World’s Strangest

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A Brief History of Olympic Defectors

Getty Images For some athletes, the Olympics aren’t just a competition: they’re a chance to escape oppression. Earlier this week, seven of Cameroon’s athletes disappeared from London’s Olympic Village. The week before, three runners from Sudan’s Olympic training squad filed for asylum in Britain. Here’s a look at some other Olympic defections. 1948 Summer Olympics: London Marie Provaznikova, [...]

Does the Key to the City Actually Open Anything?

LOUIS LANZANO/Landov The short answer: no. The long answer: Once upon a time, being presented with the key to the city served a real function. In ancient times, when it was common for European towns to be ringed by walls, visiting dignitaries were presented with a key to the city gate as a gesture of trust [...]

The Worst Campaign Songs Ever

We’ve all heard our share of songs being used in terribly inappropriate manners, but sometimes the worst violations are those involving political campaign soundtracks. Mental Floss has a collection of some of the most memorable, most of which are really bad. Can you imagine Saddam Hussein campaigning to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love you?” Now [...]

The Best and Worst Political Campaign Songs (But Mostly the Worst)

With the campaign for the Republican nomination in full swing, candidates are beginning to rally their bases, retool their talking points and (cue the intro music, please!) select their campaign songs—those upbeat little ditties that play at rallies, speeches and pretty much whenever a candidate walks on stage. The Art of Choosing the Right Campaign [...]

5 Tyrants Who Died Relatively Peaceful Deaths (and 5 Who Weren’t So Lucky)

According to Herodotus, when the Athenian lawgiver Solon visited Croesus, the fabulously wealthy king of Lydia, Croesus — showing off his riches and sumptuous palace — asked Solon who the happiest man in the world was, arrogantly assuming Solon’s answer would be the king himself. But the king was disappointed and angry when Solon named [...]

10 People Who Became Dog Toys

Dog toys generally come in three designs: classic toys such as Frisbees and tennis balls, indestructible designs like the Kong line, and cute animals that are fuzzy or squeaky. Of course, the problem with the cute designs is that they are usually the most easily destroyed. So rather than letting your pup rip an adorable [...]

What’s Going on in Yemen?

In Spring of 2010, Haley Sweetland Edwards took us on a tour of Yemen for the Spinning the Globe section of mental_floss magazine. Here’s her explanation of the current situation, followed by an excerpt from last year’s Yemen feature. © YAHYA ARHAB/epa/Corbis Yemen is the poorest nation in the Arab world. It’s economy has flat-lined. It’s facing [...]

Seawise Giant: You Can’t Keep a Good Ship Down

We’ve all heard of the Titanic and the Exxon Valdez. The story of the tanker than was once known as the Seawise Giant is much less familiar, although it’s every bit as memorable. The largest ship ever built—she was nearly twice as long as the Titanic—actually sank, only to rise up from the ocean floor [...]

Secret Romance Novelists

PIUS II Before becoming the Vatican’s top dog in 1458, Pius “the coolest-pope-in-history” II was an adventurer who traveled abroad on spy missions for the papacy, a smooth-talking diplomat, and a prolific writer. (Think of him as a kind of medieval James Bond with a slightly different collar.) His Eurialus and Lucretia is still read today, [...]