Ode to a Divorcee

Woman, thou worst of all Church-plagues, farewel;
Bad at the best, but at the worst a Hell;
Thou truss of wormwood, bitter Teaz of Life,
Thou Nursery of humane cares a wife.
Thou Apple-Eating Trayt’riss who began
The Wrath of Heav’n, and Miseries of Man,
And hast with never-failing diligence,
Improv’d the Curse to humane Race e’er since.
Farewel Church-juggle that enslav’d my Life,
But bless that Pow’r that rid me of my Wife.
And now the Laws once more have set me free,
If Woman can again prevail with me,
My Flesh and Bones shall make my Wedding-Feast,
And none shall be Invited as my Guest,
T’ attend my Bride, but th’ Devil and a Priest.

— From The Pleasures of a Single Life, or, The Miseries of Matrimony, 1709

I Think That I Shall Never See …

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Tree_Circus_Opening_day_1947.jpg

Inspiration can strike anywhere. Born in 1884, “arborsculptor” Axel Erlandson made living trees into works of art for more than 40 years, eventually even opening a “Tree Circus” in 1947 in California’s Santa Clara Valley.

His biography is called How to Grow a Chair.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Neadle.jpg

Bad PR

In 1974, Pope Paul VI elevated Archbishop Jaime Lachica Sin of the Philippines to the College of Cardinals.

That made him Cardinal Sin.

Black Gold

Barrels per day of oil consumption, as of 2003:

  • United States: 20,033,504
  • Japan: 5,578,386
  • China: 5,550,000
  • Germany: 2,677,443
  • Russia: 2,675,000
  • India: 2,320,000
  • Canada: 2,193,263
  • South Korea: 2,168,128
  • Brazil: 2,100,000
  • France: 2,059,843
  • Mexico: 2,015,232
  • Italy: 1,874,380
  • Saudi Arabia: 1,775,000
  • United Kingdom: 1,722,419
  • Spain: 1,544,260
  • Iran: 1,425,000
  • Indonesia: 1,155,000

Social Studies

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16728/16728-h/16728-h.htm

“Who are the Japanese? The inhabitants of Japan, an empire of Eastern Asia, composed of several large islands. They are so similar in feature, and in many of their customs and ceremonies, to the Chinese, as to be regarded by some, as the same race of men. The Japanese language is so very peculiar, that it is rarely understood by the people of other nations. Their religion is idolatrous; their government a monarchy, controlled by the priesthood. The people are very ingenious, and the arts and sciences are held in great esteem by them. In all respects, Japan is an important and interesting empire.”

— From A Catechism of Familiar Things; Their History, and the Events Which Led to Their Discovery, 1881

Pencils Down

Bill Gates scored 1590 on his SATs.

Fallout

Actors who appeared in The Conqueror (1956) and subsequently died of cancer:

  • John Wayne
  • Susan Hayward
  • Agnes Moorehead
  • Pedro Armendáriz
  • Chief Tahachee
  • Dick Powell

The movie, in which Wayne played Genghis Khan, was shot in St. George, Utah, downwind of Nevada open-air nuclear testing, and producer Howard Hughes had 60 tons of dirt shipped back to Hollywood for use in reshoots.

By 1981, 91 of the 220 cast and crew had developed some form of cancer, and more than half of them were already dead.

“With these numbers, this case could qualify as an epidemic,” said University of Utah biologist Robert Pendleton. “In a group this size you’d expect only 30-some cancers to develop. … I think the tie-in to their exposure on the set of The Conqueror would hold up in a court of law.”

Falling Fortunes

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Reichelt2_2.jpg

Franz Reichelt dreamed big. In 1911 the Austrian tailor designed a garment that he hoped would serve as a combination overcoat/parachute. Never one for half measures, he tested it by leaping from the Eiffel Tower.

The sad/romantic results were caught on film, including Reichelt’s long hesitation on the brink, his fatal fall and a measurement of the hole he left behind.

“If you’re not failing every now and again,” said Woody Allen, “it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”

Unquote

“The world has arrived at an age of cheap complex devices of great reliability, and something is bound to come of it.” — Engineer Vannevar Bush, 1945

Naming Rights

Some paleontologists have a sense of humor. When Jenny Clack of the University of Cambridge discovered a fossil amphibian in the bed of an ancient swamp, she named it Eucritta melanolimnetes.

That’s Greek for “the creature from the black lagoon.”