“The Waco Horror”


Between 1882 and 1930, Texans committed 492 lynchings. By most accounts, the most horrible of these was the 1916 slaying of Jesse Washington, a Waco farmhand who had confessed to the rape and murder of a white farmer’s wife.

A jury of 12 whites deliberated for four minutes before declaring Washington guilty. They called for the death penalty, but before authorities could act, he was dragged from the courtroom, doused with coal oil, and suspended alive over a bonfire. A witness wrote:

Washington was beaten with shovels and bricks … was castrated, and his ears were cut off. A tree supported the iron chain that lifted him above the fire. … Wailing, the boy attempted to climb up the skillet hot chain. For this, the men cut off his fingers.

Washington’s corpse was put in a cloth bag and dragged behind a car to Robinson, where it was hung from a pole. Northern newspapers condemned the lynching, but Texas was largely unrepentant. The image above is taken from a postcard (!); on the back someone has written, “This is the barbeque we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe.”

“Manufacturing Feat”


In 1811 a gentleman made a bet of one thousand guineas that he would have a coat made in a single day, from the first process of shearing the sheep till its completion by the tailor. The wager was decided at Newbury, England, on the 25th of June in that year, by Mr. John Coxeter, of Greenham mills, near that town. At five o’clock that morning Sir John Throckmorton presented two Southdown sheep to Mr. Coxeter, and the sheep were shorn, the wool spun, the yarn spooled, warped, loomed and wove, the cloth burred, milled, rowed, dried, sheared and pressed, and put into the hands of the tailors by four o’clock that afternoon. At twenty minutes past six the coat, entirely finished, was handed by Mr. Coxeter to Sir John Throckmorton, who appeared with it before more than five thousand spectators, who rent the air with acclamations at this remarkable instance of despatch.

— Frank H. Stauffer, The Queer, the Quaint and the Quizzical, 1882



“Good enough for our transatlantic friends … but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men.” — British Parliamentary Committee, on Edison’s light bulb, 1878


Nothing is worse than the Devil.
Nothing is greater than God.
Therefore, the Devil is greater than God.

Well Prepared

Eagle Scouts:

  • Neil Armstrong
  • Stephen Breyer
  • Clive Cussler
  • Gerald Ford
  • L. Ron Hubbard
  • David Lynch
  • Michael Moore
  • Steven Spielberg
  • Wallace Stegner
  • John Tesh
  • Sam Walton
  • E.O. Wilson

“Regarding the Boy Scouts,” said George Carlin, “I’m very suspicious of any organization that has a handbook.”

Pelorus Jack


In 1888 a curious white dolphin appeared in the strait between New Zealand’s north and south islands. “Pelorus Jack” would guide steamers through the dangerous French Pass, known for its rocks and strong currents, swimming alongside each ship for up to 20 minutes.

No one knows where Jack came from or what led him to do this. He appears to have been a Risso’s Dolphin, Grampus griseus, uncommon in those waters, but he led ships through the strait for 24 years, and not a single shipwreck occurred in that time. He disappeared in 1912, as mysteriously as he’d come.

See also Everybody Wins.


Rearrange the letters in ALEC GUINNESS and you get GENUINE CLASS.

Best Served Cold

Excerpt from the will of Joseph Dalby, London, 1784:

I give to my daughter Ann Spencer, a guinea for a ring, or any other bauble she may like better: — I give to the lout, her husband, one penny, to buy him a lark-whistle; I also give to her said husband, of redoubtable memory, my fart-hole, for a covering for his lark-whistle, to prevent the abrasion of his lips; and this legacy I give him as a mark of my approbation of his prowess and nice honour, in drawing his sword on me, (at my own table), naked and unarmed as I was, and he well fortified with custard.

The Eye of Sauron


The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat’s, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.

That’s a quote from The Fellowship of the Ring, but this image is actually a star. Fomalhaut, 25 light-years away, is one of the brightest stars in the night sky.

Draw your own conclusions.

Read It Aloud

An Arab came to the river side,
With a donkey bearing an obelisk;
But he would not try to ford the tide,
For he had too good an *.

Boston Globe, cited in Carolyn Wells, A Whimsey Anthology, 1906