Isograms

An isogram is a word in which no letter is repeated:

  • METALWORKINGS
  • LEXICOGRAPHY
  • MALNOURISHED
  • THUNDERCLAPS
  • UNFORGIVABLE
  • AMBIDEXTROUSLY
  • UNCOPYRIGHTABLE

Theoretically the limit is 26 letters, but that’s an Everest that no one has scaled. Dmitri Borgmann has conquered some lesser peaks with THUMBSCREW-JAPINGLY (18 letters, “as if mocking a thumbscrew”) and PUBVEXINGFJORD-SCHMALTZY (23 letters, “as if in the manner of the extreme sentimentalism generated in some individuals by the sight of a majestic fjord, which sentimentalism is annoying to the clientele of an English inn”). Maybe what we lack is imagination.

Great Expectations

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:1904WrightFlyer.jpg

Orville Wright over Huffman Prairie, Ohio, Nov. 16, 1904.

Humans advanced from Kitty Hawk to the moon in 66 years.

Quite a Pension

Top 10 longest-lived U.S. presidents:

  1. Ronald Reagan: 93 years, 120 days
  2. Gerald Ford: (still living, age 93)
  3. John Adams: 90 years, 247 days
  4. Herbert Hoover: 90 years, 71 days
  5. Harry Truman: 88 years, 232 days
  6. James Madison: 85 years, 104 days
  7. Thomas Jefferson: 83 years, 82 days
  8. George H.W. Bush: (still living, age 82)
  9. Jimmy Carter: (still living, age 81)
  10. Richard Nixon: 81 years, 103 days

If Ford is still alive on Nov. 12 this year, he’ll take the record.

Rechtub Klat

It’s not only 007 who communicates in code. Butchers in Australia speak a secret language called Rechtub Klat (“butcher talk”), in which words are pronounced backward.

Why should butchers need a secret language? So they can talk about the customers:

  • Kool, toh lrig = Look, hot girl
  • Doog tsub = Good bust
  • Doog esra = Good arse
  • On doog cuf ecaf = No-good fuckface

Keep your ears open.

Airmail Before Airplanes

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Great_Barrier_Island_Pigeon-Gram_stamp_1899.jpg

The world’s first airmail stamps were issued for the Great Barrier Pigeon-Gram Service, which carried messages from New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island to the mainland between 1898 and 1908.

It was pretty good: The fastest pigeon, aptly named Velocity, made the trip to Auckland in only 50 minutes, averaging an astounding 125 kph. That’s only 40 per cent slower than modern aircraft.

Just So You Know

Snuffleupagus’ grandmother lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Meet the Neighbors

Cities with the most billionaires:

  1. New York: 35
  2. Los Angeles: 24
  3. Moscow: 20
  4. San Francisco: 20
  5. London: 19
  6. Hong Kong: 18
  7. Chicago: 12
  8. Paris: 12
  9. Dallas: 11
  10. Tokyo: 11

Equidistant Letter Sequences

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Code_de_la_Bible.png

If you take the text of Genesis 26:5-10 and break it into lines of 33 characters each, the words Bible and code appear, word-search-style, in the resulting grid.

That looks pretty nifty, but in fact you can find almost anything in a long text if you look hard enough. Using the same technique in 1997, Australian mathematician Brendan McKay found that Moby Dick had predicted the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, including the assassin’s first and last names, the university he attended, and even the motive (“Oslo,” referring to the Oslo accords). That Melville — what a genius.

A Mathematical Coincidence

2646798 = 21 + 62 + 43 + 64 + 75 + 96 + 87

“This Is Absurd!”

Uninspired last words:

  • “Wait a minute …” — Pope Alexander VI
  • “Am I dying, or is this my birthday?” — Nancy, Lady Astor, on seeing her family at her bedside
  • “I live!” — Caligula, as he was being murdered by his own soldiers
  • “Lady, you shot me!” — Sam Cooke, after being shot in a hotel room
  • “That guy’s got to stop. … He’ll see us.” — James Dean, before a car accident
  • “I’d hate to die twice. It’s so boring.” — Richard Feynman
  • “I think I’m going to make it!” — murderer Richard Loeb, after being slashed 90 times with a razor
  • “Die, my dear? Why that’s the last thing I’ll do!” — Groucho Marx
  • “I’m all right.” — H.G. Wells

On his deathbed Stan Laurel said, “I wish I were skiing.” His nurse said, “Oh, Mr. Laurel, do you ski?” Laurel replied, “No, but I’d rather be skiing than doing what I’m doing.”

More here.