5 Weird Things Done During Filibusters

On June 15, 2016, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy took to the Senate floor and launched a filibuster. His goal, according to Politico, was "to pressure Republicans to accept legislation that would deny suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms and require universal background checks."

“I’m going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together on these two measures, that we can get a path forward on addressing this epidemic in a meaningful, bipartisan way,” Murphy said. The filibuster is being livestreamed; you can watch it here.

The filibuster has been a controversial maneuver for well over a century. Both Henry Clay and Woodrow Wilson were vocal critics of the filibuster, with the latter claiming that it often rendered the government “helpless and contemptible.” Say what you will about the parliamentary procedure, but American filibusters have certainly produced some unusual moments, including these.

1. ASSAULT WITH A SPITTOON // MARCH 4, 1917

Robert La Follette was an antiwar Republican from Wisconsin who orchestrated a joint filibuster divided between a dozen sympathetic senators, which began on March 3 and stretched into the next day, incensing their colleagues. At one point, La Follette lost his temper and had to be physically restrained from hurling a brass spittoon at Arkansas’ Joseph Robinson.

2. SOUTHERN COOKING 101 // JUNE 12, 1935

“I have prepared recipes for many celebrated Louisiana dishes … people up in this part of the country never have learned to fry oysters as well as we have done down our way,” Huey Long said on June 12, 1935. Dreading the possibility that his political rivals might land lucrative New Deal jobs, the Bayou State Democrat prattled on well into the next day, providing detailed instructions for cooking gulf coast delicacies in the process. His filibuster ended when he had to go to the bathroom.

3. PREPARING A PEE BUCKET // AUGUST 28, 1957

The longest filibuster in the history of the U.S. senate was delivered by then-Democrat Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. What was it that he so vehemently opposed for over 24 straight hours? The Civil Rights Bill of 1957. And if you think your internship is underpaid, get a load of this: After a procedural trick was used at 1 a.m. to allow Thurmond a few minutes for a bathroom break, his supporters were determined that this wouldn’t happen again. Instead, his staff had an intern hold a bucket inside a nearby cloakroom so Thurmond could urinate, if necessary, while keeping one foot on the Senate floor. The bill passed anyway, but Thurmond’s technique was imitated during a St. Louis city hall filibuster in 2001. When nature called mid-filibuster, Alderwoman Irene Smith’s assistants covered her with a sheet as she peed into a garbage can.

4. READING THE PHONE BOOK // OCTOBER 17, 1986

Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) nearly broke Thurmond’s record while stalling a military appropriations bill in 1986. Struggling to fill 23 and a half hours of speaking time, he resorted to reading aloud from the District of Columbia telephone book.

5. SINGING “SOUTH OF THE BORDER” // OCTOBER 5, 1992

Filibusters can be boring, so why not throw in a musical number? Six years after his first filibuster, D’Amato was at it again and chose to break out into song when he took the floor to denounce a proposed tax plan. This one only lasted a measly 15 hours and 14 minutes (at that time, the House adjourned for the year, and the tax bill that the filibuster was targeting died), but an eye-opening digression came when the Republican began singing “South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)” to satirize the outsourcing of American jobs.

BONUS: READING DR. SEUSS // SEPTEMBER 25, 2013

Technically, Cruz’s lengthy tirade in 2013 wasn’t an actual filibuster because it had no procedural impact on the vote at hand. But the Texas Republican made headlines when he read Green Eggs and Ham during his 21-hour critique of the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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8 Surprising Facts About Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1977.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1977.
Evening Standard/Getty Images

Rarely has anyone been more driven to succeed than Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Austrian came to America in the 1960s and became a champion bodybuilder. Refuting advice that his accent was too thick, his body too developed, and his name too confusing, he became the biggest box office attraction in the world thanks to films like 1982’s Conan the Barbarian and 1984’s The Terminator. That would satisfy most ambitious people, but Schwarzenegger then went a step further and became governor of California in 2003.

With the “Austrian Oak” celebrating his 73rd birthday on July 30, we’re taking a look at some of the most interesting facts of his life and career.

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger went AWOL in the Austrian military.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator (1984).20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Born July 30, 1947 near Graz, Austria, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s family did not lead a comfortable life. Their home had no plumbing and no telephone. Schwarzenegger’s father, Gustav, was the village police chief and also a member of the Nazi party, which his son didn’t learn until much later on in his life. His father also pitted Schwarzenegger against his older brother, Meinhard, in various athletic contests, but it wasn’t until Arnold discovered bodybuilding that he found his calling.

Schwarzenegger, who made his own weights at a local metalworking shop, trained while performing a compulsory one-year tour of duty in the Austrian Army beginning in 1965. (Thanks to the balanced meals and protein offered by the military, he also gained 25 pounds.) During his time there, Schwarzenegger fled the base without permission so that he could enter a bodybuilding competition in Germany. He won, then spent seven days in military prison for the offense.

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger learned how to drive a tank.

While serving in the Austrian military, Schwarzenegger was given instruction on how to operate a tank. The vehicle apparently held some sentimental value for him, as he later acquired it and brought it to America. In 2000, he loaned the tank to the Motts Military Museum in Ohio, then had it returned to him in 2008 with plans to offer rides to disadvantaged youth in Los Angeles as a reward for working hard in school.

3. Arnold Schwarzenegger used psychological warfare to defeat his bodybuilding opponents.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron (1977).Getty Images

Schwarzenegger arrived in the United States in 1968 to pursue his bodybuilding career and enjoyed tremendous success, eventually winning seven Mr. Olympia titles. But it wasn’t solely due to his physique. In 2015, Schwarzenegger told podcast host Tim Ferris that he purposely engaged in psychological warfare to distract and shake the confidence of other competitors. He might, for example, ask a bodybuilder if they had a knee problem. “And they say, ‘Why are you asking?’” Schwarzenegger said. “I said, ‘Well, because your thighs look a little slimmer to me. I thought maybe you can’t squat or maybe there’s some problem with leg extension.’” The contestant would then feel self-conscious, and Schwarzenegger—always possessed of immense confidence—would capitalize on their insecurity, upstaging his opponent in front of the contest judges.

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger was already a millionaire before he got into acting.

Though he was successful in his bodybuilding career, Schwarzenegger wanted to have a reliable source of income beyond prize purses. He invested the money he won in competitions in California real estate, profiting immensely off the rise in property values in the 1970s. In doing so, he was able to be selective about the opportunities he chose to pursue in acting.

5. Mark Hamill told Arnold Schwarzenegger to lose his accent.

When his bodybuilding career began winding down, Schwarzenegger started looking to acting as his next challenge. Getting the title role in 1970’s Hercules in New York (where he was billed as Arnold Strong) did little to advance his ambition, as the movie was poorly-received and his heavy Austrian accent was dubbed over by an American actor. Later, after 1977’s Star Wars became a hit, Schwarzenegger asked Mark Hamill for advice. Hamill told him to lose the accent and his last name to give himself the best chance for success. Schwarzenegger obviously ignored the advice. He later said that he ultimately felt the accent was a benefit, since it made him a more distinctive commodity in Hollywood.

6. Arnold Schwarzenegger almost starred in a Hans and Franz musical.

Schwarzenegger had a sense of humor about Hans and Franz, the over-pumped Austrian bodybuilders played by Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon on Saturday Night Live. According to writer Robert Smigel, the actor was even interested in appearing in a big-screen Hans and Franz movie musical in the early 1990s. The characters would have been depicted as heading to California to pursue stardom, with Schwarzenegger appearing as both a version of himself and as the duo’s grandmother. The film was never made.

7. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s childhood home is now a museum.

As the pride of his tiny hometown of Thal, Austria, Schwarzenegger’s childhood residence is now a museum. The announcement came in 2011, with visitors able to go inside the first-floor flat and view Schwarzenegger’s old bed, a motorcycle from The Terminator, weightlifting equipment, and a copy of the desk he used while he was governor of California.

8. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be president (in a movie).

Because he was not born in America, Schwarzenegger is ineligible to run for the office of the President of the United States, which is something the actor said he would have done if he had been able. (And no, he couldn’t become vice president, either.) But there is no such law barring him from playing one in a movie. The actor will appear as the U.S. President in Kung Fury 2, a sequel to the 2014 short film parody of 1980s action movies directed by and starring David Sandberg. A release date has not yet been announced.