Tuesday, May 23

The Debunker: Was the Boston Tea Party a Protest Against High Taxes?

by Ken Jennings

It's May, and that means only one thing to all men and women of good will: National Beverage Day on the sixth of this month! We all love a refreshing beverage, but how much do we really know about them? If you're thirsty for knowledge, take a deep, satisfying swig of Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings, who will be debunking drink-related disinformation all month. As Alexander Pope once said, "A little learning is a dangerous thing, / Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring"!

The Debunker: Was the Boston Tea Party a Protest Against High Taxes?

When the American colonists heard about the Tea Act of 1773, they did exactly what you or I would do in that situation: dressed as Native Americans, boarded three merchant ships, and destroyed almost fifty tons of tea by dumping it into Boston harbor. Most American schoolkids, entranced by the romance and wanton vandalism of that night, tend to logically assume that the Tea Act had raised taxes on tea, and that's why the Bostonians were so pissed off. But that's not true—in fact, the Tea Act lowered taxes, and lowered tea prices. Wait, what?

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Tuesday, May 16

The Debunker: Is the Ideal Martini "Shaken, Not Stirred"?

by Ken Jennings

It's May, and that means only one thing to all men and women of good will: National Beverage Day on the sixth of this month! We all love a refreshing beverage, but how much do we really know about them? If you're thirsty for knowledge, take a deep, satisfying swig of Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings, who will be debunking drink-related disinformation all month. As Alexander Pope once said, "A little learning is a dangerous thing, / Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring"!

The Debunker: Is the Ideal Martini "Shaken, Not Stirred"?

Ian Fleming's super-spy James Bond is a man of elegant tastes. Fleming's elaborately detailed prose made sure readers knew that Bond shared his preference for fast Bentleys, tailored serge suits, caviar with plenty of toast, and custom-blended Morlands cigarettes. But Bond's most famous indulgence is the martini, which he orders thirty-five times in Fleming's oeuvre. And as early as Casino Royale, he's instructing barmen to "shake it very well until it's ice-cold." Sean Connery went on to turn "shaken, not shtirred" into a much-imitated catchphrase. In 2005, it was voted one of the 100 most memorable movie quotes of all time by the American Film Institute.

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Tuesday, May 09

The Debunker: Was the Famous McDonald's "Hot Coffee" Lawsuit Frivolous?

by Ken Jennings

It's May, and that means only one thing to all men and women of good will: National Beverage Day on the sixth of this month! We all love a refreshing beverage, but how much do we really know about them? If you're thirsty for knowledge, take a deep, satisfying swig of Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings, who will be debunking drink-related disinformation all month. As Alexander Pope once said, "A little learning is a dangerous thing, / Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring"!

The Debunker: Was the Famous McDonald's "Hot Coffee" Lawsuit Frivolous?

It's Exhibit A for people who blather on about scheming lawyers, credulous bleeding-heart juries, and the damage done to this country by frivolous lawsuits. In 1992, a 79-year-old woman named Stella Liebeck ordered a cup of coffee from a McDonald's drive-thru, and then proceeded to spill it all over herself after she'd driven away. Despite the fact that she'd spilled the coffee on herself, through no fault of McDonald's employees, a jury awarded her $2.86 million. What an injustice! What happened to the tough, self-sufficient Americans who tamed the frontier, am I right? When did we become such sissified, litigious snowflakes?

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Tuesday, May 02

The Debunker: Does Dr. Pepper Have Prunes in It?

by Ken Jennings

It's May, and that means only one thing to all men and women of good will: National Beverage Day on the sixth of this month! We all love a refreshing beverage, but how much do we really know about them? If you're thirsty for knowledge, take a deep, satisfying swig of Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings, who will be debunking drink-related disinformation all month. As Alexander Pope once said, "A little learning is a dangerous thing, / Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring"!

The Debunker: Does Dr. Pepper Have Prunes in It?

The flavor of Dr. Pepper is hard to pin down. It's the oldest soft drink still found on supermarket shelves nationwide, having made its debut at a Waco, Texas corner drugstore in 1885. The company says that its secret formula is a mix of no less than twenty-three different flavors, and the recipe is supposedly split into two halves kept in the safety deposit boxes of two different Dallas banks, so that no single soda-pirating criminal could ever abscond with it.

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Tuesday, May 24

The Debunker: Where Do Fortune Cookies Come From?

by Ken Jennings

May is Asian heritage month in the U.S. and Canada, but most of us probably celebrate the Asian diaspora year-round by enjoying one of the greatest gifts from the other edge of the Pacific Rim: Asian food. But sometimes, in our uncommon hurry to enjoy the ramen or the curry, we may find ourselves slurping up all kinds of bad takes along with our good takeout. Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy! fame is obviously not Asian, but (fun fact!) he grew up in Asia, which sort of qualifies him to set us straight on some of the biggest culinary misconceptions about the world's biggest continent. Check, please!

The Debunker: Where Do Fortune Cookies Come From?

Fortune cookies! Where else would you get great life advice like "☺ Your fondest dream will come true ☺ 07 22 31 43 05 30 "? A Chinese meal wouldn't be complete without this dessert that, mysteriously, nobody likes but nobody ever skips. Actually, I should correct that. Believe it or not, there is one place where you can eat Chinese food without fortune cookies appearing with the bill, and that's because no one there has ever even heard of them. That place is China.

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Tuesday, May 17

The Debunker: What Utensils Should I Use for Thai Food?

by Ken Jennings

May is Asian heritage month in the U.S. and Canada, but most of us probably celebrate the Asian diaspora year-round by enjoying one of the greatest gifts from the other edge of the Pacific Rim: Asian food. But sometimes, in our uncommon hurry to enjoy the ramen or the curry, we may find ourselves slurping up all kinds of bad takes along with our good takeout. Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy! fame is obviously not Asian, but (fun fact!) he grew up in Asia, which sort of qualifies him to set us straight on some of the biggest culinary misconceptions about the world's biggest continent. Check, please!

The Debunker: What Utensils Should I Use for Thai Food?

Asking for a fork at an Asian restaurant might be one of life's most demoralizing small defeats—or small embarrassments, if it's your visiting parent who's harassing the waiter. Eating competently with chopsticks, the paired sticks first used as utensils in China over six thousand years ago, is a neat shorthand for worldliness and open-mindedness and, in general, having your culinary s*** together.

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Tuesday, May 10

The Debunker: Does MSG Cause "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome"?

by Ken Jennings

May is Asian heritage month in the U.S. and Canada, but most of us probably celebrate the Asian diaspora year-round by enjoying one of the greatest gifts from the other edge of the Pacific Rim: Asian food. But sometimes, in our uncommon hurry to enjoy the ramen or the curry, we may find ourselves slurping up all kinds of bad takes along with our good takeout. Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy! fame is obviously not Asian, but (fun fact!) he grew up in Asia, which sort of qualifies him to set us straight on some of the biggest culinary misconceptions about the world's biggest continent. Check, please!

The Debunker: Does MSG Cause "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome"?

In 1968, a Chinese-American doctor named Robert Ho Man Kwok wrote a light-hearted letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, wondering about a strange health complaint he noticed after eating in American Chinese restaurants: numbness in the back, heart palpitations, and general weakness. Dr. Kwok wondered what to blame this on. Chinese cooking wine? Foods high in sodium? Dozens of readers eagerly responded that they had noticed "Chinese restaurant syndrome" as well, and the conversation began to center around the food additive MSG.

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Tuesday, May 03

The Debunker: What Ingredient Makes Sushi Sushi?

by Ken Jennings

May is Asian heritage month in the U.S. and Canada, but most of us probably celebrate the Asian diaspora year-round by enjoying one of the greatest gifts from the other edge of the Pacific Rim: Asian food. But sometimes, in our uncommon hurry to enjoy the ramen or the curry, we may find ourselves slurping up all kinds of bad takes along with our good takeout. Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy! fame is obviously not Asian, but (fun fact!) he grew up in Asia, which sort of qualifies him to set us straight on some of the biggest culinary misconceptions about the world's biggest continent. Check, please!

The Debunker: What Ingredient Makes Sushi Sushi?

The traditional Japanese treat of sushi hasn't always been appreciated on these shores. When the Ladies' Home Journal introduced Americans to Japanese cuisine in 1929, the editors "purposely omitted…any recipes using the delicate and raw tuna fish which is sliced wafer thin and served iced." America wasn't even eating pizza yet in 1929. It sure as hell weren't ready for cold raw tuna as an entrée.

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Monday, June 01

Music Monday: Goodbye To May

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! The truth is, this particular Music Monday was supposed to run on May 18th, but the tragic death of B.B. King preempted it. So today, Scott's chosen celebrate the month gone by! Just roll with it, this is a good one. He's picked five of his favorite May-themed songs. Do you know them? Sing along!

XTC - The Wheel And The Maypole

 

Ah, the maypole! A mix of ancient customs and good, clean, pagan-based fun. What could be more wholesome and traditional? Hooray for May!

More May-based pleasure to come... after the jump!

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Tuesday, May 26

The Debunker: Does "Moby-Dick" Begin "Call Me Ishmael"?

by Ken Jennings

The month of May is come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom and to bring forth fruit! If you're literary enough to recognize that quote from Thomas Malory, you might also know that May is one of the best months of the year to be a bookworm, what with Independent Bookstore Day and National Library Legislative Day, not to mention the birthdays of Whitman, Emerson, and Thomas Pynchon. But you might be surprised by how much of what you think you remember about American literature is wrong. Luckily, Jeopardy! champ and man of letters Ken Jennings is here to set us straight. Let every lusty brain begin to blossom and bring forth fruit!

The Debunker: Does Moby-Dick Begin "Call Me Ishmael"?

The 1851 novel Moby-Dick was originally a major critical disappointment, selling only 3,200 copies during the long lifetime of its author, Herman Melville. But today, it's an indisputable American classic. Even if you've never read a word of Moby-Dick, you probably know about the great white whale, the obsessed one-legged Captain Ahab, that famous opening line, "Call me Ishmael"…

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