The Vice Presidents that history forgot

A well written, entertaining piece by Tony Horwitz about his visit to the museum of Vice Presidents:

It is a nonpartisan collection of stories and artifacts on all 47 vice presidents – the only museum in the land devoted to the nation’s second-highest office. This neglect might seem surprising, until you tour the museum and learn just how ignored and reviled the vice presidency has been for most of its history. John Nance Garner, for one, said the job wasn’t worth a bucket of warm spit.

Humor is laced throughout the piece, but not because of the author – because Vice Presidents have been so ridiculed. Some deservedly so – like the drunken gambler who had congress dock his pay – and some not so, like the small-town lawyer who was nearly president during World War I, when Woodrow Wilson had a series of strokes.

Though that same lawyer quipped, “one ran away to sea, the other was elected vice president, and nothing was ever heard of either of them again.”

A fun read – The Vice Presidents That History Forgot.

 

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The accidental history of the @ symbol

 

From Smithsonian Magazine:

Called the “snail” by Italians and the “monkey tail” by the Dutch, @ is the sine qua non of electronic communication, thanks to e-mail addresses and Twitter handles…The origin of the symbol itself, one of the most graceful characters on the keyboard, is something of a mystery. One theory is that medieval monks…

 

A fun read…the once useless symbol becomes the hero of the digital generation!

 

 

// Image: a screenshot of the Wikipedia page for @

Set that bottle adrift…98-year old message in a bottle found

From the Smithsonian:

Andrew Leaper, a Scottish skipper, has discovered the world’s oldest message in a bottle. He found the bottle while on the same fishing vessel where another mate had set the previous record, for a bottle that had been floating in the ocean for 92 years and 229 days. Now, Leaper has broken his buddy’s Guinness World Record: his discovery turned out to be a 98-year old message in a bottle.

 

If you follow the BBC link, the message was ‘return to sender’ with a reward of six-pence. Was that a lot of money in 1914?

 

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New App, Leafsnap, lets you identify a tree species by photographing a leaf

If you’ve ever wondered what type of tree was nearby but didn’t have a guide book, a new smartphone app allows users with no formal training to satisfy their curiosity and contribute to science at the same time.

Scientists have developed the first mobile app to identify plants by simply photographing a leaf. The free iPhone and iPad app, called Leafsnap, instantly searches a growing library of leaf images amassed by the Smithsonian Institution. In seconds, it returns a likely species name, high-resolution photographs and information on the tree’s flowers, fruit, seeds and bark.

Users make the final identification and share their findings with the app’s growing database to help map the population of trees one mobile phone at a time.

via U-T San Diego

 

// Photo – flatworldsedge

Personal photos of the Space Shuttle Discovery arriving in Washington D.C.

Last week, a friend of mine, Kirby Plessas, witnessed the arrival of Space Shuttle Discovery into Washington D.C.

Here are some of the photos she took, see the full set on Flickr.

 

A crowd awaits Space Shuttle Discovery at the Udvar-Hazy Smithsonian in Northern Virginia (outside Wash DC).

 

Space Shuttle Discovery has arrived.

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