CRAIG CONLEY (Prof. Oddfellow) is recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation.” He has been called a “language fanatic” by Page Six gossip columnist Cindy Adams, a “cult hero” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is

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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
This May Surprise You

April 15, 2014 (permalink)

Not only is light both a particle and a wave, but so is time.   From Castle Rackrent and The Absentee by Maria Edgeworth (1895).  The caption reads: "If you could stand still for one single particle of a second."

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt notes: "Professor Oddfellow unearths the missing link between 19th-century garment fitting and 20th-century quantum theory."

April 10, 2014 (permalink)

Forget the (hilarious) twelve meals of Britain.  We learn in the British comedy series Fonejacker that plumbers and builders enjoy an additional eight tea breaks per working day: 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 2:37 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 4:03 p.m.

But they also enjoy no fewer than sixteen biscuit breaks, at 10:30 a.m., 10:50 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 11:52 a.m., 12:01 p.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:00 p.m. (lunch), 2:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 3:14 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 3:41 p.m., 4:03 p.m., 4:06 p.m., and 4:13 p.m.

We've included a picture of "as many tea breaks as you like," also courtesy of Fonejacker.

[For Jonathan.]


March 18, 2014 (permalink)

The meaning of life is having needs

(The answer is in black text on the black background. Highlight it to view.)

See the explanation at Futility Closet.

February 24, 2014 (permalink)

You've heard the expression "neither here nor there."  The "here" of things is your immediate environment. But what is "there"? Over "there" is nothing less than a pudding in the form of a lion couchant. We find our evidence in Cranford by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, 1898.

February 21, 2014 (permalink)

Before the discovery of continental drift, geologists elegantly explained transoceanic similarities of life by crediting giant monkeys.  Our illustration is from The Star of the Sea: A Historical Novel by N. Gregor, 1897.

February 7, 2014 (permalink)

"According to the Gnostics, we are already dead and living in Hell right now." —Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, The Laughing Jesus

January 31, 2014 (permalink)

Ruined castles are actually the bones of once vibrant creations, not only alive but kicking.  (You've surely heard of flying buttresses.)  Our illustration of "a real live castle" is from Our Boys in Ireland by Henry Willard French, 1891.

January 30, 2014 (permalink)

"We can – rather surprisingly – owe duties to the dead and also to a great range of anonymous future people." —Tom Bentley, The Moral Universe

January 24, 2014 (permalink)

"There are significant differences between what's interesting and what's really interesting." —Jim Sterne, Social Media Metrics

January 20, 2014 (permalink)

It's unlucky to rechristen a boat "Jonah" with an albatross quill on Candlemas Day if a red-headed woman is whistling on board.

January 13, 2014 (permalink)

You knew that Juan Ponce de León led the first European expedition to Florida.  But did you know he also inspired the presidential White House?

Illustration from In the Wake of Columbus: Adventures of the Special Commissioner Sent by the World's Columbian Exposition to the West Indies, 1893.

December 27, 2013 (permalink)

"You may find it impossible to believe that this all depends on you, but I am willing to risk that you can accept the truth."
Deepak Chopra, Buddha (2008)

December 20, 2013 (permalink)

"You may find it difficult to believe, but most people live their lives, to a large extent, out of their pseudo selves. It's very likely that you do this, too!"
Margaret Newman, Stepfamily Realities (1994)

December 18, 2013 (permalink)

"Romantically, you may be quite surprised when you finally remove your rose-colored glasses."
Total Horoscopes 2003

December 13, 2013 (permalink)

"You may find it difficult to believe that you are capable of managing without someone to keep your life together."
Angela Phillips, Take Charge! (1996)

December 6, 2013 (permalink)

"You may find it difficult to believe that even a glittering new postwar refrigerator is capable of suggesting that its owner serve the one finest whiskey ever bottled."
Life (Dec. 31, 1945)

December 3, 2013 (permalink)

"The embryo is the universe writing itself on its own body." —Richard Grossinger, Dark Pool of Light: The Neuroscience, Evolution, and Ontology of Consciousness

December 2, 2013 (permalink)

Rumpelstiltskin is an anagram of "Purls silken mitt."

December 1, 2013 (permalink)

"Some change takes time. Give it the time it needs, and you may be quite surprised—and pleased—with the results."
Stedman Graham, Teens Can Make It Happen: Nine Steps to Success (2000)

November 28, 2013 (permalink)

"You may find it difficult to believe that photography is a form of energy reproduction and that every photograph contains energy."
Wayne W. Dyer, The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-Create Your World Your Way (2010)

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