11 Things You Might Not Know About Pencils

Photo | Pixabay

Photo | Pixabay

Happy 158th birthday to the pencil with attached eraser! It was on March 30, 1858, that Hymen L. Lipman received a patent for his remarkable invention — a tube of wood with graphite at one end and a rubber eraser at the other. Lipman, born in 1817 in Jamaica to Jewish parents, came to Philadelphia around 1829. The family settled here, and Lipman became a stationer, selling paper, pens, ink and the like. In 1840, he started the first envelope company in the country. Eight years later, he married Mary A. Lehman, daughter of the founder of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (precursor to the University of the Sciences).

Lipman’s pencil had an eraser that was inserted into the hollowed-out wooden pencil the same way the graphite was; users could sharpen either end. In 1862 he sold the patent to one Joseph Reckendorfer for $100,000. Reckendorfer then sued the Faber company, a German pencil maker, for patent infringement. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually ruled that the erasered pencil was simply a combination of two previously existing objects with no new use and therefore not a proper “invention.” Here are a few more penciled-in facts you might not know about both ends of every writer’s favorite tool. Read more »

This Photo of Ted Cruz on Princeton’s Debate Team Will Haunt You

Photo | Princeton University

Photo | Princeton University

The Daily Princetonian, the student newspaper of Princeton University, has reported on this year’s 70th Annual Latke vs. Hamentaschen Debate, sponsored by the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, which, incidentally, is celebrating its sestercentennial this year. (That’s 250 big ones, yo.) In case your college degree isn’t draped in ivy, Whig-Clio, as it’s known by twats, is the nation’s oldest collegiate debating society and was founded by such upstanding citizens as James Madison and (brr) Aaron Burr. (Its headquarters are at 1 Whig Hall on Princeton’s campus.) Read more »

11 Things You Might Not Know About the Founding Fathers’ Dogs

Admiral Penn from Violet Oakley's mural series at the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Photo used courtesy of the Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee and Brian Hunt

Admiral Penn from Violet Oakley’s mural series at the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Photo used courtesy of the Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee and Brian Hunt

Today is National Puppy Day, which is proof, we guess, that every dog has its day, seeing as every dog in the world was once a puppy. We hope you have a pup with which to celebrate. If not, you should adopt one! Meantime, here are stories — some shaggier than others — about our founding fathers and their faithful canine friends. Read more »

What Are the Chances? A Tale of Love vs. Big Medicine


Hooman Noorchashm would not shut up. The emails went sailing out from his laptop at all hours of the day and night, to physicians, to government regulators, to legislators, insurers, hospital administrators, reporters, anyone who might possibly listen to what he had to say. His messages were inflammatory, harsh. Court records show that he accused his fellow doctors of being corrupt, unconscionable criminals. The emails seemed a bit … unhinged. Those he was sending them to tried to stop him. They threatened legal action, then went to court. They described his messages as “disturbing and threatening.” They called him a security threat.

after the jump »

11 Things You Might Not Know About St. Patrick


St. Patricks, from left: Statue in Agahower, Andreas F. Borchert/CC BY-SA 3.0 de | Stained glass window from Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, CASicarr/CC BY 2.0 | With shamrock in stained glass window in St. Benin’s Church, Kilbennan, County Galway, Ireland, Andreas F. Borchert/CC BY-SA 3.0 de  | Statue near Saul, Albert Bridge/CC BY-SA 2.0

“Since when,” my enraged friend demanded, “did St. Patrick‘s Day become a two-week holiday?” She was irate that her exit off of I-676, not to mention any number of her neighborhood’s streets, had been closed last weekend for the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. The Erin Express bused honorary Irish revelers through town for two consecutive weekends, and It’s Always Sunny got its Irish on way back in February. In case you haven’t caught on, this city is St. Patrick-crazy, which really isn’t surprising, considering that Philly has the second-largest Irish population by percentage of the nation’s major cities, as well as the many contributions emigrés from the Old Sod have made here. So long as you’re using a fourth-century British saint as an excuse to go drinking — again — you might as well know who you’re drinking to. (That’s his church, by the way, just off Rittenhouse Square.) Read more »

Another Nice Spring Day, Another Villanova LSD Bust

Was it just last month that a bunch of Villanova University kids went on bad LSD trips, resulting in two arrests and four hospitalizations? It sure was. Radnor Township cops confiscated $9,000 and 37 tabs of acid in February, and we pretty much assumed that was that, even though only a few years back, cops broke up what they said was a $1 million LSD ring operating out of Drexel University.

Well, Radnor cops were back on Villanova’s campus on Saturday to make another LSD bust. John Patrick Visser, a 19-year-old freshman from Aurora, Colorado, was arrested after campus police found paper dose tags and bottles of a liquid they believe to be LSD in a dorm room at Good Counsel Hall on the college’s South Campus. That’s the same dorm where the students involved in last month’s incident lived. Read more »

Inside Higher Ed’s Academic Performance NCAA Bracket Is Out, And …


From the 2016 Inside Higher Ed academic bracket.

Every year, Inside Higher Ed attempts to counter our nation’s widespread sports insanity by publishing its own version of the NCAA men’s basketball tourney’s brackets, comparing teams according to their work in the classroom as measured by the Academic Progress Rate and, in the case of a tie, the Graduation Success Rate. If two teams still tie, IHE turns to their relative Federal Graduation Rates. (That’s right. There now exist analytics for every goddamn thing.) This year’s academic bracket is out, and … let’s just say IHE doesn’t foresee one shining moment for any of Philly’s teams.

In case you hadn’t heard, Villanova, Temple and St. Joe’s all made the tournament cut. Read more »

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