Our Top 16 Stories of August
1. 24 Vintage Photographs of Abraham Lincoln Being Awesome, by Lucas Reilly * 2. 11 Geeky Wedding and Engagement Rings, by Jill Harness * 3. 11 Time Traveler Urban Legends That Pretty Much Debunk Themselves, by Bill DeMain * 4. Why Do Olympians Wear That Colorful Tape?, by Lauren Hansen * 5. 13 Disturbing Works of Art From History, by M. Asher Cantrell * 6. 19 Old-Timey Slang...
11 Really Terrible 19th-Century Beauty Tips
When Barkham Burroughs wrote his Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information in 1889, he devoted a full chapter to the “secrets of beauty,” and for good reason. To quote Burroughs, “If women are to govern, control, manage, influence and retain the adoration of husbands, fathers, brothers, lovers or even cousins, they must look their prettiest at all times.” Here are 11 of his tips...
In 1988, George H.W. Bush briefly considered...
Landov As lasting as the Bush legacy turned out to be, Bush Sr.’s 1988 election didn’t always seem so rosy. At one point Bush was 18 points behind, and campaign chairman James Baker (later Secretary of State) knew they needed a shot in the arm. “We were way behind. Honestly, [Clint Eastwood] was suggested in not an altogether unserious – Well, he was a mayor. He was a Republican mayor.” ...
12 College Classes We Wish Our Schools Had Offered
It’s that time of year! Here’s a look at all the fascinating classes you wish your school put on the course list.
Alternate Histories: 7 Ways the World Could Be...
What if the South had won the Civil War? If President Kennedy finished out his term? Alternate history, long popular with fiction writers, has also been explored by historians and journalists. Here are some of their intriguing conclusions.
How Classic Video Games Got Their Names
…and what they were almost called.
9 Crazy Things People Found Inside Their Walls
The practice of hiding things behind walls is pervasive, from the illegal to the superstitious to the just plain insane.
19 Wildly Dangerous Home Remedies From 100 Years...
It’s hard to understand just how far medical science has progressed over the last hundred years … until you look at what passed for advisable treatment back then.
Twins Who Tried the Old "My Twin Did It" Legal...
Does it ever work? (via @Slate)
Just in Case
The 1927 U.S. Plan to Invade Canada
Week in Review
In case you weren’t obsessively refreshing mentalfloss.com all week, here’s what you missed… 1. The Actor Inside R2-D2 Was Not a Fan of the Guy in C-3PO * 2. 13 Disturbing Pieces of Art from History * 3. 10 Things Created Over a Couple of Beers * 4. Why Aren’t There B Batteries? * 5. How Every School in the AP Top 25 Got Its Nickname * 6. Will the Real Super...
The Actor Inside R2-D2 Was Not a Fan of the Guy in...
“I thought it was just me he didn’t get on with,” Kenny Baker told Metro, “but recently I’ve found out he doesn’t get on with anyone. He’s been such an awkward person over the years…He really degraded me and made me feel small – for want of a better expression.” More: 10 Things You Should Know About the Actor Inside R2-D2
The Dirty Etymology of Everyday Words
In the end, it all comes back to balls.
5 Newly Discovered Creatures That Will Haunt Your...
Think long and hard before clicking this.
Paul Ryan or Alex P. Keaton?
Earlier today, we asked if you could tell the difference between Joe Biden and Michael Scott. Now let’s compare the quotes of Mitt Romney’s VP nominee and the greatest young Republican of the 1980s. Take the Quiz: Paul Ryan or Alex P. Keaton?
10 Brilliant Ideas People Had in Bars
After a few beers, even the most ridiculous ideas start to seem like The One That Will Make Millions. Sometimes, though, those ideas actually pan out. Here are a few reasons to take your next tipsy brainstorming session a little more seriously.
Joe Biden or Michael Scott?
The Vice President can be kind of a loose cannon out on the campaign trail, and his mouth sometimes gets him in trouble—the same kind of trouble Michael Scott often found at Dunder Mifflin. Can you tell which famous Scranton native said what? Take the Quiz: Joe Biden or Michael Scott?
Why Aren't There B Batteries?
Matt Soniak answers another big question.
4 Historical Royal Scandals Juicier Than Strip...
A few days ago, photos of Prince Harry cavorting naked with a blonde hit the web. While the prince has had his share of controversy in the past, including attending a party in a Nazi uniform and getting caught smoking weed, he has a long way to go to catch up to some of his scandalous relatives. Continue Reading: 4 Historical Royal Scandals Juicier Than Strip Billiards
Why Can't You Remember Being a Baby?
Four scientifically plausible theories.
How Americans in the Great Lakes Region Are...
“In 1972, three linguists christened the phenomenon the Northern Cities Vowel Shift or, more simply, the Northern Cities Shift (NCS). What they observed may be the most important change in English pronunciation in centuries.” More: How Americans in the Great Lakes Region Are Revolutionizing English [via Slate]
The Airline That Canceled 85% of Its Flights
The brainchild of Ken Moss, a 31-year-old Syracuse dropout, the Freelandia Air Travel Club (1973-74) enticed passengers with promises of low-cost travel, natural food, an in-flight waterbed, and a hopeful slogan (“Not-For-Profit”). For an initial membership fee of $50, you were eligible for too-good-to-be-true fares. After Moss appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, membership...
Buildings Shaped Like What They Sell
The Longaberger Company (Newark, OH) and nine more buildings shaped like what they sell.
Does God Hate Swearing?
“How does light look in slow motion?”
In this video, you can SEE LIGHT TRAVELING THROUGH WATER. You can see light moving across the surface of a tomato. It’s nuts. Watch: The Slowest Slo-Mo Ever Recorded
13 Disturbing Works of Art from History
The media is often criticized for showing violent content. But as these fine art examples prove, violent and disturbing imagery is nothing new. Continue Reading: 13 Disturbing Works of Art from History
This week, Nintendo released “New” Super Mario Bros. 2. But “Old” Super Mario Bros. 2 isn’t what you think it is. Here’s the odd story of how Nintendo crammed Mario into places he was never meant to be.
The Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships were...
The winner told Reuters he prepared for the event by “mainly drinking.”
Last Week's Most Popular Stories
In case you weren’t obsessively refreshing mentalfloss.com all week, here’s what you missed: 1. 11 Time Traveler Urban Legends That Pretty Much Debunk Themselves * 2. 19 Old-Timey Slang Terms to Bolster Your Vocabulary * 3. 11 More Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent * 4. Fake Science 101: 11 Brilliantly Inaccurate Scientific Explanations * 5. 11 Pop Culture...
24 Library-Centric Sites We Love
See the whole list: 24 Library-Centric Sites We Love
16 Old-Timey Slang Terms to Describe Being Drunk
As I continue flipping through my copy of the Dictionary of American Slang (1967), it seems like every page has a new term for “drunk.” We’ve discussed “on a toot” (a drunken spree) and “the zings” (a hangover), but here are some new old words to try out on your boozy friends. 1. Pigeon-eyed * 2. Full as a tick * 3. Squiffed * 4. Striped * 5. Seeing snakes More: 16 Old-Timey Slang Terms to...
19 Old-Timey Slang Terms to Bolster Your...
I recently picked up a copy of the Dictionary of American Slang (1967), and I can’t put it down. Here are some of the words and phrases I’ll be awkwardly shoehorning into conversation. 1. In the ketchup: Operating at a deficit * 2. John Hollowlegs: A hungry man [hobo use] * 3. Lobbygow: One who loafs around an opium den in hopes of being offered a free pipe * 4. Happy cabbage: A sizable...
The Paperback Revolution
Half a century before e-books turned publishing upside down, a different format threatened to destroy the industry. Here’s a little perspective: In 1939, gas cost 10 cents a gallon at the pump. A movie ticket set you back 20 cents. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, the year’s bestselling hardcover book, was $2.75. For a nation suffering 20 percent unemployment, books were an impossible...
The Texas Horned Lizard is a scary-looking creature. Brown, plump and perfectly camouflaged in its native sandy environment, its first line of defense is its spiky demeanor. If the sharp spikes and horns don’t ward of predators, the lizard steps it up a notch and squirts a well-aimed stream of blood out of its eyes. The stream of blood, which can go as far as 5 feet, is mixed with a...
Might As Well Jump
Philippe Halsman called his photographic technique “Jumpology,” stating that “When you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping and the mask falls so that the real person appears.” More: 10 Photos of Celebrities Jumping for History’s Most Persuasive Photographer
And the Rest!
11 Songs Inspired by Literature * 11 Supersized Sandwiches Over 1100 Calories * 11 Close Encounters with Sharks * 11 Pop Culture References Younger Readers Won’t Get * 11 Strange Things You Might Put In Your Gas Tank * 11 Geeky Couples Portraits We Love * 11 Muppets Who Made 11 or Fewer Muppet Show Appearances * 11 Brilliantly Inaccurate Scientific Explanations
On the 11th Day of Every Month...
…we put up at least 11 ‘11 lists’ (like a ‘10 list’ only slightly longer). But when the 11th falls on a weekend we push the celebration to Monday. So although timing-wise it makes slightly less sense this month, the stories are worth a look. Here are the 11 lists we’ve run so far today.. 11 Game-Inspired Cakes * 11 Brilliantly Inaccurate Scientific...
11 More Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent
It seems no matter how great the English language is, there are plenty of mots justes missing from its lexicon. Here, indulge in a third and final volume of wonderful words and phrases you might want to start working into conversation. 11 Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent
11 Time Traveler Urban Legends That Pretty Much...
Despite photographic evidence and eyewitness accounts, these tales of time travel were too good to be true.
Last Week's Most Popular Stories
In case you weren’t obsessively refreshing mentalfloss.com all week, here’s what you missed. 1. 5 Olympians Who Sold Their Gold Medals * 2. 11 Geeky Wedding and Engagement Rings * 3. 4 Times Olympians Refused Their Medals * 4. 11 of the Craziest Events in Olympic History * 5. The Science of “Breaking the Seal” * 6. 10 Lost Treasures That Could Make You Very Rich * 7. Does...
Quiz: College Applicant or The Most Interesting...
There’s a famous (fictional?) college application essay that’s been bouncing around the Internet for years. “I am a dynamic figure,” the essay begins, “often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention.” It goes on like that for paragraphs and...
"How Do You Feel About Wednesday?"
11 Offbeat College Essay Questions
13 Brazen Harry Potter Knock-Offs
“Life at the Dursley house turns awkward when Dudley starts dating a belly dancer.” Here are the plot summaries for a few of Harry Potter’s unauthorized adventures.
In 1930, seal hunters found the bodies, journals, and undeveloped film of Swedish explorers who’d tried to fly a balloon to the North Pole in 1897. Here is the story of their doomed expedition, and the photos that helped piece it together.
Does Wedding Rice Really Make Birds Explode?
Matt Soniak answers another one of life’s big questions.
11 Geeky Wedding & Engagement Rings
DeviantArt user ushiyasha designed this Zelda Triforce-themed ring in Photoshop and had it custom-made by the good folks over at Roger & Hollands. Lots More Here: 11 Geeky Wedding & Engagement Rings
The Science of "Breaking the Seal"
If you like beer, and like it in large quantities, this might be a familiar scenario: You sit down at the bar, get a beer and drink it. You drink another one. Maybe a third. Things have gone well up to this point, but now you have to pee. So you go. Once you return to your seat and keep drinking, though, it feels like you’ve crossed a point of no return, and you have to pee again and again. ...
Remembering Reebok’s "Dan and Dave" Campaign 20...
Despite a letdown of Olympic proportions, Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson were part of one of history’s most memorable marketing campaigns. Continue Reading: Dan and Dave, 20 Years Later
4 Times Olympians Refused Their Medals
Getty Images South Korean fencer Shin A-Lam provided one of the indelible images of the 2012 London Olympics when she remained on the mat for an hour-long, tearful protest after losing to Germany’s Britta Heidemann in an individual epee semifinal match. Shin’s coach claimed Heidemann’s winning hit came after the final second on the clock, which was being controlled by a 15-year-old British...