Imagine All the People

New York City as seen from space, Sept. 11, 2001.

The average age of the city’s dead was 40.

Frances O’Connor

Born without arms, Frances O’Connor (1914-1982) was billed as a living Venus de Milo in popular sideshows, eating, drinking, and smoking a cigarette with her feet.

See also Carl Herman Unthan.


As a prank, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak sometimes buys uncut sheets of $2 bills from the U.S. Treasury and has them bound into booklets. Then, when buying small items, he’ll pull out a booklet and cut off a few bills with scissors.

This is perfectly legal, but it’s caused at least one alarmed inquiry by the Secret Service.

No Hustle

The square dance is the official dance of 19 U.S. states.

Pella Katadesmos

Text of an ancient Macedonian scroll discovered in Greece in 1986:

On the formal wedding of [Theti]ma and Dionysophon I write a curse, and of all other wo[men], widows and virgins, but of Thetima in particular, and I entrust upon Makron and [the] demons that only whenever I dig out and unroll and re-read this, [then] may they wed Dionysophon, but not before; and may he never wed any woman but me; and may [I] grow old with Dionysophon, and no one else. I [am] your supplicant: Have mercy on [your dear one], dear demons, Dagina(?), for I am abandoned of all my dear ones. But please keep this for my sake so that these events do not happen and wretched Thetima perishes miserably and to me grant [ha]ppiness and bliss.

It would have been written in the 4th or 3rd century B.C.

Fish Story

They laughed at William Beebe when the naturalist described a 6-foot glowing monster he’d encountered on a mile-deep dive in 1930. One colleague said he’d probably seen two fish swimming together.

Beebe got the last laugh four years later, when a fishing vessel pulled up one of these, a spiny, glowing creature that weighed more than 250 pounds. It’s known as “Beebe’s monster.”

The Dymaxion Chronofile

Buckminster Fuller kept the most comprehensive diary in human history, recording practically everything that happened to him between 1915 and 1983.

The assembled journals take up 270 feet of shelf space.

A Weighty Problem

“Here is a quaintly told problem in mechanics, which, despite its apparent simplicity, is said to have caused Lewis Carroll considerable disquietude,” writes Sam Loyd in his Cyclopedia of 5000 Puzzles, Tricks, and Conundrums (1914). He quotes Carroll:

If, to a rope, passed over a loose pulley, is suspended a ten-pound counter weight, which balances exactly with a monkey eating an apple, swinging at the other end, what would be the result if the monkey attempts to climb the rope?

“It is very curious to note the different views taken by good mathematicians,” Carroll noted. “Price says the weight goes up with increasing velocity. Both Clifton and Harcourt maintain that the weight goes up at the same rate of speed as the monkey; while Sampson says that it goes down.”

So which is it? Be warned, Loyd’s thinking is inconclusive.

Click for Answer


“No wise man ever wished to be younger.” — Jonathan Swift


A aptronym is a name that is aptly suited to its owner’s occupation. Examples:

  • Sally Ride, astronaut
  • William Wordsworth, poet
  • Margaret Court and Anna Smashnova, tennis players
  • John Tory, leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party
  • Learned Hand, judge
  • Larry Speakes, Ronald Reagan’s press secretary
  • Chuck Long and Willie Thrower, NFL quarterbacks

And Joe Strummer, guitarist for The Clash.