Some Weird Index Cross-References

The Monthly Magazine for June 1801 talked about a weird and curious cross-references found in William Hawkins’ Treatise of the Pleas of the Crown (1795, 7th ed.). The magazine observed that “a plain, unlettered man is led to suspect that the writer of the volume and the writer of the index are playing at cross purposes.” Here are some […]

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Decide

In The Devil’s Dictionary (1906), Ambrose Bierce defined “Decide” as “to succumb to the preponderance of one set of influences over another set.” What followed is this short verse: A leaf was riven from a tree, “I mean to fall to earth,” said he. The west wind, rising, made him veer. “Eastward,” said he, “I […]

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Puns of the Weak #1

Starting this week, “Pun of the Weak” will be renamed as “Puns of the Weak”. When I was down, a friend told me, “Just look on the bright side, at least, you are not stuck in the hole underground full of water.” I know he meant well… … Disbelief — How you tell someone what […]

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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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“To Blossom”

Fair pledges of a fruitful tree, Why do ye fall so fast? Your date is not so past; But you may stay yet here a while To blush and gently smile, And go at last. What, were ye born to be An hour or half’s delight; And so to bid good-night? ‘Twas pity Nature brought […]

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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 #90

The Persistence of Memory What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an […]

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Wisdom from Around the World #1

Albanian: “For various reasons a good advice or a genuine warning is often disregarded or considered of no importance.” Arab: “Riches disclose bad qualities which poverty conceals.” Cambodian: “The immature rice stock stands erect; the mature stock hangs heavy with seeds.” Chinese: “There are two kinds of perfect people: those who are dead, and those […]

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