Category: funny

Demonstration of Madame Helene Alberti’s flying contraption. February 17th, 1931.

Fun fact: Mme. Alberti was a Boston opera singer before she became convinced she’d discovered the secret to human-powered flight: the “Greek law of cosmic motion.”

In his seminal work, On the Origin of Species, Darwin wrote that bumblebees are the only pollinators of red clover. In 1862 he discovered that this is wrong. Honeybees also pollinate red clover well.

He wrote to his friend John Lubbock, “I hate myself, I hate clover, and I hate bees.”

The United States flag started out with 13 stars, and 13 stripes, for the 13 original states. The flag slowly accumulated stars as new states were added to the Union. In 1959 it reached its present form of 50 stars, with the addition of Hawai’i. For obvious patriotic reasons, it was decided in 1818 that
after a new state had been confirmed by Congress, that state’s star would be officially added to the flag on the next 4th of July.

This led to a fun historical oddity: even though Wyoming and Idaho became states within a week of each other in 1890, their stars were put on a year apart. How did this happen? Well, Idaho became a state on July 3rd, 1890 and Wyoming became a state on July 10th, 1890. Because Wyoming just missed the July 4th deadline, its star was added 1 year later, in 1891.

During a 1968 visit with the Pope, William D. Borders, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, Florida, observed that arguably he was now bishop of the moon. According to the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which was in force at the time, any newly discovered territory fell under the jurisdiction of the diocese from which the discovering expedition had left.

And Bishop Borders’ diocese included Brevard County. Which is the home of Cape Canaveral, where the Apollo missions to the moon took off.

In World War I, the German navy disguised one of their ships as a British ship, the RMS Carmania, and sent it to ambush British vessels. Unfortunately for the Germans, the very first British ship she encountered was the real RMS Carmania. Who promptly sank its doppelganger.

  • Not every cloud you see threatens rain.
  • A boy is consumed by envy, an old man by anger.
  • A reasonable sufficiency is more righteous than dishonorable riches.
  • One does well to distrust a stream, even one that is calm.
  • Sometimes an old dog growls the truth.
  • It is a hard cheese that the greedy man does not give to his dogs.
  • He who cannot conceal, ought not to become a thief.
  • Whose bread I eat, his songs I sing.
  • All the gold that a king has does not equal this rain.
  • No thief will be hanged, if he himself is the judge.
  • What earned this one praise gets that one a beating.
  • Smoky things appear by day, and fiery things by night.
  • The living husband is incensed by praise of the dead one.
  • A stupid person who is corrected, immediately hates his admonisher.
  • It is not the lowliest of virtues to have placed a limit on your wealth.
  • No mother-in-law is pleasing to her daughter-in-law unless she is dead.
  • A frog on a throne quickly gives up the honor.
  • When you trade one fish for another, one of them stinks.
  • Whoever hates his work, surely hated himself first.
  • To a man hanging, any delay seems too long.

from Egbert of Liège’s The Well-Laden Ship

Serious American artists during the Early American Period (1789 – 1815) thought that genre scenes were too mean and lowly for
their talent. So major painters such as John Vanderlyn and Samuel Morse
scorned the depicting of ordinary folk – except, said Vanderlyn, Italian
peasants. With their lack of “fashion and frivolity,” Italian peasants,
Vanderlyn declared, were close enough to nature to possess a
neoclassical universality that was worth depicting.

The St. Petersburg–Tampa Airboat Line, which was founded in 1913, is considered the world’s first commercial airline to offer scheduled flights. The airline offered regular flights from St. Petersburg, Florida to Tampa, Florida. It used a two-seat airboat called the Lark of Duluth which flew just 1.5 meters (5 feet) above the water. It was a glorified commuter’s ferry.

The St. Petersburg–Tampa Airboat Line was a success because it made the 29-kilometer (18 mi) flight in just 23 minutes. At the time, steamships covered that distance in two hours, trains in 4–12 hours, and cars in 20 hours. Passengers paid $5 (or about $129 in today’s money) to save 1.5 hours in travel. The airboat service, unfortunately, lasted just a year before closing.

In 1965, Harvard students used a dating questionnaire and an IBM 1401—an early version of the computer—to match co-eds seeking love. Students would fill out a questionnaire. It would be copied onto punch cards, and fed into the computer, and within seconds 5 potential partners would be spit out. Workers would then mail the results back to the student.

The service was called “Operation Match,” and it cost about $3 per person (or about $22 today).

With peanut butter’s growing popularity in the 1950s, poor-quality products flooded the markets, hoping to cash in on the new food trend. Companies used cheaper hydrogenated oils instead of the more expensive peanut oil, and used glycerin as a sweetener.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that some products labeled as “peanut butter” only contained 75% peanuts. The FDA proposed a standard of 95% peanuts in peanut butter in 1959. Manufacturers did not like this – arguing that customers preferred a more spreadable, and sweeter, product. The spreadable-ness of peanut butter became the focal point of a 12-year “Peanut Butter Case” which wound its way through the American legal system.

To compromise with the manufacturers the FDA initially agreed to lower its peanut butter standard to 90% peanuts. The manufacturers wanted 87% and when the FDA did not budge they took it to court. After too many years and a US Appeals Court appeal, the 90% peanut standard was upheld.