Gleanings from the Past #85


Consonants and Vowels

In normal speech there are four times as many consonants as vowels, corresponding to the relation between breathing and blood circulation (eighteen breaths to seventy-two pulsebeats).

— Noah Jonathan Jacobs, Naming Day in Eden: The Creation and Recreation of Language, 1958

Natural Vanity

Lord Houghton’s vanity is amusingly natural. Something was said of one of Theodore Hook’s criticisms. “You know even I never said anything as good as that,” said Lord Houghton, and quite seriously.

— Augustus J. C. Hare, The Story of My Life Vol. 5, 1890

Explosive Laundry

Old Faithful is sometimes degraded by being made a laundry. Garments placed in the crater during quiescence are ejected thoroughly washed when the eruption takes place. Gen. Sheridan’s men, in 1882, found that linen and cotton fabrics were uninjured by the action of the water, but woolen clothes were torn to shreds.

— William C. Riley, Official Guide to the Yellowstone National Park, 1889

Letters to the Editor

Mr. J. Armour-Milne refers to ‘the amount of drivel that is to be found in the Letters to the Editor.’ Whether or not you, in fact, publish drivel is not for me to decide, but a sure method of raising the standard of letters that you receive would be not only to publish your usual selection of letters, but also to print, each day, a complete list of the names of those correspondents whose letters you have rejected. The thought of possibly being included in your Rejects List, and then to have one’s acquaintances saying, ‘I see that you have had yet another letter refused by The Times,’ would be too much of a risk for most people.

— P. H. H. Moore, letter to the London Times, 1970

Posted by

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

6 thoughts on “Gleanings from the Past #85

  1. Given my recent immersion into the world of flax — an old source of linen cloth — I can’t help wondering: do you suppose Old Faithful didn’t harm the linen clothing because flax will flex?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I would’ve rejected P.H.H. Moore’s letter. There are a number of reasons why letters to the editor aren’t printed, the main one undoubtedly being that so many letters are received, an editor can’t possibly publish them all (including well-written ones).

    Liked by 1 person

What's On Your Mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s