CLOSE
Original image

The Mark Twain School of Journalism

Original image

I came across this huge compilation of Mark Twain quotes the other day, and in reading them I noticed that a surprising number of them sounded like particularly good advice for journalists -- so I am founding the Mark Twain School of Journalism right here on mental_floss. Class is in session! And for your first assignment, many, many quotes attributed to Mark Twain were not actually said by him, so fact-check me:

  • "Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for."
  • "Only presidents, editors and people with tapeworm have the right to use the editorial 'we'."
  • "I don't give a damn for a man who can spell a word only one way."
  • "It is by the fortune of God that, in this country, we have three benefits: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the wisdom never to use either."
  • "I have a higher and greater standard of principle. Washington could not lie. I can lie but I won't."
  • "Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as you wish."
  • "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
  • "Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense."
  • "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."
  • "Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."
  • "My books are water; those of the great geniuses are wine. Fortunately, everybody drinks water."
  • "Honesty was the best policy."
  • "Honesty: The best of all the lost arts."
  • "It is wiser to find out than to suppose."

Well, that just about does it for this article....

Oh, no.

  • "The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction."
Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
Original image
iStock

While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Original image
iStock
arrow
science
Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
Original image
iStock

Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios