William Langer, the (short-lived) dictator of North Dakota

The economic tumult of the 1930s wrought considerable havoc in governments around the world, and the United States was no exception. Huey Long, a left-wing populist governor and Senator in Louisiana, is the most well-known emblem of authoritarian American politicians during this era. The comparatively ineffectual William Langer is much less studied. Langer was elected North Dakota governor in 1932 as a member of the … Continue reading William Langer, the (short-lived) dictator of North Dakota

Britain’s last witchcraft imprisonment was during World War II

Witchcraft trials tend to conjure images of Salem or medieval Europe. This connotation implies that witchcraft convictions are a convention long abandoned by the vast majority of the world, a mere relic of ancient superstition. In fact, Great Britain persisted with witchcraft convictions well into the twentieth century. Helen Duncan is known as the last British person to be imprisoned for witchcraft under the country’s … Continue reading Britain’s last witchcraft imprisonment was during World War II

A nineteenth century swindler invented his own country

Poyais would have sounded dreamlike to those on the foggy shores of Scotland in the early nineteenth century. Prospective investors and settlers were told of a new South American country filled with fertile soil, verdant scenery, a temperate climate, and considerable amenities, including a majestic port. Gregor MacGregor, a native of Scotland who had long since moved to South America and served as a military … Continue reading A nineteenth century swindler invented his own country

Marc Dutroux: The serial killer who shook Belgium

Long before the actions of Jeffrey Epstein became public knowledge, Belgians were aware of a different pedophile with ties to the wealthy and powerful. Marc Dutroux, born on November 6, 1956, is the most prominent serial killer to hail from Belgium. Dutroux began his criminal career as an auto thief and pimp, but gradually turned to rape and murder. In conjunction with his accomplices, he … Continue reading Marc Dutroux: The serial killer who shook Belgium

Chairman Mao: The twentieth century’s deadliest dictator

Mao Zedong was one of history’s most devastating dictators. His leadership is often ignominiously credited with leading to more non-combatant deaths than any other in history. While estimates vary, between thirty and eighty million deaths are attributed to Mao’s whims. The sheer scale of Chairman Mao’s outright barbarity is poorly understood by many even today. An example of his bloodlust can be seen in the … Continue reading Chairman Mao: The twentieth century’s deadliest dictator

One of Australia’s Prime Ministers disappeared without a trace in 1967

Australia, as with many countries, has had a rocky political history. Its now-famous war against emus in the early 1930s has become the subject of countless memes and YouTube videos. The country faced a historic constitutional crisis in 1975, when Queen Elizabeth II’s Governor General removed the Prime Minister and imposed his preferred government, in what some have labeled a soft coup d’état. Perhaps the … Continue reading One of Australia’s Prime Ministers disappeared without a trace in 1967

Is Mickey Mouse in the public domain?

Mickey Mouse is arguably the most famous cartoon character on earth. One survey even showed the iconic personality to edge out Santa Claus in recognition among children. In political and animation circles, it is often remarked that Mickey Mouse will fall into the public domain in 2024 if copyright term lengths are not extended before then. If Mickey’s copyright expires, this would allow the public … Continue reading Is Mickey Mouse in the public domain?