A few months back, IBM’s super computer Watson thoroughly thrashed two of the best human players in a JEOPARDY contest. However, it was specialized programming that made Watson’s success possible. It is certain that expert human crossword puzzle solvers would thoroughly thrash the computer in a cruciverbalist confrontation. In a more beneficial endeavor, IBM programmers and engineers are hard at work “training” Watson to work with physicians, making it possible present rapid, accurate diagnoses of cancers in people as well as determine treatments likely to be most effective.
In the early 1900’s, baseball authorities supported the claim that Abner Doubleday first devised rules of engagement for baseball while he was in Cooperstown, New York. The assertion has been disproven to the satisfaction of most historians. Instead (in the 1840’s), a ball playing bank clerk named Alexander Cartwright was busy writing and recording the first rules for what became baseball. Traditions are strong in baseball, which led to the National Baseball Hall of Fame being located in Cooperstown. Cartwright (not of the Bonanza clan) was inducted into the Hall in 1938.
Lightning does indeed start wildfires. Nevertheless, more than 83% of all wildfires in the lower forty-eight are ignited by humans. Many are deliberately set. June 22 is the date on which the most lightning-initiated fires occur. Not surprisingly, July 4 is the date the most people-caused fires are ignited. Please do be careful.
In 1811, Siamese (conjoined) twins Eng and Chang Bunker were born in Siam (now Thailand). A traveling sideshow manager hired the twins in order to “exhibit them for revenue” in 1829. Eventually famous showman P.T. Barnum employed the young men, charging the public to meet and converse with the fascinating attraction(s). Eng and Chang saved much of their money and bought farms in North Carolina. They married sisters and fathered a total of 21 children (none were conjoined). In January of 1874, Chang died. The cause was thought to be a cerebral blood clot. Eng was aware of his brother’s demise and died about two hours after the passing of Chang.
The “Indian Princess” whose image was displayed on millions of Indian Head pennies was neither Native American nor any sort of princess. On the obverse side of those pennies, a profile of the coin designer’s daughter, one Sarah Longacre, is depicted. Well, be nice to any cruciverbalists that you may encounter – and have a most pleasant week.
James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.