World’s Strangest

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A Literary Atlas of Latin America

Continuing his use of maps, Fernando Vicente created a series of images celebrating the literatures of Latin America. It’s as much decorative as it is informative as pages explode out of Cuba, ink pours out of Chile and a writer’s eye peers out of Brazil. View them all at the link. Link -via Ian Brooks

Music History #3: “Yes! We Have No Bananas”

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment of Bill DeMain’s new column, where he explores the real historical events that inspired various songs. “Music History” appears twice a month. “Yes! We Have No Bananas” Written by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn (1922) Originally sung by Eddie Cantor The Music The story goes that one day in 1922, songwriting duo Frank [...]

The Strange Stories Told By Mexican Novela Cover Art

Judging by the artwork from Mexican Novelas, pulp novels that Latin America eats up like literary junk food, these stories are as terrifying as they are hilarious. Full of masked wrestlers, shadowy demonic forces, Frankenbirds and Yetis, these stories would make a person suffering from paranoid schizophrenia feel sane in comparison. The only thing you’re missing [...]

Woven Paracord Bracelet Contains Hidden Handcuff Key

Kevin Mitnick, a computer security consultant and convicted hacker, worries that he might be kidnapped while traveling through more dangerous parts of Latin America. So he casually wears a bracelet of woven paracord. Hidden in the clasp is a key designed to open most handcuff designs. Link -via Say Uncle | Photo: James Martin/CNET

Flowery Bits

NOTHING SAYS TECHNOLOGY LIKE FLOWERS The flower business might seem old-fashioned, but 1-800-FLOWERS is anything but behind the times. In the 1980s, it was one of the first businesses to operate a 1-800 number, taking calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And in 1991, during the Gulf War, the company made the risky [...]

Dietribes: Mushrooms

• There’s nothing newfangled about mushrooms. Morels (the genus of edible mushrooms) have been around since dinosaur times, evolving into over 177 species all over the world (including Antarctica – more on that later). The fungi have also been primarily championed by humans: “Oddly enough, most animal species aren’t particularly attracted to morels,” says Oregon State [...]

The Confederacy’s Plan to Conquer Latin America

During the Civil War, Confederate leaders didn’t just want to defeat the Union Army, they wanted to create a giant Latin American empire. In the years leading up to the Civil War, many Northerners and Southerners alike wanted the federal government to take a more aggressive approach to acquiring new territory. In fact, some private citizens, [...]

History of the U.S.: The Wizard of OSS

At FDR’s request, Major General William Joseph Donovan formed the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) at the height of World War II. Prior to WWII, American intelligence work was conducted by a number of different organizations that didn’t coordinate their activities, including divisions of the State Department, Treasury, and the Navy and War departments.Beginning in [...]

Money Can’t Buy Happiness, So Man Gives Away Every Penny of His £3 Million Fortune

Karl Rabeder grew up poor and thought that life would be wonderful if he had money. But when he got rich, Karl discovered that he was unhappy … so he decided to give away every penny of his £3 million fortune: “My idea is to have nothing left. Absolutely nothing,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “Money [...]

Dietribes: Hummus Among Us

• While love may be the international language, the international love is the chickpea, or the Bengal gram (India), Chickpea (English), Garbanzo (Latin America), Hommes, Hamaz (Arab world), Nohud, Lablabi (Turkey), and Shimbra (Ethiopia), as its sometimes known. • Chickpeas are a high-protein legume, as well as providers of slow burning complex carbohydrates. They can also replenish [...]