“The difference between a violin and a viola is that a viola burns longer.” — Victor Borge

Wait a Minute …

Every May and December, thousands of Catholics gather in Naples to witness a miracle: The dried blood of Saint Januarius, which is kept in small capsules, liquefies when it’s brought near his body.

Januarius was martyred in 305, and the “miracle of the blood” has been happening since at least 1389, which is pretty impressive.

But investigator Joe Nickell notes that a thixotropic gel such as hydrated iron oxide remains highly viscous until it’s stirred or moved. And the same miracle is claimed for several other saints … all in the Naples area. Hmm.

2BR, Bath, Tail


Dinny the Dinosaur isn’t just an eyesore, he’s a habitable building. Created in the 1960s to attract visitors to a nearby inn, the 150-ton brontosaurus has an entrance at the base of his tail, and his builder, Claude Bell, used to live in the upper rooms. You can see Dinny in Cabazon, Calif., just north of Interstate 10.

Ironically, he’s now been turned into a creationist museum. Perhaps you’d prefer to stay in an elephant?

Fish Story II

On Oct. 26, 1873, fishermen Daniel Squires and Theophilus Piccot set out to fish for herring off Portugal Cove, Newfoundland. With them in the 20-foot dory was Piccot’s 12-year-old son, Tom.

On the water they spied a mass of flotsam that they took for wreckage or seaweed, but when they tried to draw it near with a boathook the thing struck the gunwale with a parrotlike beak and threw a tentacle around the boat. Thinking quickly, the boy hacked at the attacking creature until it released the dory and retreated.

The trio returned to port with a severed tentacle 19 feet long, which they gave to the Rev. Moses Harvey, an amateur naturalist in St. John’s. It’s thought to be the first conclusive proof of the existence of giant squid.

Fun With Breeding

With enough patience, you can breed an animal to do almost anything. When medieval Norwegians wanted help hunting puffins, which nest in cliffs and burrows, they created the Norwegian lundehund, which is practically a puffin-hunting machine. A lundehund can close its ears, turn its forelegs at right angles to its sides, and bend its head backward until its forehead touches its back. Plus it has an extra toe.

When the puffin hunters switched to nets, the breed nearly disappeared — by World War II there were only six left. But now they’re back up to around 2,000. Waste not, want not.


Canny sheep sometimes resist going down the slaughterhouse ramp to their deaths. So workers sometimes train a goat to go down first, triggering the herding instinct and solving the problem. The goat isn’t harmed and can be used over and over for this purpose.

It’s called a judas goat.

Location, Location, Location

Petersburgh, July 30, 1817. — The ground of a village, distant twenty-two versts from Abo, has sunk suddenly to the depth of many fathoms, and twelve peasants’ houses have been buried in a manner that no trace remains of their former position. A similar event happened at the same place, in the years 1755 and 1788. Among other unknown causes of this phenomenon, it is attributed to the situation of the village upon a swampy soil, and to a river which flows beside it. It is not stated, whether any lives were lost.

— London Morning Post, Aug. 30, 1817


Sweden’s Björketorp runestone (center, above) certainly means business. Thirteen feet tall, it bears this threatening inscription:

Here, I have hidden the secret of powerful runes, strong runes. The one who breaks this memorial will be eternally tormented by anger. Treacherous death will hit him. I foresee perdition.

That’s scary, but it’s not very clear. Archaeologists had thought the curse protected a grave, but a dig in 1914 found no remains. So maybe it’s a cenotaph (meaning the body is buried elsewhere), or a shrine to Odin, or an ancient border marker between Sweden and Denmark. Anyway, be vaguely careful.

In a Word

adj. drinking everything

Seeing Double

More proof (if any were needed) that 2 equals 1:

s = 1 – 1/2 + 1/3 – 1/4 + 1/5 – 1/6 + 1/7 – 1/8 + 1/9 – 1/10 + 1/11 – 1/12 …

2s = 2 – 2/2 + 2/3 – 2/4 + 2/5 – 2/6 + 2/7 – 2/8 + 2/9 – 2/10 + 2/11 – 2/12 …

Rearrange terms:

2s = (2 – 2/2) – (2/4) + (2/3 – 2/6) – (2/8) + (2/5 – 2/10) – (2/12) …

2s = 1 – 1/2 + 1/3 – 1/4 + 1/5 – 1/6 …

But that’s just s again. So 2s = s, and therefore 2 = 1.

(Thanks, Gonzalo!)