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.
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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 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After Mein Kampf, Hitler Wrote a Second Unpublished Book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 But what’s lesser known is that he also wrote a second book, unpublished in his lifetime, which sat hidden in a vault until his death.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. It’s now available for purchase.

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.

President Roosevelt Used to Ride Around in Al Capone’s Limousine

Hours after Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Secret Service found themselves in a bind. President Franklin D Roosevelt was to give his infamy speech to Congress the next day, and although the trip from the White House to Capitol Hill was short, agents weren’t sure how to transport him safely.

The White House did already have a specially built limousine for the president that he regularly used, it wasn’t bulletproof, and the Secret Service realized this could be a major problem now that the country was at war. FDR’s speech was to take place at noon December 8th, and time was running out. They had to procure an armored car, and fast.
Above: Al Capone’s armored Cadillac
There was one slight problem. US government rules at the time restricted the purchase of any vehicle that cost more than $750 ($10,455 in today’s dollars). It was pretty obvious that they weren’t going to get an armored car that cheap, and certainly not in less than a day.

One Secret Service agent was a quick thinker. The federal government did already have in its possession a car that just might fit the bill: Al Capone’s, which had been sitting in a Treasury Department parking lot ever since it had been seized from the infamous mobster during the IRS’ tax evasion suit years earlier.

Capone’s car was a sight to behold. It had been painted black and green so as to look identical to Chicago’s police cars at the time. It also had a specially installed siren and flashing lights hidden behind the grille, along with a police scanner radio. To top it off, the gangster’s 1928 Cadillac 341A Town Sedan had 3,000 pounds of armor and inch-thick bulletproof windows. Mechanics are said to have cleaned and checked each feature of the Caddy well into the night of December 7th, to make sure that it would run properly the next day for the Commander in Chief.

And run properly it did. The car apparently preformed perfectly– so perfectly that Roosevelt kept using it– at least until his old car could be fitted with identical features (and to this day, Presidential limousines have flashing police lights hidden behind their grilles).


Above: FDR in his limousine convertible, before and after bulletproof glass and armor was installed.

The old car was a 1939 Lincoln V12 Convertible built by Ford (and affectionately nicknamed the “Sunshine Special,” supposedly because FDR liked to enjoy the sun while riding around with the top down… hardly safe, although the use of presidential convertibles was not eliminated until after JFK’s assassination). Roosevelt was apparently so enamored with his convertible however that he had it bullet-proofed. The Lincoln was now undoubtedly worth more than $750, so the White House got around the spending cap regulation by making a special arrangement to lease it from Ford at the rate of $500 per year.

When he was told his car’s origin (probably on December 8th as he rode to Capitol Hill), Roosevelt reportedly quipped, “I hope Mr Capone won’t mind.”

Lysol Used to be Advertised as a Feminine Hygiene Product and Birth Control

Yes, the disinfectant more commonly known today as a toilet bowl cleaner, was once suggested for vaginal use. Talk about versatile!

Although it was always intended for household cleaning, from the 1920s up until the ’60s, Lysol was largely marketed for personal bodily use, rather than disinfecting doorknobs or coffee tables like we see in today’s advertising for the product. Ads suggested that women use the cleaner as a douche fluid for everyday cleaning, and even as a form of birth control for use directly after sex (the disinfectant would kill sperm, the advertising suggested).
Above: A vintage Lysol advertisement
According to Lysol ads of the day, this use of the product was endorsed by European doctors, who, it was later revealed by the American Medical Association, did not actually exist.

According to the 2002 book Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America, “By 1940, the commercial douche had become the most popular birth control method in the country, favored by women of all classes. It would remain the leading female contraceptive until 1960, when a breakthrough technology– oral contraceptives– knocked it off its lofty pedestal… [T]he most popular brand, Lysol disinfectant, were soap solutions containing cresol… which, when used in too high a concentration, caused severe inflammation, burning, and even death.”

Devices and Desires further states that “Lysol was a caustic poison and in more concentrated form was retailed with a prominent skull-and-crossbones icon. Ingested, it could kill; applied externally, it irritated and burned. Lehn & Fink sold it for feminine hygiene anyway, ignoring a recommendation made by the 1912 Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry of the AMA…”

Several women reportedly died after using the product as directed. The worst part? It turned out, Lysol didn’t even work as a contraceptive at all: a 1933 study showed that 250 out of 507 women using the disinfectant got pregnant, probably about the same number who would have using no birth control at all.

Coca-Cola’s Secret Ingredient Used to be Cocaine

Where did you think it got the name Coca-Cola anyway? Yes, popular legend is correct, and the soft drink did originally contain cocaine (obtained from the coca leaf).

Coca-Cola was first conceived between 1885 and 1886 by a John Pemberton, a former Confederate soldier turned drug store owner. He marketed it as a “patent medicine” and claimed that it would cure whatever ailed the consumer, including headaches, impotence and morphine addiction (though it apparently didn’t work too well as the later, because Pemberton later himself got addicted to morphine).
Above: Coca-Cola
The name Coca-Cola was derived from its two “medical” ingredients: “Coca” came from the coca leaf which is used to create the cocaine the drink contained, and “Cola” from the Kola nut, which provided the drink’s caffeine.

After the drink was accused of having “similar effects to cocaine, morphine and such like” and being the cause of racial ferment, the Coca-Cola company decided to cut out active cocaine.

The presence of cocaine was hardly a secret: a drawing of the coca leaf was even featured in the advertising:

However, the company was still attached to the name, and, in order to keep calling itself Coca-Cola, they felt they needed to have at least some element of the original coca leaves in the product. As a result, they switched from active cocaine to un-synthesized coca leaves.

Before this was known, the company was even slapped with a “misbranding” lawsuit by the US government, which claimed that they didn’t have the right to call themselves Coca-Cola if they no longer contained coca leaves (Coca-Cola won this case).

And, believe it or not, Coke still contains coca leaves. To this day, the Coca-Cola company puts in their syrup what’s left of the leaves, as supplied by a company called Stepan, after they’ve had the cocaine extracted from them. (Stephan, by the way, is the only US company legally licensed to import coca leaves, which they do from Peru. While Coca-Cola gets the “spent leaves,” the active ingredients go to a pharmaceutical company called Mallinckrodt, the only US company legally allowed to use cocaine in their medicines.)

The Official Pledge of Allegiance Salute Used to be a ‘Hitler Salute’

… Yes, that title is correct. Read on, intrepid history-seekers.

The pledge of allegiance was originally written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a socialist magazine writer. When he wrote it for an children’s magazine, he also described a salute that he thought would be appropriate during its recital.

The pledge was aimed towards children, and the magazine also gave free flags away to schools, where the pledge was originally recited. The salute they were taught to give, with one stiff arm outstretched toward the flag, was deemed the “Bellamy salute” after its creator (who had gotten the idea from a salute that the Romans had done).
Above: The Bellamy Salute, before WWII
In the early 1940s, it was noticed that the salute bore a resemblance to a certain other salute being used in Germany at the time (which was based off of the same original Roman salute). As a result, it was formally replaced by Congress with the now-customary hand-on-heart during the pledge.

Below are three photographs showing the old salute, now in the Library of Congress, which were taken in May 1942 in Southington, Connecticut, just one month before the new salute became official. These photographs were taken by Charles Fenno Jacobs, a photojournalist who was at the time employed by the US government.

The First Openly Gay Elected Official in the US Was Shot to Death

The year was 1977 and after several earlier failed campaigns, photography store owner turned equal rights activist Harvey Milk (pictured above) was swept into office as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the city’s 11-member legislative assembly.

When sworn in the following year, Milk became the first openly gay American to be elected to high office in the country. As an office-holder, Milk fought for equal rights for all by opposing unconstitutional measures such as the anti-gay Proposition 6.
Above: Harvey Milk.
Prop 6, which stoked homophobia among conservatives, aimed to remove any gays or lesbians serving in California’s public schools, alleging that they were at risk of molesting children (despite the fact that a much higher rate of sexual molestation occurred among heterosexuals, by virtue of the fact that there were many more straight teachers than gays). The measure called for a public witch hunt to be conducted in order to “out” any gays serving in the schooling system. Thanks to the efforts of Milk and others, Prop 6 was defeated statewide.

Another one of Milk’s achievements was to pass a progressive city-wide ordinance which forbade discrimination against residents based on their sexual orientation. It passed with the support of all but one City Supervisor– that of Dan White, who came into office at the same time as Milk. White was angry at Milk for opposing an initiative he had campaigned on, regarding the placement of a center for troubled teenagers (White, a conservative, wanted it out of his district, Milk thought it was necessary to help kids).


Above: White is arrested.

After opposing every piece of legislation that Milk was for, White eventually resigned his seat because he said his salary was too low to support his family. After a few days he changed his mind and tried to get his seat back, but failed. He then snuck a loaded gun into City Hall killed both Mayor Moscone (who had refused to re-appoint him), as well as his liberal rival Milk. Claiming his penchant for junk food had somehow driven him temporarily insane, lawyers for White managed to get him only five years in prison for the murders.

Milk’s life and achievements were chronicled in the documentary “The Times of Harvey Milk” (1984) and the fictional film “Milk” (2008).

Color Photography Technology Has Existed For About 150 Years

When people think history, they all too often think in black and white when events before, say, the 1970s are mentioned. But the world was “in color” back then too, and color photography technology goes all the way back to the 1860s, becoming widely commercially available in the 1930s.

Color photographs are a lot older than most people think, and with the technology existing, there might technically be color photographs of the US Civil War in existence, though none have ever been discovered.
Above: An early color photo
The oldest color photograph ever found was taken by James Clerk Maxwell, a physicist who created the image by combining three semi-transparent photos each taken with a different color filter (one red, one green and one blue). This first photograph, or at least this first photograph that survived and wasn’t lost, was taken in 1861 of a ribbon tied into a bow, and pictured below:

What follows are some early color photographs documenting people and moments that folks often remember “in black and white.”


Above: Literary giant Mark Twain, photographed in 1908 only two years before his death.


Above: Four ladies pose, circa 1909.


Above: A family portrait outdoors, circa 1915.


Above: British troops return from World War I in a 1919 victory parade.


Above: Circa 1924 swimmers posing in prohibition-era Seneca, New York.


Above: A gas station convenience store at the tail end of the great depression.


Above: Adolf Hitler salutes a crowd during a street parade, circa 1938.


Above: Soldiers storm the beach on D-Day, 1944.


Above: Martin Luther King leads the historic Selma-Montgomery march in 1965.


Above: The racist white counter-protesters who demonstrated against the march.