Does Starbucks have any relation to the Starbuck family?

While romping about Nantucket's fields and beaches, I stumbled into a little history. Nantucket was originally inhabited by the Wampanoag tribe until the English settled down in the mid 1600s. Among the founding families of Nantucket were the Macy's of Macy's, the Folgers of Folgers Coffee, and the Starbuck's of "¦Starbucks? But the Starbuck's company factsheet  says it was named after the first mate in Herman Melville's Moby Dick. So, who's telling the truth? Well, perhaps both.

Starbucks was founded by three academics who had no relation to a Starbuck. As it happens, Moby Dick was one of the founder's favorite book, so he proposed the name Pequod after Captain Ahab's ship. Luckily for coffee-lovin' Americans, that name was quickly vetoed. Instead, the three decided to search for a name with local Seattle flavor and proposed Starbo, the name of an old mining camp near Mt. Rainier. Then, realizing the similarity between Starbo and Starbuck, the first-mate of the Pequod, the group compromised on Starbucks.

What the founders may not have known, however, is that Melville drew his inspiration from the traditions and stories of the whalers on Nantucket Island. In fact, Moby Dick itself was inspired by the story of the Essex, a whaling boat that left Nantucket in 1819 and was struck and sunk by a sperm whale. Surely, Melville knew the Starbuck family name, prominent on Nantucket, and from it, drew inspiration for his character, a Quaker from Nantucket.
So, that's the full scoop. Though the Starbuck family of Nantucket is not The Starbucks' Family, without them you might have been obsessing over your next Pequod's fix.

Be sure to check out more of what Diana learned today here.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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