How Bad Scheduling and a Misguided Con Scheme Changed the World

Johannes Gutenberg (circa 1400 – February 3, 1468) was responsible for one of the pivotal inventions in all of history: the moveable-type printing press. That invention, more than any other, allowed mankind to begin to collect and disseminate its collective knowledge and progress into the scientific and industrial revolutions. It almost didn't happen. We owe... Continue Reading →


What Were These Headline Writers Thinking?

A headline is designed to capture the reader's attention and draw him or her into the story. Sometimes that happens in entirely unexpected ways. Take a look at some of the most hilarious headlines to have graced the newspapers. Sometimes the attempt to correct the mistake can be even more entertaining, as was the case... Continue Reading →

Judge Rules on Lawsuit 26 Years Late, After Finding File in His Attic

As far as landmark judicial decisions go, the mineral rights case of Ayers v Rubow is hardly a candidate to change the face of established jurisprudence. When Toole County, Montana Judge Ronald McPhillips issued his ruling in the case in the summer of 2009, it is doubtful few would have noticed, except for a couple of curious... Continue Reading →

A Grave Omission

How do you briefly describe a life when the life is that of Thomas Jefferson? In his 83 years Jefferson succeeded in leaving an indelible impression on the nation he helped create. To begin to list his accomplishments is to invite omission. Fortunately, Thomas Jefferson left explicit instructions regarding the monument to be erected over his... Continue Reading →

The Original Absent-Minded Professor

Oxford Professor William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930) is best remembered for his tendency to swap letters, words, or parts of words when he spoke. The result -- known as spoonerisms -- are generally more memorable than the originally-intended phrase. Some of Spooner's more-famous examples include: Spoken Intended fighting a liar lighting a fire you hissed my... Continue Reading →

Never Argue With a Judge — Even When He Calls Himself an Idiot

When Tristan Ellis, a notorious burglar, showed up in front of Australian Judge Dean Mildren on March 29, 2004, it was the third time that year he had been arrested. The judge was amazed that Ellis had been released on bail for the third time in a year, even after flagrantly ignoring a court-imposed curfew.... Continue Reading →

Keep Track of All Participants in Your Conversation

The distinguished British actor Sir John Gielgud sometimes lost track of the identity of the person with whom he was speaking. This occasionally generated some awkwardness. Once, while dining in a restaurant with a playwright, Gielgud spied someone he thought he recognized. "Did you see that man just coming in?" he asked his companion. "He’s... Continue Reading →

I Bet He Wished He Could Forget That He Was Hungry, Too

Sir Isaac Newton was sometimes very absentminded. One day a visitor stopped by to see him. A servant told the visitor that he would have to sit down and wait, since Sir Isaac was in his study and could not be disturbed. Soon another servant brought in Newton's dinner--a boiled chicken under a cover--and sat... Continue Reading →

Funny… I Don’t Remember Being Absentminded

Jean de La Fontaine was a 17th century French author who wrote simple animal stories that contained elements of satire and social criticism. He was famous for his absentmindedness. He once called at the house of a friend whom he hadn't seen in some time. When reminded that his friend had died six months earlier,... Continue Reading →

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