George Orwell’s novel 1984 took the world by storm when it was published in 1949. It told the story of a dystopian future where the government maintained control by keeping a close […]
Did an Indian King Use Rolls Royces to Collect Garbage?
Have you heard about the fabulously wealthy Indian ruler who was snubbed at a Rolls Royce showroom? When the salesman did not recognize the distinguished visitor and dismissed him as someone who […]
10 Downing Street — Learn the Fun Facts Behind the Door of One of the World’s Most Famous Addresses
The plain, black door with the number 10 is deceptively nondescript. Aside from the unusual placement of the doorknob in the center of the door, it looks not much different than any […]
Fun and Surprising Facts About the Olympics
At this writing, the focus of the athletic world is in Tokyo for the 32nd Summer Olympic Games. While most of the attention will be on the winners of this year’s various […]
That Time a Drunk Trader Played Havoc With the Oil Futures Market
It was 7:45 a.m. on June 30, 2009. Stephen Perkins had a hangover. All he wanted to do was go back to sleep. Actually, he wished desperately that he was sleeping — […]
Gasp and Grasp Your Way Through the Great London Smog of 1952
Residents of London are accustomed to foggy conditions. When diminished visibility began to cloud the view of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, and Westminster Palace, few thought there was any reason for […]
Do You Have What it Takes to Master “The Knowledge”?
A trip to London invariably involves visits to Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, and countless other iconic locations. One of the best ways to see all of these […]
Two Musical Geniuses Separated by a Wall and 200 Years
In the 2020 movie Bill & Ted Face the Music, Jimi Hendrix teams up with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a number of other musical geniuses from history to perform a song that […]
The Volcano That Triggered a Year Without Summer, Defeated an Empire, and Gave Birth to a Monster
In terms of volcano celebrity status, Mount Tambora’s name is rarely mentioned. If someone asks you to name a dramatic volcanic eruption, more than likely, it is Mount Vesuvius, Krakatoa, or Mount […]
The Geographic Knowledge of Britney Spears
An earlier Commonplace post noted that the music of Britney Spears is one of the most effective deterrents to Somali pirates. Lest that be construed as some kind of derogatory judgment on […]
Could the World’s Population Fit into One U.S. State?
If you are concerned that humanity is outgrowing the available space on this planet, you can relax. As it turns out, there is a lot more room available than you might otherwise […]
Why Were 15 Bodies Buried in Benjamin Franklin’s Basement?
Benjamin Franklin was one of the best-known and well-loved of America’s Founding Fathers. Franklin’s brilliance and wit caused him to excel in almost every area of human understanding. He left his mark […]
Keeping Up on the Rent, Even When the Property is Lost
For 800 years the city of London has been careful to make sure it pays its annual rent for two pieces of land it leases from the Crown. In its determination not […]
Using Pennies to Keep Big Ben Accurate Makes Good Cents
Aside from the monarchy, one would be hard-pressed to think of anything more iconically British than the clock in the Elizabeth Tower of Westminster Palace. Its massive bell, Big Ben, has been […]
Welcome to the Heat Ray of Death Building
One of the newest additions to the London skyline is the skyscraper at 20 Fenchurch Street. Popularly known as the “Walkie Talkie” because of its shape, the building is rapidly becoming better […]