dummies

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Date with Destiny?
On April 11, 1917, Soviet leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin called the U.S. consul in Switzerland and spoke with Allen Dulles (then a junior diplomat). Russia, Lenin explained, was contemplating withdrawing from World War I and signing a treaty with the Germans. Dulles, who had a big date that evening, asked Lenin to call back in the morning, when the office officially re-opened. Incredibly, Lenin's message was never delivered to Washington... [The negligent Dulles was later named chief of the CIA—and was forced to resign after the Cuban Bay of Pigs fiasco.] [Churchill's verdict of John Foster Dulles? "Dull, Duller, Dulles."]
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Ronald Reagan: Hollywood President
Secretary of State James Baker once gave Ronald Reagan a briefing book to study before the next day's World Economic Summit in Williamsburg, Virginia. In the morning, Baker was dismayed to learn that the president had not even bothered to open it and frankly asked him why. "Well, Jim," Reagan replied, "The Sound of Music was on..." ["Reagan's masterly delivery sometimes disguised the fact that he did not really know what he was saying," The Economist wrote in Reagan's obituary. "The lines were written, for safety's sake, on three-by-four cards or on his shirt-cuff." "I think Nancy does most of his talking," Robin Williams once said of Reagan. "You'll notice that she never drinks water when Ronnie speaks."]
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John Bel Edwards & Donald Trump - God Bless His Heart
In November 2019, despite a strenuous effort by President Donald Trump to turn the race into a referendum on impeachment, John Bel Edwards clinched a 51-49% victory over Eddie Rispone to earn a second term as governor of Louisiana. Edwards, the only Democrat in the Republican Deep South to hold his state's top office, tried hard not to antagonise Trump. "A day after the election," The Economist reported, "he told Tyler Bridges of the Times-Picayune and the Advocate that he had avoided paying attention to the president's appearances in the state for fear it would cause him to say something intemperate. He allowed himself one dig on election night. 'God bless his heart,' he said of Mr Trump, to a ...
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The First Public Demonstration Of Roller Skates
The first roller skates were perfected in the 18th century by Joseph Merlin—who, unfortunately, failed to perfect the art of skating as well. As Parade magazine notes, Merlin's first public demonstration was a disaster.  "A renowned maker of violins and harpsichords, the Belgian-born Merlin moved to London in 1760, where he dreamed up the idea of replacing the blades on ice skates with metal wheels. To dramatize his invention, Merlin dressed as a minstrel and made a spectacular entrance on skates at an elegant masquerade ball. He dazzled the other guests as he wheeled gracefully about the ballroom floor while playing a violin. Then, as his admirers watched in horror, Merlin lost control and sailed headlong into a crystal mirror, demolishing ...
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When Wilson Mizner Sold The Last Supper
Playwright Wilson Mizner was once married to Myra Moore Yerkes, an enormously wealthy woman who happened to own a multi-million-dollar art collection. One day Mizner, in desperate need of cash, pulled a depiction of The Last Supper from the living-room wall and sold it.  His wife, understandably irate, demanded to know what had happened to the masterpiece. "Some masterpiece," Mizner snorted. "I only got fifty bucks a plate!"  [A similar story is told of Joey Frisco.]
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John Berman & Peter Navarro: Touché
In early April 2020, Donald Trump began advocating the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients, based on a single flawed, uncontrolled study involving about a dozen patents, the healthiest of whom had shown some improvement. Shortly thereafter, Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro and NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci had what reporters described as "an epic showdown" in the White House Situation Room after Fauci told Navarro that the drug was unproven and not ready for prime time. On April 6th, CNN New Day host John Berman grilled Navarro on the subject, leading to another remarkable exchange:Berman: "What are your qualifications to weigh in on medicines more than Dr. Anthony Fauci? Why should we listen to you and not Dr. ...
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Amanda Peet - Hanna who?
While composing an email one day, Amanda Peet (a self-confessed jealous girlfriend) started typing 'Ha'—and was surprised to see 'Hanna Flatware' pop up (thanks to Windows' autocomplete function). "I was lke, 'Hanna Flatware, Hanna Flatware," she recalled. "Who did he date who's named Hanna Flatware?' And I started freaking out, and I tried to calm down but I just couldn't. So finally I was like, 'David [screenwriter fiance David Benioff], come in here! Who is Hanna?' And he just started laughing, and I was like, 'What? Was it one date? Two dates? Three dates you didn't tell me about?' And he said, 'Honey, Hanna Flatware is the knives and forks we ordered!'"
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In March, 2011, shortly after a nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, Shunichi Yamashita, the prefecture's health-management adviser, gave a speech in Fukushima city which people later used as an example of why the government should not be trusted. After telling the audience that the environmental radiation levels were not dangerous, he said that "the name Fukushima will spread all over the world," that "it already beat Hiroshima and Nagasaki," and that "crisis is an opportunity—the biggest opportunity. Fukushima became really famous without doing anything." As the crowd laughed nervously, he continued, "If you smile, you will not experience any radiation impact. It does not come to those who smile, it comes to those who are gloomy. This is made clear ...
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Rick Rockwell's Failed Haiku About Darva Conger
Following his short-lived marriage to Darva Conger on the Fox reality TV show Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire, Rick Rockwell contributed a curious haiku to a literary webzine (La Petite Zine). His masterpiece? "Love on television/not as strange as concept seems/but Darva present." Ironically, because it contains an extra syllable in the first line, Rockwell's effort is not even technically a haiku. A proper haiku must follow the 5-7-5 scheme. Eg: "Crap Upon a Page / Follows Crap Upon a Stage / Ours? A Crap-Filled Age."
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Mohammed Salameh: Dumb Terrorist #7382
On February 26, 1993, Mohammed Salameh parked a yellow Ford 350 Econoline van packed with explosives beneath the World Trade Center. The bomb killed six and injured several others. Fortunately, Salameh was caught and appeared in court just one week later—after trying to collect the deposit on the rental van which he had used in the attack. [Salameh was born with eyesight so poor that he failed his New Jersey driver's license exam four times.]