Reed Hastings was inspired to start Netflix after racking up a $40 late fee on a VHS copy of Apollo 13.
At the Wife Carrying World Championships in Sonkajärvi, Finland, first prize is the wife’s weight in beer.
Testing the Five-Second Rule
At some time or another, with or without witnesses present, we’ve all used the five-second rule to justify eating a cookie that’s touched the floor. After all, everyone knows that if a tasty treat spends less than five seconds on the ground, it doesn’t collect germs. Well, not exactly. In 2003, high school student Jillian Clarke performed the first known scientific tests on the five-second rule....
In the 1970s, Mattel sold a doll called “Growing Up Skipper.” Her breasts grew when her arm was turned.
Symptoms Were the Same
During World War I, a U.S. doctor decided to combat the Germans by renaming German Measles the “Liberty Measles.”
Hello Kitty's Real Name Is Kitty White
© Rungroj Yongrit/epa/Corbis In 2007, it was announced that police in Bangkok would be forced to wear bright pink Hello Kitty armbands as punishment for minor infractions. The plan was soon abandoned—according to NBC News, “There was a rebellion in the macho ranks, as well as outrage on Hello Kitty websites.” [For way more than you ever wanted to learn about Hello Kitty, click here.]
The initials you see on almost every zipper you own stand for Yoshida Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha, which translates into “Yoshida Manufacturing Corporation.” The company is named after Tadao Yoshida, who started the zipper concern in Tokyo in 1934.
Who's on the $100,000 Bill?
It’s Woodrow Wilson! Other high-denomination currency features Salmon P. Chase ($10,000), James Madison ($5,000), Grover Cleveland ($1,000) and William McKinley ($500). For more on these really big bills, including an answer to the inevitable “Who the heck is Salmon P. Chase?” question, here’s the full story.
In 2010, a sex pheromone found in male mouse urine was named ‘darcin,’ for Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy.
Airport Codes Explained
In the earliest days of aviation there weren’t any official “airports”—any field with enough space for take-off would do. In the early 1920s, though, certain large cities had enough demand for air travel that small airports were built, and since temperature, precipitation and wind speed/direction were critical factors in air travel, the National Weather Service began using these airports as...
Napoleon Had a Brother Named Joseph Who Lived in...
This is his story.
Merv Griffin's Tombstone
(“I will not be right back after this message.”)
Where We Got the Word "Boycott"
Sometimes, having a word named after you isn’t a good thing. That’s what happened to Charles Cunningham Boycott, an English landlord in Ireland who set the price of rent so ridiculously high that his tenants rebelled. The entire region stopped selling him basic goods to protest the unfair treatment, and Boycott had to flee the “boycott” just to survive. [by Stacy Conradt]
Cap’n Crunch’s full name is Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch.
In the early stage version of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s faithful companion Toto was replaced by a cow named Imogene.
In 1980, C-3PO & R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.
Six-Word Fact of the Day (About M&M's)
M&M’s stands for “Mars & Murrie’s.”
A Very Specific Question Arby's Customers Were...
From the FAQ section of Arbys.com, circa 2001: “Arby’s® sounds like exactly the franchise I’m looking for and I like the quality and uniqueness of the food as well as the new building design. What geographic areas are currently being targeted by Arby’s® for development and whom do I call for more information?” [via Archive.org]
Janis Joplin left $2,500 in her will for her friends to “have a ball after I’m gone.”
Six-Word Fact of the Day (About Snuffleupagus)
Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius.
The End Is Near! Wait, No, It's Not.
Edgar Whisenant, a former NASA engineer, was so sure about his calculated date that he wrote a book called 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988 and boldly stated, “Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong.” When he was, in fact, wrong, he published The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989, followed by the less-certain 23 Reasons Why a Pre-Tribulation Rapture Looks Like It Will Occur on...
Only female mosquitoes will bite you.
When Canada’s Northwest Territories considered renaming itself in the 1990s, one name that gained support was “Bob.”
Quiz: Wonder Years Guest Stars
David Schwimmer? Jon Hamm? Alicia Silverstone? Do you remember whether these stars (and more) used minor roles on The Wonder Years to help launch their careers? Take the Quiz: Were They on The Wonder Years?
The only number that’s in alphabetical order is 40 (f-o-r-t-y).
The Image the U.S. Government Used When Banning...
Consumer Product Safety Commission Document #5053 banned all lawn darts from sale in the United States, effective December 19, 1988. In the decade leading up to the ban, lawn darts had been blamed for the deaths of 3 children and nearly 7,000 injuries requiring trips to the emergency room. Parents were urged to “discard or destroy them immediately.”
This Is a Real Children's Book
(It’s not about social media outages.)
Strange Geographies: Salvation Mountain
California’s Mojave Desert is an enormous, undulating swath of brown, gray and alkali white; driving through it is such a monochromatic experience that you almost feel like you could go into color withdrawal. That’s why Salvation Mountain, just south of California’s own Dead Sea, the Salton, is such a shock to the system. It’s a man-made mountain covered in 100,000 gallons of technicolor...
This Is How Much Sunscreen The FDA Says You Need
According to the FDA, “An average-size adult or child needs at least one ounce of sunscreen, about the amount it takes to fill a shot glass, to evenly cover the body from head to toe.”
Why Do Gas Prices End in 9/10ths of a Cent?
Every time we fill up our tanks, we wrestle with one of life’s thorniest mysteries: Why do gas prices end in 0.9 cents? Unfortunately, the origins of the increment are murky. Some sources attribute the practice to the 1920s and 1930s, when the gasoline tax was nine-tenths of a cent. Stations would simply slap the extra 0.9 onto the advertised price of a gallon to give Uncle Sam his cut. Others...
Horse Names That Slipped Through
Back in 2007, Slate took an amusing look at some of the racier names that slipped past the Jockey Club’s reviewers. Among them: Blow Me (1945), Spank It (1985), Date More Minors (1998), Bodacious Tatas (1985), Sexual Harrasment (1997), and – say it aloud – Hardawn (1937). “It’s difficult with the use of some words that meant something 20 years ago may mean something totally different with...
Reno, Nevada, is farther west than Los Angeles
(In case you’re going that way.)
"Passengers become so spoiled by airplane food...
The Food Timeline is a fascinating site that tracks the history of various dishes, from ice cream to potato salad to, say, airplane food. Things sure have changed since this Los Angeles Times article was published in 1962: • “I have just discovered one of the world’s really spectacular restaurants. It’s an intimate little place operated by Trans World Airlines at about 35,000 ft....
No Karate Ladies for Margaret Thatcher
On this date in 1979, Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first female prime minister. Later that year, she attended an economic summit in Japan. She was still a fairly new prime minister when she headed to Tokyo, and her hosts were a bit apprehensive about how a female PM would be received. To ensure Thatcher’s safety, they came up with a novel plan: they would offer her a detail of...
How Many Licks Does it Take to Get to the Center...
From Tootsie.com: “A group of engineering students from Purdue University reported that its licking machine [pictured], modeled after a human tongue, took an average of 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Twenty of the group’s volunteers assumed the licking challenge-unassisted by machinery-and averaged 252 licks each to the center.”
Why Is “Mayday!” an International Distress Signal?
It comes from the French “venez m’aider,” meaning “come help me!”
There's a Bewitched Statue in Salem
In 2005, a TV Land statue of Samantha Stevens of Bewitched was unveiled in Salem, Massachusetts. Some citizens of the town objected because the witch trials of 1692 that are associated with the community were a tragedy that should not be trivialized. Some TV fans were upset because the series actually took place in a Connecticut suburb. [by Miss Cellania; Image by Flickr user dresdnhope.]