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An Endless Cycle- Taxing Blank Cassettes and “Killing Music”


In today’s era of streaming and YouTube where we as consumers have the power to pick and choose the songs we listen to and curate our own playlists, the idea of a homemade mixtape is either quaint or completely alien depending on how old you are.

The Story Behind the “Happiest Man in China” Photo


Rob B. asks: Is the happy Chinese guy picture fake and who is the guy shown? For much of the early history of photography smiling in photographs was almost unheard of for various reasons.

Network Origins: Fox


The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader (For more in this series, see: A Scheme to Sell More Radios, the Founding of NBC; Network Origins: CBS; and Network Origins: ABC) In 1987 Fox became the first broadcast network that really gave ABC, CBS, and NBC a run for their money.

Robert Frost’s Commonly Misinterpreted “The Road Not Taken” and the Role it Played in the Death of His Best Friend


Robert Frost is one of the most critically acclaimed American poets of the 20th century, which is a roundabout way of saying you almost certainly studied one of his poems in school.

Emily Warren Roebling and the Brooklyn Bridge


To this day, the Brooklyn Bridge remains a monumental civil engineering feat. Connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn and extending across the East River, the bridge is a New York City icon.

Francis Russell and One of the Most Influential Haircuts in History


Generally speaking, most men these days tend to sport closely cropped haircuts. If you happen to be one of the men that enjoys having a neatly trimmed, easy to maintain ‘do you can thank an unpopular English tax and a bet made by a duke for saving you countless minutes every morning.

The Life Saving Animal Blood Worth $60,000 Per Gallon and the Truth About the Colour of Spider Blood


Kay P. asks: Is spider blood really blue? When it comes to spiders, people generally know two facts about them- that you swallow around eight of them per year and that their blood is bright blue.

Why Does Vladimir Putin Walk So Weird?


Zach L. asks: Why does Vladimir Putin walk with one arm moving and the other stuck at his side? While there is no single correct way to walk, most of us have a gait where we swing each arm forward when its opposing leg moves forward; likewise, as with the length of the stride, which is generally the same for both legs, the distance of the arm swing is usually about the same for both the left and right arms.

Network Origins: ABC


The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader (For more in this series, see: A Scheme to Sell More Radios, the Founding of NBC and Network Origins: CBS) When NBC was forced to break up its radio broadcasting monopoly and spin off one of its two networks, it decided to get rid of the least profitable one.

The Bizarre World of Cicadas


Cicadas are big, green and gross. They fly, have giant eyes and make loud clicking noises. (A male swarm of these insects can produce noise at over 100 dB!

Network Origins: CBS


The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader (For more in this series, see: A Scheme to Sell Radios, the Founding of NBC) CBS trailed NBC through most of its radio years but zoomed ahead—and stayed there—when the TV era began.

Is Trial by Combat a Hollywood Invention?


Marcus M. asks: Was trial by combat to determine if someone was innocent or not ever really a thing or is it just another Hollywood invention?

The First Joke


David N. asks: What is the first joke ever told? Born from cultures we can only read about and making fun of customs we don’t always understand, many of the world’s oldest jokes, to a modern audience, simply aren’t that funny.

The CIA’s Undetectable Poison Dart Gun


Hollywood spies often have a myriad of amazing devices at their disposal for getting rid of bad guys in a clandestine way.  It turns out, occasionally so do real spies.  Exhibit A: the CIA’s “undetectable” poison dart gun that near silently shot frozen darts comprised of an unspecified, undetectable poison.

The Curious Case of the Lead Mask Deaths


On August 21, 1966, after receiving a tip of dead bodies high on a rugged hill in southeastern Brazil, authorities discovered two formally dressed male corpses in waterproof coats, partly covered with grass and each wearing eye masks made of lead.

Can Staying Awake Too Long Really Kill You?


Valerie C asks: Can staying awake too long really kill you? Every college student knows the eye-stinging pain of a caffeine-induced all-nighter.  It’s been well documented that prolonged sleep deprivation will lead to lower cognitive and motor function, as well as impaired memory; it might even give you the tired-giggles.  No one has ever definitively shown why sleep is necessary for our survival, and no person has ever had sleep deprivation listed as their cause of death.  As prominent sleep researcher John Allan Hobson states “The only known function of sleep is to cure sleepiness”.  So, can sleep really kill you?

Network Origins: NBC


The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader The broadcast TV networks no longer monopolize the airwaves, but they still wield tremendous influence.

The Curious Case of Pablo EskoBear- The “Cocaine Bear”


On September 11, 1985 an elderly Kentucky man named Fred Myers awoke to find a dead man lying on his driveway.

The Spirits of Lily Dale


The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Since 1879, residents of a quaint town in upstate New York have mediated conversations between loved ones—parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters.

The Very Canadian Origin of “Hawaiian” Pizza


Jim L. asks: What sick and twisted person invented Hawaiian pizza? On June 8, 2017, Greek-born, Canadian-bred pizza maker Sam Panopoulos died.


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