Bottoms Up

Beer consumption per capita, as of 2004, in liters per year:

  • Czech Republic: 156.9
  • Ireland: 131.1
  • Germany: 115.8
  • Australia: 109.9
  • Austria: 108.3
  • United Kingdom: 99.0
  • Belgium: 93.0
  • Denmark: 89.9
  • Finland: 85.0
  • Luxembourg: 84.4

Darwin, Australia, has the highest beer consumption of any city in the world. The average resident there drinks 230 liters, or about 60 gallons, of beer each year.

Good Company

Nobel laureates by country, as of July 2006:

  1. United States: 160
  2. United Kingdom: 110
  3. Germany: 92
  4. France: 44
  5. Switzerland: 25
  6. USSR and Russia: 21
  7. Italy: 19
  8. Canada: 18
  9. Sweden: 18
  10. Netherlands: 18
  11. Hungary: 16
  12. Denmark: 14
  13. Poland: 14

Worse Than High Heels

The Chinese practice of footbinding, popular since medieval times, was banned only in 1911. Young girls’ feet were wrapped in bandages to prevent them from growing longer than 4 inches. By age 3, four toes on each foot would break, often leading to infection, paralysis and atrophy. Some elderly Chinese women today still show disabilities.


“She is now in the vile embrace of the Apollo of the evening. Her head rests upon his shoulder, her face is upturned to his, her bare arm is almost around his neck, her partly nude swelling breast heaves tumultuously against his, face to face they whirl on, his limbs interwoven with hers, his strong right arm around her yielding form, he presses her to him until every curve in the contour of her body thrills with the amorous contact. Her eyes look into his, but she sees nothing; the soft music fills the room, but she hears it not; he bends her body to and fro, but she knows it not; his hot breath, tainted with strong drink, is on her hair and cheek, his lips almost touch her forehead, yet she does not shrink; his eyes, gleaming with a fierce, intolerable lust, gloat over her, yet she does not quail. She is filled with the rapture of sin in its intensity; her spirit is[Pg 16] inflamed with passion and lust is gratified in thought. With a last low wail the music ceases, and the dance for the night is ended, but not the evil work of the night.”

From the Ball-Room to Hell by T.A. Faulkner, Ex-Dancing Master, Formerly Proprietor of the Los Angeles Dancing Academy and Ex-President of Dancing Masters’ Association of the Pacific Coast, 1892

Extra Credit

On Sept. 15, 1963, at the height of the racial violence in Little Rock, a Miami schoolteacher forwarded the following essay to Dwight Eisenhower. Russell is blind.

How to Stop Trouble
By Leah Russell, age 12

If I were president, I would have all the children blindfolded and send them to school. I would also send some of the colored children and have them blindfolded. I think that all of them would have a lot of fun and there wouldn’t be any fights. Probably after they got to know each other there wouldn’t be any more fights or anything like that.

Eisenhower wrote back, asking the teacher to tell Leah that “she has already grasped one of the great moral principles by which we all should live.”

Galactic Dibs

On New Year’s Day, 1949, James Mangan went to the Cook County recorder of deeds and registered his own country. The Nation of Celestia, he said, encompassed all of outer space. He was claiming it, as “founder and first representative,” to prevent anyone else from establishing political hegemony there.

Mangan wasn’t shy about it, either. Later that year he informed the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations that he was banning atmospheric nuclear tests, and he sent angry letters to the Americans and the Soviets when their space flights infringed on his “territory.” He even briefly got the U.N. to add the Celestian flag to those of its member nations.

Still, the idea never caught on, it largely died with its founder. All that’s left are some stamps, coins (“celestons”), and the titles Mangan gave to his grandsons: Glen Stump, “Duke of Selenia,” Dean Stump, “Duke of Mars,” and Todd Stump, “Duke of the Milky Way.”

Space to Let

Times are hard everywhere, but shed a tear for the Kongo Gumi Company of Osaka, Japan. When it closed its doors in January, the construction firm had been operating continuously for 1,400 years. The family business built its first temple in the year 578 and could trace its leadership through 39 generations.

“Tub of Blood Bunch”

Colorful New York gang names, 1825-1920:

  • Baxter Street Dudes
  • Car Barn Gang
  • Corcoran’s Roosters
  • Crazy Butch Gang
  • Daybreak Boys
  • Forty Little Thieves
  • Gas House Gang
  • Gopher Gang
  • Hudson Dusters
  • Humpty Jackson Gang
  • Italian Dave Gang
  • Mandelbaum Gang
  • Squab Wheelman Gang
  • Yakey Yakes

Slobbery Jim of the Daybreak Boys cut Patsy the Barber’s throat in a fight over 12 cents in 1853. He later rose to the rank of captain in the Confederate army.


American superstitions, collected by folklorist Fanny Bergen in 1896:

  • If you sneeze at table with the mouth full, an acquaintance will die soon. (Virginia)
  • If your shoe comes untied, your sweetheart is talking about you. (Alabama)
  • To go back into the house for something after starting on a journey is unpropitious. To have it brought out is all right. (Iowa)
  • To dream of bread is good luck. (Boston)
  • If you drop the tea-towel, it is a sign of company. (Pennsylvania)
  • Pass a baby through a window and it will never grow. (South Carolina)
  • Dimple in chin, devil within. (Maryland)
  • If you are a bridesmaid three times you will never stand in the middle. (New York)


Beware of that man,
Be he friend or brother,
Whose hair is one color
And moustache another.

(Portland, Maine)