Sunny Southern California and the Birth of the Zamboni
It was approximately four thousand years ago in Finland when people first strapped on skates to glide across the ice. This wasn’t for entertainment purposes, though. Finland is full of lakes and cutting across the ice saved time on daily journeys. By 1 AD, ice skating existed across Northern Europe. Metal skates were first created by the Dutch in 1250 [...]
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Why is it Called “Going Dutch” When You Pay for Yourself?
Michael W. asks: Why is splitting the tab and paying for yourself called Dutch? The idea of paying for yourself when out with friends being referred to as some expression including the word "Dutch," seemingly incorrectly is often connected to the fact that for several centuries beginning in the 17th, the word Dutch had a negative connotation in English, variously [...]
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The Plundering Politician
The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader The Society of Saint Tammany, founded in 1789 in New York City, is named for Tamanend, a chief of the Delaware tribe. It started out as a patriotic and charitable organization, created by tradesmen who weren’t allowed to join the more exclusive clubs that the wealthy belonged to. As wave [...]
The Curious Case of Ronald Opus
In 1987, then president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Dr. Don Harper Mills, went on stage at a banquet for members of that organization and told a story about a recent case in which a medical examiner had investigated a suspicious death and concluded that a man was guilty of his own murder. Here’s a cliffnotes version of [...]
The Great Tragedy of the Hartford Circus Fire and How it Transformed the Circus
It was supposed to be a glorious and fun-filled summer day at the circus in Hartford, Connecticut. It was July 6th, 1944 and this was the final day that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s “Greatest Show On Earth” was in town. Over 7,000 spectators – most of whom were women and children due to it being a matinee, weekday [...]
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The Mona Lisa Caper
The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader August 21, 1911. Louis Beroud, a painter, busily set up his easel in the Salon Carré, one of the Louvre’s more than 200 rooms, directly facing the spot where the Mona Lisa usually smiled out at her admirers. Beroud had painted copies of La Gioconda plenty of times before. But [...]
Do Trees Poop and Pee?
George asks: Weird question, but do trees poop? A wise man once said, "Everybody poops." Well that should probably be changed to everything poops, because all living things excrete waste. This brings us to a brilliant question posed by a reader whose head we’d love to crack open and see what’s going on inside- do trees poop? As it so [...]
Setting Fire to Glass- The “Nope” Chemical That is Chlorine Trifluoride
First discovered back in the 1930s, chlorine trifluoride is a rather curious chemical that easily reacts, sometimes explosively, with just about every known substance on Earth. Just to get the ball rolling, here's a few of the more unusual things chlorine trifluoride is known to set fire to on contact: glass, sand, asbestos, rust, concrete, people, pyrex, cloth, and the [...]
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Chips Off the Old Block
The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like growing up in Stalin’s shadow or whatever happened to Napoleon’s son, here are their (almost always) tragic stories. RICHARD THE FOURTH? (Richard Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell) Back in the 1640s, jolly old England was caught up in a messy civil war between [...]
The Declaration of Independence was Approved on July 2nd and Signed on August 2nd, So Why is July 4th Independence Day?
While it is often said that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, this isn't actually correct. In fact, nobody signed it on the 4th. This is contradictory to Thomas Jefferson’s, John Adams’, and Benjamin Franklin’s account of events. On top of their accounts, the public congressional record of events back their story. So how do we [...]