Today's Newsletter

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Greetings Flossers:
Yesterday on the mental_floss blog, I asked readers to make National Grammar Day resolutions. (By the way, yesterday was National Grammar Day. Happy belated.) Without warning, resolutions began to take haiku form, which is fantastic. I'd like to share a few, share my own, and invite you to put your resolution in pixels.

Shudder not nor slap
My colleagues in government
Who use legalese
"“Conan the Grammarian

I will try to stop
Overusing em dashes
while writing—really!

Hark! Language Changes!
New rules evolve over time.
Get over it, y'all.

And here's mine:

I use colons and dashes.
I can do better.

You can read many more resolutions and make your own right here. I welcome your colon/em dash wisdom, too. But first, keep reading for a few wild facts about punctuation marks from Sandy + Kara.

Best Wishes,

This Week's Theme: THE MILITARY
Our insanely interesting fact: As a young woman Dr. Ruth Westheimer was trained by the Israeli military as a sniper.

Can you out-trivia us?
Send in your fascinating one-sentence submissions, along with your full name and address to This week's winners will win new T-shirts from the mental_floss store.

Oh, and even if your fact doesn't win you some swag, it could win you some fame! The best user-submitted facts will go into our Amazing Fact Generator.

Last Week's Theme: FRUIT
1) In an 1893 Tariff case the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared the fruit, tomato, to be a vegetable.
-Jim Kraft

2) Pears are somewhat unique within fruits in that they ripen from the inside outwards.
-Anthony L. Pope

3) Although a nut in the culinary sense, a cashew is actually a seed found in the fruit of the cashew tree.
-Stacie Hackel

Sandy + Kara's Trivia Facts
By Sandy Wood and Kara Kovalchik

"¢ The question mark is thought to have evolved from the Latin word quaestio. The "point of interrogation," as it was originally called, was indicated with a large "˜Q' over a small "˜o.' As time went on, the hastily written symbol developed into a "˜?' shape.

"¢ During the 1400s, printers began using the ¶ sign, called a "pilcrow," to indicate a new paragraph. Why not just indent, or double-space? Paper was much more expensive back then, and typographers were careful not to waste any space.

"¢ In the early days of typesetting, the exclamation point was often referred to as a "screamer" or a "bang." Some journalists still use this phraseology. Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post once summed up the difference an exclamation point can make thusly: "'Yeah' is either "˜yes,' without the screamer, or "˜oh boy' with it."

Quick True/False: World Capitals
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
10 Pats Born on St. Patrick's Day
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Need some St. Patrick's Day conversation fodder that doesn't involve leprechauns or four-leaf clovers? Ask your friends to name a "Pat" born on St. Patrick's Day. If they can't, they owe you a drink—then you can wow them with this list of 10.


Princess Patricia was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who gave up all of her royal titles when she married a commoner. She was born at Buckingham Palace on March 17, 1886.


The Dallas star was born on March 17, 1949. And here's a totally random fact about Duffy: His nephew is Barry Zito, former MLB pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.


Pattie Boyd
Larry Ellis, Express/Getty Images

Pattie Boyd is well-known to lovers of classic rock: She has been married three times, including once to George Harrison and once to Eric Clapton, who both wrote a couple of the most romantic songs in rock history in her honor (including The Beatles's "Something" and Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"). Boyd was a model when she met Harrison on the set of A Hard Day's Night in 1964; the pair were married two years later. They divorced in 1977 and she married Clapton, Harrison's close friend, in 1979. She also had an affair with Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones toward the end of her marriage to The Quiet Beatle.


Belfast-born Pat Rice is a former footballer and coach who spent the bulk of his career with Arsenal F.C. (that's "football club," a.k.a. soccer to us Americans). He joined the Gunners in 1964 as a mere apprentice, turning pro a couple of years later. He became captain in 1977 and left the club for a few years in the early 1980s to go to Watford, but returned after he retired from playing in 1984. In 2012, after nearly 30 years with the organization, he announced his retirement.


Patty Maloney is an actress with dwarfism who stands just three feet, 11 inches tall. She has appeared in many movies and T.V. shows over the years, including operating the Crypt Keeper puppet in Tales from the Crypt. She also played Chewbacca's son Lumpy in The Star Wars Holiday Special.


Michael C. Hall and Mathew St. Patrick in 'Six Feet Under'

Ok, so Mathew St. Patrick is the stage name of the actor, but he was born Patrick Matthews in Philadelphia on March 17, 1968. You probably know him best as David's boyfriend Keith on Six Feet Under.


He may not be a household name, but the recording artists Patrick Adams writes for and helps produce certainly are. Adams has been involved in the careers of Salt-N-Pepa, Sister Sledge, Gladys Knight, Rick James, and Coolio, among others.


It's possible you look at Patrick McDonnell's work every day, depending on which comics your newspaper carries. McDonnell draws a strip called Mutts featuring a dog and a cat named Earl and Mooch, respectively. Charles Schulz called it one of the best comic strips of all time.


 Singer/Guitarist Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins performs onstage during Live Earth New York at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007 in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Evan Agostini, Getty Images

Yes, you know him better as just plain old Billy Corgan: he's the face of the Smashing Pumpkins, engages in public feuds with Courtney Love, and maybe once dated Jessica Simpson. He made his debut on March 17, 1967.


Patricia Ford is a retired model probably best known for her Playboy photoshoots in the 1990s.


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