Monthly Archive: November 2014

England’s 7,000-Year-Old Footprints

There are few places that allow us to get close to the everyday life of our Neolithic ancestors—one place is Formby Point on England’s west coast. Once an expanse of muddy hunting grounds and today a beach, Formby is the site of the fleeting glimpse of traces of our ancestors. As erosion takes its toll on the ancient site, footprints once dried in the mud and preserved in the sand slowly come to the surface—and vanish within hours. Studying the footprints has given us an oddly intimate look into what happened on the beach 7,000 years ago; from hunting deer to children that play in the sand alongside their parents, they’re not too different from us.

The Stupid Limping Fad Of Victorian Britain

After her marriage to Prince Albert, Alexandra of Denmark became a British superstar and fashion icon. Devoted fans copied her dresses and necklaces, but things got really weird after Alexandra developed a pronounced limp. Suddenly, women across the UK were limping around on mismatched shoes, all in the name of fashion.

How The US Government Betrayed Charles Horman

In 1973, American journalist Charles Horman found himself sitting on the story of a lifetime. The Chilean military, under the control of Augusto Pinochet, had just overthrown the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende and there were rumors that the US was involved. So when Horman overheard US military personnel boasting about their role in the coup, he naturally assumed it would lead to a front page headline. What he couldn’t have known that it would lead to was his own gruesome execution . . . and a search for justice that lasted over 40 years.

The Terrible Attack On Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home

Built in Wisconsin, Taliesin was home to Frank Lloyd Wright and his mistress Martha Borthwick. On the outside, the house was an architectural wonder. On the inside, something was very wrong, especially with Julian Carlton. The household servant, Carlton mysteriously snapped and, one day in 1914, went on a rampage straight out of a horror movie.

The Difference Between Hobos, Tramps And Bums

Hobo, tramp, and bum are all terms for a person who’s homeless and without a steady job. While most folks use these words interchangeably, there is a slight difference between the three—especially to those who live this lifestyle. To be precise, a hobo is someone who travels from place to place looking for work, a tramp is someone who travels but avoids work whenever possible, and a bum doesn’t care to work or travel.

The Bizarre Practice Of Staging Civil War Photographs

During the American Civil War, photography was just coming into its heyday. For the first time, civilians were able to see the horrors of the battlefield—days, weeks, and months after the fighting. Photographers, most notably Alexander Gardner, saw their documentation of the battles as a duty to capture the most moving images they could. And when they couldn’t find the right shot, they’d make it by moving the bodies and occasionally adding props.

When Britain Tried To Stop Smugglers With A Hedge

We’ve all heard stories about how Britain was notorious for imposing taxes on their colonies. One of those taxes was the infamous Salt Tax, which led to the nonviolent protest that kick-started Gandi’s career as an activist. Before that, though, the British needed a way to regulate salt and make sure that all the proper taxes were paid on it—so they built a 3,700-kilometer (2,300 mi) hedge, mostly of dwarf Indian plum.

The Incredible American Exhibition In Soviet Moscow

In 1959, the Americans invaded Moscow. Only they weren’t soldiers with guns. They were artists and fashion models, tour guides and salesmen, and even a few futuristic robots. They were part of the American National Exhibition, an expo that attracted three million curious Soviet citizens, all hoping to get a glimpse of what Americans were really like.

The Strange Teaching Career Of Nikolai Gogol

Nikolai Gogol, the famed author of Dead Souls, and arguably the most influential writer in Russian history, once tried to teach a class he was not remotely qualified for. He missed most of the lectures, often mumbled incoherently, and showed up at the exam wearing a handkerchief around his head and complaining of a toothache. He had another professor actually administer the testing.