Gleanings from the Past #92

Etymology of Peebles Dr. Dalgleish, minister of Peebles, in giving a statistical account of that parish for Sir John Sinclair’s immense compilation, simply stated, that the place must have derived its name from the pebbles which are found there in great quantity. The more elaborate antiquary George Chalmers, by a tolerable pun for a man […]

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If You Can’t Beat Them…

Poet Lewis Morris (1833 – 1907) on one occasion bored Oscar Wilde with his ramblings regarding his woes. Morris lamented that the press boycotted his books on purpose. He also thought that he should have become a Poet Laureate after the death of Alfred Tennyson. After he enumerated several more examples of unfair treatments he […]

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Gleanings from the Past #91

Monotony The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the […]

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A Witty Exchange

  George Bernard Shaw (left) and Winston Churchill (right) When playwright George Bernard Shaw started a new play, he invited Winston Churchill to attend the opening night. He thought of a witty message, then wired the following invitation to Churchill: Have reserved two tickets for my first night. Come and bring a friend, if you […]

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The Big Universe

In his book, The Book of Naturalists (1944), naturalist William Beebe related an interesting anecdote about him and his friend Theodore Roosevelt during his visits to Sagamore Hill, Roosevelt’s residence. Roosevelt and Beebe would go out after an evening of talk and dinner and search the night sky until they locate the faint spot of light-mist […]

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Being a Criminal Lawyer

Raymond Burr in Perry Mason In 1977, Michael George Cummings of Tulsa, Oklahoma was charged with purse-stealing. He refused to have a lawyer defend him at his impending trial. His reason? He said that he had watch enough episodes of Perry Mason, a US legal drama, to know how things go. Cummings was sure that […]

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Gleanings from the Past #89

Default The credit department of the Hudson’s Bay Co. received this letter from a Canadian farmer: “I got your letter about what I owe. Now be pachant. I ain’t forgot you. When I have the money I will pay you. If this was the Judgment Day and you was no more prepared to meet your […]

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Where Ignorance Is Bliss

In the early days of automobiles, no one drove their cars during the winter because of the unreliability of  the machines. It was normal for car engines to stop working at low temperature. Moreover, the lack of roads was also an issue. So, cars were put up on jacks, and dealers shut down their businesses […]

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An Einstein Legend

Legend has it that an apple falling from a tree and then subsequently hitting Isaac Newton on the head is said to have provided Newton the idea of the gravitational force. This is a well-known and often told legend in physics. There is a lesser-known legend that explains Einstein’s discovery of his theory of the […]

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Gleanings from the Past #87

Geometry and Poetry Geometry seems to stand for all that is practical, poetry for all that is visionary, but in the kingdom of the imagination you will find them close akin, and they should go together as a precious heritage to every youth. — Florence Milner, School Review, 1898 Epitaph on Richard Adlam In the romantic village […]

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