The Wine Merchant’s Will

A wine merchant left 24 casks of wine to his three sons, and the casks were in the following conditions: 5 casks were full. 11 casks were half-full. 8 casks were empty. His last will said that each son must be bequeathed with the same amount of wine and the same number of casks. To […]

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Memory and Forgetfulness

Themistocles, when Simonides said that he would teach him mnemonics, or the art of improving one’s memory, replied that he would rather learn the art of forgetfulness: Memory, and thou, Forgetfulness, all hail! Each in her province greatly may avail. Memory, of all things good remind us still: Forgetfulness, obliterate all that’s ill. This was […]

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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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A Short Letter to the Editor

On November 22, 1950, The Providence Journal, a daily newspaper serving Providence, Rhode Island, may have printed the shortest letter on its Letters to the Editor column ever. The letter was introduced with, “The following letter is printed in its entirety.” Here’s the letter: Editor: I am so damn mad I forgot what I was […]

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An Ingenious Marble Adding Machine

From time to time, I would find something truly remarkable on the web and the following is a good example: Matthias Wandel was able to contruct a wooden adding machine that adds binary numbers. However, the most curious thing about it is that it is operated by marbles. Just watch the video to see its […]

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Quotable #89: Abstraction

“What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms – in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what […]

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Possible Origins of “God Is Always on the Side of the Heaviest Battalion”

The quotation “God is always on the side of the heaviest battalion” has mainly been attributed to Napoleon (1769 – 1821). Another form of the same quotation you may recognize is “Providence is always on the side of the big battalions”. Nonetheless, this saying has been around long before the time of Napoleon. One of […]

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Gleanings from the Past #88

Fortune Fortune, they say, doth give too much to many; But yet she never gave enough to any. — John Harington, 1600, quoted in The London Quarterly Review, January 1865 Behind every successful fortune there is a crime. — Mario Puzo, The Godfather, 1969 Writing Novels A man who is not born with the novel-writing […]

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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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