Category Archives: History

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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Harry Houdini on Trial

houdini

In 1901, the Cologne, Germany newspaper, Rheinishe Zeitung (RZ), published a story titled (translated) “The Unmasking of Houdini,” in which a chief of police, Schutzmann Werner Graff, accused Houdini of attempting to bribe him into rigging an escape from the city’s jail, and of paying another man, Herr Lott, to help him with a phony performance. Incensed (and facing an […]

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Gandhi’s Letters to Hitler

ghandi-letter

By the late 1930s, Gandhi’s method of peaceful non-cooperation had already won significant concessions from the British Raj, including the founding of a national administration and local and national legislative assemblies, albeit still under British oversight. Gandhi, himself, was internationally famous for his various acts of non-violent, civil disobedience, including his 241-mile Salt March, which, while protesting Britain’s monopoly on […]

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