Archive for December, 2008

The Publisher of a “Hitman Manual” Was Once Sued for Aiding & Abetting Murder

In 1999, an insurance company paid out a multi-million dollar settlement to family members of the victims in a triple murder case that had occurred seven years earlier. The company represented Paladin Press, a controversial book publisher. Paladin, which specializes in action how-to manuals and supposedly forbidden knowledge, had published a book called “Hit Man: […]

FBI Agents Once Secretly Tried to Convince Rev Martin Luther King to Kill Himself

Although it’s hard to contextualize today, during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, the FBI was secretly engaged in a wide-ranging and largely illegal counter intelligence program within the United States. COINTELPRO as it was dubbed, was formally meant to protect the United States from elements deemed “subversive” by the US government. Many of these supposedly […]

During the 1990s, the Clintons Were a Constant Target of Conservative Hoaxes

It’s not unusual for politicians to bend the truth when making accusations about opposing candidates’ records, but what some conservatives accused Bill Clinton of doing during his term in office was far beyond the norm. Although it’s now largely forgotten, a myriad of dubious allegations faced Clinton during the 1990s, including allegations that he was […]

The “States’ Rights” Term Conservatives Frequently Use Has a Dark, Racist Origin

During the 2008 presidential election, both members of the Republican ticket, John McCain Sarah Palin, said that they were advocates of “states’ rights.” This was not terribly surprising, considering that every Republican elected to the White House for the past 30 years has extolled the virtues of states’ rights at one point or another. But […]

Movie Trailers Weren’t Always Shown Before Films

Movie trailers have been around since at least 1912, but they didn’t always run before the movies they’re attached to. In fact, movie trailers (as you might guess by their name, trailers) used to trail behind films in theaters, not before them. Nowadays, the thought of showing advertisements for upcoming films after movies instead of […]

Tug of War Used to be an Olympic Sport

Although nowadays it’s better known as a game that kids play at summer camp, tug of war used to be an actual Olympic sport, with ten countries having competed for the coveted gold medal in the early 20th century. The rules were simple: drag the rope in your team’s direction far enough and you won. […]

Before Rebranding, The US Dept. of Defense Was Called The “Department of War”

Some would say that the old title was more descriptive or honest. The US Department of Defense, which is commonly known as the DoD for short, actually used to be titled more bluntly, “Department of War.” The name change occurred in the late 1940s. With World War II over, the United Nations was taking steps […]

The 9th US President Died of a Cold… Which he May Have Caught at His Own Inauguration Ceremony

The president who served the shortest period of time after being elected to office was William Henry Harrison. Harrison was president for only 30 days, 12 hours and 32 minutes before keeling over at age 68. The circumstances under which President Harrison, the first ever to die in office, died are disputed until this day. […]

At One Point in Time, up to 50% of US Dollar Bills Were Estimated to be Counterfeit

The year was 1865, and just months earlier the US Civil War had ended with the surrender of the Confederacy. With the war over, the problem of counterfeiting had become rampant, with one third to one half of all American currency judged to be fake. The reasons for this were twofold: first, spending due to […]

The United States Used to Have More Laws Concerning Margarine than Hate Crimes

The margarine and dairy industries have been at war since the late 1800s when the lower-cost butter substitute was first invented. Early on, butter manufacturers believed that if margarine ever became popular it might cut into their sales significantly. And they were right. In order to fight the new product, the dairy industry set out […]