A visitor to Niels Bohr's country cottage, noticing a horseshoe hanging on the wall, teased the eminent scientist about this ancient superstition. "Can it be that you, of all people, believe it will bring you luck?" "Of course not," replied Bohr, "but I understand it brings you luck whether you believe or not.
Among the sages whom [Ralph Waldo] Emerson sought out on his visit to Europe was the notoriously reticent and difficult Thomas Carlyle. He called on Carlyle one evening and was given a pipe, while his host took one himself. They sat together smoking in perfect silence until bedtime, and on parting shook hands most cordially, congratulating each other on the fruitful time they had enjoyed together.
Censuring Joseph Stalin at a public meeting, Soviet premier Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was interrupted by a voice from the audience. "You were one of Stalin's colleagues," shouted the heckler. "Why didn't you stop him?"
"Who said that?" roared Khrushchev. There was an agonizing silence in the room. Nobody dared moved a muscle. Then, in a quiet voice, Khrushchev said, "Now you know why.
As a punishment for refusing to serve in the army, poet Robert Lowell was imprisoned for five months by the U.S. courts. While waiting to be transferred to Connecticut to serve the sentence, Lowell spent a few days in New York's West Street Jail. During his stay there he was put in a cell next to Louie Lepke, a convicted member of Murder Incorporated. "I'm in for killing," Lepke told the poet. "What are you in for?" Lowell answered, "Oh, I'm in for refusing to kill.