Election Laws Sixty Years Ago

Modern U.S. elections have their problems, but at least election laws aren't as blatantly racist as they were as late as the 1950s. For instance, in Oklahoma, in the 1950s, if you wanted to run for public office you first had to file a form with the state declaring what race you were. There were only two options. If you were of "African descent" you were "Negro." If you were anything else (Chinese, Australian aboriginal, etc.) you were "White." If you indicated you were "Negro," then this descriptive term was placed in parentheses after your name on the ballot. "Whites" were not similarly labeled.

A black Oklahoma City attorney, A.B. McDonald, filed suit against the State Election Board in 1954 alleging discrimination. The District Court dismissed his case, ruling that, "The placing of the word 'Negro' on a ballot after the name of a candidate is merely descriptive and properly serves to inform the electors of the fact that the candidate is of African descent."

The Supreme Court eventually overturned the District Court's ruling, deciding that the Oklahoma law was unconstitutional. As for A.B. McDonald, I haven't been able to find much information on his subsequent career. All I found was a short paragraph in Jet magazine (Mar 1959) indicating that he had some other problems in his life:

Posted By: Alex - Mon Nov 05, 2012 - Comments (7)
Category: Politics, Racism, Judges, Lawsuits

Squatter Rights

Heidi Peterson left her Detroit home empty for a year, and when she returned, she says, she found a woman, Missionary-Tracey Elaine Blair, squatting there. The woman refuses to leave, and apparently you can't just kick someone out who's squatting. You have to go to court, prove you own the property, and then get an eviction order. So now both women are living there together.

Missionary-Tracey Elaine Blair, for her part, says she's not squatting. She insists she has a lease. [Yahoo! News]

Whatever the case may be, the experience certainly qualifies Missionary-Tracey Elaine Blair to occupy the highest office in the land and squat in the White House for four years. So she's campaigning as a write-in candidate for President, and wants your vote. That's her below, posing with George Washington. Remember her name on election day!

Posted By: Alex - Tue Oct 16, 2012 - Comments (9)
Category: Law, Politics, Strange Candidates

Lyndon Johnson Lifts Dogs By Their Ears

Even if Mitt Romney becomes president, his decision to drive 650 miles from Massachusetts to Ontario with his dog in a carrier tied to the roof of the car will remain a black mark against him in the eyes of many people. Wikipedia calls it his "Dog Incident." However, he's not the only person in Presidential history to have suffered from a dog controversy. Back in 1964, Lyndon Johnson caused an uproar when he showed reporters how he could pick up his two beagles, named 'Him' and 'Her,' by their ears. Dog lovers were not amused.

Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Apr 28, 1964

Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 14, 2012 - Comments (6)
Category: Animals, Politics, Dogs

Voters with amnesia

A study recently published in the American Journal of Political Science found that patients suffering from profound amnesia can still make pretty good voting decisions. That is, even though the patients couldn't remember who the candidates were, or what their positions on issues were, they still somehow picked out the ones whose political views were similar to their own. From the abstract:

We report here that amnesic patients, despite not being able to remember any issue information, consistently voted for candidates with favored political positions. Thus, sound voting decisions do not require recall or recognition of previously learned associations between candidates and their issue positions. This result supports a multiple memory systems model of political decision making.

I'm not sure whether these results have any relevance to the American electorate. After all, the amnesic patients once knew the candidates' positions, but forgot them. But what about voters who don't know the positions and issues to begin with?

More info — Voting without Remembering: Insights from Patients with Amnesia

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jul 29, 2012 - Comments (5)
Category: Politics, Psychology

The Congrelephant Bus

[From Life magazine for October 18 1954]

A strange vehicle rolled down Denver's Ivanhoe Street one day last week and pulled to a stop in front of No. 626. It had once been a bus until Mrs. Ellen Harris, G.O.P. candidate for Congress in Colorado's First District, gave it the jawbreaking name of "Congrelephant," and made it over. From the front hung an elephant's trunk spouting smoke. It had a tail and four-foot ears, and big blue eyes were painted on the windshield.

[From Time magazine for October 18 1954]

Surely there is a place for a revived Congrelephant Bus in this election year.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jul 21, 2012 - Comments (4)
Category: Anthropomorphism, Politics, 1950s, Bus

Hitler and Mussolini Masks

Masks of dictators (as well as various other celebrities) could be purchased from the Johnson Smith Catalog back in the 30s and 40s. (Apologies to Paul for encroaching on his Johnson Smith series.) But what I found interesting was not only that they were sold, but that there are also images taken by photographer William Vanderson showing kids wearing them.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 12, 2012 - Comments (8)
Category: Costumes and Masks, Politics

William Hamilton Bones, Washington Goat


Here is a picture of a goat who came to live among high-powered Washington, DC, politicians in the year 1929.


You can read the full story of the goat's dazzling ascent to power here.

But like many Washington insiders, he had an unwholesome addiction that led to his downfall. Find out what it was here.

I think we need a goat today in DC to add a proper sense of absurdity to proceedings.

Posted By: Paul - Mon May 28, 2012 - Comments (6)
Category: Animals, Pets, Politics, 1920s

The Candidate With a 430 IQ

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South Korea has an interesting candidate running for president — Huh Kyung-young. It's his third time running. Last time, in 2007, he got 10,000 votes, but he's convinced there was a miscount and that this time around he'll win. A few facts from his bio:
  • He says he has an IQ of 430.
  • He wants to move the U.N. headquarters to the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
  • He claims Michael Jackson's soul visited him three days before the singer died. Inspired by the visit, Huh later produced a record titled, "Call Me."
  • He wants to give $100,000 to all couples who get married, and $30,000 to anyone who has a baby. How to pay for this? "Where there is a will, there is a way. I have all the solutions in my head. Remember, my IQ is 430."
  • At the age of 57, he acquired supernatural powers.
Read more about Huh at

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 15, 2012 - Comments (8)
Category: Eccentrics, Politics, Strange Candidates

Horace Greeley’s Neck-Hair Beard

Urban Dictionary offers several definitions of "neckbeard":

1. Facial hair that does not exist on the face, but instead on the neck. Almost never well groomed.
2. Talkative, self-important nerdy men (usually age 30 and up) who, through an inability to properly decode social cues, mistake others' strained tolerance of their blather for evidence of their own charm.

Horace Greeley probably offers an example of both definitions. The wikipedia page about him notes: "Greeley was noted for his eccentricities. His attire in even the hottest weather included a full-length coat, and he was never without an umbrella; his interests included spiritualism and phrenology." And add his neckbeard to his list of eccentricities. Even by nineteenth-century standards, it was an odd fashion choice. The National Archives blog describes it as a "neard", as well as "neck hair run amok". In 1872 Greeley ran for president against Ulysses S. Grant (who had a normal beard) and suffered a landslide loss. His neard may have played a role in this.

Posted By: Alex - Mon May 14, 2012 - Comments (3)
Category: Politics, Hair and Hairstyling

The WWI Plot That Failed


Chances are, this man's face is totally unfamiliar to you. And yet he came within a hairsbreadth of altering the course of global history in the aftermath of World War I.

Take your best guess as to his claim to fame, then find out his story after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Thu Apr 12, 2012 - Comments (5)
Category: Daredevils, Stuntpeople and Thrillseekers, Disguises, Impersonations, Mimics and Forgeries, Government, Diplomacy and Foreign Relations, Politics, 1910s

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Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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