# Rock and Roll

Worshipful natives are rolling a giant statue of me across their island. The statue rests on a slab, which rests on rollers that have a circumference of 1 meter each. How far forward will the slab have moved when the rollers have made 1 revolution?

# Spoon River

“Lines by an Oxford Don,” from the Globe, June 1805:

My brain was filled with rests of thought,
No more by currying wares distraught,
As lazing dreamily I lay
In my Canoodian canay.

Ah me, methought, how leef were swite
If men could neither wreak nor spite;
No erring bloomers, no more slang,
No tungles then to trip the tang!

Would exercise their woolish fits
With tidal ales (and false, I wis)
Of my fame-farred tamethesis!

A sentence that makes equal sense when spoonerized: “I must brush my hat, for it is pouring with rain.”

When George S. Kaufman’s daughter told him a friend had eloped from Vassar, he said, “Ah! She put her heart before the course.”

# Low Art

We met Erhard Schön’s anamorphic woodcuts back in 2006.

This one, Was sichst du? (What Do You See?), from 1538, seems to promise an edifying religious theme — there’s Jonah on the left being spit out of his whale. But view it edge-on and you’ll see this:

So, maybe not.

# Unquote

“Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.” — George Eliot

See this beaker? It contains 1 to 2 liters of water and 1 liter of wine. That means that the ratio of water to wine (call it r) is between 1 and 2. Thus there’s a 50 percent chance that r is between 1 and 3/2. Right?

But now consider the ratio of wine to water, or 1/r. That’s between 1/2 and 1, so there’s a 50 percent chance that 1/r is between 3/4 and 1.

Taking the reciprocal, that means there’s a 50 percent chance that r is between 1 and 4/3, which contradicts our earlier result. Where is the error?

# Cat Snap

Harry Whittier Frees did a booming business in novelty postcards in the early 20th century, posing animals in human situations, including props and sets.

“I take occasion to give my personal assurance that all pictures appearing in this book are photographed from life,” he wrote in 1915’s The Little Folks of Animal Land. “The difficulties encountered in posing kittens and puppies for pictures of this kind have been overcome only by the exercise of great patience and invariable kindness.”

# Quick!

Obey this command!

# The Bedford Level Experiment

In 1838, Samuel Rowbotham waded into a drainage canal in Norfolk and sighted along its length with a telescope. Six miles away, an assistant held a flag three feet above the water. If the earth were round, its curvature should hide the flag from him. But he decided he could see it clearly. “It follows,” he wrote, “that the surface of standing water is not convex, and therefore that the Earth IS NOT A GLOBE!”

Rowbotham’s triumphant result stood until 1870, when naturalist, surveyor, and obvious crackpot Alfred Russel Wallace attempted to disprove the result. His endeavor ended only in a heated argument — and eventually a libel suit against the “planists.” (Round-earthers are clearly desperate men.)

In fairness, we must note that not all observations have agreed with Rowbotham’s. In 1896 a newspaper editor conducted a similar experiment in Illinois and discovered that the earth is concave. Clearly more work is needed.

# In a Word

humicubation
n. the act of lying on the ground

# “A Ride on the Wind”

In the afternoon of Monday, July 25th, 1768, an extraordinary gust of wind near Cleobury Mortimer, in Shropshire, not only unroofed the dwelling-house, barns, stables, and out-buildings belonging to a farmer named Bishop (levelling one of the buildings with the ground, and tearing up and rending more than sixty apple and pear trees), but also took up his son, a youth of sixteen, and carried him at a height of four or five yards from the ground to a distance of about eight yards, over a stone wall, fish-pond, and a hedge, depositing him in a great state of terror, but otherwise unhurt, in a field of hay.

The World of Wonders, 1883