Phobias are, by definition, irrational fears. Some fears, however, seem more straightforward than others. Terrified of confined spaces? Totally get it. Petrified of spiders, snakes, or flying? Well, that’s understandable. But a fear of buttons? Names? Love? Now, that’s weird!
In 2002, a government watchdog group exposed a shocking 1994 US military proposal: a “gay bomb” spraying pheromones to affect enemy troops’ sexuality and morale. Plato would have found the plan laughable—but not solely for the reasons you’d think.
For eight centuries of conflict, countless female samurai—most of them forgotten today—fought courageously alongside their men, driven by love, vengeance, faith, or politics. And when the ultimate sacrifice was demanded, they met death with unwavering valor. Let us remember them, in awe and reverence.
On November 20, 1923, 12-year-old Vangeliya Surcheva lost her sight after being thrown into the air by a powerful whirlwind. Soon after, visions began to appear to the blind girl: the events of the coming years. Even so, she wouldn’t have become Baba Vanga, the blind seer of the Balkans, if it weren’t for the Bulgarian KGB.
In Chaucer’s “Squire’s Tale,” Princess Canace doesn’t want to appear unfestive in the morning, so she makes sure to get some rest—by waking up from her first sleep at midnight! She was neither crazy nor an exception: for centuries, most people slept twice a day. And you should too.
Rooted in ancient beliefs, spurred into a social movement by Darwin and the Romantics, and later philosophically formalized by luminaries such as Aldo Leopold, Arne Næss and Paul W. Taylor, biocentrism champions the notion that every living organism holds an equal inherent worth. Its ethical foundations, however, are debatable—to say the least.
The Rules that Rule the Unruly Few: A Dive Into the Code of Conduct of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club
With their leather jackets, Harley Davidsons, and distinctive winged skull logo, the Hells Angels have long been the symbol of outlaw biker culture. But behind the tough exterior lies a secretive brotherhood, fiercely loyal and protective of their own.
Carl Tanzler was a man of many hats. He was—or at least claimed to be—a chemist, engineer, physicist, scientist, and roentgenologist with degrees in philosophy, psychology, and medicine. Nevertheless, he’s best remembered today as a delusional necrophiliac who slept next to the corpse of a patient—for nearly a decade!
In the final days of World War II, an extraordinary battle unfolded in the heart of the Austrian Alps. French prisoners, American GIs, and German soldiers fought side by side against the SS in a desperate struggle to defend a medieval castle. This is the story of the Battle of Castle Itter.
There are ways to go, and then there’s lingchi, an execution method so horrid and grim that Chinese jurists found it hard to believe it ever existed and Western travelers had trouble grasping its brutality—or even meaning. That didn’t stop them from giving it a poetic nickname: the “death by a thousand cuts.”
Meraki has a rich and diverse history, from ancient Greek medicine to Ottoman Turkish dictionaries, and even in Slavic folk poetry. It is now commonly linked to finding pleasure in one’s work. Interestingly, it originally meant quite the opposite: ‘spleen.’
When the Billy Doll hit the shops in 1997, it was widely touted as “the first ‘out and proud’ gay doll;” older generations were right to meet the claim with skepticism—they remembered Gay Bob, the original gay doll.
On September 7, 1978, Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was waiting at a bus stop in London’s Strand when he felt a sharp jab in his leg. Little did he know that he had just become the victim of a sophisticated assassination involving an iconic Cold War weapon: the umbrella gun.
Once upon a time, in a rotating chicken-legged hut in the depths of the forest, there lived Baba Yaga, the preeminent witch of Slavic folklore. Don’t let her wrinkled face or bony leg fool you—she is a fierce enchantress, a force to be reckoned with!
When a plan to eradicate cobras in 19th-century Delhi backfired spectacularly, the incident became known as the “Cobra Effect.” It has since become a cautionary tale about the unintended consequences of well-meaning policies, and a reminder of the importance of understanding the systems within which we operate.
In 1941, Jorge Luis Borges invented the Library of Babel, an infinite repository of knowledge, and a dizzying plunge into the depths of uncertainty and ignorance. Several decades later, we invented the internet. The two are linked—and have a lot to do with several ancient philosophers and Émile Borel’s million monkeys.
On July 28, 1945, in response to the Potsdam Declaration demanding Japan’s unconditional surrender, Japanese prime minister Kantarō Suzuki uttered a now-famous phrase: mokusatsu-suru. The phrase can be translated to mean either “ignore” or “no comment.” The Allies heard the former. The atomic bombs were dropped several days later.
In the eastern woodlands of the Canadian North, there lives—in the chill of the air and in the fearful whispers of the local people—the wendigo, a horrendous creature of evil with an insatiable hunger for human flesh. There is only one thing the locals fear more than being eaten by the wendigo—becoming one.