Author Archives: Melissa

Jack Daniel’s Refreshingly “Nice” Team of Attorneys

Generally speaking, attorneys, and particularly high-priced litigators, are not known for being “nice” or polite in their interactions with those on the opposite side of the table of their clients. Rather, the stereotype (not without basis) is of a profession filled with aggressive and sometimes even nasty people, who will stop at nothing to see their clients prevail- it’s their […]

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Why Do Presidents Get to Pardon People at the End of Their Terms?

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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Why Things That Are Haphazardly Built Are Called “Jury-Rigged”

David N. asks: Who was the Jerry in the expression Jerry-rigged? Although many describe shoddy workmanship or a hasty, temporary repair as jerry-rigged, in its original incarnation, the term was actually jury-rigged. While jury as a noun meaning a group of peers that decide the outcome of a legal proceeding has been in use English since the early 14th century, […]

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How the Practice of Putting Candles on Cakes for Birthdays Started

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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The Law of the Tongue: The Deal Between the Orcas and Whalers of Eden, Australia

Sporting the third deepest natural harbor in the southern hemisphere and a rich habitat, the waters around Eden, Australia attract a variety of wildlife, including baleen whales and, at least in the fall and winter, orcas. At some point in the history of the indigenous Yuin people, they and the killer whales seemingly entered into a tacit sort of unspoken […]

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The Bare-Breasted “Petticoat” 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 […]

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Origins of the Jedi

No one can dispute George Lucas’ significant contributions to cinema history, including both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. His company also played a role in advancing special effects, top quality post-production audio and even digital sound systems for movie theaters. But it is nice to know that he didn’t invent everything out of whole cloth; when developing the […]

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Where the Term “Bootlegging” Came From

Mark Y. asks: Why were people who made alcohol during prohibition called bootleggers? Although Prohibition officially began on January 16, 1920, the impetus for banning the production, sale, importation and transportation (though not the consumption) of alcohol had been brewing for decades before. Part of a string of reforms introduced by Progressives, Protestants and other activists to cure all of […]

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