A story is told of Sheridan, himself an Irishman, that one day, when coming back from shooting with an empty bag, he did not like to go home completely empty, and seeing a number of ducks in a pond, and a man or farmer leaning on a rail watching them, Sheridan said, ‘What will you take for a shot at the ducks?’
‘Well,’ he said, ‘I will take half a sovereign.’
‘Done!’ said Sheridan, and he fired into middle of the flock, killing a dozen. ‘I am afraid you made a bad bargain!’
‘I don’t know,’ said the man: ‘they weren’t mine.’
– Tit-Bits From All the Most Interesting Books, Periodicals and Newspapers in the World, Oct. 29, 1881
It’s legal for me to expose your infidelity.
And it’s legal for me to seek $10,000 from you in a business transaction.
So why is it illegal for me to blackmail you for $10,000?
“Most crimes do not need theories to explain why the behavior is criminal,” writes Northwestern law professor James Lindgren. “The wrongdoing is self-evident. But blackmail is unique among major crimes: no one has yet figured out why it ought to be illegal.”
Jean Buridan presented a “logical” proof of the existence of God:
- God exists.
- Neither of these sentences is true.
The two statements can be reconciled only if God exists.
In 1965, in a noble attempt to help the rest of us understand Australians, Alistair Morrison published Let Stalk Strine, a glossary of terms used Down Under:
air fridge: average
dismal guernsey: decimal currency
egg nishner: air conditioner
garbler mince: a couple of minutes
marmon dead: Mom and Dad
rise up lides: razor blades
sag rapes: sour grapes
split nair dyke: splitting headache
tiger look: take a look
“Aorta mica laura genst all these cars cummer ninner Sinny. Aorta have more buses. An aorta put more seats innem so you doan tefter stan aller toym — you carn tardly move innem air so crairded.”
The book went through 17 impressions in one year, a sign the problem had gotten completely out of hand. Just a few months before it appeared, the English author Monica Dickens had been signing copies of her latest book in a Sydney shop when a woman handed her a copy and said, “Emma Chisit.” Dickens inscribed the volume “To Emma Chisit” and handed it back. “No,” said the woman, leaning forward: “Emma Chisit?”