10 Books That Will Change How You See History

History doesn't have to be the stultifying grind you remember from high school. It can be shocking, and funny, and sad — and even if you don't remember all the dates and faces, it can leave you knowing more about the world. Here are 10 popular history books that will change your view of reality. » 2/24/15 10:15am 2/24/15 10:15am

10 Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You'd Get From Fantasy Books

Some tropes are so ingrained in Medieval-inspired fantasy stories that it's tempting to think that they represent real aspects of Medieval life. But often these stories are just reinforcing myths and misconceptions about life in the Middle Ages. » 2/19/15 11:00am 2/19/15 11:00am

A Short, Freakish History of Mothers Harming Their Children For Money

At the end of the sixteenth century, there was an infant in France with an excess of skin on its head. The parents of the child were poor and carried their infant from town to town, putting him on display for profit. When they reached Paris, a magistrate questioned them, suspecting the pair of fraud. The parents… » 2/17/15 2:10pm 2/17/15 2:10pm

10 Real-Life Female Spies Who Deserve Their Own Movie Franchises

You may be familiar with the espionage efforts of female spies like Josephine Baker and Mata Hari, whose lives have been committed time and time again to film. But there are numerous female spies who — even if we don't agree with all their politics — led fascinating lives, ones that could fill entire movie franchises. » 2/10/15 11:07am 2/10/15 11:07am

10 Things People Once Complained Would Ruin The English Language

You've probably heard that English is being ruined — by the Internet, by texting, by Americans, by young people who have no respect for proper grammar. But it turns out that people have always worried over English, and over the centuries, have accused all sorts of things of "ruining" the language. » 2/06/15 10:08am 2/06/15 10:08am

Why Did Japanese People Stop Performing Seppuku?

Seppuku, a highly ritualized form of suicide that involved cutting one's own stomach, was once part of the bushido samurai code, and considered an honorable way to die and, until the 20th century, was quite common. So what happened? Why did this practice die out? » 1/09/15 11:00am 1/09/15 11:00am

Here's Why Flight Attendants Don't Like Being Called 'Stewardess'

Flight attendants have a job that holds a lot of prestige in the eyes of most travelers, and they get called a lot of different things while doing their jobs — waitress, m'am, hey you, miss, air hostess, and trolley dolly. But one moniker that has pretty much gone out the emergency exit door is "stewardess," and… » 1/07/15 9:10am 1/07/15 9:10am

How Two 18th Century Women Fell in Love and Invented Modern Romance

Romance hasn't always been the stuff of bodice rippers and bad vampire movies. Back in the 18th century, the word "romantic" meant something akin to "foolish" or "fanciful." But then a bunch of hipster sentimentalists changed everything — and invented the idea of love as we know it today. » 1/05/15 2:40pm 1/05/15 2:40pm

The Legend of Countess Margaret, Who Birthed 365 Mouse-Sized Children

Here is how the story goes: One day, the Countess Margaret of Henneberg met a poor woman who said she was carrying twins. The countess was confounded by the prospect of birthing two children at the same time. She told the poor woman that the only way twins were possible was if they had two different fathers. Outraged,… » 1/05/15 1:10pm 1/05/15 1:10pm

The Future of Women on Earth May Be Darker Than You Thought

It's easy to get caught up in the internet gender war trainwreck, where we're still arguing over whether women belong in tech or rape victims are liars. But let's set that shit aside and take the long view: Do we have any evidence that the future will bring greater freedom to women, or should we expect more dystopia? » 1/02/15 12:00pm 1/02/15 12:00pm

The History of Virgin Births

Zebedee spends her days largely alone, nervously swimming in a clear aquarium, there for the entertainment of tourists dining at Abu Dubai's Burj Al Arab hotel. Surrounded by only a few fish, with nary a male shark in sight, Zebedee has defied biology. For the last four years, the tiger shark has experienced… » 12/24/14 9:00am 12/24/14 9:00am

​The Most Miserable Princess Ever: Sisi, Empress Elisabeth of Austria

Earlier this month, fashion's fanciest gathered in Salzburg for the annual Chanel Métiers d'Art collection. The runway show, meant to showcase the brand's couture bona fides, was held in a palace, featured Alpine-inspired looks and models looped around a centerpiece laden with fruits and sweets. To launch the… » 12/18/14 9:00am 12/18/14 9:00am

Lady Colin: The Victorian Not-Quite-Divorcée Who Scandalized London

Gertrude Elizabeth Blood was 22 when her mother brought her to Scotland in search of a suitable husband. One fateful September night in 1880, she caught the eye of Lord Colin Campbell, son of the Duke of Argyll. » 11/11/14 2:30pm 11/11/14 2:30pm

This Trove of Case Records from a Victorian Asylum Is Fascinating

Here is an unsettling way to while away the hours on this muggy October day: Browsing case records from a Victorian asylum. They're not exactly a lark! » 10/29/14 5:40pm 10/29/14 5:40pm

9 Real People Who May Have Inspired Fairy Tales

Fairy tales and folklore come from a variety of sources, changing as they are told and retold. And some of these tales have been inspired by real historical figures, whose lives either formed the genesis of the story or altered it along the way. So what is fact and what is fiction? » 10/08/14 10:00am 10/08/14 10:00am

​The Big Book of Female Killers: Mary Ann Cotton, the Arsenic Queen

10 Lessons From Real-Life Revolutions That Fictional Dystopias Ignore

Today's genre books are full of future dystopias, which only have one weakness: teenagers. And everybody knows that most dystopias are kind of contrived. But here are 10 lessons from real-life rebellions against repressive regimes, that we wish the creators of fictional dystopias would pay attention to. » 9/15/14 10:11am 9/15/14 10:11am

The 7 Deadliest Fashion Trends Of All Time

Keeping up with fashion trends can sometimes be uncomfortable and expensive. But trying a new style or two is typically not life-threatening — except in the case of these dangerous trends, that maimed (and sometimes killed) anyone brave enough to sport them. » 6/24/14 10:34am 6/24/14 10:34am