Anonymous Identities

“John Doe” in other countries:

  • Australia: Fred Nurk
  • Austria: Hans Meier
  • Belgium: Jan Janssen
  • Colombia: Fulano de Tal
  • Croatia: Ivan Horvat
  • Czech Republic: Josef Novák
  • Estonia: Jaan Tamm
  • France: Jean Dupont
  • Guatemala: Juan Perez
  • Italy: Mario Rossi
  • Lithuania: Vardenis Pavardenis
  • Malta: Joe Borg
  • New Zealand: Joe Bloggs
  • Philippines: Juan dela Cruz
  • Poland: Jan Kowalski
  • Romania: Ion Popescu
  • Slovenia: Janez Novak
  • South Africa: Koos van der Merwe

In the United States, John Doe is always the defendant. An anonymous plaintiff is Richard Roe.

Snap, Crackle, Pop

The sound of Rice Krispies in other languages:

  • Finnish: “Riks! Raks! Poks!”
  • French: “Cric! Crac! Croc!”
  • German: “Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!”
  • Swedish: “Piff! Paff! Puff!”
  • Spanish: “Pim! Pum! Pam!”

In 2002, pollster Kellyanne Conway found that most Americans could name the three elves but could not name any three of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices.

The Flynn Effect

Are we getting smarter? IQ scores around the world have been going up by about three IQ points per decade.

Suggested reasons include improved nutrition, smaller families, better education, and the stimulating modern environment, but no one really knows what’s causing it.

It’s called the Flynn effect, after New Zealand political scientist who discovered it.

Miles v. City Council of Augusta, Georgia

If you’re going to exhibit a talking cat in Georgia, you need a business license, according to a court ruling in 1981. Carl and Elaine Miles had been presenting Blackie the Talking Cat to passersby in Augusta; Blackie would meow “I love you” or “I want my mama,” and the onlookers would give small change to the Mileses.

They objected to the license requirement, saying that the law violated their right to free speech and that it didn’t mention talking animals. But they lost the case in district court in 1982, and an appeals court upheld the decision:

This Court will not hear a claim that Blackie’s right to free speech has been infringed. First, although Blackie arguably possesses a very unusual ability, he cannot be considered a “person” and is therefore not protected by the Bill of Rights. Second, even if Blackie had such a right, we see no need for appellants to assert his right jus tertii.

The court added, “Blackie can clearly speak for himself.”

Petroleum V. Nasby on “The Woman Question”

  • From the begining woman has occupied a dependent position, and has been only what man has made her. The Turks, logical fellows, denied her a soul, and made of her an object of barter and sale; the American Indians made of her a beast of burden. In America, since we extended the area of civilization by butchering the Indians, we have copied both.
  • The inferiority of the sex is easy of demonstration. It has been said that the mother forms the character of the man so long, that the proposition has become axiomatic. If this be true, we can crush those who prate of the equality of women, by holding up to the gaze of the world the inferior men she has produced. Look at the Congress of the United States.
  • My friend is learned. She has a tolerable knowledge of Greek, is an excellent Latin scholar, and as she has read the Constitution of the United States, she excels in political lore the majority of our representatives in Congress. But nevertheless I protest against her voting for several reasons:
    1. She cannot sing bass! Her voice, as Dr. Bushnell justly observes in his blessed book, is pitched higher than the male voice, which indicates feminine weakness of mind.
    2. Her form is graceful rather than strong.
    3. She delights in millinery goods.
    4. She can’t grow whiskers.

— Satirical lyceum speaker Petroleum Vesuvius Nasby, “The Struggles of a Conservative with the Woman Question,” 1868

A Word to the Wise

“Servants are a necessary evil. He who shall contrive to obviate their necessity, or remove their inconveniences, will render to human comfort a greater benefit than has yet been conferred by all the useful-knowledge societies of the age. They are domestic spies, who continually embarrass the intercourse of the members of a family, or possess themselves of private information that renders their presence hateful, and their absence dangerous. It is a rare thing to see persons who are not controlled by their servants. Theirs, too, is not the only kitchen cabinet which begins by serving and ends by ruling.”

— From The Laws of Etiquette, by “A Gentleman,” 1836

“… Except for All Those Others”

Dubious states:

  • albocracy – government by white people
  • argentocracy – government by money
  • barbarocracy – government by barbarians
  • cannonarchy – government by superior firepower
  • capelocracy – government by shopkeepers
  • chiliarchy – government by one thousand people
  • chirocracy – government by physical force
  • corpocracy – government by corporate bureaucrats
  • demonarchy – government by a demon
  • dulocracy – government by slaves
  • foolocracy – government by fools
  • iatrarchy – government by physicians
  • infantocracy – government by an infant
  • millionocracy – government by millionaires
  • neocracy – government by new or inexperienced rulers
  • partocracy – government by a single unopposed political party
  • pollarchy – government by the multitude or a mob
  • squarsonocracy – government by landholding clergymen
  • tritheocracy – government by three gods
  • xenocracy – government by a body of foreigners

Domesticated Animals

Dates of first domestication:

  • Sheep, goat, pig: 8,000 B.C.
  • Cow: 6,000 B.C.
  • Horse: 4,000 B.C.
  • Donkey, water buffalo, honeybee: 4,000 B.C.
  • Chicken, cat, llama: 3,500 B.C.
  • Silkworm: 3,000 B.C.
  • Camel: 2,500 B.C.

Dogs, by far, are man’s best friend. Some estimates put them with us as early as 150,000 B.C. It’s thought that scavenging wolves grew less fearful of humans, and we found they could help with hunting and warn us of approaching enemies. “To his dog, every man is Napoleon,” wrote Aldous Huxley. “Hence the constant popularity of dogs.”

National Statistics Per Capita

Large countries get the most attention, but the picture changes when you adjust for size:

  • Highest GDP: United States
  • Highest GDP per capita: Luxembourg
  • Largest military: China
  • Largest military per capita: Vatican City
  • Most expensive military: United States
  • Most expensive military per capita: Israel
  • Most Olympic medals: United States
  • Most Olympic medals per capita: Australia
  • Most Cannes Palmes d’Or: United States
  • Most Cannes Palmes d’Or per capita: Denmark
  • Most Nobel Prizes: United States
  • Most Nobel Prizes per capita: Iceland
  • Most startup companies: United States
  • Most startup companies per capita: Israel