Up In Arms

Pull up an armchair -you might be up in arms over this roundup of arm stories from mental_floss magazine!


One afternoon in 1972, friends Jack Northrup and Jack Bishop were having lunch at their local drugstore in Olney, Texas, when they realized the strangers next to them were eavesdropping. The pair, both amputees, had a reputation for mischief. Rather than get upset, the "One-armed Jacks" decided to have some fun.

Northrup and Bishop began talking loudly about their hunting adventures with pump-action shotguns and bolt-action rifles -firearms that would be nearly impossible to operate without two arms. They cracked each other up with the stunt, but they also decided, heck, why not turn the joke into reality? That year, they sponsored the first ever One-Arm Dove Hunt, which drew six amputees to the field.

The Jacks have sponsored an annual shoot ever since, and the One-Arm Dove Hunt now brings in close to 100amputees each year. Participants shoot skeet, golf, play pool, and, of course, hunt doves (although they usually miss). The two Jacks also spice up the proceedings with their unique brand of humor. During the cow chip-throwing competition, they sit on toilets and act as targets. For breakfast, they charge diners "10 cents a finger." They may be missing arms, but their funny bones are still intact.


In 2001, Dean Kamen invented the Segway, forever changing the way people get around while standing on two wheels. More recently, though, he's partnered with the U.S. Department of Defense to expand the range of human motion once more. His new invention is a high-tech prosthetic arm with fingers, which has been nicknamed "the Luke arm," in honor of Luke Skywalker's cybernetic hand in the original Star Wars trilogy. Unlike most prosthetic limbs, which are built around a series of hooks, the lightweight Luke arm actually works like a human arm, converting nerve impulses into motion. Amazingly, test subjects have been able to use it to drink from wine glasses, pick up raisins, and peel bananas -tasks that require enormous dexterity. The Force is strong with this one.


When Scribners published Ernest Hemingway's novel A Farewell to Arms in 1929, the publishing house eliminated all potentially offensive words, replacing them with a series of dashes. Hemingway was peeved that he couldn't use even mild obscenities such as "balls" in a novel about war and sex, but he went along with the censorship to get the book published.

After the novel came out, however, the writer got his mitts on a few copies and reinserted the vulgarities by hand. At least two of the corrected texts survive today. Hemingway gave one copy to French literary translator Maurice Coindreau; the other copy he gave to James Joyce. Want to know what curse words go where? Joyce's copy is held at SUNY-Buffalo's library in upstate New York.


Back in 2006, two dolphins at an aquarium in Fushun, China, became gravely ill after ingesting some plastic from the liner of their tank. When traditional techniques of extracting the the material failed, the vets called in an unlikely hero: Mongolian herdsman Bao Xishun. At 7'9", Bao isn't just one of the tallest men in the world, he also has incredibly long arms. Using his spindly limbs, Bao reached into the sick mammal's tummies and pulled out the plastic. Let's see Stretch Armstrong top that!


The article by Ethan Trex is reprinted from Scatterbrained section of the January-February 2011 issue of mental_floss magazine. Subscribe today to get it delivered to you!

Be sure to visit mental_floss' website and blog for more fun stuff!

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