Category Archives: History

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?

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

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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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Parrots, Peg-legs, Plunder – Debunking Pirate Myths

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Pirates murdered, pillaged, raped, stole, and generally made the lives of others who stood in their way terrible. But despite these facts, books and, more recently, Hollywood have glamorized the “swashbuckler on the high seas.” In the process, a lot of fiction has been attached to the pirate mythos. For example, the rumor that pirates commonly made people walk the […]

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The Plot Against President Franklin D. Roosevelt

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Conspiracy theories can be amusing to read because they’re usually so bizarre and far-reaching that they couldn’t possibly be true. What’s even more fun is a conspiracy that’s not a theory at all. Here’s one that actually happened. ALL THE RAGE IN EUROPE In the 1930s, many Western countries suffered […]

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

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

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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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How the Freedom of Information Act Came About

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader The Freedom of Information Act was passed in 1966—and it was the very first law in American history that gave regular citizens the legal footing to compel the government to release internal documents. Before that—not for you! Getting it passed was a long, tough battle. (And it’s still going on.) […]

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Americans and The Date Format and How That Relates to Data Storage, Holy Wars and Soft-Boiled Eggs

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M. Seager asks: Why do Americans write dates Month/Day/Year and most others Day/Month/Year? In the United States, our date format begins with the month and ends with the year (MM/DD/YYYY), and this arrangement is unique. In most of the rest of the world, the day is written first and the year last (DD/MM/YYYY), although in some places like China, Korea […]

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The Bare-Breasted “Petticoat” Duel

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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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