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Mark Lambert

I'm a research-geek and writer. I dig deep into obscure corners until I unearth something shiny and interesting. I've written professionally for close to a decade, and have covered everything from thought-controlled robots to the fall of the Kingdom of Kush.

Things the ancient Aztecs couldn't live without

There were at least three items that defined Aztec life. Without them, the Aztecs wouldn't have been who they were. One was endearing. Another had horrifying implications. And the third ... kind of brings everything together and helps put their culture into sharper focus. But first to set the scene here's some Aztec 101. The Aztecs called themselves the Mexica. Their vast civilization sprawled across much of present-day Mexico from the 14th Century to the 16th Century, before coming to an abrup

Weird things you didn't know about The Smurfs

Weird things you didn't know about The Smurfs On the surface, Smurfs are cute and affable creatures. Their cheerfulness and strength of character have warmed many a jaded heart since comics and cartoons began documenting their heroics — most notably in the 1950s and 1980s. But steel yourself. The hidden ways of Smurfkind can be deeply confronting to the uninitiated, and hostile to the gentle demands of human decency. Prepare to question your most basic assumptions about these mushroom-fixated a

The bizarre origin of 'Little Green Men'

The bizarre origin of 'Little Green Men' On a hot August night in 1955, two cars screeched to a halt outside a rural police station in southwestern Kentucky. Eight members of the Sutton family poured into the station and reportedly (thank you, Skeptoid) uttered words that would, in decades since, inspire a deluge of delightfully corny B-grade science-fiction classics: "We need help. We've been fighting them for nearly four hours." Humans tend to spend a lot of time thinking about non-humans. S

Things the ancient Mesopotamians couldn't live without

It is probably no coincidence that Mesopotamia is widely acknowledged by historians as both the cradle of human civilization and home to the first documented joke about the awkwardness of accidental flatulence. Our knowledge of what life was like in Mesopotamia is remarkably nuanced. We know Mesopotamians had an endearing habit of worshiping a pantheon of emotionally volatile yet oddly helpful dragons. We have a fairly clear picture that they were enlightened by ancient world standards — gettin

The disturbing past of Forest Haven Asylum

The US is littered with abandoned structures. Some of these spaces are entirely forgotten. Lost, their bones of brick and wood slowly return to the soil with barely a soul to Instagram their passing. Other structures are carefully curated and preserved, like a long-dead butterfly — pinned to cork, neatly labeled, and slowly doomed to fade under endless curious eyes. But a rare few abandoned structures jut raggedly from the earth, like an obscene finger gesture from the past. These places are sti

The life and death of Harry Houdini

Born into complete poverty and obscurity, by the time he died, Harry Houdini had become one of the most recognized magicians, escape artists, and stage performers of all time. Throughout his lifetime, he'd devise a library of new magical techniques that would forever change how stage-magic was done. Along the way, he also forged the prototype for a new kind of magician — a prestidigitator who made his craft real and relatable outside of the stage.

Frozen treasures found in the depths of Antarctica

Antarctica is a remote enough chunk of the Earth as it is, but the speckle of tiny Antarctic islands surrounding the continent is ridiculously remote. Some of these islands are almost impossible to get a plane to fly over, let alone land on. One such speck on the map is Saunders Island, lying around 1,000 miles off the eastern edge of Antarctica's frigid coastline. Researchers analyzing high-resolution South Pole satellite imagery spotted something unusual about Saunders Island — or more specifi

Disruption And Change - How Unique Perspectives Can Change The World

Everyone is different. This is hardly a controversial or revolutionary observation. Unless you happen to live on some island somewhere conveniently populated with genetic clones of yourself, sooner or later you’re going to stumble across someone with different opinions. However, somehow the simple fact of difference seems to cause a lot of disturbance in this mixed up world of ours. Different opinions and perspectives are disruptive. They’re destabilizing.

The man who was successfully turned into a zombie

The man who was successfully turned into a zombie Haiti: 1962. A man checks himself into a hospital with labored breathing. The medical staff does their best but within a few hours of checking in, he's dead. His time of death is noted, and the body is carefully bagged and refrigerated. And there he remains in cold storage while his family, grief-stricken, make funeral arrangements. And the world flows on, as it always has and always will. Only this isn't the end of this particular man's story.

Anton LaVey: The truth about the Church of Satan founder

There are many different kinds of evil. Of course, you've got your just plain nasty black-on-black evil, like serial killers and tacky gold-chain wearing despots. Then you've got crazy evil (eating a firefly) and senseless evil (axing Firefly). And of course, let's not forget that there's a whole library of lesser quasi-evils: mildly foul deeds of infamy like sticking gum under public library desks or sneaking almond milk into an innocent person's coffee.

The true history of the lost Kingdom of Kush

The exact genesis of the Kushites is lost to history. We know that small farming communities toiled the arid soils of modern-day Sudan around 3000 BCE. At some point, for various human-ish reasons, one of these dusty desert-dwelling folk took their first tentative steps into full kingdom-hood. Centuries passed. As related by the History Collection, our first real hint of Kush as a kingdom to be reckoned with happened almost a millennium later. Egyptian records from around 2100 BCE speak of a war

Humanoid robot: a servant or a clone

If you’re anything like me, the thought of projecting your consciousness into a robot will send a happy shiver of “what if” down your spine. Ever since I discovered Doctor Who and the joys of science-fiction, robots have been a “thing” for me. I’m going to just admit it: I really want to spend a day in a robot’s big, clunky metallic shoes. Hell it wouldn’t even need to be one of the large, scary ones. A cute one with a little aerial sticking out the top of its head would be just fine.

Imposter Syndrome: What It Is and How You Can Beat It

Early in my career, my boss signed me up for a radio interview on live air. I knew this was bad news—just the thought made my stomach churn—but there wasn’t any way to get out of it. I spent weeks preparing for that 15-minute interview. I lost sleep over it. I was terrified the world would discover how little I knew about my job. The façade I’d cultivated for years would crumble. I’d get fired! I just knew it.

How To Write An Amazing Blog Post

Picture a cheese sandwich — a truly terrible one. What does it look like? If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking of something like a single square of processed cheese (I see it curling and browning at the edges) encased within two stale, dry slices of wonder white. It’s cut in uneven triangles. Depressingly, every single day countless blog contributors are churning out bland and questionable content — the writing equivalent of a deeply misguided cheese sandwich.

The untold truth of the Medellin Cartel

Let's take a closer look at Pablo Escobar, and the diabolical charisma he wielded like a bedazzled, blood-stained baseball bat. Walk down some of the most poverty ravaged streets of Medellin, and you'll find large apartment complexes bearing his name. Sit at the right bar (it's probably more accurate to say the wrong bar) and ask folks about Escobar. You'll still find Medellin locals who'll fiercely defend his memory. Interviewed for a Wall Street Journal article on Escobar's lasting influence,
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