Gleanings from the Past #84


Legally Speaking

Dear Ned,

Soon after I received my Acme pencil (11 cents), it rolled off the desk and on to the floor. Upon retrieving it, I hit my head on the desk. Can I hold Acme responsible?

Boiling Mad

Dear Boiling,

This is what’s known as an open-and-shut case. If you don’t sue them, I will.


— R. Chast, “Ned’s Consumer Hot Line”, New Yorker, 1984


If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.”

— Epictetus, The Discourses of Epictetus, with the Encheridion and Fragments (1877 edition), tr. by George Long, c. 2nd century

Life of a Book

The life of a good book is far longer than the life of a man. Its author dies, and his generation dies, and his successors are born and die; the world he knew disappears, and new orders which he could not foresee are established on its ruins; law, religion, science, commerce, society, all are transformed into shapes which would astound him; but his book continues to live. Long after he and his epoch are dead, the book speaks with his voice.

— Gilbert Highet, Juvenal the Satirist, a Study, 1961

Turning Back the Hands of Time

On June 30, 1960, a thunderstorm struck the Columbia, Missouri, area and made time not only stand still, but go backward. The Columbia Missourian reported that Mr. C.W. Brenton looked at his electrical clock at 7:55 P.M. and was startled to see that the clock was running backward. During the storm a surge of lightning had entered his home along the power lines and fused some of the wiring in the clock. This apparently reversed the magnetic field of the motor, causing the hands to turn in the wrong direction.

— Peter Viemeister, The Lightning Book, 1961

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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

4 thoughts on “Gleanings from the Past #84

  1. That last one about the clock running backwards…very interesting. What’s funny is my daughter & family used to live in Columbia MO, (not int the 60s though) and we’ve been there many times. (they’ve since moved to KC)

    Liked by 2 people

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