Stupid Nazis

Hitler thought the moon was made of ice. The idea came from an Austrian engineer named Hanns Hörbiger, who had suggested in 1913 that most objects in the solar system were icy, apparently because they’re shiny. No one took this seriously at the time, but German socialists began to support it during the ’20s, and eventually it became official Nazi policy, an alternative to “Jewish” science.

The idea was dismissed again after the war, but it had a strange holding power — as late as 1953 more than a million people in Germany, England and the United States still believed in Hörbiger’s theory.

Maximum Mileage

If you’re really dedicated, it’s possible to travel nearly 6,000 miles in a straight line within the United States.

A trip from Log Point on Elliott Key in Florida to Kure Island in Hawaii would cover 5,859 miles.

Once Bitten …

“De massa and missus was good to me but sometime I was so bad they had to whip me. I ‘members she used to whip me every time she tell me to do something and I take too long to move ‘long and do it. One time my missus went off on a visit and left me at home. When she come back, Sally told her that I put on a pair of Bubber’s pants and scrub de floor wid them on. Missus told me it was a sin for me to put on a man’s pants, and she whip me pretty bad. She say it’s in de Bible dat: ‘A man shall not put on a woman’s clothes, nor a woman put on a man’s clothes’. I ain’t never see that in de Bible though, but from then ’til now, I ain’t put on no more pants.”

— Victoria Adams, ex-slave, 90 years old, quoted in Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews With Former Slaves, 1941

Roman Pinups

Officially, the modern bikini was invented in Paris in 1946, but women’s two-piece athletic garments go back to 1400 B.C. This mosaic, found in a Roman villa near Sicily, dates from 300 A.D. Evidently they had fans.

Apple Piety

Religious demographics of the United States Senate:

  • Jews make up 11% of the Senate and 1.4% of the U.S. population.
  • Episcopalians make up 10% of the Senate and 1.8% of the population.
  • Presbyterians make up 15% of the Senate and 2.8% of the population.
  • Latter-Day Saints make up 5% of the Senate and 1.4% of the population.
  • Methodists make up 11% of the Senate and 7.2% of the population.
  • Catholics make up 24% of the Senate and 25.9% of the population.
  • Lutherans make up 3% of the Senate and 4.6% of the population.
  • Baptists make up 7% of the Senate and 17.2% of the population.

Non-religious or religiously unspecified people make up 15% of the U.S. population … but there’s no sign of them in the Senate.


Fifteen-year-old Owen Burnham was walking along a Gambian beach in 1983 when he came upon a group of villagers cutting up a carcass. He says it measured about 15 feet long, with a 4.5-foot head and a beak containing 80 conical teeth. The villagers eventually sold the head to a tourist and buried the body.

Burnham’s story is a little fishy — he took extensive measurements but didn’t think to take a photo or save a sample. And now no one can find the body.

Maybe “Gambo” was a living dinosaur; maybe it was a mangled whale; maybe it never existed. At this point the only person who can shed any light is the tourist … and he’s not talking.

In a Word

adj. full of rabbits

“A Bill Becomes a Law When the President Vetoes It”

Excerpts from students’ civics exams in the 1800s:

  • “The three departments of the government is the President rules the world, the governor rules the State, the mayor rules the city.”
  • “The first conscientious Congress met in Philadelphia.”
  • “The Constitution of the United States was established to ensure domestic hostility.”
  • “The Constitution of the United States is that part of the book at the end which nobody reads.”
  • “Congress is divided into civilized half civilized and savage.”

— From Mark Twain, “English as She Is Taught: Being Genuine Answers to Examination Questions in Our Public Schools,” 1887

First Draft, Best Draft

Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence contained a passage denouncing the slave trade:

He [George III] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.

Congress removed it.


George Bernard Shaw is the only person who has won both a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award.

He won the Nobel in 1925 and an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1938 (for Pygmalion).

“I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite,” he once said, “but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize.”