Author Archives: Karl Smallwood

Why Don’t They Bother Putting the Apostrophe in “DONT WALK” signs?

Jared L. asks: Why aren’t there apostrophes in the Don’t Walk signs by street intersections when it’s spelled out rather than using pictures? No one is sure when exactly the first WALK/DONT WALK style signs were installed. Even the Federal Highway Administration isn’t sure, though it is thought that the first such sign was likely installed sometime in the early to […]

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Why Aren’t There Many Female Commercial Pilots?

Sarah T. asks: Why do you never see commercial airline pilots that are women? When it comes to gender disparity, the world of commercial airline piloting is one of the most skewed with a whopping 97% of all commercial pilots being male (4000 female commercial pilots vs. 130,000 male worldwide according to The International  Society of Women Airline Pilots).  Those […]

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Why Do Men’s and Women’s Clothes Have the Buttons on the Opposite Sides?

Matt asks: Why do men’s and women’s shirts and pants have the buttons on the opposite sides? When did this start? As with so many things in history, we can’t know with 100% accuracy why men’s and women’s clothes button up the opposite way. (Even something relatively recent like who invented Buffalo Wings is up for debate despite being invented […]

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The Fascinating Story of How the “What Would Jesus Do?” Slogan Came About

What Would Jesus Do?, often shortened to WWJD? or W.W.J.D.  is a slogan so famous that millions of objects have been emblazoned with it. However, the person who came up with “W.W.J.D.” never saw a penny of the millions of dollars companies across the globe have made from it. The earliest known instance of the full slogan “What Would Jesus Do” […]

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The Slave Who Helped Assemble the Famous “Freedom Statue” in Washington D.C.

The Statue of Freedom sitting atop the dome of the U.S. Capitol building in Washing D.C. has more alternate names than the obscure half of the Wu Tang Clan. Over the years, the names attributed to it have ranged from things like “Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace” to the far simpler, “Armed Freedom“. However, the one, common thread is […]

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The Accidental Discovery of Saccharin, and the Truth About Whether Saccharin is Bad for You

Saccharin is noted as being the first artificial sweetener, outside of the toxic Lead(II) acetate, and the first product to offer a cheap alternative to cane sugar.  Interestingly enough, like the Chocolate Chip Cookie, it was also discovered entirely by accident. The chemical was discovered in 1878/9 in a small lab at Johns Hopkins University. The lab belonged to professor […]

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The Man Who Captured Four Armed German Soldiers With an Empty Gun

Very little is known about Lance-Corporal James Welch prior to his actions during WWI. However, we do know some basic details.  According to Welch’s grave in Bournemouth crematorium, he was born in 1889 on July 7th in the small English village of Stratfield Saye. Welch must have had a fairly boring childhood because literally the next thing recorded about his […]

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Are You Really Entitled to a Phone Call When Arrested?

Chellie asks: Do people really only have the right to one phone call when put in jail in the United States? Being arrested is a terrifying and frightening thing with all the horror stories about police abuses of power and other prisoners being absolutely dead-set on making your life miserable in a variety of horrifying ways… at least that’s what […]

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Damnatio Memoriae: When the Romans Purposely Erased People from History

Damnatio memoriae (condemnation of memory) was a punishment reserved for certain people the Romans decided to dishonour for one reason or another. Rather impressively, it involved trying to get rid of all records that the person ever existed. Understandably, historians aren’t aware of any people to whom this dishonor was successfully applied, since if they did, it wouldn’t have been […]

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