World’s Strangest

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How the French Revolution Gave Birth to the Restaurant Business

The next time you’re at your favorite cafe, raise a glass to the aristocrats who lost their heads so that you could enjoy your foie gras. France gave birth to restaurants, but it was no civilized affair. In fact, today’s restaurant business is actually a byproduct of the class warfare that arose during the French Revolution. Back [...]

14 Essential Talking Points About The Berenstain Bears

With 300-plus titles in print and more than 260 million books sold, the Berenstain Bears are bound to come up in conversation. Here’s how to steer a predictable discussion about teamwork and manners to one on sex and panda discrimination. 1. Creators Stanley Berenstain and Janice Grant grew up in the same neighborhood in West Philadelphia, [...]

19 Fun Facts About Children’s Books Spotted at the Library

This past week I spent some quality time in the children’s section of my local library. Over on Instagram (we’re @mental_floss), I’ve been sharing photos of books with facts related to them. Since only 1,030 people have joined us over there — way more than the 42 who’d joined us before last weekend, but still [...]

What Does Your Boss Do All Day?

In a classic episode of The Office, Jan tasks Pam with documenting in detail what, exactly, Michael does with his time at work. Pam begins compiling a time-use diary. Michael, oblivious to the assignment, casually resists Pam’s subtle suggestions to perform his typical duties, and the time log ultimately includes such inane activities as Michael [...]

Bureaucratics by Jan Banning

Dutch photographer Jan Banning traveled the world for his 2008 book Bureaucratics, a comparative study in bureaucrats from around the world. Jan traveled to Bolivia, China, France, India, Liberia, Russia, Yemen and the United States to snap photographs of civil servants – from fiscal authorities to police, from governors to local clerks – seated behind [...]

Big Vortex: Power Plant with a Ski Slope

You don’t usually associate power plant with fun, but that’s exactly what Tim and Jan Edler of architecture and design studio Realities:United had in mind. Behold the Big Vortex, a waste-to-energy power-plant for Copenhagen that doubles as a ski slope, complete with a smoke ring generator to remind people about CO2 emissions: Each smoke ring, approximately [...]

Josh Groban’s “The Best Tweets of Kanye West”

Kanye West’s Twitter feed is legendary. Sometimes profane, always bombastic, often awesome — if you can keep up with the intense volume of the tweets, you’re in for a treat. Some gems from the last few weeks: 26 Jan – “NO ALCOHOL BEFORE TATTOOS” 23 Jan – “I just threw some bassoon on this muthaf—a” (portion redacted) 21 [...]

The Late Movies: The Short, Surreal Masterpieces of Jan Švankmajer

Suppressed by his own government and almost unknown in the West until the 1980s, today Czech animator and filmmaker Jan Švankmajer is one of the world’s most celebrated animators, and can count Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam among his legions of devoted fans. His work is uniquely bizarre, always creepy, and sometimes disturbing. He seems [...]

Movie Trivia: Back to the Future

Can you believe it’s been 25 years since we first went back in time? Well, maybe you can if you’ve seen all of the press coverage recently. With the trilogy just released on Blu-Ray, we thought it was a good time to do a little time-traveling back to 1985 ourselves to do a little trivia [...]

Divorced After 20 Years Together, Remarried After 1 Month Apart

After 20 years being married, Jan and Lee Jones decided to get divorced. A month later, they decided that they though married life was tough, they couldn’t live apart … so they got remarried! They decided to separate after nearly 20 years of marriage in January 2009. Mr Jones said: “We had a lot of problems, like [...]