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Episode 52 - By Design: A Century of Congress, Not Progress

Here's what's funny as hell to me - aluminum is so hard to produce, the just-shy-of-nine-inches pyramid a chemist is hired to cast becomes the world's largest piece of cast aluminum. The best part is that just about two years later, Charles Martin Hall discovers a way to produce aluminum cheaply, and the rest goes in the recycle bin.

Also, ever wonder why it's "Washington, D.C." and not just "Washington" or "Washington City"? It's because the Founders wanted folks to know that it wasn't a city that was in a state - it had its own independent district to substitute for a state. So like you would say Boston, Massachusetts, or Atlanta, Georgia, it's Washington, D.C. Or - the city of Washington in the District of Columbia. That Columbia part is fun - it's homage to Christopher Columbus, a guy who never set foot within 100 miles of the nation and did a bunch of raping and pillaging in the Caribbean.

It's the railroad tracks that are the funniest part to me for some reason. "Let's bring a train into the capital." "Great, where?" "Why not just run the tracks right across the whole big open stretch in front of the Capitol? Heck, just slap a station down there anywhere."

The idea that the Washington Monument basically sat as a husk for 30 years is also pretty funny. There's just this big needle-looking thing, only it's only half-finished. Oh, and it's at the very edge of the city - on the waterfront. That entire concept is completely foreign today, since there's a whole lotta land on the other side of it now.

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