The Hooded Man Paradox: Knowing And Not Knowing Your Brother At The Same Time

Eubulides of Miletus (c. 400 BC), a philosopher of the Megarian school and a student of Euclid of Megara (not to be confused with Euclid of Alexandria who compiled the Elements of Euclid), posed the following paradox: You say you know your brother. Yet when your brother is hooded you are unable to identify him. […]

Read More

A Minimalist’s Letter

A prisoner has a limited supply of paper and ink so to save resources, he decided to refrain from using letters that extend above or below the line (b, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, p, q, t, or y). With this kind of constraint, can he write anything worthwhile? Well, depending on the prisoner’s […]

Read More

Translation Of A Pun

Puns are usually only effective in the language which they originated from. If you translate a pun to another language, it’s meaning would probably be lost in translation. So, it’s not uncommon to see several witty puns that were unable to survive in translated works either due to the translator’s ignorance of the puns or the absence of similar puns in the target language. Translators solve this problem through improvisation and in worst case scenarios, through the use of lengthy footnotes to explain the puns.

Read More

Gleanings From The Past #60

Diplomacy Lord Wentworth gave some very cavalier advice to one going upon a diplomatic mission : he was up to the system of courts, or he would not have committed himself by such a satire. ” To secure yourself, and serve your country, you must at all times, and upon all occasions, speak the truth; […]

Read More

Disorder In The Court

The following is a peculiar court transcript cited in Rodney Jone’s Disorderly Conduct: Verbatim Excerpts From Actual Cases (1987): The Court: I got the Quadrophenia, but then he said somebody played in it, and I didn’t get that. Prosecutor: The Who. The Court: The what? Witness: Musicians. Prosecutor: The Who. Witness: The Who. The Court: […]

Read More

Rough and Tough

There had been many verses written over the years that talk about the intricacies of English pronunciation. The following verse from The Mixture of Low Spirits (1875) is just one of many:

Read More

Introducing Raymond Smullyan

One day, when a speaker was introducing logician and puzzlist Raymond Smullyan, he remarked that “Professor Smullyan is unique.” Smullyan, who was feeling playful that day, said, “I’m sorry to interrupt you Sir but I happen to be the only one in the entire universe who is not unique.” On another event, Smullyan was introduced […]

Read More

A Contrast On Matrimony Or, Pro & Anti Marriage In One

Here is a curious little verse. If you read the entire verse normally, you’d find that the writer has some cynical views on marriage. However, if you read the poem in an alternating fashion (first line, third line, second line and fourth line) for each stanza, then the meaning of the verse becomes the opposite: […]

Read More

A Study Of The English Language

The English language can be confusing, especially to foreigners who are learning it. The following curious anecdote has a good illustration regarding this, and it also contains an ingenious collection of words: A Frenchman, while looking at a number of vessels, exclaimed, ‘See what a flock of ships!’ He was told that a flock of […]

Read More

Gleanings From The Past #54

Not Lost in Translation A ludicrous story is told of a great naval function which took place during the reign of the last Napoleon and the Empress Eugénie. Several American vessels were present, and they were drawn up in line to salute the Empress’s yacht as it passed. The French sailors, of course, manned the […]

Read More