Game Changing Moments – WIF History

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Historical Moments

That Changed

Everything

Like the moment when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was taken out because his assassin stopped for a sandwich, some small moments in history can have absolutely incredible impact. While most things in the world take place because of boring and tedious work done over decades, there are those times when things hang in the balance, and the wrong move can alter the course of history forever. Below are several scenarios where the history of the world changed in a very short span of time – if these things had happened differently, we could be living with a very different world today.

 10. James Comey Releasing The Final Report About Hillary Clinton

Certainly, there are many factors involved in the recent election that caused it to come out the way it did, and no one can say that Hillary Clinton was an incredibly strong campaigner. However, when it got close to the end, most of the polls said that Hillary Clinton was going to win handily, and yet somehow she did not manage to do so. In fact, while locking up the popular vote, she lost the Electoral College by quite a lot. Some of the reason for her inability to cross the finish line at the end is that her candidacy was not the most exciting, but the folks at FiveThirtyEight, who perform statistical number crunching of elections, believe it was at least the final straw.

They believe that the final Comey letter about Hillary Clinton, her “October Surprise” as it were, was essentially the straw that broke the camel’s back. After all the various election ads against her, and all the various things that she was questioned over such as Benghazi, a final suggestion that she was once again being investigated, after it was supposed to be over, likely tipped the final scales in favor of Donald Trump. While we cannot know for sure how Hillary Clinton would have governed, it is safe to say that she would have had a very different presidency from Donald Trump, and left a very different mark on the world.

9. The Assassination Of Abraham Lincoln

Just weeks before the American Civil War came to a close, Abraham Lincoln found himself inside Ford’s Theater to relax and take in a show. Then, as we all know, the actor and southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in the head and ended the second term of his presidency early. Unfortunately, while Booth shot Lincoln in the head, he may have also shot himself, and the South, in the foot. The problem is that right after the Civil War, Lincoln’s plan was to try to get the South rebuilt, forgiven and friendly with the North again as soon as possible. He wanted true reconciliation and reconstruction, and he didn’t want to waste any time. However, the so-called radical Republicans in congress wanted stricter measures against the South, for which the South didn’t want to cooperate.

Then Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor, was much more of a Southern sympathizer, which meant that the radical Republicans did not want to work with him on Southern reconstruction, or really on anything. This led to an atmosphere where, instead of both sides working together to rebuild and reconcile, the South tried to get away with as much as it could, and the North tried to punish them for past crimes. This eventually led to Andrew Johnson’s impeachment, and poor leadership that caused the Jim Crow South to be an issue to this very day. The South is still a bit of a mess, all because one angry Southerner’s misguided desire for revenge caused him to take out the man with the plan and influence to fix it. And while some may think Lincoln couldn’t have done it, there is evidence that Lincoln already had support for plans similar to those presented by Andrew Johnson, but that support was withdrawn when Johnson was sworn in, because many politicians did not want to work with a Southern sympathizer.

8. The Yalta Conference Reinforced Soviet Hegemony In Eastern Europe

The Cold War raged up until very recently and if you asked some, it never ended at all. Certainly, even if it did end temporarily, it would seem that a serious conflict with the Russians is nearing again. People are once again getting worried about a violent and global domination-hungry Russia, and tensions have not been higher since the early days of the Cold War. However, it is possible all of this could have long ago been avoided, or at least been very different from how it is now. At the Yalta Conference, in the final discussions between the three major allied leaders, Franklin Roosevelt was nearing the end of his life, and his skills as a negotiator were greatly slipping.

It was said Winston Churchill could not convince Stalin (and did not get along with the man), but Roosevelt was able to get on with him as a friend and equal, and get a lot out of him in terms of negotiation. Experts say that at the Yalta Conference, Roosevelt was exhausted and gave away far too much to Stalin, basically giving away the Eastern European countries that went on to be held by the Soviet Union for decades. While Stalin already held some of the territory, Roosevelt basically gave it up without a fight. If he had managed to get Stalin to back off from much of Eastern Europe to begin with, Churchill may never have given his Iron Curtain speech, and we may not have a man like Putin today who thinks half of Europe belongs to his country by birthright.

7. The Challenger Disaster Was Caused By A Dangerous Few Moments Of Groupthink In A Single Meeting

The Challenger was set to launch, and people were incredibly excited to see it, with NASA promoting it as much as possible. Then, disaster struck. After watching the shuttle explode on national TV, with school children watching around the country, it turned out that the issue was a faulty o-ring that messed up the heat seal and caused the whole thing to be consumed. Immediately many people wondered how the shuttle could go up like that at all. After all, there were procedures in place to test every last part down to the last decimal to make sure there were no issues.

However, it quickly turned it that it did indeed come down to human error. At a meeting the issue of the o-ring had been brought up, but those who were in charge of the meeting seemed uninterested in seriously discussing it, and even though many in the meeting knew it needed to be discussed more for safety, they did not want to upset their superiors. In the end, the meeting became such a perfect example of the psychological phenomenon of groupthink – where people make bad decisions to not rock the boat in a group, even when they know the decision is catastrophically terrible – that mock ups of the meeting have been made using professional actors, in order to help teach the concept to psychology students.

6. The Hessian Commander Neglected A Note Saying George Washington Was Crossing The Delaware

The Crossing of the Delaware is one of the most famous moments in the American Revolution, and has been immortalized with an incredibly famous painting, which stirs the imagination of the bold deed performed by George Washington and his men, in order to take the enemy off guard when they were at their most vulnerable. It was a crucial point in the war that we all know very well, and it could have turned out very differently if the Hessian Commander had taken the warnings he got more seriously.

The Hessian Commander was found much later with a note that told of Washington planning an imminent attack, something a spy had slipped the commander days before. However, he did not take the warnings particularly seriously, and was caught up not properly prepared when Washington came for him and his men. Part of the issue was that they were constantly being harassed by local militias, which made things more chaotic when the full attack from the Colonials arrived. However, the simple fact of the matter is that if the commander had prepared himself for a full blown attack (not just from the local militias, but from Washington) and stayed alert, the entire plan may have been foiled.

5. Andrew Wakefield’s Fake Anti-MMR Study Is Causing Deaths To This Day

Andrew Wakefield is a man who has more blood on his hands than most people who have ever been called a doctor – which he isn’t anymore, because he was kicked off the medical register in the UK for his fraudulent nonsense. Back in the late 1990s Wakefield published a fraudulent medical paper that he was later forced to retract, claiming that vaccines caused autism in children. Despite the fact that the study was swiftly disproven, and Wakefield shown as the scam artist he is, this is still causing horrible problems to this day.

His paper was a catalyst that started a movement, now endorsed by multiple celebrities, to not vaccinate your children. This nonsense has already led to outbreaks of measles in the United States, and has led to more bouts of whooping cough and other potentially deadly diseases that we had previously had under control. Just one fraudulent scientific paper is causing increased deaths decades later, due to so many people that listened to bad medical advice, and decided to embrace conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, it’s hard to convince these anti-vaxxers to protect their children and everyone else’s, because anti-vaccine believers tend to have a cult-like mindset. If you believe that vaccines don’t cause autism, in their mind, you are a part of the big cover-up, or a sheep unwilling to see the truth.

4. President Truman’s Controversial Decision To Launch Two Atomic Bombs On Populated Cities

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a moment in history that will remain in infamy forever. Some people defend it saying that at that point, nothing less had any chance of convincing the Japanese to surrender peacefully, and that otherwise we would have had total war that led to way more deaths on both sides overall. Others would argue that the Japanese were already low on resources and morale, and we could have possibly worked out a peaceful surrender from them without dropping two giant bombs on populated cities.

However, whether you agree with the decision or not, it was an historic moment that forever shaped the globe. Since then nuclear paranoia set in, and countries immediately started racing to build as many of their own and test them all over the world, releasing untold amounts of radiation. This global arms race persists today, where many people still face the possibility of nuclear annihilation daily, and are only comforted by the fact that nuclear war would be unlikely to happen because it would be a no win scenario.

The world could possibly have been a very different place. Even if nuclear testing had continued in various countries, without the historic example of heavily populated cities being leveled in a moment, the true paranoia we see today would likely not exist – we might have had a world where people knew a nuclear weapon existed, but didn’t particularly fear them and feel so paranoid, because they had no proper context in which to put a real life nuclear attack.

3. Teddy Kennedy’s Actions Immediately Following Chappaquiddick Ruined His Presidential Dreams

Most people have heard of Teddy Kennedy, one of the three original Kennedy brothers and often called the lion of the senate. Some wondered, as he got on in years, why he never sought the presidency, and the answer is that he once did, and ended up being sunk by his own actions. Back when he was younger, he was a very powerful up and coming politician, and was indeed running for president. He was charismatic, had a lot of support, and likely would have won the Democratic primary, with a good chance at the general election. And while we cannot know exactly what kind of policies he would have had, the Kennedys never did anything small, so it is certainly likely he would have had a strong historical impact as president. However, just as his star was as bright as it could be, he got himself into big trouble.

He was out with a woman in his car on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, when the car crashed over a bridge into the water. He managed to make it out of the car, but not with the woman – Mary Jo Kopechne. He did not notify the police until many hours later, and not until after he had had a good talk with his lawyers about how he could get out of trouble. Many speculated that he did not go to the police immediately or report it because he was drunk and wanted to sober up – he suspected he would be arrested for things like manslaughter and drunk driving if he went to the police right away. Still, he was a Kennedy and they were known for being playboys, he could have potentially managed to avoid it sinking his political career if he had went straight to the police, but the way he handled the incident sunk him. Most people were rather disturbed how callously he left the woman to die.

2. Reagan’s Firing Of Over 1000 Air Traffic Controllers Has Had Lasting Repercussions For All Unions

Many people do not remember the firing of the air traffic controllers under President Reagan, but it still has vast ramifications to this day. The short version of the story is that the then-union for the air traffic controllers was on strike for better pay, and the negotiations were simply not going very well at all. Both sides kept going back and forth, and an agreement was not being put in place quickly enough. Fed up with the entire thing, President Reagan declared it an illegal strike and threatened to fire each and every single one of them if they didn’t stop striking. Unfortunately for them, they called what they thought was a bluff. It wasn’t, and they were all fired.

At first people thought this would be a huge disaster, because air traffic controllers are really important, but he put in military controllers until others could be trained and everything worked out okay. This was a huge blow to unions in general and greatly set them back over the years. However, this wasn’t necessarily something Reagan would have wanted. He didn’t think unions in general were bad or that workers shouldn’t have rights, but he saw a situation where these were vital jobs that absolutely must be filled, and the terms could not be agreed upon. He saw it as an extreme act in an emergency – he did not plan to break the backs of labor unions.

1. Colin Powell’s False Presentation About Iraq Got Us Into War With A Potential Ally

Colin Powell’s presentation about WMDs before congress will go down as one of the most pivotal moments in history. Now, there is some debate and confusion as to whether Powell was simply being used, or was complicit in what was happening. Either way, an incredibly false and misleading presentation made it look like there were WMDs in Iraq when there actually were none at all. This led the United States into a full blown war in Iraq that has had lasting ramifications to this very day. And to make matters worse, there is reason believe that if we hadn’t taken out Saddam, we may have had a stable ally in the region who could have been of great help.

When Saddam Hussein was captured, he explained that he was actually shocked and confused that Iraq was attacked. He thought that the United States would want to ally with him to help find terrorists after what happened on 9/11, and didn’t understand why he was a target when none of the terrorists were from Iraq. He had thought he could help us and that what happened would bring Iraq and the United States closer together. While some may believe Saddam to be brutal, he kept the region stable, something we have been unable to accomplish. If Saddam had remained in power and his words are to be believed, we may have had both a stable Iraq and a solid and stalwart ally in the region.


Game Changing Moments

– WIF History

Truth or BS? – Wild Card Saturday

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Things That Sound

Like BS,

But Are True

In a world where fake news and false facts are rampant, it’s hard to distinguish what is true and what isn’t, especially when it sounds so unbelievable. We have gone through some crazy news stories and unbelievable tales from history and culled even more of the most interesting, unbelievable facts that sound like BS, but are completely true.

 10. The Highest Court of the Land

The Supreme Court is called “The Highest Court in the Land” because their rulings decide the laws for the rest of the United States.

The physical courtroom is on the second floor of the Supreme Court building, but on the fifth floor is a basketball court, appropriately nicknamed “The Highest Court in the Land.” The area was once used to house journalists, but in the 1940s it was converted to a gym. Later, the basketball nets were added.

The basketball court is smaller than a regulation NBA court and, unfortunately, it’s not open to the public. It’s only used by off-duty officers and employees of the court, but people are not allowed to use it on days when court is in session.

Many of the current Supreme Court Judges are a bit too old to play (though we like to imagine Ruth Bader Ginsburg crossing fools over and making it rain from way downtown), but apparently Neil Gorsuch plays basketball, which we learned during his hearing, so maybe he’ll use it.

9. If You Crack an Egg 60 Feet Underwater It Will Stay Together

If you were to crack an egg deep underwater, what would happen to it? One thought is that it would break apart. The second thought is that, geez man, what a waste of a delicious egg. Think these things through. However, what reallyhappens is that it actually stays together and looks like some type of alien jellyfish.

The reason it stays together is because the pressure underwater at that level is about 2.8 times the atmospheric pressure than on land, which makes the water act like a shell. This pushes the egg together, in a spherical, creepy looking blob.

8. Hippos Sweat Red and it Works Like Sunscreen

Hippopotamuses are distant relatives of pigs and are known for their aggressive behavior towards other species – especially humans.

One interesting thing about their physiology is that their sweat appears to be red. The Ancient Greeks thought that they were sweating blood. But, it actually turns out that a hippo’s sweat comes in two different colors: red and orange.

The sweat is a clever solution to the hippo’s evolutionary niche. During the night, hippos venture out onto land and eat as much food as they can and then spend most of the day in the water digesting their food. But since hippos are such big animals, they need to venture out during the day, under the hot sun, to get food. Mammals that live on land generally have natural protection from the sun – fur. However, having fur isn’t helpful if you spend your days in the water. So the hippos developed the two types of sweat, which both act as sunscreen. The red one also has antibacterial properties that prevent pathogens from getting into the wounds and accelerate healing, which is helpful to the aggressive animals.

7. Three to Five Pounds of Your Body Weight is Bacteria

Your body is a complex machine with many running parts and just like Goldilocks’ porridge, many people consist of just the right amount of components. Case in point, our body contains 1,700 types of bacteria. According to Lita Proctor from the National Institute of Health’s Human Microbiome Project, that would be enough to fill a large can of soup, which is about three to five pounds of bacteria.

Until recently, most of these bacteria were unidentified. Researchers took samples from the bellybuttons of 95 subjects and found 1,400 strains of bacteria. 662 of them had previously been unrecognized. In total, there are over 10,000 species of microbes in the human body. And apparently, waaaaay too many of them live in our bellybuttons. Someone pass the cotton swabs…

6. Barry Manilow Wrote Some of the Most Famous Jingles Ever

Barry Manilow is one of the biggest American pop singers of all time. He’s had 47 Top 40 hits including “Mandy,” “Can’t Smile Without You,” and “I Write the Songs,” which he ironically didn’t write.

While some people reading this list might be too young to know who Barry Manilow is, there’s a good chance that you know some of his work. That’s because he’s written and performed some of the most famous jingles ever.

One of the most famous ones is “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” He was apparently paid a flat fee of $500 for it in the 1970s and it’s still in heavy use today. Another famous one he wrote and sang was “I am stuck on Band-Aid / ’cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me.” A third one he wrote and performed was “Give Your Face Something to Smile About” for Stridex.

Besides just writing several famous jingles, Manilow also performed “You Deserve a Break Today” for McDonald’s, KFC’s “Grab a Bucket of Chicken,” Pepsi’s “Feelin’ Free,” and finally, “I’m a Pepper / He’s a Pepper / She’s a Pepper / Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?” jingle for Dr. Pepper that was written by Randy Newman.

5. The Tragedy of New Mexico’s State University’s First Graduating Class

New Mexico State University was founded in 1888 as Las Cruces College. Two years later, it merged with New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.

The first graduate of the newly formed New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts was a 17-year-old named Samuel Steele. In 1893, Steele was the only member of the senior class, but tragically, he never made it to his commencement.

On March 9, 1893, Steele was shot while delivering milk. There were no witnesses and the motive remains a mystery. There was a suspect in the case, a man named John Roper. He was even convicted, but later released on an appeal.

The first graduating class to make it to New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts’ commencement did so a year after the murder in 1894 and consisted of five students.

In 1995, a street near the university had its name changed to Sam Steele Way in honor of their fallen first graduate.

4. Why is Bluetooth Called Bluetooth?

When it comes to questions about Bluetooth, usually “why the hell isn’t it connecting?” is probably what comes to mind first. “Wait, I don’t even have Bluetooth turned on, what the hellis connecting?” is likely the second. But have you ever thought about why it’s called Bluetooth? After all, it’s wireless technology, what does blue or a tooth have to do with it?

In the 1990s, when short-range wireless technology was being developed, different companies were working on different technologies. Some of the engineers thought it would be better if the companies pooled their resources together and came up with one industry standard for short-range wireless technology.

The name was suggested by Jim Kardach, an Intel engineer who was reading a book about Vikings around the time the new division was created, and it contained the story of Harald Bluetooth, who was the Viking king of Denmark between 958 and 970. He was famous for uniting parts of Denmark and Norway together and for converting the Danes to Christianity. Essentially, he was a good at uniting people and that’s what Kardach wanted to do with short-range wireless technologies – unite them in one format.

The name Bluetooth was meant to be just a placeholder until they came up with something better, but it got picked up by the media and has stuck around ever since.

3. A Man Cured Himself of OCD by Shooting Himself in the Head

In the early 1980s, a man only identified as George was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The disorder forced George to wash his hands hundreds of times a day and to shower frequently. It had a crippling effect on his life and the 19-year-old was forced to drop out of school and quit his job.

Things got to be so bad that he told his mother that he wished he was dead. Amazingly, she said that he should go shoot himself. We assume her Mother of the Year trophy got lost in the mail. Anyway, George grabbed a .22 caliber rifle, put the barrel in his mouth, and pulled the trigger.

George didn’t die and the bullet got lodged in his front left lobe. Surgeons were able to remove it, but they weren’t able to get all the fragments. In a stroke of unbelievable luck, the bullet destroyed the area of the brain that causes the symptoms of OCD. In extreme cases of OCD, surgeons will remove that area of the brain.

If all that wasn’t amazing enough, George also didn’t lose any of his intelligence. After taking some time to recover from being shot in the head with a rifle, he completed high school, went to college, and he was able to get a job.

2. You’re More Likely to be Killed by a Hospital Accident than a Car Accident

Four studies using data from 2008 to 2011 found that 210,000 to 400,000 deaths were caused every year in America by preventable accidents that happened in the hospital. That would make it the third leading cause of death, just behind cancer and heart disease. In 2011, there were 126,438 deaths from other kinds of accidents, which includes car accidents. Canada isn’t much better, according to The National Post, 70,000 Canadians are hurt every year while in the hospital.

The problem comes down to the fact that doctors are not infallible computers. They’re just people who make mistakes and they are susceptible to biases just like the rest of us. In Michael Lewis’ 2016 book The Undoing Project, he relays a story of a young woman in Toronto who was in a bad car accident and suffered multiple broken bones and injuries. When she was taken into the emergency room, the medical staff discovered that she had an irregular heart beat. Sometimes, it would miss a beat and other times it would add one. Before the woman lost consciousness, she said that she had an overactive thyroid.

Overactive thyroids can cause irregular heartbeats, so the staff instantly thought that was the cause. However, an overactive thyroid wasn’t the most likely cause for an irregular heartbeat. Statistically, some other injury was likely to be the culprit, like a collapsed lung.

Sure enough, the woman had a collapsed lung and the tests results came back that the woman’s thyroid was working normally.

While it’s a scary thought that hospitals can be dangerous, the story of the woman in Toronto is an example of how this type of situation could be curtailed. In that case, the hospital had a doctor named Don Redelmeier, who works as an auditor on medical cases. When a patient comes into the emergency room, he gets the medical staff to take a moment and try to think as logically and rationally as possible, and his hospital has seen a decrease in medical mistakes and accidents.

1. There’s a Lost Nuclear Bomb Submerged Off the Coast of the State of Georgia

On February 5, 1958, Col. Howard Richardson was flying a B-47 loaded with a 7,000 pound nuclear bomb near Tybee Island, Georgia, when an F-86 fighter plane on a training mission accidentally collided with him. The pilot in the F-86 didn’t see the B-47 on the radar and descended directly into it. The collision ripped the left wing off the F-86 and it damaged the fuel tank of the B-47 that was carrying the nuclear bomb.

Richardson flew towards land, but he was worried that the landing would detonate the large nuclear bomb, so he dropped it in the water before reaching land.

Luckily, all the men in the planes survived the collision, but the bad news was that the nuclear bomb was nowhere to be found.

The Navy spent over two months looking for the bomb, but couldn’t find it. Experts think that the bomb isn’t dangerous and should remain inactive as long as it’s not disturbed. So if you want to go treasure hunting, you might want to steer clear of Tybee Island.


Truth or BS

– Judge 4 Yourself

BS or Truth III – WIF Confidential

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Facts That

Sound Like

BS

no_bs_zone

 

It seems like only yesterday that we dredged the back vaults of our list-writing brains to give you ten facts that sounded like they couldn’t possibly be true, but were. And what a list that was, huh? Full of crazy, once-in-a-lifetime facts of the sort you’re unlikely to witness ever again, the sort of tales that could only come once in a blue…

 No. Hold on, now. You mean we’ve got a whole other list of impossible facts lined up? And this one features a levitating city, 20 million tons of unclaimed gold lying right under our noses, and a mouse that literally screws itself to death? Jeez, we’ve really got our work cut out for us on this one, haven’t we?

10. Chicago Was Once Raised 6 Feet (and no-one noticed)

chicago

There are some facts that you instinctively know are BS, even if you’re not sure why. The idea that someone once managed to make the city of Chicago levitate 6 feet in the air without anyone noticing is definitely one such fact. For one thing, it’s impossible. For another, well, just listen to what you’re saying. You might as well claim the Moon is made of cheese.

Well, sorry, but we’re about to completely mess with your perception of how reality works. On New Year’s Eve 1855, the Chicago Board of Sewage Commissioners tasked engineer E.S. Chesbrough with finding a solution to the city’s regular cholera outbreaks. Chesbrough decided the easiest option would be to hike the entire city out its swamp, 6 feet into the air.

It was known as the Raising of Chicago, and it was completely literal. To get the city out the cholera-infested swamp it sat on, hundreds of men jacked up the streets using massive screws, filled in the space beneath them, and called the result ‘ground level’. The work carried on for 20 years, and was often completely mad. There are stories of whole hotels being hoisted up into the air, and not a single person inside them realizing it was happening.

Nor was it a temporary fix. The Chicago you see today is the ‘raised’ version. That’s right: Chicago is still levitating today, and no-one living there has ever noticed.

9. Irish Traffic Police Accidentally Invented their own Supervillain

prawo-jazdy

Not so long ago, the name Prawo Jazdy struck fear into the hearts of Ireland’s traffic cops. A Polish immigrant, Mr. Jazdy was also the most prolific petty-criminal the Garda had ever encountered. Over the course of two short years, he racked up over 50 speeding tickets in every part of the island. Stranger still, he’d never been caught.

It gets weirder. Mr. Jazdy was a master of disguise. Sometimes he’d be dressed as a middle-aged man when he was stopped. Other times he’d be dressed as a young woman. Irish traffic cops found he’d given them a different driver’s license every time they’d stopped him. He’d given 50 different home addresses, and 50 different dates of birth. Eventually, a special task force was assigned to catch this international man of mystery.

At which point a native Polish speaker joined the Garda’s traffic division. He took one look at Mr. Jazdy’s file and probably fell down laughing. Y’see, Prawo Jazdy wasn’t a supervillain. He wasn’t even a person at all. Prawo Jazdy is Polish for ‘driver’s license’.

According to the BBC, Ireland’s confused traffic cops had spent 2 years writing up tickets for different Polish drivers under the assumption that they were all the same person. The mistake was finally discovered in 2009, to the embarrassment of all.

8. The State of Maine Has More Black Bears than Black People1

black-bear

The northeasternmost state of the US, Maine is one of the most-rural places in America. With a population of 1.33 million, it’s not the emptiest state, but it’s definitely kinda lonesome. It’s also one of the whitest places in the whole of the States. How do we know this? Because according to data from both the state of Maine and the US Census, Maine has more black bears than it has black people.

Seriously, it ain’t even close. The last US Census recorded roughly 19,000 African-Americans living in Maine. A couple of years before, the state of Maine estimated its black bear population at roughly 36,000. In other words, there are roughly two black bears for every single black person in Maine.

That’s a crazy figure, especially if you grew up in a big city, or in the South, or on the West Coast, or, well, anywhere but Maine. Nationally, black people make up 13.2% of the US population. In Maine, they make up just 1.4%. By contrast, if black bears were people, they’d make up 2.7%.

7. Congress Name-Checks Hitler Seven Times a Month

hitler

Godwin’s Law states that the longer an argument goes on, the greater the chance of someone bringing up Hitler. It further states that, the minute Hitler comparisons are invoked, the conversation becomes worthless. Which, when you think about it, is the perfect way of describing Congress. Both parties have been engaged in a never-ending argument for decades now, and both have essentially become worthless. We know this because they just can’t stop bringing up Hitler.

The nonprofit Sunlight Foundation tracks all words in the official Congressional record for their Capitol Words project. The database stretches back to 1996, and contains millions of words. In 2015, they crunched the numbers for Hitler, and found Congress name-checked the Nazi dictator an average of seven times a month.

Hitler has been compared in Congress to Saddam Hussein, to global warming, to modern China, to Gaddafi’s Libya, to Sudan, to Iran, to ISIS, to the cloning of human beings, to the American military, and (bizarrely) to the Founding Fathers. No other dictator even comes close. The high point came in 2003, when Hitler was mentioned 93 times in a single month.

Republicans mention Hitler slightly-more often, with 57% of mentions to the Dem’s 43%. But, as the Daily Dot pointed out, no party has yet been known to mention Godwin’s Law.

6. We Still Have No Idea How Many People Chernobyl Killed

Chernobyldisaster1

On April 26, 1986, the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, Ukraine, exploded. The resulting meltdown killed 31 people more-or-less instantly, and poisoned millions of square miles of land. At the time, the World Health Organization estimated the disaster would ultimately cause 4,000 deaths from radiation-induced cancer. Over 30 years later, we’re still guessing. Depending on your source, Chernobyl caused anywhere from a mere 53 deaths, to over half a million.

 The trouble is Chernobyl blew radiation over such a vast area, no one really knows how many excess fatal cancers in Europe, Asia and Africa are due to the accident. The UN estimates around 16,000. The Russian Academy of Sciences estimates up to 200,000. The Ukraine National Commission for Radiation Protection calculates 500,000.

And those numbers keep climbing. One recent high-end estimate pegged the total number dead at nearly one million. If true, that would make Chernobyl the deadliest disaster in human history bar the catastrophic China Floods of 1931 (which may have killed up to 4 million). For comparison, the combined atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima killed a maximum of 236,000. That’s right, the screw up of a bunch of Soviet engineers may yet turn out to be deadlier than the bloody endgame of the most-brutal war in human history.

5. Nintendo Existed at the Same Time as the Ottoman Empire

nintendo cards

One is a modern Japanese entertainment company, best known for a certain, red-suited, Italian plumber. The other was a vast Islamic empire founded in the 14thcentury, that was ruled by sultans and once laid siege to Vienna in Austria. Both of these things existed at the same time for thirty three whole years.

The issue here is that Nintendo is way older than you probably imagine, while the Ottoman Empire didn’t fall apart till much later than you probably think. The Ottoman Empire only collapsed in 1922 as a result of losing WWI, after the Allies had carved up its territory for themselves. Nintendo, meanwhile, was founded way, way back in 1889.

At the time, Nintendo was a simple playing card company, with nary an Italian plumber in sight. That’s probably not surprising, as Italy had only been a unified state for less than 2 decades by that point, less than the time separating us now from the release ofTitanic. Europe was still (mostly) ruled by the Prussians, Austro-Hungarians, Russians and Ottomans, and Britain had an empire that stretched all the way around the world. Meanwhile, Japan had only just left two and a half centuries of self-imposed isolation 35 years beforehand.

4. The Ocean Contains 20 Million Tons of (unclaimed) Gold

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 Imagine if you discovered a near-limitless supply of gold sitting right under your nose. All your worries would be over, right? Well, we’ve got some good news and some bad news for you. The good is that such a stash of gold really does exist, likely within easy driving distance. The bad is that its scattered over the entire ocean.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), our planet’s oceans contain a staggering 20 million tons of unclaimed gold. That’s enough to give every single person alive today 9 pounds of the stuff… or to just hoard it for yourself and become the richest person on the entire planet.

The trouble, sadly, is getting at it. Much of the oceans’ gold is distributed on a very, very fine level. As in, a single liter of seawater contains 13 billionths of a gram of gold. There’s just no way of extracting that, and the stuff that’s concentrated is equally hard to get at. The biggest gold deposits are buried a mile or two under the sea’s surface, and would require a massive mining operation to extract.

Still, if you go looking, you might get lucky. In 2015, the nation of Colombia discovered$1 billion worth of sunken Spanish gold sitting right off the coast of Cartagena.

3. The Biggest Quake in History Hit 23 on the Richter Scale

earthquake

 If you live in earthquake country, you’ll know anything above about a 4 on the Richter Scale is terrifying. The 2010 earthquake that leveled Haiti was a magnitude 7.0. The 1964 earthquake that nearly upended the whole of Alaska was 9.2. The largest in modern history was a 9.6 off the coast of Chile, and that caused 35 foot waves 6,200 miles from the epicenter.

But there’s actually an even-bigger earthquake on record. It went beyond standard measurements and hit a devastating 23 on the Richter Scale.

That estimate comes courtesy of NASA, who observed the quake in action. That’s right, thankfully for all life on Earth, the quake happened millions of lightyears away, at a star known as SGR J1550-5418. The ‘starquake’ was big enough to destroy everything in a 10 light year radius.

Starquakes are caused when the crust of a magnetar – a super, super dense neutron sta1r that packs the mass of more than million Earths into an area the size of Manhattan – cracks. The resulting release of energy is one of the deadliest events in the universe. Any nearby planets would be wiped out instantly. One single, 20 minute quake releases more energy than our sun does in 20 whole years. Thank God we haven’t got any in our galactic neighborhood.

2. Antechinus Mice are so Sex-obsessed They Literally Screw Themselves to Death

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 You might like to think you’ve got going power in the sack. You ain’t got nothing on the Antechinus. A mouse-like marsupial found in Australia, the male is capable of mating for 14 hours straight. In mating season, guy Antechinus’s get so much action in that they literally screw themselves to death.

We don’t mean there’s some crazy biological mechanism that makes them die after reproducing. We mean they simply keep going for so long, and go so hard, that their bodies are destroyed by multiple stress injuries and they die of a failed immune system. Think about how you get more susceptible to disease if you’re tired and already injured, from playing football, say. Mr. Antechinus gets that times a million. Eventually, his stress levels rise so high that his immune system cuts out and he dies.

According to National Geographic, this malady infects every single male Antechinus. 11 months after birth, they become so desperate to mate that they wind up screwing for 3 weeks solid. They then die, and a new generation of boys are raised, who will also grow up to have a libido even Ron Jeremy would envy.

1. You Make History Every Time You Shuffle a Deck of Cards

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 Stop reading this for a second, and go find yourself a deck of cards. Got it? Right, now give that mother a shuffle and lay the cards in the order they come out. Congratulations, you’ve just done something completely unique in the whole of human history.

52 cards may not sound like much, but it creates an insane number of possible combinations. Highbrow British quiz show QI calculated the number at 52 factorial, which means 52 times 51, times 50, times 49… etc. Written out, it looks like this:

80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,403,766,975,289,505,440,883,277,824,000,000,000,000.

That’s a big number, but we’re not even close to describing just how insanely big. The QI ‘Elves’ phrased it like this: “If every star in our galaxy had a trillion planets, each with a trillion people living on them, and each of these people has a trillion packs of cards and somehow they manage to make unique shuffles 1,000 times per second, and they’d been doing that since the Big Bang, they’d only just now be starting to repeat shuffles.”

 So there you have it. If you wanna make history, don’t cure cancer or invent a new device or conquer half the world. Just grab a pack of cards and get shuffling. We guarantee the results will be historically unique.

BS or Truth III

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– WIF Confidential