Arch Stanton Guest Post: Today I Learned – Quick Hits, Part Deux!


I keep a running list of things I think are 1. interesting, 2. warrant further investigation, and 3. would make a compelling article someone else may find entertaining or educational. Most have a meatiness to it, a sort of weightiness that can sustain a few hundred words on its own while many others are nothing more than “did you know this? This shit is WILD” and there’s nothing else to really add. In an attempt to make for some interesting reading while tidying up my list of possible subjects, here is another list full of short anecdotes I find riveting:

In Greek antiquity, you could live as “parasito” (this is the root of the now English word “parasite”). This is a person who was otherwise unable or incapable of inheriting their father’s largess, and would thus feed themselves by showing up to parties in order to endless brown-nose in exchange for food or patronage. This usually came with being humiliated and the butt of every joke by the legitimately invited members. This was all considered a legitimate lifestyle. DD knows where his next career move lies!

In 1891 Mississippi, Minnie Cox, a black woman, was appointed postmaster of Indianola, Mississippi. This was a tremendous deal given that she born when slavery was still a thing. She was removed from the post by President Grover Cleveland and reappointed by William McKinley. Local white supremacists (or as we like to call them, “Mississippi citizens”) pushed to have her resign, at which point she eventually folded and submitted her resignation to Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy refused the resignation and rerouted all of the town’s mail until they permitted her to retain her position. The first black female postmaster in the Deep South immediately after the Civil War still managed to get eclipsed by Teddy Roosevelt’s massive dick from across the country.

In 1975, the Swedish saw an emerging market in North Korea and proceeded to be the first Western country to establish an embassy in Pyongyang. Part of this deal involved shipping one thousand Volvos into the country for sale to citizens. Before long it became apparent the North Koreans had no intention of ever repaying Sweden for the cars. Because North Korea is such a hilarious shithole of a country, many of these cars are still in use today since it’s 1. a sturdy vehicle and not a shitty Fiat or whatever, and 2. it’s not like North Korea is flooded with other options. Sweden still sends biannual notices of North Korea’s outstanding debt for the vehicles (currently estimated to be roughly $322 million). I wouldn’t hold my breath on that repayment.

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In 1907, there was an extremely popular stage act by the name of “Sober Sue.” You see, Sue had an outstanding offer of $100 (basically the equivalent of Mark Zuckerberg’s net wealth today giving inflation (do not fact check this)) to anyone who could make her smile. Crowd members, vaudevillians and famous comedians all failed to get Sue to crack a smile. This became a nationwide story. Eventually, it was revealed Sue had facial paralysis and was physically incapable of moving her face. Next time you think “man these Arch Stanton articles sure suck,” just remember you could live a century ago and this would be your sole source of entertainment.

In 1925, the Greeks and Bulgarians had a war. This is unsurprising because this is a part of the world that is constantly fighting each other over the most minor infractions. This particular war was started after a Greek standing guard at the border chased his dog into Bulgaria, at which point he was killed by Bulgarian guards in what I imagine they assumed to be the shittiest invasion ever. The Greeks prefer to call it “the War of the Stray Dog,” while the Bulgarian call it “the Incident at Petrich” – Wikipedia suggests 171 people were killed over this dispute, which seems to fall appropriately somewhere between “incident” and “war.” Most important, the dog was fine.

When Wyoming was preparing all the paperwork to enter the United States in 1890, Congress stated they would need to stop permitting women to vote. You see, Wyoming was a backwater inhabited by absolute badasses at this time – the men were all frontiersmen married to women who would beat the ass of anyone reading this today, and as a bunch of roughnecks, it seemed perfectly logical for women to vote – why, they can shoot a native just as well as any man! The Wyoming state legislature responded “we will remain out the Union one hundred years rather than come in without the women.” That’s the story of how Wyoming was the only state with women voters thirty years prior to the rest of the country.

A popular theory for recurring shark attacks in Egypt off the Suez Gulf coast is “Israeli GPS-guided sharks.” That’s it. I don’t have a joke or a clever rejoinder here. Just really marinate in the concept of GPS-guided sharks for the purpose of disrupting a subpar tourist destination.

Myles Coverdale was responsible for creating the first English-translated Bible in 1535. On it’s own, it is nothing more than bland trivia but what if I told you Coverdale took this great task on despite not knowing any Greek, Latin or Hebrew (to quote one source: “This is the type of can-do attitude that is sadly lacking in modern biblical scholarship”). His translation is responsible for many comical interpretations, like identifying all “foreigners” as “children” or, instead of making a singular goofy misquote, he would opt for multiple mistranslations, like in “he was bound in iron” becoming “the iron entered his soul.” Fortunately, before long people realized this man was an idiot – an earnest one, but nonetheless an idiot – and proceeded to use, ya know, ACTUAL knowledge in translating the Holy Text.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was initially uncovered when a CIA operative responsible for monitoring Cuban activity noticed a proliferation of soccer fields in the country. Cuba was a baseball country and the creation of soccer fields could only mean the presence of those godless, communist Soviets. This is why no one at any military outpost in any region on behalf of any country is allowed to have fun.

When the MOMMYSTATE originally got its hands on the dastardly task of smoking in bars, many bars fought the ban. Most state statutes stated (say that five times fast) you could smoke in 1. a tobacco-products shop, 2. a “locked psychiatric unit” or 3. theatrical productions. State regulators were paying close attention and denied applications for any business that had a history of acting as a bar that suddenly pushed for permission to sell tobacco products, and there was no conceivable way around the psychiatric ward part (“our customers sure are characters though!” was found to be insufficient grounds). The Rock Nightclub in Maplewood, Minnesota had the idea to have a “series” of “improv” shows with the simple plot of “before the smoking ban.” The owner referred to it as an improv production with new actors every night, all of whom smoked to their blackened lungs content. The state moved to deny this action, but didn’t have any leverage as this was a statutorily permissible activity. This “Before the Ban!” series lasted about two months before the state managed to strong arm the bar into refraining from permitting smokers by threatening their liquor license. GODDUNG BIG GUVRNMENT!

Just south of Tampa, Florida (of course it’s Tampa) is Gibstontown, FL, a city famous for being the location traveling circus folks retired during the 1930’s to during the winter months when travel was more difficult. By “circus folks” I obviously mean “circus freaks” – the Bearded Lady, the Human Blockhead, the World’s Tallest Man, the Inferno Eater, and (this is a direct quote) “famous Grace McDaniels the Mule Face Woman” all retired here. These social outcasts all coordinated the destination as a way to stay out of the limelight when they weren’t performing where they could act as normal people. The town was crippled by negative publicity when Lobster Boy shot his daughter’s fiance. The state looked at this man with a grotesque deformity – he had massively deformed hands that looked like claw-like flippers (I don’t understand how he shot anyone with this setup either) – and opted to just give him parole rather than assume responsibility for him and his disability (not to mention the massive alcoholism). Lobster Boy proceeded to abuse his children for a few more years, which resulted in his third wife (THIRD WIFE – Lobster Boy has been married THREE TIMES as a drunk piece of shit and no hands – what’s your excuse?) shooting him in the head. Long story short – what are you guys doing for Spring Break this year?

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Finally, but definitely not least – motherfucking COCAINE BEAR. In 1985, a smuggler plane dropped roughly $15 million worth of cocaine in ten duffel bag across a Kentucky hillside for other individuals to pick up (sidebar – this was the plot to the second-best season of “Justified,” a TV show you’ve never watched but definitely should). The officials were on top of this, and busted the smugglers, but never managed to locate the tenth bag, but you see where this is going – later a bear was found dead near an empty bag. Estimates suggest this bear ate SEVENTY-SIX POUNDS OF COCAINE, or approximately ONE-POINT-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS WORTH at once. Take a moment to imagine this – a bear, already a fiercesome apex predator, but on SEVENTY-SIX POUNDS ON COCAINE. You know those methheads on Cops who fight six officers tazering them and beating them with nightsticks? Imagine that, but A MOTHERFUCKING BEAR. I would take that bear versus the entirety of the modern Italian army. To conclude, Cocaine Bear is now stuffed and offered as a Kentucky heirloom at a local museum. We’ll conclude with this quote from the curator that I will never possibly top: “You wouldn’t think that Cocaine Bear would be for all ages, but kids love it. Everybody wants their picture with Cocaine Bear.”

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