TIL: When King Louis XIV of France (The Sun King) developed an anal fistula, a surgeon practiced on 75 other people first. Many of them died. After the successful operation, several courtiers faked having fistulas and wrapped bandages around their butts, in order to flatter the king.
Spyware hijacks smartphones, threatens journalists around the world. Mexican journalist describes how the government infected his phone to monitor him. The software transforms a cellphone into a surveillance hub, tracking the reporters movements and identifying sources.
TIL: Nell Gwynn, one of Charles II of England's many, many mistresses, was said to have ousted Moll Davis, her widely-disliked predecessor, by slipping her a laxative just before she was due to go meet the king. Charles pensioned Davis off after that night.
TIL: Winston Churchill believed that he was leading England through World War III. He and some other scholars describe The Seven Years War as the first global war, as there were battlefronts in Asia and Africa, even though the main combatants were all European nations.
TIL: John James Audubon, the naturalist and bird painter, might have thought he was the Lost Dauphin of France. In a letter to his wife from France, he complained that "dressed as a common man, I walk the streets...I, who should command all!"
TIL: John Francis, an American environmentalist, decided to stop speaking for a day to learn to listen better to his opponents. He turned it into a 17-year vow of silence. During those 17 years, he went to school and even earned a PhD.
TIL: In the 1930s, the German-American Bund built a planned community in Long Island with a training camp named Camp Siegfried, affiliated with the NRA, and streets named for Hitler , Goering, and Goebbels. The camp brochures said, “You will meet people who think like you.”
TIL: The year 46 BCE was known as the "annus confusionis" (year of confusion) because, in order to make his new calendar start right the next year, Julius Caesar added two leap months, giving the year 445 days.
TIL: In WWI, Capt Robert Campbell, a British POW asked the Kaiser for leave to visit his dying mother. The Kaiser agreed, if he promised to return. Campbell returned. He and other prisoners then spent nine months tunneling out of the camp, although they were later captured and sent back.