Much to the dismay of English professors the world over, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) joined a long line of extinct reference books last week at the age of 126. Its publishers recently announced that the third edition of the beloved reference book will never be issued in print. The official cause of death has been cited as the disappearance of the print dictionary market, though the OED has never made a profit, due to the millions of dollars a year in research required for its survival.
The OED had a long and storied life. Since its inception, the OED had been the definitive record of the English language, with over 291,500 entries in its 20 volumes. It was conceived by Oxford University Press and the first installment was published in 1884. The entire first edition wasn’t completed until 1928. It was then updated for the next 61 years before the second edition was printed in 1989.
The third edition was expected to be completed in 2037. But the premature death was not unexpected, as sales for print dictionaries all over the world have been falling dramatically for years. The OED is survived by its younger sibling, the Oxford Dictionary of English, a single-volume version that is more commonly used. Fear not: access to this beloved tome will not be lost forever. It’s final resting place will be the internet, where subscribers can pay a yearly access fee and where it can achieve completion of its third edition in peace, away from the sticky-fingered students and hungry moths of this cruel world.
POT OF GOLD
The International Beatles Week Festival in Liverpool ended on August 31, leaving thousands of Beatles fans from all over the globe to return home to a world where the Fab Four are now only a tired two. However, one lucky Beatles enthusiast will go home with a timeless memento from the festival: John Lennon’s toilet.
The blue and white porcelain fixture sold for £9,500 ($14,740). After all, in this day and age what better investment is there than a hunk of porcelain that touched the bare ass of one of the greatest musicians of all time?
The toilet, the sale of which was organized by the Beatles Shop in Liverpool as part of the festival, was found in the shed of builder John Hancock. Hancock took the toilet from Lennon’s home in Berkshire, England, where the Beatle lived from 1969 to 1971, after Lennon had it replaced. Hancock kept the toilet for 40 years until his death. Clearly he didn’t recognize that he was sitting on a veritable pot of gold.
Apparently, neither did the auction organizers. They had anticipated that the toilet would fetch between £750 and £1,000. Anne-Marie Trace, one of the organizers, could not say who bought it, only that it was likely “going overseas.” Perhaps the better question is not who bought it, but rather what they intend to do with it. They ought to respect Lennon’s own wishes that the men who took it “put some flowers in it or something,” because really, can $15,000 buy you a better vase?
A doctor from Bakersfield, California was found dead inside her lover’s chimney on August 31. The woman had been dead for three days when the house-sitter noticed the stench and saw fluids dripping into the fireplace. Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac had apparently been fighting with her on-again, off-again boyfriend, William Moodie, when she tried to force her way, Grinch-like, into his home. She did not slide down the chimney with ease, instead becoming lodged in the narrow flue. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be mechanical asphyxiation, i.e. suffocation due to chest compression.
Kotarac, a respected internist whom Moodie praised for generously providing her patients with free treatment and medication, clearly could have been more generous with the self-medication. Kotarac chose to climb a ladder and try to break into her boyfriend’s house through the chimney, though in her defense she only did it after her first attempt to break in with a shovel failed. Moodie had already left the house to avoid altercation when Kotarac got lodged approximately two feet above the fireplace.
Moodie commented, “she had her issues, she had her demons, but I never lost my respect for her.” Not even after firefighters spent five hours dismantling the chimney brick by brick to remove Dr. Kotarac’s body. The next time you’re on the roof pining after your lover, do your local chimney sweep and yourself a favor and make like a bird, not like Santa.
NEVER BEER ALONE
College students have a new reason to party hearty this semester. A recent paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research has found that non-drinkers have shorter life spans than even those who drink heavily. Researchers found that over a 20-year period, mortality rates were highest for non-drinkers, followed by heavy drinkers, with moderate drinkers living the longest. Many studies have shown similar results, but failed to factor in variables that researchers believe may affect life span and correlate to drinking habits, such as mental health, socioeconomic status, number of friends, etc.
One possible explanation the researchers provide for this phenomenon is that alcohol lubricates social interactions. Perhaps accordingly, people who choose not to consume alcohol show higher rates of depression than people who do. Shotgunning a beer with your frat brothers could be good for both your mental and physical health—but really, who needs an excuse?