Friday, August 31, 2012


Since this weekend is the Portland Pirate Festival, (which, oddly enough, isn't in Portland, but in St Helens), and Talk Like A Pirate Day is coming up on 19 September, today I'm going to tackle some pirate mythbeliefs. 

Because, you know, pirates

So here's some big ones: 

1) Pirates talked... piratey-like.

2) Pirates buried their treasure.

3) They had awesome black flags with skulls and stuff.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Richard III

For most people, England's King Richard III is a character in a play that was required reading (or viewing) in  High School. With his recent appearance in the news, suddenly Richard III references are popping out of the woodwork. 

From what I've seen (using an exhaustive search of during-my-morning-coffee on Twitter and Tumblr) most people seem to know three things about him.

1) Shakespeare wrote a play about him.

2) He was a hunchback.

3) He murdered at least one kid, possibly two, and they were either his sons or nephews.

Is it bad that I'm so excited that my list was as high as three things about a man who has been ignored for so long?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cagey Dresses

Just to give you a heads up, this Mythtory post is SUPER heavy on pictures. 

This is a picture that's been floating around the interwebs lately. It's usually claimed to be either a woman getting dressed for a party, or a rich woman preparing for her regular day, or sometimes she's a bride getting dressed for her wedding. 

So what is shown in this picture, really? 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Enstein's Math Fails

As a child I believed that math was the study of what, exactly, it takes to break the hearts, minds, and souls of children.

 It nearly killed me to get though Math 111 in University. Never have I studied so hard for a B... and I say that as someone who took a medieval French literature class in French. (In complete honesty, I'm not that bad at math, I just have severe text anxiety and all of my math classes were graded entirely via exam performance.)

So I always derived some comfort from the fact that Albert Einstein had also struggled in math at school. This was, in my young opinion, proof of how messed up the school curriculum of judging one's ability to do something in a high stress environment (and the dreaded "answer as many questions as you can in 5 minutes" mini-quiz torture). His failure was my validation that math as it was taught in school was utterly useless.

You can imagine my disappointment when I learned that Einstein had never actually had any problems with math in school.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dirty History

Memegenerator has references to everything.

This is one that I've heard ever since I was little. People who lived before the Victorians were dirty. Except for maybe the Romans, but public baths are pretty dirty, so they were probably still dirty except for the rich. The Victorian rich revolutionized the world with their ideas of cleanliness, but it didn't really spread until the mid 1800s. 

Which means it should be simple to give the exact date of the invention of soap, right?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Curse of the Pharaohs

Canopic coffinette, from the tomb of Tutankhamen.

Thanks to having a honking huge amount of press, King Tut's one of the most famous people ever for being dead. He's really famous for two things. Lots of gold, and for having a cursed tomb that killed those who violated it. 

The story is that everyone who was present at the opening of Tut's tomb died shortly after, and usually in bizarre or freakish ways. 

Common additional examples given as proof of the curse are:

  • Carver's pet canary was eaten by the same kind of cobra as was sacred to the Egyptians.
  • The moment Lord Carnarvon  died, all the lights in the city of Cairo went out. 
  • Somewhere in the tomb was the curse: "Death shall come on swift wings to him that toucheth the tomb of the Pharaoh." 

So where the people who opened the tomb cursed?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Growing Though the Ages

Let's face it. Everybody knows that everyone who lived before us was shorter than the current generation. People get a little torn on if you ask them if we-the-living-right-now have maxed out on that height, or if the next generation to come is going to be even taller than we are, but pretty much everyone agrees that people who lived 100 years ago would be dwarfed by our current towering stature. 

We'll just have to use the late He Pingping (left) and the still-with-us Sultan Kosen (right) for an example of what it would look like if an average man today were to meet his great-great-great-great grandfather's grandfather. 

But it's obvious people before were shorter. Just look at their short little beds and low ceilings in their houses!

Sadly, such things lie. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pontiff Ponderings

This one comes up pretty much any time someone finds out that I spent a lot of time studying the Medieval period when I was getting my degree. The conversation usually goes something along the lines of, "Oh, you studied Medieval church politics. Did they cover Pope Joan?" *smirk* *wink wink* You know, because we only studied *Catholic Church Approved* history at my... secular... state... university. 

For those of you who haven't heard of this one (it seems to be favored in the "I watch Game of Thrones so now I'm a Medievalist crowd" {no offense to the people who like Game of Thrones, but it's not exactly a shining example of Middle Ages accuracy}), Pope Joan is supposed to be a woman who managed to hide her sex and reign as Pope for a period of a little over 2 years. But she got pregnant and delivered a baby in the middle of a parade of some sort and then was stoned to death by the crowd. Or something like that, there are a few variations of the tale. 

The story often goes on to elaborate that the entire world has covered up her existence conspiracy-style because it would be embarrassing to the Catholic Church to admit her existence, so it's a secret known by a select few and the person I'm talking to just happen to be one of the few in the know. 


Friday, August 3, 2012

Mort Mortification

No source to protect the guilty. It's also all over Tumblr.

In case you can't read the text, it says:

"This is a grave from  the Victorian age when a fear of zombies and vampires was prevalent. This cage was intended to trap the undead just in case the corpse reanimated."

Is it?