Category Archives: Featured Facts

The Surprisingly Mysterious Life of Famed Artist Bob Ross


Amongst the pantheon of notable public television personalities, Bob Ross easily ranks alongside the likes of Mr Rogers and Elmo as a star who is almost universally loved and respected by the public. Despite being famous the world over for his balmy, soothing demeanour, his show The Joy of Painting and his amazing ‘fro, we know surprisingly little about arguably one of the best […]

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From Wallpaper Cleaner to Kid’s Toy- The Origin of Play-Doh


The story of Play-Doh began when Kutol, a Cincinnati based soap company, was about to go under in the late 1920s. Cleo McVicker, just 21 years old, was tasked with selling off the company’s remaining assets, which at the time comprised mainly of powdered hand soap. Once that was done, the company would be too. Cleo, however, managed to turn […]

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Robert Frost’s Commonly Misinterpreted “The Road Not Taken” and the Role it Played in the Death of His Best Friend


Robert Frost is one of the most critically acclaimed American poets of the 20th century, which is a roundabout way of saying you almost certainly studied one of his poems in school. Most likely, it was a short piece called The Road Not Taken- a poem famous for being one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted poems ever written, and […]

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A Dinner Jacket, the Nazis, the “British” Accent, and What This All Has to Do With the BBC News


The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is an institution known and respected the world over for its relative impartiality and objectivity compared to many other news sources, with numerous surveys showing that the BBC is one of the most trusted sources of news in both the UK and the US. But we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about […]

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The Real First Person Around the World, Exploding Dogs, the Superhero Who Powered Up By Smoking and More


In this week’s “best of” our YouTube channel, we discuss who was the real first person to circumnavigate the globe, the superhero who powered up by smoking, what a “blue moon” really is, the sad story of the exploding anti-tank dogs of WWII, why aluminum foil is shiny on one side and not the other, and what people used for toothpaste […]

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First Look at Your Baby: The Fascinating History of the “Sonogram”


The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader If you have kids, there’s a good chance that the very first time you laid eyes on them was via a “sonogram” image taken before they were even born. The grainy images are so common that they’ve become a rite of passage for parents all over the world. Here’s the […]

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Barney Curley and the Yellow Sam Coup


On June 26, 1975, professional gambler Barney Curley pulled off one of the most famous betting coups in all of sports. With careful planning and skillful execution, Curley and his compatriots won just over IR£300,000 (or about $2.6 million today) on the “slow but steady” mostly unknown horse named Yellow Sam. Curley’s father, Charlie, had been a grocer before sinking […]

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“The Queen of Thieves”- The Story of Criminal Mastermind, Ma’ Mandelbaum


Over a 20-year career in post-Civil War New York, Fredericka “Marm” Mandelbaum is estimated to have fenced as much as $10 million in stolen property (around a quarter of a billion dollars when adjusted for inflation). Sitting at the center of a vast crime web the spanned large areas of the United States, Ma Mandelbaum was then known as “the […]

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The Story Behind the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


In the fall of 1885, poet, essayist, travel writer and novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson, had a nightmare so terrifying that his tossing about impelled his wife to wake him up. Rather than being grateful, however, Stevenson chastised his bride, barking: “Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.” A longtime sufferer of consumption (see: Why Tuberculosis […]

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What Causes the Smell After Rain, When People Started Smiling in Photographs, How 911 Became the Defacto Emergency Number, and More


In this week’s “best of” our YouTube channel, we discuss what causes the smell after rain, whether Nero really fiddled while Rome burned (and whether it really burned at all), when and why people started smiling in photographs, the fascinating origin of Scrabble, and how 911 became the emergency number in the United States. Click here to subscribe to our […]

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Why is Home Plate in Baseball Shaped Differently Than the Other Bases?


Mitchell asks: Why is home plate shaped different than other bases? Oftentimes the most exciting part of a baseball game is the competition between the pitcher and the batter. The pitcher stares down the batter as he adjusts his grip on the ball and prepares for the most perfect pitch his arm can throw; the batter returns the pitcher’s glare […]

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One Bad Line- A Dark and Stormy Write


The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Alas, life just isn’t fair. Consider the case of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, a successful 19th –century author who was forgotten by history, then rediscovered…but only so that readers could ridicule him for one really bad opening line. BAD TO THE BONE It’s a rare author who can generate a single sentence […]

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Swapping Assassination Attempts- Unit 124 and Unit 684


In 1968, a group of 31 highly trained North Korean special forces commandos culled from the country’s most elite and secretive unit, Unit 124, crossed the Korean DMZ with a singular mission- kill the South Korean leader, Park Chung Hee. The unit supposedly trained for 2 years prior to the mission, with their initial selection being conducted soon after what is […]

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