Tuesday, August 16, 2005

ok, this is mostly it.

I finally finished One-Night Stands with American History, yay! Now I will no longer have to bore y'all with a billion crazy (but so interesting!) historical anecdotes, and hopefully we can more on to more productive things. :)

Anyway, for now, here are the rest of the selections that I found of particular interest in the book:

  • As a politician LBJ did a lot of traveling. Once he visited Thailand for a conference. At the conference Johnson was feasted royally and given plenty to drink, which made hime a frequent visitor to the rest room. As he emerged from the rest room on one of these trips, he met a group of reporters. Instantly, Johnson opened his fly, pulled out his membranous Texan, and commented, "Don't see 'em this big out here, do they?"

  • During the eight or nine years that Joseph Heller was writing his first novel, the working title of the book was "Catch-18." Then, just as the book was going into production, Publishers Weekly, a trade magazine, informed Heller that Leon Uris was coming out with a book with the same number in the title. The magazine warned that the public would probably not accept two books with similar titles, and opined that if people had to choose, they would pick the Uris novel, since Uris was a familiar name. Heller immediately sank into depression. He even took a leave of absence from his job as a writer of advertisements for McCall's to brood about his problem. He had specifically picked the number eighteen because it was the only mutli-syllable number that begins with a vowel, except for the number eleven, which could not be used since it was part of the title of a recently released movie. For four weeks Heller worried about the problem, until one day his editor called with an idea for a new title. The editor suggested "Catch-22," and instantly Heller agreed.

  • Some ideas are better left alone than refuted. Herbert Spencer, the famous English philosopher, adapted the ideas of Darwinian evolution to biology, psychology, sociology, and other fields of study. Many people, of course, did not agree with Spencer's reasoning. At Yale University, President Noah Porter personally conducted a volunteer class on Spencer's First Principles, trying to refute them. By the end of the term, however, every member of the class had become a believer in Social Darwinism.

  • For decades there has been no national controversey about the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools[remember this book was written in 1980, twenty-five years ago!]. Even in 1925, when the theory was put on trial in the famous Scopes case, the anti-evolutionists were regarded with scorn. But the Tennessee law that put John T. Scopes on trial remained on the books for many years. Not until 1967 was it finally repealed.

  • When Edward Everett Hale was Chaplain of the Senate, someone asked him, "Do you pray for the Senators, Dr. Hale?" "No, I look at the Senators and pray for the country," he replied.

  • According to Congressman William Everett of Massachusetts, one church congregation found the advertising barrage [from drug companies, in the late 1800s] to be especially trying. New hymnals were needed, but the church had little money to buy them. To economize, the congregation contracted with a patent-medicine manufacturer who agreed to defray a large percentage of the hymnal cost in return for advertising space in the new books. The songbooks arrived on December 24. On Christmas Day the churchgoers filled the sanctuary only to find in their new hymnals:
    "Hark! The herald angels sing
    Beechan's pills are just the thing.
    Peace on earth and mercy mild
    Two for man and one for child."

  • Beginning in 1931, ten years before the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, every graduate of the Japanese Naval Academy had to answer the following question as part of his final examination: "How would you carry out a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor?" The question remained on the cadets' exam every year until the beginning of the war in the Pacific. It is not known if the Japanese high command used any of the answers from the ten-year period while planning the real attack.

    There was also this one that I didn't feel like typing out (my fingers are getting tired!), so I managed to locate it online - slightly altered from the book's text, but the story comes across nonetheless:
    It is said that in the House of
    Representatives in the 1890s, the then Speaker of the House, Thomas Brackett
    Reed, was once forced to send telegrams to absent members asking their
    attendance in order to obtain a quorum. One congressman, delayed by a flood
    that had disrupted railway service telegraphed back: "Washout on line. Can't
    come." Upon receiving this message Reed sent a reply telegram: "Buy another
    shirt; come on next train."

    The same is true for the following story, found here:
    [JFK] told a good-humored story on himself and two other aspirants, Senators Lyndon Johnson and Stuart Symington, at the Gridiron Club dinner: 'I dreamed about 1960 myself the other night and I told Stuart Symington and Lyndon Johnson about it in the cloakroom yesterday. I told them how the Lord came into my bedroom, annointed my head and said, "John Kennedy, I hereby appoint you President of the United States." Stuart Symington said, "That's strange, Jack, because I too had a similar dream last night in which the Lord annointed me and declared me, Stuart Symington, President of the United States and Outer-Space." Lyndon Johnson said, "That's very interesting, gentlemen, because I too had a similar dream last night and I don't remember annointing either of you."'

    And this was a neat tidbit (found here) : Following the death of William McKinley, the press covered the brief swearing-in of the new president, Teddy Roosevelt. One New York paper mistakenly used the letter "b" instead of "o" in the word oath. The next morning, readers read the following headline: "Mr. Roosevelt took his simple bath, as President of the United States."

    I also learned that "the only nonwhite to be elected vice-president of the United States was Charles Curtis, a Kaw Indian, who served under Herbert Hoover." Being reminded that we've been ruled by an elite, white male government for so long just makes me so sad.

    Okay, sorry that this entry was so long! I think I should be done, for now...although the next book I'll be attacking is Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, so I can't promise! (I took both of those books out of the library at the same time, and therefore am forced to read them one after the other, whereas otherwise I would definitely take a break). This book is a "teen book", though, so hopefully I'll be able to speed throught it rather quickly. I just thought the concept sounded too good to pass up. Kind of like a kiddie version of A People's History, heh.

    Well, for now, I have to go get some sleep. Goodnight! xoxo

    Currently Reading:

    TITLE: The Wisdom of Crowds
    AUTHOR: James Surowiecki

    TITLE: Lies My Teacher Told Me
    AUTHOR: James W. Loewen

  • No comments: