We left astronaut poop on the moon

We came. We saw. We littered. On each of mankind’s six historic moon landings, dozens of objects were left behind– indelible imprints that outlasted Neil Armstrong’s famous first footprint (which was likely obliterated during the lander’s return liftoff). Read more at the official website for An Incomplete List of Things
We Left Behind on the Moon

18 American Presidents Didn’t Have a Vice President For All or Part of Their Terms

We’re used to seeing a president and a vice president, but more than a dozen times throughout American history, there hasn’t been a sitting VP.

The first American president to spend part of his time in office without a #2 was James Madison who was savvy enough to win two terms in office. One thing he wasn’t good at? Choosing his vice presidents apparently. Both men he chose for his first and second terms died part of the way through them, so he simply finished his terms without a veep!

The situation arose again for a longer period of time in 1841 when John Tyler left his spot as the vice president to become the president (his president, William Henry Harrison, died after just a month in office). Tyler served the entirety of his term without a vp. A similar situation occurred with Millard Fillmore who became president after his #1 died as well.

Luckily Richard Nixon had the good sense to appoint a second vice president after his first (Spiro Agnew) resigned when caught taking bribes. Well, good sense, plus the 25th Amendment (ratified in 1967) which required a Vice President at all times. When Nixon himself resigned in disgrace, his second vice president, Gerald Ford, became president. And thus ended the tradition of leaving the vice presidential slot empty: America has never been without a vice president since.

Members of the Electoral College Have Voted Their Own Way 158 Times

In the United States, presidents are not elected directly– instead, each state’s votes are tallied and the winner receives electoral college members who then cast votes for president. It’s a complex system that’s leftover from the Constitutional Convention of 1787 when American democracy was still, shall we say, getting her sea legs (it was the same convention that decided African Americans were worth three-fifths of a person).

In theory, the system works so that the average citizen votes by proxy: they vote for a candidate, and based on how many people vote for that candidate, the candidate is awarded the state’s electoral college votes, to be apportioned among its campaign supporters. Those supporters, who have been hand-picked by the campaign and are generally considered to be loyal to the candidate, are the ones who actually ratify the election by voting for the candidate.

But sometimes things don’t work out as planned. It turns out, 158 electoral college members have voted in a way other than the people of their state. Sometimes the reason for becoming what’s called a “faithless elector” is somewhat understandable: 63 of these 158 were cast differently due to Horace Greeley’s untimely death which occurred after he lost the election of 1872 but before the electoral college had a chance to vote).

Other times, the electors decide to go their own way for ideological reasons. This was the case in the election of 1872 when all 23 electors from the state of Virginia– which was pledged for the Democratic candidate Martin van Buren– refused to vote for van Buren’s vice presidential candidate, Richard Mentor Johnson, because the mother of his children was black. He wasn’t officially married to her because it was illegal, but he treated her as his common law wife.

The USSR Landed Multiple Probes on Venus in the 1960s

When we think of the space race, we generally think of initial race to put a human in space and the moon landing which followed (the former glory went to the USSR, and the latter glory to the USA). But what’s often forgotten is that the USSR actually beat America in landing probes on the moon, Venus, and even Mars.

The first man-made object to land on the moon was Luna 2 (after an unsuccessful Luna 1 attempted landing which missed its target by more than 3,000 miles), a Soviet probe. It made headlines on September 13th, 1959 when it reached its target and successfully transmitted data back to earth.

A few years later, in 1966 the USSR once again beat the USA in becoming the first country to successfully land a probe on Venus. The Venera 3 crash-landed on the second planet from the Sun on March 1st, 1966, though it was unable to send back any data to earth after landing (several unsuccessful attempts at a landing later, the Venera 7 eventually succeeded).

And the first Mars landing? That happened in late 1971, with the USSR’s Mars 2 lander, which crash landed on the martian planet’s surface. The subsequent Mars 3 lander succeeded in landing on the surface intact, and was able to transmit back a single blurry image (pictured above) and then unceremoniously shut down after approximately 15 seconds of operation.

The US Senate Once Tried to Ban Dial Telephones From Capitol Hill

Today for most people who own cell phones, manual dialing is largely a thing of the past: your contacts are stored in your phone and you rarely have to type in a new number.

But that wasn’t the case in 1930: back then it was normal to pick up a phone and be connected with an operator who would then place your call for you. And for some in the early 20th Century, the thought of dialing your own phone number was downright scary.

In 1930 the US Senate took up the pressing issue of new manual-dial phones with the following resolution when dial phones were installed in their Congressional offices:

Whereas dial telephones are more difficult to operate than are manual telephones; and Whereas Senators are required, since the installation of dial phones in the Capitol, to perform the duties of telephone operators in order to enjoy the benefits of telephone service; and Whereas dial telephones have failed to expedite telephone service; Therefore be it resolved that the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate is authorized and directed to order the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. to replace with manual phones within 30 days after the adoption of this resolution, all dial telephones in the Senate wing of the United States Capitol and in the Senate office building.

Bill sponsors hoped the measure would convince the phone company to remove dial phones from all of Washington, DC, not just Capitol Hill. The motion passed and though younger Senators preferred to dial their own numbers rather than wait for an operator to connect them to the party they wished to reach, the phones were banned. At least temporarily– a later compromise allowed Senators to choose which type of phone they wanted for their office.

Well, that’s the world’s greatest deliberative body for you.

The World Trade Center Towers Originally Lacked Lightswitches

When the World Trade Center in New York City was first opened in 1973, employees didn’t have to worry about turning off the lights when they left work. Why was that? Because their offices didn’t have switches.

In the early 1970s, electricity was considered “too cheap to meter” so the building’s planners– in a show of bravado, if not wastefulness– opted to forgo the traditional on-off switches, meaning all lights stayed on indefinitely, or at least until a floor manager turned them off for the day.

After energy prices rose markedly over the the following decade, individual light switches and a programmable scheduling system were eventually installed in 1982.

Nixon Had a Speech Prepared In Case the Apollo 11 Astronauts Were Stranded in Space

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, they made history. But one thing that didn’t make history that day was the backup speech that President Nixon was slated to give in the event that something went wrong on the mission and the astronauts were stranded 238,900 miles from earth.

Written by presidential speechwriter William Safire and not revealed until 1999, the speech was planned in case the astronauts had to be abandoned. In that scenario, according to Safire in a July 18, 1999 Meet The Press interview, “then they would have to be abandoned on the moon. Left to die there, And mission control would have to, to use their euphemism, close down communication. And the men would either starve to death or commit suicide. And so we prepared for that with a speech that I wrote and the president was ready to give that.”

Below is the full text of the speech that Nixon never gave.
Read the rest of this entry »

Kodak Invented the Technology That Later Forced Them Into Bankruptcy

US Patent number 4,131,919. Though it may not go down in history, it’s sure to be one of the most important inventions in our modern age.

In 1975, Kodak employee Steven Sasson built the world’s first functional digital camera using then-new but now-ubiquitous CCD chips. Though it would take a few decades for the technology to hit the mainstream, Kodak was responsible for inventing the same technology that would later force it to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in January 2012.

Although it also brought the world’s first single lens reflex digital camera to market in the early 90s, Kodak was slow to shift its business from film-based to to the digital-based products (the company once made almost all of its income from selling film).

2007 was the last year that the imaging pioneer turned a profit, and today Kodak relies on suing others for allegedly infringing its patents (ones that it often failed to capitalize upon), and since declaring bankruptcy has resorted to auctioning those patents off to the highest bidder.

After Mein Kampf, Hitler Wrote a Second Unpublished Book

When Adolf Hitler died at his own hand in 1945 he left behind Mein Kampf, his ideology encapsulated in a two-volume, 720 page set of books. But what’s lesser known is that he also wrote a second book, unpublished in his lifetime, which sat hidden in a vault until his death.

In 1928, two years after publishing Mein Kampf, Hitler penned his second book, which is now known simply as Zweites Buch (“second book”). While his first book was mostly autobiographical and ideological (explaining his hatred of Jews), the second book was to lay out his plans for Germany’s future foreign policy.

His publisher initially discouraged him from trying to publish it, fearing it would cannibalize sales of his first book, Mein Kampf. So it sat unpublished, with only two copies in existence until Hitler ascended to power in the early 1930s. After the 1930 Reichstag elections, the soon-to-be leader of Germany feared its publication would reveal in too much detail his foreign policy goals so he ordered it be kept secret.

And so it was, at least until 1945 when it was discovered in the vault of a German air shelter by an American officer. After its authentication by a former employee of Hitler’s publisher, the book was eventually made public for the first time.

I get (hate)mail

For the first time in a long time, I got two emails from readers. One was a very encouraging email from a reader who wanted me to begin posting on this blog again (and I very well might, after a long period of dormancy). The second email was, well, this:

EJ (gofuckyourself@gmail.com) wrote: Buddy, is it coincidental that all of your “lost history lessons” have to do with the republican/ conservative party and their “foul ups”? I’d love to see just one ounce of information that displays the notion that democrats over the years have been less than ethical.

For example: How about NJ Governor McGreevy was the first male governor (aka, Gay-American..never knew queers chose nationalities but OK) to suck cock in his office? And gee, where WAS Obama born…what’s that?…no “Birth Certificate”? Riiiiight. And don’t forget about Teddy Kennedy and his family of very well-connected folks.

Go eat a vegan burger and chase it with a shot of wheatgrass you poor excuse for an informative individual.

I’ll leave you with what you want to hear: democrats ARE the chosen ones. By who? I can’t say…you don’t believe in religion. FUCK YOU.

I’m still laughing about the wheatgrass thing.