Planned obsolescence is an annoyance to many consumers. The conventional wisdom, that consumer goods were once produced using material that would ensure longer-lasting durability than those today, is based upon solid evidence. What many may not know, however, is that the plethora of cheaper, less durable items lining the shelves of today’s stores is the culmination of several generations. Among the earliest, and perhaps most … Continue reading The Phoebus cartel: Lighting the way for planned obsolescence
Curtis was born in 1860 in what was then known as the Territory of Kansas (Kansas would be admitted to the Union the following year). He was an enrolled member of the Kaw Nation, and was approximately 3/8 American Indian ancestry. After his mother died at age three, and his father was captured in the Civil War, Curtis was raised by his grandparents. His childhood … Continue reading America’s first minority vice president: Charles Curtis?
Beloved as the animal might be from the childhood game “Hungry Hungry Hippos,” the hippopotamus is considered the most dangerous animal in Africa. Hundreds continue to be killed by the massive mammals each year throughout the continent. The mighty hippo’s strength is such that its forceful jaws can decapitate a human with a single bite. Though hippos have long since abandoned Egypt, their terror was … Continue reading King Tut’s cause of death: hippopotamus?
The infamous House Un-American Activities Committee, associated with the excesses of the Second Red Scare in the popular imagination, perhaps should have investigated one of its own members. Samuel Dickstein, a Democratic congressman from New York from 1923 to 1945, was well-known as a fierce interrogator of communists and especially fascists. His conduct during hearings was extreme even by the general standards of the Committee, … Continue reading Samuel Dickstein: Congressman, New York judge, HUAC Committee member… and Soviet spy
When asked which year was the worst in history to be alive, many historians are quick to mention 536 AD. It might seem surprising that these historians can pinpoint a specific year as a clear winner, considering how fraught human history is with suffering. Perhaps it is less surprising, however, when the events of 536 are described. Due to a heavy fog, many portions of … Continue reading Worst year to be alive? Try 536 AD, not 2020
Many people think so, at least to a limited extent. For many decades, the theory rested on the presence of sweet potatoes in Polynesia, a food that has its origins in the Americas. Recently, however, more concrete evidence of the interactions between Native Americans and Polynesians has emerged due to genetic testing. Polynesians in French Polynesia, for instance, carry DNA associated with Native Americans. Studies … Continue reading Did Native Americans settle Polynesia?
Numerous candidates for both the presidency and vice presidency have faced questions regarding their eligibility for the top job based upon the Constitutional requirements for the position, which require a president to be a “natural born citizen of the United States.” Most allegations tend to dissipate quickly, but one has stuck around for over 150 years. Chester Alan Arthur, the twenty-first President of the United … Continue reading Chester A. Arthur: The Canadian President?
It is 1738, and the Catholic Church has just banned its members from partaking in freemasonry. How are freemasons in a region known for its love of secret societies to react? Against this backdrop, the Order of the Pug was formed. The Order of the Pug retained many of the conventions of masonry, but used a different name in order to skirt the Catholic Church’s … Continue reading The Order of the Pug: Meet Bavaria’s bizarre secret society
On July 27th, it will have been 80 years since Bugs first appeared in movie theaters. The character’s longevity is remarkable. A 2018 YouGov poll found that Bugs Bunny was the most popular cartoon in the United States, nearly three generations after his first appearance. The origins of Bugs Bunny are complicated. A similar prototypical version of the character first appeared in the 1938 cartoon … Continue reading A very happy birthday to… Bugs Bunny!
Practically no one with a passing knowledge of J. Edgar Hoover would identify the late FBI director with civil liberty protection. Under his decades-long tenure, the FBI routinely violated the law and the Constitution. The Bureau has spent nearly fifty years trying to reinvigorate its reputation and disassociate itself from the dark days of Hoover. Your typical civil libertarian will probably state that, the greater … Continue reading J. Edgar Hoover: Defender of civil liberties?