Progress and Enlightenment

“I do not think we should like to dine with a Chinese gentleman, or Mandarin, as he would treat us to strange dainties, as — a roast dog, a dish of stewed worms, a rat pie; or, perhaps, a bird’s-nest. But the bird’s-nest would be the best of the list, for it is not like the kind of bird’s-nests which you have seen, but is made, I believe, of the spawn of fish, and looks something like isinglass. It is the nest of a sort of swallow, is about the size of a goose’s egg, and is found in caverns along the sea shores; so it is not so bad as it seems at first. And the rats are as large and fat as some of our rabbits, being fed on fruits and grain, purposely for eating; as also are their dogs, for eating.”

– From The World’s Fair; or, Children’s Prize Gift Book of the Great Exhibition of 1851, Describing The Beautiful Inventions And Manufactures Exhibited Therein; With Pretty Stories About the People Who Have Made and Sent Them; And How They Live When at Home


Both Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince set records as the fastest-selling books in history.

American Idols

The “most admired people of the 20th century,” compiled by the Gallup Organization:

  1. Mother Teresa
  2. Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. John F. Kennedy
  4. Albert Einstein
  5. Helen Keller
  6. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  7. Billy Graham
  8. Pope John Paul II
  9. Eleanor Roosevelt
  10. Winston Churchill
  11. Dwight Eisenhower
  12. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
  13. Mahatma Gandhi
  14. Nelson Mandela
  15. Ronald Reagan
  16. Henry Ford
  17. Bill Clinton
  18. Margaret Thatcher

Bite, Please

Tyrannosaurus rex closed its jaws with a force of 4 tons, the strongest bite of any dinosaur.

In a Word

adj. shining; glowing ruddily

“I Travelled Among Unknown Men”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth used to roam the hills and coast of southwest England on long night walks; eventually the local villagers began to whisper that they were spies for the French.

The government sent an agent to investigate; he reported that they were “mere poets.”

Casting a Shadow

When the Eiffel Tower was first built, it was regarded as an eyesore.

Guy de Maupassant ate regularly at a restaurant in the tower — he said it was the one place in Paris he could be sure he wouldn’t see it.


Famous people who have been hit with pies:

  • Pat Buchanan, politician and columnist (hit with a salad)
  • Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, monarch
  • Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and chairman
  • Jean-Luc Godard, filmmaker
  • Calvin Klein, clothing designer
  • Helmut Kohl, former chancellor of Germany
  • Ralph Nader, American Green party politician
  • Oscar de la Renta, fashion designer
  • William Shatner, then-Star Trek star
  • Jeffrey Skilling, Enron CEO
  • Sylvester Stallone, action movie star
  • Andy Warhol, artist

Big Shoes

Michael Crichton, the author of Jurassic Park, is 6 foot 10.

Starting Early

A is an Abolitionist –
A man who wants to free
The wretched slave — and give to all
An equal liberty.

B is a Brother with a skin
Of somewhat darker hue,
But in our Heavenly Father’s sight,
He is as dear as you.

C is the Cotton-field, to which
This injured brother’s driven,
When, as the white-man’s slave, he toils,
From early morn till even.

– From The Anti-Slavery Alphabet, a children’s book printed for an anti-slavery fair, 1847