Samuel Pepys’ opinions of Shakespeare’s plays, from his diary:

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “I had never seen [it] before, nor shall ever again, for it is the most insipid, ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life.”
  • The Taming of the Shrew: “It hath some very good pieces in it, but generally is but a mean play.”
  • Romeo and Juliet: “It is a play of itself the worst that ever I heard.”
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor: “The humours of the country gentleman and the French doctor very well done, but the rest but very poorly, and Sir J. Falstaffe as bad as any.”
  • Henry IV, Part 1: “It did not please me.”
  • The Two Noble Kinsmen: “No excellent piece.”
  • Twelfth Night: “One of the weakest plays that ever I saw on the stage.”

“August 20th, 1666. To Deptford by water, reading Othello, Moor of Venice, which I ever heretofore esteemed a mighty good play; but … it seems a mean thing.”

“Human Bones in Solid Rock”

With others of our fellow-citizens, I have been highly interested in the discovery of human bones in a solid sandstone rock, of a quarry near Cusick’s mill, about six miles from the city, and with the assistance of Mr. Charles Bobbins and Dr. Ball have taken steps thoroughly to investigate this highly interesting subject. … The bones submitted to my inspection are the bones of an adult female, they were contained in a cavity of the solid sandstone rock, perfectly close, having no communication whatever with any fissure or crack of the rock. The cavity represents the shape of the body, invested with flesh; the leg, thigh, hip and part of the back are moulded with beautiful exactness, and would, if filled with plaster of Paris, give a mould, preserving all the graceful curves of the entire body.

— John G.F. Holston, Zanesville [Ohio] Courier, quoted in Mining Magazine, November 1853

Person to Person

If you’re an extrovert, you’ll be happiest (in principle) in northeastern Pakistan. That’s the world center of population — from there, the average distance to every human on earth is only 3,200 miles.

Conversely, if you’re an introvert you should visit Easter Island, where you’ll be 9,300 miles from the average fellow man.

See also Point Nemo and Vroom!

Buried Alive


On Feb. 2, 1799, 42-year-old Elizabeth Woodcock was returning from market to her home in Cambridge when she was overcome with fatigue and lay down in a field. A heavy storm had overtaken her, and she came to her senses under six feet of snow, in which she remained buried for eight days.

Her cries went unheard, but she managed to tie a handkerchief to a stick and thrust it through the snow, where a passing farmer finally noticed it and went for help. When shepherd John Stittle pulled her free, she said, “I have been here a long time.” “Yes,” he said, “since Saturday.” “Ay, Saturday week,” she replied. “I have heard the bells go two Sundays for church.” She’d been lying only half a mile from her home.

Woodcock lost her toes to frostbite and lingered until the following July, when she died. “We are sorry to add,” notes the Gentleman’s Magazine, “that too free indulgence in spirituous liquor is supposed to have been the cause both of the accident which befel Elizabeth Woodcock, and its fatal consequences.”

Roll Call

In November 2006, 23-year-old David Fearn of Staffordshire changed his name to James Dr. No From Russia With Love Goldfinger Thunderball You Only Live Twice On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Diamonds Are Forever Live and Let Die The Man With the Golden Gun The Spy Who Loved Me Moonraker For Your Eyes Only Octopussy A View to a Kill The Living Daylights Licence to Kill GoldenEye Tomorrow Never Dies The World Is Not Enough Die Another Day Casino Royale Bond.

It’s the longest name in deed poll history.

Root Cause

Memorize these facts:


With them you can find any two-digit cube root. For example, what’s the cube root of 12,167?

1. Express the number in six digits (012167). Take the first three digits (012) and compare them to the blue cubes above. Find the largest cube that’s less than your three-digit string, and write down its root. Here, 012 is between 8 and 27, so we write down 2.

2. Match the last digit of the number (7) to the last digit of a blue cube above (here, 27). Write down the root of that number (3).

That’s it. Put the two digits together (23) and that’s your root: 233 = 12,167.

This works for any perfect cube between 1,000 and 1 million.