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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Arch Stanton Guest Post: Megafauna, Ranked

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Sometimes I have the urge to write, but I can’t find something that sounds compelling or interesting at the moment, or I have no desire to do actual research (yes, I do research). Usually, this is because I want to watch TV and don’t want to look at the depressing sinkhole of Twitter. When this strikes, that’s when I turn to compiling a list of something. Today – megafauna! Do you know what megafauna are? They are giant animals, generally ones over 90 pounds. Today they are mostly pretty well-known – elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, whales, bears, bison, moose, etc. We aren’t going to rank them, because this isn’t a Richard Scarry book. We’re going to focus on the extinct ones and exclude dinosaurs, because I’ve grown out of that stage of my life earlier this year, instead let’s investigate prehistoric, now-extinct species of megafauna, because it’s been a while since you felt insignificant.

Moa: Twelve-foot tall flightless bird. Identified as “cursorial”, meaning they just wandered around aimlessly not necessarily in pursuit of food because they had no natural predators on the ground. As we’ll see, there’s a loophole to this statement. Originally wiped out once humans showed up on their island and killed them with dogs, hunted them for meat, and had their nests wiped out by rats (which arrived with humans). Spoiler – this isn’t the last time we’ll see humans stomp one of these creatures out.

Beelzebufo: A large frog, like ten inches. Meh. Really only got included because it’s got a rad list of nicknames: “devil frog” and “frog from hell”. Dramatic namings will be a recurring thread.

Diprotodon: Hippo-sized wallaby from Australia (obviously). Killed by over-hunting from prehistoric humans. Pssh, those prehistoric idiots didn’t even have spears and still managed to eradicate them. Trash.

Paraceratherium: Not a room in a Dr Seuss book, but a twenty foot… thing. Estimates suggest it looked like a hornless rhinoceros with a much longer, stronger neck, with the picture I looked at depicting it like the proto-humans responsible for the xenomorphs from “Prometheus”. That’s probably far too deep a reference since no one saw that movie. Because life is about context – a modern rhino, if large, grows to be six-feet tall, and weighs roughly only one-tenth of a paraceratherium. Guys, these assholes were HUUUUUGE.

Coelodonta: A hairy rhino, but slightly bigger. Whatever.

Megatherium: Twenty-foot tall sloth, which sounds incredible until you realize they were far too large to actually climb trees and really just pulled anything they wanted towards themselves. Allegedly, they would plant their enormous ass on the ground and just pull everything directly into their mouths. The hedonistic Roman Emperor of extinct megafauna (the panda would be the modern designation for this classification).

Deinotherium: Eurasian elephants with downward-curving tusks. Look like regular elephants with Down Syndrome.

Indricotheres: Basically Asian rhinos. Manged to become extinct before their modern comrades by a few thousand years. Oh modern rhinos aren’t extinct you say? Give it fifteen years.

Dire wolf: Did you think dire wolves were a fictional creature developed by George RR Martin? Because they’re real and awesome. Well, not really. They were the same size as a modern gray wolf. Okay maybe I oversold how awesome they are.

Daeodon: Big ol’ pigs. Fossils suggest they were omnivores with a predilection for dining on animals the size of modern cows (again, BIIIIIIG ol’ pigs). Considered so dominant in their food chain, they ere nicknamed “hell pig” or “terminator pig”, because fuck yeah.

Macrauchenia: Long-necked sloth that looked like a humpless camel. It’s such a shame to be humpless.

Glyptodons: An armadillo the sized of a Volkswagen Beetle. I mean, sure.

Gigantopithecus: A really big ape. So far, paleontologists have only found teeth because its location in Southeast Asia makes it extremely difficult to uncover more fossils due to the heavy jungle canopy, but estimates suggest it being twice as tall as a modern human, like a real life King Kong. Really loses points because it’s one creature we actually have a real life comparison for, even if its fictional and the source of a dumb remake by Peter Jackson.

Macrauchenia: Identified as “long-snouted creatures like llamas” that looked like dick-nosed llamas. I call it how I see it.

Phorusrhacidae: Almost ten-foot tall flightless bird. Why is this ranked higher than the moa? This son of a bitch was carnivorous. MEAT-EATING EMUS.

Megaloceros: Also known as the Irish Elk. With a rack spreading up to twelve-feet across, had a pretty awesome geographic footprint with fossils of close genetic relatives being found in China. The megaloceros was a big fan of “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson apparently.

Dunkleosteus: Thirty-five foot armored fish with no teeth. A terrifying reminder of why you should never go in the ocean, lest you be gummed to death.

Teratorn Argentavis: South American bird with twenty-four foot wingspan. Let that sink in – 24 FEET. The largest bird alive is a condor, which is not even HALF as big. This was basically a feathery pterodactyl, and a fair justification to ornithophobia. When you stand in the shadow of the wingspan the length of a school bus, you are allowed to be scared of birds.

Bullockornis: An 8 foot 2 inch duck. A bit ho-hum, until we get to the rad as hell nicknames: “demon duck of doom” and “THUNDERDUCK” (emphasis mine). Thunderduck. You guys, thunderduck. He would make the best villain in a Darkwing Duck reboot.

Sarkastodon: Not a sarcastic elephant, but actually a big-ass hyena. Sources classify it as a “hypercarnivore”, or John Candy at an all-you-can-eat buffet in Las Vegas.

Mastodon/Wooly Mammoths: Actually made extincted by humans! Fuck yeah humans, don’t take shit from prehistoric monsters. Also going to be brought back by humans, because fuck yeah humans! (https://bigthink.com/dr-kakus-universe/back-from-extinction-scientists-plan-to-clone-woolly-mammoth) They are actually two different species – the prior lived 15 million years ago (not driven to extinction by human) while the latter lived as recently as 1.2 million years ago. I don’t know how the math works when my religious texts assures me the Earth is only 40,000 years old. Both have the benefit of having an awesome name, but the former has the benefit of being the inspiration for my favorite band. Fuck yeah Mastodon.

Let’s sidebar and discuss the interesting anthropological theory of island dwarfism/gigantism, which is how the size of an animal evolves to match the size of their geographic locale. Animals from small territories or islands tend to be smaller, whereas ones with larger areas grow to be larger. Surprise – this is why everything in Australia is evolutionary-bred to terrorize you.

Sabre-toothed tiger/American tiger/Smilodon: There are actually a dozen different types of these, all of which have a terrible case of overbite. The earliest fossils date back 34 million-ish years ago, while the most recent fossils were dated to 9,000 years ago. A little too close for my anthropological tastes given they sported twelve-inch fangs. The largest modern tiger was measured at 670 pounds, and smilodons, the smallest and most modern, were estimated to be 900 pounds. The cavemen that squared off against these with sharp twigs they found on the ground had tremendous balls.

Haast’s eagle: The story of Hasst’s eagle is the epilogue to the story of the moa mentioned above. Remember when we talked about how the moa had no predators on the ground prior to humans? That was true, but Haast’s eagles literally evolved to utterly destroy the shit of these hopeless idiots. These birds had short wingspans to navigate the jungles of New Zealand (remember when I said I didn’t want to do research? I have done way more than I bargained for), but these dudes BRAWLED. Their remains have been found with moa bones scattered around, so they were sturdy enough to maul the ever-loving shit out of packs of twelve-foot ostriches. Fun fact! Once the natives of New Zealand hunted moas into extinction, these eagles immediately went extinct as well, as they were all about the easy targets. This all happened in the late 1400s. A gentle reminder that your forefathers lived a far more difficult life than you could even imagine.

Titanis walleri: Also known as the “TERROR BIRD”. You know why this particular bird is ranked ahead of the Haast’s eagle, the overachiever of the extinct monster-birds (aside from the fact it’s called the TERROR BIRD)? Because this monstrosity was restricted to the ground and was purely carnivorous. A 350-pound flightless bird that is pissed about looking like a toucan on meth and whatever they gave Bane in “the Dark Knight Rises” is a recipe for disaster.

Paleozoic sea scorpions: BIGGER THAN A HUMAN HOLY SHIT THIS IS MY NIGHTMARE.

Pliosaurs: Latin for “more lizard”, an extinct genus of thalassophonean pliosaurid known from the Kimmeridgian and Tithonian stages (Late Jurassic) of Europe and South America. Who fucking cares about that boring shit – more commonly nicknamed PREDATOR X. San Fernando Valley is so bummed they didn’t name the Arnold Schwarzenegger-themed-action-movie-porno-rip-off of his classic this. A pliosaur was basically a fifty-foot crocodile, with pieces of one discovered mandible coming in to roughly 9.2 feet. A FUCKING NINE FOOT JAW. MOTHER OF GOD. These things were bigger than modern orca whales. Predator X suddenly seems vastly inadequate.

Siamoglae melilutra: GIANT OTTERS. They grew up to 110 pounds, or twice the size of a large modern otter. Everything on this list has been ferocious and world-crushing behemoths, but this is just a pet I want. I will take two. I will flood my second-floor apartment if necessary to accommodate them.

Megalodon: Because Jason Statham demanded it. They grew up to FIFTY-feet long – for context, an average great white is twelve- or fifteen-feet (male and female, respectively). The movie debuting this summer definitely exaggerates the size of these things, but really not by that much! A modern great white can casual chomp off someone’s leg, and they are only roughly a quarter of the size of a megalodon. I don’t know how I can make this more terrifying. Great whites are considered the finest predators on the planet, and they were SHIT compared to these horrors. They had EIGHT-INCH teeth. ROWS AND ROWS of them. A tyrannosaurus rex is widely considered the most fierce animal to ever roam the earth, but that’s only because they were mortified of going into the water and seeing one of these demons.

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Castoroides: A giant beaver the size of a cow, AKA your mom.

Arch Stanton Guest Post: Episode 15 of Today I Learned – Newport Sex Scandal

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Today’s episode has it all, assuming “all” is tons of gay sex and Franklin Roosevelt and the Navy. Do I have your attention? I know Disillusioned Dilettante is listening closely because of one of those specifics (spoiler – he’s a big FDR fan!).

In 1919, a senior member of the US Navy was hanging out in a Naval training base in Newport, RI when he overheard a rumor of a particular subculture seeping below the coast town’s veneer – Bronies. JK, there was talk of gay stuff happening at the Army and Navy YMCAs as well as the Newport Art Club (shocking!). This senior member, Ervin Arnold, felt it was his responsibility, nah, his DUTY to dig into this. He petitioned his superiors to conduct a full investigation into reports of parties of homosexual activity, liquor, cocaine, cross-dressing and, I quote, “effeminate behavior”. I don’t know about you guys, but these parties sound pretty rowdy.

Eventually, this investigator took root in the senior ranks of the Navy, including then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt. See, FDR was eyeing the White House as a possible future VP in the near future, and thought a good ol’ moral crusade could thrust him (pun absolutely intended) in national prominence. After failing to find a dedicated third-party to manage the investigation, Arnold was placed in charge of ferreting out the homosexual behavior, and boy, did he have a strategy. You see, Arnold proclaimed to be an expert at spotting gay men, in what is certainly the first documented report of a gaydar.

Arnold went through the available sailors and tapped thirteen of them based on their youth and looks to identify all the gay stuff in Newport. The underlying strategy involved getting gay. Seriously. The Navy trained these guys in gay stuff, and dropped them into the scene to document what they experience firsthand. The men were set lose, “observing all and ears open for all conversation and make himself free with this class of men, being jolly and good natured, being careful to pump these men (ed: NICE) for information, making them believe that he is what is termed in the Navy as a ‘boy humper,’ making dates with them and so forth” and were outright encouraged to have gay sex in order to uncover the other gay men in order to locate the “cocksuckers and rectum receivers and the ring leaders of this gang”. I imagine much of the planning involved conversations like “…and you can suck him off, but it’s totally NOT gay because you’re straight.” This is like Charlie Kelly attempting to retrieve a cat of the wall in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Wco2uE6vyQ) – the only way to root out the gay stuff is to add a ton more gay stuff to the pile, but it’s okay because all these guys were totally not gay, just extremely patriotic.

The logic here is astonishing, even by interwar America standards. So these guys went out there and just plowed their way through the underground gay scene of Newport, doing tons of drugs and dudes. Over the course of three weeks, fifteen sailors had been arrested, dragged before a military tribunal and dumped into prison for being gay. While unsettling, it was still pretty normal for the time frame of everyone to be terrified of “TEH QUEERZ!”. During the military tribunals in which gay guys were testified against by their TOTALLY NOT GAY ex-lovers, the court frequently had to pause and ask for clarification for what certain terms or acts were. Oh to be a fly on that wall. To see a bunch of stodgy old New England Protestants listen to TOTALLY NOT GAY sailors report about “cock sucking”, “sucking off”, “screwing in the rectum”, “browning” (I have NO IDEA what browning is either), and “giving loads” would have been a delightful experience.

One gay spy reported he sucked off one guy in an alleyway, but never got his name, which had to have been a debilitating way to fail a mission. Another fingered a local reverend who, despite eleven counts of “gay stuff” – I mean, “moral contamination” – was eventually let off due to his nobly standing in to assist the sick during the influenza epidemic a few years prior. Oh yeah, and because he wasn’t actually a sailor. Turns out, you can’t try someone in a military tribunal if they aren’t in the military. And “by let off”, I mean Arnold immediately turned around and tried him a second time in a federal court, because double jeopardy is no match for being gay.

This investigation eventually got picked up by local newspapers who were by no means pro-homosexuality, but definitely thought it was a little suspicious the Navy is encouraging their sailors to gobble dicks in order to prosecute the others who may or may not actually be in the Navy. This was picked up all over the country, where it was eventually revealed FDR not only signed off on this, but got regular reports delivered to his office of the gay activity. FDR – homoerotic romance novel early adapter.Still trying to diddle his secretary in a different, bigger office, FDR resigned from the Navy when the heat picked up and was officially condemned by Congress for his involvement in the gay Gestapo. He and his running mate, James M Cox (I SWEAR TO GOD FDR RAN WITH A GUY NAMED ‘COX’ WHILE EMBROILED IN A GAY SEX SCANDAL), lost to Herbert Hoover. Nothing bad happened while Hoover was in office.

Arnold was pushed out of the Navy, but suffered no repercussions for his role in the sexiest task force the US Navy ever embarked on. I like to imagine he was just trying to prank his friends by tricking them into blowing dudes in the name of military superiority by assuring them it’s definitely not gay. Either way, I’m sure they look back fondly on the summer they sucked their way through Newport. Ahhhh, to be young again!

Arch Stanton Guest Post: Episode 14 of Today I Learned – John C Lilly

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I am going to BLOW your mind today. Absolutely blow your tits off. Even more so than that that one time you learned Lego is the largest tire producer in the world. Did you not know that? I BLEW YOUR MIND TWO TIMES. This is the story of a wild scientific experiment, intergalactic abduction, human isolation, medicinal drug usage, aquatic mammal masturbation, and Sega Genesis. Trust me, you will not be disappointed in this iteration of me wasting your time.

John C Lilly was a physician in mid-20th century. Originally, his wealthy father tried to pressure him into attending an Ivy League school and becoming a banker, which is exactly what he did. OF COURSE NOT you’ve read these before, this space is for the mildly insane. Lilly went to the California Institute of Technology to study science. He studied bio-psychics, electronics and neurophysiology, and eventually invented the isolation tank. You’ve probably seen isolation tanks in second-rate malls, which is basically an enormous box which strips you of all your senses – it’s soundproof, completely dark, and full of body temperature salt water which essentially leaves you floating and lets your mind wander and mildly hallucinate. It’s basically like getting super high without ingesting any drugs and being within walking distance of a Spencer’s and Auntie Anne’s. As a hysterically claustrophobic person, not a chance in the world I ever do it, but you TOTALLY should and let me know how it goes.

As tipped off above, OF COURSE Lilly branched out from normal and accepted medical practices, and started taking tons of lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD if you didn’t study chemistry or follow Phish on tour over the summer one time. He began to delve into human consciousness and its relation to psychedelic drugs (in other words – it was the 1960s). During his already mind-bending experiences in the sensory deprivation tank, Lilly began taking LSD on top of this. As one would expect, Lilly got REAL weird with it. He met with “spiritual leaders” from around the world (aka, minor cult leaders, my main aspiration in life). After a while, the LSD wasn’t sufficiently blowing his mind, so he got aggressively into prog-rock. Just kidding, he branched into ketamine. Ketamine produces trance-like states while inducing sedation and memory loss in addition to being a pain reliever. So now we’re doing boatloads of memory-dissolving drugs and isolating ourselves in sensory-deprivation tanks for hours. As you would expect, this went splendidly.

Lilly believed he was being tracked by an intergalactic group of psychics called the Earth Coincidence Control Office. Lilly wrote a list of rules for how to contact this group, which basically sound like new-age self help bullshit. I’ll spare you the tedium, but the primary motto was “Cosmic Love is absolutely Ruthless and Highly Indifferent: it teaches its lessons whether you like/dislike them or not.” So, yeah, totally normal stuff so far. Trust me, this is still the relatively normal part.

Lilly awoke one night, pumped full of ketamine, believing these agents had “bloodlessly removed his penis”, and then handed it back to him. My nightmares usually consist of running into exes or being unprepared for a test, but this blows those out of the water. Lilly’s wife pointed out his dick was, uhh… still pretty attached, to which Lilly frustratingly remarked that it was not his. As you were.

One day, while melting his mind high as shit in the iso tank, he decided, “dolphins are so fucking rad.” That’s not a direct quote, but I am willing to bet it is biographically accurate. Since Lilly was still a reputable researcher, as most people didn’t realize the extent that this dude was tripping balls all the time, he got funding from the United States Navy to study potential communication between humans and dolphins. Spoiler – this is the craziest part of this story. A drug-addict got the United States government to pay him to do tons of drugs and hang out with dolphins. I don’t believe I need to further justify my belief the federal government is bloated. #AUDITTHEFED.

Lilly’s first FEDERALLY-FUCKING-FINANCED study involved getting some dolphins and giving them LSD. I like to think somewhere out there, a mid-level Navy officer realized he had tremendously fucked up about this time. As expected, dolphins on LSD did NOT communicate with humans, despite developing a new affinity for jam bands and patchouli oil. I don’t know about you, but I am shocked that didn’t work.

In 1965, Lilly expanded his FEDERALLY-FUCKING-FINANCED study into dolphin-human communication with a study that involved isolating a dolphin and a woman together for ten weeks with no other contact. Remember, TONS of ketamine and a potential abduction and castration had happened to the lead researcher, and the Navy was still thinking this all seemed promising. Lilly isolated a dolphin (Peter) and the stupidest lab assistant ever (Margaret) in an area for ten weeks. TEN FUCKING WEEKS. The area was filled about two feet deep with water, with an elevated table and bed for Margaret to keep notes and sleep. How thoughtful! Imagine how prune-y you would be after TEN WEEKS in water.

Let’s sidebar for a minute – dolphins are smart. Like, wildly intelligent. They are the second-most intelligent creature on the planet, so the logic to seeing if we could communicate is there I guess. On top of that, like humans, they are horny creatures, and obscenely so. If there are dolphin public libraries, there are tons of pervy dolphins jerking off there. Dolphins have been known to rape and mutilate their prey because they are the dicks of the oceans, despite sharks fielding that rap for them for all this time. I know what you’re thinking but no – Margaret does not get murder/assaulted by Peter the dolphin. Instead, in a much better turn (????), Margaret decides to jerk this dolphin off.

Peter the dolphin had been carrying around a rock-hard dolphin dong for a few weeks, and Margaret took it upon herself to alleviate his issue in the pursuit of scientific progress. Lilly was giddy with the development, thinking this was a critical hurdle to human-dolphin communication, which made Margaret pleased as she had been doing her job. Peter was the most ecstatic, as you probably guessed. Just a lady jerking off a dolphin in a home full of water in front of a gathering of scientific observers. The 1960s!

Peter and Margaret never communicated. Shocking, I know. Somehow, this work DID help the creation of the United States Marine Mammal Protection Protection Act of 1972. Absolutely baffling. Lilly gave up the dolphin-fucking, I mean, communication research, and went back to ingesting copious amounts of ketamine and tripping balls about extraterrestrials.

Fast-forward to 1992: Sega is churning out games to support their launch of the Sega Genesis. I don’t know about you guys, but the original Jurassic Park and Sonic were the shit, and I did not require any additional games. One of the games released was “Ecco the Dolphin”. Time out, scroll back out – remember the extraterrestrials who visited Lilly when he was high as shit? Earth Coincidence Control Office? Or otherwise referred to as “ECCO”? HOLY SHIT RIGHT?!?! Do you remember this game? I bet you don’t, because you’re definitely going to fact check me when I say this game was about a dolphin who travels through time to fight hostile intergalactic invaders of Earth’s oceans, and later on an alien spacecraft. I’ll save you the time – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecco_the_Dolphin. A dolphin. A fucking dolphin. Travels the universe. Fighting space invaders. All based on a government-financed study on human-dolphin communication, which included tons of dolphin-jerking. Led by a guy high on LSD and ketamine who though he had been castrated. If you can think of a more staggering sequence of events, I am all ears, because otherwise, I believe your mind has been officially blown.

Arch Stanton Guest Post: Episode 13 in Today I Learned – The Great Emu War

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Are you familiar with the concept of “nuisance wildlife management”? It involves the removal of problematic or invasive species from areas where they are not wanted. Before you get all huffy and invoke the wraith of PETA, the idea is to protect humans from the transfer of diseases permitted by wild animals or protecting crops from species that come to thrive after becoming habituated to humanity’s presence. In many instances, the animals are literally removed – their access to the areas are blocked or the animals are trapped and released elsewhere, but in some instances, like in rats in Alberta (which boasts a rat population of zero) or feral pigs in Texas, where they are exterminated in mass. In Australia, emu fall under the latter. In Australia, the concept of “nuisance wildlife management” merged with military operations, leading to the Great Emu War (not to be confused with the Great Emo War of 2005, when My Chemical Romance and Brand New had concerts on the same street in Milwaukee on the same night, leading fans to battle over whose music was “more sincere”).

Post World War 1 (1932, to be exact), people began to settle and farm the previously barren western part of Australia due to advances in farming technology, which was great given the global depression and need for more crops. The issue was emus tend to migrate from place to place in order to find beneficial habitats, and emus LOVED the open spaces and now-massive bounty of crops. Seeing as how subtly is not a trait that traversed from England, the Australians appointed Major GPW Meredith of the Seventh Heavy Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery to eradicate the threat, err, birds. Their weapon of choice: the Lewis gun – a light machine gun manufactured by the British for use in World War 1. Again – to fight some birds.

Almost immediately, the birds proved to be far more beguiling than originally thought. When the force attempted to herd the emus into range for the Lewis guns, the birds scattered and immediately became infinitely more difficult to target. Day 1: Failure.

Day 2: Okay we took a week off and planned ahead here – we’ve established an ambush point, and a local farmer reported more than 1,000 emus were seen moving towards the area. The gunners, giddy with anticipation, waited until the birds cluttered the area, annnnnnd had their guns jam after killing only twelve birds. Day 2 resulted in another discouraging result.

Day 3: The “Minister of the Emu War”, as Major Meredith had come to be called, called for the guns to be fixed to the back of a truck in order to move with the birds. A-ha! A brilliant strategic break-through! Except the birds travel in small flocks, making it hard to kill more than one or two at a time, and are quick to scatter. Now for some “Zoobooks”-esque facts on emus – they can grow to be up to six feet tall and 90 pounds, and can run – sustainable – up to 31 miles per hour. It didn’t take long for the trucks to get outpaced by the birds on unstable terrain, to which the trucks couldn’t drive over or the gunners aim with any accuracy. There was a crash after one bird got caught in the steering wheel. I would love to see the series of events that led to a bird getting caught in a steering wheel. After three separate days, broken up by weeks of planning and re-evaluation of tactics, estimates say 2,500 rounds of ammunition had been fired and only fifty birds had been killed.

Day 4: After massive public backlash due to critical news media over the results, efforts were halted, but within a month, farmers were pleading for any help driving the pests back. This being Australia, and Australians not knowing when to just take this ‘L’ and move forward, returned to the field of battle in hopes of glory. Glory was not to be found: sources note the military “found a degree of success” over the first two days of the second wave, killing roughly forty emus. After a more sustained approach, the Emu Strike Force began to average about one hundred emus a week over the next month. This sounds like a success but consider an estimated 20,000 emus had originally flooded the western farm lands. Like the manager for an outmatched and staggering boxer, the towel was thrown and the mission withdrawn.

After the failed excursion, Major Meredith remarked, “If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world… they can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks. They are like Zulus whom even dum dum bullets could not stop.” Not seen: the inevitable research into converting emus in war birds a la raptors in the Jurassic Park reboot. The farmers would formally request help on three more occasions, and instigated a bounty system in order to thin the raging herds, but eventually found the solution for the flightless menace: fences. Seriously. The birds out-maneuvered the Australian military, but were ultimately done in by fences.

Arch Stanton Guest Post: Episode 12 of Today I Learned – Porter Rockwell, the Destroying Angel of Mormondom

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I usually drum my fingers on my chin while looking astute trying to think of an engaging introduction to these like Bugs Bunny scheming to outwit Elmer Fudd. I usually try to work in something topical or relevant to engage our TENS of readers, but not this week. DESTROYING ANGEL OF MORMONDOM. Look at the picture! I will never think of something more engaging than that.
Porter Rockwell was born in 1813 or 1815 (he didn’t know) in Massachusetts next door to Joseph Smith, the future founder of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, and was immediately hooked on the religion, which was more or less a cult at the time with only a handful of devotees at the time. Rockwell was baptized into the religion the day it was founded at only sixteen. After the Mormons were booted out of Massachusetts for being weirdos and settling in Ohio, Joseph Smith had a hunch this mecca was not complete yet, and sent Rockwell to Missouri to scout a more final location. It was in Missouri Rockwell essentially became an otherworldly badass.
Before long, Rockwell had gotten comfortable with a gun, and was pretty quickly arrested as a suspect in an assassination against the Missouri governor, Lilburn Boggs. People in the 1800s had way cooler names than shit like Jaydyyn or Tannyr today. He was almost immediately released because even if the state hated the Mormons, they still didn’t have anything like “evidence” or “witnesses” linking Rockwell to the alleged attempt. Before long, Mormons had began settling in Missouri and doing horrible things like opposing slavery, leading Governor Boggs to issue Executive Order 44 which was basically the original Purge if you were Mormon (seriously – the purpose was to “evict Mormons from Missouri by any means possible, including violence”). Writing on the walls, the Mormons bailed the hell out of Missouri, which was really a blessing in disguise if we look at the options at the time (Utah or Missouri? Hmmm). While they were leaving in the politest way possible, our friend Governor Lilburn was shot by an unknown assailant, which of course, could have only been because of the Mormons. Rockwell was held for eight months in jail awaiting trial before being released due to another lack of evidence. When later asked if he actually was responsible for the Governor’s assassination, Rockwell responded “I’ve never shot **at** anyone, if i shoot, they get shot – he’s still alive, isn’t he?”
As the last Mormon out of Missouri, Rockwell walked his ass to the new Mormon holy land in Illinois (not Utah yet), where Joseph Smith first thought him a drunk looking for a fight due to his long hair before he recognized the church’s most devote follower. It was at this point, Smith promised Porter if he remained faithful to the church and did not cut his hair, he would never suffer death from a bullet. Spoiler – he never cut his hair, and he died of natural causes in 1878, because Smith was either a wizard or Rockwell was a living legend.
Fast forward a few years – we’re still in Illinois (booo), and Joseph Smith has been assassinated (booo!). The good news is he has Rockwell watching his back, and the guy is not here to take ANY shit, and he went out and killed the alleged assassin. Rockwell was arrested again (this time – they kinda had a point), but was acquitted by new Mormon leader Brigham Young, referring to it as an act of self defense. So what if he hunted this guy and murdered him in vengeance, we’ll call it self defense if we want to dammit.
The church eventually gets to to Utah, where Rockwell is appointed Deputy Marshall of Salt Lake City, and guys, he was AMAZING at it. A rugged mountain man, guide, hot springs operator (????) and ruthlessly devoted to the law, he is estimated to have killed more men than Wyatt Earp, Doc Holladay, Tom Horn and Bat Masterson COMBINED. When asked about this in the twilight of his life, responded “I never killed anyone who didn’t need killing.” HOOOOOOOOLY SHIT I didn’t know you could actually survive, let alone act as a sheriff, with balls this big. Are you starting to see where the name “the Destroying Angel” came from?
I lied earlier when I said he never cut his hair – he allegedly cut his long luscious locks in order to provide a wig for a widow balding from typhoid fever (this lady would eventually give birth to the future Poet Laureate of California – Porter Rockwell, the Destroying Angel of Mormondom and diligent appreciator of the fine arts). Author Fitz Hugh Ludlow described him as such:
“But he was that most terrible instrument that can be handled by fanaticism; a powerful physical nature welded to a mind of very narrow perceptions, intense convictions, and changeless tenacity. In his build he was a gladiator; in his humor a Yankee lumberman; in his memory a Bourbon; in his vengeance an Indian. A strange mixture, only to be found on the American Continent.”
I can only wish people will say such awesome shit about me after I die. Porter Rockwell was essentially a founding member of the Mormom religion, a bodyguard for both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and while he only had a 50% success rate at that particular function, he was an unmatched sheriff and mountain man to boot. You started reading this and thought the name was a bit hyperbolic, but admit it – “the Destroying Angel” seems to almost sell this guy short, even if it is one thousand times more metal than anything Slayer ever did.

Arch Stanton Guest Post: Episode 11 in Today I Learned – Project FF

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Did you know the United States **may** have played a heavy-handed role in forcing foreign governments to buckle to their whim, and in some cases causing coup d’etats? I believe we know go with the more forward “regime changes” if I may be so crass. I know I was shocked to hear of such geopolitical hi-jinks, but then was giddy over the specifics of the CIA’s role in Egypt with Project FF.
Let’s set the scene – early 1950’s, Middle East. The United States and Soviet Union have managed to survive WW2 and immediately got to staking influential claims to resource-wealthy or strategically-significant nations around the world; imagine the sexiest and most important game of Risk possible. The US had made headway in Egypt with King Farouk (full name: His Majesty Farouk I, by the grace of God, King of Egypt and the Sudan, Sovereign of Nubia, of Kordofan and of Darfur), who was really trying to make the fez cool despite considerable evidence to the contrary. Farouk was loving the attention and financial support he was getting from the US in this race to woo him and gain access to the Suez Canal, but was dragging his feet in establishing the necessary political reforms like, democracy and human rights, which still weren’t a thing in most of the world.
In the pressure to develop some reform so Egypt could be a reliable democratic partner of the US, the CIA (led by Allen Dulles, brother of John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State of the Eisenhower Administration and thus responsible for the Eisenhower Doctrine wherein the US would protect and prop up democratic nations against the rising communist threat, as well as the namesake for a shitty airport in DC) got pissy by the lack of progress in actual results. They sent in Kermit Roosevelt Jr in to orchestrate Project FF and enact some change.
Kermit Roosevelt was the grandson of Theodore Roosevelt.
Project FF stands for “Project Fat Fucker”.
I have never been more proud to be an American.
So Kermit is in Egypt, fermenting some peaceful change to fight corruption in the dictatorship in order to make this partnership more palatable to the American people. As this project failed to take hold, eventually it evolved into a more, ahem, “forceful” change. Kermit found some dissatisfied officers with a nationalist bend and an urge to please American diplomats/CIA officers (which is all that really mattered anyway). These officers, with a bit of tender love and care from the United States, formed the Free Officers Movement, which ultimately disposed of Farouk and led to the installation of American-fan Gamal Abdel Nassar. Fast forward a few decades, and America’s short-term international plans resulted in long-term disaster, and Nasser became Sadat, Sadat became Hosni Mubarak, who really hated America. Whoops. Sorry all that talk about human rights backfired dramatically.
Kermit was much more than TR’s grandson – he was member of the OSS (the predecessor to the CIA) during WW2, and went on to spurn the Iranian revolution, removing the democratically-elected Mohammad Mossadegh due his Soviet-sympathies to install more American-friendly government, which was then overthrown shortly after in an organic coup that resulted in the Islamic government currently in power that, again, really hates America now. Another whoops. He fought against a CIA-sponsored coup in Guatemala, stating their democratically-elected president had the devotion of the people, and to fight it would be disastrous. For once, some foresight! Nothing bad ever happened in Guatemala again! Until it was overrun by death squads and MS-13. Kermit has a bit of a bad record with his eye for coups.
This is the story of Project Fat Fucker and how the United States rolled the dice on getting its metaphorical dick sucked one night instead waiting for the girl of their dreams. Speaking of sucking dick – King Farouk allegedly loved a good blow job, which is somehow fascinating while being utterly predictable. Look at this guy – OF COURSE he didn’t like to put in the work.
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