The Little Girl Who Convinced Charles Schulz to Kill Off a Character
Charlotte Braun was written as a female version of Charlie Brown. In fact, she looked just like him, except she had curly hair. She, too, was ostracized by her peers, but it was because she was loud and obnoxious—a fact she constantly pointed out during her appearances in the comic strip.
Shortly after her introduction in 1954, Charles Schulz received a letter from Elizabeth Swain, a young fan in Pittsburgh, who told him to get rid of Braun because Swain found the character annoying and unfunny. Schulz wrote Swain a letter (which is now in the Library of Congress) saying that he would soon “discard” Braun as requested.
He added a touch of dark humor by saying that Swain would “have the death of an innocent child on your conscience. Are you prepared to accept such responsibility?” Next to his signature, he included a sketch of Charlotte Braun with an ax stuck in her head. Braun showed up in the comic one more time, but then never returned.
Why Senator Joe McCarthy Hated 'It's a Wonderful Life'
You probably know that the American classic It’s a Wonderful Life teaches us that no man is a failure if he has friends. But did you also know that the film irked Senator Joe McCarthy so much that he wanted it banned?
It’s a Wonderful Life is about a guardian angel who helps a suicidal man named George Bailey see the value in his life. Although the film received positive reviews when it premiered in 1946, it underwhelmed at the box office. But when Senator McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee turned their attention to Hollywood, they focused on the movie and its director, Frank Capra. It wasn’t long before the FBI released a memo hinting at Capra’s pinko tendencies.
So, what made Senator McCarthy so angry? The part involving the maligning of fat-cat banker and slumlord Henry Potter. While Bailey (who lends money to the working poor) is the movie’s hero, Henry Potter (who focuses on the financial bottom line alone) is the villain. According to the FBI’s memo, portraying a capitalist in such a negative light was a classic communist trick. Fortunately, Capra had served as a major in the U.S. Army Reserves during World War II and had produced a series of American propaganda films for the government, so he escaped the criticism relatively unscathed.
Meanwhile, opinions about Henry Potter’s character have changed over the years. In light of the housing-market crisis, the fiscally responsible banker may not have been such a bad guy after all. The loans that he tried to prevent George Bailey from handing out were essentially subprime mortgages. Mr. Potter may have just been trying to stop the poor citizens of Bedford Falls from over-leveraging themselves. Who’s the evil capitalist now?
Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons has a name—it’s Jeff Albertson. But that wasn’t the decision of creator Matt Groening. “I was out of the room when [the writers] named him,” he told MTV in 2007. “In my mind, ‘Louis Lane’ was his name, and he was obsessed and tormented by Lois Lane.”
On this date in 1919, Congress approved the 19th Amendment, which would guarantee suffrage to women. The measure was then sent to the states for ratification.
The anti-suffrage movement attacked the power-hungry, unnatural women (as they saw the suffragettes) with word and policy and pen and ink. Here are some of their biggest complaints about the suffragettes, and how they articulated their point of view.
Mayim Bialik has a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA. Her dissertation was titled, “Hypothalamic Regulation in Relation to Maladaptive, Obsessive-Compulsive, Affiliative, and Satiety Behaviors in Prader-Willi Syndrome.”
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. While interning at the food science laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Clarke tested the theory by placing gummy bears and cookies on ceramic tiles contaminated with E. coli.
Her results revealed bad news for clumsy snackers: The munchies picked up the bacteria within the five-second window. Clark’s quirky experiment inspired other food researchers to further investigate the matter. One such scientist, Dr. Paul L. Dawson of Clemson University, showed that food actually follows a “zero-second rule,” meaning that bacteria such as salmonella transfer onto food instantly upon contact.
Thankfully, the news isn’t as dire as it sounds. In a follow-up set of experiments, Clarke tested the bacteria levels of the university’s floors. Her team found very little contamination, even in the most highly trafficked areas of campus. As it turns out, most floors at the University of Illinois are so clean you can eat off of them.
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.
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 data points for reporting the weather. The NWS assigned two-letter codes (LA for Los Angeles, PH for Phoenix, etc.) to each airport for easy reference.
During the 1930s the popularity of air travel exploded, and the International Air Transport Association decided to standardize the industry by assigning each airport a three-letter code. The oldest airports, which had previously been known by a two-letter designation, had an X added to their abbreviation. Incidentally, that sand dune in Kitty Hawk from whence the Wright Brothers made their historic flight has its own IATA designation: FFA, for First Flight Airport.
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.
A Very Specific Question Arby's Customers Were Asking (Frequently) in 2001
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?"