World’s Strangest

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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 [...]

6 Extremely Rare National Animals

You’d think the distinction of National Animal would bring with it some sort of benefit – protection from extinction, for instance. Not so. Take the Bald Eagle, symbol of these United States, which has been on and off the endangered species list for over 40 years. Sadly, this sort of thing is far from unusual. [...]

Drinking from the Balsa Tree

The tree named Ochroma pyramidale is better known as the balsa tree, from which we get lightweight wood to make model airplanes. But its flowers are more valuable to many species in Panama, because they bloom at night during the dry season and fill and refill with sweet nectar. Throughout the night and into the next [...]

How 8 Dictators Spent Their Exile Years

What do you do with your life after you’ve ruled a nation with an iron fist? There are plenty of examples from history of dictators who were offered a chance to live out their lives, just as long as they did it somewhere else. But where? The Shah of Iran had a hard time finding [...]

Get Out! How 8 Dictators Spent Their Exile Years

As civil war rages in Libya, many observers are calling for Qaddafi to step down and go into exile. This wouldn’t be the first time an oppressive leader has stepped aside in exchange for a relatively comfortable retirement abroad. We’ve compiled this handy list of famous exiled emperors and dictators for reference. 1. Napoleon Bonaparte (Elba [...]

These Aren’t Your Grandparents’ Bananas

Dan Lewis runs the popular daily newsletter Now I Know (“Learn Something New Every Day, By Email”). We’ve invited him to share some of his stories on mental_floss this month. To subscribe to his daily email, click here. Seedless. Nutritious. Portable. Tasty. Yellow. You pretty much know what you’re going to get with a banana. And [...]

The Cheapest Taxi Rates in the World

The blog The Price of Travel assessed the average rate for a 3-kilometer taxi ride in one hundred cities. The editors observed that, with some exceptions, taxis were almost the same level of automotive quality worldwide. Higher-quality cars did not necessarily correlate with higher rates. These were the ten cheapest rates: $0.90 – $1.58 Delhi, India $0.97 – [...]

4 Amazing Things Chili Peppers Can Do

By Maggie Koerth-Baker The hottest thing about chili peppers isn’t the way they taste; it’s everything else they can do for you. 1. They Strangle Cancer Human cells aren’t the happy-go-lucky little fellows we’d like to imagine. In fact, our cells commit suicide on a regular basis, via a process called apoptosis. Unlike the messy deaths that [...]

The Golden Age of Video

[YouTube Video Clip] – via reddit If you only saw one YouTube clip today, make it this one. Here’s The Golden Age of Video by Ricardo Autobahn, made from movie clips (which ones? David Glover got them all figured out). We Came, We Saw, We Kicked Its Ass. Indeed. Lyrics, from YouTube submitter slipknotskate1: 1,2,1,2,3,4 We accept [...]

Unknown creature found in Panama

A strange creature has been found in Panama, two young men are said to have stoned it to death after spotting it at the entrance to a cave. Debate…