Author Archive: Katherine Luck

Fun with Explosives

Road work, farming, coal mining. All require dynamite: “one of man’s most useful tools,” as 1957 educational film Blasting Cap Danger would have you believe. Apparently, blasting caps littered the American landscape in the 1950s. Hence the need for an educational film warning children of their hazards.

exploded baseball

But what are blasting caps?

Continue reading >


Charles Manson, failed musician

Charles Manson is famous for one thing, and it’s not his music.

Charles Manson Musician

When Manson died on Nov. 19, 2017, at the age of 83, the major media outlets rushed to publish retrospectives of his life as the mastermind behind nine brutal murders committed by members of the Manson Family in 1969.

The majority of these articles followed a predictable template: a thumbnail sketch of Manson’s troubled childhood, followed by an overview of his rise to power as the charismatic leader of a group of young middle-class dropouts at the height of the 1960s counterculture movement. Then came an analysis of Manson’s manipulation of his followers, which forged an unshakable loyalty and willingness to do anything for him — even commit murder. A where-are-they-now of his followers typically served as a wrap-up.

But the one thing these long-form obituaries neglected to explore was why he did it.

Continue reading >

Martha Stewart is going to Svalbard

And you can go, too. But there’s a catch.

To accompany the lifestyle guru to Svalbard, you must enter and win a contest. The grand prize is impressive: roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations for two, a private tour of the Global Seed Vault, the chance to dine and hobnob with Martha Stewart and undisclosed “leading food scientists and policy makers,” and assorted Svalbardian outdoor activities.

Martha Stewart Svalbard contest

So, what’s the catch?

Continue reading >

Who really wrote ‘Little House on the Prairie?’

According to Rose Wilder Lane’s 1917 hagiographic biography of Henry Ford, the inventor of the iconic Model T and pioneer in modern assembly line techniques was first and foremost a down-to-earth farmer, son of the soil, and espouser of folksy American values.

Little House on the Prairie

That’s debatable, but what strikes the reader of Henry Ford’s Own Story: How a Farmer Boy Rose to the Power That Goes With Many Millions Yet Never Lost Touch With Humanity is how similar it is in both style and content to Lane’s far more famous collaboration: the beloved Little House children’s book series that she worked on with her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Continue reading >