Five Things You Don’t Want To Know: Election EditionCaitlin McLaren - 3T Chemical
Posted on: May 22, 2016
Five Things You Don’t Want to Know: Election Edition
Hello again, readers! Enter at your peril. This is the column wherein I remind you of all the ways you should be ashamed of your ancestors. Yes, all of you. There are no exceptions, whatever country or continent you are from. Oh, you come from Antarctica, smartypants? Bet you don’t know that Dr. George Murray Levick, the first naturalist to study penguin breeding habits, was so shocked at their “constant acts of depravity” (including necrophilia and molestation of chicks) that he recorded his findings in Greek to hide them from curious non-scientists? We’ve all had professors like that.
That little fact was a bonus, because it is, as you all know, election season in the United States (as it seems, it always was and will always be). Everyone is talking about how the world will absolutely end if one of these crazy people is elected, though they can’t agree on which one is the non-psychotic saviour. For once, I won’t get into that. Instead, I will talk about all of the psychotic things that our leaders did, which we somehow survived. I’m not talking about the notorious Caligulas and Draculas; I’m talking about the leaders who are still respected for their legitimate accomplishments, but did insane and revolting things on the side.
Sir John A. Macdonald and his Drinking
If there are three things you learn in history class, it is that Sir John A. Macdonald was our first Prime Minister, a Father of Confederation, and built the Canadian Pacific Railway. Your teacher also probably mentioned that he was an alcoholic.
However, he wasn’t a regular alcoholic or even a Boris Yeltsin, who got drunk in his off time. No, Sir John A. Macdonald would drink in the House of Parliament, and would be too drunk to participate. Time to entertain members of the Royal Family? Nope, he was too drunk. When Irish Nationalists attempted to invade Canada (yes, that was a thing that happened), he was too hammered to read communications. Once, during a debate, he vomited onstage. When the opposing candidate quite naturally pointed out: “Is this the man you want running your country? A drunk!”, Sir John A. Macdonald claimed that he had vomited in disgust at being forced to listen to his opponent talking. Impressively brazen-Try that next time a police officer accosts you.
Edward VII and his Furniture
King Edward VII of England had many accomplishments in his short reign. He encouraged class and racial tolerance, as well as improving relations with much of Europe. He was also an inveterate ladies’ man, and had dozens of mistresses. However, that still was not enough for him, and he was a frequent customer at high-class Paris brothels. In fact, he had a special chair constructed for his personal use: it was intended to support his very great weight, which posed a risk of crushing the unfortunate prostitutes. Experts disagree on how exactly the chair worked, so if you are good with Ikea furniture, or just really dirty-minded, see if you can figure it out and write in to us. We need to know for scientific reasons.
Napoleon and Waterloo
The battle of Waterloo (not to be confused with our yearly tangle with the geese,) was one of the turning points of history. Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon led to the British Empire being the undisputed most powerful state in the world for a long time. However, the battle was a very near thing, and some historians think that Napoleon may have won if he didn’t have a serious pain in the ass.
See, Napoleon suffered from severe haemorrhoids, which is when the veins in the rectum get swollen and painful. Normally, the doctors treated these with leeches, because medicine back then sucked, even for emperors, but two days before the battle they lost them. (One has to wonder how you lose leeches.) The doctors then tried dosing Napoleon with a buttload of opiates, but they accidentally gave him an overdose of laudanum, which he was still feeling on the morning of the battle. The rest, as they say, is history.
Lyndon Johnson and his Exhibitionism
President Lyndon B. Johnson makes today’s macho posturing look tame. He was known for urinating in public, and when in public bathrooms he liked to turn around and ask people “Have you ever seen anything as big as this?” He would then wave his genitalia (which he nicknamed “Jumbo,”) around to impress and frighten the poor sod who just needed to pee.
In fact, he did exactly that thing when asked by a reporter why American soldiers were fighting in Vietnam, which is… remarkably honest, actually. He also liked to invite other world leaders to go swimming naked with him, in order to “establish genital dominance.” Again, at least he admitted it directly. From time to time, we need a leader who will bring us back to our primate roots.
Peter the Great and his Museum
Peter the Great: it’s in the name. He modernized Russia and made it into a major power, patronized science, and opened up trade and cultural exchange with the rest of the world. Wait, what was that middle one? Can’t be nothing wrong with patronizing science, right? Well, that was 18th century science. Thus, when he decided to build the first museum in Russia, he decided that instead of boring old pottery, he would include lots and lots of dead babies.
Don’t worry, he didn’t kill any babies. Instead, he issued an imperial order that stillborn infants, especially deformed ones, should be sent from the entire country to be added to his collection. He didn’t put them in a heap or anything; instead, he had them taxidermied and set up in various scenes and in different positions. Sometimes they would have props made of bones and skin and various other bits. Just for good measure, he also had the pickled severed head of his mistress’ brother, because reasons. If you are interested in seeing any of these exhibits, the Kunstkamera is still in operation today.