Gleanings From The Past #20



It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. But journalism cannot reasonably be expected thus to insist upon the permanent miracles. Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, ‘Mr. Wilkinson Still Safe,’ or ‘Mr. Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet.’ They cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complex picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual. However democratic they may be, they are only concerned with the minority.

— G. K. Chesterton, The Ball and the Cross, 1909

A Dog Lost in a Coal-Pit For Eight Weeks

Eight weeks ago, a terrier dog, in pursuit, so it is supposed, of a hare, was seen to fall into the shaft of an unwrought coal-pit, in Elswick-fields, near this town. Its howling was frequently heard, and many persons threw stones down, with the view of putting it out of its misery, but without effect. On Wednesday last, a mason of this town, prompted by humanity, sent down his boy, who brought up the poor sufferer, a mere skeleton; but by care it is recovering. When first brought up, it could not eat, but lapped water; which during the whole of the dismal period of its confinement (except the hare which probably fell in with it) must have been its only sustenance.

Tyne Mercury, July 17, 1806


A curious circumstance occurred at the Bush Tavern, Bristol, on Monday night, May the 4th, about eleven o’clock. A young man, who has since been discovered to be a sailor, belonging to the Union ship of war, lying at Plymouth, went to bed apparently composed; but before the servant had left the room five minutes, the house was alarmed by his cries of ‘Help me out,’ and by the breaking of glass, occasioned by his bursting through the sash. Though asleep, he continued walking from one roof to the other, and along the narrowest ridges, and at length jumped from the surprising height of thirty feet, without receiving any material injury. He was conveyed to bed, and left the inn the following morning on his journey for Plymouth.

— Oxford Herald, May 9, 1812

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is

20 thoughts on “Gleanings From The Past #20

    1. Heh, as for me, there was a time that I wanted to become a lawyer (since there are several lawyers in my family)…

      Then when I was still in college, I applied for insurance agent as a part time job, though I only lasted for a day. :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, I can better that one. I got a job working as a receptionist at an insurance company in the city (years ago) and lasted three hours. I went out to lunch and never went back! 😏

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Normally, I don’t abandon a job without at least working there for a day lol. However, there are some exceptions. For instance, there was one time when I applied for a construction job since it offered some good money (good enough for a university student anyway), around HKD 160 per hour or USD 20.5/hour.

        On my first day, they tasked me to “clear out” the drainage system. I thought that I only had to clean a small section, but it turned out that I had to clean it all myself… So, at noon, I called it quits…

        Or the time when I worked as a call center agent, the supervisor was a very demanding wretch and an idiot at the same time.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh I totally get that and trust me, I’m not a rude person not a slack worker, but some working conditions just suck. As you’ve found out yourself! Anyway, those days are long gone, thank goodness.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Since I have a couple of businesses in the Philippines, I now have a stable income. These days, I usually do freelance writing stuff, usually about pure mathematics (mostly number theory and combinatorics). Sometimes, I am invited to perform magic in parties and business conferences (I was a pro magician back then) though it only happens 2 times a month at most since I am officially a “retired” magician :)

        Liked by 1 person

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