The maker doesn’t need it.

The buyer doesn’t use it.

The user doesn’t know he’s using it.

What is it?

Uh, Right

Decimal arithmetic is a contrivance of man for computing numbers, and not a property of time, space, or matter. It belongs essentially to the keeping of accounts, but is merely an incident to the transactions of trade. Nature has no partiality for the number 10; and the attempt to shackle her freedom with them [decimal gradations], will for ever prove abortive.

– John Quincy Adams, recommending against the metric system in 1821, as reported in Chambers’ Edinburgh Journal, May 15, 1852


Bob Marley was buried with a guitar, a soccer ball, a bud of marijuana, and a Bible.

She Ain’t Heavy

At 54 million pounds, the Statue of Liberty is the heaviest sculpture in the world.


“Comedy always works best when it is mean-spirited.” — John Cleese

All Right, Already


Warring governments can be kind of blunt. James Montgomery Flagg’s famous 1917 “I Want You” recruiting poster (left) echoed an earlier English poster featuring Lord Kitchener, and the Red Army wasn’t any subtler in the 1920s (“Did you volunteer?”).

In the long run, time and patience resolve everything. “When armies are mobilized and issues are joined,” wrote Lao-tzu, “the man who is sorry over the fact will win.”

In a Word

adj. of, like or pertaining to summer

Never Too Late

If you ever invent a time machine, be sure to head back to the Time Traveler Convention held at MIT on May 7, 2005. (If you’re coming from the far future, MIT was at 42.360007° N, 71.087870° W.)

The convention was covered on the front page of the New York Times, so presumably it’ll be well attended … eventually.

Zollner Illusion


An optical illusion. The long lines are parallel.

The Quick Brown Fox …

In 1984, British engineer Lee Sallows built a dedicated computer to compose a self-enumerating pangram — a sentence that inventories its own letters. It succeeded:

This pangram contains four a’s, one b, two c’s, one d, thirty e’s, six f’s, five g’s, seven h’s, eleven i’s, one j, one k, two l’s, two m’s, eighteen n’s, fifteen o’s, two p’s, one q, five r’s, twenty-seven s’s, eighteen t’s, two u’s, seven v’s, eight w’s, two x’s, three y’s, & one z.