World’s Strangest

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14 Finer Points of the U.S. Flag Code

Tom Pennington/Getty Images The National Flag Code was adopted on June 14, 1923, by the National Flag Conference. The representatives from the U.S. Army and Navy and more than 60 other organizations in attendance were charged with examining the rules and procedures of flag display—developed separately by the Army and Navy—and deciding which of those [...]

Kim Jong Il, the Director He Kidnapped, and the Awful Godzilla Film They Made Together

Late Sunday, the Associated Press reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has died of heart failure. He was 69. The following story about the former dictator originally appeared in mental_floss magazine back in 2006. © kcna/Xinhua Press/Corbis by Jessica Royer Ocken When your work hits a wall, it’s natural to seek new inspiration. The less natural [...]

The Soviet Union Was Dissolved 20 Years Ago Today

Girl standing atop Soviet tank in Red Square during the Communist hard liners’ coup attempt in August 1991. © David Turnley/CORBIS Twenty years ago today, on December 8, 1991, a group of Soviet leaders got together in a house in snowy Belarus to declare the end of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The resulting treaty, [...]

The Fruit of the Matter

(Image credit: Flickr user Martin LaBar) SUPREME WISDOM Technically, green peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes are all fruits. But don’t try telling that tot he U.S. Supreme Court. Per the 1893 case Nix vs. Hedden, the court decided tomatoes were veggies and therefore subject to the vegetable tariff. What was the Supreme Court’s reasoning? Tomatoes have to [...]

Bomb-Sniffing Bees

Photo: Inscentinel For a few years, a British company called Inscentinel has been developing chemical-detecting honeybees for security and sanitation purposes. Bees are trained to respond to certain smells and then are loaded into cartridges that suck in air from an object. When they alert, the user knows that the chemical is present in the sample. [...]