Miscellany and Trivia

Anecdote about dolphins

Rob Howes, a British-born lifeguard, had gone swimming with his daughter, Niccy, and two of her friends off Ocean beach near Whangarei on the North Island of New Zealand, when a group of dolphins suddenly appeared. The dolphins started to herd the humans; they pushed all four of them together by circling around them. Howes tried to drift away from the group, but two of the bigger dolphins herded him back – just as he spotted a 10ft great white shark heading towards him. “I just recoiled,” he said. “It was only about two metres away from me, the water was crystal clear and it was as clear as the nose on my face. They had corralled us up to protect us.”

The dolphins kept this up for 40 minutes until the shark lost interest, and the group could swim the 100m back to shore. Another lifeguard, Matt Fleet, on patrol in a lifeboat, saw the dolphins circling the swimmers and slapping their tails on the water to keep them in place. He told the Northern Advocate newspaper that he also had a clear sighting of the shark. “Some of the people later on the beach tried to tell me it was just another dolphin; but I knew what I saw,” he said. Ingrid Visser, of Orca Research, an environmental group, said the dolphins’ behavior was understandable, as they attack sharks to protect themselves and their young, similar incidents had been reported round the world. “They could have sensed the danger to the swimmers, and taken action to protect them,” she said.

Anecdote about a Watusi calf

Janice Wolf was in the back pasture of the refuge she operates in Arkansas when her 11 month old Watusu Calf suddenly turned and blocked her path, she couldn’t understand why it was doing this, so she took hold of its horns and tried pushing it, but it tossed its head and knocked her off balance, that’s when she spotted a copper-head snake on the ground exactly were her foot would have been had the Watusi calf not intervened.

Copper-head venom usually isn’t fatal to adults; however it could well have been fatal to her because she had been extra sensitive to insect bites in the past and had just come out of hospital for a lung operation.

Anecdote about a gorilla

On August 16 1996 in the Brookfield Zoo, a 3 year old boy fell into a Gorilla enclosure and lost consciousness. Binti Jua a female Lowland Gorilla, guarded the young boy from the other Gorillas in the enclosure, she then cradled him in her arm (while her own 17 month old baby was on her back) and carried him 60 feet to an entrance where zoo-keepers could retrieve him.

This isn’t an isolated case, on August 31 1986 at Jersey Zoo a 5 year old boy fell into a Gorilla enclosure and lost consciousness, a large male Gorilla named Jambo stood guard over the boy not allowing any of the others to come near, when the boy woke up and started crying all of the Gorillas backed off and zoo-keepers (along with an ambulance) were able to retrieve him safely.

Anecdote about an elephant

A troop of elephants were accustomed to pass a green-stall on their way to water. The woman who kept the stall took a fancy to one of the elephants, and frequently regaled her favorite with greens and fruits, which produced a corresponding attachment on the part of the elephant toward the woman. One day, the group of elephants unfortunately overturned the poor woman’s stall, and in her haste to preserve her goods she forgot her little son, who was in danger of being trampled to death. The favorite elephant perceived the child’s danger, and taking him up gently with his trunk, carefully placing him on the roof of a shed close at hand.

Anecdote F.P. Ramsey – British mathematician, philosopher and economist (1903 – 1930)

Ramsey was renowned for his precocious genius and his interest in every field of inquiry. Once, when expressing an interest in learning German, a friend passed him Ernst Mach's Analysis of Sensations--a complicated enough text in any language--and told him to go through it with a dictionary and grammar guide. Twelve days later Ramsey had returned having mastered the German language sufficiently to not only read the book, but also to have critiqued its arguments and pointed out several logical flaws.

Anecdote Immanuel Kant – German philosopher (1724 – 1804)

Kant believed in the supremacy of rational order: The more rational the being, the more a person is that being. This led to some peculiar behavior on Kant's part. He awoke every day at the same time. He insisted on having no fewer than two and no more than five guests for dinner every day at exactly one in the afternoon. After dinner he would go for a walk, back and forth exactly eight times on one street. His walk time was so regulated that it was reported townsfolk could set their clocks by him.

The University of Koenigsberg, where Kant taught philosophy, was chronically understaffed. Lacking professors, Kant was frequently asked to teach subjects he was not qualified to teach. How did Kant teach the subjects? He made it up.

Kant once received a letter from a young lady who had read his works on ethics. Prizing Kant's genius, she sought advice on what she should do about a certain problem of hers. She was engaged to marry a gentleman whom she loved, but she was not a virgin. She wanted to know whether she should tell the man or keep quiet. Kant advised her that she must tell her fiancée. The fiancée broke off the marriage. Distraught, the woman wrote to Kant again, deeply troubled over the result of her decision and admitting she was having doubts over Kant's system of ethics. She asked if she might come to Koenigsberg to meet with Kant and discuss her doubts. Although he received the letter in a timely fashion, he chose never to reply. The woman committed suicide after some time.

Anecdote Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – German mathematician and philosopher (1646 – 1716)

Leibniz wrote obsessively, compulsively. His complete works, centuries after his death, is still not compiled. As he used to write so frequently, he had a special desk designed so he could write while travelling by carriage.

Looking through Leibniz's study at his thousands upon thousands of pages, scholars discovered a paper on which he had been working out the benefits of having a wife or not. He ultimately decided it was logically superior not to have a wife.

In his teens, Leibniz inherited his father's largely Latin library. Not knowing Latin yet did not dissuade him. He taught himself Latin simply by studying the Latin texts.

 

Anecdote Rene Descartes – French philosopher, mathematician and writer (1596 – 1650)

Knowledge, as we know, was limited in the Renaissance. Where today it would be quite impossible to study all the major fields of knowledge, it was no so centuries ago. Descartes studied in a Jesuit school in his youth. The Jesuits were renowned as scholars; having a Jesuit education was the best for which one could hope. Descartes, however, did not just master the subjects he was being taught, but having done so spent his free time in the Jesuit library. By the time he was in his late teens, he had read everything in the Jesuit library and knew everything there was to know--literally.

Knowing everything, Descartes decided to give up the scholar's life and live a little. So he did what many young men were then doing: he got involved in the war. Descartes, though, did not choose a side. Instead, he became a mercenary and fought on both sides of the war just for the fun of it. Indeed, not only did he know everything, but he also happened to be one of the finest swordsmen in France.

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