Arch Stanton Guest Post: Today I Learned – Quick Hits

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I keep a list of interesting tidbits I pick up from being EXTREMELY ONLINE all day for later editions of this format that no one but myself appreciates. I was trying to find a good one for today, when I noticed a good chunk of these are pretty straightforward, and there’s not much of a story to tell beyond the bare bones. I was kind of disappointed I wasn’t able to spin these into fuller stories, but here are some interesting historical factoids I bet you didn’t know:

  1. From April 15, 1919 to April 27, 1919, Limerick, Ireland was a self-declared Soviet state. At the start of the Irish war for independence, Irish unions declared themselves part of the recently established Russian state, partially out of devotion to the cause, but primarily to piss off the British Army stationed there. For twelve days, Soviet Limerick printed its own money and began to organize the supply of food. Eventually Irish republicans told them to quit being assholes. Imagine – drunk Irishmen and drunk Russians working together! Why, even less would get accomplished!
  1. There is a burger shop in Las Vegas, NV called the Heart Attack Grill with the intent of serving “nutritional pornography”. That makes no sense – food you masturbate too? I already have an Arby’s across the street through (Arby’s: the most erotic fast food chain). ANYWAY two people have died in the restaurant. One was a regular who was waiting for a bus in front of the building, and the second was midway through the “Triple Bypass Burger” when he collapsed, which many other patrons assumed was a stunt and proceeded to take pictures of a dying man.

/opens YouTube tab playing “Proud to be an American”

  1. In 1997, poacher Vladimir Markov shot and wounded a tiger, and stole part of his dinner in southern Siberian (near the Chinese border). Markov got away, but this tiger was pissed. Think about the most pissed off you’ve ever been (for me, when I was thrown out of Arby’s for taking my pants off), and amplify it by a multitude of thousands. This tiger managed to track the poacher’s scent to his cabin, where he proceeded to destroy everything in the cabin with the poacher’s scent on it. And then, he waited. One estimate states the tiger waited behind the front door for 48 hours without food or water. This guy, ho-humming his way through the woods got home, pleased as punch after a thrilling weekend of poaching animals, opened his door to a MOTHERFUCKING TIGER HE THOUGHT HE KILLED mauling the ever-loving shit out of him. The tiger killed him, dragged him into the woods, and ate him, with one source guessing “the eating may have been secondary. I think [the tiger] killed [Markov] because he had a bone to pick.” Unfortunately, those bones were his own. Many researchers claim tigers possess a level of vengeance unseen anywhere else in the animal kingdom. Tigers are cool as hell.
  1. Iceland has a Christmas Eve tradition called ‘jolabokaflod’ where you buy a special book for everyone in your family as well as chocolate for each of them, and you spend the evening reading the books your family bought for you and eating chocolate. It directly translates to “yule book flood”, which is very much my shit. Feel free to include me in any and all future jolabokaflod festivities.
  1. In South Africa in 1881, there was a baboon who served as a railroad assistant for nine years, helping his double-amputee signalman get around in his wheelchair while performing other basic functions. In his nine years of employment changing railway signals, Jack the baboon never made a mistake. He was paid twenty cents a day and a half bottle of beer a week. Next time you receive a “thank you for your interest, but no” email for a job application, remember a baboon was paid in beer and still managed to get a job.

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  1. In 1977, a bridge collapsed in Vulcan, WV. No one was hurt, but the town was essentially cut off from the rest of society as it was the only (legal) roadway in and out of the town. After petitioning the state for weeks to replace the bridge, mayor John Robinette wrote a letter to the Soviets asking for their assistance. A Russian reporter showed up to document the woefully American infrastructure, and immediately stated the USSR would happily pay to replace the bridge. Within an hour of the reporter’s arrival, the West Virginia legislature approved $1.3 million in funding to replace the bridge. I have no joke here.
  1. In 897, Pope Formosus was brought to the Basilica of St John Lutheran in Rome to stand trial for perjury and having been elected to the papacy illegally. This seems pretty bland until you learn Pope Formosus died the year prior. The backstory – the papacy was basically a position for Roman leaders to place sympathetic individuals in order to benefit their own standing, and Formosus was named the pope under peculiar circumstances considering he had previously been ex-communicated from the Church (the modern equivalent of muting someone on Facebook, but like, from heaven). He died, and people were still pissed about the whole thing, so they dug his ass up, interrogated him, and concluded his answers clearly implicated him in wrongdoing, leaving many burning with a desire to read the court recordings here. This whole event was called “the Cadaver Synod”, and resulted in Pope Formosus technically never having been pope. I don’t think he minded that much. Below is a painting of the incident, and not actually a black metal album, although if it were, I would definitely listen.

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  1. The first commercial passenger airplane attacked by hostile forces occurred in 1938. The Chinese Kwellin was shot down north of Hong Kong by Japanese forces who believed the Chinese President’s son was on board (he wasn’t). Fifteen of the eighteen people aboard were killed, but the Chinese, knowing a suitable aircraft when they see it, patched it up and refurbished it for reuse and named it the Chungking. In 1940 the Chungking became the third commercial passenger airliner to be shot down by hostile forces. Talk about shitass luck.
  1. At the outbreak of World War II, the United States was worried about German and Italian agents (most so the former, not so much the latter I presume) sneaking into the US through the New York City ports. These ports were heavily controlled by the mafia at this time, and the US, seeing the time was ripe for a deal, negotiated a deal to commute mafia kingpin Lucky Luciano’s prison sentence in order for his and the mafia’s assistance in protecting the docks from sabotage. Luciano later set up the Navy with Sicilian contacts for their planned invasion of Italy in 1943. This clusterfuck was called Operation Underworld, and the US reluctantly commuted his sentence but still insisted Luciano be deported despite being an American citizen.
  1. In 1986, Lajitas, TX elected a beer-drinking goat mayor. The goat’s name was Clay Henry, and allegedly could drink up to 40 beers per day. The goat lived/remained mayor until 1992 after his son, Clay Henry Jr, also an extremely drunk goat, fought and killed him. Clay Henry Jr was named mayor, because apparently Lajitas, TX is a Game of Thrones-esque bloody monarchy. Clay Henry III was “elected” in 2000, and by all accounts remains the mayor today (seriously I can’t find anything that states who the mayor is – Lajitas: “We Still Don’t Have Internet!”). In 2006, Jim Bob Hargrove (OF COURSE his name is Jim Bob) attacked and castrated Clay Henry III out of jealousy. Jim Bob was sentenced to jail for animal cruelty, and Clay Henry III continues to swig beer right in Jim Bob’s face.
  1. Zanjeer was a bomb-sniffing dog in Pune, India, and he was fucking awesome. Zanjeer uncovered 11 military bombs, 57 homemade bombs, 175 petrol bombs and roughly 600 detonators during his life, as well as acted as a pivotal character during a spate of bombings later called the 1993 Mumbai Bombings. After bombings started increasing, Zanjeer was dispatched to high-risk areas where he uncovered a scooter loaded with explosives, ten suitcases filled with assault weapons and grenades outside a temple as well as two more similarly-packed suitcases at a bazaar. After his death, Zanjeer was given a buried with a full service and given full state honors. Zanjeer was the goodest boy.

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  1. In 1953, the Indiana Board of Education entertained the idea of removing all mention of Robin Hood from textbooks due to his communist-leaning sympathies. The leader of this deadly serious issue responded to the same criticisms you currently have by saying, “because I’m trying to get Communist writers out of textbooks, my name is mud. Evidently I’m drawing blood or they wouldn’t make such an issue out of it,” clearly not recognizing the irony of making an issue out of something so preposterously stupid. She also took issue with the Quakers because of their nonviolence, which really hurt her chances of anti-Robin Hood gaining steam. If it seems like there’s a lot of wild shit Communist shit from the mid-twentieth century, it’s because the Red Scare was real as hell. Good thing we’ve all come so far since then!

/reads anything ever written about Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)

//realizes we’re due for another wave of hysterical old people in Indiana panicking about invisible threats

  1. In 1838, the Aroostook War broke out between the United States and British Canadians. Have you not heard about the brutal war fought between the US and Canada? If not, it’s probably because it was completely bloodless, outside the Battle of Caribou. Both countries wanted to log the area, which was so far north in Maine that neither country really knew who owned what, or cared for that matter. One day, lumberjacks from the competing countries crossed paths, started yelling about who had the rights to this specific patch of trees in the middle of over 9 million acres worth of goddamn trees, pulled guns on each other and were promptly attacked by bears. The Canadians were attacked first, and started shooting, so then the Americans started shooting, because America never misses a chance for a gunfight. No one was injured by gunfire, but two Canadians were injured by bears. Maine Governor John Fairfield directed a local militia to arrest “the unruly wood thieves”, and Canadian lumberjacks responded by capturing a Maine Land Agent. This lasted for FOUR MORE YEARS before someone from either country realized what a bunch of assholes these guys were being in the woods.
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