Thursday, March 29, 2012

Scientific American cover art

Taking a cue from Rick and Mary Parsons' Scientific American cover art website, I decided to collate twenty-one special covers from 1896 to 1909, complementing a previously done gallery of Scientific American covers from May 1948 to August 1987.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


A somewhat remarkable thing happened this morning. I went to the nearby variety store (which I rarely do) to purchase a couple of 'rolls' of peppermint Certs (in preparation for tomorrow morning's dentist visit). I don't get a lot of opportunities to get rid of change so I already had a rough idea of how much I had in my wallet prior to the vendor telling me that it was going to cost me $2.92: Just a little more than I had hoped. Should I pull out a five? I wondered, but I kept on counting: one loonie, seven quarters, one dime, one nickel, and two pennies. It was the exact amount of change that I had!

Female Appellation.

When Eve brought woe to all mankind
Then Adam called her wo-man ;
But when she woo’d with love so kind
He then pronounced her woo-man.
But now with folly and with pride
Their husband’s pockets trimming,
The ladies are so full of whims
That people call them whim-men.

Scientific American: New York, December 19, 1846.

The Ladies' Repository has it in their September 1865 issue (on p.176). The 22 February 1868 Once A Week (also p.176) wonders who the author was. Joseph Hodges Choate used it in his 22 December 1880 speech (The Pilgrim Mothers), which may have helped propel it into the next century.

We have a winner

I wrote my first blog entry here on 31 December 2010. On 18 January 2011, I wondered how long it would take to get my first comment. That comment came today! Total elapsed time: 451 days, 13 hours, 50 minutes.

Grammatical Tautology.

I’ll prove the word that I’ve made my theme,
Is that that may be doubled without blame ;
And that that that, thus trebled, I may use,
And that that THAT that critics may abuse,
May be correct. Farther—the dons to bother—
Five THATs may closely follow one another !
For be it known that we may safely write
Or say, that that THAT that that man wrote was right :
Nay, e’en, that that THAT that THAT that followed ;
And that that THAT (that that THAT that began)
Repeated seven times is right !—Deny’t who can.

Scientific American: New York, November 28, 1846.

cf. That.


In a descriptive article, now going the rounds, the following high flown sentence occurs : “Through the mountain gorges stray the sullen bear and tawny moose, while the beautiful deer feeds along the solitary waters, and the treacherous panther screams in the tangled thicket.”

Scientific American: New York, November 6, 1846.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Old jokes

... Being already old when they were published 165+ years ago! I endeavoured to make the transcription very accurate, so if you detect typos you might want to check the original pdfs to verify that these are indeed sics. I did number the jokes (there are 63 altogether) so that any particular one may be referenced thereby. Some of the humour may well escape the average person at first reading. Some of it may even escape a more concerted effort at understanding. Some of it is no longer funny.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I had a scare later in the day as my iBooks app began crashing repeatedly at startup. There are a number of forums on the 'net dealing with the issue and, sadly, Apple has been unable to fix things in the good long while that folk have been complaining about it. I was afraid to delete (and replace) the app because I thought that that might delete my 3246 pdfs as well, but that turned out not to be so.


As suggested here on February 15, my new Apple TV and iPad arrived on Wednesday (five weeks after my suggestion), 47 minutes apart: Apple had promised differing arrival dates and the items were shipped separately (using different carriers). Catherine and I were on our way home from Long Point at the time, so John (and Alice) did the receiving honours.

The iPad was remarkably easy to set up: I had envisioned some networking issues since my primary home network is ethernet and the iPad is WiFi, but that was not to be. More difficult proved to be the transfer of my 3246 Scientific American Weekly pdfs to it (it took a full night and day) but by last night it was good to go. Remarkably, iBooks won't keep the visual-bookshelf in alphabetical order (the list-display does) which suggests the developers never imagined someone keeping thousands of documents on the tablet.

I'm having fun exploring the apps. They are all free so far but that will change soon enough. Curious about my iPad's navigational ability, I made (using Trails Lite) a drunkard's around-the-block walk: Apparently I have crowd-sourced WiFi positioning only, not true GPS.