Feature Stories

Carl Ludwig "Luz" Long — Won the Silver Medal in Long Jump at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

02/08/2017
Updated
02/09/2018

German athlete Luz Long is quite possibly the ultimate Silver Medalist. He is the athlete who finished second to American Jesse Owens in the long jump competition at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but more than that, he made sports history with a gesture that stunned many who witnessed it. After their competition, Long, a white man, enthusiastically embraced Owens, a black American man, in front of an ecstatic crowd that included many high-ranking Nazi officials, at a time in Germany when such interaction between white and black people was frowned upon. Despite his gesture, Long wasn't looking to make a political statement. The 23-year-old was the greatest long jumper Europe had ever produced and all he wanted was to compete against Owens, who held the world record for the long jump (8.13m), and who was largely considered the greatest athlete in the world.

Pronghorn — Second-Fastest Land Animal

01/31/2017
Cheetahs are cool. They're sleek. They're majestic. They’re hunters who use their speed to chase down their prey. They’re the fastest land animals around, topping out in some measures at 60-70 mph. The pronghorn is not as fast as the cheetah. To the lay person, a pronghorn looks like any other hoofed antelope-type creature — brownish, white, kinda boring. For the most part, it looks like a goat with aspirations. Despite having been clocked at 50-60 mph in full sprint — just a tad slower than the cheetah — the pronghorn is not nearly as cool.

Jules André Peugeot — Second Person Killed in WWI

01/24/2017
Updated
11/22/2017

French Corporal Jules André Peugeot was 21 years old when he was shot and killed by a German patrol. Although he was the first soldier to get shot in WWI, he ended up being the second person to die. The guy who shot Peugeot, German Lieutenant Albert Mayer, was the first person to actually die in WWI, with Peugeot himself succumbing to his wounds only a short while later. It all happened during a 13-person skirmish in the little French town of Joncherey, near the Swiss and German borders. 

U.S. Presidents Who Won Their Elections but Finished Second in the Popular Vote

01/20/2017
As most of us all know, in American politics, it’s the electoral college and not the popular vote that determines the winner in a presidential election. This odd fact of government has long been a burr in the butt of those who’ve found themselves losing end of an electoral vote despite having the majority of voters behind them. So honor of, and I can't believe I'm actually writing this, "The Donald’s" swearing in as 45th president of the U.S. today, it seems a good time to highlight some previous elections where, like the most recent, the winner finished second place in the popular vote. 

Kim Shattuck — The Second Person to Play Bass for the Pixies

01/11/2017
Updated
08/01/2017

When the Pixies1 reunited in 2004, it was a huge prayer answered for many devoted fans. Having previously been disbanded in 1992 by frontman Black Francis, a.k.a. Frank Black—real name Charles Thompson (which is what we'll call him for the rest of this piece)—the odds of the post-punk band ever playing again seemed slim at best. There were stories of acrimony, personality clashes, and creative differences between the members, all of which was standard band-breaking-up stuff, but this breakup felt colder and deeper than most. No public feuds. No tell-all books or articles. Just a very business-like split. But then, like other things in business, time and money-making potential heal most wounds.

George Lazenby — Second Actor to Play James Bond

12/25/2016

After the fifth installment of the James Bond movie series You Only Live Twice hit the theaters, Harry Saltzman and Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, the producers of the lucrative franchise, had a problem. Their Bond didn't want to be Bond anymore. After spying, killing, and sexing his way through five movies, Sean Connery was ready to go.

There were several reasons for Connery's discontent. As an actor, he was worried he would spend the rest of his career being typecast in Bond-type roles. Another issue was Connery's experience in filming You Only Live Twice in Japan where the press constantly harassed the actor. Of course if you play James Bond, you're going to have to put up with a certain bit of that. But the most important issue for Connery above all was that he felt he was being exploited, and in a way he may have been.

Thomas William "Bill" Burgess — Second Person to Swim Across the English Channel

12/19/2016
Updated
01/28/2018

Thomas William Burgess got up on the morning of September 5, 1911, ready to make history. Having already tried and failed 15 times before, he knew what he was up against. He wanted to become the second person to swim across the English Channel, and the first to do so since 1875 when Captain Matthew Webb breast-stroked his way across the difficult waterway.

After a “good English breakfast” of ham and eggs, Burgess entered the water near the South Foreland light house in Dover, England, at 11:15 AM, and accompanied by a support boat, he began his swim in earnest heading southeast toward the French coast. Burgess would not touch land again for another 22 hours and 35 minutes, which to most rational people would be a ridiculous amount of time to spend in cold salty water.

Helium (He) — the Second-Most Abundant Element in the Universe

12/02/2016
Updated
02/22/2018
Helium is almost like magic with the things it can do—it keeps blimps and balloons aloft, it makes our voices sound funny when we huff it, and it makes all sorts of industrial processes possible. Helium is just plain fun. And for its place among the silver medalists, helium is the second-most abundant element in the universe and the number 2 element on the periodic table.

College of William & Mary — Second-Oldest College in the U.S.

10/24/2016
Updated
11/14/2017
When comparing history of William & Mary to Harvard's, you can say that Harvard very much benefited from, among other things, its location. Situated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just across the Charles River from Boston, Harvard throughout its history never went through a period of being shot up or abused by marauding armies. Although there was the time during American Revolution in 1775/1776 when Massachusetts militia surrounded the British in Boston, Harvard itself came out with its ivy quite intact, and has since remained unmolested. The same thing cannot be said for William & Mary, which is located in Williamsburg, VA, a lovely and picturesque place that unfortunately suffered terrible abuse during the U.S. Civil War.