Author: Historical Nonfiction

Why Is Nepal’s Flag Not Like Other Flags?

The flag of Nepal is in the shape of two pennants, one sewn on top of the other. They symbolize the Rana dynasty’s two branches, which ruled the country from 1846 to 1951. In the 1800s, the two red pennants were joined to represent the nation of Nepal, and in 1962 the conjoined form was officially adopted by Nepal’s constitutional government. To the Nepalese today, the flag symbolizes the country’s two religions – Hinduism and Buddhism – living side by side.

Pennants like Nepal’s flag used to be common for regional flags in Asia. But the rectangular flag, common in European countries, eventually took hold around the world, replacing regional symbols of allegiance.


The ancestor of the cultivated beet is the wild sea beet, which grew in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Beets have been around as longer than civilization. Their leaves have been eaten since prehistoric times, and we have records of them being grown in ancient Mesopotamia.

The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn…

The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn’t have a space program. And if we become extinct because we don’t have a space program, it’ll serve us right!

When Hockey Goalies Stood Tall

When the National Hockey League first started, hockey goalies had to stay on their feet at all times. Requiring goalies to remain standing contributed to high scoring games – and cheating. Because goalies were allowed to “accidentally” fall to the ice. So some goalies got very good at accidentally falling down, and timing it just right so their bodies just so happened to block an incoming puck. Oops!

The rule was changed partway through the very first NHL season.

Once-Censored Photos of the WWII Japanese Inte…

Once-Censored Photos of the WWII Japanese Internment Camps Are Finally Revealed:

In 1942, Dorothea Lange was hired by the US government to document the Japanese internment. When military officials reviewed her photographs, they censored them. None were released.

Thankfully, the photographs were deposited in the National Archives, but not destroyed. In 2006 the photographs were finally made public.

How Nuns Helped Resurrect Western Theatre

Seattle’s Segregation: It’s All About The Mort…

Redlining" is when a bank refuses to give a mortgage, or a government refuses to back a mortgage, to someone because they live in an area deemed to be a poor financial risk. In the United States, this term came to be in the Great Depression when the US government took over responsibility of backing mortgages – but only in areas deemed sufficiently low-risk. In practice, “sufficiently low-risk” meant mostly-white or all-white neighborhoods.

Redlining was a tool of racial segregation and separation. If a family cannot purchase a home than that family cannot acquire capital on that capital to the next generation. The family’s money is spent on rent, the value of which disappears to the landlord, instead of a mortgage, the value of which stays with the family. Redlining hurts families for multiple generations.

Here is the map that delineated where mortgages would be given in Seattle, in Washington state. You can literally see the red areas in the map.

Eighteen for Eighteen

In eighteen years of military service, Napoleon Bonaparte had eighteen horses shot out from under him!

A Very Victorian Fear

Hans Christian Anderson, the children’s author, had a typical fear for the Victorian era. He was very afraid of being buried alive. To make sure no one mistook his sleeping body for a dead body, Anderson slept with a note on his bedside table that read “I only appear to be dead.”

History does not record if anyone ever read the note.

The Moon Star Flag: How Turkey’s Flag Came To …

The Turkish national flag is mostly red, with a white star and a crescent in the center. Ottoman Sultan Selim III formalized the look in 1793, but the flag is actually much older.

The crescent-and-star combination has been used in Turkey since Hellenistic times (400s to 100 BCE). It likely came from ancient Mesopotamian iconocraphy. Ancient depictions of the symbol always show the crescent with horns pointing upward and with the star placed inside the crescent, for reasons that have been lost to time. When it came to Turkey, they gave it their own meanings. For Byzantium the moon symbolized Diana, also known as Artemis, the patron goddess of the city.

In 1453, when the city was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, the flag remained unchanged. With time, it became not just Istanbul’s flag but the Ottoman flag, with its design formalized in 1793 and its status as national flag formalized in 1844. Turks affectionately call the flag “ay yildiz” – the “moon star” flag.

Many nations that were once part of Ottoman Empire adopted the star-and-crescent when they gained independence, including Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. In the 1900s the symbol became associated with not just the Ottomans, but with Islam in general, and many states that were never part of the Ottoman Empire adopted it too, including Pakistan, Malaysia, and the Maldives. Pretty amazing that an ancient Mesopotamian symbol is flown around the world today.