BS or Truth III – WIF Confidential

Leave a comment

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

sunken-treasure

 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

mouse

 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

cards

 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

wif-confidential-001

– WIF Confidential

Freelance Writing Promotion from WIF

Leave a comment

 

Gwen2-001

Longtime Freelance Writer Gwendolyn Hoff is taking the B2B World by Storm

Freelance Writing Logo2 (2)

More and more business professionals are taking a look at one of the most reliable and punctual producers of quality content/copy on the Internet.

 

 

 

 

Every one, I mean everybody is looking for that perfect combination of words to:

  1. Sell their product or service
  2. Make their cause more relatable
  3. “I want a 6th grader to understand this”
  4. Entertain the living h*** out of a Google(y) audience

Meanwhile

… there are a slug of copywriters out there, most of which are competing for the same clients. It is a dog-eat-dog, don’t blink or you’ll miss it project environment, like a pack of lions fighting over the same water buffalo; the scrawny, the weak, the old are left with the stale scraps. Yuck!

 It’s hard to stand out, but Freelance Writing from Gwendolyn Hoff intends to do so.

 

Some say that a good old-fashioned work ethic is dead. It may well be, but my Daddy once told me, he said, “Gwen, if you serve people the same ol’ mush day after day, all you’ll do is fill up the garbage can faster.” He was a practical man. “A clean plate is easier to wash.”

I loved my dad.

Think different

Slogan alert:

 “I am not satisfied until you are.”

 

*****

I’m not just blowing smoke. If it means I need to make revisions until the cows come home, I will.

 

 

“So sure, start with a slogan. But don’t bother wasting any time on it if you’re merely going for catchy. Aim for true instead.”

Seth Godin

 


 

 

“Instead of one-way interruption, Web marketing is about delivering useful content at just the precise moment that a buyer needs it.

Search, a marketing method that didn’t exist a decade ago, provides the most efficient and inexpensive way for businesses to find leads.”

David Honegger

*****

 

 

 

 

Me at Freelance Writing from Gwendolyn Hoff am giving you the chance to hop on the Gwen-train, before it leaves the station or the train fills up; “There are only so many hours in a day,” said a wise daddy Hoff.

 

  • Direct Response
  • Email Copy
  • Web Content
  • Copy Editing
  • White Papers
  • Landing Pages
  • Case Studies
  • Press Releases
  • Articles
  • Ghost writer

 

Contact me today and find out out how easy your marketing task will be.

FreelanceBiz Card 001

Reasonable rates – Fixed & Hourly


 Freelance Writing Promotion from WIF

American Authors – WIF Unknown HOF

Leave a comment

 

HOF-001

10 Important American Writers

You Don’t Know About

King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, “To the making of many books there is no end and much devotion to them is wearisome to the flesh.” Maybe that’s why the literary canon appears both in flux and static. Since there are so many authors to choose from, it’s easiest to defer to the judgment of professors, teachers and critics. As a result, writers favored in the past can become old news in the future. Does this mean that their works are no longer good or relevant?  Far from it — these 10 writers have largely been forgotten, but they contributed to the development of literature that’s widely read today.

10. Sherwood Anderson

overlookedauthors1

Embarking on a writing career takes a leap of faith. Sherwood Anderson took that leap and became one of the most appreciated writers in the first half of the twentieth century. He was a copywriter and businessperson who caught the creative writing bug, left his business and family, and set out to write fiction. Fame struck with publication of Winesburg, Ohio, an interrelated short story cycle centered in a fictional town and one of the earliest works of the Modernist movement.

Afterwards he continued writing, but never had the same success. However, his efforts inspired some of the major figures in literature at that time. Andersonconvinced Hemingway to go write in Paris. John Steinbeck said, “Anderson made the modern novel.” F. Scott Fitzgerald called him “one of the best writers in English today.” Even Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the influence of Winesburg, Ohio.

9. Archibald MacLeish

overlookedauthors2

Like many members of the Lost Generation, after World War I MacLeish moved his family and became an expatriate in Paris. He met and befriended Ezra Pound and Ernest Hemingway, and during this period he produced multiple books of poetry. By the end of the decade he had won the Pulitzer for his finest literary achievement, The Conquistador.

However, his most notable personal achievement was in 1939, when FDR appointed him Librarian of Congress. In his service in that position he changed the literary life of the nation, making structural changes so that any writer could effectively use the congressional library. He also established how the Consultancy in Poetry position would function, which set the path to the formation of the U.S. Poet Laureateship. Although critics then and now have pointed out that his poetry was reminiscent or derivative of other Modernist poets, they recognize his efforts in promoting literature.

8. William Dean Howells

overlookedauthors3

Most English literature students know Henry James as the representative of the late nineteenth century. However, Henry James wasn’t the only literary American fiction writer. William Dean Howells was a predominant figure in the scene, and unlike James he never became a British subject. After the Civil War he wrote for various journals, such as Harper’s Magazine and The Atlantic Monthly. Eventually,The Atlantic offered him assistant editorship and a few years later made him editor-in-chief, a capacity in which he served for a decade. His reputation grew when he published A Modern Instance, a novel typical of the Realist literary school.

Realist authors were opposed to sentimental themes popular among their fellow Victorians. They believed that fiction should reflect the way that life is, not way that people wish it to be, and thus felt that writers shouldn’t avoid controversial topics. His most famous work is The Rise of Silas Lapham, a story that meditates on the materialism of the period and how it affects the morals of people regardless of social class. Today people recognize him most for his influential review of Emily Dickinson’s poems.

7. James Russell Lowell

overlookedauthors4

History has not been very kind to pre-Civil War American poets, with the exception of the macabre Poe. Many then-contemporary European writers viewed much of their poetry as too rustic for their tastes. Modern readers, if they even read such works, would likely complain that they are too romantic and long-winded.

However, James Russell Lowell was a leading figure during his lifetime. He used the techniques of Romanticism (think Wordworth and Coleridge) in his poetry, while infusing it with American character. Most noted in The Biglow Papers, he combined dialect with satire to produce social commentary in much of his antebellum poetry. This style influenced the work of Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken when they themselves turned their critical eyes toward society. Lowell continued to write poetry post-Civil War, but he directed his attention primarily toward politics, serving as a delegate and in ambassadorial posts.

6. Countee Cullen

overlookedauthors5

During the Harlem Renaissance, a flourishing of black talent in the arts occurred. Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes are the most familiar names. Countee Cullen, however, deserves a place at the table. Cullen didn’t create technically difficult poems but rather seemingly simple metrical lyrics that would interest modern readers. The same can’t be said for Langston Hughes’s latter work, which is often apologetics for Stalinism.

Cullen also still wrote sonnets even when critics began to believe that free verse was the desired way to write contemporary poetry. But he didn’t use simple nature themes like his Romantic predecessors, instead covering social issues. “The Black Christ,” one his most well known poems, explores the incident of a lynching.  Because of such works, some critics view him as the principal voice to represent the Harlem Renaissance Movement. But because intellectuals viewed him as less radical than his Harlem contemporaries (Cullen viewed poetry as raceless, in marked contrast with Hughes), his work fell out of favor after his death at the start of the Civil Rights Movement.

5. Thomas Wolfe

overlookedauthors6

When people hear the name Thomas Wolfe they likely think of the white-suit clad novelist and journalist who influenced New Journalism, and wrote that book about the astronauts, The Right Stuff. He’s a good writer, but that’s a different Thomas Wolfe. This Thomas Wolfe, also a Southerner, was born a state below in North Carolina, where he’s considered that state’s most known author. Best known for the novels Look Homeward, Angel! and You Can’t Go Home Again, he wrote fiction that blended autobiographical elements with a highly poetic prose. Many critics and casual readers alike grouped him alongside Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald as a major practitioner of the Modernist novel when he was alive.

Unfortunately, by the time of his death in 1938 at the age of 37, his reputation had faded. He did influence many writers after his death — beat author Jack Kerouac and science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury, among others, credited him as a factor in their prose style.

4. Charles Beaumont

overlookedauthors7

If there’s a writer that typified a tragic life, it would be Charles Beaumont. At the age of 34, the speculative fiction author started to suffer from an illness that some medical researchers have asserted was a combination of Alzheimer’s and other ailments. As he aged rapidly, his speech became more mechanical and he could no longer concentrate on his fiction. In less than four years he was dead.

Who was this man? If you’ve ever seen classic Twilight Zone episodes such as “Perchance to Dream,” “The Howling Man” and “In His Image,” then you’ve watched some adaptations of his short stories. Along with his contemporary,Richard Matheson, he was a master of science fiction, horror and fantasy. In pulp magazines such as Amazing Stories he wrote numerous stories that not only involved the fantastic, but also reflected on contemporary issues. Beaumont was a perfect colleague of Rod Serling, who shared a similar view of speculative fiction. It’s a shame that he passed away so early, but at least readers have his stories in print.

3. John Dos Passos

overlookedauthors8

The story of Dos Passos is that of a diminished star, and critics with a political bias did much of the diminishing. If anybody has heard of Dos Passos, it’s usually in the context of being Hemingway’s associate. He was close with Hemingway, until disagreements with Hemingway’s willingness to overlook Stalinist maneuvering and the murder of anarchists during the Spanish Civil War caused a rift.

Prior to this incident, he wrote the well-received U.S.A. trilogy, a work comprising of The 42nd Parallel, Nineteen Nineteen and The Big Money. He wrote this experimental novel with four narrative types: straightforward fiction, short biographies of contemporary personalities, newsreels of historical events and camera eye, which employs stream-of-consciousness. It’s almost like a precursor to post-modern fiction.

Following World War II he continued to write fiction, but it didn’t meet the acclaim of his earlier work. Some say that this is because there’s a steep decline in his quality, while others say that disfavor of his work grew as his politics changed. He went from being a Marxist in the 1920s to supporting the candidacy of Barry Goldwater in 1964.

2. Robert Penn Warren

overlookedauthors9

Forget that 2006 cinematic dud, All The King’s Men. It may be cliché but the novel is better, and in popular culture that novel provides the basis for much of his reputation. With its focus on political corruption it’s one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, as that topic is always prescient. He was as good, if not better, in his poetic work. During his long life, stretching from the early twentieth century until the end of the eighties, he wrote both metrical and free verse on a variety of topics, although man’s relationship with nature was his most revisited theme.

His social-political viewpoint also varied throughout his life. He advocated for segregation in the 1930s, but by the end of World War II he shifted away from his previous belief. He eventually befriended and mentored the preeminent black writer Ralph Ellison, author of Invisible Man, and became a vocal supporter of civil rights. Even in his later years, his poetic gifts never seemed to flag untilillness overcame him. His published Collected Poems is over 800 pages in small print, and the majority of it is excellent.

1. John Crowe Ransom

overlookedauthors10

Born in 1888 — the same year as T.S. Eliot — John Crowe Ransom had as much influence on twentieth century literature, although today most critics view him as a minor poet. His Southern background primarily provided the themes for his strictly metrical poems. However, by the end of the 1920s he believed his poetic inspiration was finished and he stopped composing new poems, although he returned to his older poems to revise.

Contemporary critics recognize his effort in developing the craft of a number of poets. His influence is most felt today in high school and college classrooms — scholars recognize him as the founder of New Criticism, which is the practice of closely reading and studying a literary work without concern for social, political or biographical details. Although he later became skeptical of the predominance of New Criticism, his legacy lies with the movement

American Authors

– WIF Unknown HOF

Famous Siblings – Real or Fiction

Leave a comment

10 More Famous Sets of Siblings

morefamoussiblings

Family History..

One week ago, on January 19, 2015, we featured 10 sets of famous siblingswho had achieved greatness.  Today we list 10 more sets of famous siblings with whom you may or may not be familiar, but who at one point in time had been prominent. This time we are including fictional siblings as well as real relatives.  As always, feel free to nominate any brothers and sisters you feel deserve mention.

Looking up the tree….

10. The Thompson Twins (fictional).


Not really twins or even siblings, this rock group, who played from 1977 to 1993, hit the charts with “Hold Me Now” and “Doctor Doctor” among other hits.  Honorable mention to Twisted Sister, a Heavy Metal band comprised of neither sisters nor any female for that matter.

9. The Paris Sisters (real).


If you are younger than 60 years old, you may not know them, but Priscilla, Albeth and Sherell sang sweetly, with their big hit being “I Love How You Love Me.”  Honorable mention to the Pointer Sisters, June, Bonnie and Anita, talented ladies indeed.

8. The Statler Brothers (fictional, well, sort of).


Although 2 members of this harmonious country group that sang back up for Johnny Cash are real brothers, the other members are not, and in any case, none of them are named Statler.

7. The Smothers Brothers (real).

Dick and Tom were singers and comedians who came to prominence in the 1960s with their cutting-edge political satire 1960s and even had their own television show that drove the network and the censors crazy. Honorable mention to the Three Stooges television show which featured real-life brothers Moe, Curly and Shemp Howard along with Larry Fine.  Later, another stooge billed as Curly Joe joined the show and was played by Joe DeRita and Joe Besser.

6. The Hardy Boys (fictional).

The protagonists of hundreds of books by various authors, the teenaged sleuths Frank and Joe Hardy have been solving crimes since 1927.  Popular with teen and preteen boys, the books still sell over 1 million copies a year.

5. Sister Sledge (real).

This group consists of real sisters Debbie, Kathy, Joni and Kim Sledge.  Still singing, these ladies have taken over 100 awards home for their music.  We would be remiss if we neglected to mention that all 4 of these gals are college graduates.   Their most famous song, “We Are Family,” was sung by fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates as the baseball team marched to the World Series in 1979.

4. The Righteous Brothers (fictional).

Pioneers of “blue-eyed soul,” Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield sang many great songs.  Their hits include: “Unchained Melody;” “Soul and Inspiration;” “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling;” and “Rock and Roll Heaven.”  Even if they are not blood brothers, these 2 certainly are “soul” brothers.

3. The Dodge Brothers (real).

Horace and John Dodge supplied auto parts to Henry Ford before founding their own car company in 1914.  Dodge quickly became the second-biggest seller of cars in the United States and was bought by Chrysler when both brothers died in 1920.  Of course, Chrysler still produces cars with the Dodge name plate.

2. The Blues Brothers (fictional).

Playing Jake and Elwood in Saturday Night Live skits, the comedians Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, not only sang pretty darn well but also reprised the characters in a movie! (The sequel that did not feature these 2 was not so good.)

1. The Brothers Grimm (real).

Although their fairy tales may be fiction, these guys were real enough and were some of the premier story tellers of their day or ever for that matter. The original stories are actually much darker and gorier than the watered down versions we read to our kids.

Famous Siblings – Real or Fiction

Workplace Skills Lagging

Leave a comment

OECD Skills Test: U.S. Adults Lag

In Practical Workplace Skills

 

oecd skills test

Japan performed well in a new international test that gauges the practical skills of people ages 16 to 65. Americans performed below the international average in math, reading and problem-solving. (Photo by Mike Hewitt – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) | Getty

The scores for what’s billed as the world’s most comprehensive adult skills exam are out — and it’s bad news for Americans.

 

Americans performed below the international average on math, reading and problem-solving on the exam, known as the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies. U.S. math skills lagged far behind top performers, including Japan and Finland. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, based in Paris, released the results early Tuesday.

“These findings should concern us all. They show our education system hasn’t done enough to help Americans compete — or position our country to lead — in a global economy that demands increasingly higher skills,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “While the PIAAC study places our highest-skilled adults on par with those in other leading nations, the findings shine a spotlight on a segment of our population that has been overlooked and underserved:  the large number of adults with very low basic skills, most of whom are working.”

The test is designed to gauge literacy and other skills necessary in the global economy. Statisticians have called it the richest international comparison in cognitive skills and human capital. PIAAC comes from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Andreas Schleicher. Schleichler created the Program for International Student Assessment, one of the most influential tests of 15-year-old students across the globe.

The new test gauges people ages 16 to 65 on how practical skills are used at home and at work. The test surveyed 157,000 adults in 24 countries and regions. Most participants took the test at home, and could use computers to help with answers.

The median hourly wage of those who scored in the top two tiers in literacy was found to be 60 percent higher than those who scored at the lowest wrung. Low scorers had a higher rate of unemployment and were more likely to report poor health and civic disengagement.

 

Americans scored 270 in literacy on average, compared with 296 in Japan. In numeracy, or math, the U.S. scored 253, below the international average, and far behind Japan’s 288.

The oldest U.S. adults were close to the international average, but American adults in every other age group performed far worse than the world average. In a technology-based problem-solving skills, Poland performed the worst, with an average score of 274, compared with the U.S. average of 277 and Japan’s 294.

Poland, which received attention for rapidly rising scores on the Program for International Student Assessment, and Korea, also a high performer, had lower literacy skills than the U.S. on the new test. Poland and Korea had numeracy scores similar to the U.S.

Younger U.S. students were found to have far fewer skills than adults ages 50 to 65 — a group whose high skills are aging out of the workforce. In Korea and Poland, the gap went the other way — older students had fewer skills than younger students, a sign that those countries’ economies stand to be invigorated by workers who are savvier than their predecessors.

“Younger people in Poland, age 16 to 24, have significantly higher basic skills than their older peers,” said Amanada Ripley, a journalist whose book, “The Smartest Kids In The World,” investigates educational differences between the U.S., Finland, Poland and Korea. “That perfectly encapsulates how the U.S. hasn’t gotten much worse or much better, but that’s not what’s happened around the world. “Other countries have changed a lot while we have stood still. That’s the effect of more of these kids going to stronger education.”

That may foreshadow a weakening economy, some said. “The implication for these countries is that the stock of skills available to them is bound to decline over the next decades unless action is taken both to improve skills proficiency among young people,” the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development wrote, referring to the U.S. and England.

 

Paul Peterson, a Harvard University professor, took a similar view. “Our younger population should be doing better than our older population,” he said. “The older population is better educated. And the younger population is entering the workforce.”

 

The U.S. Education Department released a report that analyzed the information. A third report on the policy implications of the results was held up by the federal government shutdown.

Mark Schneider, a vice president at the American Institutes of Research who formerly oversaw statistics at the U.S. Education Department, said he was skeptical of the results. “Japan is the leader, but the fact is its economy has been in the toilet for 40 years,” he said. “What are the lessons here?”

Workplace Skills Lagging

McKinley Assassination – Dead in Eight Days

Leave a comment

Leon Czolgosz stood in line and counted the people between him and the president of the United States. Nondescript, dressed in a dark suit, and wearing an innocent expression, Czolgosz (pronounced chlgsh) looked younger than his 28 years. He had waited for more than two hours in 82-degree heat on September 6, 1901, for his turn to shake hands with President William McKinley, who was visiting the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.

It was the first year of the new century, a perfect time to reflect on the nation’s rise in world prominence and to speculate on the future. The exposition, a world’s fair that celebrated the Americas’ industrial progress and achievement, had attracted visitors from around the world. The event was more than halfway through its six-month run when President McKinley, the most popular chief executive since Abraham Lincoln, arrived.

McKinley’s final public appearance in Buffalo was an afternoon reception in the Temple of Music,

an ornate red-brick hall on the exposition grounds. Since being elected president in 1896, McKinley had been notorious for discounting his own personal safety at public appearances, and he had repeatedly resisted attempts by his personal secretary, George Cortelyou, to cancel this event. Cortelyou had argued that it wasn’t worth the risk to greet such a small number of people, but the 58-year-old president refused to change his mind. ‘Why should I?’ he asked. ‘Who would want to hurt me?’

Cortelyou, always nervous about public receptions, tightened security as best he could. The people who wished to greet the president at the Temple had to file down a narrow aisle under the scrutiny of a special guard provided for the occasion. Outside, mounted police and soldiers controlled the massive crowd seeking entrance.

**********************************************************************

Surrounded by his entourage inside the Temple of Music, McKinley enjoyed the opportunity to meet his admirers. Host John Milburn, the exposition’s president, stood on the president’s left, so he could introduce acquaintances to McKinley as they approached. Secret Service agent George Foster, the president’s chief bodyguard, usually held that position, but he found himself five feet away from the president and standing opposite him. To McKinley’s right stood Cortelyou, who looked into the face of each person as they came close to his boss. He intended to signal the guards to close the doors after 10 minutes to stop the parade of well-wishers and then rush the president on to his next appointment.

President McKinley greeted each person with a warm smile and a handshake, pausing briefly to exchange words with any children who had accompanied their parents. The line moved quickly. Many in attendance held cloths to dab the sweat from their foreheads on the warm, humid day. As the waiting people shuffled forward, Foster noticed one man in line who had his right hand wrapped in a handkerchief. Foster wondered if it covered an embarrassing injury.

McKinley saw the man’s apparent disability, and he reached to shake his left hand. Suddenly, Leon Czolgosz thrust his bandaged right hand into the president’s chest. Onlookers heard two sharp popping sounds, like small firecrackers, and a thin veil of gray smoke rose up in front of the president. McKinley looked confused and rose up on his toes, clutched his chest, and leaned forward. Members of his entourage moved to support the slumping president and help him to a nearby chair as the blood spread across his white vest. ‘Be careful how you tell my wife,’ McKinley said, his strength already waning.

Freud Facts

Leave a comment

 

Top 10 Insane Facts About Sigmund Freud

You may ask why an entire list is dedicated to Sigmund Freud, but the man is famous the world over. He is renowned for his theories on the unconscious and for essentially pioneering psychotherapy, even if there is some argument as to whether he was the first to actually invent it. Freud is also infamous for his theories on psychosexual development, and the fact that his worldview was fairly misogynistic even for his time.

While some of his theories may seem quite wild, the field of psychology today would not be what it is without his influence and early work. Sigmund Freud is proof positive that you can be both a genius who essentially creates an entire field and a complete quack, both at the same time.

10. Drug Abuse

cocaine

Sigmund Freud abused drugs, and when we say that, what we mean is that Freud really, really, really liked cocaine. Freud loved cocaine so much that he discussed it openly with his fiancé, and performed experiments centered on cocaine with himself as the subject. While that may be the greatest excuse for drug use ever, he also did write several papers on the wonders of this drug, touting its use in all sorts of things, including anesthesia. However, he did enjoy the high that the drug gave him, and definitely used it for more than just medicinal reasons.

9. Misogyny

penis-envy

Freud had a bit of a problem with the ladies, which is a bit of an understatement. A better question would probably be what problem he didn’t have with women. Freud believed that women’s problems stemmed essentially from them not having a male sex organ, and felt that women didn’t have a good sense of justice. He also considered women to be weak socially, to have a jealous nature, and to be exceedingly vain. Freud was also known to believe women to be the problem in society, especially when it came to sexual tension between the genders.

8. Psychosexual Theories

oedipus

Freud had a collection of very strange theories, many of which are pretty much discredited today. His main belief was that young children, even infants, had unconscious sexual feelings. Among these were various stages of fixation, such as oral, anal and phallic. Someone with an oral fixation gained in this early stage may end up constantly needing to chew on something, or have something in their mouth, while someone who wasn’t raised properly during the anal stage could be anal-retentive, which is where the expression comes from. He also had theories involving the Oedipus Complex, which had young boys attracted to their mothers, and the Elektra Complex, which had young girls attracted to their fathers.

7. Cancer

freud-cancer

Many people may not realize that Freud had a very long running battle with cancer. This was mainly due to his constant habit of smoking cigars, leading to mouth cancer later in life. At one point Freud managed to actually quit for over a year, but eventually went back to the habit again full-time. According to some, he smoked as many as twenty cigars in a typical day and had to go through 34 operations, still eventually succumbing to cancer. Despite Freud’s knowledge of psychology, he was unable to ever truly break the habit.

6. Father Of Psychoanalysis

psychoanalysis

Freud is famous for being the inventor of psychoanalysis, though some argue whether he was the first to use the method. Freud, though, was unquestionably the first to popularize the method, and influenced many great psychologists such as Carl Jung. Psychoanalysis often involves attempting to understand a patient through their childhood development and greatly involves the unconscious. His psychoanalysis has been criticized, and still enjoys a certain controversy among the psychology community today. His beliefs have always been considered controversial, but his contribution to the field of psychology and his influence cannot be denied.

5. Womb Envy

womb-envy

Some of Freud’s contemporaries were women, and a bit more feminist than he was (then again, it sounds like just about everybody is more feminist than Freud.) In response to his belief that many of women’s ills belonged to the fact that they did not have a penis and were jealous of men for having one, a female contemporary came up with the alternate theory of womb envy. Also known as vagina envy, this is an alternate theory that states men are actually jealous of women, because they do not have a womb and thus cannot create life. To make up for this jealousy, men try to construct businesses instead so it feels like they are creating something. One feminist even makes the argument that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is essentially a story about a man with womb envy.

4. Dream Theories

DREAM-INTERPRETATION

Sigmund Freud placed a lot of importance on the unconscious, so perhaps not all too surprisingly he had quite a hang up on dreams. Freud believed that dreams had parts that you remember, and those that you did not. His theory was that what you actually remembered was just something that represented what you were actually thinking during the dream, and that it was meant to disguise the true thought. Freud even wrote a book on dreams called, creatively titled “The Interpretation of Dreams.”  His main belief at the time was that dreams are a way of fulfilling things we wish we could do while conscious, but were unable.

3. The Unconscious

Unconscious-mind

Freud was one of the first to really propose serious theories on the unconscious, and it was truly a cornerstone of nearly all of what he believed. The unconscious, for our purposes, is supposed to be all of the processes in our brain that we perform without really thinking. However, Freud saw it as much more than this. He believed that the unconscious drives how we behave, often acting on feelings that have been repressed inside us since he were very young. He believed very strongly that nearly all actions that people performed were the result of unconscious processes, which would mean that our free will does not perform quite the way we first thought. While it is certain that we do have an unconscious mind, it is hard to say just how many of Freud’s theories regarding it are actually true, or even have elements of truth to them.

2. Oral Fixation

oral-fixation

There is a popular story that Freud was once with a class smoking one of his favorite cigars when one of his students suggested that perhaps his constant need to have something in his mouth meant that he had an oral fixation, basically pinning him with his own made-up disorder. To this, Freud famously replied “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Funnily enough, it turns out that some people have investigated this quote and discovered that the entire thing probably never even happened. However, as we mentioned earlier, Freud did indeed love his cigars. He was been quoted as saying that cigars were essential to his life, and he believed that they improved his work. In short, if oral fixation is real, he clearly had it, sassy comeback or none.

1. Polyglot

foxtrot-languages

A polyglot is someone who can speak many languages, basically a super linguist. And Sigmund Freud was a serious polyglot, with a strong knowledge of German, Italian, Greek, English, Spanish, Hebrew and Latin. For those of who aren’t counting, that is a grand total of seven languages, which makes us look bad as most people are lucky to be proficient in their own language. Freud was also quite the little genius, already reading Shakespeare at the tender age of eight. He was also accepted into a prestigious high school and graduated with honors, eventually proving himself as the kookiest psychologist ever to walk the Earth.

Freud Facts