Thumbs Up,_Rome.JPG

Whenever a death sentence is commuted or a death-row inmate is released, anywhere in the world, the Colosseum’s nighttime illumination is changed from white to gold.

It’s a gesture against the death penalty, which Italy abolished in 1948.

Nothing Doing

“Can’t Be Done”:

  • “You can’t stand for five minutes without moving, if you are blindfolded.”
  • “You can’t stand at the side of a room with both your feet lengthwise touching the wainscoting.”
  • “You can’t get out of a chair without bending your body forward, or putting your feet under it; that is, if you are sitting squarely on the chair, and not on the edge of it.”
  • “You can’t break a match if the match is laid across the nail of the middle finger of either hand, and passed under the first and third finger of that hand, despite its seeming so easy at first sight.”
  • “You can’t stand with your heels against the wall and pick up something from the floor.”
  • “Don’t try to rub your ear with your elbow, for it will be a failure.”
  • “It takes a clever person to stand up when placed two feet from a wall with his hands behind his back and his head against the wall.”

Sam Loyd’s Cyclopedia of 5000 Puzzles, Tricks, and Conundrums (With Answers), 1914

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.

Dear Diary

The world’s longest diary is kept by Robert Shields of Dayton, Wash. Since 1972 he has spent four hours a day typing a record of everything that happens to him. Sample:

July 25, 1993, 7 a.m.: I cleaned out the tub and scraped my feet with my fingernails to remove layers of dead skin.

He stores the diary, now 38 million words long, in more than 80 cardboard boxes.