The song Happy Birthday to You is in the public domain. But that didn’t stop a music publishing company collecting two million dollars a year for its use.
In 1947 the English author Dennis Wheatley wrote a letter to the dystopian future he thought was coming and buried it. Twenty-two years later the letter was uncovered. It had not aged well.
When a location is abandoned by humans, nature returns. Sci-fi author Bruce Sterling calls these feral landscapes involuntary parks.
Shengguan Tu is a board game from a millennium ago that charts players’ rise through the many layers of Chinese bureaucracy.
In 1953 No Kum-Sok defected from North Korea. He brought a MiG-15 Soviet jet fighter with him.
In 1967 the prime minister of Australia walked into the ocean and was never seen again.
Soviet Russia kept undesirables (criminals and political dissidents) away from view by banning them from coming closer than 101km to major urban centres.
The Haskell Free Library and Opera House was built across the border between the United States and Canada. Yes, there is a thick black line on the floor between the two countries.
When the British colonise your country and exile your king, what do you do? If you’re a queen mother of the Ashanti Empire, you start a war.
Goods carried by hand over the border from Morocco to Melilla and Ceuta are duty-free, so a cottage industry of porters carry goods worth billions of Euros across the border every year.
While Roman emperors were empowered to choose their own successor, the first emperor to actually be succeeded by his own natural-born son was Vespasian.
Two men were tried and one was executed for bestiality in early New Haven. The evidence: the birth of piglets that looked suspiciously like the accused.
Early modern England had some creative property taxes: window, chimney, brick, and wallpaper tax. Early modern England also had some creative methods of tax avoidance: sealed windows, stolen chimneys, larger bricks, and plainer wallpaper.
The largest national park in the European Union is in South America.
Who rules the cats of England? Since at least the 1920s, 10 Downing Street has had an official cat: the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office.