What’s In A Nickname? Places edition

What’s in a name?  That which we call a city by any other name would smell as sweet.  Some nicknames are obvious. Denver, CO is the Mile High City because it’s precisely one mile above sea level.  Dallas, Texas is The Big D; everything’s bigger in Texas. But which American city can also be called The Emerald City, which state is the Land of Lincoln and what’s a buckeye or a Sooner?

Let’s start our tour of land labels and city sobriquets here in the States. One of the cuter-sounding nicknames is Boston, MA’s moniker of “Beantown.” The origins are a bit nebulous. It could come from baked beans which Puritan settlers would cook on Saturdays and keep warm in crocks by the hearth all day on Sunday when they were forbidden from working, including cooking, on the Sabbath. Continue reading

You’re How Young?!

On our humble little podcast, we seek to illuminate the darker corners of knowledge and open the door to history. If you want to open an actual door to the past, you’ll have to do it without a doorknob. The patent for the a knob that turns to move a latch inside the door wasn’t filed until 1878. Stay on the lookout for movie set in the civil war and see if the doors have latches or anachronistic knobs. My name’s Moxie and this is your brain on facts.

Most of us know what to do if they are rendering aid to someone who can’t breathe or whose heart has stopped. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, the kiss of life, known as cardiopulmonary resuscitation when you combine it with chest compressions is such an ingrained concept in today’s society that it seems hard to imagine that it was created the same year Elvis released Heartbreak Hotel. Continue reading

Mixed Bags of History

Genghis Kahn’s empire killed 2/3 of Northern China, but people under his rule knew unrivaled gender equality and religious freedom. Mother Teresa gave aid to the poor, but also encouraged their suffering. Spiky cacti sometimes contain life-sustaining water, and even the most beautiful roses have thorns. We’re all some mix of good and bad.

Content advisory: today’s episode includes racial language in its historical context.

For 50+ years, the only thing people have known singer/actor Al Jolson for is for appearing in blackface in the first motion picture with embedded sound, The Jazz Singer. But he also promoted the work of playwright Garland Anderson, leading to the first all-black Broadway show, as well as pushing to hire a black dance group at a time when black performers were outright banned from Broadway. Beloved country singer Johnny Cash was an impassioned spokesperson for prison reform, going so far as to appear before a Senate subcommittee, to call for things like as separating first-timers from hardened criminals and focus on rehabilitation. But, he also started a forest fire that burned over 500 acres and displaced or killed dozens of endangered condors. Continue reading