She sued companies because vanity search results included links she found unsavory

Admit it. We’ve all done a vanity search. You know, when you type your name into a search engine and hit “Enter.” But, when Bev Stayart did, she didn’t like what turned up. So she sued — several times.

The Wisconsin woman filed her first lawsuit in federal court in 2009. Stayart alleged the search results for “bev stayart” contained links to pornographic websites, online pharmacies promoting erectile dysfunction (“ED”) drugs, and an adult-oriented online dating service. That meant, she said, that Yahoo! Inc., Overture Services, Inc., and Various, Inc. intentionally used her name without authorization. …


Northern Crusades sought to forcibly convert Baltic pagans

Mention the Crusades, and virtually everyone thinks of the medieval wars between European Christians and Muslims to control sites in the Holy Land. Yet, Christians also battled European pagans in what is known as the Northern or Baltic Crusades. One led to what may be the largest mass suicide in history.

The suicides occurred on February 25, 1336, in Pilėnai, Lithuania. Although mentioned in several contemporary accounts, historians differ on where Pilėnai was and the details of what happened. It’s undisputed, though, that the suicides occurred when the Teutonic Order attacked a Lithuanian fortress.

The Teutonic Order, technically the Order…


Interest began as part of 19th century British fascination with Napoleon

Between coming to power in France in 1799 to Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte waged war against Great Britain. Once defeated, though, he became quite popular in England. Marengo, reportedly Napoleon’s favorite steed, also became a celebrity and remains one to some extent today.

Legend has it the horse was one of many Arabian stallions taken by the French Army after defeating an Ottoman army at Aboukir Bay, near Alexandria, Egypt, in July 1799. …


1939 structure now a memorial against violence and racism and dedicated to thought and learning

“We demand the union of all Germans to form the Greater Germany on the basis of the people’s right to self-determination enjoyed by the nations.” Such was the first point in the Nazi Party platform Adolf Hitler announced in February 1920. However, it would take some 18 years for the first step, the union (Anschluss) of Austria and Germany. A Nazi monument to that event remains today in Austria but serves a new purpose.

Many sought the unification of Austria and Germany after the German Empire founded in 1871 excluded Austria. At the end of World War I, the Treaty…


No, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Dylan, and Jagger did not record an album together

In November 1969, a rock album called The Masked Marauders was released. Its name came from contractual obligations that precluded identifying the world-famous musicians. Given the artists, though, the liner notes declared it a “once in a lifetime” and “epoch-making” album. It sold more than 100,00 copies. The opening cut, “I Can’t Get No Nookie,” was reportedly called “clearly obscene” by the chair of the Federal Communications Commission. It turns out it was all a hoax.

The first mention of the album came in a review in Rolling Stone magazine’s issue dated October 18, 1969, but on newsstands before then…


Accounts of St. Paul’s conversion appear to match those of exploding meteorites

Many consider St. Paul as perhaps the most important person after Jesus in the history of Christianity. The Bible’s Acts of the Apostles gives three accounts of how he went from Saul of Tarsus, a zealous persecutor of Christians, to Paul, a man who traveled thousands of miles spreading Christianity. Based on those accounts, a planetary scientist believes a meteoric fireball may have led to Paul’s conversion.

Acts contains two of Paul’s versions of his conversion and a third-person account, believed written by St. Luke. Although differing slightly in details, they are relatively uniform. Paul was traveling to Damascus to…


Legends and myths helped form early concepts of human biology

Pliny the Elder’s Natural History is one of the earliest compendiums of Roman science. Because it reflects the limits of first-century knowledge, the multi-volume work regarded many imaginary beasts as real. But it wasn’t only beasts. Book 7 dealt with humans, and many “marvels” — exaggerated or mythical beings — appear there also.


Ancient tales put unique spin on the creation of humanity

Humans are intrinsically curious. Of course, a fundamental question is how we and all that surrounds us got here. That translates to millennia of creation stories and myths. Both the big bang and creationism posit the world emerging from nothingness. In some of the older stories, the creator gods use disparate substances as building blocks. The three below illustrate some of the variety in creation myths.


The “Edelweiss Pirates” rebelled against life in Nazi Germany

Long before coming to power in Germany, the Nazis recognized the importance of indoctrination. Although its predecessor first met in May 1922, more than a decade before Adolf Hitler became German chancellor, the Nazis founded the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) in 1926. The Nazis used the Hitler Youth to instill Nazi principles, regimentation, and discipline. Some rebelled, forming groups that would be known as “Edelweiss Pirates” (Edelweißpiraten). Debate remains on whether these were resistance organizations or gangs of disaffected teens.

After Hitler became chancellor in 1933, the Nazis took control of the education system. Soon, student instruction emphasized love for Hitler…


First or second-century graffiti was scratched into the wall of the former palace of Caligula in Rome

Western art traditionally depicts Jesus Christ as a light-skinned man with a full beard and long hair. The accuracy of that portrayal is debated. Yet, there’s no dispute about the inaccuracy of the first known depiction of Christ’s crucifixion. In it, he has the head of a horse or an ass.

Known as the Alexamenos Graffito, the drawing is among a variety of graffiti discovered in 1857 when excavations on the Palatine Hill in Rome uncovered a building. Originally a palace belonging to Emperor Caligula (37–41 CE), the interior plaster walls had many drawings and words scratched into them. …

Tim Gebhart

Retired Lawyer. Book Addict. History Buff. Lifelong South Dakotan. Blog: prairieprogressive.com

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