Pluck O’ the Irish
Image: Wikimedia Commons

An Irishman, an Englishman, and a Scotsman are out walking when they capture a leprechaun. It agrees to give each of them one wish.

The Scot says, “My grandfather was a fisherman, my father’s a fisherman, I’m a fisherman, and my son will be a fisherman. I want the oceans full of fish for all eternity.” The leprechaun winks and instantly the oceans are teeming with fish.

Amazed, the Englishman says, “All right. I want a wall around England, protecting her, so that no one will get in for all eternity.”

Again the leprechaun winks, and suddenly there’s a huge wall around England.

The Irishman says, “I’m curious — please tell me more about this wall.”

“Well,” says the leprechaun, “it’s 150 feet high and 50 feet thick, protecting England so that nothing can get in or out.”

The Irishman says, “Fill it up with water.”


On March 15, 1980, the Boston Globe ran an editorial about the nation’s economic woes:

Certainly it is in the self-interest of all Americans to impose upon themselves the kind of economic self-discipline that President Carter urged repeatedly yesterday in his sober speech to the nation. As the President said, inflation, now running at record rates, is a cruel tax, one that falls most harshly upon those least able to bear the burden.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but it carried the headline “Mush From the Wimp.”

In 1984 Globe editorial writer Kirk Scharfenberg admitted he’d written it. “I meant it as an in-house joke and thought it would be removed before publication,” he wrote. “It appeared in 161,000 copies of the Globe the next day.”

“CAPILLARY, a Little Caterpillar”

There have always been bad students. Here’s what kids were writing on English exams 150 years ago:

  • ABORIGINES, a system of mountains.
  • ALIAS, a good man in the Bible.
  • AMENABLE, anything that is mean.
  • AMMONIA, the food of the gods.
  • ASSIDUITY, state of being an acid.
  • AURIFEROUS, pertaining to an orifice.
  • CORNIFEROUS, rocks in which fossil corn is found.
  • EMOLUMENT, a headstone to a grave.
  • EQUESTRIAN, one who asks questions.
  • EUCHARIST, one who plays euchre.
  • FRANCHISE, anything belonging to the French.
  • IDOLATER, a very idle person.
  • IPECAC, a man who likes a good dinner.
  • IRRIGATE, to make fun of.
  • MENDACIOUS, what can be mended.
  • MERCENARY, one who feels for another.
  • PARASITE, a kind of umbrella.
  • PARASITE, the murder of an infant.
  • PUBLICAN, a man who does his prayers in public.
  • TENACIOUS, ten acres of land.
  • REPUBLICAN, a sinner mentioned in the Bible.
  • PLAGIARIST, a writer of plays.

— From Mark Twain, “English as She Is Taught: Being Genuine Answers to Examination Questions in Our Public Schools,” 1887


There once was a miser named Clarence
Who simonized both of his parents;
“The initial expense,”
He remarked, “is immense,
But it saves on the wearance and tearance.”

— Ogden Nash

“Georges Le Gloupier”

Victims of Belgian “entarteur” Noël Godin, who flings cream pies at the self-important:

  • Microsoft CEO Bill Gates
  • French novelist Marguerite Duras
  • Choreographer Maurice Bejart
  • French anchorman Patrick Poivre d’Arvor
  • French politician Nicolas Sarkozy
  • Filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard
  • Philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy

Godin told The New York Times he’s trying “to function in the service of the capitalist status quo, without really using his intelligence or his imagination.” Touché.

Seeing Double

In January 2005, Canadian police officer Chris Legere pulled over an 18-year-old woman for driving 96 mph.

That afternoon he pulled over the same car doing 92 mph in the opposite direction. At first he thought it was driven by the same driver, but he was mistaken.

It was her identical twin sister.