Right Now in Ridiculous History

How Uncle Tom's Cabin Became One of the Most Popular Books in China

Published in 1852, Uncle Tom's Cabin quickly reached international acclaim, becoming the best-selling novel of the 19th century, and the second-best selling book after the Bible. While this antislavery narrative profoundly affected American attitudes about slavery, the story also had a global reach -- in fact, a Chinese translation of Uncle Tom's Cabin became one of the hottest books of the late Qing Dynasty.

Introducing Worst Year Ever

2020 isn't going to be fun for anybody, left, right, or center. What many call the Most Important Election of Our Lifetime is going to be exhausting, ugly, angry, and probably at least a little racist. Listen as Robert, Katy, and Cody try to keep level heads covering the election while traveling the country, from the Iowa Caucus to gun shows and anti-vaccine conventions, finding out what Real America really wants and thinks during the, “Worst Year Ever.”

The first two episodes are now available. Listen here.

Tom Watson Gordy: How One Uncle’s Adventures Inspired Jimmy Carter to Join the Navy

Former President Jimmy Carter has dedicated his life to public service, but even now few people know what exactly inspired him. Join Ben, Noel and special guest Ryan as they explore the astonishing adventures of Carter’s Uncle Tom Gordy — and how one man’s letter home set Carter on a path that would eventually lead to the presidency.

Teddy Bears, Rhinos, Safari and Everywhere Else: A Conversation with Daniel Scheffler

Although he was wildly popular during his final Presidential term (the world-famous Teddy Bear was even inspired by him), Theodore Roosevelt declined to run for the office again in 1908. Immediately after the inauguration of President Howard Taft in 1909, Roosevelt set out on his dream trip -- a safari across the African continent. Join the guys and special guest Daniel Scheffler, the host of Everywhere, as they explore the complicated, paradoxical relationship Roosevelt had with conservation and hunting, along with how a Teddy Bear inspired Daniel to travel to over 120 countries.

You can listen to Everywhere wherever podcasts are available. Listen here.

The Gaspee Affair: Rhode Island’s Revolutionary “Tea Party”

Most US residents are familiar with the famous Boston Tea Party - but it was far from the only conflict of this type. Join the guys as they explore Rhode Island’s Gaspee Affair, and why it’s sometimes called Rhode Island’s Boston Tea Party.

Otto Rahn, The Nazi Occultist Who Hated Nazis and Inspired Indiana Jones

Otto Rahn was a German writer obsessed with finding the Holy Grail -- and, despite being opposed to the Nazi party, as well as openly gay, Otto was financed by one of his biggest fans: Henrich Himmler, the infamous head of the SS. Himmler was convinced Rahn was on to something, pouring money into Rahn's expeditions to find the Grail. So what happened next?

4 Times Women in the US Were Actually Arrested for Wearing Pants

Today we take a look at a practice that many of us do every day without a second thought - namely, wear pants. However, for women throughout history, wearing pants has not always been such a trivial matter. Join Ben and special guest Christopher Hassiotis as they examine four times that women in the United States were arrested simply for wearing pants.

Sir Francis Drake and the Great Iowa Swindle

When Oscar Hartzell's mother met Milo and Sudie, she fell for a story too good to be true: She, as an heir to the fortune of Sir Francis Drake, was eligible to receive a large part of his treasure -- all she had to do was help pay for court costs in the UK. Yet when Oscar finally figured out the con, he joined forces with the fraudsters, eventually becoming the head of one of the largest scams of the age. Join Ben and special guest Christopher Hassiotis as they explore the bizarre rise (and fall) of Oscar Hartzell.

Around the World in a Model T: The Story of Aloha Wanderwell

Nowadays her name may be unfamiliar, but in the 1920s Aloha Wanderwell was an international celebrity, traveling hundreds of thousands of miles across the globe and filming her adventures. Tune in to learn more about the life and times of the explorer often called "the Amelia Earhart of the Automobile".

Why George Washington is Huge in Barbados

Before he became one of the leaders of the Revolutionary War, George Washington was just another young man with big dreams and no small amount of wanderlust. It’s no surprise, then, that he jumped at the chance to travel to Barbados with his elder half-brother. Join the guys as they sit down with special guest and research associate Ryan Beresch to learn more about Washington’s seven weeks in Barbados -- and how it fundamentally altered the course of his life.

John Willis Menard: The First African American Elected To US Congress

A statesman, editor, publisher, poet, activist and more, John Willis Menard was a true Renaissance man, and he dedicated his life to public service. Listen in to learn more about the life and times of John Willis Menard.

The Bloody Revenge of Saint Olga of Kiev

When the rebellious Drevlian tribe killed Princess Olga of Kiev's husband, Igor, she set forth on one of history's bloodiest revenge's schemes, instigating not one but multiple unsaintly, violent massacres. Join the guys as they explore Olga's brutal rise to power -- and how she ultimately became a saint.

The Super Fight: When Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano Had A Fight That Never Happened

Radio executive Murray Woroner had a dream -- a fantasy radio boxing tournament matching 16 fighters from different eras. In a move that pushed the boundaries of 1960s technology, his team programmed a computer with that boxers' strengths, weaknesses and various fight scenarios that might occur. This ultimately led to one of the strangest bouts in boxing history: The Super Fight between Ali and Mariano, a match that occurred on film, but never happened in real life.

Shame and Fish: The Embarrassing and Tragic Story of François Vatel

In this episode, Ben and Noel dive into the story of François Vatel, a majordomo who was tasked with organizing an extravagant royal banquet in 1671. With 2,000 attendees expected, among them many high-ranking French dignitaries, the pressure was high. Tune in to find out the ridiculous and tragic story of what happened next.

Creature Feature: Go Home Nature, You're Drunk

Join the guys as they make a return appearance on Creature Feature, the podcast that takes a critter’s eye view to explore how animal behavior parallels the behavior of humans. In this episode, Katie Goldin and the guys explore some of the strangest quirks of animal anatomy... and they learn some things simply can't be unseen.

Hunting Fireflies for Fun (and Profit)

From the 1960s well into the 1990s, thousands of children in the United States were actually paid to hunt fireflies. Join the guys as they explore the strange story of Sigma and firefly hunting — and get surprised by an unexpected guest.

The Listener Mail Extravaganza

The guys often end the show by asking you and your fellow listeners for your own takes on everything from strange town names, crackpot military experiments and more. In today’s episode, Ben and Noel explore some of their favorite listener feedback and — for some reason — decide to check out their worst reviews online.

That Time Ancient Monks Waged War Over A Copyright

The first modern copyright law was the Statute of St. Anne, passed in Great Britain in 1710. However, copyright disputes themselves are much older -- and in at least once case, an argument over copyright led to thousands of deaths. Listen in to learn the strange story of how Saint Columba and Saint Finian went into open battle over copyright.

Ye Xian: The Story of China's Cinderella

We've all heard the story of Cinderella -- it's one of the world's most popular fairy tales! However, this story exists in multiple versions across the world. Join the guys as they explore the ancient tale of Ye Xian -- the Chinese Cinderella.

The Portuguese Bank Note Crisis: How One Lucky Forger Almost Destroyed A Nation's Economy

Artur Virgilio Alves dos Reis had a gift. He wasn't the smartest kid growing up, nor was he the most athletic -- he was, however, one of Europe's most talented forgers. After a string of various cons, he decided to go big. How big, you ask? Tune in to learn how one lucky conman almost single-handedly brought down the entire Portuguese economy.