Warm Words

It is said that, when Charles Dudley Warner was the editor of the ‘Hartford Press,’ back in the ‘sixties,’ arousing the patriotism of the State with his vigorous appeals, one of the type-setters came in from the composing-room, and, planting himself before the editor, said: ‘Well, Mr. Warner, I’ve decided to enlist in the army.’ With mingled sensations of pride and responsibility, Mr. Warner replied encouragingly that he was glad to see the man felt the call of duty. ‘Oh, it isn’t that,’ said the truthful compositor, ‘but I’d rather be shot than try to set any more of your damned copy.’

— John Wilson, “The Importance of the Proof-Reader,” 1901



Three men are stranded on a desert island when a bottle washes up on the shore. When they uncork the bottle, a genie appears and offers each a wish.

The first man wishes he were in Paris. The genie snaps his fingers, and the man instantly disappears.

The second man wishes he were in Hollywood, and at a snap of the genie’s fingers, he too vanishes.

The third man, now alone on the island, looks around and says, “I wish my friends were back.”

Skill Sets

Discontinued merit badges:

  • Clerk (1911)
  • Horseman (1911)
  • Seaman (1911)
  • Mining (1937)
  • Airplane Design (1952)
  • Blacksmithing (1952)
  • Cement Work (1952)
  • Foundry Practice (1952)
  • Soil Management (1952)
  • Stalking (!) (1952)
  • Wood Turning (1952)
  • Farm Home and Its Planning (1959)
  • Dairying (1975)
  • Pigeon Raising (1980)
  • Rabbit Raising (1993)
  • Agribusiness (1995)
  • Beekeeping (1995)

What did the Boy Scout say when he’d fixed the pager? “Beep repaired.”



“Beware of the young doctor and the old barber.” — Benjamin Franklin

“Longevity of a Hawk”


In the beginning of September 1792, a paragraph appeared in several newspapers, mentioning that a hawk had been found at the Cape of Good Hope, and brought from thence by one of the India ships, having on its neck a gold collar, on which were engraven the following words:

“This goodlie Hawk doth belong to his Most Excellent Majestie, James Kinge of England, A.D. 1610.”

Kirby’s Wonderful and Scientific Museum, 1820

Math Notes

(27/8)9/4 = (9/4)27/8

Tons of Atmosphere


You’d do well to avoid Lake Nyos, which sits in a crater on the flank of a Cameroonian volcano. In 1986, like a shaken soft drink can, it suddenly released 80 million cubic meters of carbon dioxide, which rushed down nearby valleys and suffocated 1,800 people and 3,500 livestock where they stood.

It’s not known what caused the eruption, but it turned the lake a deep red.

In Other News

Ten human skeletons have been discovered at Fattey Llyn, near Llandebie, at a depth of thirty feet from the surface of a limestone rock. The skulls are of a very uncommon size and thickness, and all the bones are of a larger calibre than those of the present race of men.

— Edinburgh Star, Aug. 27, 1813

Size Doesn’t Matter


RMS Queen Mary was one of the world’s largest ocean liners in December 1942, but that didn’t impress Mother Nature. As the ship steamed off the coast of Scotland during a gale, an enormous freak wave struck her broadside and sent her listing fully 52 degrees. The wave may have been 28 meters high; it smashed windows on the bridge 90 feet above the waterline. Later investigations estimated that 5 more inches of list would have turned her over.

The incident inspired Paul Gallico to write The Poseidon Adventure.

In a Word

adj. fourth from last