The Men Who Claimed to Own Outer Space

NASA/Getty Images
NASA/Getty Images

On July 20, 1969, after more than a decade of feverishly competing against the Russians, NASA ended the space race and pulled off one of the most incredible scientific achievements of all time: They put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon, with Michael Collins attending from nearby.

Its one-time owner, A. Dean Lindsay, probably would have considered the feat trespassing.

In 1937, Lindsay turned up at a Pittsburgh Notary Public’s office with documents declaring that he owned “the property known as planets, islands-of-space or other matter, henceforth to be known as ‘A.D. Lindsay’s archapellago [sic].’” He omitted Earth from his claim, apparently reasoning that it belonged to everyone who called it home. And though he originally left Saturn and the moon for other enterprising intergalactic real estate moguls, Lindsay soon took those, too, submitting separate claims for each.

He sent his documents, and payment for officially recording his claims, to the clerk of the Superior Court in his hometown of Ocilla, Georgia. It's not clear what the clerk thought of the claims, but they were duly recorded on June 28, 1937.

Lindsay included “improvements, ways, waters, water courses, rights, liberties, privileges, hereditaments and appurtenances ... and the revisions and remainders, rents, issues, and profits thereof; and all the estate, right, title, interest, property, claim and demand whatsoever, in law, equity or otherwise, howsoever, of, in and to the same and every part thereof” of his lands, but he didn't claim the outer space surrounding the moon and other celestial bodies he claimed to own. Those areas were snapped up in 1948 by James T. Mangan, a self-help guru who declared all of outer space, minus the celestial bodies, the “Nation of Celestial Space,” or “Celestia.” He presented his “Charter of Celestia” to the Recorder of Deeds and Titles of Cook County, Illinois, who was initially flummoxed but eventually entered the charter into the record. Mangan even applied for membership in the United Nations, but was denied.

Mangan and Lindsay’s ownership claims were both thwarted when the Outer Space Treaty entered into legal force in 1967. The treaty declared that space is free for all nations to explore, and sovereign claims cannot be made.

Still, the treaty didn’t stop Dennis Hope from deeming himself the “omnipitant [sic] ruler of the lighted lunar surface” in 1980. He claimed—via a “Declaration of Ownership” sent to the U.S., the USSR, and the UN General Assembly—our moon, plus the other eight planets and their moons. Unlike Lindsay, who refused to sell even a square inch of his “land,” Hope’s sole stated intent is to cash in by selling parcels of his galactic property. As of 2013, he said he had sold 611 million acres on the moon, 325 million acres on Mars, and a combined 125 million acres on Venus, Io, and Mercury.

Hope says the 1967 Outer Space Treaty doesn’t apply to his case because it prohibits claims by nations, not individuals. But Tanja Masson-Zwaan, president of the International Institute of Space Law, told National Geographic in 2009 that the treaty prohibits claims by both nations and private citizens. “What [Hope] is doing does not give people buying pieces of paper the right to ownership of the moon,” she clarified.

The moon and the planets aren't the only celestial bodies that have been claimed. A 2015 law signed by President Obama attempted to carve out at least one area where individuals can claim rights in outer space: asteroids. According to the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, “any asteroid resources obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that obtained them.” However, other countries—citing the 1967 Outer Space Treaty—say those rights aren’t the United States’s to give.

All of this space appropriation would have been entirely unwelcome news to A. Dean Lindsay, who was thoroughly convinced that he had obtained sole ownership of all of it. “Can you believe it?” he wrote in a letter to a friend in the 1930s. “That I own the Moon and the Sun, the stars, the comets, meteors, asteroids—everything, everywhere beyond this world?”

Nearly $100,000 in Instant Ramen Was Stolen in Georgia Noodle Heist

iStock
iStock

It's not easy to steal a small fortune when your target is instant ramen, but a team of thieves in Georgia managed to do just that a few weeks back. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, the criminals made off with a trailer containing nearly $100,000 worth of noodles, and the local police force is still working to track down the perpetrators.

The heist occurred outside a Chevron gas station in Fayetteville, Georgia some time between July 25 and August 1, 2018. The 53-foot trailer parked in the area contained a large shipment of ramen, which the truck's driver estimates was worth about $98,000. Depending on the brand, that means the convenience food bandits stole anywhere between 200,000 and 500,000 noodle packs.

Some outlets have connected the truck-jacking to a recent string of vehicle-related robberies, but the Fayette County Sheriff's Office told the AJC such reports are inaccurate. Any potential suspects in the case have yet to be revealed.

The outlaws join the list of thieves who have stolen food items in bulk. Some of the most ambitious food heists in the past have centered on 11,000 pounds of Nutella, $75,000 worth of soup, and 6000 cheesecakes.

[h/t The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Paris Responds to Its Public Urination Problem By Installing Open-Air Urinals

Thomas Samson, AFP/Getty Images
Thomas Samson, AFP/Getty Images

In between stops at the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, sightseers in Paris might notice some unusual new landmarks marking the city's streets: bright red, open-air urinals. As NPR reports, the so-called "Uritrottoir" (a mashup of the French words for urinal and pavement) have been installed in response to the city's public urination problem, and residents aren't happy about it.

Peeing openly on the streets has been an unofficial tradition in the French capital since the pre-Napoleon era. Relieving oneself on city property is a fineable offense, but that hasn't stopped both tourists and locals from continuing to do it, subjecting bystanders to both the unwelcome sight and the lingering smell.

Now, Paris is taking an if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em approach to the issue. Uritrottoir have popped up near some of the city's most famous spots, such as Île Saint-Louis, overlooking the Seine, and Notre-Dame Cathedral. They're about the height and size of trash cans, with a receptacle that's meant to catch pee, not litter. Inside the Uritrottoir, straw and other composting materials absorb the urine and its odors, eventually breaking down into a compost that will feed the plants growing from the top of the box. A conspicuous sign of a man peeing posted above the urinal lets passersby know exactly what the contraption is for.

The built-in planters are meant to present the public urinals as something beautiful and functional, but many of the people who have to look at them every day aren't buying it. Fabienne Bonnat, a local art gallery owner, told CBC Radio, "It's an open door to exhibitionism. Who likes to see that?"

Another Île Saint-Louis gallery owner, who didn't wish to be named, told Reuters, “We’re told we have to accept this but this is absolutely unacceptable. It’s destroying the legacy of the island. Can’t people behave?"

The first three toilets were installed in March with a fourth appearing in July. The city has plans to add a fifth urinal, despite the uproar they've already caused.

[h/t NPR]

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