In 2008, a whole beach in northwestern Jamaica was reported stolen: five hundred truckloads of sand went missing and were never recovered.
On a sidewalk in New York City is a triangle mosaic about 70cm wide. It is perhaps the smallest parcel of private land in the city, and it exists entirely because of spite.
The Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas has a deceptive title. The real Wenceslas’ reputation for goodness was mainly posthumous, as was his rank and title. Also he may have been murdered by his brother after a drunken fight.
In the 18th century, a new pirate crew would come together to elect a captain and quartermaster, and agree on a shared code of conduct: what we today call the pirate code.
Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse led a French scientific expedition around the Pacific; in 1788 it disappeared without a trace. A young Napoléon Bonaparte almost went with him.
In 1917 Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. Three years later, more than a thousand actors, circus performers, and ballet dancers stormed it again.
The famous legal phrase caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) entered common law because of a 17th century dispute over a magic bezoar stone.
In apartheid-era South Africa, the government sometimes designated specific people or whole ethnic groups as “honorary whites.” But not everyone accepted it.
From 1939 until 1977, the winner of the annual Trinidad calypso competition was crowned the Calypso King. In 1978 Calypso Rose won the title, so they had to change the name.
When politicians’ historical crimes catch up with them, what happens to their statues?
A 1932 lawsuit attempted to answer the question “who was the real Betty Boop?”
When is a protest not a protest? In Russia, when it’s a performance art parody of a protest. But that still didn’t stop the Russian government from overreacting.
The 2021 Samoan constitutional crisis came to a head with a face-off between the old prime minister who wouldn’t leave, the new prime minister who couldn’t start, the head of state, the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, and the Speaker of the House. [2 of 2]
Samoa’s first female prime minister was elected this year despite the most dramatic and twist-filled constitutional crisis in the country’s history. [1 of 2]
In 2004, in response to an Australian law defining marriage as between a man and a woman only, a group of activists declared independence and raised a rainbow flag over the Coral Sea Islands.
In 1981 Phillip Lewis released potato chips flavoured like roasted hedgehog. In 1982 the UK government prosecuted him for false advertising because the chips did not contain real hedgehog.