Horsing Around With Royalty

President Ronald Reagan shared Queen Elizabeth II's love of horses. During a state visit to the United Kingdom, the President accepted the Queen's invitation to go horseback riding together. As the two leaders rode along, the Queen's horse suddenly began expelling gas loudly, in sync with each step. The Queen was mortified and said, "Oh, I am... Continue Reading →


The Awkward Tale of the Countries with Identical Flags

What can be more awkward than two ladies showing up at a social event, wearing identical outfits? How about two countries showing up for the Olympics, waving identical flags? That's what happened at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. The Haitian civil flag dates back to the early 1800's. Unlike the national flag, which includes... Continue Reading →

Funniest Newspaper Correction is …. Drugroll, Please!

In 2012 the editors of Centralia, Illinois' Morning Sentinel learned the value of one little letter. Red-faced, the editors ran the following correction: "Due to a typing error, Saturday’s story on local artist Jon Henninger mistakenly reported that Henninger’s band mate, Eric Lyday, was on drugs. The story should have read that Lyday was on... Continue Reading →

Major Metric Malfunction Means Missed Mars Mission and Millions of Moolah

Hopes were high when the Mars Climate Orbiter launched from Cape Canaveral on December 11, 1998. The robotic space probe was designed to study the climate, atmosphere, and surface changes of Mars and to act as a communications relay for the Mars Polar Lander. For the next ten months, all went according to plan as... Continue Reading →

The Translated Version Hasn’t Come Out Yet

A Spanish delegate to a diplomatic conference turned on his microphone and said, “Estoy constipado, perdónadme.” Ordinarily this would translate as, “Please excuse me; I have a cold.” The French interpreter, instead, translated his words as, “Excuse me; I’m constipated.” Source: John Coleman-Holmes, Mâcher du coton, Entre-temps, 1971, p. 201.

Translator Wanted — Knowledge of the Language Preferred

When a fake sign language interpreter managed to get the job of interpreting during the funeral for Nelson Mandela, President Jimmy Carter must have had flashbacks to a time that his life was complicated by an interpreter who was not up to the task. The occasion was the 1977 visit of President Carter to Poland. Steven... Continue Reading →

When “Whoops” Doesn’t Quite Cut It

False alarms leading to nuclear war make for interesting movie plots, but when they happen in real life, they are nightmarish, at best. One such nightmare happened on the morning of November 9, 1979. NORAD computers alerted personnel to a massive attack by the Soviet Union. Data showed a barrage of incoming nuclear missiles launched... 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 →

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