World’s Strangest

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How the Greatest Prankster in Political History Messed With Richard Nixon

© Bettmann/CORBIS by David Borgenicht and Turk Regan Democratic prankster Dick Tuck began tormenting Richard Nixon in California in 1950, after he became a mole in Nixon’s successful Senate campaign. When Nixon unsuccessfully sought the presidency 10 years later, his opponent, John F. Kennedy, hired Tuck to play practical jokes on Nixon. The day after the first [...]

The Time Walt Disney Kidnapped Richard Nixon

President Obama is appearing today at Disney World, which gives us an excuse to discuss the time then-VP Richard Nixon tested out Disneyland’s fancy new monorail. Yes, Walt Disney kidnapped then-Vice President Richard Nixon and his family in 1959 – but it wasn’t exactly a sinister plot. The Nixons were on hand at Disneyland to help [...]

The Stories Behind 6 Famous Slogans

Though some of the greatest advertising slogans in history seem relatively simple (“Just Do It” is only three words, after all), most of the time, they’re anything but. Here’s how six of the most enduring taglines came to be. 1. “Just Do It.” The famous Nike slogan came from a rather unlikely source – spree killer [...]

Debt Free Zone: How Liechtenstein Manages to Live Within Its Means

As you may have heard, the United States’ gigantic national debt means we’re firmly in our creditors’ pockets. But what about countries on the opposite end of the spectrum? Who’s got the tiniest national debt? In that arena, it’s tough to beat Liechtenstein. The tiny European principality has a whopping external debt of zero dollars. [...]

That Time in 1979 When the U.S. Government Defaulted

© Kristoffer Tripplaar/Pool/Corbis As the Congressional debate over the debt ceiling rages on this week, more analysts are raising the question of what would happen if the country defaults on U.S. Treasury bonds. For finance types, the notion of the U.S. government defaulting is nearly unthinkable; Treasury securities are considered to be effectively risk-free. Murmurs that [...]

Why Are Gossipy Newspapers Called “Tabloids”?

While the sensational fall of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is chronicled this week by media outlets everywhere, we thought we’d get to the bottom of a less sensational question: Why are gossipy newspapers called “tabloids” anyway? The answer is easy to swallow. No, really: condensed, simplified, “easy-to-swallow” reporting was first dubbed “tabloid” journalism in the [...]

Companies Americans Love to Hate (the Most)

The good people over at The Atlantic recently reviewed the American Customer Satisfaction Index and compiled a list of the 19 Most Hated Companies in America. The list includes all the usual suspects that you’ve probably had actual or virtual run-ins with, for all the reasons you would put them atop a list you might [...]

Why Is Michigan So Generous With Bottle Deposits?

The classic Seinfeld episode “The Bottle Deposit” will be 15 years old in May. In honor of Kramer and Newman’s ill-fated trip to Michigan in a mail truck full of bottles and cans they hoped to redeem for dimes, let’s take a look at why Michigan’s bottle deposit is so high. How long has Michigan [...]

When Political Conventions Go Wild: Four Knock-Down, Drag-Out Convention Floor Fights

by Brendan Spiegel 1. The Convention Turned Klanbake For Americans accustomed to today’s tame, scripted political conventions, the 1924 Democratic Convention went down more like a taping of The Jerry Springer Show. On one side was New York Governor Al Smith, supported by urban, Catholic voters who favored his efforts to repeal prohibition. On the other side [...]

Why Are Coupons Worth 1/100th of a Cent?

The next time a coupon shows up in your mail, take a look at the fine print. There’s a pretty good chance it will read something to the effect of “Cash Value 1/100th of a cent.” Why in the world is that writing on there? And are 10,000 copies of this coupon really worth a [...]