Full Archives

List of all posts…or click here for a random post.

  • betwixt genius and insanity, baseball promotions (5/24/2018) - Baseball has a long and rich history of promotional gimmicks. Maybe it’s because they have to fill the stands for ten times as many games as football. Maybe there’s just something about the sport that draws Barnumesque showmen. As Bill Veeck, a team owner and man known for his yeoman’s work in the field of […]
  • manic pixie trivia roundup (5/10/2018) - A roundup of manias, panics, hysterias, delusions, and bamboozlements...
  • disastrous trivia roundup (4/26/2018) - Calamities, fiascoes, debacles: a roundup of things disastrous. •     •     • 1. Occasionally I am moved to ponder the many ways nature can kill you. But I am a connoisseur of the instruments of natural catastrophe. Earthquakes are mundane and wildfires are banal; bathtub gin compared to the 47 Cheval Blanc of natural perfidy: […]
  • blood in, blood out; or, when quackery goes wrong (4/12/2018) - Postbellum Bostonians suffering from consumption, scrofula, and respiratory ailments were importuned to visit the offices of C.L. Blood, M.D. There, they would be administered something he called “oxygenized air” and advertised, confusingly and redundantly, as “A CURE IN ANY CURABLE CURE.” Oxygenized air was merely laughing gas, which was neither a cure nor air, but […]
  • the bone hoax zone (3/29/2018) - If you read the right bible, Genesis 6:4 goes like this: “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” If […]
  • ignatius donnelly, king crank (3/8/2018) - The story of Ignatius Donnelly: a mountebank and charlatan and alternative thinker
  • the traveling salesman (10/7/2017) - “You’ve heard of the amex black card, right? This is sort of like that.” I nodded, and the man lifted the bottom of his tie, inspecting it briefly before brushing away an invisible piece of lint. Five minutes ago, he’d walked into my office dressed like the peak of 1960s Dean Martin masculinity and requested […]
  • rejected movie sequels, vol 2 (9/21/2017) - More movie sequels that didn't make the cut...
  • rejected movie sequels, vol 1 (9/3/2017) - some movie sequels that never happened, including The Bourne series, The Fugitive, and Field of Dreams...
  • processed trivia roundup (5/25/2017) - Rounding up the trivial, featuring shapes, cheeses, cheese foods, enigmas of the mysterious, rogue mercenary teams, and false memory...
  • illusory trivia roundup (5/18/2017) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring courtroom tv, failed soda marketing, metrication, mirages, and corpse flowers...
  • ribbed trivia roundup (4/20/2017) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring papal names, libelous slander, pork arbitrage, and fast-food abominations
  • farmers trivia roundup (4/13/2017) - Time for an old-school roundup of topics that came up at bar trivia: 80s sitcoms, giant flying beasts, compendia of ephemera, and prestigious awards...
  • how to predict the weather (3/16/2017) - The story of Dr Merryweather's Tempest Prognosticator, and how your name determines your profession
  • a partial history of barbed wire (3/2/2017) - A brief history of the invention of barbed wire, the con-man who sold it, and the cowboys who cut it down.
  • a brief history of tire fires (2/9/2017) - The history of tires and the malevolent force of tire fires
  • vintage trivia roundup (8/19/2016) - A roundup of the trivial, dredged up from the distant past...featuring billiards, ping pong, supreme court justices, elements, and the theme song from Ghostbusters II
  • a brief history of miniature golf (7/21/2016) - A brief history of miniature golf, the greatest fad the united states knew in 1930...
  • wedding trivia ii: director’s cut (6/30/2016) - Part 2 of wedding trivia, featuring current events, shapes, and transportation
  • wedding trivia i: director’s cut (6/23/2016) - A recap of wedding-themed bar trivia, with director's commentary, featuring Minnesota trivia, Wyoming trivia, and Washington trivia, with part II next week...
  • a history of vending (5/27/2016) - A brief history of the vending machine, from books to gumballs to live bait...
  • timed trivia roundup (5/12/2016) - A trivial roundup of calendars, clocks, dating conventions, missing time, and lesser-known batman villains.
  • found trivia roundup (4/30/2016) - Heads, ancient cities, ideas, and ill-considered TV shows: a roundup of things found...
  • lost trivia roundup (4/15/2016) - Gold scams, castaways, animal war heroes, desert citadels, and fever dream kids shows in a trivia roundup of things lost...
  • chevy chase trivia roundup (3/17/2016) - The Federal Reserve, a rich man's hunting club, top-secret meetings, a 19th-century female novelist, and a 15th-century fox hunt in the chevy chase trivia roundup...
  • lepidoptera trivia roundup (3/3/2016) - A roundup of trivial things, obliquely, tangentially, and tenuously linked to butterflies, including a 17th-century entomologist, a 20th-century logician, a 19th-century magician, and fake popes...
  • corrupted trivia roundup (2/11/2016) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring corruption, dams, dynamite, corrupt bargains, plunder, and gerrymandering...
  • cashed trivia roundup (1/28/2016) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring cash registers, ATMs, mysterious pits, currency, and Transylvanian princes...
  • the aristocrats (1/14/2016) - The bizarre and deeply fascinating story of Caresse Crosby, an inventor, publisher, and bon vivant of the highest order.
  • 2015, a trivial retrospective (1/12/2016) - A retrospective on the year in trivia—the absurd, whimsical, amusing, and beguiling:
  • island trivia roundup volume 2 (12/11/2015) - More obliquely island-related trivia, featuring a mysterious floating city, phantom islands, animal-human hybrids, island prisons, and HG Wells...
  • a history of anesthesia (10/30/2015) - A history of general anesthesia in practice and in culture, from the "ether day" of 1846 back to 3000 years ago.
  • pirated trivia roundup (10/15/2015) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring pirates, pirate-surgeons, bloodletting, the jetsons, and christian slater
  • Over the Top II: Down the Hatch (10/13/2015) - Over the Top II: Down the Hatch, the tragicomic story of a sequel that will never happen
  • star-crossed trivia roundup (10/2/2015) - A roundup of obliquely star-related trivia, featuring atomic age architecture, a pioneering lady astronomer, a tragic Bavarian zoologist, chewy candies, and a casino...
  • salad days trivia roundup (9/17/2015) - A roundup of the trivia related to national food days, including tabasco, tv dinners, gummy pythons, johnny appleseed, salt domes, and postbellum southern landed gentry
  • dandy trivia roundup (8/14/2015) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring hoaxes, fops, dandies, macaroni, coxcombs, fribbles, and popinjays...
  • belled trivia roundup (7/30/2015) - A roundup of obliquely bell-related trivia, featuring baseball, Civil War spies, giant bells that may or may not exist, fast-food franchises, and Wesley Snipes...
  • tubular trivia roundup (7/18/2015) - A roundup of obliquely tube-related trivia, including potato zealots, vegetable toys, consumption, aqueducts, and Captain America…
  • haberdashed trivia roundup (7/3/2015) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring bloomers, polo shirts, tennis, baseball, union suits, and socks with sandals...
  • The Victorian Search for Gorillas, Evolution, and Humanness (6/25/2015) - A paradigm-shifting concept—evolution by natural selection—was meeting a profoundly hierarchical society obsessed with quantifying distinctions in race, class, gender, culture, and ability. The gorilla was right in the middle, and what followed was Victorian England’s “gorilla wars.”
  • groupish trivia roundup (6/19/2015) - A roundup of the group-based trivial, featuring weirdly-named people and political factions, old-timey basketball logos, and immensely powerful secret societies...
  • leftovers trivia roundup (6/4/2015) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring dolphin movies, moldy cheeses, caves, food laws, the zipper, and chicken-controlled nuclear land mines...
  • rocky trivia roundup (5/21/2015) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring byways, volcanoes, mysterious artifacts, confirmation bias, lemmings, and runestones...
  • credulous trivia roundup (5/7/2015) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring masons, sects, Cagney & Lacey, the father of curioddities, and the Home of Truth...
  • april trivia roundup (4/23/2015) - A roundup of the April 23rd trivial, including the history of beer and civilization, a six million dollar man, seven million dollar woman, and an alien-controlled ape-man...
  • island trivia roundup (4/10/2015) - A roundup of obliquely island-related trivia, featuring remote islands, mutiny, castaways, and gi joe...
  • riotous trivia roundup (3/26/2015) - The various and sundry means, manner, and context of riots throughout history, including corpse snatching, plunder, murder for profit, Welsh genderbending, toll gates, silenced bells, and the medical establishment...
  • Automation is not a Glass Cage (3/24/2015) - Recap/review of "The Glass Cage" by Nicholas Carr, in which he argues that automation is poised to cognitively cripple us, and I explain why he's thinking about the brain totally wrong.
  • the peculiar life of aimee crocker (3/13/2015) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring the heiress slash buddhist slash princess slash mystic slash collector of husbands Aimee Crocker, con men, and yetis.
  • ingles trivia roundup (2/26/2015) - A shingles-induced brief trivia roundup about potato chips...
  • polar trivia roundup (2/12/2015) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring the strange history of the quest for the North Pole, and how that somehow involved meteorites, a fake summitting of McKinley, mail fraud, forgotten people, and maybe Jules Verne...
  • venerated trivia roundup (1/29/2015) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring saints, illnesses named for saints, 1980s medical dramas, Harlem numbers games, mass hallucinations, and hagiographies...
  • opposites trivia roundup (1/15/2015) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring unchecked appetites, extremely specific appetites, pre-enlightenment discoveries, the history of bloodletting, and prosthetic hands...
  • mounded trivia roundup (12/18/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring Black Hawk, the Black Hawk War, the history of lead mining, tonka trucks, lost-and-found tribes, and the pitcher's mound...
  • trivial affairs (12/4/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring dogs, animal testing, agatha christie, witchcraft and poisons, sex scandals, and not-quite-wars...
  • high seas trivia roundup (11/20/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, including the bizarre history of scurvy and its cure, lady pirates, the problem of longitude, and the spelling of Pittsburgh...
  • aged trivia roundup (11/6/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring Danish vikings, sour mash bourbon, fossils, fossil hunters, shark teeth, and geologic timescales...
  • chapeau trivia roundup (10/23/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring hats, hat riots, hatters, rules of etiquette, smurfs, ascetic hermits, urine, Hardee's, and 15th-century feminists...
  • gelatinous trivia roundup (10/9/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring giant puddings, demonyms, food riots, gelatin, Jell-O, and Flemish polymaths...
  • mined trivia roundup (9/26/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, in which I confront my own intellectual shortcomings and learn all about the Comstock lode, silver mining, silver barons, giant tunnels, steam baths, miners, and people nicknamed "Old Pancake"
  • guns, germs, steel, and creeping determinism (9/23/2014) - Review/recap of Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel", a just-so story about how societies came to develop as they did thanks to local geography...
  • syndicated trivia roundup (8/28/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring all you ever wanted to know and more about the Stratemeyer publishing syndicate and the history of juvenile fiction series...
  • muscle car truth facts (8/26/2014) - Some trivial notes on "Engines of Change", mostly about the history of muscle cars, but also horrible names, Lee Iacocca, unbridled masculinity, and the wreck of the Andrea Doria.
  • conflicted trivia roundup (8/1/2014) - Time for an incomplete roundup of feuds, controversies, quarrels, and rows, with stakes ranging from pungent but extremely profitable to wildly superficial but lucrative...
  • intellectual trivia roundup (7/18/2014) - A roundup of the trivial: submarine movies, polymaths, clubs for formal improvement, russian political intrigue, flag myths, and merit badges for intellectuals...
  • america trivia roundup (7/3/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, including baseball, daredevils, trade disputes, monopolistic business practices, union-busting, trucks, factory farming, and unbridled violence.
  • oyster trivia roundup (6/19/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, including oysters, tongers, dredgers, graham crackers, sexual impulses, public health movements, old restaurants, and folk remedies...
  • The Corporation of Beers (6/5/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, including beer history, beer kidnappings, corporate intrigue, one-eyed mascots, caves, St. Paul, and even more beer...
  • sexual outlaw, erotic mystic (5/29/2014) - Recap/review of "Heaven's Bride" by Leigh Eric Schmidt. The story of Ida C. Craddock, a sex educator, free thinker, "scholar of phallic antiquities", and martyr to free speech...
  • being purified by fire (5/7/2014) - Recap/review of "Purified by Fire", by Stephen Prothero, on the history of cremation in the US, and how it went from an affront against god and humanity, to a novelty, to a monetized and otherwise unnoteworthy practice.
  • transportation trivia roundup (4/11/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, including train robberies, botched train robberies, subways, botched subways, paddle boats, sunken paddle boats, boat thieves, vigilante justice, and floating cars...
  • The Dishonesty of Creativity (4/5/2014) - Does creativity make us dishonest? Does dishonesty make us creative? And what is creativity, anyways?
  • technological trivia roundup (3/27/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, including potentially failed hijacking/robberies, letters delivered by horse, torpedos, hollywood stars and avant-garde composers, socialist utopias, and german terrorists...
  • Yellow Journalism and Butchery (3/23/2014) - Recap/review of "The Murder of the Century" by Paul Collins. The ludicrous and nigh-unbelievable story of a dismembered corpse, a love triangle, sensationalized headlines, missing heads, latter-day phrenology, narcissistic and flamboyant lawyers, yellow journalism, and war.
  • hated trivia roundup (3/13/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, including French politicians, unpleasant Renaissance painters, a gay civil rights reformer, the "car of the future", and a pioneering corn geneticist...
  • Six Million Dollar Sight? (3/4/2014) - Thoughts on the hopes for superior vision and better baseball through simple computer game vision training. Rob Deer even makes a brief appearance.
  • Emotions, Expressions, and Signals  (2/25/2014) - A new study raises questions about the universality of emotions, and I discuss Franz Boas, empathy, and a network tv drama starring Tim Roth.
  • wintersports trivia roundup (2/13/2014) - A roundup of the trivial, including yak polo, arts and crafts medals, wrestling pits, tiger hunting, figure skating actresses, chapstick tubes, and ski ballet...
  • License to ill (2/10/2014) - At Medium: The mental gymnastics of moral suasion, risk-taking, and buying organic—how we deceive ourselves and rationalize it.
  • your brain on age (1/30/2014) - Link: your brain on age posted at Medium, thoughts on what happens to an aging brain, and whether those changes are all that bad.
  • atmospheric trivia roundup (12/5/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including balloons, parachutes, high-altitude jumps, low-altitude rapid decelerations, the parachuted and parachute-less, the history of blimps, balloon scions...
  • foodish trivia roundup (11/21/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including frankfurters, Frankfurters, beer vats, molasses vats, coconut wars, sandwich battles, and island fortresses...
  • arctic trivia roundup (11/7/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including lost (and found) arctic explorers, animal sexual monsters, penguins, a crazed loner who may have been a time traveler, gunfights, survival, being icebound, and The Thing...
  • rigged trivia roundup (10/23/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, featuring 18th-century lottery hacking, equatorial expeditions, kool-aid, pavlov and his dogs, a guy named twitmeyer, and pioneering but clashing female physicians...
  • hollywood trivia roundup (10/10/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including fatty arbuckle, sensationalized stories, the Hays code, scandal, scandal, scandal, and more scandal...
  • autumnal trivia roundup (9/25/2013) - A roundup of the trivial: plunging for distance, stings gone wrong, homophobia, roman empresses, mad scientists, lead poisoning, and cartoon mercenaries...
  • gamey trivia roundup (9/12/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including board games as morality plays, prophets and seers, Fireball Island, depopulated desert cities, celebrity spokespeople, and Atlantis...
  • utopian trivia roundup (8/29/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including early comic strips, bad rarebit, socialist utopias, large silverware companies, colliding trains, soda, bad publicity, and the comfort of a hammock...
  • synthesized trivia roundup (8/17/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including synthesizers, electronic lullabies, streetcars, corporate subterfuge, espionage devices, B-movies, looney tunes, and tycoonery...
  • where we’re going… (8/6/2013) - Recap/review of "The Big Roads" by Earl Swift, a story of how freeways came to be, which turns out to be far more interesting than it has any right to be.
  • ghost town trivia roundup (8/1/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including ghost towns, lighthouses, man-killing worms, fake gunfights, Tremors, and little-known civil war battles...
  • out of the flames (7/23/2013) - Review/recap of "Out of the Flames" by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. The story of Michael Servetus, John Calvin, and how the printing press changed European theocracy and allowed their ideas to become permanent, rather than fleeting...
  • striking trivia roundup (7/18/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including global circumnavigation, strikes, roman rebellion, pop tarts, gin-based debauchery, and the standard 50-gallon drum...
  • freedom trivia roundup (7/4/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including silly putty, play doh, fossil intrigue, shipwrecks, Peking Man, gunpowder, fireworks, torture devices, and freedom...
  • destro trivia roundup (6/20/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including soda, bad poetry, bridge collapses, lithium, scottish mercenaries, public hangings, and frontier justice...
  • pied trivia roundup (6/6/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including pied pipers, child demagogues, bat bombs, pigeon missiles, milkshakes, blizzards, transgender spies, and Nazi infiltration of the US...
  • oniony trivia roundup (5/23/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including choose your own adventure books, pee, pee taxes, onions, pork bellies, market manipulation, moldy cantaloupes, antibiotics, and economical cars...
  • rolling trivia roundup (5/9/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including giant wooden airplanes, prehistoric fungi, talking pigs, Nazi soda, well-mannered astronomers, drunken donkeys, and US hospitality.
  • buttery trivia roundup (4/25/2013) - A roundup of the trivial, including butter, lubricants, the mexican-american war, sockless loafers, Glenn Frey, Miami Vice, a tragic figure in medicine, and doctors not washing their hands.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s