Penetrating

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:5thavenue1.jpg

The lectures of 19th-century seer Andrew Jackson Davis weren’t well attended, but perhaps they should have been. His 1856 book Penetralia predicted both the automobile and the typewriter:

Look out about these days for carriages and travelling-saloons on country-roads–sans horses, sans steam, sans any visible motive-power–moving with greater speed and far more safety than at present. Carriages will be moved by a strange, and beautiful, and simple admixture of aqueous and atmospheric gases–so easily condensed, so simply ignited, and so imparted by a machine somewhat resembling our engines, as to be entirely concealed and manageable between the forward wheels. …

I am almost moved to invent an automatic psychographer; that is, an artificial soul-writer. It may be constructed something like a piano; one brace or scale of keys to represent the elementary sounds; another and lower tier, to represent a combination; and still another, for a rapid recombination; so that a person, instead of playing a piece of music, may touch off a sermon or a poem!

More Tall Argentines

Jacob Le Maire, in his voyage to the Straits of Magellan, reports, that on the 17th of December, 1615, they found at Port Desire, several graves covered with stones; and having the curiosity to remove the stones, they discovered human skeletons of ten and eleven feet long.

— John Platts, Encyclopedia of Natural and Artificial Wonders and Curiosities, 1876

See also Tall Tale.

APT = PAT

More anagrams:

ANGERED = ENRAGED
PROBLEM IN CHINESE = INCOMPREHENSIBLE
DECIMAL POINT = I’M A DOT IN PLACE
DELICATESSEN = ENSLICED EATS
FRAGILE = E.G., FRAIL
ARMAGEDDON = MAD GOD NEAR
WAITRESS = A STEW, SIR?
STORMY WEATHER = SHOWERY MATTER
THE RELIEF PITCHER = FIERCE HITTER? HELP!
WILD OATS = SOW IT, LAD
FALSEHOOD = HAS FOOLED
SUNBATHE = HEAT BUNS
THE PIANO BENCH = BENEATH CHOPIN

The Spooklight

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Devil%27s_Promenade_Spooklight.jpg

From the three-state junction of Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, drive four miles south to Oklahoma East 50 Road, park your car, and look west. You’ll be looking into an uninhabited area known as the Devil’s Promenade, and on many nights you’ll see a ball of light floating about 2 feet above the ground.

No one knows what it is. Beyond the forested hills lies Interstate 44, so possibly it’s an effect of headlights, but the first documented sighting occurred in 1881, and the photograph above was taken in the early 1900s.

Footloose

A visitor’s description of William Kingston, a Somerset farmer born without arms, recounted in John Platts, Encyclopedia of Natural and Artificial Wonders and Curiosities, 1876:

He highly entertained us at breakfast, by putting his half-naked feet upon the table as he sat, and carrying his tea and toast between his great and second toe to his mouth, with as much facility as if his foot had been a hand, and his toes fingers. … He then shewed me how he shaves himself with the razor in his toes; and he can comb his own hair. He can dress and undress himself, except buttoning his clothes. He feeds himself, and can bring both his meat or his broth to his mouth, by holding the fork or spoon in his toes. He cleans his own shoes, lights the fire, and does almost any domestic business as well as any other man. … He can milk his cows with his toes, and cuts his own hay, binds it up in bundles, and carries it about the field for his cattle. Last winter he had eight heifers constantly to fodder. The last summer he made all his hay-ricks. He can do all the business of the hay-field (except mowing) as fast and as well with his feet as others can with rakes and forks. … In a word, he can nearly do as much without as others can with their arms.