Nihilartikels

In the 1975 New Columbia Encyclopedia you’ll find a biography of Lillian Virginia Mountweazel (1942-1973), an American fountain designer and photographer best known for Flags Up!, a collection of photos of rural mailboxes.

Mountweazel never existed. She’s an example of a nihilartikel, a deliberately fake entry in a reference work. They’re used to catch copyright infringers. For the same reason, telephone directories include fake entries, and maps sometimes include nonexistent features.

It must be fun writing these. According to the New Columbia article, Lillian Mountweazel died in an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles magazine.

300 Meters of Iron

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Lightning_striking_the_Eiffel_Tower_-_NOAA.jpg

“The Eiffel Tower as a Colossal Lightning Conductor,” photograph taken June 3, 1902, by M.G. Loppé. Published in the Bulletin de la Société Astronomique de France, May 1905.

We’ve Seen This

There are two similar chapters in the King James Bible.

They are 2 Kings chapter 19 and Isaiah chapter 37.

The first 14 verses of each chapter are identical, word for word.

Prince Randian

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Princerandian.jpg

Like Carl Herman Unthan, Prince Randian (1871-1934) achieved more without limbs than most of us do with them.

Born in British Guyana, Randian was discovered by P.T. Barnum in 1889, and he toured American sideshows in the 1930s as the Living Torso, “the human caterpillar who crawls on his belly like a reptile.”

In reality Randian could shave, write, paint, and roll cigarettes unaided. He spoke English, German, French, and Hindi and was reportedly a skilled carpenter, joking that he would someday build his own house.

He married and fathered four children and ultimately lived to age 63, touring American carnivals and museums for 45 years.

Good Company

Oprah Winfrey is the world’s only black billionaire.

Ode to a Divorcee

Woman, thou worst of all Church-plagues, farewel;
Bad at the best, but at the worst a Hell;
Thou truss of wormwood, bitter Teaz of Life,
Thou Nursery of humane cares a wife.
Thou Apple-Eating Trayt’riss who began
The Wrath of Heav’n, and Miseries of Man,
And hast with never-failing diligence,
Improv’d the Curse to humane Race e’er since.
Farewel Church-juggle that enslav’d my Life,
But bless that Pow’r that rid me of my Wife.
And now the Laws once more have set me free,
If Woman can again prevail with me,
My Flesh and Bones shall make my Wedding-Feast,
And none shall be Invited as my Guest,
T’ attend my Bride, but th’ Devil and a Priest.

– From The Pleasures of a Single Life, or, The Miseries of Matrimony, 1709

I Think That I Shall Never See …

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Tree_Circus_Opening_day_1947.jpg

Inspiration can strike anywhere. Born in 1884, “arborsculptor” Axel Erlandson made living trees into works of art for more than 40 years, eventually even opening a “Tree Circus” in 1947 in California’s Santa Clara Valley.

His biography is called How to Grow a Chair.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Neadle.jpg

Bad PR

In 1974, Pope Paul VI elevated Archbishop Jaime Lachica Sin of the Philippines to the College of Cardinals.

That made him Cardinal Sin.

Black Gold

Barrels per day of oil consumption, as of 2003:

  • United States: 20,033,504
  • Japan: 5,578,386
  • China: 5,550,000
  • Germany: 2,677,443
  • Russia: 2,675,000
  • India: 2,320,000
  • Canada: 2,193,263
  • South Korea: 2,168,128
  • Brazil: 2,100,000
  • France: 2,059,843
  • Mexico: 2,015,232
  • Italy: 1,874,380
  • Saudi Arabia: 1,775,000
  • United Kingdom: 1,722,419
  • Spain: 1,544,260
  • Iran: 1,425,000
  • Indonesia: 1,155,000

Social Studies

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16728/16728-h/16728-h.htm

“Who are the Japanese? The inhabitants of Japan, an empire of Eastern Asia, composed of several large islands. They are so similar in feature, and in many of their customs and ceremonies, to the Chinese, as to be regarded by some, as the same race of men. The Japanese language is so very peculiar, that it is rarely understood by the people of other nations. Their religion is idolatrous; their government a monarchy, controlled by the priesthood. The people are very ingenious, and the arts and sciences are held in great esteem by them. In all respects, Japan is an important and interesting empire.”

– From A Catechism of Familiar Things; Their History, and the Events Which Led to Their Discovery, 1881