The global recession has hit Germany hard; its economy will likely shrink by 6 percent this year alone. Why should you care? Because it has the biggest economy in Europe and it's the biggest exporter in the world. More than that, you should care because an economic meltdown in Germany could change the course of history. That's not an overstatement. In the 1920s, massive hyperinflation rendered the German currency worthless; at 1 trillion marks to the dollar, a wheelbarrow full of cash... READ ON
Editor's Note: Yesterday, we put up a story from our archives about hero-worship of Rutherford B. Hayes in Paraguay. "Repost old articles about Rutherford B. Hayes" week continues with Jenny Drapkin's look back at the election of... READ ON
In Rutherford B. Hayes' hometown of Delaware, Ohio, there's a memorial to the late U.S. president; it's a plaque that marks his birthplace, which is now a gas station. In Paraguay, people might find this fact horribly offensive.... READ ON
Two things in life are inevitable—birth and death—and they both fall in the domain of the health care system. Although health care is one of the most basic services a government can provide, it's also one of the most ominous and convoluted. Every industrialized nation offers its citizens some form of free health care, but the balance between public and private funding differs from country to country and from administration to administration.Â
At one extreme is the United Kingdom,... READ ON
If Valentine's Day has inspired you to propose, many of you will probably look to your fathers for guidance and inspiration. Far fewer will look to the Founding Fathers for that same guidance and inspiration. This is unfortunate, which is why we're listing a few do's and don'ts of proposing the presidential way.
DO: Make an Offer She Can't... READ ON
Lyndon Johnson was born 100 years ago today. Here's a piece from mental_floss magazine on some of LBJ's favorite things, including his Amphicar—the only amphibious passenger automobile ever mass-produced for... READ ON
Let's get a few things straight about writing the Declaration of Independence. First of all, it wasn't the founding fathers' top priority. By early 1776, America had pretty much broken up with King George, but since it was a long-distance relationship, the nation felt the need to make it official on paper. Second, getting to write it wasn't really an honor. Thomas Jefferson was the newbie and, at 33, the second-youngest guy in Congress. And because the elder statesmen had more... READ ON
The award for Most Humble Origins goes to Andrew Johnson, hands down. He was born to a sharecropper in North Carolina, but his father died when he was just 3 years old. Never having the money to attend school, Andrew became an indentured servant when he was 14, but eventually ran away to reunite with his mother. Struggling to eke out a living, they hauled all of their belongings over the mountains into Tennessee. It was a budget move; they lugged everything in a two-wheeled cart pulled by a blind pony.... READ ON
Ah, the Roaring Twenties—an era defined by flappers, jazz, gangsters, speakeasies, and "¦ the most boring president ever!
Calvin Coolidge, a buttoned-up Puritan from New England, wasn't much for hobnobbing, even when it could have helped him politically. His wife, Grace, liked to tell people about the time a woman approached her husband and said, "I made a bet today that I could get more than two words out of you." Coolidge's reply? "You lose."
But... READ ON
Lyndon Baines Johnson wanted to be remembered as the greatest president who ever lived. With that grand ambition in mind (and an ego to match), he launched such sweeping social programs as Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, public radio, public television, and food stamps. Regardless, Johnson will probably be best remembered for his blinding arrogance, and what many would point to as the result of it—the Vietnam War.But here, we're choosing to remember Johnson not by the many political... READ ON
Who knew Tricky Dick was such a wallflower? Believe it or not (and we realize trust might be an issue here), Richard Nixon was a shy child—the kind who played the piano and only followed sports so that people would like him more. Sadly, the awkwardness didn't go away with age. Never a ladies' man, Nixon proposed to his wife, Pat, on their first date, and then obsessively pursued her for two years until she said yes. To spend time with her in the interim, Nixon even drove Pat on dates... READ ON
It's a wonder Andrew Jackson was able to defeat the British during the War of 1812. And found the modern Democratic Party. And become President of the United States. After all, Jackson should've died many, many times before he had the opportunity to do any of those things.
Little Orphan Andrew
The sun rarely shined on Andrew Jackson's childhood. At 14, Andrew and his brother, Robert, were captured, starved, and abused by the British during the Revolutionary War. After finally being... READ ON
Jenny Drapkin is the Senior Editor of mental_floss magazine. For the next week, we'll be serializing "All The Presidents' Secrets," her fantastic feature from the September-October 2007 issue. Make her feel... READ ON
Cenosillicaphobia is the fear of an empty glass.