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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why do men’s and women’s shirts button on different sides? Tại sao cúc áo sơ mi nam và nữ nằm khác phía?

Why do men’s and women’s shirts button on different sides? Tại sao cúc áo sơ mi nam và nữ nằm khác phía?

Good question! The explanation you’re most likely to hear is that some women used to dress with the help of a maid, and since the majority of people are right-handed, women’s buttons are on the left to make things easier for the hired help. Men, meanwhile, apparently always dressed themselves, and so the shirts button from the right.

As often as I’ve read this story, though, I haven’t found any solid evidence to back it up. I personally think it’s a little shaky. First, it would imply that the rich and powerful women of history — those who would have had maids — were so rich and powerful that their influence extended to the smallest details of the work of clothing designers and manufacturers the world over. Sure, with enough money you can buy your way out of trouble with the law, or make your own government policies. But even if Bill Gates, the Pope, Oprah, Barack Obama and the ghost of Elvis all wanted to add those button-up butt flaps to jeans, do you think Levi Strauss and Co. are gonna give in?

Let’s not forget, too, that for every woman with a maid helping her dress, there may have been a man in the household with a servant. Did these manservants not help their masters dress? Were they all lefties?

The alternative explanation—those darn men, always getting in fights to the death, often kept their right hands tucked into their coats to keep them warmed up for swordplay—I can’t find as much fault with, but no solid backing, either. We’re sorry we don’t have a straight answer for you, but that just puts us on par with everyone else.

Assuming that the first story is true, though, why are left-side buttons still around in a day and age when only a small number of women are still dressed by servants? That’s an easier question to answer. It’s an established norm. Whatever the reason, women’s shirts button from the left and while that could be changed, there doesn’t seem much reason to do it, since the only people who seem to be talking about it are you and me. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t have much sway in the world of fashion.

Why is my last button hole horizontal?

Some people exert more stress on their clothing in the area of the lower stomach and waist. Between any extra bulk that may reside in that area and the force of bending actions at the waist, the bottom button on dress shirts is prone to shifting upward. Were there a vertical buttonhole, the button would easily become unfastened again and again. A horizontal hole prevents this and keeps the shirt closed at the bottom. The horizontal top buttonhole at the collar accomplishes the same thing.

What’s all this stuff in my belly button?

Sure, it’s a slightly different kind of button, but let’s roll with it. Thanks to the work of dogged bellybutton researchers like Karl Sven Woytek Sas Konkovitch Matthew Kruszelnicki (better known as Dr. Karl) of the University of Sydney and Georg Steinhauser, a Project Assistant and Chemist at the Department of Radiation Physical Analysis and Radiochemistry at the Atomic Institute in Vienna, we know the following:

• Bellybutton lint consists primarily of stray fibers from our clothing mixed with some dead skin cells and bits of body hair.

• Contrary to many people’s expectation, these bellybutton lint building materials migrate up from underwear rather than down from our shirts, the result of friction between body hair and underwear fiber.

• Women build up less bellybutton lint because of their finer and shorter body hairs.

• The average mass of a ball of bellybutton lint is 1.82 mg.

Any other button questions we missed?


Brooklands Revisited Tái ngộ Brooklands

Brooklands Revisited Tái ngộ Brooklands

The Brooklands was the world’s first venue specifically built for motorsports. Opening in 1907 in Surrey, England, it was a 2.75-mile concrete track that was home to many automotive firsts. It closed in 1939 when the airstrip on its infield was needed for operations in World War II. After damage from enemy bombing and roads built for military purposes that cut through the track, it was never used for racing again.



That is until 2009 when James May, co-host of the popular British TV show Top Gear, presented a series of specials for the BBC called Toy Stories. The premise behind the show was to use old toys on a full-scale level, like when they built an actual Lego house. One episode featured May using Scalextric, Britain’s most popular brand of slot cars, to recreate the entire Brooklands track. The monumental task required 400 volunteers and 20,000 pieces of track to complete the circuit. But that was only half the challenge – many areas that were once covered by the racetrack have since been rebuilt as houses, businesses, a street, and even a small pond (they used an inflatable platform to get across). By the time they were finished, it was the largest slot car track in the world, beating out a 2007 entry that was an impressive 1.59 miles long.