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Gravy Stockings and TNT Hair Dye – Fashion in WW2

LONDON IN THE SPRING OF 1941: EVERYDAY LIFE IN LONDON, ENGLAND© IWM (D 2937) For fashion, even war is no excuse to let standards slip, as many British women found out during WW2.

The Curious Case of Gregory Packer- The Everyman

For over two decades now, if the New York news (or any other present) needs a soundbite or quote from an “everyman” or “man on the street” to round off a story, there has been one man they’ve been able to rely on with an almost staggering level of consistency- Gregory Packer.

What Caused the Red Rain of Kerala?

Between July 25 and September 23, 2001, the people of the southern India state of Kerala witnessed, on numerous occasions an extraordinary sight: blood colored rain.

How Metals are Made

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Do you have a ring on your finger? Is it made from gold, silver, platinum, or another natural metal?

Weekly Wrap Volume 168

This is a weekly wrap of our popular Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here.

Is Water Fluoridation Bad for You?

Clark H. asks: I see you’re taking on many controversies like salt and aspartame. Any chance of you looking at the health risks fluoridation of water?

Did People in the Middle Ages Really Throw Fecal Matter Out of Their Windows?

Aaron H. asks: Did people in England really empty their chamber pots directly into the streets? Although Medieval Britons weren’t exactly the cleanest lot by modern standards (though contrary to popular belief, despite some well-known exceptions, they did, in general, bathe in some form or another relatively regularly), the idea of them just dropping trou and dumping half a pound of fecal matter into the street below isn’t exactly a fair or representative image.

The Man Who Was Nominated for the Nobel Prize 84 Times, But Never Won

Personally nominated for the Nobel Prize a record 84 times, Arnold Johannes Wilhelm Sommerfeld was one of the most influential physicists of all time, both because of his own accomplishments in the field and the many dozens of his students who turned into superstars in the world of science (including having four doctoral students go on to win the Nobel Prize, along with three of his other postgraduate students also taking home the award- the most eventual Nobel laureates all taught by one person).

Secrets of the Avocado

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Inside that textured green skin, it’s ripe with mystery.

The Curious Case of Merkins (aka The “Vagina Wig”)

Called by some a “vagina wig,” the Oxford English Dictionary defines the noun, merkin, as “an artificial covering of hair for the female pubic region.” And although given the recent popularity of meticulous waxing and grooming of one’s nether regions you may think the merkin must be a modern invention, in fact, it has actually been around for at least five centuries.

The Bizarre Hollywood Phenomenon of “Twin Films”

Yachna N. asks: Why do movie studios release near identical movies at the same time? “Twin films” is the term used to describe a peculiar Hollywood phenomenon that just about every year sees different major studios releasing movies with almost identical plots and themes to their competitors current offerings.

Has Anyone Ever Actually Poisoned Or Put Razor Blades or Needles in Halloween Candy?

Lee asks: How many children have died from people poisoning Halloween candy? Remember your mom sorting through your Halloween candy as a kid, looking for signs of ‘tainted’ candy laced with poison, needles or razor blades?

Why are Carved Pumpkins Called “Jack O’ Lanterns”?

Scott T. asks: Why are carved pumpkins called “Jack O’ Lanterns”? The name “Jack O’ Lantern” was originally one of the numerous names given to ignis fatuus (Medieval Latin for “foolish fire”), another of which is “Will O’ the Wisps”, basically the odd light that can occasionally be seen over marshes, swamps, and the like.  “Jack O’ Lantern” first popped up being used this way around the mid-17th century in East Anglia, UK and spread from there through parts of England, Ireland, and Scotland.

The City of Fright

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader If you think the streets of Paris are enchanting, wait till you discover what lurks below.

The Fascinating Reason Witches are Commonly Depicted Flying on Broomsticks

Emily A. asks: Why do witches fly on broomsticks? We’ve heard this one. To get high, of course! But seriously, it’s thought the idea of witches flying around on broomsticks came from the practice of concocting “witches flying ointment” (read  hallucinogens) and then using a broomstick to administer the drug to certain sensitive regions, thereby bypassing some of the negative side effects these hallucinogens cause when taken orally.

The First Horror Movie

The world’s first horror movie begins with a bat flying into a castle then magically turning into a caped demon figure known as Mephistopheles.

Where Did the Idea of Werewolves Come From?

Renae B. asks: Where did the idea of werewolves come from? The clouds part on a dark night to reveal a full moon shining ever so bright.

What Does Bill Gates Carry Around in His Wallet?

Carol R. asks: How much money does Bill Gates carry around with him on a daily basis? We’d bet that the vast majority of people reading this, regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic background, carry the same few basic items with them at all times; a phone, some keys, a few dollars, a debit card, and maybe some I.D are all items you’d reliably expect to find if you asked an average person on the street to turn out their pockets.

What was Up with David Bowie’s Left Eye?

Andy D. asks: What was up with David Bowie’s eye? Did he wear contacts or something to make it like that or have some sort of medical condition?

The Fascinating Family Feud that Led to Adidas and Puma, and Allowed Nike to Dominate the Market

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Here’s the strange story of a family-owned business so dysfunctional that business schools teach it as a lesson in how not to run a company.