Apr
06
2012
3

What Victorian trades and professions had the weirdest names?

Velocipede, Victorian fashion, zebra clothAnyone who’s looked in a 19th century street directory while researching their family history will have seen job descriptions and business names that are frankly puzzling. A twister? A japanner? What kind of work did these people do? What were those manufacturers making? Recently I was asked to help figure out the facts behind this [more...]

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Apr
26
2011
2

Why do so many people believe conspiracy theories?

Guinea pigs launch a <div style=Men never landed on the moon — the pictures and TV footage we have of the first moonwalk were actually produced in a California warehouse. The destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, wasn’t a terror plot — it was a nefarious deed carried out by rogue elements in the President George [more...]

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Dec
07
2010
3

What is the origin of holiday trees?

holiday treeFirst you might notice the wording of the question asking about ‘holiday’ trees rather than Christmas trees but I am not being anti-Christmas about it. The concept of a decorated tree to celebrate the shortest days of winter is a universal phenomenon and not just a “copy of Christmas” as many in the West want [more...]

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Nov
24
2010
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What is Christmas vs Xmas?

chi-rhoWell folks, it is the Christmas Season again and the annual argument about the spelling of the holiday, Christmas vs Xmas is well underway. I actually support the more widespread use of Xmas over Christmas as it is more traditional and has the weight of history behind it. The annual argument often goes along the [more...]

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Nov
11
2010
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Where Can I Find Free Obituaries?

funeral free obituariesThere’s nothing quite like a good obituary. In a concise and usually heartfelt manner, you get a wonderful overview of the highlights and accomplishments of a person’s life, their important relationships, information on schools and careers, and perhaps just a hint of some of the darker aspects of their time here on Earth. There isn’t [more...]

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Nov
03
2010
6

What is a glass harmonica?

glass harmonicaWhat would you think of a musical instrument variously accused of causing nervous disorders, domestic squabbles, premature deliveries, ‘fatal disorders’, and convulsions in animals? The musical instrument was even banned from a German town by orders of the police for ruining the health of people and disturbing public order (a child died during a concert).  [more...]

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Oct
21
2010
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Who are the Mandan Indians?

mandan indiansThe Mandans are Native Americans historically living next the Missouri River and two of its tributaries which are the Heart and Knife Rivers located in present-day North and South Dakota.  Unlike other Plains Indians, they established permanent villages and farms growing corn, beans, squash and tobacco.  Though like other Plains Indians, they did participate in [more...]

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Oct
20
2010
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What is Rock Art?

rock artArchaeologically, “rock art” is a term applied to any human made marking on a ‘natural’ stone surface.  Relief carvings on a temple wall, for example, cannot be included regardless of how primitive they seem as the stone surface has been ‘prepared’ to receive the sculpture and is no longer ‘natural.’ Rock art is divided into [more...]

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Jun
09
2010
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What was the Mosman Debating Society?

mosman-debating-societyThe Mosman Debating Society of Sydney, Australia flourished from its inception in 1917 until some time after 1985. Before 1957 (when television commenced in Australia) the Mosman Debating Society was a premier venue for the formation of public opinion and the dissemination of ideas, and its debates were regularly covered by the press. Originally only [more...]

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May
19
2010
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What is Aquitaine famous for?

eleanor-of-aquitaineAquitaine is the most south-westerly region of France, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west, and Spain to its south. Aquitaine is famous for its history, with evidence of prehistoric human settlement such as the painted cave of Lascaux within Aquitaine’s Périgueux area (which is sometimes known as the cradle of mankind). The Romans ruled [more...]

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