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The Real Reason the Hatfields and McCoys Started Feuding

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In the late 19th century, the Hatfields and McCoys were locked in a bloody, decades-long feud. The battle between the clans has been pop culture fodder since at least 1923, when Buster Keaton parodied the situation in his movie Our Hospitality

But the event that launched the now-infamous conflict—which claimed the lives of 13 family members—has taken a backseat to the fact of its impressive longevity. What caused the bad blood in the first place?

A pig. Well, that’s how one of the stories goes, anyway. In 1878, Randolph McCoy accused Floyd Hatfield of stealing one of his hogs. The matter went to trial, with the star testimony coming from Bill Staton, a McCoy who married a Hatfield. Staton sided with Hatfield, and was later shot dead by Sam McCoy.

Adding fuel to the fire was the short-lived romance between Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy. After she became pregnant, McCoy moved in with the Hatfields, infuriating her family. But Romeo and Juliet they were not. Several months into the pregnancy, Johnse decided to move on with another McCoy—Nancy, Roseanna's cousin. Roseanna and Johnse's daughter died of the measles when she was 8 months old.

In 1882, three McCoys got into an election day fight with two Hatfields, which resulted in Ellison Hatfield being stabbed 26 times and shot in the back. Despite his horrific injuries, Hatfield didn’t immediately perish. Devil Anse, the head of the Hatfield clan and Ellison’s brother, vowed that he would not seek retaliation if his brother lived. When Ellison died three days later, Devil Anse found the three McCoy brothers who were responsible, dragged them into the woods, then blindfolded and shot them.

In 1888, the Hatfields struck again, ambushing the McCoy homestead and lighting it on fire in what became known as "The New Year's Day Massacre." Two were killed, including Alifair, a McCoy daughter who was caught in the crossfire. Her mother, Sarah, was badly beaten when she tried to help her dying daughter.

Ellison Mounts was hanged for Alifair’s death, and the feud seemed to settle down after that. But by the time all was said and done, at least 13 Hatfields and McCoys had died—all over a pig, it seems. Still, some historians believe that the hog was just a scapegoat. The real source of the ire, they say, was the Hatfields' Confederate leanings. (The McCoys considered themselves Unionists.)

A century later, the vendetta continued—sort of—in front of a live studio audience. For a 1979 Family Feud special, producers thought it would be funny to “litter the stage with bodies”—the Hatfield and McCoy teams received one appropriately attired mannequin for every match they won.

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History
A Brief History of Time
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You may have heard that time is a social construct, but that doesn’t stop it from having consequences in the real world. If you show up to a party 10 minutes before it’s scheduled to start, you’ll likely be the first one there, and if you arrive to an interview 10 minutes late, you likely won’t get the job. But how did humanity agree on when and how to observe certain times of day?

In their new video, the It’s Okay to Be Smart team explains how humans “invented” the modern concept of time. The increments we use to measure time, like seconds, minutes, and hours, come from the ancient civilizations of the Egyptians and the Babylonians. Early clocks, like sundials and water clocks, were pretty crude, so people couldn’t pinpoint a time like noon down to the second even if they wanted to. But as clocks became more accurate, the problem wasn’t being unable to tell time accurately, but deciding which clocks qualified as “accurate” in the first place.

In 1884, President Chester A. Arthur organized the International Meridian Conference with the intention of deciding on a uniform definition of time to be followed around the world. The attendees ended up choosing the meridian running through Greenwich, England as the official Prime Meridian, and all clocks would be measured against the clock in the town’s observatory. Greenwich Mean Time is still used as the standard world time today.

Check out the full story below.

[h/t It’s Okay to Be Smart]

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Big Questions
Why Do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?
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Basketball and hockey coaches wear business suits on the sidelines. Football coaches wear team-branded shirts and jackets and often ill-fitting pleated khakis. Why are baseball managers the only guys who wear the same outfit as their players?

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball since 2011, it goes back to the earliest days of the game. Back then, the person known as the manager was the business manager: the guy who kept the books in order and the road trips on schedule. Meanwhile, the guy we call the manager today, the one who arranges the roster and decides when to pull a pitcher, was known as the captain. In addition to managing the team on the field, he was usually also on the team as a player. For many years, the “manager” wore a player’s uniform simply because he was a player. There were also a few captains who didn’t play for the team and stuck to making decisions in the dugout, and they usually wore suits.

With the passing of time, it became less common for the captain to play, and on most teams they took on strictly managerial roles. Instead of suits proliferating throughout America’s dugouts, though, non-playing captains largely hung on to the tradition of wearing a player's uniform. By the early to mid 20th century, wearing the uniform was the norm for managers, with a few notable exceptions. The Philadelphia Athletics’s Connie Mack and the Brooklyn Dodgers’s Burt Shotton continued to wear suits and ties to games long after it fell out of favor (though Shotton sometimes liked to layer a team jacket on top of his street clothes). Once those two retired, it’s been uniforms as far as the eye can see.

The adherence to the uniform among managers in the second half of the 20th century leads some people to think that MLB mandates it, but a look through the official major league rules [PDF] doesn’t turn up much on a manager’s dress. Rule 1.11(a) (1) says that “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs" and rule 2.00 states that a coach is a "team member in uniform appointed by the manager to perform such duties as the manager may designate, such as but not limited to acting as base coach."

While Rule 2.00 gives a rundown of the manager’s role and some rules that apply to them, it doesn’t specify that they’re uniformed. Further down, Rule 3.15 says that "No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club." Again, nothing about the managers being uniformed.

All that said, Rule 2.00 defines the bench or dugout as “the seating facilities reserved for players, substitutes and other team members in uniform when they are not actively engaged on the playing field," and makes no exceptions for managers or anyone else. While the managers’ duds are never addressed anywhere else, this definition does seem to necessitate, in a roundabout way, that managers wear a uniform—at least if they want to have access to the dugout. And, really, where else would they sit?

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