About Tracy V. Wilson
Tracy's nerdiness was obvious by fifth grade, when she reveled in writing her first book report (subject: "Jane Eyre") and winning her first science fair (subject: mold growth). As a literature student at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, she finally found her people and spent lots of time watching "Star Trek" and playing D&D -- when she wasn't writing poems or reading feminist fiction. Today, Tracy has a house full of computers, consoles and cats, and her library spans everything from Jane Austen to Marion Zimmer Bradley. Tracy joined HowStuffWorks.com as a staff writer in 2005 and is now the site director. You can find Tracy on Twitter at @PopStuffHSW and on Facebook at the official PopStuff page.
Most Recent: Tracy V. Wilson Postings
Vladimir I is often credited with bringing Christianity to Russia, though he actually embraced paganism first as Grand Prince of Kievan Rus. Wishing to unite Russia under one religion, Vladimir worked his way through several religions before changing the spiritual path of his country forever.
Our listener mail today is from our actual mailbag that contains things written on paper. One is from Chaplain Rick, and another is from Andrew, and a third is from Christina, who tells us some cool information about Bran Castle.
We hadn’t been working on the podcast long when listener Karissa asked us to talk about India’s Karni Mata temple, which is home to 20,000 rats. I wasn’t expecting “rat temple” to take us to the legend of a goddess’ fight against a buffalo demon, but it did. I also wasn’t expecting it to touch on chaste marriages and medieval mysticism, which we’ve talked about before in our episode on Margery Kempe. Multiple surprises for me in this episode. It’s about a whole lot more than rats.
Cixi started out as one of Emperor Xianfeng’s many concubines, but she wound up ruling China from behind a screen for more than 45 years. Her decisions toward the end were factors in the eventual collapse of the Qing dynasty. But in spite of her long and notorious rein, much of what we know about her boils down to rumor and gossip.
Our listener mail today is a listener request and PSA from Lily Ann, reminding us of the importance of giving blood (or of giving in some other way, if you cannot give blood).
Episode link: China’s Empress Dowager Cixi
When news broke that researchers had found actual physical evidence of cannibalism at Jamestown, it seemed like just about everyone in the Internet sent us the link. Along with all those links, we got a hefty chunk of requests for an episode. So here it is.
No matter where you live, and no matter what your cat (or the neighbor’s cat, if you’re not a cat person) looks like, cats all share a common history that stretches way, way back. Farther back than cheese. It’s a long, adorable and maybe also evil history.
So we missed the big 75th anniversary of the Hindenburg disaster – but last year, Holly and I weren’t on this podcast. And just when it was time to record this episode, I stumbled across this blog post of photos merging modern pictures with historic events. The date of the Hindenburg’s crash jumped out at me, thus today’s topic.
During the golden age of piracy, standard operating procedure for a pirate was to commandeer a ship, gather a crew, and start plundering and pillaging. Stede Bonnet, on the other hand, bought a ship, paid for it with real money, had it outfitted with cannons, and named it the Revenge. Then, with his legitimately acquired pirate vessel, he went out plundering. As you might imagine would be the case for a pirate who went and commissioned a pirate ship, he wasn’t very good at it.
Since Holly and I started working on this podcast, we’ve gotten more than 200 suggestions for episodes. It’s a little nuts, and considering that we only publish two episodes a week, it seems impossible to touch on even a fraction of those. But when someone asked whether we were going to do any more Civil War episodes for its 150th anniversary, I thought, “Surely there has to be something the podcast hasn’t covered already.”
Indeed there is. And for this one, it’s one of my favorite things: A lady dressing as a man to go off to war. Sarah Emma Edmonds, Canadian citizen, fought for the Union undetected for almost two years.
After researching and recording our episodes on Loving v. Virginia the previous week, I was looking for a story that was a little narrower in scope. Something that wouldn’t be so weighty we’d want to split it into a second part. Something we could record without having to stop and compose ourselves. Somehow I wound up with the story of Princess Alexandra of Bavaria, who, in her young adulthood, came to believe that she’d swallowed a glass grand piano as a child, and that she had to move carefully or else it would break. (Past Stuff You Missed in History Class hosts also mention her in Mad King Ludwig Dines Alone.)
In 1725, Johann Beringer served as the chair of natural history at the University of Würzburg and was chief physician to the prince bishop of Würzburg. By most accounts, he was also deeply arrogant, which made him unpopular with colleagues and inspired some a prank intended to discredit him. This real prank has morphed into a fictionalized tale of hubris and gullibility, boogeyman to scare young paleontologists. But the real story isn’t quite as melodramatic as that.
Recent Postings by Category
- Thank You and Best Wishes to Marshall Brain
- Contest – Design a $300 house and win $25,000
- How the Philtrum works – the place under your nose where your face comes together
The Coolest Stuff on the Planet
- Why can a 5 foot 8 inch man dunk a basketball on a 10 foot rim while some people of taller stature can’t?
- What happens to our sun once it runs out of fuel?
- How do we know the age of the universe?
Stuff Mom Never Told You
- 7 Types of ‘Friends with Benefits’ Relationships
- How Sad Breakup Songs Make Us Feel Better
- 18th-Century Mayonnaise
Stuff to Blow Your Mind
- Blow Your Mind: Slay Your Paper Tigers
- Space Religion: Cao Dai and the 72 Inhabited Exoplanets
- Blow the Mind: Objects of Love
Stuff You Should Know
- “In The Neighborhood” by Jon Stewart Mosman
- “Thanatos” by Christopher Vincola
- “Frame Story” by Adam Pracht
The Stuff of Genius
- Show Notes: Heart-stopping Last Laps of Racing
- Never say Never: Jaguar XJ220 Spotted in the Wild!
- What’s your pick for the 2013 Indianapolis 500 pace car?
- PopStuff Show Notes: Episode 152: Final Episodes
- PopStuff Show Notes: Episode 151: Mailbag!
- PopStuff Show Notes: Episode 150: Barbie!
Stuff They Don't Want You To Know
Stuff to Change the World
- Who will own the Arctic?
- Obesity: The New Global Crisis
- Bill Gates Makes For A Pretty Decent Cartoon