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.” She was, of course, asking for the famous typewriter exercise which, containing every letter of the alphabet, provides practice for every letter of the alphabet. It seems she had read that this sentence, contrary to popular belief, did not contain an “s.” I recalled the sentence as “The quick red fox jumped over the lazy brown dog” and, yes, there was no “s.” While discussing this strange fact— surely this would have been noticed before—the coworker suggested that “jumped” should be replaced by “jumps,” thus correcting the missing letter. Even so, it seems strange that there appears to be a tendency to remember the phrase in the past tense instead of the correct present tense. It seems awkward to describe an action in the present tense (vs. the past tense), unless the scene is in front of one’s eyes. Perhaps, I conjecture. this “psychological force” is the reason this phrase is so easily misremembered. In the Windows® operating system every font sample uses the phrase “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” to display the font and the same phrase is listed in my Bartlett’s (as a “typewriter exercise” by anonymous). Since “everybody knows” that foxes are red, not brown, I humbly suggest “The quick fox jumps over the lazy brown dog” instead. Finally, by replacing one “the” with an “a” (see the box on the top right) we have “A quick fox jumps over the lazy brown dog.” (Perhaps, if we picture it as present before our mind‘s eye, we can recall it correctly.)
Shortest pangrams. Many typists know The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog as a thirty-three letter sentence that employs every letter in the alphabet at least once. Such sentences are called pangrams. Here is a sampling of the best pangrams of even fewer letters: Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs. (Thirty-two letters) Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz. (Thirty-one) How quickly daft jumping zebras vex. (thirty) Quick wafting zephyrs vex bold Jim. (twenty-nine) Waltz, nymph, for quick jigs vex Bud. (twenty-eight) Bawds jog, flick quartz, vex nymphs. (twenty-seven) Mr. Jock, TV quiz PhD, bags few lynx. (twenty-six) If you can come up with a twenty-six-letter pangram that makes easy sense and does not resort to names or initials, rush it to me and I’ll make you famous.
From Crazy English, by Richard Lederer
Much is made, by some, of the resemblance between the Double Helix of DNA and the Caduceus, the modern symbol for medicine, which suggests, they think, that the ancients had knowledge of DNA.
On the right is the control for the Infinite Improbability Drive from the movie Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2). The bevel is a mural picturing the developers of the drive. Douglass Adams can be seen at the top; the others correspond to members of the production team who were also involved with the drive. My favorite mnemonic, for the Poisson Distribution, is: “m to the nth mne−m times e to the minus mth over n n! factorial (!).”
To find the distance, in miles, to a thunderstorm: Divide the number of seconds between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder by five. To find the number of years it takes the population to double: Divide Seventy-Two by the population’s percentage increase in one year.
R2D2 rides the Mother Ship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
To find the number of hours until sunset: measure the number of handbreadths, hand held at arm length, that the sun is above the horizon.