Hobbies that Changed the World – WIF Imagination

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People Whose Hobbies

Changed the World

10. Tolkien’s Hobby Changed Fantasy Forever

tolkien

The list of things inspired by Lord of the Rings and, to a lesser extent, The Hobbit is so long that it literally has its own Wikipedia page. If you don’t have time to click that link, we’ll summarize by saying that virtually anything you’ve ever seen, heard, or read that features any reference to Orcs, Elves, Halflings, Dragons or Dwarves, was almost certainly inspired in some way, shape, or form by Tolkien’s work, meaning you can thank him for Skyrim, Dungeons and Dragons, World of Warcraft, and this Megadeth song. Speaking of music, dozens of metal bands have cited Tolkien’s work as an influence over the years, meaning along with every piece of fiction ever written about elves, Tolkien is also directly responsible for about 4000 guitar solos. Which is great.

But here’s the thing: Tolkien only wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as a vehicle for his awesomely nerdy hobby of making up languages. Hell, there’s even a quote from Tolkien himself where he basically says that he wrote The Lord of the Rings for no other reason than to “provide a world for the languages” he’d spent years creating so that it didn’t seem like he’d wasted his time making up words. In fact, Tolkien put so little stock in The Lord of the Rings as a serious work of fiction that he almost never published it, being content just to leave it as a story he could tell his grandkids, and was only inspired to finish it because his friend CS Lewis bugged him to. So we guess we should thank him, too, for being able to gut stab orcs in that Shadow of Mordor game.

9. One Guy’s Obsession with Bugs Gave Us Pokemon

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Pokémon has had an almost immeasurable impact on pop culture, and the popularity of the series is such that, when an episode of the original anime literally caused kids to have a bunch of seizures, causing it to be temporarily removed from the airwaves, fans in Japan gathered in the country’s major cities and solemnly sang the show’s theme song because they were that worried it was going to be cancelled forever. And you know a show is popular when fans shrug off the fact an episode nearly killed a dozen of their peers. Weirdly, though, the franchise may never have existed if it wasn’t for one guy’s hobby of collecting bugs.

That guy was one Satoshi Tajiri, the creative mind behind the entire concept of Pokémon, and a man responsible for more fractured childhood friendships than yo-yo injuries and girls we liked. As a child Tajiri was obsessed with collecting insects to the point his childhood nickname was, get this, Dr. Bug. Along with collecting bugs, Tajiri would catalogue them and even trade them with his friends in an effort to, for lack of a better phrase, catch ‘em all. Tajiri found this hobby so satisfying and enjoyable that he endeavored to create a video game that centered around a similar concept, eventually molding this idea into the Pokémon series we all know and argue about today.

8. Disneyland was Inspired by Walt’s Miniatures Hobby

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For a guy with a creepy looking mustache who was obsessed with princesses and anthropomorphic mice, Walt Disney was a terrifyingly powerful man, as evidenced by the fact the company bearing his name can technically tell Darth Vader what to do. The foothold of the Disney empire is arguably located in Disneyland, where Walt’s hobby of collecting miniatures helped enthrall a generation of children into buying enough of his company’s merchandise to buy out Iron Man.

Unsurprisingly for a man who used to measure how many steps people took before throwing their garbage on the floor as they walked around Disneyland, Walt Disney was a guy with a bunch of weird hobbies. One of the weirdest was his apparent obsession with tiny versions of things. According to those who knew him best, Disney would spend hours playing with miniature figurines, creating elaborate scenes and dioramas for his own amusement, and spending hundreds of his own dollars to expand his (ironically) ever-shrinking collection.

While this isn’t the only factor known to have influenced Walt’s eventual decision to create Disneyland, his hobby of collecting miniatures and, more specifically, creating magical worlds for people to explore is largely noted to have been one of the things that “ultimately led to its creation.

7. Bo Jackson’s Pro Football Career was Basically a Hobby

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Bo Jackson is widely regarded as one of the finest athletes of all-time, in part because he’s one of only a handful of people to become an All-Star in two sports (baseball and football), but mostly because his physical accomplishments are freaking insane. Able to run the 100 meter dash in just over 10 seconds, leap 20 feet through the air, and throw a rock hard enough to straight up kill a pig, Jackson was always destined for greatness as an athlete. However, the true extent of his skills may never have been known if he never decided to join the NFL, basically as a hobby.

When Jackson joined the LA Raiders in 1987, he did so almost purely because he was bored and wanted something to do during the baseball offseason. Obviously, he’d been a Heisman Trophy-winning football player in college a few years earlier, but baseball was his real passion. As a result of this off the cuff decision to dominate the NFL in his spare time, the true extent of Jackson’s natural ability and his sheer natural athleticism became apparent, leading to one of the most popular advertising campaigns of all-time, and this TV spot for an episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

6. Roget’s Obsession with Words Led to the Thesaurus

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The thesaurus, for anyone who’s never right-clicked a word and searched for a smarter-sounding synonym while writing an essay, is one of the most influential pieces of literature ever created, next to the dictionary and possibly the Harry Potter series. The first thesaurus, unimaginatively titled,

Dr Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases classified and arranged to facilitate the Expression of Ideas and assist in Literary Composition was only created, though, because its author, Peter Roget, had a quirky hobby of cataloguing words.

 This hobby was of such interest to Roget that he eventually spent three years of his retirement logging the different meanings of every word he could think of, culminating in the release of the thesaurus in 1952. It’s become a book so popular it has quite literally never been out of print since the first time it was published. Suck on that, JK Rowling.

4. Roosevelt’s Love of Reading Made Him a Great President

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Listing the reasons the public loved Teddy Roosevelt is like listing the things a 10 year old boy wants to be when he grows up. He was a judo black belt, sheriff, cowboy, and explorer who personally shot half the animals in the Smithsonian. However, what endeared him to the politicians and big-wigs who sponsored his presidency was his eloquence and ability to speak knowledgeably about, well, everything. Anecdotes from those who knew Roosevelt speak of him being able to effortlessly converse with friends and strangers about everything from poetry to natural history with the kind of authority you’d expect from an expert on the subject, or Kelsey Grammer’s character from Frasier.

Roosevelt’s seemingly superhuman ability to retain knowledge is said to have stemmed from his time as a child. More specifically, all the time he spent cooped up in bed with nothing to do but read. You see, Roosevelt was a very sickly child who was frequently bedridden by illness, and as a result, he spent much of his time reading because the Gameboy hadn’t been invented yet. Reading would eventually became a lifelong passion of the pre-pubescent president to the point he was known to read three books every day of his adult life. This vast repository of brain knowledge unquestionably helped Roosevelt’s political career, as it allowed him to charm virtually anyone, from any background, by being able to speak with them about any interest they happened to hold.

3. Lemmy’s Obsession with Nazis Shaped his Worldview

Lemmy

Lemmy, former frontman of the heavy metal band Motörhead and current corpse, is a man about whom it is impossible to overstate how much ass he kicked. He was a hard-drinking, hard-partying, grizzled veteran of rock and roll who drank a bottle of whiskey every day for 30 years and reportedly slept with over 2,000 women. He was a mainstay of metal who inspired everyone from Guns N’ Roses to Metallica, who were such big fans of Lemmy that they once dressed up as him and played the song,Overkill, for his 50th birthday.

One of the things that made Lemmy such a legend within the rock and roll community was his irreverent wit and nonchalant, accepting attitude towards his own mortality, once being quoted as saying:

“Death is an inevitability, isn’t it? You become more aware of that when you get to my age. I don’t worry about it. I’m ready for it. When I go, I want to go doing what I do best. If I died tomorrow, I couldn’t complain. It’s been good.”

This blasé approach to life was apparently inspired by Lemmy’s obsession with Nazi paraphernalia, of which he was an avid collector. Along with collecting Nazi memorabilia, Lemmy was well versed in the history surrounding it, which shaped his anarchist world view and inspired much of his inimitable straight-talking advice. For anyone curious about why Lemmy collected Nazi memorbillia, according to the man himself, he simply liked the way it looked, saying:

Look, it’s not my fault the bad guys had the best [crap].”

A quote we very grudgingly censor, because we’re pretty sure censoring a Lemmy quote is, like, a crime or something.

2. Linus Tolvard Created Linux Out of Boredom

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Linux is the operating system Wikipedia assures us about 1% of the people reading this currently have installed on their computer. In essence, Linux is an open source operating system similar in function to Windows and OS X, only better because you don’t have to pay for it. While not widely known amongst casual PC and laptop users, Linux’s ultra-streamlined and highly customizable nature has helped it become virtually the only operating system used in supercomputers, which, judging by the name, areway better than the computers most of us are reading this on.

Peculiarly, though, the only reason Linux even exists is because the original creator, Linus Tolvard, was bored and decided to make the operating system just to see if he could, describing the whole thing as “just a hobby,” adding that it wouldn’t be “big and professional.” A statement that’s kind of hilarious in retrospect, considering the operating system has been classified as being, quite literally, the fastest of the fast operating systems” by the people making the computers that can calculate pi to a trillion places, and a lot of other really smart sounding stuff.

1. Amateur Astronomers Have Mapped Much of Our Galaxy

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Given that the universe is infinite, there are technically an infinite number of things to learn about it, meaning there’s enough out there for any dumbass with a telescope or camera with a zoom lens to discover something. And boy, you had better believe that throughout history there have been a lot of dumbasses who’ve done exactly that.

The list of things in our universe discovered by “amateur astronomers” who considered what they were doing to be little more than a hobby is actually quite humbling, and includes things like comets, stars, and supernovas, as well as advances in telescope technology that have allowed ordinary people to see into God’s toilet, if they want to. The impact amateur astronomers have had on the field is so notable that there are even awards for amateurs to encourage them to keep looking to the stars and doing NASA’s job for them. Which we think is a lovely thought to end on. There are people out there taking pictures of the sky with big-ass cameras, who have accidentally discovered more about the universe than the people we pay to do it. Sort of like that episode of The Simpsons where Bart discovers a comet.

Hobbies that Changed the World

– WIF Imagination

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 160

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 160

… It is not like Theodore Roosevelt has not had his hands full in 1906…

Teddy Roosevelt-001

The telegraph lines have been scorching forth and back between Rochester and Tallahassee, Boston, Quincy and Washington, whose resident president insists on hosting the real Eastman-Pearson union; a somewhat shorter trip for the Southern contingent, who are far from strangers to the White House.

Alice Roosevelt

Alice Roosevelt Longworth

The fact that Roosevelt’s daughter from his first marriage, “Princess Alice” as she is affectionately called by newspaper reporters assigned to Washington, is getting married there two months before the Pearsons, will make for a nonstop, romping-stomping celebration of family and friend. If you were not invited and you consider yourself one of the beautiful people, you would not dare admit it, for fear of becoming a social has-been.

 But it is not like Theodore Roosevelt has not had his hands full in 1906. There are hints, led by a dwindling money supply that is pointing toward an economic crisis. Ten or more years of prosperity and growth are threatened by a war between Russia and Japan, which we’ve had to play both sides to the middle, the enormous cash vacuum in the wake of the San Francisco earthquake and unprecedented railroad expansionism.

Big stick-001

Big stick-001

For the first time in recent memory, the United States has flat out outspent its income and banks do not have the money to cover the outflow. There is also a strange coincidence concerning the purchase of the rights to the Panama Canal, with all its burdens cast in iron; excavation equipment needed for the largest works project ever attempted.

 

Apart from the fray, the times when a leader must separate himself, Roosevelt is true to those who have aided his glorious run in the White House. No one who has ever held the nation’s highest office has enjoyed as much as he; the power, the prestige, the trappings. Someone heard him say once: “I can’t believe they are paying me for this job.”

  Dutch by birth, a Van Roosevelt original surname, he had led the comfortable life to this point, except for a pre-teen period when he was puny and in ill health, resulting in torments from cruel mischievers. Training at the family gymnasium took care of that problem and is chiefly responsible for the rugged bravado he has displayed ever since. Wherever he goes, whoever he is with, his “big stick” is always close at hand.


 

Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode # 160


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #131

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #131

…“We had one lady who claimed that cigars were causing her husband’s poor health. I guess he had trouble breathing.”

“What nonsense,” Statler concurs, “sounds like good old fashioned consumption to me?”…

by Dion Ja’Y 

Loyal Campbells-001

The Tallahassee folks on to good food & important friends.

“We make cigars, among other commodities, Mister Statler,” Herb pulls a Loyal Campbell from his tweed jacket pocket, handing it to their sponsor.

“There is nothing like a good cigar after a good dinner,” he bows his head in gratitude, passing it under his nose, looking at the wrapper ring. “Is that you?” He asks of Willy, referring to the representation on the ring.

“Yessir, it is.”

Herb continues his thought, “Yes, well, if you can imagine this, we had one lady who claimed that cigars were causing her husband’s poor health. I guess he had trouble breathing.”

          “What nonsense,” Statler concurs, “sounds like good old fashioned consumption to me?

    They finally gain a private room, apart from the commercial banquet facility. About sixty guests are presently mingling, including the Presidential host. He seems completely at ease, appearing to have shed any and all problems of his life and the world in general. Gone, for the moment, are worries about his dear frail, convalescent Ida. The Boer War in South Africa and “Boxer Rebellion” fade to the background, especially since he has a second in command to rely on. Teddy Roosevelt, whose motto is, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”, is the perfect second term Vice-president; young, capable and right there for the Republican party should William McKinley choose not to run for a third term.

Two long tables flank the room, each filled to capacity with every manner of salad, entree and gourmet dish. If any in attendance goes home hungry, the onus is on them.

The President sees Statler, as well as his Florida friends enter, capping his mental list of invitees. “May I have your attention,” he clinks his brandy snifter with handy silverware. “I see my table has arrived, so without further ado, please indulge your selves in God’s generous blessings!”

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The crowd needs little of the prompting, having already staked out their seats, at one of the six circular oak tables, as well as exactly what crystal plate or dish in the buffet they  are going to attack first.

McKinley wraps his arms around as many of his Southern folks as he can, separately or at one time. They follow his lead to the feast. “Do not forget to bring your plate. I so enjoy being able to serve myself, don’t you. Ummmm, this looks good, shrimp cocktail. Doesn’t this rice look special…, Florentine is it not, Lady Ferrell?”

Martha, who waits directly behind, answers, “Pilaf with almonds, I believe,” having the unique opportunity to correct a President.

Jacob Haley and Jacques Francois help Willy and Amanda sort through the culinary montage, when they’re not screening the room for potentially single females.

Alfrey is attached to the Endlichoffers, which is no surprise, but is helpless in consoling Ziggy about the apparent oversight of schnitzel or Hasenpfeffer.


 

Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #131


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #116

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #116

…I am going to give those people a “welcome home” they will never forget…

News of the day

Those words, among other accounts, pass by the desk of the President of the United States. These are his people, the people of Herbert Love’s world and he could not be more proud. So moved is he that he breaks from his long-held tradition and leaves his handicapped Ida in the care of Major Walter Reed. The imitable and nearly invisible V.P. Garret Hobart (a lame duck by most accounts) is entrusted with Washington D.C.

I am going to give those people a “welcome home” they will never forget.”

Time to Remember-001And so he does, while rushing off to the state capitol of Florida, with most of the Washington press corps tagging along. “The gratitude of this nation will not be a mime’s cheer.” William McKinley is not just a decent man. He is forward looking in his direction, yet he seldom ignores the needs and the desires of the few. This is an important quality for a country that is expanding nearly as fast as its rapidly improving sectors of communication and travel.

In less than two months there will be a presidential election of 1900, so this trip to Florida may do wonders for McKinley’s patchy Southern support. Herb Love does not have a widely public personae, so his best friend cannot garner him support, only Love’s little slice of the Panhandle and not much more below the Mason-Dixon Line.

But this September of disaster and the related stories of heroism and triumph over adversity, may well translate into popular votes in November.

Speaking of popular, the Republican nominating committee and attending convention had decided that the office of vice-president needed upgrading. They choose Spanish-American War hero and current governor of New York state Theodore Roosevelt, to replace the ignoble Hobart, who was merely a crony of first term financier, Marcus Hanna. So it’s out with old and in with that “damned cowboy”. In political circles, that is a term of endearment.

Enough of back-door politics though.

There has not been a preponderance of “full dinner pails” in the South since the Civil War, though steady progress can be seen.  But in the wake of the hurricane, whose fury should have been given a name that progress has been set back.

As it turns out, it is not too late to cash in on the workings of the Love complement, as reported by Harv Pearson and spread nationwide by everyone’s source for news: large sheets of thin paper with black ink printing on it; singular to each city, bound by unwritten rules of fairness and confidentiality. Because of the efforts of hurricane heroes and revealing reporters, the sitting President should receive a beaucoup bump in popularity. Luck and timing is a politician’s greatest ally.


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #116


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #80

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #80

…It is not every day you get a wire from the President of the United States of America…

McKinley-001

After successfully navigating through the murky waters of the Spanish-American War, a one hundred day semi-global skirmish that establishes his country as an imperialistic power, President William McKinley has set his sights on reelection. The war has produced, as they usually do, heroes and the Republican Party chooses the most celebrated hero, Teddy Roosevelt as his Vice-presidential partner. Roosevelt had previously ridden his San Juan Hill popularity to the New York governor’s mansion. Sound reputation and national prosperity virtually assures them victory in November.

But this is August and some smaller issues need to be dealt with. It is Herbert Love who may add yet another title to his already crowded business card; because of a telegram he receives.

It reads:

*************************************

Mayor Herbert Love

Quincy City Hall

Quincy, Florida, U.S.A.

 

President William McKinley

Washington D.C., U.S.A.

Dear Mr. Love;

 

My staff and I have been admiring reports of your diverse approach to your agricultural enterprises. This is the sort of expertise a president looks for when he selects his Secretary of Agriculture.

As you likely know, James Wilson has been and will be my secretary of this department, but he has succumbed to dreadful plague while he was in San Francisco. And considering the boll weevil crisis we face, among other issues, such as the total pasteurization of the nation’s milk supply, I feel we need a steady stream of quality leadership for our nation’s farming families.

We feel that you are that man and hope you will be stirred to serve your country and offer  this position in my administration. Your title would be Under-secretary of Agriculture, the first such, but with all the amenities that Mr. Wilson enjoys. Of course I would want you stay on for my second term, God willing.

Please call me at the attached secure telephone line, at your earliest convenience.

 

 Your President,

 

 William McKinley

*************************************************

It is not every day you get a wire from the President of the United States of America.


 

Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #80


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Presidential Fun Facts

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 Fun Facts About American Presidents

It’s kind of a given that the President of the United States should be pretty smart. Despite what hack comedians will tell you about George W. Bush, an idiot can’t just walk into the White House and run the country. But even by the standards of the office, some of America’s most impressive minds could do some pretty ridiculous things.

10. Lyndon B. Johnson Could Find Out Everything about a Person

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At an impressive 6 ft 3 1?2 in (192 cm), Lyndon B. Johnson is the second tallest President in history. The tallest U.S. President was Abraham Lincoln at 6 ft 3 3?4in (192.4 cm). Johnson was well aware of his height, and often used it to his advantage to intimidate or coerce both political opponents and allies. He used what became colloquially known as “the treatment,” where he would use his massive frame and dominating presence to get all up in someone’s grill before making them spill their guts.

What made it so effective was Johnson’s incredible ability to find out exactlywhat made people tick. Johnson was able to find out basically everything about a person, from how they felt about political issues to their shoe size, and could recall all of it without error and with just the right tone of voice to persuade or bully someone to do whatever he wanted. This allowed Johnson to bring even staunch opponents who totally disagreed with him around to his way of thinking in a matter of minutes by overwhelming them with his intricate knowledge of their politics, ideas and flaws.

9. JFK Knew How to Shake Hands Perfectly

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Considering that John F. Kennedy allegedly slept with more beautiful women than a copy of Cosmo, it’s not going to come as a surprise that he was known as a fairly charismatic dude. However, President Kennedy wasn’t just charming and handsome — he was a borderline hypnotist when it came to influencing people.

For example, President Kennedy once commissioned an entire study on the art of shaking hands, all so that he could set the tone of a relationship from the instant he met someone. JFK’s handshake was so comforting and warming that it wasn’t uncommon for him to return after a long day of meeting people with ascratched up hand from the sheer amount of people clambering to grasp at his magical palm.

When it came to talking to people, JFK was known to be able to sway an entire crowd with nothing more than his smile, as you can see in this video of himkilling it in a question and answer session. What makes this more impressive is that JFK could reportedly turn on the charm at will, being able to influence people to his way of thinking even if they didn’t fully agree with it. We guess Magneto was right — JFK really did have a mutant superpower.

8. Teddy Roosevelt Could Read an Entire Book Before Breakfast

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There’s little we could say about how awesome Roosevelt was that wouldn’t just be us repeating ourselves, but few people realize that Roosevelt was both an unflinching badass and a huge nerd. It’s estimated that Roosevelt read in excess of 10,000 books, many of which were in foreign languages because even when it came to reading Roosevelt liked to challenge himself.

Roosevelt’s inhuman ability to eye-punch knowledge came about as a result of him teaching himself to speed-read, which allowed him to quickly gloss over a book while still retaining about 90% of the information it contained. This meant that Roosevelt could read a book or magazine in a matter of minutes or hoursand hold detailed, lengthy conversations about its contents like he’d studied it for years. Roosevelt’s thirst for knowledge was so great that he reportedly read a book before he ate breakfast every single day. Kind of makes you want to finish reading that novel you’ve had sitting around for a month and a half, huh?

7. Calvin Coolidge Only Lost One Election

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While Calvin Coolidge may not be the most well-known President, he’s noted as being one of the most electorally successful — in his entire political career he only lost once at the ballet box.

When Coolidge applied to be a member of Northampton, Massachusetts City Council in 1898, he won. A year later he was re-nominated but applied to be a City Solicitor instead, and won. This trend continued for the next few decades as Coolidge went from being a member of city council to a State Legislator, to a Mayor, to a Governor, to a Vice President and finally to being the President himself, winning almost every time by a landslide. In fact, when he became President Coolidge won the vote in every State with the sole exception of the home state of the guy running against him. When the time came for Coolidge to run again he politely declined, saying that 10 years in Washington was too much, even though many agree he would have won again. He retired with an almost flawless political record. The only loss Coolidge ever suffered was when he campaigned to be a member of a local School Board, because he didn’t have kids that went to that school.

6. James Garfield Could Write in Two Languages at the Same Time

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James Garfield is mostly remember alongside William McKinley as being one of the Presidents who was shot but didn’t have a cool hat or nice eyes. Which is a shame, because James Garfield is possibly the smartest man to ever hold office. Garfield had an exceptionally keen mind, teaching himself to be proficient in a multitude of disciplines and subjects. After just a year at college he was teaching classes on literature and ancient language, when previously he’d worked there as the janitor.

Garfield was also known to be ambidextrous, which he would show off to friends and colleagues by asking them to pose him a question before writing down the answer in Latin with one hand and Greek with the other, all while maintaining unflinching eye contact.

5. John Adams Had a Silver Tongue

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Even if your knowledge of American history is limited to whatever you managed to glean from Assassin’s Creed 3 in-between stabbing wolves, you can probably tell what happened at the Boston Massacre from the name alone. If you’re still a little fuzzy, the short version is that in 1770 eight British soldiers opened fire on a crowd of people in the middle of Boston, killing five people.

When the soldiers walked into the courtroom, almost everyone expected the sentence to be death. But with just a few words the future President was able to convince the entire jury that the men were innocent because they acted in self-defense, resulting in six of them walking free while the other two were given the equivalent of a slap on the wrist.

Just let that stew for a moment. John Adams managed to convince a jury to acquit a bunch of British soldiers charged with shooting people in the street at a time when revolutionary fervor was growingWe can’t even convince employees at Subway to give us extra ham.

4. Lincoln Trumped a 13,000 Word Speech In Two Minutes

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The Gettysburg Address is one of those speeches that will never be forgotten, mostly because you could write it on the back of a napkin. Clocking in at just 272 words and delivered in a little over two minutes, Lincoln’s speech was barely longer than the previous entry on this list and yet it’s consistently ranked as one of the greatest speeches ever given.

A fact that’s often overlooked is that Lincoln’s speech was never supposed to bethe Gettysburg Address. That honor originally belonged to the two hour, 13,000 word long speech given by Edward Everett. His speech, which is regarded as a masterpiece of oration given by a man famed for his abilities as a speaker, was trumped by little more than an off the cuff utterance from Lincoln. Immediately after Lincoln gave his speech, Everett, who’d spent weeks crafting his magnum opus, knew that he’d been bested and the next day he penned a letter to Lincoln saying that he was happy to come close with two hours to what Lincoln had accomplished in two minutes.

3. Andrew Jackson Managed to Pay Off All of America’s Debts

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Did you know that there’s only ever been one time in America’s history that the country’s been entirely debt free? It was all thanks to Andrew Jackson and how much he hated owing people money. When Jackson took office in 1829, he vowed that he’d eliminate America’s 58 million dollars of debt, the equivalent of paying off about 800 million today. Six years later, America was debt free — Jackson had somehow managed to pay off every cent through careful planning, frugal spending and telling creditors where to stick it.

Jackson’s feat has never since been equaled. Even worse is that America was only debt free for a year before it once again needed to borrow money. Still, Jackson accomplished something many thought to be impossible just because he really didn’t like the idea of running a country that owed someone money.

2. Thomas Jefferson Could Read Five Books at Once

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When it comes to smart Presidents it’s hard to top Thomas Jefferson. An expert in almost every subject he put his mind to, Jefferson could converse with anyone about anything effortlessly. President Kennedy once famously addressed a room filled with Nobel Prize winners by saying:

“I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

Nothing sums up Jefferson’s intelligence better than this, an invention personally created by Jefferson so that he could read five books simultaneously. Jefferson was a prolific writer who liked to consult multiple books while penning essays and letters, so to make this easier Jefferson created a revolving book stand that would allow him to read and consult multiple texts. We really think these should still be made so that we can see what happens if we stick 5 iPads to it.

1. George W. Bush Didn’t Need To Have Meetings Because He Already Knew It All

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Just to be clear, yes, we’re talking about the same President Bush who once said “Rarely is the question asked: is our children learning?” the same President Bush who coined the term “Misunderestimate” and the same President Bush who once tried to exit a press conference through a locked door. Although pop culture has painted Bush as a buffoon, stupid people don’t get to be President of the United States. Part of the reason Bush is often seen as inept is his strong southern accent, which studies have shown makes someone appear less intelligent regardless of their educational background. In regards to Bush, while he wasn’t an amazing student he was by no means a poor one.

According to aides and people who’ve interviewed him George W. Bush is a remarkably smart man, with one interviewer describing him as “60 IQ points smarter in private than he was in public.” During his time as President, many commented on his ability to recall and absorb information with an extraordinary level of speed and comprehension. It’s said that Bush would often hurry people through presentations about complex policies because he’d already read through their notes and didn’t want his time wasted.

Presidential Fun Facts

Respect the Stick

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Respect the Stick

Big Stick ideologyBig Stick diplomacy, or Big Stick policy refers to U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy: “speak softly, and carry a big stick.” Roosevelt attributed the term to a West African proverb, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far,” but the claim that it originated in West Africa has been disputed.[1] The idea of negotiating peacefully, simultaneously threatening with the “big stick”, or the military, ties in heavily with the idea of Realpolitik, which implies a pursuit of political power that resembles Machiavellian ideals.[2] Roosevelt first used the phrase in a speech at the Minnesota State Fair on September 2, 1901,[3]four days before the assassination of President William McKinley who died eight days later, which subsequently thrust Roosevelt into the presidency. Roosevelt referred to the phrase earlier (January 26, 1900) in a letter to Henry W. Sprague of the Union League Club, mentioning his liking of the phrase in a bout of happiness after forcing New York‘s Republican committee to pull support away from a corrupt financial adviser. Roosevelt attributed the term as “a West African proverb”, and was seen at the time as evidence of Roosevelt’s “prolific” reading habits.[4][5] Roosevelt described his style of foreign policy as “the exercise of intelligent forethought and of decisive action sufficiently far in advance of any likely crisis”.[6] However, it is also rumored that Roosevelt himself first made the phrase publicly known,[1] and that he meant it was West African proverb only metaphorically.[1]