Jun 19 2017132 Crystal King on Feast of Sorrow

Crystal King is the author of Feast of Sorrow, a novel about ancient Roman cooking that takes the first known cookbook as its inspiration. We talked about what it would have been like to go to a Roman dinner party, what the common people would have eaten, Roman fast food, and putting spices in your wine.

Jun 12 2017131 Polyamory, Polygraphs, and Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman’s origin story is a fascinating one. Diana of Themyscira was created in 1940 by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist who helped invent the lie detector, worked for Universal Studios, and who lived in a menage-a-trois with his wife, Elizabeth, and another woman Olive Byrne. Marston believed that women were inherently superior to men, and in Wonder Woman created a character whom he believed embodied the qualities the world most needed. That, and there was a lot of bondage. So much bondage.

Jun 05 2017130 Human Mail

Sending human beings through the mail is not generally allowed, but plenty of people have tried it. The most notable person in US history to mail themselves is Henry “Box” Brown who escaped slavery in Virginia via a shipping company, and emerged in Philadelphia. Other notable human parcels include W. Reginald Bray, who made a habit of putting strange things through the mail, May Pierstorff, who was mailed by her parents as a parcel, and Reg Spiers, an athlete who mailed himself to from the UK to London and later became a drug smuggler.

May 30 2017129 Phantom Time, the Dumbest Conspiracy Theory Ever

One of the most dramatic (and dumbest) conspiracy theories of all time is the Phantom Time Hypothesis, put forward by the conspiracy theorist Heriber Illig. They hypothesis states that almost three centurires of the Middle Ages, AD 614 to 911, never happened, and it was all because of Otto III (pictured below) and Pope Sylvester II.

Like the legend of Polybius, though, this is a conspiracy theory with some fascinating truth behind it. There are indeed chunks of missing time in the calendar, a result of the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian systems.

May 22 2017128 Quest For Thundercows

In 1910 the United States almost imported hippos as a meat animal. Had it done so, the US would have imported the single most dangerous large land animal on Earth and treated it like a cow. HR2361 also known as the American Hippo Bill, would have allocated $250,000 for the importation of hippos and other animals to the US. The bill had the support of former president Theodore Roosevelt, and even the New York Times favored importing hippos, calling it “lake cow bacon.”

May 15 2017127 Bummer and Lazarus, the San Francisco Superdogs

Bummer and Lazarus were a pair of stray dogs beloved of San Francisco in the 1860s. The two dogs were known for their exceptional rat-catching ability, and were a favorite topic of newspapers of the day. Nowadays the two dogs are often associated with Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, but Bummer and Lazarus belonged to no one. The dogs were their own, and are, very probably, the most beloved strays of all time.

May 08 2017126 Jenni L. Walsh on Becoming Bonnie

Jenni L. Walsh is the author of Becoming Bonnie, a historical fiction novel about how Bonnie met Clyde, and what happened afterward. We talked about the real history of the outlaws, the 1967 movie, and what it’s like to craft actual events into a fictional narrative.

May 03 2017125 Italian Fascism Part Fourteen, The Fall of Fascism

After the Kingdom of Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943, Mussolini was a prisoner. But, during a German invasion of Northern Italy, he was sprung from his cell by German commandos and put in charge of the Italian Social Republic, a Nazi puppet state. Mussolini’s new assignment would prove to be short-lived. In less than two years the former dictator would be executed, and his body ripped apart by an angry mob.

Apr 24 2017124 Italian Fascism Part Thirteen, Italy in WWII

Italy did not perform well in WWII. The Italian economy was not able to support an effective industrial war machine, and Italy saw defeat in Greece, Ethiopia, and in North Africa. In 1943 Allied forces invaded Sicily, and with the noose gradually tightening, the High Council of Fascism voted Mussolini out of power.