You Oughta Be a Picture – WIF @ the Movies

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 True Stories That

Should Be Movies

Reading today’s headlines is undertaken at one’s own peril. The increasingly dire news is filled with a seemingly never-ending glut of brutality, corruption, and disease. Fortunately, there are always the movies to provide a distraction from the wicked, wicked world.

Although the entertainment industry isn’t immune from the chaos and destruction of the coronavirus, sweeping changes are now taking place that includes production safety measures and how movies are being released to the public.

For now, large crowd scenes are gone. The same goes for any steamy sex encounters (unless the actors are already a couple off-screen). However, history remains a valuable goldmine of untold stories that would make great movies — even if they star sock puppets or filmed entirely in clay animation.

10. Un-Brotherly Love

Formed in Manchester in 1991, Oasis would emerge as the kings of Brit-pop (although Blur fans will vehemently disagree) with several chart-topping hits, including “Wonderwall,” “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” and “Champagne Supernova.” The same relentless drive that propelled the band’s success also nearly ended in fratricide.

Throughout their meteoric career, the brothers Gallagher created a legacy marked by booze, brawls, and belligerent banter that usually involved the C-word. One of the more infamous disputes involved a live performance of MTV Unplugged at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 1996. Claiming illness, younger brother Liam pulled out at the last minute only to turn up with ‘refreshments’ in the balcony to heckle his bandmates during the performance.

Although Oasis hasn’t played together in over a decade, rumors have recently swirled of a possible reunion. Music fans probably shouldn’t hold their collective breath. Regardless of whether the lads ever decide to mend old fences, this script has already been written, and you can bet your [bleepin’] arse it’ll be [bleepin’] good theater.

9. Josh Gibson

He was dubbed “The Black Babe Ruth” and widely considered the best player of his generation. However, Negro League star Josh Gibson did something “The Bambino” never achieved: smack a home run out of Yankee Stadium. More impressively, the blast wasn’t even the power-slugger’s most impressive feat.

For baseball fans, stories of Gibson’s diamond heroics abound. Whether or not some of the tales are apocryphal is irrelevant — Josh Gibson possessed the kind of rare talent in which anything seemed possible.

Born in 1911 during the Jim Crow era in Georgia, Gibson’s family later relocated to Pittsburgh, where his prodigious baseball skills were honed. The solidly-built catcher spent his entire baseball career in the Negro Leagues, Mexican and Caribbean Winter Leagues, starring for elite teams such as the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords over a 17-year career.

Gibson routinely out-performed white opponents in exhibition games throughout the 1930s and ’40s. Baseball historians estimate that he hit more than 800 total home runs that includes crushing a ball 600 feet during a 1941 Winter League game in Puerto Rico.

In 1943, Gibson fell into a coma and was later diagnosed to have a brain tumor. He refused medical treatment and continued playing despite suffering from recurring headaches as his condition grew steadily worse. At the age of 35, Gibson died of a stroke on January 20, 1947 — just three months before Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

Although Robinson’s historic achievement can never be diminished, most old-timers agree that he wasn’t the best African-American player. That honor goes to Josh Gibson, who would posthumously be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

8. The Winning Ace

Sgt. Keith Chisholm had already earned ace status (five or more kills) and the Distinguished Flying Medal when fate took a near-fatal turn on October 12, 1941. The Australian fighter pilot was shot down over the English Channel and later taken to a POW camp in Germany. Relying on his wits and sheer determination, he would eventually escape. Twice.

Originally from Petersham, New South Wales, Chisholm had trained as a dentist when war broke out and soon joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He was assigned to Squadron 452, the first Australian squadron formed in Britain during World War II. The Spitfire unit featured several other outstanding pilots, including “Paddy” Finucane (more on him later), and became one of the war’s most successful squadrons.

Chisholm was initially held at Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf in Silesia, which is now part of southwestern Poland. The airman managed to escape after swapping identities with another prisoner to join an outside work camp. Although he was later caught, Chisholm pulled the same stunt again. This time it worked.

For nearly three years, Chisholm cleverly evaded the Nazis while also collaborating with the resistance in Poland and France. His schoolboy athleticism also came to the fore during an incident in which the Aussie used a rugby tackle to push an official into the Vistula River. He eventually made his way back to England and later returned to Australia, earning the Military Cross for ‘his dogged persistence and careful planning’ in successfully escaping from the enemy.

7. Dr. Pat

Irish-born athletes have a long, illustrious tradition with the hammer throw, earning gold in five out of the first six Olympiads. According to ancient folklore, the mythological hero, Cú Chulainn, was said to have hurled a chariot wheel great distances. Fittingly, a modern-day legend became the first athlete to win an Olympic gold medal for the Free Irish State at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam.

In previous years, Irish champions but had been forced to compete for Great Britain or had immigrated to America. But a medical student from County Cork would change that. Although he stood only 5-foot-11, Pat O’Callaghan relied on his explosive power and quick feet to become the best in the world. Four years later, he yearned for another chance at Olympic glory — and would travel 5,000 miles to get it.

The 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles featured plenty of sunshine and glamour at its modern Roman-style Coliseum. Athletes from 37 nations participated in the Summer spectacle while hobnobbing with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars like Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and his equally famous actress wife, Mary Pickford. But the real drama would star a shamrock-clad Irish doctor in search of gold.

Unbeknownst to O’Callaghan, the arena’s throwing surface was unusually hard and ill-suited for his long spiked shoes designed for grass. He struggled as a result until a teammate helped him perform minor surgery with a hacksaw and file down the doc’s spikes. Despite trailing throughout the competition, O’Callaghan unleashed an enormous effort on his final throw to grab victory and raise the Tricolour once again.

While in LA, MGM boss Louis B. Meyer offered O’Callaghan the role of “Tarzan” which the good doctor turned down. After all, he had patients to see back home in Ireland. But that didn’t stop “Dr. Pat” from celebrating his well-deserved win in Prohibition America.

As the story goes, O’Callaghan had smuggled a few bottles of poitín (Irish moonshine) in his suitcase for the long voyage ahead. Upon arrival, a customs official had questioned him about the clanking bottles. The fast-thinking Irishman replied, “Medicine. I’m the team doctor.”

6. Golden Eagle

Lilli Henoch didn’t merely win — she dominated. Coming of age in Berlin during the 1920s, she displayed a natural all-around talent in several sports, making her accomplishments even more impressive considering the few opportunities available for female athletes at the time.

Henoch joined the Berlin Sports Club (BSC) in 1919 and wasted no time making an impact. She helped pioneer their women’s athletics program and became the first female to receive the “Golden Eagle” — the prestigious club’s highest award. Between 1922 and 1926, the superstar set five world records in athletics and won ten German championship titles, competing in the shot-put, discus, long jump, and BSC’s 4 x 100-meter relay.

Unfortunately, she was denied competing in the Olympics during her prime because Germany wasn’t allowed to send athletes in 1920 and 1924 as punishment for WWI. She would also be persecuted for being Jewish — a crime that eventually resulted in fatal consequences.

As the Nazi war machine kicked into high gear, Jews were forcibly removed from their homes, and all non-Aryan schools became shuttered. Despite her status as a national icon and well-respected coach, Henoch soon found herself laboring as a harvest worker outside of Berlin. In early fall 1942, she and her mother, Rose, were put in a livestock railcar and deported to Riga, Latvia.

The journey from Berlin lasted three days. Records show them listed as “missing” on September 8, 1942. They were most likely murdered by Einsatzgruppen death squads and buried in the mass graves outside of Rumbula.

The memory of Lilli Henoch has been honored with various landmarks around Berlin, including a small brass-plated stone known as a Stolperstein (“stumbling block”). The tribute is one of the 60,000 similar engraved memorials placed across 21 countries in Europe that serves as a poignant reminder of Nazi crimes.

5. Spitfire Paddy

As the Battle of Britain raged during the summer of 1940, the Allies were in desperate need of courageous pilots and a bit of luck to stop the German onslaught through Europe. The Royal Air Force (RAF) would get both with “Paddy” Finucane (pronounced FIN-NEW-KIN), who quickly emerged as a top ace and eventually became the youngest wing commander in RAF history while flying his shamrock-adorned Spitfire.

Born in Dublin in 1920, Finucane later relocated with his family to London as a teenager. He joined the RAF at the minimum age requirement of 17 and a half and went on to record 32 kills in operations over the English Channel and Nazi-occupied France. He also earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with two bars and the Distinguished Service Order and was personally decorated by King George VI at Buckingham Palace. The Irishman’s story is even more remarkable when considering his father once fought against the British during the Easter Rising of 1916.

Fearless, personable, and good-looking, Finucane became a worldwide celebrity when the war’s outcome still hung in the balance. He even found time for romance and became engaged to an attractive young woman named Jean Woolford, who lived on the same street as the Finucane family. Sadly, the ace pilot’s story and the ‘girl next door’ would end tragically when his Spitfire crashed in the English Channel in 1942 and vanished into the sea. He was only 21.

An outpouring of grief spread across the globe as military personnel, friends, family, and admirers mourned the loss. A gathering of over 2,500 people attended his memorial at Westminster Cathedral, and Finucane’s name was later inscribed among ‘The Few’ on the Battle of Britain Memorial on London’s Embankment.

4. Noir Christmas

The perennial holiday favorite, “White Christmas” sung by Bing Crosby remains the world’s best-selling single, selling more than 50 million copies. Although the song’s lyrics evoke memories of more innocent and happier times, the popular crooner real life reveals a much different tale replete with gunsels, dames, and dimly lit, smoke-filled rooms.

At the peak of his fame, Crosby was easily one of the most beloved — and well-paid — entertainers in the world. But his wholesome image as a golf-loving, family man stood in stark contrast to a darker side plagued by his addiction to gambling and alcohol.

The dangerous combination would lead to alleged connections to the mafia that required a bailout from his Rat Pack pal, Frank Sinatra. Crosby’s shadowy shenanigans would result in the FBI keeping tabs on him, files that later revealed ties to mobster Bugsy Siegel, and two of Al Capone’s top henchmen, Frank Nitti and Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn.

Following Crosby’s death from a massive heart attack in 1977, the song and dance man’s reputation received another black eye with the release of a tell-all memoir by his oldest son, Gary. The scathing book, Going My Own Way, depicts his father as a physically and psychologically abusive tyrant — the polar opposite of the benevolent priest character that earned the elder Crosby an Academy Award for Best Actor in the 1944 film, Going My Way.

3. The Human Howitzer

More than ever, America needs heroes as a reminder of the sacrifice that made the country great. Men such as Al Blozis, an athlete-turned-soldier, who stood 6-foot-6 and weighed 250 pounds of solid muscle. His larger-than-life persona would even warrant three nicknames: “The Human Howitzer,” “Jersey City Giant,” and “Hoya Hercules.”

The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Blozis grew up in New Jersey, where he broke 24 high school records in track and field. He later accepted an athletic scholarship to Georgetown University and also starred on the football team while establishing several world records in the shot put.

As the nation’s top thrower, Blozis set his sights on winning gold in the Olympics. Worldwide conflict, however, would lead to the cancellation of both the 1940 and 1944 games. He made several attempts to enlist but was turned away due to height restrictions. Instead, the multi-talented sportsman signed with the Giants and enjoyed immediate success in the NFL as an All-Pro defensive end.

He eventually convinced Army officials to lift their size ban and reported to Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. There, the modern-day Hercules added to his legend by tossing a grenade nearly 95 yards. Before shipping out to Europe, Blozis joined his Giant teammates in the 1944 NFL Championship against the Green Bay Packers at the Polo Grounds. It would be the last game he ever played.

The Army assigned him to the 110th Regiment, 28th Infantry Division, near the Vosges Mountains in France’s Alsace region. During an evening snowstorm on January 31, 1945, Lt. Blozis went looking for two soldiers from his platoon after the men had failed to return from a scouting mission earlier in the day. Despite facing a well-entrenched enemy, pitch-black darkness, and freezing conditions, he set out alone to find them. The towering champion never returned and was later declared KIA.

A simple white cross memorializes 1st Lt. Al Blozis at the Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint -Avold, France. The serene, lush grounds of Europe’s largest US WWII cemetery sits peacefully in a region now known as the Grand Est (The Big East) — a fitting tribute to a true American hero.

2. Bird is the Word

When news broke in 2009 that former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych had died in a farming accident, the sporting world mourned the loss of one of its most unforgettable characters. His brief, injury-prone career lasted only five years, but his first year in the Bigs is the stuff of legend.

The year is 1976. Rocky tops at the box office. The American bi-centennial is on full display everywhere. And a gawky right-handed pitcher for the Detroit Tigers became an overnight sensation en route to winning Rookie of the Year. His triumphs on the mound and boyish charm made him a massive fan favorite, a budding superstar who freely admitted that if it weren’t for baseball, he’d be pumping gas back home in Northborough, Massachusetts.

With long, shaggy hair, the free-spirited hurler thrilled the Motor City with his quirky on-field theatrics that included talking to the ball during games. During one remarkable stretch, he won back-to-back 11-inning, complete-game victories. Astonishing. He was later named the American League’s starting pitcher in the All-Star Game and finished the season 19-9.

In 1977, he started the season strong and appeared poised to continue his success until experiencing the first of several arm injuries. An un-diagnosed tear to his rotator cuff would ultimately derail his promising MLB career that ended in 1980.

Fidrych then retired to Northborough, where he and his wife raised a family on their 107-acre farm. Over the years, he occasionally appeared at old-timers games in Detroit, but preferred his quiet, rural lifestyle and being just another blue-collar worker, husband, and father.

Perhaps more than any other sport, baseball is heavily steeped in nostalgia and enduring memories that slowly fade but manage to endure the test of time. That said, true aficionados will never forget that magical summer of ’76 and still hear the crowd’s echoes, chanting “We Want The Bird, We Want The Bird.”

1. Non Stop Go-Gos

The eponymously titled 2020 documentary, The Go-Gos, explores the rise and fall of the first chart-topping, all-female band to write their own songs and play their own instruments. While informative and engaging, interspersing old footage with recent interviews by all the band members, the presentation is missing a crucial element that only a feature film could properly deliver: drama. And more specifically, the topsy turvy rollercoaster ride of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll taken by these legendary ladies.

The story opens in the late ’70s in LA, where a teenaged girl named “Dottie Danger” aspires to be a singer in a punk rock band. She later meets a few other like-minded gals and starts gigging in local seedy bars and clubs. While hanging out at the infamous ‘Rock and Roll Denny’s’ on Sunset Blvd., the group settled on the name “The Go-Gos” and soon broke away from their punky persona to a more radio-friendly, power-pop sound.

Belinda Carlisle, having ditched “Dottie” for her real name, now fronted the new lineup, featuring Jane Wiedlin, Kathy Valentine, Gina Schock, and Charlotte Caffey. After signing to a major record label, the band released their debut album in 1981, Beauty and the Beat. Hit singles followed, including “We Got The Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed” — both smash hits that helped propel the album to number one.

Shortly afterward, the real fireworks began. Fame and boodles of money quickly led to non-stop partying and lurking troubles. While cocaine was clearly the drug of choice for Carlisle and the others, lead guitarist Caffrey developed a crippling heroin addiction. Nonetheless, the band managed to soldier on, selling-out arenas worldwide to frenzied crowds. Along the way, Carlisle also became romantically involved with the LA Dodgers’ first baseman, Mike Marshall. Home run!

But alas, what goes up must come down. The band’s third album, Talk Show, underperformed as the band slowly imploded (aka “creative differences”). By 1985, nasty in-fighting fuelled by jealousy and increased drug abuse eventually took its toll, and the Go-Gos called it quits and went their separate ways.

Carlisle would have a successful solo career despite continually powdering her nose for nearly 30 years. Incredibly, she even took part in a late 1980s anti-drug commercial — which is kinda like a pathological lying narcissist making a public service announcement about the virtues of honesty and humility.

Fortunately, the story does get a Hollywood ending. The group later buried the hatchet and got back together to perform and record new material. Also, Head Over Heels, a musical featuring the songs of the Go-Go’s, enjoyed a recent successful run on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre.


You Oughta Be a Picture

WIF @ the Movies

BS or Truth III – WIF Confidential

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Facts That

Sound Like

BS

no_bs_zone

 

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

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

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

chicago

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

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

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

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

9. Irish Traffic Police Accidentally Invented their own Supervillain

prawo-jazdy

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

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

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

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

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

black-bear

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

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

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

7. Congress Name-Checks Hitler Seven Times a Month

hitler

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

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

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

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

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

Chernobyldisaster1

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

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

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

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

nintendo cards

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

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

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

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

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

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– WIF Confidential

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

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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:

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… 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.”

 

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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

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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.

 

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

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American Authors – WIF Unknown HOF

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Famous Siblings – Real or Fiction

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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

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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

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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

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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

Coca-Cola, What’s in it?

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Top 10 Controversial Ingredients

Found In Coca-Cola

 

Coca-Cola has been at the center of controversy ever since the fizzy drink first graced the shelves. Myths and rumors are abound about the ingredients used to make Coke. While some of this is either unproven, or blown out of proportion, many of these stories are quite true, and quite disturbing.

Let’s take a look at 10 of the most controversial ingredients/contaminants found in Coca-Cola and analyze what scientific studies reveal. This is not so much to scare you into pouring all of your Coke down the toilet, but more to encourage you to inform yourself about what you are drinking.

10. Alcohol

alcohol-coca-cola

According to research carried out by the French National Institute for Consumer Affairs, more than half of well-known colas contain tiny traces of booze. Don’t worry though; you would have to drink something like 13,000 cans of the stuff to even come close to being legally drunk. Scientists tested 19 different brands and discovered levels of alcohol as low as 10 mg/liter.

As expected, the French study sparked quite a controversy, and divided the Muslim community into pro- and anti-Coca-Cola campaigners. While some Muslims believe that it is irrelevant if the product contains 0.001% alcohol or 100% – it is haram either way – others find it acceptable, since small traces of alcohol can be found in a lot of things, including many fruit-based products.

9. Citric Acid

citric-acid

Manufacturers commonly use citric acid as a preservative and flavor enhancer. However, contrary to what you might expect, 99% of the citric acid added to drinks and foods does not come from citrus fruits. Extracting citric acid from lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits is far too expensive for the corporations. And so we get the artificial stuff that  you consume every time you sip your Coke.

However, any concerns that the citric acid in Coke is bad for you is both erroneous and the result of an undeserved bad reputation. Basically, a study in the British Dental Journal claimed to find a strong link between carbonated beverages and tooth erosion. Consuming at least four glasses of carbonated soft drinks a day was associated with a 252% higher risk of tooth problems in 12-year-olds, and a 513% higher risk in 14-year-old children. This is almost certainly not taking other factors into account, as Coca Cola has a pH of 2.525 (Diet Coke has 3.289,) and while battery acid (an actual corrosive) has a pH very close to 1. In short, citric acid is a very weak acid, and comparing it to something truly destructive has nothing to do with reality.

And now we get into more harmful territory …

8. Phosphoric Acid

Phosphoric-Acid

Phosphoric acid – also known as orthophosphoric acid – is used as an acidifying agent to add tartness to cola. This, combined with the  huge amounts of high fructose corn syrup mixed in, both mask and balance the acidity of carbonated drinks.

A study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which provides reasonable evidence to support the association between consumption of cola and lower bone density. Some studies claim that phosphoric acid lowers the levels of calcium. Moreover, a team of scientists from the US National Institutes of Health has found that drinking two or more colas a day doubles the risk of kidney stones.

Now, Coca-Cola contains various acids but as we discussed earlier, none are potent enough to dissolve a nail, tooth or penny in four days.

7. Mercury

mercury

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has discovered that 9 of 20 tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup were contaminated with mercury. The Institute also found that 55 kid-friendly foods and soft drinks contained total mercury, which is any combination of inorganic, organic or metallic mercury.

As you can see, there are plenty of products with higher mercury levels than Coke, but the level is still fairly high:

mercury-levels

If you are asking yourself how the heck mercury would have gotten into high-fructose corn syrup, here’s a possible answer: mercury-grade caustic soda and hydrochloric acid are primarily used to separate corn starch from the corn kernel, and to adjust the pH level of the process. The contamination seems to occur when mercury-grade caustic soda and outdated mercury cell technology are used in the production of HFCS.

The good news is that mercury-contaminated HFCS is a completely avoidable problem, since mercury-free versions of the two reagents are available.

6. Sodium Benzoate

Sodium-Benzoate

Manufacturers commonly use sodium benzoate as a preservative, and you can find it in carbonated drinks, pickles, soy sauce, dressings, jams and fruit juices, cosmetics, medicines, and so on.

The International Programme on Chemical Safety, and other regulatory bodies, found no adverse effects in humans at doses of 650 to 830 mg. per day. The effects of higher amounts are unknown, but almost certainly bad, judging by the increased obesity rates all over the world. Sodium benzoate does not occur naturally in foods and drinks. Manufacturers try to confuse consumers by masking these preservatives with labels that say antimicrobial nutrients.

If processed foods are not part of your daily diet, there are no risks, but let’s be honest, it is. We all know what an integral part of the modern lifestyle processed, convenient foods are. Coca-Cola is in the process of phasing out the controversial additive in the UK, due to consumer pressure, but fruit-juice based products will still contain it.

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5. Benzene

benzene

Benzene is a natural constituent of crude oil, gasoline, and tobacco smoke, and has been classified as a class A human carcinogen. Does that sound like something you want in your soft drink? Probably not.

Research scientists Glen Lawrence and Lalita Gardner described the exact chemical reaction that takes place between ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and sodium benzene to form benzene. The groundbreaking research appeared in the early ‘90s in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

In 2005, the FDA found that 10 samples of soft drinks out of 200 contained benzene levels over 5 parts per billion, which is above the legal limit. All 10 soft drinks have either been reformulated to meet standards, or just plain taken off the market.

The next year, the FDA released preliminary results for 100 soft drinks. Most of them contained legal levels of benzene, but four products exceeded 5 ppb. Two of the drinks contained benzene 18 times higher than permissible.

According to studies conducted by the Environmental Working Group, there are about 5 and 138 PPB of benzene in Coca-Cola. And, as the American Petroleum Institute stated, “It is generally considered that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero.” Drink up!

4. 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI)

4-methylimidazole

4-methylimidazole is a byproduct that occurs in caramel coloring, and may also be formed in the cooking, roasting, broiling, grilling or other processing of some foods and beverages. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has identified the carcinogenic 2-and 4-methylimidazole as undesirable byproducts in many foods, and no limits are currently set on the quantities of caramel coloring used in foods and beverages.

The roughly 130 mg of 4-methylimidazole in a 12-ounce cola is four times higher than the NSRL-recommended limits. Coca-Cola has agreed to change, in some states anyway, the manufacturing process. Mainly because not doing so would have forced them to put a cancer warning on the label, and nobody needs that kind of publicity.

It is, quite frankly, disturbing how companies get away with marketing caramel-colored products as natural. From the legal point of view, the International Food and Agriculture Organization’s Codex Alimentarius does not have a standard for natural foods because it does not recognize the term natural (probably because literally anything can be deemed something as vague as “natural.”) Perhaps it’s time to crack down on this.

3. Aspartame

aspartame-packets

Aspartame is a low-calorie artificial sweetener, about 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is added to weight control products, soft drinks, yogurt, cereal, chewing gum, cooking sauces, desserts, sweets, etc.

Of course, just because its popular, doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Diet Coke contains about 180 milligrams of aspartame per 8.3-ounce serving. The bitter truth is that weight control products ruin the body’s ability to count calories. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, when combined with said diet product, mess up the brain’s chemistry and stimulate appetite. Result: more eating, and more weight gain.

In addition, the Ramazzini Foundation released a three-year study confirming the link between aspartame and leukemia. The researchers have concluded that even a low dose (20 milligrams of aspartame per kilogram of body weight) increases the development of lymphomas, leukemia, and uritogenital tumors in rats. By the way, 50 milligrams per kilo represents the current daily acceptable dose of aspartame.

Board-certified neurologists, prominent geneticists, cardiologists, biochemists, histologists and toxicologists from different corners of the world have all drawn the same conclusion: aspartame is an addictive carcinogenic neurotoxin and teratogen, and while it may be a great biochemical warfare agent, as previously classified by the Pentagon, it should certainly be kept out of our Coke. And anything else we consume, really.

2. Bisphenol A

bpa-cans

Bisphenol A (BPA) is described as a gender-bending chemical because it mimics estrogen, binding to the same receptors in a body as natural female hormones do. Bisphenol A is also used to make polycarbonate plastics and line tin cans. And yes, it’s in Coke.

Canada became the first jurisdiction in the world to declare BPA a toxic substance and the French Senate unanimously decided to suspend from January 2015 the manufacture, import and export of all food and beverage containers which include the synthetic hormone.

The World Health Organization said there was “very strong evidence” in animals that endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA can interfere with thyroid hormones. This dangerous interaction could cause brain damage, autism, decrease intelligence and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In addition, various studies have linked BPA exposure to obesity, neurological issues, breast cancer, prostate cancer, DNA methylation, reproductive system malfunctions, and birth defects.

Coca-Cola is under a lot of pressure to do something about this, after 26% of its shareholders demanded more information on how the company is addressing the risk of BPA. Thus far, they’ve rejected the call.

1. High Fructose Corn Syrup

homer-corn-syrup

High fructose corn syrup was introduced to the American market in 1967, and its consumption has exploded ever since. It is the main ingredient in Coca Cola, with over 18 cubes of the stuff per liter. This is … not a good thing.

Food safety agencies from all over the world classified high fructose corn syrup as safe, and no different from regular old cane sugar. Problem is, both HFCS and cane sugar can be dangerous, especially when consumed in high doses (which Coca-Cola’s marketing team obviously wants to be the case.) A research team from Princeton University has demonstrated that the long-term consumption of HFCS leads to weight gain, abnormal increases in body fat, and a rise in triglycerides. These are well-known risk factors for diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease.

To preserve the health of its people, Venezuela banned Coca-Cola because the so-called “liquid candy” was simply too unhealthy. As delicious and refreshing as Coke can be, perhaps it’s time other nations considered the same.

Coca-Cola, What’s in it?

Inventors and Modern Life

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Top 10 Inventors Who Made

Modern Life Possible

We all know the names of the great minds of history: Newton, Einstein, Edison, Franklin, Jobs, Gates, and even Zuckerberg. But some of the greatest societal innovations of all time–things you use or think about ever day, probably without even realizing it–happened behind the scenes, and their inventors fell into history’s ether of anonymity. Some of these unsung heroes include:

10. James Goodfellow, inventor of ATMs and the PIN system

atm-inventions

James Goodfellow is a newly knighted Englishman credited with inventing the ATM (automatic teller machine) and, more importantly, the concept of the PIN (personal identification number). It’s because of him that you can go get money outside of a bank and can have any semblance of privacy while doing so. To this day Goodfellow insists that he was “only doing (his) job” when he dreamt up the revolutionary concept. And even though it’s used by hundreds of millions of people around the world every single day, Goodfellow says his invention hasn’t earned him a single penny.

9. Sir John Harrington, inventor of the toilet

toilet-inventions

In the midst of Medieval Europe when sewage systems were a disastrous exercise in smelly futility, Sir John Harrington conceptualizing modern plumbing. He’s also the reason a toilet is called a “John”. Sir Harrington, the godson of Queen Elizabeth I, is credited with inventing the first flush toilet in 1596. Harrington’s first prototypes were obnoxiously expensive and had to be custom built into people’s homes, including that of the Queen herself.

8. Joseph Fry, inventor of the chocolate bar

chocolate-inventions

He essentially industrialized chocolate and is not only the reason that you can eat chocolate in the first place, but the reason there is so much of it: after figuring out how to grind cocoa beans with a steam engine, he invented the first ever chocolate bar to be sold to the public in 1847. His ideas conceived the first cocoa butter, a paste that could, for the first time ever, be molded into solid chocolate. Prior to his innovations, chocolate was a luxury item that could only be consumed as an expensive beverage. Without Fry, chocolate would still be a royal pain in the ass to consume in any form.

7. Dennis Ritchie, father of modern computer programming

programming-inventions

Even though billionaires like Jobs and Gates get the credit for “revolutionizing” the computer, Dennis Ritchie invented C programming and Unix, both of which are still providing the framework for every modern computer system today. Ritchie is frequently overlooked as one of the contributors to the computer but his innovations are still used every day, and have surely paved the way for new updates and ideas to come.

6. Hunter Shelden, inventor of the seatbelt

seatbelt-inventions

He was a neurosurgeon who, in 1959, revolutionized cars with the modern seat belt. Shelden frequently saw horrific car accident injuries–most often severe head and brain trauma–come through his hospital and judged that the current seat belts were actually contributing to the problem, so with some help from Congress he made a new one. The seat belts he designed turned out to be an ingenious step towards automobile safety and the standard mandated model in all automobiles today.

5. Pellegrino Turri, inventor of the typewriter

typewriter-inventions

Typewriters were the ancestors to today’s keyboards, and they are indeed relics. The first typewriters were massive contraptions that operated slowly and frequently malfunctioned, but they were nonetheless one of the single most important innovations in history. The first typewriter was built by Italian inventor Pellegrino Turri, who designed and built the device for his blind friend.

4. Scott Falham, inventor of the emoticon

emoticons-inventions

Emoticons permeate social networking, emailing, texting, and just about any form of informal written exchange on any given day. Some love them and some hate them, but we all use them. So where did they even come from? Scott Falham, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, sent the first emoticon–a sideways smiley face complete with that outdated dash for a nose–in 1982. While he had initially expected his new idea to take hold with some success, he could not foresee its enormous explosion, and he absolutely hates those yellow icons.

3. Adolph Rickenbacher, inventor of the electric guitar

electric-guitar-inventions

The electric guitar revolutionized music as we know it today. Ask anyone who invented the electric guitar, and they’ll tell you in a second: Les Paul. The truth, though, is that Les Paul simply revamped the electric guitar. The original electric guitar was called the “frying pan” (for its banjo-esque resemblance to a frying pan) and was invented in America by Adolph Rickenbacher, a German immigrant. He had so little faith in the longevity of his creation that he only produced them for a few years before selling his entire company. He died at the age of 90 in 1976, doomed to spend eternity in the shadow of Les Paul.

2. Willis Haviland Carrier, inventor of air conditioning

air-conditioner-inventions

Anyone who’s ever experienced a sweaty office on a hot summer day knows how fantastic the air conditioner is, but they probably don’t know just where it came from. In 1901, Willis H. Carrier patented the first ever air conditioning machine. Prior to his invention, air conditioning methods were just elaborate ventilation systems that didn’t actually produce cold air. Carrier’s new machine could take in pressurized air and pass it over a cooling system before blowing it to wherever it needed to go. The company that he founded, Carrier Engineering Corporation, has long since survived him and is still the largest producer of climate control technology in the world.

1. William Upjohn, inventor of dissolvable pills

dissolvable-pills-inventions

Before the turn of the 20th century, patients who needed medicine either took it as a liquid or a hard pill. However, the liquids often tasted terrible and the pills usually didn’t even dissolve in patients’ stomachs. William Upjohn, a University of Michigan student in 1875, began experimenting with new pill formulas that would make for a more efficient treatment option. He succeeded, and is the single reason pills are such a convenient

Inventors and Modern Life

My (Gwenny’s) invention “THE LEFT WING”

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