Two pages from the Grolier Codex, a controversial Maya codex. It appears to be pre-Columbian. But its authenticity is in doubt, and scientific examinations have been inconclusive. The codex’s text contains an almanac based on Venus, the planet, and its four stations.
Skipping rope in Harlem, New York, 1946. Photographed by Fred Sass.
A tribe known as the Totonacs were the first civilization known to grow and cultivate vanilla pods, sometime in the 1400s CE. They mainly used them for medicinal or religious purposes, not culinary ones like vanilla is used for today. The Totonacs believed vanilla was a gift from the gods. Pretty much literally. In Totonac lore, vanilla orchids sprouted from the blood of a runaway deity and her forbidden mortal lover, both of whom were captured and slain by the princess’s father.
Actress Colleen Moore, a flapper and film star from 1917 until the early 1930s, said a flapper is a woman who “likes her freedom, and she likes to be a bit daring, and snap her cunning, little manicured fingers in the face of the world.”
An unusual Hollywood star made his debut at the age of three in 1922. He was Rin Tin Tin, the dashing dog! He made a total of 27 screen appearances until his death, in 1932.
Bamboos are the fastest-growing plants on earth. Trees such as oak or apple can take up to 120 years to reach maturity. Most bamboo trees take 5 to 7 years to reach maturity. Yet apple trees bloom every year. Bamboo blooms once every 60 to 130 years!
And, even more mysteriously, all the bamboo of that species bloom at the same time. All over the world, from Japan to France to the USA. And records from China dating to 919 CE tell us this has been happening for a long, long time. It is as if the plants carry an an internal clock ticking away until the preset alarm goes off simultaneously. This mass flowering phenomenon is called "gregarious flowering." And botanists are still stumped as to why, exactly, bamboo does this --although of course there are plenty of hypotheses!
In 1795, nearly one-sixth of the entire United States federal budget was sent to Algeria as a ransom for 115 American sailors captured by Barbary pirates. The federal government had just been formed in 1790.
"The famous mathematician Stanislaw Ulam thought of the following paradox, which is now known as the Ulam Paradox: When President Richard Nixon was appointed to office, on the first day he met his cabinet he said to them: ‘None of you are yes-men, are you?’ And they all said, ‘NO!’"
Raymond Smullyan, A Mixed Bag, 2016
"Romanian Piper, 1910." His photograph was taken on Ellis Island, as he was attempting to immigrate to the US. This man's sheepskin garments are noticeably plain, indicating his relative lack of financial wealth. He is likely a farm laborer, but the fact that he has posed with an instrument could suggest that his earnings were supplemented at least in part by playing music. The waistcoat, known as a pieptar, was worn by both men and women and came in a variety of shapes, sizes, and ornamental styles depending on the region. Click on the image to see the colorized version of the portrait!
After Brazil joined World War II on the side of the allies in 1942, there were riots against German-Brazilians and their businesses in almost every major city. Brazil is home to the second-largest population of German-Austrians outside of Germany and Austria. The largest population is in the United States.