Category Archives: History

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 […]

Read more

Parrots, Peg-legs, Plunder – Debunking Pirate Myths

pirate-map

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 […]

Read more

The Plot Against President Franklin D. Roosevelt

fdr-april-11-1945

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

“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 […]

Read more

How the Freedom of Information Act Came About

john-e-moss

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.) […]

Read more

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

declaration_of_independence

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

The High-Flying Origin of Hot Air Balloons

hot-air-balloon

It isn’t often that a duck, rooster and sheep get this much attention. In September 1783, King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette (see: The Truth About Marie Antoinette’s Cake)- along with 130,000 curious French citizens – stood in the Palace of Versailles’ courtyard to witness a demonstration of a modern marvel. After months of tests, two well-to-do paper […]

Read more

Why Does the United States Use the Electoral College Instead of a Simple Vote Count When Deciding the Next President?

American-Flag

Mike C. asks: Why don’t we use the popular vote to pick the president? On December 13, 2000,  Vice President Al Gore conceded the presidential election to Governor Bush. A day earlier, a lengthy and expensive manual vote recount process in Florida was stopped by the United States Supreme Court despite Bush leading by only 537 votes. With Bush winning […]

Read more

When Did Humans Start Wearing Clothes?

monkey-clothes

M. Schane asks: When did humans start wearing clothing? Determining exactly when humans began wearing clothes is a challenge, largely because early clothes would have been things like animal hides, which degrade rapidly. Therefore, there’s very little archaeological evidence that can be used to determine the date that clothing started being worn. There have been several different theories based on […]

Read more
1 2 3 4 5 28