Category Archives: History

François-André Danican Philidor and Blindfold Chess


In 1744 at the age of 18, François-André Danican Philidor (1726-1795) enthralled Parisian society after playing two simultaneous games of chess in a public demonstration, all while blindfolded. And even though he lost one game and only drew the other, the display established Philidor as a chess master par excellence, and blew new life into the ancient practice of blindfold […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

The Aloha Shirt and the Interesting Origin of Casual Friday


Today, Casual Friday is a day when the conventional dress codes of most offices are cast aside in favour of denim jeans, comfortable t-shirts with movie slogans on them and shirts with the sleeves rolled up. But few people realise that this time-honored tradition of “sticking it to the man” forcing you to wear a noose around your neck four […]

Read more

The Mysterious Kugelpanzer: The Nazi-Designed, One-Man Spherical Tank


During World War II, Nazi engineers designed and built a number of revolutionary super or “wonder weapons” (wunderwaffe), including a wide array of aircraft, guns and ships. Among these weapons is a mysterious small, round tank named the Kugelpanzer (literally meaning “spherical tank”). This odd little tank was never seen in the European theater, and very little is definitively known […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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


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 […]

Read more

When Did Men Start Getting Circumcised?


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 […]

Read more



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 […]

Read more
1 2 3 22