Category Archives: History

Maximinus Thrax: The Giant Who was a Roman Emperor That Never Set Foot in Rome

Maximinus_Thrax

In the third decade of the third century CE, climate issues, civil war, economic depression and plague combined to seriously destabilize the Roman Empire. Beginning a fifty-year period where leadership of the empire passed between at least 26 men was the short reign of perhaps the largest emperor of Rome, Maximinus Thrax. Born Gaius Julius Verus in about 173 CE […]

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When Did Men Start Getting Circumcised?

circumcision

Mark asks: When did people first start cutting the foreskins off penises? Having served variously as a mark of virility, servility and gentility, circumcision has throughout the centuries, worn many symbolic hats. While anthropologists disagree as to the definitive origins of circumcision, the earliest hard evidence comes from the first ancient Egyptian mummies of considerable vintage, around 2300 BC. That […]

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Bonsai!

bonsai

Long before the bonsai art form of creating miniature trees came to Japan, the wealthy in China were perfecting their craft known as “penzai” and “penjing.” The former means “tray plant” and the latter “tray scenery.” It is from the Japanese pronunciation of “penzai” that the word “bonzai” ultimately derives- “bon” meaning “tray-like” and “sai” meaning “planting.”  (The Japanese equivalent […]

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The Origin of the Color Belt Scheme in Martial Arts

blackbelt

White, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple and black, the colors of martial arts belts denote student development, skills and experience. However, contrary to popular belief, using colored belts to denote rank or ability in martial arts is a relatively recent invention in the otherwise ancient arts- one that was only introduced around the turn of the 20th century. Much of […]

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Erased from History- Hatshepsut, the Bearded Female King of Egypt

Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut was the eldest of two daughters born to Egyptian King Thutmose I and Queen Ahmose Nefertari. Her younger sister died in infancy, meaning twelve year old Hatshepsut was Thutmose I’s only surviving child from his marriage to the queen. However Thutmose I, like other Egyptian pharaohs, maintained secondary wives also known as harem wives. Any sons born from those […]

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How Did the Practice of Women Jumping Out of Giant Cakes Start?

pie-girl2

Diane F. asks: Who started the tradition of girls jumping out of cakes? Almost everyone has seen depicted the bizarre bachelor party tradition of a scantily-clad woman jumping out of a giant cake. It turns up most often in decades-old films, TV shows, and comics, but it still persists today at lavish Vegas shindigs—though the cakes are now usually made […]

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Nixon’s List

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader As 1972 approached, President Richard Nixon started to get more and more concerned about his coming reelection campaign.   He became convinced that his political adversaries weren’t just opponents-they were “enemies” and had to be stopped. He and his advisers compiled this list of 20 public figures who they felt could […]

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The First Car Accident

car-accident

Car accidents are a sad fact of life. Every day thousands lose their lives in collisions, crashes and accidents. Though the car itself is a fairly recent invention, the first recorded accident involving them could have happened almost 300 years ago. Depending on what your definition of a car is. Though it looked nothing like the modern cars you see […]

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The London Garrotting Panic of the Mid-19th Century

garrotting

Although crime in England’s capital was on the decline in the mid-19th century, thanks in part to the relatively recent formation of the London Metropolitan Police Force in 1839, fear of crime was a persistent, reoccurring issue thanks to a few instances of robbery and murder, and, of course, the news media. In particular, the so-called “garrotting” cases, where someone strangles someone else, […]

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