., when McKinley was shot.

In 1863, a stranger saved his life in a Jersey City train station. The stranger was Edwin Booth — the brother of John Wilkes Booth, his father’s future assassin.

In a Word

v. to add urine to ale to make it stronger