“I hate quotations.” — Emerson
Mount Everest has lost a lot of its intrigue since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit in 1953. Indeed, it’s become a big business in Nepal: Between 1998 and 2001, 560 people reached the “top of the world”; last year Pemba Dorjie Sherpa set a new record by making the climb — five miles straight up — in 8 hours and 10 minutes.
Still, it’s perilous, particularly in the “death zone” above 26,000 feet. Hundreds have died, and most of the corpses remain where they fell, frozen solid.
One of those bodies may hold some astounding evidence — proof that the summit was reached 29 years before Hillary’s achievement.
In June 1924, two British climbers, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, had climbed to within a few hours of the top. They were using oxygen, which doubled their speed; their geologist reported seeing them climbing “with great alacrity … near the base of the final pyramid” shortly after noon. But the climbers were obscured by mist, and vanished. Had they succeeded?
In 1933 one of their ice axes was found above a large snow terrace. This narrowed the search. If the bodies could be found, Eastman Kodak thought it could retrieve “fully printable images” from their cameras, which would presumably show the summit if they’d reached it. (Irvine was an avid photographer.)
At first the mystery only deepened. A Chinese porter told of finding an “English dead” near the terrace in 1975, but he died in an avalanche before he could reveal any details. Then, in 1999, Eric Simonson found Mallory’s body, with rope trauma indicating that the two climbers had fallen together. But there were no cameras, and still no sign of Irvine’s body.
That’s where the mystery stands now. Last year a new effort began to recover Irvine’s body — details are at Mallory & Irvine: The Final Chapter. So far they’ve retrieved some puzzling artifacts, but no clear answer. Stay tuned.
Cities with dubious epithets:
- Eau Claire, Mich.: Cherry Pit Spitting Capital of the World
- Burlington, Iowa: Loader/Backhoe Capital of the World
- Sturgis, Mich.: Curtain Rod Capital of the World
- Beaver, Okla.: Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World
- La Crosse, Kan.: Barbed Wire Capital of the World
- Clearwater, Fla.: Lightning Capital of the World
- Gallup, N.M.: Drunk Driving Capital of the World
Wichita, Kan., calls itself the “Air Capital of the World.” Touché.
The rain it raineth every day
Upon the just and unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust has the just’s umbrella.
— Central Law Journal, June 19, 1908
v. to criticize beyond sphere of one’s knowledge
Only nine people have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony award:
- Mel Brooks
- John Gielgud
- Marvin Hamlisch
- Helen Hayes
- Audrey Hepburn
- Rita Moreno
- Mike Nichols
- Jonathan Tunick
- Richard Rodgers
If you count honorary awards, then Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli also qualify. If you count “daytime Emmys,” then so does Whoopi Goldberg.
“Wear a bad sweater dress, suffer the consequences.”
Excerpts from the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence, by Captain Grose (1811):
- ADMIRAL OF THE NARROW SEAS. One who from drunkenness vomits into the lap of the person sitting opposite to him.
- ANGLING FOR FARTHINGS. Begging out of a prison window with a cap, or box, let down at the end of a long string.
- APPLE DUMPLIN SHOP. A woman’s bosom.
- BACK GAMMON PLAYER. A sodomite.
- DUCK F-CK-R. The man who has the care of the poultry on board a ship of war.
- GREEN GOWN. To give a girl a green gown; to tumble her on the grass.
- HEMPEN WIDOW. One whose husband was hanged.
- HISTORY OF THE FOUR KINGS, or CHILD’S BEST GUIDE TO THE GALLOWS. A pack of cards.
- MANOEUVRING THE APOSTLES. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, i.e. borrowing of one man to pay another.
- PISS PROPHET. A physician who judges of the diseases of his patients solely by the inspection of their urine.
- SON OF PRATTLEMENT. A lawyer.
And a THOROUGH-GOOD-NATURED WENCH is “one who being asked to sit down, will lie down.”
Famous members of Mensa:
- Isaac Asimov, writer
- Jean Auel, author
- Scott Adams, cartoonist (Dilbert)
- Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute?
- Asia Carrera, adult film star
- Geena Davis, actress
- Jodie Foster, actress
- Mell Lazarus, cartoonist (Miss Peach, Momma)
An alternative society is open to the stupidest 2 percent of the population. It’s called Densa.
“Flirting and Its Dangers,” circa 1920:
- No Excuse. – In this country there is no excuse for the young man who seeks the society of the loose and the dissolute. There is at all times and everywhere open to him a society of persons of the opposite sex of his own age and of pure thoughts and lives, whose conversation will refine him and drive from his bosom ignoble and impure thoughts.
- The Dangers. – The young man who may take pleasure in the fact that he is the hero of half a dozen or more engagements and love episodes, little realizes that such constant excitement often causes not only dangerously frequent and long-continued nocturnal emissions, but most painful affections of the testicles. Those who show too great familiarity with the other sex, who entertain lascivious thoughts, continually exciting the sexual desires, always suffer a weakening of power and sometimes the actual diseases of degeneration, chronic inflammation of the gland, spermatorrhoea, impotence, and the like. – Young man, beware; your punishment for trifling with the affections of others may cost you a life of affliction.
- Remedy. – Do not violate the social laws. Do not trifle with the affections of your nature. Do not give others countless anguish, and also do not run the chances of injuring yourself and others for life. The society of refined and pure women is one of the strongest safeguards a young man can have, and he who seeks it will not only find satisfaction, but happiness. Simple friendship and kind affections for each other will ennoble and benefit.
- The Time for Marriage. – When a young man’s means permit him to marry, he should then look intelligently for her with whom he expects to pass the remainder of his life in perfect loyalty, and in sincerity and singleness of heart. Seek her to whom he is ready to swear to be ever true.
- Breach of Confidence. – Nothing is more certain, says Dr. Naphey, to undermine domestic felicity, and sap the foundation of marital happiness, than marital infidelity. The risks of disease which a married man runs in impure intercourse are far more serious, because they not only involve himself, but his wife and his children. He should know that there is nothing which a woman will not forgive sooner than such a breach of confidence. He is exposed to the plots and is pretty certain sooner or later to fall into the snares of those atrocious parties who subsist on black-mail. And should he escape these complications, he still must lose self-respect, and carry about with him the burden of a guilty conscience and a broken vow.
- Society Rules and Customs. – A young man can enjoy the society of ladies without being a “flirt.” He can escort ladies to parties, public places of interest, social gatherings, etc., without showing special devotion to any one special young lady. When he finds the choice of his heart, then he will be justified to manifest it, and publicly proclaim it by paying her the compliment, exclusive attention. To keep a lady’s company six months is a public announcement of an engagement.
From Searchlights on Health — The Science of Eugenics: A Guide to Purity and Physical Manhood; Advice to Maiden, Wife and Mother; Love, Courtship, and Marriage, by Prof. B.G. Jefferis, M.D., Ph.D., and J.L. Nicols, A.M.