field of poppies

Riot Act?

What is the riot act? Did your mother ever say, “If you come home past curfew, your father is going to read you the riot act!”? Or a friend said, “Remember that time we sneaked a goat into the teachers lounge? The principal sure read us the riot act.”?

Now it usually is used to mean a harsh scolding that enumerates all your current misdeeds. If you also get a list of everything you’ve done wrong in forever, that means you’ve married a wife with an excellent memory.

Where did this come from? Well, in 1714 the British Parliament passed a law that would allow the local constabulary to disperse a crowd of 12 or more people in order to prevent “tumults and riotous assemblies”. First they would be read a proclamation that they must break up the group, within an hour, on pain of death.

Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God Save the King!

The riots were serious business. It was a clash of politics and religion – the Whigs vs. the Tories. At that time, the Whigs were Scottish Presbyterians and the Tories were Irish Catholics. The Whigs were wanted primacy of Parliament over the King and the Tories said, “That will only happen on opposite day, and that’s not today!” (That quotation of the Tories may not be exactly, completely, historically accurate. Feel free to disregard that and just assume they said something boring about wanting the King to be over Parliament.)

Have you noticed that the difference between Riot Act and Patriot Act is just one little “pat”? Probably the one they give you going through airport security.

If you want to read the text of the Riot Act, you may do so on Project Gutenberg. If that’s too tl;dr for you, you can listen to it on LibriVox.

You can find a lot more about Whigs and Tories on this George Mason University page, Historical Outline of Restoration and 18th Century British Literature.

Instead of posting a picture of a riot, I posted a field of flowers. You’re welcome.


First Toothbrush Invented?

While brushing your pearly whites, you may ask yourself who invented the first toothbrush? Who should I thank for that lack of tartar build up? The answer is not as simple as it would seem. A form of the toothbrush as we know it has been around since 3500 B.C., when the Egyptians used chew sticks, which were twigs with frayed ends used to brush against the teeth.


The Chinese were the first to use a toothbrush resembling them as we know them today. In 1498 the Chinese used course boar hairs and attached them to a handle made from bamboo or bone.

The Europeans then adapted this design opting for horse hair which was softer then the boar hair. Other European designs used feathers.

Now, fast forward to 1780 where we will meet William Addis who invented the first mass produced toothbrush. In 1780 Addis was incarcerated and thought the methods used at the time to clean teeth inadequate. William saved a bone from his dinner, drilled holes in it and then inserted bristles and wired the ends to keep them in place. Thereby improving methods. After his release William started a company that would manufacture his toothbrushes.

Toothbrushes only used natural bristles. That was until 1938 when Du Pont invented nylon. Nylon toothbrushes were sturdier and more effective then natural hair. But it wasn’t until the end of World War II that the Americans became concerned with oral hygiene. Influenced by the good hygiene of the soldiers returning home, Americans quickly adopted the nylon toothbrush.

Now modern technology has introduced an electric toothbrush, as well as more ergonomic designs and more hygienic materials. But the fundamentals are the same, a handle and bristles to brush your teeth.

And don’t forget to floss. (My dentist made me add that.)

More toothbrush fun facts:
1. First American to  patent a toothbrush was H.N. Wadsworth (patent number 18,653) on Nov. 7, 1857
2. First nylon toothbrush was called Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush.
3. One of the first electric toothbrushes was made by the Squib Co. in 1960 they called it the Broxodent.


Tradition of the White Wedding Dress Started?

It became popular in Europe after Queen Victoria wore a white lace dress when she married Prince Albert in 1840, primarily to show support for the handmade lace industry in England which had been damaged by the rise of machine-made lace. Victoria’s twelve bridesmaids also wore white.


In 1849, Godey’s Lady’s Books said, “Custom has decided from the earliest ages, that white is the most fitting hue, whatever may be the material. It is an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one” but making white symbolic of purity or virginity was a more recent attribution, not something “from the earliest ages”.

White didn’t become a popular wedding dress color in the U.S. until the 1860s, and then it was still only for those who could afford it since it was difficult and expensive to make a truly white cloth and, before dry-cleaning, or even reliable bleaches, it was an impractical color to keep clean.

Brides had worn white before but they also wore many other colors, depending on their wealth and status and what ways the gown would need to be repurposed for later.

See History of Wedding Dresses and Queen Victoria’s wedding, or why modern brides wear white for more information.


Gin Plague?

Genever (Jenever) had been brought back to Great Britain by soldiers who had fought with the Dutch in the 80 Years’ War/Dutch War for Independence. It wasn’t quite the same as gin, but would lead to the creation of gin.

When William of Orange (who was originally Dutch) became king of England in 1689, he made it illegal to import French brandy. He did this because he was Protestant and the French king was Catholic and that seemed like enough of a reason at the time. At first people were encouraged to make and drink gin. It was like they were thumbing their noses at France – who needs your brandy anyway?! But people began to like it. Not just like it, but like-like it.

The government began thinking that people were having too much fun with gin so they passed a law that put a tax of 5 shillings a gallon on gin. This didn’t do enough to stop people from drinking, and in typical government thinking, if something’s not working, let’s do more of it! So they passed the Gin Tax Act of 1736. It put a 20 shillings (£1) a gallon tax on liquors and required sellers to pay for an annual license that cost £50.

Side note – Then, as it is today, a government requiring a business to have a license is less about regulating it or keeping the public safe and is mostly about reducing the number of that type of business. Often it ends up being protectionism for the businesses of that kind that already exist. Look at how taxi companies are using government to fight competition from off Uber, Lyft, and SideCar.

The result of that was that reputable gin shops closed and a black market production of it grew, and it grew bigger than the legal gin market had been before Many of the producers and sellers of it were more on the sketchy side and the gin could have been adulterated with something that could make the drinkers ill or even kill them.

After some riots and a few years of continued drunkenness on cheap hooch, the law was repealed. In 1751 a new one was enacted that lowered the fees for big producers and raised them for the sellers. Distillers could not sell gin at retail and it put a minimum volume limit on the stills. Retailers could only get a license if they were in space that rented for at least £10 a year.

Another side note – This is business/government cronyism at its finest. Finest for the big businesses and politicians, that is, not so much for the small shop owner.

The cost of food was going up so there wasn’t as much money left for gin, which was becoming more expensive too. During this time, the importation of tea had been increasing so it was in place to become the new popular drink.


Last Beatles Concert?

The last buy-a-ticket-and-scream-so-you-can’t-hear-the-band concert was in January 1969 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The ticket prices ranged from US$4.50 to $6.50 each. That’s about $29 to $42 in 2013 dollar value. They only sold about 25,000 of the 42,500 seats. The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle, and The Ronettes also performed.

he last concert but possibly the first on-stage celebrity selfie.

Set List:
Rock and Roll Music
She’s a Woman
If I Needed Someone
Day Tripper
Baby’s in Black
I Feel Find
I Wanna Be Your Man
Nowhere Man
Paperback Writer
Long Tall Sally
In My Life

They did do public performances together after this, including playing “Hey, Jude” on several  TV shows in 1968 and the Apple recording studio rooftop performance in 1969.

Set List:
Get Back
I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
Don’t Let Me Down
I’ve Got a Feeling
One After 909
Danny Boy
Dig a Pony

God Save the Queen
A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody

“I’d like to say ‘Thank you’ on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition.” – John Lennon

You can find more information here:
Beatles Last Concert at Candlestick Park
10 Things: The Beatles Last Show


Do you have a favorite Beatles song? Or a favorite Beatle?


Statue of Liberty Built?

In 1870, Auguste Bartholdi began designing “Liberty Enlightening the World”. This was not the first time he had designed a giant statue if a robed woman holding a torch. He had planned on as part of a lighthouse for the Suez Canal in Egypt in 1869. He called it “Egypt Brings Light to Asia”. But, there was a change in plans and that statue was never built.

The statue we call the Statue of Liberty was completed in 1884 and presented to the United States Ambassador to France. It was shipped to the U.S. and assembled in New York in 1886 and dedicated on October 28 of that year. The arm and torch had visited America earlier, in 1876 for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. It was then sent to New York City until 1882.

In 1984 the statue’s original torch was replaced by a copper torch covered in 24k gold leaf.

The statue represents the Roman goddess Libertas and the tablet she holds is inscribed with the date “July 4, 1776″. From toes to torch top, she is 151 feet and 1 inch tall.

Statue of Liberty National Monument Visitor’s Information Guide


First Pizza Delivery?

30 minutes after the party started, duh. Unless you’re one of those people who have a drink to before ordering the pizza just to “get in mood to party” and still haven’t food four or five drinks later. Don’t be that person. Be the one who orders on time while you can still speak coherently to the person taking the order.

Now, while you’re waiting for your pizza to arrive, you can tell them these interesting pizza facts.

In 1889 an Italian chef who was known for his pizzas went to the palace to make some pies for King Umberto I and Queen Margherita. The Margherita pizza was named after her. I don’t know if that counts as delivery since he was only delivering himself and not the pizzas.

The Splendid Table has a recipe for a Margherita Pizza so you can try making your own,

While an Italian chef was making pizza for the palace, Americans were using portable ovens to bring fresh pizza to the streets. (Still the late 1880s.) This is still not quite like what we think of as delivery, it’s more like food trucks (NTTAWWT).

It wasn’t until the 1960s that real pizza delivery to homes was made available. We had pizzas since forever and cars and phones for a few decades. There needed to be one more thing – a strong desire by the customers to eat pizza without having to get up off the couch. This finally came in the form of marijuana.

There’s one more piece to our story – a delivery to a home away from home. Pizza Hut, working with Russian scientists, sent a pizza to the International Space Station in 2001. It was a 6″ sausage pizza and the delivery from Earth to low orbit space took about 2 days.

Find more here – What’s Cooking America: History of Pizza