Tag Archives: Books

1750: Estimate

In 1750, astronomer Thomas Wright estimated the number of inhabited planets in the observable universe: Of…habitable Worlds, such as the Earth, all which we may suppose to be also of a terrestrial or terraqueous Nature, and filled with Beings of … Continue reading

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1920: Mother and Father Had Turned Into Cabbages

A selection from Charles William Kimmins’s book Children’s Dreams (1920): A lady was sitting on my bed, and the King and Queen were under the bed eating bread and butter, and a lot of ladies with them. The sun and … Continue reading

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1673: Life Being So Short and Books So Plentiful

In 1673, Antonio Magliabechi became librarian to Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. He was an eruidite scholar, fluent in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, and—according to his contemporary and biographer Giacinto Gimma—versed in physics, mathematics, rhetoric, grammar, history, … Continue reading

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1865: O Roaches!

A quite common superstitious practice, in order to rid a house of Cockroaches, is in vogue in our country at the present time. It is no other than to address these pests a written letter containing the following words, or … Continue reading

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1994: An Insane Premise

In an afterword to the 25th anniversary edition of Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth tells a story about the first lines of his novels. When he was living in Chicago in the late 1950’s, he says, he once went to a … Continue reading

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1961: The Disaster of Everyday Life

The distinction between “disaster” and “normal” conditions is implicit in most treatments of disaster behavior. The everyday, ongoing life of the society is usually equated with the “normal,” and those conditions that result from disaster are viewed as “abnormal” and … Continue reading

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15 mya: Oecophylla

    Up to hundreds of weaver ants…line up side by side in militarily precise rows. They grip the edge of one leaf with the claws and pads of their hindlegs and the edge of the other with their jaws and … Continue reading

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