It Pays to Advertise

Ted Hustead was kind of a nut for self-promotion. When he bought a drugstore in tiny Wall, South Dakota, in 1931, he figured he could attract customers through advertising.

Maybe he overcompensated a little. There are now 500 miles of Wall Drug billboards on Interstate 90, stretching all the way to Minnesota at an annual cost of $400,000, plus signs at the North and South Poles, the Paris Metro, and the Taj Mahal. The photo above was taken somewhere in Africa in the 1950s.

The signs may be eyesores, but they’re scaring off the competition — the little pharmacy is still the only one within 500 square miles.


The maker doesn’t need it.

The buyer doesn’t use it.

The user doesn’t know he’s using it.

What is it?

Uh, Right

Decimal arithmetic is a contrivance of man for computing numbers, and not a property of time, space, or matter. It belongs essentially to the keeping of accounts, but is merely an incident to the transactions of trade. Nature has no partiality for the number 10; and the attempt to shackle her freedom with them [decimal gradations], will for ever prove abortive.

— John Quincy Adams, recommending against the metric system in 1821, as reported in Chambers’ Edinburgh Journal, May 15, 1852


Bob Marley was buried with a guitar, a soccer ball, a bud of marijuana, and a Bible.

She Ain’t Heavy

At 54 million pounds, the Statue of Liberty is the heaviest sculpture in the world.


“Comedy always works best when it is mean-spirited.” — John Cleese

All Right, Already

Warring governments can be kind of blunt. James Montgomery Flagg’s famous 1917 “I Want You” recruiting poster (left) echoed an earlier English poster featuring Lord Kitchener, and the Red Army wasn’t any subtler in the 1920s (“Did you volunteer?”).

In the long run, time and patience resolve everything. “When armies are mobilized and issues are joined,” wrote Lao-tzu, “the man who is sorry over the fact will win.”

In a Word

adj. of, like or pertaining to summer

Never Too Late

If you ever invent a time machine, be sure to head back to the Time Traveler Convention held at MIT on May 7, 2005. (If you’re coming from the far future, MIT was at 42.360007° N, 71.087870° W.)

The convention was covered on the front page of the New York Times, so presumably it’ll be well attended … eventually.

Zollner Illusion

An optical illusion. The long lines are parallel.