I came across a 1927 case of a cliche come to life — a thief fleeing on foot who was caught because he accidentally slipped on a banana peel, which sent him sprawling.
New Cambria Leader - Nov 11, 1927
I figured that Chuck must have documented cases of people who have slipped on banana peels, and sure enough he has.
• 2011 — Ida Valentine, who filed a lawsuit against a California 99 Cents Only store after slipping on a banana peel and suffering a herniated disk. (posted here on WU)
• 2007 — Joyce Walker, awarded $4,110 for injuring her knee in a hospital restroom after slipping on a banana peel. (newsoftheweird.com)
• 2001 — Dorothy M. Ellis Williams, who sued a Quiktrip gas station after she slipped on a banana peel on the pavement outside their store and injured her back and knee. (google groups)
MythBusters has investigated whether you can really slip on a banana peel, and they concluded that although it's not as easy to do as the cliche might suggest, it's definitely possible. Older skins are more slippery. They also note that the cliche originated in the early 20th century after bananas first became a popular fruit, which led to numerous old skins littering sidewalks, and therefore numerous accidents.
Also, back in March 2016 it briefly became a fad among teenagers to take videos of themselves slipping on banana peels and then post the videos online. It was called the "banana peel challenge" #bananapeelchallenge. (Daily Mail)
The wikipedia article on Oxford anthropologist Arthur Thomson (1858-1935) notes that he's best remembered for formulating Thomson's Nose Rule, which states that ethnic groups from cold climates tend to have thinner noses than groups from hot climates.
Apparently he's not remembered for his "Women Are Like Apes" theory, which he presented to a meeting of the Royal Academy of Sciences in 1927. The basis of this theory was that, "woman's legs are usually shorter, and her arms longer, than man's" — and this, Thomson felt, made women more ape-like.
I was curious whether Thomson was actually correct about female body proportions, and after some googling I've concluded that he probably was — at least about women (on average) having shorter legs as a proportion of their total height than men do. See, for instance, this article by a designer of bicycles for women, which says that's the case.
This seems to me a vivid example of a massively clever technology that totally missed out on the future train. Adding sound capture to film stock itself made this huge device totally obsolescent overnight.
June 19, 1923: The State of Illinois passed an act declaring "American" (as opposed to "English") to be the state's official language.
The act was proposed by Senator Frank J. Ryan of Chicago who was "fed up" with American being called English. Ryan, in turn, got the idea from Montana Congressman Washington McCormick, who had tried, but failed, to get American designated as the national language.
In 1969 the Illinois legislature revised the statute to make English, not American, the official state language.
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
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