In a Word

adj. dewy


In 1893, five years after Jack the Ripper disappeared from London, someone began attacking and raping women and girls in the Swedish city of Norrköping.

He struck in the early snowy months, all over Norrköping and always after dark, alarming the city, which came to know him as Långrocken, “the Longcoat.” As many as 18 undercover policemen patrolled in women’s clothes in an attempt to trap him, to no avail.

The attacks stopped suddenly in the spring. The crimes have never been solved.

Porlock’s Contribution

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem “Kubla Khan” (“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/A stately pleasure-dome decree”) is considered a high point of Romanticism, but it’s incomplete. Coleridge said he had seen the entire course of the poem in a dream, but was interrupted while writing it down:

On awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found, to his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone has been cast, but, alas! without the after restoration of the latter!

To this day no one knows the identity of the “person from Porlock” or what his business was, but he left Coleridge with only 54 lines.

“Epitaph on a Potter”

How frail is man–how short life’s longest day!
Here lies the worthy Potter, turned to clay!
Whose forming hand, and whose reforming care,
Has left us full of flaws. Vile earthenware!

The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, Jan. 15, 1831


Giraffes sleep only two hours a day.

D.B. Cooper

FBI age progression of D.B. Cooper, who ransomed 36 airline passengers for $200,000 in 1971, then ordered the plane into the air again and jumped out somewhere over southwest Washington.

No trace of him has ever been found. It’s still the world’s only unsolved skyjacking.

Little Women

Heights of famous females:

  • Dr. Ruth Westheimer, sex therapist, 4 feet 7 inches
  • Linda Hunt, actress, 4 feet 9 inches
  • Charlotte Brontë, novelist, 4 feet 10 inches
  • Tammy Faye Bakker, televangelist, 4 feet 11 inches
  • Barbara Boxer, U.S. senator, 4 feet 11 inches
  • Dorothy Parker, author, 4 feet 11 inches
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder, author, 4 feet 11 inches
  • Lil’ Kim, rapper, 4 feet 11 in
  • Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, 5 feet
  • Gracie Allen, actress, 5 feet
  • Kylie Minogue, musician, 5 feet
  • Dolly Parton, actress and muscian, 5 feet
  • Mary Pickford, actress, 5 feet
  • Mother Teresa, Roman Catholic nun, 5 feet
  • Harriet Tubman, abolitionist, 5 feet
  • Mae West, actress, 5 feet

Words to Live By


  • Benford’s Law of Controversy: Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available.
  • Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
  • Hlade’s Law: If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy person; he will find an easier way to do it.
  • Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.
  • Imbesi’s Law of the Conservation of Filth: In order for something to become clean, something else must become dirty.
  • Macfarlane’s Law of Disparate Communications: You can talk faster than you can type, but you can read faster than you can listen.
  • Tuttle’s Law: The percentage of working hardware in the world is constant.


Don’t rush to get to the St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt, Germany. The performance there of John Cage’s work “As Slow As Possible” will take 639 years.

They would have made it longer, but the organ is expected to fail in 2640.

Great Moments in Science

In 1994, 17-year-old Boy Scout David Hahn decided to build a nuclear breeder reactor in his backyard shed in Michigan. He gathered radioactive material from smoke detectors, camping lanterns, clocks and gunsights, hoping to transform them into fissionable isotopes in a hollowed-out block of lead.

He should have stuck to homework. The experiment started to emit toxic levels of radiation, and he was trying to dismantle it when the police found him and brought in the FBI and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. To his mother’s dismay, her property was declared a Superfund hazardous materials cleanup site, and the shed was moved to Utah and buried as low-level radioactive waste.

On the bright side, Hahn made Eagle Scout.