Category Archives: Featured Facts

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?

eat-hat

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

donkey-elephant

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

birthday-cake

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

old-tom-and-whalers

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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Has Anyone Ever Actually Poisoned Or Put Razor Blades or Needles in Halloween Candy?

halloween-candy

Lee asks: How many children have died from people poisoning Halloween candy? Remember your mom sorting through your Halloween candy as a kid, looking for signs of ‘tainted’ candy laced with poison, needles or razor blades? It turns out, unless she was just using it as an excuse to steal the good candy before you got it, she was wasting […]

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How the Weird British Tradition of Putting Topless Women on the Third Page of Newspapers Got Started

the-sun-newspaper

David J. asks: How did the tradition of putting photos of random naked women in some newspapers start? We British are often stereotyped as being prudish and stoically reserved in all aspects of intimacy. As such, it may surprise non-natives to learn that for over four decades, one of the most popular newspapers in the entire country had a large […]

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“Every Man His Own Stylo” – That Time MI6 Agents Used Semen as Invisible Ink

feather-quill-pen

The British Secret Intelligence Service, better known to the world as MI6 (Military Intelligence, Section 6), is, rather oddly for a supposedly secretive agency, one of the better known intelligence services in the world. While the work MI6 does today is top-secret, thanks to the wonders of the Freedom of Information Act, we’re able to peer into the mysterious agency’s […]

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That Time Someone Gave a Homeless Person $100,000 Just to See What Would Happen

reversal-of-fortune

In 2005 a homeless man called Ted Rodrigue stumbled upon a briefcase filled with crisp $20 and $50 bills totaling $100,000 (about $123,000 today). Ted was then told by screenwriter Wayne Powers that the money was his to keep and do with as he wished, so long as he would allow a film crew to document the result. Rodrigue, understandably, […]

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The Surprisingly Reasonable Answer to the Age Old Question- Why Do We Drive on Parkways and Park on Driveways?

the-blue-ridge-parkway

Eric J. asks: I know it’s an old joke, but seriously, why do we drive on parkways but park on our driveways? There has to be a good reason we say it this way, right? To most people the fact that we drive on parkways and park on driveways is rarely pondered upon. This only comes to mind when pointed […]

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The Futurists

robot-future

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader What do today’s top forecasters see looming on the horizon? That simple question introduced us to the fascinating field of “futures studies”—its checkered past, muddled present, and uncertain tomorrow(s). NOSTRA-DUMB*SS For most of human history, professional prognosticators could only guess what the future would bring. If you sought advice from […]

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The Bare-Breasted “Petticoat” Duel

duel

A time-honored method of settling disputes, trial by combat became an institution in Europe during the Middle Ages. Although it fell out of fashion for many, beginning with the Enlightenment, it remained a popular means for European nobility to settle matters of honor well into the 19th century. While most duels were fought by men, occasionally a ladies’ disagreement would […]

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