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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

8 Famous Stutterers

David K. Israel
by David K. Israel

biden_joe.jpgI was tempted to lead off with Porky Pig, but after Joe Biden’s public confession last week during the Democratic National Convention, it seemed timelier to kick off the list with him. Stuttering encompasses much more than just Porky-style sound repetition. If you experience those long pauses before speaking, sometimes called blocks, or if you mmmmmilk various sounds for all their worth, you might be considered a stutterer (or stammerer) too. But as this list proves (and there are other famous stutterers too), a speech impediment isn’t an impediment to success. (P.S. - I had one growing up, too!)

1. Joe Biden

A keynote speaker at a National Stuttering Association convention in 2004, Biden grew up with a stutter and was teased by his Catholic school teacher. Apparently, the nun called him B-B-B-Biden in front of the whole class. When young Joe told his mom what happened, she stormed back to school and chewed out the woman. Over the years, Biden practiced reading out loud in front of a mirror and, later, in law school, became friends with another stutterer and the two worked together on their speech.

2. Moses

Who can really say if Moses stuttered or not. But if you believe the Good Book, here are some lines that indicate he most certainly may have:

Exodus 4:12

…I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue…

Exodus 4:14-15

And the anger of the Lord burned against Moses and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite they brother? I know that he can speak well… thou shalt speak to him, and put the words in his mouth…

Read on for more on Winston Churchill, James Earl Jones, and Marilyn Monroe…

3. Isaac Newton

Though not as widely known as his work with gravity and mechanics, Sir Isaac Newton was a Member of Parliament for the University of Cambridge to the Convention Parliament of 1689, and again in 1701. Apparently Sir Isaac was so self-conscious about his speech impediment, he asked that the windows of the Parliament building be closed so people on the street wouldn’t hear him stammer.

4. Lewis Carroll

Many people know Lewis Carroll’s real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. But how many people know that this son of a clergyman wanted to become a priest? Apparently he was unable because his stutter would have made it very hard come sermon time. Carroll is, of course, best known for his Alice in Wonderland books, but here’s a lesser-known poem he penned that mentions his affliction:

Learn well your grammar,
And never stammer,
Write well and neatly,
And sing soft sweetly,
Drink tea, not coffee;
Never eat toffy.
Eat bread with butter.
Once more don’t stutter.

5. Claudius

We’re talking Claudius Nero Germanicus here, Roman Emperor between 41-54 A.C.E. Many people know the famous story about his wife Agrippina murdering him with the poison mushrooms (to allow Nero to ascend), but did you know he stuttered too? He was also known to limp, drool and was hounded by nervous tics. In Robert Graves’ historical novel I, Claudius, Graves has Claudius say:

“I stammered badly as a child and though, by following the advice of specialists in elocution, I gradually learned to control my speech on set public occasions, yet on private and unpremeditated ones, I am still, though less so than formerly, liable every now and then to trip nervously over my tongue…”

6. Marilyn Monroe

MarilynMonroePicture.jpgSeveral books on stuttering and stutterers, including Benson Bobrick’s Knotted Tongues, suggest that Marilyn’s breathy, sensual delivery was actually a way of dealing with a stammer. Apparently she was instructed by a speech coach to use exaggerated mouth movements to keep her mild stutter in check.

7. Winston Churchill

There seems to be a lot of controversy as to whether or not Churchill had a lisp, a stutter, or both. One way or the other, Churchill definitely was self-conscious about his elocution and practiced speaking diligently, rehearsing his speeches and avoiding, whenever possible, words that began or ended with an S. Apparently, he nonetheless pronounced Nazis, Nahsies. (I’ve also seen it written as Narzees.)

8. James Earl Jones

Some actors who stutter are able to curb their speech impediments while on script, but continue stuttering in everyday conversation (it’s called situational fluency – and is probably similar to what Claudius experienced and Graves wrote about above). Such is reportedly the case with one of Hollywood’s most famous voices, James Earl Jones. If you saw him in that movie A Family Thing, then you know he can pull off a believable stutter. That’s because he really does. The story goes like this: Jones accidentally stammered while reading lines to the film’s director Dick Pearce. Pearce thought the trip-ups made the character seem more vulnerable and asked Jones to keep doing it.

Original here

6 Great US Presidents and Their Crimes Against Humanity

By Ned Resnikoff, Peter Hildebrand

History books tend to be kind to American presidents, often overlooking some pretty dick-ish behavior. It's a pretty tough job, so they probably deserve a break once in a while. But some historical anecdotes seem like they were omitted to avoid classrooms full of weeping, terrified children.

In fact, it turns out that even the greatest presidents have some scary-ass skeletons in the closet.

John Adams, Founder of (and Enemy of) Democracy

Why He's Awesome:

This charming founding father was the second president. Before that he served as George Washington's vice president and helped author the Declaration of Independence. After that he got his own HBO miniseries starring the whiny dude from Sideways. The series seems to argue that Adams was totally the most underrated founding father, and that it might have been his face on the dollar bill if our nation didn't hate short ugly people so much.

Oh, did we mention that he started violating the Constitution before the ink even dried on his signature?

Wait, What the Fuck?

When Adams found himself in the middle of an undeclared war with France in 1798, he did what any president would have done: built up the army, oversaw the construction of warships, and raised taxes. Then he went a step further and ate the Constitution.

Adams, with his brand new Constitution Toilet Paper.

Adams passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which said American citizens were no longer allowed to say anything negative about the government, or its officials. The president could also deport any individual who was from France, or really any individual who someone heard say something nice about France.

We can only imagine what John Adams thought of fellow founding father Benjamin Franklin, who spent much of the time after the American revolution banging fine-ass French shorties.

Abraham Lincoln Screws Habeas Corpus, Never Calls Back

Why He's Awesome:

Lincoln might be the most revered president in United States history. Not only did the guy end slavery in the US, but he also reunited the country after the bloodiest war in its history. And he did it all while uttering a string of sage proverbs and sporting the bitchingest hat/beard combo this side of ZZ Top.

So what if, during the course of the war, he nearly arrested a Supreme Court justice for not agreeing with him?

Wait, What the Fuck?

Well, Chief Justice Roger Taney would have had plenty of company in the Thought Crimes ward during the Lincoln administration. In response to some rioting in the Union, Lincoln suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus, that little piece of legal trivia that prevents the government from tossing anyone they want in jail without a trial. That meant that Lincoln had the authority to round up 18,000 suspected Confederate sympathizers and put them away.

"If I hear one more word about the Constitution I'm arresting this whole fucking country."

Or he would have had the authority, if it weren't for the damn Constitution. In the court case Ex parte Merryman, Staney ruled that Lincoln couldn't suspend habeas corpus. Lincolns response? He signed a warrant for Taneys arrest (if some records from the time are to be believed). Of course he never would have gotten away with it, if he hadn't suspended habeas corpus! Which, if you think about it, proves Taney wrong, albeit in the most retarded way possible. Take that, law!

"Arrest that man, he is incredibly dangerous!"

The arrest warrant was never served, as the story goes that Lincoln changed his mind and aborted beforehand. If he hadn't, who knows, it could be some other asshole on the five dollar bill.

Teddy Roosevelt and the France Double-Team Panama

Why He's Awesome:

Teddy Roosevelt is pretty much the manliest creature to have ever existed, all the more so because he didn't start out that way. Born with only two of the eight testicles that he would possess by the end of his life, Roosevelt spent his early childhood as an asthmatic nerd, but through a strict exercise regimen and sheer force of testostotastic will, he managed to grow up into one mean rough-riding, trust-busting son-of-a-bitch.

His presidency was defined mostly by battles against corruption, racism, general badassery, and teaming up with a French to rip off the entire country of Colombia.

Wait, What the Fuck?

So the United States wanted to build a canal in the province of Colombia called Panama. After some intense negotiations, a treaty between the two countries was signed, but Colombia's Senate rejected it and asked for $10 million more than what had been previously agreed upon.

That's where Philippe-Jean Bunau Varilla comes in. Varilla was a French lobbyist, and the proud owner of what scientists have determined to be the most ridiculously French name in history.

Varilla came to the White House and convinced Roosevelt that the best way to get around the Colombian Senate's obstinacy was to start fucking with Colombia's domestic politics in a big way. See, at the time, Panama was considering seceding from Colombia, and Roosevelt decided that in order to get what he wanted, he was going to have to become that country's anti-Lincoln and get some Panamanians civil-warring. When Panama officially announced that it's independence, Roosevelt sent the USS Nashville to block the Colombian navy from interfering. And thus an independent country was born.

Well, independent from Colombia, anyway. Varilla now wriggled his oily little mustache into becoming the newly independent Panama's ambassador to the US.

Two weeks after Roosevelt and some French guy stole Panama ... er, after Panama declared independence from Colombia, Varilla signed the Hay-Bunau Varilla treaty and sold the Panama Canal Zone to the United States without the permission of a single actual resident of Panama, none of whom ever trusted a man with a mustache again.

FDR Abandons Poland

Why He's Awesome:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a lot like Professor X: sure he was in a wheelchair, but his brain could beat up your brain without breaking a sweat. He lost his legs as a young man, but didn't let that stop him from becoming the only president to ever serve more than two terms (he served four, thus making him twice as good as any other president).

As president, FDR had to deal with a double-threat unlike any other: he had to punch Hitler in the face with one hand and strangle the Great Depression with the other. Somehow, he did both, and made it look goddamned classy. Yessir, nothing was impossible for FDR, expect for averting the slaughter of thousands of Polish citizens.

"Wah! I'm surrounded by bats!" (FDR looks like The Penguin.)

Wait, What the Fuck?

Roosevelt formed powerful strategic alliances with various world leaders, including Churchill, Kai-Shek, and a mustachioed cossack named Stalin. And just to clarify, yes, that is the same Stalin who ended up killing more people than Hitler.

When it became clear that the Allied Forces were going to defeat Nazi Germany, these world leaders started talking about their post-war plans for Europe. Stalin's plans apparently included becoming the Magneto to FDR's Professor X, and he demanded that the borders of Poland be redrawn in such a way that he ended up controlling a good portion of it. Roosevelt smiled politely and shrugged.

It wasn't long before FDR totally lost control of the negotiations, and Stalin ended up sitting on much of Eastern Europe. Roosevelt hoped that more negotiations could salvage the situation, which is about as advisable as trying to gamble your way out of gambling debt. He must have had a funny idea of salvaging the situation, because out of his desperation to maintain a good relationship with a mass murderer, he did two very stupid things.

First, he refused Winston Churchill's suggestion that they aid Polish troops in their fight against the Soviet puppet government. Second, he actually suppressed a report that blamed the Katyn massacre (in which 22,000 Poles were murdered) on the Soviets.

"Dear Poland...Go fuck yourself. Love, America.

But on the plus side, FDR's show of good will towards the Soviet Union assured several decades of completely peaceful, tension-free friendship between the nations. Other than all the times we almost went to war and obliterated the planet.

Harry Truman Tries to Mail Strikers to Japan

Why He's Awesome:

Truman has been graced with a recent revival in popularity similar to Journey's. He's the guy who desegregated the armed forces, ended World War II, and waged an unpopular Korean War. Besides that, he's best known for being the most unpopular president (up until our current one). Of course unpopularity gives you street cred when you turn out to be right about the stuff they hate you for. Today, historians rank Truman as one of the top 10 presidents of all-time.

He might have ranked higher, if he hadn't tried to bust up a strike by drafting union members in the military.

Wait, What the Fuck?

In 1946, a massive railway strike basically crippled the country's railroads, in an era when trains were crucial for shipping goods and providing settings for murder and sexy espionage.

Pushed to the edge, Truman did what any reasonable person would: he told the strikers that if they didn't accept a settlement, he was going to fit them for some camo pants and ship them off to boot camp.

And in case they thought he was bluffing, he actually delivered a speech to Congress requesting the authority to do so (he probably should have checked to see if he had the authority before he started making threats in the first place).

In a cagey move of tactical negotiations, the workers decided they'd rather go back to work than get shot at in a foreign country, and relented mid-speech. Thus Truman ended what could be the most lopsided game of chicken in our nation's long history of accomplished bullying.

JFK Causes a Blood-Ba'ath

Why He's Awesome:

Beloved by average Americans and conspiracy theorists alike, JFK was charismatic, intelligent, and in televised debates made Richard Nixon look like Quasimodo. In his finest hour, he managed to talk the Soviet Union down from a full-scale nuclear war. And, in case this ever comes up in a game of Trivial Pursuit, he is also the only American President to ever win a Pulitzer Prize.

Hell, the man even banged Marilyn Monroe.

On the scale of presidential infidelities, that's worth like 500 Lewinskies. Then, when he was tragically gunned down in Texas in 1963, his fate was forever sealed as an American legend. Unfortunately, not everything in the legacy was positive. Some of it was actually kind of, well, negative. Like for instance the part of it named Saddam Hussein.

Wait, What the Fuck?

In 1963, Kennedy and his administration decided that a fun way to spend the afternoon would be to support a coup against the Iraqi government. The country's pro-Western monarchy had been overthrown several years earlier, and after some intense debate and a couple quickies with Marilyn Monroe, Kennedy decided to back a coup by Abdul Salam Arif.

He seemed like a good candidate, considering that he hated Communists and loved America. So, under Kennedy's instruction, the CIA sent thousands of weapons to Arif, as well as providing him with lists of suspected Communists. Then everyone feigned surprise when Arif and his cronies used their newfound firepower to slaughter thousands of these so-called Communists.

You're probably wondering where Saddam Hussein fits into this. He was an enforcer for Arif's Ba'athist Party, and personally helped out with the slaughter. Later, he became the head of the party, and dictator of Iraq.

"That's one for Saddam. Count that shit.

But really, how could JFK have known? These things usually work out so well!

In honor of this article on presidents, allow us to be total hypocrites and explain why some of these six are The 5 Most Badass Presidents of All-Time. Or, if you'd prefer we douse you with more hater-ade, check out Gladstone's 5 Movie Martial Artists That Lost a Deathmatch to Dignity.

Original here

Kansas Outlaws Practice Of Evolution

TOPEKA, KS—In response to a Nov. 7 referendum, Kansas lawmakers passed emergency legislation outlawing evolution, the highly controversial process responsible for the development and diversity of species and the continued survival of all life.

Enlarge Image Kansas Outlaws R

Lawmakers decried spontaneous genetic mutations.

"From now on, the streets, forests, plains, and rivers of Kansas will be safe from the godless practice of evolution, and species will be able to procreate without deviating from God's intended design," said Bob Bethell, a member of the state House of Representatives. "This is about protecting the integrity of all creation."

The sweeping new law prohibits all living beings within state borders from being born with random genetic mutations that could make them better suited to evade predators, secure a mate, or, adapt to a changing environment. In addition, it bars any sexual reproduction, battles for survival, or instances of pure happenstance that might lead, after several generations, to a more well-adapted species or subspecies.

Violators of the new law may face punishments that include jail time, stiff fines, and rehabilitative education and training to rid organisms suspected of evolutionary tendencies. Repeat offenders could face chemical sterilization.

To enforce the law, Kansas state police will be trained to investigate and apprehend organisms who exhibit suspected signs of evolutionary behavior, such as natural selection or speciation. Plans are underway to track and monitor DNA strands in every Kansan life form for even the slightest change in allele frequencies.

"Barn swallows that develop lighter, more streamlined builds to enable faster migration, for example, could live out the rest of their brief lives in prison," said Indiana University chemist and pro-intelligent-design author Robert Hellenbaum, who helped compose the language of the law. "And butterflies who mimic the wing patterns and colors of other butterflies for an adaptive advantage, well, their days of flouting God's will are over."

Human beings may be the species most deeply affected by the new legislation. Those whose cytochrome-c molecules vary less than 2 percent from those of chimpanzees will be in direct violation of the law.

Under particular scrutiny are single-cell microorganisms, with thousands of field labs being installed across the state to ensure that these self-replicating molecules, notorious for mutation, do not do so in a fashion benefitting their long-term survival.

Anti-evolutionists such as Hellenbaum have long accused microorganisms of popularizing "an otherwise obscure, agonizingly slow, and hard-to-understand" biological process. "These repeat offenders are at the root of the problem," Hellenbaum said. "We have the fossil records to prove it."

"No species is exempt," said Marcus Holloway, a state police spokesman. "Whether you're a human being or a fruit fly—if we detect one homologous chromosome trying to cross over during the process of meiosis, you will be punished to the full extent of the law."

Although the full impact of the new law will likely not be felt for approximately 10 million years, most Kansans say they are relieved that the ban went into effect this week, claiming that evolution may have gone too far already.

"If Earth's species were meant to change over successive generations through physical modifications resulting from the adaptation to environmental challenges, then God would have given them the genetic predisposition to select mates and reproduce based on their favorable heritable traits and their ability to thrive under changing conditions so that these advantageous qualities would be passed down and eventually encoded into the DNA of each generation of offspring," Olathe public school teacher and creationist Joyce Eckhardt said. "It's just not natural."

Some warn that the strict wording of the law could have a deleterious effect on Kansas' mostly agricultural economy, since it also prohibits all forms of man-made artificial selection, such as plant hybridization, genetic engineering, and animal husbandry. A police raid on an alleged artificial-insemination facility outside McPherson, KS on Friday resulted in the arrest of a farmer, a veterinarian, four assistants, one bull, and several dozen cows.

Agribusiness leaders, who rely on evolution science to genetically modify crops, have voiced concerns about doing business with Kansas farmers.

"If Kansans want to ban evolution, that is their right, but they must understand that we rely on a certain flexibility in the natural order of things to be able to deliver healthy food products to millions of Americans," said Carl Casale, a vice president with the agricultural giant Monsanto. "We're not talking about playing God here. We are talking about succeeding in the competitive veggie-burger market."

Original here