Category: funny

English Proverbs from the 1000s

  • Not every cloud you see threatens rain.
  • A boy is consumed by envy, an old man by anger.
  • A reasonable sufficiency is more righteous than dishonorable riches.
  • One does well to distrust a stream, even one that is calm.
  • Sometimes an old dog growls the truth.
  • It is a hard cheese that the greedy man does not give to his dogs.
  • He who cannot conceal, ought not to become a thief.
  • Whose bread I eat, his songs I sing.
  • All the gold that a king has does not equal this rain.
  • No thief will be hanged, if he himself is the judge.
  • What earned this one praise gets that one a beating.
  • Smoky things appear by day, and fiery things by night.
  • The living husband is incensed by praise of the dead one.
  • A stupid person who is corrected, immediately hates his admonisher.
  • It is not the lowliest of virtues to have placed a limit on your wealth.
  • No mother-in-law is pleasing to her daughter-in-law unless she is dead.
  • A frog on a throne quickly gives up the honor.
  • When you trade one fish for another, one of them stinks.
  • Whoever hates his work, surely hated himself first.
  • To a man hanging, any delay seems too long.

from Egbert of Liège’s The Well-Laden Ship

Artistic Snobbery

Serious American artists during the Early American Period (1789 – 1815) thought that genre scenes were too mean and lowly for
their talent. So major painters such as John Vanderlyn and Samuel Morse
scorned the depicting of ordinary folk – except, said Vanderlyn, Italian
peasants. With their lack of “fashion and frivolity,” Italian peasants,
Vanderlyn declared, were close enough to nature to possess a
neoclassical universality that was worth depicting.

The St. Petersburg–Tampa Airboat Line, which w…

The St. Petersburg–Tampa Airboat Line, which was founded in 1913, is considered the world’s first commercial airline to offer scheduled flights. The airline offered regular flights from St. Petersburg, Florida to Tampa, Florida. It used a two-seat airboat called the Lark of Duluth which flew just 1.5 meters (5 feet) above the water. It was a glorified commuter’s ferry.

The St. Petersburg–Tampa Airboat Line was a success because it made the 29-kilometer (18 mi) flight in just 23 minutes. At the time, steamships covered that distance in two hours, trains in 4–12 hours, and cars in 20 hours. Passengers paid $5 (or about $129 in today’s money) to save 1.5 hours in travel. The airboat service, unfortunately, lasted just a year before closing.

Operation Match: The Earliest OkCupid

In 1965, Harvard students used a dating questionnaire and an IBM 1401—an early version of the computer—to match co-eds seeking love. Students would fill out a questionnaire. It would be copied onto punch cards, and fed into the computer, and within seconds 5 potential partners would be spit out. Workers would then mail the results back to the student.

The service was called “Operation Match,” and it cost about $3 per person (or about $22 today).

The Peanut Butter Court Case

With peanut butter’s growing popularity in the 1950s, poor-quality products flooded the markets, hoping to cash in on the new food trend. Companies used cheaper hydrogenated oils instead of the more expensive peanut oil, and used glycerin as a sweetener.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that some products labeled as “peanut butter” only contained 75% peanuts. The FDA proposed a standard of 95% peanuts in peanut butter in 1959. Manufacturers did not like this – arguing that customers preferred a more spreadable, and sweeter, product. The spreadable-ness of peanut butter became the focal point of a 12-year “Peanut Butter Case” which wound its way through the American legal system.

To compromise with the manufacturers the FDA initially agreed to lower its peanut butter standard to 90% peanuts. The manufacturers wanted 87% and when the FDA did not budge they took it to court. After too many years and a US Appeals Court appeal, the 90% peanut standard was upheld.

The Peanut Butter Court Case

With peanut butter’s growing popularity in the 1950s, poor-quality products flooded the markets, hoping to cash in on the new food trend. Companies used cheaper hydrogenated oils instead of the more expensive peanut oil, and used glycerin as a sweetener.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that some products labeled as “peanut butter” only contained 75% peanuts. The FDA proposed a standard of 95% peanuts in peanut butter in 1959. Manufacturers did not like this – arguing that customers preferred a more spreadable, and sweeter, product. The spreadable-ness of peanut butter became the focal point of a 12-year “Peanut Butter Case” which wound its way through the American legal system.

To compromise with the manufacturers the FDA initially agreed to lower its peanut butter standard to 90% peanuts. The manufacturers wanted 87% and when the FDA did not budge they took it to court. After too many years and a US Appeals Court appeal, the 90% peanut standard was upheld.

Why Methodology Matters

In 1936, Literary Digest magazine polled 10 million people using the telephone and its mailing list to try to predict the outcome of the United States presidential election, more people than in any previous presidential election survey. Their results indicated that Alf Landon, the Republican candidate, would defeat Franklin Roosevelt, the Democratic candidate, by a margin of 370 electoral votes to 161; however, in the election, Landon was trounced by Roosevelt by a margin of 523 electoral votes to 8, at the time the largest landslide in a contested presidential election.

Where did Literary Digest go wrong? Well, it was conducting its survey during the Great Depression, a time when telephones and magazine subscriptions (like the Literary Digest) were luxuries for many if not most Americans. Those who could afford such luxuries leaned Republican. But they made up a small proportion of the US population, which overall leaned Democrat.

The Great Diamond Decoy

The Cullinan Diamond is the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found, weighing 3,106.75 carats. Found in South Africa in 1905, it was put on sale in London, and bought as a present for King Edward VII of England’s 66th birthday. It was cut into various smaller stones on the king’s orders.

The problem was this: the best jewel cutters were in the Netherlands, and everyone knew that. So everyone knew the largest diamond in the world was going to be transported from London to Amsterdam. It was the perfect time for a thief to strike.

So to much fanfare, a Royal Navy ship carried an empty box across the North Sea. It was such a secret that even the ship’s captain did not know he was protecting a decoy. Meanwhile the gem’s cutter, Abraham Asscher, collected the Cullinan in London and took a train and a ship back to Amsterdam with the stone tucked in his coat pocket.

Did You Know The US Has An Official Spanish An…

In 1945, the U.S. State Department commissioned an official Spanish translation of the Star-Spangled Banner as part of an effort to redefine the US’ relationship with Latin America. So the US State Department held a contest! They requested Spanish versions that fit musically while being as close to the original as possible.

In the end, the winner was “El Pendón Estrellado” by Peruvian immigrant Clotilde Arias, a New York-based composer. It has never caught on.

The Curious Case Of The Living Dead Man

In 1887, William Marion was hanged for murdering his friend John Cameron in Nebraska. Here’s what happened: a body identified as John Cameron was found in 1873. Marion was suspected of the murder, because he had been seen traveling with Cameron’s horses earlier that year. Marion was tried, convicted, and eventually hanged in 1887.

But four years later, Cameron reappeared! Turns out he had fled to Mexico, to avoid a paternity claim, and before leaving had sold his horses to Marion. He had not heard about Marion’s arrest and conviction until after Marion had been executed. In March 1987, 100 years after William Jackson Marion’s hanging, Nebraska Governor Robert Kerry pardoned him.