Contradictory Proverbs

Look before you leap.
He who hesitates is lost.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Out of sight, out of mind.

You’re never too old to learn.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Better safe than sorry.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Nice guys finish last.

Many hands make light work.
Too many cooks spoil the broth.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Silence is golden.

Single-Border Countries

Countries bordered by only one other country:

  • Lesotho – by South Africa
  • San Marino – by Italy
  • Vatican City – by Italy
  • Qatar – by Saudi Arabia
  • South Korea – by North Korea (across the demilitarized zone)
  • Denmark – by Germany
  • The Gambia – by Senegal
  • Monaco – by France
  • Brunei – by Malaysia
  • Canada – by the United States
  • Portugal – by Spain
  • Dominican Republic – by Haiti
  • Haiti – by Dominican Republic
  • Brunei – by Malaysia
  • Papua New Guinea – by Indonesia
  • East Timor – by Indonesia
  • Republic of Ireland – by the United Kingdom

Alice’s Riddle

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Teaparty.svg

Everyone likes a good riddle. In Chapter 7 of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter poses a famous one: “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” Lewis Carroll intended that it should have no solution, but puzzle maven Sam Loyd offered these anyway:

  • Because the notes for which they are noted are not noted for being musical notes.
  • Poe wrote on both.
  • Bills and tales are among their characteristics.
  • Because they both stand on their legs, conceal their steels (steals), and ought to be made to shut up.

In 1896, Carroll proposed an answer himself: “Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!” (“Nevar” is “raven” spelled backward.)

Belated Surrenders

For most Japanese, World War II ended in 1945. But not for some:

  • Shoichi Yokoi, a soldier in the Imperial Japanese Army, was discovered in a remote section of Guam in 1972. He had been hiding in an underground jungle cave for 28 years, refusing to believe leaflets that said the war had ended.
  • 2nd. Lt. Hiroo Onoda hid in the Philippines jungle for 29 years. He finally gave up in 1974, when his old commanding officer convinced him the war was over. He surrendered in his dress uniform and sword, with his Arisaka rifle still in operating condition, 500 rounds of ammunition, and several hand grenades.
  • The last holdout, Capt. Fumio Nakahira of the Japanese Imperial Army, was discovered on Mindoro Island in the Philippines in April 1980 — 35 years after V-J Day.

“It is with much embarrassment that I have returned alive,” Yokoi said on returning to Japan. He got $300 in back pay.

Human Life Expectancy

Average human lifespan, by era:

  • Neanderthal: 20 years
  • Neolithic: 20 years
  • Classical Greece: 28 years
  • Classical Rome: 28 years
  • Medieval England: 33 years
  • End of 18th century: 37 years
  • Early 20th century: 50 years
  • Circa 1940: 65 years
  • Current (in the West): 77-81 years

Today the average Zambian dies at age 37, the average Japanese at age 81.

Cavendish Verse

An immortally bad poem by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623-1673):

What Is Liquid?

All that doth flow we cannot liquid name
Or else would fire and water be the same;
But that is liquid which is moist and wet
Fire that property can never get.
Then ’tis not cold that doth the fire put out
But ’tis the wet that makes it die, no doubt.

Samuel Pepys called it “the most ridiculous thing that ever was wrote.”