The Quick 10: Pre-Presidential Professions


You already know that Ronald Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild before he was President of the United States, and I bet you recall a joke or two about Jimmy Carter being a peanut farmer. Here are a few ways other future presidents paid the bills before they started signing bills.

1. Harry Truman, haberdasher. But not a good one. Truman opened a haberdashery (Truman & Jacobson) with his friend Edward Jacobson in 1919, but after three pretty dismal years, they declared bankruptcy. Truman worked to pay off debts incurred from the store for more than 10 years.

2. Andrew Johnson, tailor. And he loved being a tailor. Even when he started to rise in the world of politics, Johnson still had a soft spot for a spool of thread. When he was governor of Tennessee, he made a suit for the governor of Kentucky, just for fun.

3. Ulysses S. Grant, bill collector. You probably remember him for his military career, but between the Mexican-American War and the Civil War, Ulysses struggled to support his growing family. Among other things, he tried bill collecting, farming and selling leather goods and saddles.

4. Woodrow Wilson, football coach. Before he was the President of Princeton, Wilson had an academic appointment at Wesleyan University, where he also coached the football team for two years and founded the debate team.

5. Grover Cleveland, sheriff. As the sheriff of Erie County, New York, Cleveland personally hanged two convicted murderers. He had the option to hire someone else to do the physical work, but both times chose to do the deed himself.

6. Teddy Roosevelt, deputy sheriff. While TR was ranching in North Dakota, he took his appointment as Billings County Deputy Sheriff very seriously. In fact, when some thieves stole his boat right out from under his nose at the ranch, he and two cohorts spent days tracking them down and capturing them. He detailed the account in his 1888 book Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail.

7. Millard Fillmore, clothmaker. At the tender age of 14, Fillmore’s dad “apprenticed” him (it was indentured servitude) to a cloth maker more than 100 miles away from his hometown and his eight siblings. Fillmore hated it so much it’s said that he walked the entire way home after four months. He found a similar position much closer and worked there for a few years until deciding to pursue a career in law.

8. James Garfield, preacher. “Preacher President” isn’t just a clever nickname – he really was a preacher, the only POTUS to count that among his former professions.

9. Warren G. Harding, journalist. He tried selling insurance for a while, but when one of the three newspapers in Marion, Ohio, was threatening to fold, Harding raised $300 and purchased it. The burden took its toll, though, and he nearly suffered a nervous breakdown at the ripe old age of 24. The effort paid off though – later in life he sold it for a profit of what would be millions of dollars in today’s money.

Bone Broth 101

Whether you drink it on its own or use it as stock, bone broth is the perfect recipe to master this winter. Special thanks to the Institute of Culinary Education

Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?

If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).


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