In Love With Bottled Water – WIF Wet Facts

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5 Facts About

Bottled Water

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Angry Little Water Bottle by Pierre Thyss

The selling of bottled water can be dated back to 1622 at the Holy Well in Malvern, United Kingdom, which sold bottles of Malvern spring water. In the last 30 years, consumption of bottled water has increased dramatically and the average American now consumes 30 gallons of bottled water every year. But is bottled water actually better, safer, and worth the extra cost?

5. It’s Stupidly Expensive

As we’ll see in this list, bottled water is a big waste. One of the biggest things it wastes is people’s hard earned money.

According to a 2012 study from the University of Michigan, on average, bottled water costs $1.22 per gallon, which is 300 times more expensive than tap water. However, they point out that 2/3 of all bottles of water that are sold come in 16.9 ounce bottles, meaning that the water is actually $7.50 per gallon; that’s twice as much as gasoline.

In 2015, companies that distribute bottled water made $15 billion. That’s a whole lot of money spent on something that is so readily and easily available. If that wasn’t crazy enough, bottled water sales have gone up since then, and in 2016, for the first time ever, more gallons of bottled water were sold than soft drinks.

4. Nearly Half of Bottled Water is Tap Water

Have you ever thought about where the water in the bottle comes from? The origin of the water isn’t often listed in the ingredients, but sometimes the labels will say it’s “spring water,” “glacier water,” or “mountain water.” The problem is that the use of these words aren’t regulated so the water in the bottle doesn’t necessarily come from those sources.

In the book Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Waterauthor Peter Gleick says that several studies show that about 45 percent of all bottled water comes from municipal sources. This includes PepsiCo’s Aquafina and Coke’s Dasani.

Sometimes, taking water for bottled water from municipal sources can be a problem. For example, just outside of Guelph, Ontario, Nestle has a bottling plant and during a drought, they continued to draw water, putting the 130,000 citizens at risk of not having enough water.

3. Tastes as Good or Better… Maybe?

According to some people, they like bottled water because it tastes better than tap water. While it may be possible that some people can taste the difference, a majority of people can’t. Studies from the United States, Switzerland, Ireland, and France have found that only about one-third of people can tell the difference between tap water and bottled water. And this does makes some sense. There are differences between tap water and bottled water because different brands of bottled water contain varying levels of minerals like calcium and sodium, and water from different sources have different tastes.

While some people can tell the difference between bottled water and tap water, when it comes to taste, a majority of people think tap water tastes better than bottled water. In a few different studies, the number of people who preferred plain old tap water to bottled water can range from about 45 to 75%.

2. It’s No Safer Than Tap Water

One reason people choose bottled water over tap water is because they think it’s safer. In fact, the water crisis in Flint is one of the reasons why sales of bottled water have increased. The problem is that several studies have shown that bottled water isn’t any safer than tap water.

Usually when it comes to water in homes, there are two problems. First, the water comes from a well and the well can become contaminated. The second problem is usually caused by lead pipes in the home. Otherwise, all public water should be safe because of strict regulations and stringent testing by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Drug Administration.

However, obviously it’s not a perfect system and Flint is an example of how the system failed. But bottling water doesn’t exactly solve the problem of water safety because bottling adds several unnecessary steps. Water that’s already clean goes into a factory, some ingredients are added, it goes through some filters, and machines put it into bottles. The problem is that whenever you add steps, it increases the chances that something could go wrong, like the water could be contaminated with E. coli. Amazingly,the FDA only started screening bottled water for E. coli. in 2013.

While another Flint-like water crisis is quite possible in the future, if investment in infrastructure is made, then tap water will continue to be a safe and relatively cheap resource.

1. It’s Killing the Environment

We started off this list talking about how wasteful bottled water is, and its wastefulness is no more apparent than when it comes to the environmental effects. In order to bottle water, companies use 17 million barrels of oil every year. That is just to manufacture the bottles and bottle the water, not the transportation to get it to retailers. Not only that, but the process also uses 1.39 liters to bottle 1 liter of water, which is just mind-numbingly wasteful.

Finally, in 2016, 12.8 billion gallons of water were put into bottles that aren’t biodegradable and unfortunately, only 12 percent of the bottles are recycled. So these bottles are going to sit around for the next 450 years or so until they fully decompose. That pretty much leaves us with two choices: limit the amount of water bottles we drink, or start building those big space crafts like the ones in WALL-E because we’re going to need them.


In Love With Bottled Water

– WIF Wet Facts

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

Pirates of the Seven Seas – Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Truth

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Pirates Facts

Pirates have fascinated the masses for hundreds of years. Romanticized in fiction, the image of a pirate has crystallized into a bearded, peg-legged man, with a funny hat and possibly a parrot on his shoulder. The pirate was almost relegated to a quaint decades-old obsession until Disney revived the swashbucklers by rebooting a Disneyland ride into a multi-billion dollar movie franchise. The films star Johnny Depp, pretending to be Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, or as Roger Ebert once wrote, “channeling a drunken drag queen, with his eyeliner and the way he minces ashore and slurs his dialogue ever so insouciantly.”

 So with that in mind, we will charge and plunder our way through 10 surprising pirate myths, facts, and misconceptions.

10. Pirates Were Part of the Normal Economy

In the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, the pirates were literal immortal ghosts that had no need for the world of mankind. There is a myth that pirates were outcasts and pariahs but like any criminal now or in the past they needed to sell their booty. While pirates did get some gold and diamonds, that was far from their only plunder. Most of what pirates stole and looted was anything that ships had, like water, food, soap, timber, salted fish, and supplies for the New World colonies. The most coveted of all prizes was medicine.

With all these goods pirates needed a place to sell them, and there were plenty of ports, pirate and otherwise that encouraged pirate trade. Often pirates were sanctioned by their home countries, like the English Privateer, and their “letter of marque” gave them the legal right to capture ships from enemy nations. With this they could legally sell their booty to their homeports. Privateering, which was similar to today’s version of military contractors, “spurred the growth of Atlantic cities from Charleston to Dunkirk.” Non-nation criminal pirates had no shortage of middlemen and smugglers who would take their tons of stolen salted fish off their hands and integrate it into the local economy.

9. Wore Jewelry to Improve Their Eyesight

Those brave souls who step off the sturdy earth onto a rickety boat to righteously sail the rough seas have always been a superstitious bunch. Bananas famously are taboo on the open sea and are thought to bring doom upon all those on the boat. Real sailors will quickly throw a banana overboard ASAP. Sailors are just as superstitious with their good luck talismans.

Famously bad luck on land, black cats are a seen as signs of good luck at sea with sailors having a black cat on board. There are even those who have their wives have a black cat at home to get a double dose of good fortune. Pirates were no exception to superstitions of the seas. According to the Journal of the American Optometric Association, pirates heavily pierced their ears in hopes that it would improve their eyesight.

8. Pirate Ships Were Democratic

Pirates in the movies are often portrayed as mafias with a head criminal ruling their ship with an iron fist. In real life, pirate ships had surprisingly democratic micro-societies. During the golden age of piracy, over 100 years before democracy took hold in America, sailors on legitimate sailing ships were little more than slaves. The captain controlled everything and in the British Navy, it was even worse. Sailors lived under terrible conditions; conditions so bad that the only way to get new crew members was to pressgang or kidnap innocent people from whatever harbor the ship entered.

This kind of life paled in comparison to pirate ships, where democracy thrived. Not only did pirates share the wealth of their plunder but they voted on everything. They held elections on where to sail, where to strike, what to do with prisoners, and even whether or not to impeach and replace their captain.

7. Pirate Health Insurance

Sailing hundreds of years ago was tough. Piracy, which involved violent resistance and sparse prey, was even tougher. If they weren’t dealing with malnutrition or scurvy pirates had to deal with the normal hazards of the seven seas like storms and new tropical diseases. As outlaws, they also didn’t have a military organization or state to fall back on. Since the pirates were in it together they also banded together forming collectives with health care. If there was an injury on board a ship or while seizing a vessel pirates could depend on each other for monetary support.

In the Caribbean, a pirate group operated that called themselves The Brethren orBrethren of the Coast (they appeared in the Pirates of the Caribbean series). One of the most famous pirate captains of this group was Henry Morgan. Morgan offered the following compensation for injury: a right arm was worth 600 pieces of eight, a left arm 500, a right leg 500, a left leg 400, and an eye 100 pieces of eight. In 1600 one piece of eight was about a modern £50 note, so the pay out for a right arm was 600 pieces of eight, the equivalent of £30,000. Even crazed scourge of the sea Blackbeard cared enough for his crew to seize three French surgeons to provide medical care.

6. Pirates Raided Only Ships… Or Not

Merriam-Webster says the definition of a pirate is someone who engages in piracy, or an act of robbery on the high seas. Water thefts, according to the dictionary. But the true mavericks they were, pirates didn’t limit themselves to just looting and pillaging on the high seas. No, when they had the means pirates would attack targets on land, too.

There have been a number of invasions by pirates. One pirate warlord, Edward Mansvelt, controlled a 1,000-men strong pirate army that landed and attacked the Spanish in what became known as the Sack of Campeche in 1663 (now a city in Mexico). Pirate Lord Henry Morgan led another Pirate army 50 miles inland to attack Puerto Principe (now Camagüey in central Cuba). If the prize was high enough pirates had no problem leaving their ships to pillage the land lubbers.

5. Pirates Are Not Forever

The pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean were doomed to an immortal purgatory sailing the seven seas forever, but real pirates had a less permanent legacy. Piracy was often seen as a way to increase their standing in mainstream society. Spend a few years in a high-risk occupation and then take your plunder and improve you and your family’s position in life.

That was certainly the case with Woodes Rogers (he’s the dapper gent on the right in the above painting). He sailed around the world, paid for from all the ships he plundered along the way. He even had enough time to rescue Alexander Selkirk, the Scottish sailor that Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe is based on. After he came back home he hung up his pirate standard and became the Governor of the Bahamas. His past didn’t stop him from trying to stamp out local pirates. Not all pirates became politicians, but many parlayed their ill-gotten gains into an easy life back in normal society.

4. Pirate Tropes

Our word for pirate didn’t have a standardized spelling until well into the 18th century. In historical archives ocean raiders, or what we call pirates, were spelled as “pirrot,” “pyrate,” or “pyrat,” which is probably where parrots became an associated pirate trope. Other fictional tropes were that pirates buried treasure, a fiction created by Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel Treasure Island.

The 1950s Disney movie of the same name also created what we now know as pirate talk. For the film, Robert Newton, the pirate star of Treasure Island used an exaggerated version of his southwestern England hometown West Country dialect. Pirates also didn’t have peg legs, and the skull and crossbones flag was just one of many pirate flags used in pirate history.

3. Cannonballs are Spheres of Death

In the age of sail, the preferred means of attack was the cannon. Modern pirate movies have their share of implausible Michael Bay explosions. They also show how each cannon hit causes thousands of serrated pieces of wood to fly into the fleshy, exposed skin of sailors and pirates alike. Yet compared to their fictional Hollywood movie stars, the pirates of old had one less thing to worry about.

As proven by Mythbusters the wooden shrapnel didn’t have enough velocity to penetrate the exposed skin, or for their test, dead pigs. They did discover, however, the gunpowder explosion of a cannon gave the metal cannonballs enough force to rip through the bodies of at least four people, as demonstrated by the unfortunate pigs that took their place.

2. Pirates Aren’t a Relatively Recent, Caribbean Thing

For as long as there has been wealth there have been people that will take that wealth. Robbery and banditry have to be one of the oldest jobs in history, although not the oldest job. That would be ladies of the night. In the same vein of thought, as long as there have been ships there have been people who are willing to take whatever is on that ship. Starting 1200 BC the Egyptians feared a mysterious group of people only known as the “Sea Peoples” that swept over the known world like black death, destroying everything they touched.

Later, in 75 BC, Julius Caesar was kidnapped by pirates while traveling to Rhodes. Upon hearing their ransom demand, Caesar got insulted and told them to double the asking price for his life. The pirates got their money but after he was released Caesar returned with a fleet of ships and captured and crucified every one of his pirate captors. In the Mediterranean, during the 15th and 16th centuries, there were two groups of pirates that were mirror images of each. The Barbary corsairs were Muslims who raided Christian commerce while the Knights of Saint John were Christian pirates who raided Islamic ships, “mirror image[s] of maritime predation, two businesslike fleets of plunderers set against each other.” The official hymn of the United States Marine Corps even has a line, “to the shores of Tripoli” that’s about the Battle of Dernain 1805, where US Marines attacked a pirate stronghold during the First Barbary War. While the west is more familiar with the Pirates of the New World, Pirates are found throughout history and all over the world.

1. Pirates Still Exist

Pirate movies inevitably always focus on pirates with swords and sailing ships, but pirates still exist today. We don’t just mean the infamous Somali pirates that plagued the Horn of Africa a decade ago (although there was recently an attack after five years of no incidents). Pirates on the other side of the Atlantic have stepped up their attacks in places like Nigeria. Even outside of Africa there is piracy; or rather, piracy never went away. In the early 19th century famous Pirate Queen Madame Ching, or Ching Shih, ruled the waves with hundreds of ships, crewed by thousands of pirates. Not far from Madame Ching’s haunt is one of the busiest shipping straits in the world, the Strait of Malacca. Through this 550 mile-long sea lane, thousands of ships travel and are easy targets for modern day pirates.

Dozens of attacks and hijacking take place every year, although coordinated patrols by Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore are trying to put a stop to it. Hitting a little closer to home is piracy on Falcon Lake, which straddles the American and Mexican border. The lake is a result of Falcon Dam on the Rio Grande which was built in the ’50s. After the Mexican side descended into the anarchy of the drug wars small boats full of pirates would prey on fishermen and pleasure boats, as well use the boats to smuggle drugs into the US. Piracy is not something that was stamped out hundreds of years ago. It still exists, to this day, even in America’s backyard.


Pirates of the Seven Seas

– Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Truth

Spoiling Movies – Not Movie Spoilers

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Behind the Scenes

Facts

That Change

Famous Movies

It’s the sign of a well made movie when we can watch it without thinking about the fact it’s just an actor on screen reading lines. Sometimes, though, there’s stuff that happens behind the lens that completely changes how you see a given scene. For example, did you know that…

 5. RoboCop blew away all those drug dealers listening to a soft rock ballad

The film RoboCop follows the journey of an invincible sentinel of justice and righteous robotic backhands on his journey to discover what it means to be a man and solve his own murder. In one of the movie’s most awesome scenes, RoboCop casually walks into a drug lab and proceeds to shoot, like, 100 guys in the dong with his wicked-awesome auto pistol. There hasn’t been a more one-sided fight scene since Ryu got into a fist-fight with that car in Street Fighter 2 and throughout the whole thing, RoboCop never once seems challenged. Which may have something to do with the fact he was grooving to the dulcet tones of Peter Gabriel the entire time.

You see, the actor who played RoboCop, Peter Weller, admitted in an interview that during that scene, to drown out the sound of all the gunfire, he was actually listening to a walkman hidden below the suit’s helmet. That walkman was, according to Weller, playing nothing but Peter Gabriel’s Red Rain on repeat the entire time.

4. Grand Moff Tarkin was wearing a pair of fuzzy pink slippers when he detonated Alderaan

Prior to being resurrected and becoming a permanent resident of the Uncanny Valley inRogue One, Peter Cushing was best known for his role as Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope.Throughout that film, Tarkin establishes himself as a ruthlessly efficient leader and a bit of a dick, what with the whole “committing global genocide” thing he does just to prove a point.

If you watch the scenes Cushing appears in (in the original trilogy), you may notice that he’s only ever really shown from the waist up. This is because for virtually every scene he appeared in, Cushing was wearing a pair of fuzzy pink slippers while portraying Tarkin. Reportedly, because the boots he was given to wear didn’t fit. This means that Grand Moff Tarkin was such a badass that nobody, including Darth Vader, had the balls to call him on not wearing his uniform while he detonated Alderaan.

3. Christopher Reeve’s Superman had a big metal dong

To many people, Christopher Reeve is and always will be Superman, and his portrayal of the Man of Tomorrow is consistently voted one of the greatest interpretations of the character ever. Something that’s made all the more amusing when you realize that for every scene he appeared in as Superman, Reeve’s dong was being cupped by a big metal codpiece.

This is because the costume designer and producers for the various Superman movies couldn’t agree on one rather unusual issue: how big Superman’s penis should be. This argument raged back and forth until it was agreed that Reeve would wear a metal codpiece to give his package an aesthetically pleasing, but not distracting shape. Reeve apparently hated wearing the codpiece, especially because the actress who played Lois Lane would flick it between takes, as she liked the silly metallic twang it made. In other words, when you watch those old Superman movies, the reason Superman’s bulge never moves is because it’s made of metal! Gee, no wonder they call him the Man of Steel.

2. Whenever you see the back of Carl’s head in The Walking Dead, it’s a 29-year-old woman

The character Carl from The Walking Dead has all the personality and charisma of wet flannel wrapped around a stump of wood. He’s annoying, he never really does anything, and his floppy, impeccably coiffed hair breaks all sense of immersion because how does his hair look that well maintained in the apocalypse?

As it turns out, the reason for Carl’s luxurious flowing locks is partly because the actor’s stunt double is of the female persuasion. Yep, pretty much any time you see Carl from the back, he’s being played not by a teenage actor who grew out of his cute phase five seasons ago, but a seasoned female stunt actress who can do cool front flips. Which makes us wonder: why not just cast her as Carl? They already strayed from the comics by adding Daryl to the story, and everyone loved that. Why not double down by making Carl a girl, and have her drop-kick zombies into next week in every other scene? Don’t tell us you wouldn’t find that awesome because we only just thought of it and are already considering starting a petition on Change.org to make it happen.

1. Jason Voorhees ends most scenes by apologizing to the people he just killed

Jason Voorhees is one of cinema’s most omnipresent and terrifying villains, and he’s probably killed more teenagers with a big knife than most Call of Duty players. Over the years, Jason has been played by a lot of actors, most of whom are closing in on being 7 feet tall… and all of whom are absolute sweethearts.

The most famous of these is probably Kane Hodder, who portrayed the hockey mask loving immortal stab-man during the ’80s. Since retiring the mask, the cast and crew he worked with on those movies have waxed poetic about Kane’s tenure as the villain and his sense of humor when in costume. Things Kane would do to alleviate tension include ending scenes by excitedly disco dancing when he heard the word cut, and staring at members of the public, standing stock still between takes, to freak them out before walking over to shake their hand.

Another man famous for wearing the mask, Derek Mears, was similarly light-hearted when playing cinema’s most famous machete wielding murder, going out of his way to comfort actors he worked with and apologize for hurting them during scenes he was pretending to violently murder them in. So yeah, the next time you watch a movie with Jason Voorhees in it, there’s a fairly good chance the actor playing him ended whatever scene you’re watching by breaking it just all the way down and throwing out his best dance moves.


Spoiling Movies

– Not Movie Spoilers

Man Eats Mars – WIF Candy

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Fascinating Facts

About the

Mars Candy Company

Young or old, we all love candy and the Mars Company has been making some of the most popular and beloved candy bars and confections for as long as most of us can remember. They are known around the world for beloved items like the Mars Bar, Snickers, M&M’s and so many others. However, they are also suppliers of more than just candy. Mars also owns multiple popular pet food brands, as well as the Wrigley Company and several other brands. The history of the Mars Company and their products is a fascinating journey through the land of sweets.

 10. The Milky Way in the US is the Mars Bar in the United Kingdom

Those who live in the United States are very familiar with a candy bar known as the Milky Way. It is made up of nougat and caramel coated in chocolate and is incredibly delicious. The name is actually inspired by the fact that the creator was trying to mimic the popular malted milkshakes of the day, and not really inspired by our galaxy as some imagine. Many of us who love this candy bar may take it for granted when traveling, only to find that it doesn’t exist in quite the same form in other parts of the world.

In the United Kingdom and almost everywhere else it is sold besides the USA, there is a very similar bar – although not made with the exact same ingredients – known as the Mars Bar, that replaces the traditional Milky Way in those regions. To make matters more confusing, you may actually see a candy bar called the Milky Way when traveling abroad, but that version of the Milky Way is actually the European version of our current 3 Musketeers bar. And yes, all of these are produced, sold and marketed by the Mars Candy Company.

9. The 3 Musketeers Has its Name Because it was Once Three Flavors Packaged Together

Many people have wondered why in the world the 3 Musketeers bar has the name that it does. It is a chocolate bar filled with a nougat fairly similar to that in a Milky Way, except airier and fluffier. It enjoys a certain strong popularity of its own in the United States, but that doesn’t bring most people any closer to an explanation. Most people cannot be blamed for not knowing either – the package no longer has any three musketeers on the logo, and it has been a very long time since the product namesake made since.

The reason it has its name is because originally, the candy bar was packaged to share with three separate pieces, and each piece was a different flavor – chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Not long ago some of you may remember the Mars Company releasing a set of promotional mini 3 Musketeers candies with the flavors of Cappuccino, French Vanilla, and Strawberry, as a throwback to their roots. It would certainly be interesting if they brought back the original 3 Musketeers with all three bars wrapped in the same package, it would probably be a huge hit.

8. The Mars Company Also Owns Pet Food Brands Pedigree And Whiskas

When most people think of a candy company pet food is not something that immediately jumps to mind. However, the Mars Company has owned several pet food brands for many years now, including the well known Pedigree dog foodbrand and Whiskas cat food brand. Some might imagine that this was simply part of some strategic acquisition or deal, but Mars is very serious about their pet food business and has been going to great lengths to increase their market share and dominance in that sector.

Just a few years ago in 2014 Mars coughed up almost three billion in cash toProctor and Gamble to buy up most of their existing pet food business, which includes the brands Iams, Natura and Eukanuba. The president of their petcare division was excited about the deal and had this to say “the deal reinforces our leadership in pet nutrition and veterinary science”. We are not saying the Mars Company doesn’t own good pet food brands, but we don’t think what most people know Mars for is pet food. Most people aren’t even aware they own pet food brands at all and know them mainly for their popular candy products such as M&M’s or Snickers.

7. During WW2 M&M’s Were Only For Soldier Rations

M&M’s have a very fascinating history indeed that is steeped in the lore of wartime. It is said that originally Forrest Mars Sr. had witnessed troops in the Spanish Civil War eating chocolate that was encased in a hard candy shell. He noticed that the chocolate was managing to avoid entirely melting in the hot temperatures, and he decided he wanted to perfect the idea into a perfect candy. He approached a man named Murrie who worked as an executive for Hershey’s and struck up a partnership – incidentally their two names are what the two M’s stand for.

With World War II starting Mars saw an opportunity and started selling the candy exclusively for use in soldier rations for the duration of the war. The troops found it very convenient as it was easily packaged in small tubes, and didn’t melt easily in the heat, making it easy to preserve and transport in the thick of troop movements. Eventually the war ended and all the veterans were already big fans of the product. With chocolate no longer being rationed and the veterans introducing it to their family and friends, M&M’s became the runaway success that they are known for today.

6. The Snickers Bar Was Actually Named After a Horse

The Snickers bar is easily the most iconic candy in the United States of America. No one really needs an introduction to this perfect candy bar. Not only great tasting, but filling enough and with real peanuts which could make it feel more like a real snack. It has enjoyed incredible popularity in the United States since its inception, but most people never stop to think where the name comes from. Many candy bars have rather odd fanciful names that we never take the time to stop and think about. Probably in the case of the Snickers we don’t think about it too much because it sounds rather strange and doesn’t seem like it has much to do with the candy at all.

The reason for this is because the Snickers was named after the Mars families’ favorite horse at the time, and they thought it would be fun to name the candy bar after him. There really is nothing connecting the candy and the horse besides a flight of whimsy. Strangely though, the name was once again different when it was marketed in the United Kingdom, where it was originally known as the Marathon Bar and enjoyed popularity at the top spot for many years. However, for continuity sake Mars changed the name worldwide to the

Snickers Bar and the sales in the UK dropped significantly. Generally consumers don’t take well to a products name being changed out of the blue after so many years.

5. Mars Got Into a Dustup With Vegetarians in the United Kingdom

Back in 2007 vegetarians got angry over a very small amount of potential animal rennet in their confections. Mars had told the public that they were switching from a form of whey that came from microorganisms to a form of whey that comes from rennet – an animal byproduct taken from the stomach of calves. After a week of criticism Mars agreed to back down on using it in some of their products, but was also unwilling to pull it from all of their products entirely. This left many people who were following a strict vegetarian lifestyle angry with the company. They felt that Mars was not entirely backing down, and also that there was still confusion over what did and not did include animal rennet.

The reason for this is that there was no recall, as too many products had already gone out and there wasn’t any health risk with them – most people, even vegetarians, will not freak out about a small amount of potential animal byproduct in an already unhealthy candy bar. So many vegetarians complained that even though the company was leaving a few product lines without the whey with animal rennet, that there was no way to know for quite some time if they might be eating one of the vegetarian unsuitable versions that had already shipped out. Mars argued in return that their hadn’t been any boycott or noticeable effect on their sales, and that they were already bending over backward to please a small minority.

4. Mars Owns Uncle Ben’s Rice and Has Tried to Smooth Over the Controversially Racial Roots

Another brand many may be surprised to know is owned by Mars is the Uncle Ben’s instant rice company. An incredibly famous product ubiquitous in grocery stores around the United States and likely other parts of the world as well. Everyone knows the image and many of us feel a little strange knowing the likely origin of the image. Similar to Aunt Jemima’s pancake syrup brand, it pictures an African American in a role that depicts them as a servant preparing food for white people. The clothes worn by both of them and the title used, as well as the lack of a last name, tends to give a lot of people misgivings and wonder about what the creators were thinking when the brand was first designed.

When Mars acquired Uncle Ben’s rice not that many years ago they decided that they wanted to try to change the image to uplift the brand from its controversially racial origins. They put together a marketing campaign where Uncle Ben was depicted as the chairman of the board of his company, in a fancy office overseeing all decisions regarding the product. The advertising campaign depicted him as a wise leader who always knows best, while still leaving him with the bow tie he was known for. The reactions from many African Americans were mixed. Some people felt that it was a good step that helped rehabilitate the image of the brand, but others said it felt like it was glossing over the past and trying to hold onto something they would prefer to go away. To Mars credit, most people seemed to feel that an honest effort was being made to overcome the racially charged past of the brand.

3. The Reese’s Pieces in E.T. Were Supposed to be M&M’s, but the Mars Company Declined

E.T. is an iconic movie, and once of the most well known scenes, as well as the most famous product placements ever in movies, was the scene with the Reese’s pieces. We all know it well, and someone at Hershey’s is probably still gloating over the acquisition of a lifetime. See, the original candy intended to be used in the film were M&M’s and Mars was approached about doing a tie-in deal with the movie. In a move that someone may still be kicking themselves for, the Mars Company declined to have M&M’s in the movie or do any kind of marketing deal. Some people claim that the executive who made the decision didn’t want their product in a movie with a strange alien being, others say that they simply didn’t think the movie was going to be successful and didn’t want to tie their brand to it. Whatever the reason, the Mars Company declined, and the filmmakers were stuck looking for an alternative.

Realizing there was a similar, but not as popular candy made by Hershey’s, they struck up a deal to use Reese’s Pieces instead. The movie was successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, Hershey’s was able to use E.T. in their advertising to create a very successful association in the minds of consumers and sales of Reese’s Pieces shot up by a huge margin, gaining a strong share in the market that they had never had before.

2. Mars Has Been Criticized in the Past For Their Chocolate Buying Practices

Mars and all the other major chocolate giants have a huge problem that is hard to ignore – the fact that their chocolate, and essentially all chocolate, comes from countries where child labor, abuse and oftentimes what amounts to outright slavery are incredibly common. This has been the subject of many documentaries and lawmakers have tried to force the chocolate industry into self-policing and helping to end the child labor practices. After all, the chocolate industry is so rich it dwarfs the economies of the countries it buys chocolate from, so the power is mainly in their hands. Many of the chocolate makers have pledged to try to end child labor, but the goalposts keep shifting.

For many people the major chocolate makers such as Mars, Nestle, and Hershey’s are not doing nearly enough to deal with the issue. One of the original deadlines to majorly curb child labor was back in 2005, but the deadline was then extended to 2008 and then 2010. When 2010 came around the major manufacturers of chocolate candy made a new pledge to reduce child labor in the Ivory Coast by 70% by 2020. Not only is that another ten years away, but that isn’t even three quarters of the child labor reduced. It would seem that companies that have more money than the economies they are buying from could do more to prevent child labor and exploitation if they really wanted to.

1. Mars and Other Companies Have Moved Recently to Remove Artificial Dyes From Their Products

Recently many companies in the food industry have moved to start removing artificial dyes. One of the most famous examples is the move by Kraft to use only natural coloring in their famous instant macaroni and cheese products. What may be more surprising is that candy companies are starting to follow suit, despite not being generally known for trying to appeal to the health conscious. This shows that consumers today are increasingly concerned about artificial ingredients, even when indulging in less than healthy snacks.

Mars specifically made the news in 2016 when they promised to remove all artificial dyes from their human products and move to natural options. They did add the caveat that this will not happen right away. They expect to finish removing all artificial dyes in five years, but they are still looking for some of the best natural alternatives and it will take time to cycle old inventory out and bring in the new. This includes any Wrigley products such as Starburst and any other food lines, but does not include pet products at this time. While this may not seem huge, moving toward natural dyes can only be a good thing. More and more studies seem to suggest that many artificial dyes are dubious in terms of whether they are truly safe to be consuming on any kind of regular basis. A natural alternative that is proven safe would make people feel better about what they are eating in a world with increasingly processed foods and ingredients.


Man Eats Mars

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– WIF Candy

Facebook Turns 13 – WIF Facts and Figures

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Facts About

Facebook

Facebook was launched on February 4, 2004 as TheFacebook.com by Mark Zuckerberg, who was studying psychology at Harvard at the time. 24 hours later,1,200 students at Harvard had registered and then within a month, over half of the undergraduate students were signed up.

 From there, Facebook expanded to other universities throughout the United States and in August 2005, they became Facebook.com, after purchasing the domain for $200,000.

In September 2005, high school students in the United States could sign up, and then it moved overseas to universities in the United Kingdom in October. After originally only being available to people with a “.edu” email account, Facebook finally started to allow anyone with any email address to sign up in September 2006. Since then, it’s grown to be an indelible part of world culture, to the point where the point where rumors persist that Zuckerberg may eventually run for president. Yes, of the United States.

Of course, things didn’t exactly go smoothly for Zuckerberg and Facebook, but there is a whole movie dedicated to their problems. These are 10 facts about Facebook that you won’t find in The Social Network.

10. Crazy Language Settings

If someone leaves their Facebook open and you want to prank them, don’t pose as them and post something stupid on their wall, because that could lead to some unintended problems. Instead, we recommend changing their language settings.

For people who speak English, there are two fun options that allows the person to use Facebook as normal, but things will seem a bit… off.

The first is the Pirate setting, which it changes things around to be more of a pirate theme. Duh. For example, your wall is called the Captain’s Log, the post box asks “What’s troublin’ ye?” and the smiley emoji says “Yo ho ho,” while the shocked face is “Shiver Me Timbers.”

However, if that prank is a bit too lighthearted and you really want to mess with someone, there is another language setting that turns all the text upside down. We tried it, and it can make you dizzy.

To change the languages, go to Settings, Language, and then “What language do you want to use Facebook in?” And you’re all set.

9. The Most Popular People on Facebook

The most popular person on Facebook is Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the star player of Real Madrid. But since he’s so popular, we figure you already knew that.

Ronaldo also became the first athlete to break 100 million likes, and he is currently at 119.57 million likes. In second place is Colombian pop singer Shakira, who has 104.49 likes, then in third it’s the bald headed star of The Fast and the Furious series. Oh wait, you say that nearly all the male stars of The Fast and the Furious are bald? Well, it’s Vin Diesel. He has 101.22 million likes.

8. Someone Will Always Have More Friends Than You

Do you ever get the feeling that your Facebook friends have more friends than you? Well, according to statistics, nearly everybody has a friend who has more friends than themselves.

The reason everyone has a friend who has more friends is because of a strange thing that happens in statistics called the Friendship Paradox. How it works: let’s say you have a small amount of Facebook friends. You’re bound to have at least one friend who is popular, because people with lots of friends are more likely to be your friend. Secondly, popular people are misrepresented when it comes to averages. By being popular, they spread themselves out when it comes to averages, and this effects probability.

While this concept might be a little hard to wrap your head around, you can check it yourself by seeing if any of your Facebook friends have more friends than you. Except you, Larry. We both know it’d be a waste of your time to check, because we already know the answer, don’t we.

7. The Yellow Facebook

One thing that made Facebook different from MySpace and other social media sites at the time was its uniformity. Everyone’s Facebook page layout was similar, and you couldn’t change the coding on it to add media, like music or pictures, which you could on MySpace. That uniformity is still prevalent today and everyone has very similar looking Facebook layouts. Well, nearly everyone.

The employees of Facebook have a more advanced version of the application that has a yellow icon instead of Facebook’s famous blue color. Mark Zuckerberg gave people a glimpse at the employee version in 2016, when he announced that live video streaming was heading to Facebook. In the video, Zuckerberg shows some features that have yet to be added, like being able to post slideshows and music from their music service. However, Zuckerberg said that some of the features on the yellow Facebook may never be made public.

Besides that video, not a whole lot is known about the yellow Facebook, but it is thought that it’s used by the upper echelon of Facebook to test new features.

6. Facebook Friends

According to a study from Oxford University, the average amount of friends a Facebook user has is 155. The same study, which looked at a group of 3,300 students, also found that they only had four real friends.

Why people have so many Facebook friends, but very few real, close friends, is explained by Dr. Robin Dunbar, who authored the study. He said:

“Social media certainly helps to slow down the natural rate of decay in relationship quality that would set in once we cannot readily meet friends face-to-face but no amount of social media will prevent a friend eventually becoming ‘just another acquaintance’ if you don’t meet face-to-face from time to time.”

These findings are consistent with other studies on close friendships, like an American study from 2011 that found that people, on average, only have two close friends. Another study from Dunbar found that, on average, people know up to 150 people, but they are only intimate with 15, and only five of those 15 are trustworthy.

5. It Can Wreak Havoc on Your Romantic Relationship

Saying that things that happen on Facebook can wreak havoc on your real life shouldn’t be a surprise. Perhaps you’ve experienced it yourself, or you may have witnessed it happen to one of your friends on your news feed. If you haven’t, humor websites have massive collections of them.

Besides anecdotal evidence, there are studies that show that Facebook can add more stress to a romantic relationship. One study that was conducted on 2,000 married people in Britain found that one-in-seven had thought about divorcebecause of something that happened on Facebook. In another British study, a quarter of the people surveyed said Facebook led to a fight once a week with their romantic partner, and 17 percent said a fight happened every day because of Facebook.

Meanwhile, between 2005 and 2010, divorce courts in the United States saw a dramatic increase in Facebook being used as evidence. Finally, a study from the Loyola University Health System found that 20 percent of all cases cited problems stemming from Facebook as part of the reason for divorce.

4. MySpace Had Two Chances to Buy Facebook

In the mid 2000s, the monster of social media was MySpace. Facebook was started essentially as an imitator; it was just better organized and more uniform, and at the time, it was more exclusive because you needed to have a university email address to get an account. These two aspects proved to be popular and Facebook started to gain a lot of traction. As they started to amass users, MySpace had the opportunity to buy Facebook… twice.

In the spring of 2005, MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe visited Zuckerberg and company. At the meeting, Zuckerberg offered to sell him Facebook for $75 million and DeWolfe turned him down. They met again later in 2005, and this time Zuckerberg wanted 10 times his original offer, $750 million. DeWolfe turned Zuckerberg down again.

Just two years later, Microsoft purchased 1.6% of Facebook for $240 million, giving Facebook a $15 billion valuation. By 2009, Facebook was getting twice as many visitors as MySpace. Today, well, Facebook is the thing that everyone uses and MySpace is something you have to Google to see if it’s still online (it is).

At the time of this posting, Facebook market capitalization is over $400 billion and some people think it could grow to be worth a trillion dollars in the next few years.

3. What Happens to Your Facebook When You Die?

Before 2015, when someone died, their family could contact Facebook with proof, like a death certificate, and request that the deceased’s Facebook profile be memorialized.

Memorializing the profile removed the deceased from public searches and notifications, like for their birthdays. Their memorialized profile could also only be viewed by people who were Facebook friends with the deceased before it was memorialized. Nothing else could be done with the account and some people found this upsetting. A notable example was Hollie Gazzard, who lived in Gloucester, United Kingdom. She was stabbed to death by her boyfriend Asher Maslin in February 2014. Her family had her Facebook memorialized and this included memorializing pictures of Gazzard and her murderer. Obviously, the family was upset by this and repeatedly asked Facebook to remove the pictures. For months, Facebook refused to take the pictures down and finally only removed them because of copyright infringements.

This type of dilemma prompted Facebook to allow users to pick a “legacy contact.” The legacy contact is able to pin a notice to your wall with information like funeral services. It also allows the contact to respond to new friend requests, change your cover and profile photos, and archive your Facebook posts and photos. The one thing that the legacy contact will not be able to do is read your private messages. So don’t worry about your loved ones finding Facebook messages expressing your profound love for Nickelback after you pass away.

To add a legacy contact, go to your security settings and it should be there. When you set the legacy contact, it will send a message, which you can edit, to the friend with information about the policy.

2. Every Minute Facebook Goes Down Costs Them $52,583

One of Facebook’s best qualities is that it is reliable. When was the last time you remember Facebook not being available when you tried logging on? It’s so rare that when Facebook went down in 2014, people called 9-1-1.

When it did go down in 2014, The Atlantic figured out how much money Facebook lost per minute by looking at their profits. They concluded that every minute the site was down, it cost them $24,420. This is over $1.4 million an hour and over $35.1 million a day.

But that was three years ago. Since then, Facebook’s revenues have gone up and in 2016, they made $27.638 billion. If the crash were to happen in early 2017, it would cost them $52,583 a minute, which is $3.1 million an hour and $75 million a day.

1. Everyone is Connected by 3.57 People

The theory of six degrees of separation was put forth in 1929 by Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy, in his 1929 short story “Chains.” In the story, the characters came up with a game, where:

“We should select any person from the 1.5 billion inhabitants of the Earth – anyone, anywhere at all. He bet us that, using no more than five individuals, one of whom is a personal acquaintance, he could contact the selected individual using nothing except the network of personal acquaintances.”

There have been several attempts to prove the theory over the years, including one by famed psychologist Stanley Milgram, and all the tests have resulted in varying degrees of success. The jury is still out on whether or not we’re connected to Kevin Bacon, as well.

In 2016, on its 12th anniversary, Facebook released some data that shows that everyone on Facebook is separated by 3.57 degrees. This, however, does not pertain to the real world, and it is just the world of Facebook. That being said, even if someone doesn’t use Facebook, they just have to know a Facebook user to be connected with the rest of the world. And really, there are good odds nearly everyone on the planet knows someone who uses Facebook. As of April 2017, Facebook has 1.86 billion monthly active users; that is almost a quarter of the entire population of the world.


Facebook Turns 13

– WIF Facts and Figures

The White House – WIF Fun Facts

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Fascinating Facts

About

the White House

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One of the most famous, if not the most famous, Presidential homes in the world is the White House, which is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Over 6,000 people visit it every day, and it is one of the top tourist attractions in America’s capital. Of course, besides being a famous monument, it is also a home that is steeped in history.

 These are 10 of the most fascinating facts about the White House and the people who lived in it.

10. They Had A Design Contest To Build It

In 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act, which established Washington, D.C. as the capital of the United States. Congress also ordered that the capitol buildings, including the President’s House needed to be built within 10 years.

In order to find architectural plans for the house where the President would live, Congress held a contest. At the urging of George Washington, Irish-born architect James Hoban submitted his plans, which Encyclopedia Britannica said was influenced by Leinster House in Dublin.

Hoban won the contest and his reward was $500 and a lot in D.C. He was also hired on to oversee the construction of the President’s House, which started in 1793. The second President, John Adams, moved into the house in 1800, before it was actually finished.

The total cost of building the President’s House (its name before the White House) was$232,372, which is the equivalent of about $100 million today.

9. It Was Built By Slaves, Freed Slaves, And Immigrants

In July 2016, former First Lady Michelle Obama made some waves during her speech at the Democratic National Convention when she said “…I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.” After the comment, several prominent people said it wasn’t true, or justified the use of slavery by saying they were “well-fed” slaves. However, Obama’s statement was totally correct.

According to the book The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House, about 400 of the 600 people who built the Capitol, including the White House, were slaves. The other 200 were about 50 freed slaves and the remainder were poor immigrants.

The White House Historical Association confirms that slaves did help build the White House, but they weren’t government owned. Instead, they just rented them out from slave owners. Because that totally makes it OK, right?

8. The British Burned It Down

In June 1812, the United States, which was only 36-years-old at the time, declared war on Great Britain. There were several underlying reasons for the war, but one of them was to take over Canada, which was a British colony, and make it part of America.

Throughout the war, each side had major victories and suffered terrible losses. One of the biggest military defeats for the Americans happened on August 24, 1813, when British forces invaded Washington, D.C. In retaliation for sacking York, which is now Toronto, the President’s House was relieved of a few souvenirs before it was set ablaze. The ensuing fire nearly destroyed the building. After torching the President’s House, several other prominent buildings in Washington were burned to the ground.

Rebuilding started soon afterwards and the White House was restored to its original architectural plans. In fact, James Hoban, who oversaw the original construction, was rehired to oversee the reconstruction to make it as close to the original as possible. The reconstruction was completed by 1817, just in time for President James Monroe to move in.

After the Burning of Washington, the Americans fought back against the British and won several important victories. This led to the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814. Part of the treaty was that any captured territory by either side would be returned.

What’s interesting is how this part of history is taught in schools in the United States and Canada, who have had uninterrupted peace with each other since the War of 1812. In the United States, students are taught that the War of 1812 was a war that earned the respect of the British and strengthened the nation as a whole, allowing them to expand westward.Canadian students, on the other hand, learn that the War of 1812 was the one time that the aggressive Americans tried to invade Canada and for their troubles, they got their capital and the White House burned down.

7. Why Is The White House White?

One myth about the White House is that it’s white to cover up the fire damage that was caused when it burned down in 1814. However, that isn’t true because it was white before it was set on fire. In 1798, a lime-based whitewash was painted on to protect the porous stone from cracking. Usually, the whitewash would have weathered and faded away. However, instead they kept reapplying the whitewash until 1818, when it was painted with lead-based white paint.

The house was originally called the President’s House, but since it was distinctively white, its nickname was the white house for almost a century. It wouldn’t officially become the White House until 1901 under President Theodore Roosevelt.

6. Pets There Have Included Alligators, Badgers, Bears, and a Dog Named Satan

Besides being home to the First Family, the White House has also had its fair share of pets. Out of 45 Presidents, there are only three Presidents who have no record of owning a pet: Chester A. Arthur, Franklin Pierce, and Donald Trump.

In most cases, the pets were dogs or cats. Abigail Adams had a dog named Satan, for instance. However, it’s also been home to some more exotic pets. Calvin Coolidge had a menagerie and the main attraction was a 600 pound pygmy hippopotamus named Billy.

Two different Presidents had alligators roam the White House grounds – Herbert Hoover and John Quincy Adams. Supposedly Adams kept a gator in the bathroom in the East Room and used it to scare guests.

Martin Van Buren was given two tiger cubs by the Sultan of Oman. However, supposedly Congress made him donate the cubs to a zoo.

Finally, Theodore Roosevelt had a badger named Josiah and was given a bear, which his children named Jonathan Edwards, by a group of voters in West Virginia. However, he didn’t have the proper accommodations for the bear, which Roosevelt called “queer-tempered,” and he ended up donating the bear to the Bronx Zoo.

5. Lyndon B. Johnson’s Shower

Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, was a relentlessly hard worker who was known for getting things done. He was also a man with a strong sexual appetite who seemed to be obsessed with his own genitals. He was known to whip it out whenever and where ever he wanted to. So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that he had some odd requests when it came to his shower.

According to Kate Andersen Brower’s book The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House, Johnson wanted to have several nozzles that switched from hot to cold. He also wanted the pressure to be intense, like a fire hose. Finally, he wanted a nozzle pointed directly at his genitals and to shoot up his rear end.

When the plumber said it couldn’t be done, Johnson himself called the plumber and chewed him out. To inspire him, Johnson said, “If I can move 10,000 troops in a day, you certainly can fix the shower.” So the plumber tinkered with the shower and it ended up with four nozzles. One time, an usher apparently tried the shower and it pinned him to the wall.

When Nixon moved into the White House in 1969, he ordered the plumber to get rid of Johnson’s shower.

4. Market Value

Before Donald Trump was elected President, we could say with certainty that the White House would never go on sale; but now, who knows what will happen? He is a real estate mogul, after all.

If he were to put it on the market, what would be a fair asking price? Well, the real estate website Zillow came up with an estimate for the house, which is a single family home with 142 rooms on six floors and about 55,000 square feet, and sits on an 18 acre lot. If you were to include all the historical artifacts with it and the hot tub that was installed under Bill Clinton (because of course Slick Willie installed a hot tub), then it would cost $398 million. Or if President Trump wanted to rent it out, it would cost $2,079,473.

3. The White House’s Deadly Water Supply

The ninth President of the United States, William Henry Harrison, holds two Presidential records and the common belief is that these two records are connected. The first is that Harrison gave the longest inaugural speech, which he did outside on a cold and miserable March day without a coat. The second record is that he was President for the shortest amount of time. He died on April 4, 1841, 32 days into his presidency, from what was believed to be pneumonia, which he caught while giving his long inauguration speech.

However, according to Dr. Philip A. Mackowiak of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who did a modern-day medical investigation, Harrison most likely died of Typhoid Fever and not of pneumonia. The source of the typhoid fever was the White House’s water supply. Mackowiak also thinks that the water in the White House killed President James K. Polk, who died in 1849, three months after leaving the White House, and president Zachary Taylor, who died in office in 1850.

2. Does It Have Secret Passages?

One of the most mythical elements of the White House is its secret passages and tunnels. For example, it was rumored that John F. Kennedy used the tunnels to sneak out of the White House to meet Marilyn Monroe. However, that’s all they appear to be – myths.

While there have been renovations of the White House over the years, including additions, the White House wasn’t really designed to house things like tunnels and secret passages. The closest thing to a secret lair is the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, which was built after the attack on Pearl Harbor. At the time, the Council of National Defense urged Franklin D. Roosevelt to move out of the White House because they thought it was a “firetrap.” His compromise was to build a bomb shelter in the White House.

The Presidential Emergency Operations Center is in the basement of the East Wing. It serves as the communication center and it is able to withstand a nuclear blast. It’s also important to note that the shelter is not the same as the Situation Room, which is in the basement of the West Wing.

One notable time it was used was on September 11, 2001. Vice President Dick Chaney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, among others, were evacuated from their offices into the Presidential Emergency Operations Center.

1. It Was Almost Torn Down In 1945 Because It Was In Such Bad Shape

By 1945, the White House had been lived in for 145 years and it was in rough shape. Besides being nearly destroyed in 1814, there was another fire in the White House on Christmas Eve 1929. The White House was hosting a party and when the fire started in the West Wing, Herbert Hoover left the party to oversee the removal of papers and documents from the Oval Office, while the First Lady kept the party going. The fire ended up gutting the West Wing, including the Oval Office.

Another problem was that the White House wasn’t constructed to have indoor plumbing and electricity and that was all added well after it was built. This added a lot of stress to the structure of the building. It got to be so bad that Harry S. Truman thought it was going to collapse. In fact, his daughter’s piano fell through a floor into the room below it.

The condition of the White House got to be so bad that it would have been cheaper to tear it down and build something new in its place. However, since it was a national monument Truman was against the idea. They chose to gut the interior of the White House and rebuild it as close to its original design as possible. The reconstruction took four years, during which time Harry and Bess Truman lived in Blair House, which is across the street from the White House.


The White House

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– WIF Fun Facts