Category Archives: Featured Facts

Do People Really Fish With Dynamite?

dynamite-fishing

Kyle S. asks: Do people really fish with dynamite like they show in movies? Fishing with dynamite, or blast fishing as it’s more accurately known, despite sounding like something more suited to a Looney Tunes cartoon, is a genuine and well-documented practice that is still commonplace in select areas of the globe today. This is more than a little unfortunate […]

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The Fascinating History of One of the Most Popular Sports Cars of All Time

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader One measure of the desirability of a sports car is whether or not it has teenagers drooling over it before they’re even old enough to drive. Here’s the story of one of the most drool-worthy cars in auto history. (See how long it takes you to guess which car we’re […]

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Who Really Invented Monopoly?

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In 1933 at the height of the Great Depression, a down-on-his luck Charles Darrow invented the still-extremely popular board game Monopoly, making the impoverished man a millionaire seemingly overnight- a personification of the American Dream. Never able to fully explain how he came up with the concept, Darrow once described his invention as “totally unexpected” and a “freak” of nature. […]

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Why Do Presidents Get to Pardon People at the End of Their Terms?

president-obama

Barbara W. asks: When did commuting a prisoners sentence at the end of a presidents Term of office go into effect, and why do they do it? An armed insurrectionist, teamster with (perhaps) ties to the mafia, socialite turned terrorist, presidential sibling and even a former President of the United States have all received either a presidential pardon or commutation […]

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A Cow on a Yacht- The Fascinating Life of Gordon Bennett Jr.

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As the old adage goes, money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure takes the sting out of being poor. Gordon Bennett Jr. was a man for whom money meant nothing- he spent money with such impunity that across the pond in England his name has since become synonymous with astonishment and surprise. The son of famed newspaper magnate James Gordon […]

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Did Fidel Castro Really Almost Pitch in the Major Leagues?

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There’s a long history of rulers bragging about their athletic talents. Ancient Egyptian kings sometimes used sporting prowess to show off masculinity and inspire fear. The Roman Emperor Commodus liked to step into the gladiator ring, often asking for already wounded or weakened opponents so he could look superior. (Yes, he was the partial inspiration for the movie Gladiator. Also […]

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Why are Some Pages “Intentionally Left Blank” and Why Do They Say This?

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Gabino asks: Why do they bother putting the text This Page Intentionally Blank on blank pages? It’s easy to dismiss the phrase, “This page is intentionally left blank” and its usage as an example of bureaucracy gone mad, but it and the blank pages themselves are actually there for good reason. To begin with, the practise of marking intentionally blank pages, […]

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What Exactly Does Landing on Free Parking Do in a Game of Monopoly? (And Other Ways You’ve Been Playing Monopoly Wrong That Make It Take Longer)

monopoly

Richard G. asks: I’ve seen so many different rules for it, but what’s actually supposed to happen when you land on free parking in Monopoly? Few board games have the ability to cause arguments like Monopoly, an unsurprising fact given the object of the game it was based on (see: Who Invented Monopoly?) was to send your opponent to the […]

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Tom Waits vs. the World (Of Advertising)

tom-waits

Tom Waits’ raspy, almost growl-like singing voice has become synonymous with the singer and has been variously described by critics as sounding like it was “soaked in whiskey” or alternatively like it was “hit by a car”. This distinctly recognisable sound combined with Waits’ vast back catalogue of hits has seen the artist approached numerous times over the years by […]

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Where Did the Saying “I’ll Eat My Hat” Come From?

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Jeremiah C. asks: Did people actually used to eat their hats? If not, where did the expression come from? “I’ll eat my hat” is an utterance commonly used when a person is absolutely certain that something will not happen. But where did this unusual phrase first originate and have there ever been any recorded instances of people actually eating their […]

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That Surprisingly Recent Time in British History When Husbands Sold Their Wives at Market

wife-selling

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Let’s say you’re an 18th-century British peasant, and you and your wife just aren’t getting along anymore. What do you do? Divorce her? Too expensive. Kill her? Too risky. Oh, well, looks like you’ll have to auction her off. Welcome to the wacky world of wife selling! HARDY HAR-HAR Hands […]

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Can a Vice Presidential Candidate or the Speaker of the House Really Be Elected President Instead of the Main, “Winning” Candidates?

veep

Michelle S. asks: Is it actually possible for a vice president candidate to be elected president like on VEEP or were they just making that up? The season five finale of HBO’s Emmy-award winning comedy VEEP sure seemed like a Hollywood fantasy. Through a series of wacky situations, hilarious gaffes and complicated procedures, an obscure Vice-Presidential candidate was elected by […]

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Why Doesn’t the U.S. Use a Popular Vote for President, Why Do a Donkey and an Elephant Represent the Democrats and Republicans, and More

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In this week’s “best of” our YouTube channel, we are getting into the US Presidential Election spirit by looking at why the U.S. uses the electoral college instead of a popular vote, whether U.S. Presidents have to pay taxes on the various perks of the office, the fascinating story of the first attempt to assassinate an American President, why a […]

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How the Practice of Putting Candles on Cakes for Birthdays Started

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Heily O. asks: How did the tradition of having cakes with candles on them for birthdays start? For most of human history, ordinary people’s birthdays weren’t cause for much celebration. In fact, in the ancient world if you weren’t among the elite, odds are your birthday would have mostly just been noted for things like astrological purposes, rather than throwing […]

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The Law of the Tongue: The Deal Between the Orcas and Whalers of Eden, Australia

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Sporting the third deepest natural harbor in the southern hemisphere and a rich habitat, the waters around Eden, Australia attract a variety of wildlife, including baleen whales and, at least in the fall and winter, orcas. At some point in the history of the indigenous Yuin people, they and the killer whales seemingly entered into a tacit sort of unspoken […]

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