A kadigan is a placeholder for an unspecified word. You know: blivet, deelie-bob, device, dingus, doodad, doohickey, doofunny, doover, fnord, gadget, geemie, gizmo, hoochamajigger, kerjigger, oojah, oojamaflip, thingamajig, thingamabob, thingamadoodle, thingo, thingum, thingummy, thingy, thing-thing, whatchamacallit, whatchamajigger, whatsit, whosey, whoseywhatsit, whosis, widget, whatsitsname.

These are common words that do useful work, but they have no formal part of speech, falling somewhere between nouns and pronouns. “Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly,” wrote William Penn, “for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood.”

Mill Conditions, 1815


Excerpts, evidence of a female millhand to parliamentary commissioners during an inquiry into factory conditions, c. 1815:

What time did you begin work at the factory?
When I was six years old.

What were your hours of labor in that mill?
From 5 in the morning till 9 at night, when they were thronged.

For how long a time together have you worked that excessive length of time?
For about a year.

What were the usual hours of labour when you were not so thronged?
From six in the morning till 7 at night.

What time was allowed for meals?
Forty minutes at noon.

Had you any time to get your breakfast or drinking?
No, we had to get it as we could.

Explain what you had to do.
When the frames are full, they have to stop the frames, and take the flyers off, and take the full bobbins off, and carry them to the roller, and then put empty ones on, and set the frame going again.

Does that keep you constantly on your feet?
Yes, there are so many frames and they run so quick.

Your labour is very excessive?
Yes, you have not time for anything.

Suppose you flagged a little, or were late, what would they do?
Strap us.

Did you live far from the mill?
Yes, two miles.

Were you generally there in time?
Yes, my mother has been up at 4 o’clock in the morning, and at 2 o’clock in the morning; the colliers used to go to their work at 3 or 4 o’clock, and when she heard them stirring she has got up out of her warm bed, and gone out and asked them the time; and I have sometimes been at Hunslet Car at 2 o’clock in the morning, when it was streaming down with rain, and we have had to stay till the mill was opened.

You are considerably deformed in person as a consequence of this labour?
Yes I am.

Where are you now?
In the poorhouse.

State what you think as to the circumstances in which you have been placed during all this time of labour, and what you have considered about it as to the hardship and cruelty of it.

“The witness was too much affected to answer the question.”



  • Campus motto: Bottoms up, Mac!
  • Do geese see God?
  • Dennis sinned.
  • Name now one man’s sensuousness. Name now one man.
  • Never odd or even.
  • Plan no damn Madonna LP!
  • Rotary gyrator
  • Roy, am I mayor?
  • Sex at noon taxes.
  • Ten animals I slam in a net.
  • Was it Eliot’s toilet I saw?
  • Tarzan raised a Desi Arnaz rat.
  • Norma is as selfless as I am, Ron.
  • Sums are not set as a test on Erasmus.
  • Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas.
  • Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?
  • Rettebs, I flahd noces, eh? Ttu, but the second half is better. (Stephen Fry)
  • Rats drown in WordStar.
  • “Sit on a potato pan, Otis!”
  • “Do nine men interpret?” “Nine men,” I nod.
  • A slut nixes sex in Tulsa.

And “Gnu dung, sides reversed, is gnu dung.”

Edmund Trebus


As a packrat, Edmund Trebus took the cake. He also took washing machines, rotting clothes, wood, motorcycles, windowpanes, and old refrigerators. Before the Polish émigré died in 2002, at age 83, he had filled his four-story London house with mountains of garbage collected at local junk shops and building sites. One room was full of vacuum cleaners, another with cameras. He collected Elvis Presley recordings maniacally.

In their garden, his wife used to sit in a deck chair among towers of crap. When she left in 1981, he filled in the hole. In the end Trebus was living in one corner of the kitchen, with only a Jack Russell terrier for company. He needed ladders to get in and out of the house, which had no running water, working bathroom or electricity.

In 1997, after being buried under one of his own “litter traps,” designed to catch burglars, he was hospitalized for gangrene. When he got out, he found that the town council had finally got a court order declaring the house unfit for human habitation. Six men and five trucks took 30 days to remove 515 cubic yards of waste.

He’d filled it up again by 2001.

Not Raising Hogs

March 20, 1963

The Honorable Ed Foreman
House of Representatives
Congressional District #16
Washington 25, D.C.

Dear Sir:

My friend over in Terebone Parish received a $1,000 check from the government this year for not raising hogs. So I am going into the not-raising hogs business next year.

What I want to know is, in your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to raise hogs on and the best kind of hogs not to raise? I would prefer not to raise Razorbacks, but if that is not a good breed not to raise, I will just as gladly not raise any Berkshires or Durocs.

The hardest work in this business is going to be in keeping an inventory on how many hogs I haven’t raised.

My friend is very joyful about the future of his business. He has been raising hogs for more than 20 years and the best he ever made was $400, until this year, when he got $1,000 for not raising hogs.

If I can get $1,000 for not raising 50 hogs, then I will get $2,000 for not raising 100 hogs. I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to 4,000 hogs which means that I will have $80,000 coming from the government.

Now, another thing: these hogs I will not raise will not eat 100,000 bushels of corn. So will you pay me anything for not raising 100,000 bushels of corn to feed the hogs I am not raising?

I want to get started as soon as possible as this seems to be a good time of year for not raising hogs.

One more thing, can I raise 10 or 12 hogs on the side while I am in the not-raising-hog business just enough to get a few sides of bacon to eat?

Very truly yours,

J.B. Lee, Jr.
Potential Hog Raiser

Odds of Dying


Your lifetime odds of dying

  • on a streetcar: 1 in 1,230,975
  • through burning or melting of nightwear: 1 in 738,585
  • in a discharge of fireworks: 1 in 615,488
  • in an earthquake: 1 in 131,890
  • through contact with hornets, wasps, or bees: 1 in 85,882
  • by lightning: 1 in 83,930
  • due to a cave-in or falling earth: 1 in 65,945
  • through contact with hot tap water: 1 in 64,788
  • in a legal execution: 1 in 58,618
  • by falling, jumping, or being pushed from a high place: 1 in 47,960
  • while riding an animal: 1 in 31,836
  • by drowning in the bathtub: 1 in 11,469
  • in a fall involving a bed, a chair, or other furniture: 1 in 5,031

Chance of dying in an assault by firearm: 1 in 325. Of shooting yourself: 1 in 219.