Global IQ Ranking – WIF Lists

Leave a comment

The Smartest Countries

in the World

Imagine the world is a high school. You’ve got the big, jock countries like Australia, South Africa, and the USA. You’ve got the self-consciously old-fashioned intellectuals like Britain and France, and then you’ve got the cool kids everyone wants to hang out with (yeah, Italy, we’re looking at you). But what about the brainboxes? Who in our analogy are the nerds spending their spare time in the science labs while the other countries are learning to smooch and bum smokes?

Well, thanks to some slightly dubious science, we possibly have the answer! Between 2002 and 2006, a joint British-Finnish study carried out IQ tests in countries all over the world, then ranked each nation by their average national score. While IQ tests may not be perfect – they miss intelligence defects even clever people suffer from, like dysrationalia, which is a fancy way of saying “choosing the simplest answer to avoid having to think too hard” – and this particular study was controversial for its methodology, it still makes for a fun comparison. Want to discover which countries are getting beaten up for their lunch money every morning? Read on.

10. Austria (average IQ: 100)

We’re gonna go out on a limb here and suggest not many of us associate intelligence with wearing lederhosen. But maybe that’s why we’ve all been underestimating Austria for so long. They’re willing to dress like a person with their fashion sense surgically removed because they don’t care what we think. They’re too busy using those gigantic sausage-and-beer-fueled brains of theirs to pay attention to mere mortals like us.

Part of Austria’s geniusness (that’s a word, right?) may be due to its comparative wealth. The CIA World Factbook ranks it the 33rd richest nation by GDP per capita, which doesn’t sound all that impressive until you realize the much-larger UK ranks at 40th. Since income and education tend to go hand in hand, it stands to reason that Austria might have more brains to spare, especially given its tiny population. Only 8.474 million people call this spectacular alpine nation home, fewer than Czech Republic, fewer than Cuba, fewer even than London.

Historically, the Austrians have put those big brains of theirs to good use. Their Hapsburg dynasty once ruled most of Europe.

9. Switzerland (average IQ: 101)

A short hop across a near-impenetrable barrier of frozen mountains from Austria, Switzerland is the place to be if you want cuckoo clocks, triangular chocolate, guns, or Nazi gold. It’s also home to some of the smartest people on the planet. Yep, the Swiss apparently value intellectualism almost as much as they value morally-dubious neutrality, and they have the historical figures to back up this claim. It was in the capital of Bern that the German-born Albert Einstein dreamed up his general theory of relativity.

So what is it about living in this bracing mountain environment that turns the Swiss into such geniuses? Well, they’re rich for starters. Seriously, if you were to grab Switzerland by the ankles, turn it upside down, and shake it vigorously, enough spare change would fall out to finance at least three globe-straddling empires. The multilingualism of the Swiss may help, too. At the Federal level, Switzerland gives German, French, and Italian equal weight, which may be significant as some studies link speaking multiple languages with increased intelligence.

On the other hand, maybe they’re just spending so much time avoiding fighting wars that they’ve got time to read all those brainy books gathering dust on other nation’s shelves?

8. Mongolia (average IQ: 101)

A great, big expanse of vast steppe in Asia, Mongolia has desert, mountains, yurts, and almost nothing else. We mean that in all seriousness. Despite being big enough to squash Texas and California flat and still have room for Montana, it is home to barely 3 million people, most of whom could spend their whole lives swinging a string of dead cats and never get even remotely close to hitting anything. One apparent upside of all this space? Intelligence. Lots of intelligence.

When you think about it, Mongolia scoring so highly is kinda unexpected. While breathtaking, their country ain’t rich. The CIA World Factbook ranks them at 122nd for GDP per capita, only slightly above Albania. But it seems what little money they have, they spend wisely. The country ranks surprisingly high on education, beating out even some European systems. On a perhaps more controversial note, some “race realists” have suggested Mongolians may just naturally have better visual-spacial awareness, giving their overall IQ scores an additional boost.

Whatever the truth, it seems that one thing is clear. If you’ve ever had a hankering for sparkling intellectual discussion in the emptiest landscape you’ll ever see, go to Mongolia.

7. Iceland (average IQ: 101)

annnd we’re back in Europe, this time in the far, frozen lands of the north, where “banking” is synonymous with “crime” and summer is just God’s cruel joke breaking up the punishment of winter. Yep, it’s the teeny tiny island nation of Iceland, a place that was once just a glorified fishing port, became a casino banking mecca, and now is famous as one of the richest, safest countries on Earth. Evidently, all that safety has combined with all that enforced time spent indoors escaping the weather to create a nation that seriously likes to study.

What’s amazing about this is that you wouldn’t have put money on Iceland hitting so high up these rankings a few decades ago. Prior to the 1980s, the very-literally-named land of ice was a kind of mid-ranking boring outpost of fishermen. The economy exploded in the ’80s, blew up even larger in the ’90s, and somehow managed to claw out of the devastating financial crash by turning the entire country into one of the world’s tourist hotspots. See, that’s those clever Icelandic brains for you, thinking their way out of a pickle that doesn’t involve reckless borrowing or blowing the national budget on lottery tickets.

6. Italy (average IQ: 102)

Oh come on, this isn’t fair! Italy already has class, great looks, a cool persona, and more sun than most of us will ever see in a lifetime. And now you’re telling us they’ve also got a world-beating IQ? We don’t wanna moan and say that life isn’t fair, but clearly life isn’t fair.

The cause of high Italian IQs is as mysterious to us as it is to you. Going on a long Google search mainly turned up blogs with names like “race realist” and “not politically correct” so we decided it’d probably be more fun – not to mention informative – for all of us if we just cracked some light-hearted jokes about pasta and pizza, while secretly wishing we were Italian. Or we could, y’know, point back at Italy’s long, illustrious past as the seat of the Roman Empire, a multi-nation state that made staggering scientific and engineering advances at a rate usually reserved for countries in the grip of the industrial revolution, while also producing art and literature that would still stand up some 2,000 years later, but where would be the fun in that?

5. Taiwan (average IQ: 104)

So, this is a little controversial. We’ve included Taiwan on this list of countries, while excluding Hong Kong, despite the international community recognizing both as part of China. Well, it’s true that Taipei doesn’t have a seat at the UN and isn’t included on any other official list of countries. But it’s also completely self-governing, calls itself separate from China, and functions like a totally independent state, so we’re including it here. And that’s just as well, because Taiwan’s average IQ is enough to leave other countries eating its dust.

Founded after Chairman Mao’s victorious forces chased his enemies off the Chinese mainland at the conclusion of the Chinese civil war, Taiwan today is a prosperous, forward-thinking nation that also just happens to look darn fine in a picture. You better believe Taipei uses that prosperity to invest in its young. A 2015 study by the OECD comparing data from 76 studies placed Taiwan’s education at 4th best in the entire world (in case you’re wondering, the USA came in at a mildly-embarrassing 28th). Gee, it’s almost like an intelligent population might somehow be linked to investing heavily in your education system.

4. China (average IQ: 105)

If any Taiwanese readers were hoping to beat out their old nemesis in these rankings, we’ve got some bad news. The original study this article was based on had mainland China just edging out its breakaway state, with an average IQ of 105 compared to Taiwan’s 104. Ouch. Well, them are the breaks, Taipei. At least you guys can comfort yourself at night with your functioning democratic system.

Actually what’s driving China’s high score is unfortunately hard to say. Beijing is notoriously uncooperative about divulging actual, useful data relating to a lot of fields, and the OECD education rankings just miss China entirely. Still, China certainly has its fair share of very smart people. The Middle Kingdom is competing with and outperforming the US in key technological sectors, and much of the most interesting cutting edge tech is now coming with a ‘made in China’ stamp.

On the other hand, China is also notorious for grade inflation and handing out junk degrees from its universities, so we’re not really sure what this tells us. Except, perhaps, for reinforcing our introductory point about the IQ study this article is based on being more a guideline than the last word on the subject.

3. Japan (average IQ: 105)

Still in Asia, the next country on our list is one famous for technology, cuteness, and generally doing so many things in such a weird way that it fueled basically 90% of early internet memes. Yep, Japan is another world leader in the being really, ridiculously smart stakes, romping home with an average IQ score of 105. That’s over 100 times the intelligence of the average person you’ll find dynamite fishing, kids!

We’re all familiar with the Japanese stereotypes: absurdly hard-working, absurdly dedicated to their jobs, and absurdly stressed out by their high pressure schooling. But, hey, it seems to be working. In that 2015 study we told you about earlier, the OECD ranked Japan joint 4th with Taiwan for education, where math and science were concerned. Countries 3rd, 2nd, and 1st were… well. You’ll be finding that out as you keep on reading.

Given their great education system and general braininess, it’s perhaps no surprise that Japan spent decades at the forefront of technological change. For a long, long time, everything exciting and important was coming out of Tokyo.

2. South Korea (average IQ: 106)

Did you know South Korea comes 3rd in global education rankings? Well: surprise! And get used to these references, by the way, because from here on out, all countries are ones that are going at the education rankings like gangbusters. The democratic brother of despotic North Korea, South Korea is a hi-tech paradise, with world-beating internet, widespread use of smartphones, and all other things that point to an entire industry of clever people doing clever things to collectively make the world a cleverer place. And all this in a country that manages to cram more than 51 million people into a place smaller than Iceland (pop: 334,252).

Of course, a lot of South Korea’s intelligence wins likely come from it being a wealthy country with a sterling education system. Not that it was always this way. Back in the dark ages of the mid-20th century, Pyongyang was actually richer than its southern neighbor by a significant margin. North Korea was blessed with the monetary backing of the Soviets, and had a huge amount of mineral wealth. South Korea, by contrast, had to transform itself through sheer brute willpower alone. Even ignoring the IQ scores, we guess it paid off.

1. Singapore (average IQ:108)

When Singapore declared independence from Malaysia in 1965, it was one of the poorest states in the world. Literacy was at third world levels. Not a desirable start for a country that wanted to be a world leader in education, attainment, and wealth. Yet, somehow, Singapore managed to pull it off. From being a tiny island with no natural resources, its exceptionally long-serving leader Lee Kuan Yew managed to turn his home into a global powerhouse. In doing so, he raised the education level of Singaporeans so high that they cruised to an easy first place in these very rankings.

According to the OECD, Singapore has the single greatest education system in the world. The only other territory that hits the same level on the IQ rankings is Hong Kong, but since that ain’t a country, it doesn’t get a spot on this list! The city state – one of only three left in existence – is also home to fantastic infrastructure and cleanliness that is so strictly enforced you can get publicly caned just for chewing gum. Whether that’s worth it just to live surrounded by a country of brainboxes is another matter entirely.


Global IQ Ranking –

WIF Lists

Japanese Silly Shopping Spree – WIF Around the World

Leave a comment

Frivolous

Ways to Spend

Money in Japan

Got some money burning a hole in your pocket? Then you should definitely visit Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun offers more bang for your buck than any other country on the planet. Whether you’re looking for something unique to eat or want a crazy way to spend the day, if you’ve got enough money, Japan has got you covered.

10. Hang Out In A Cat Cafe

cafe-of-cats

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who hate cats and those who love them. Fortunately for felines, Japan is one of the most cat-friendly nations on Earth. Japanese citizens love spending time with the four-legged fur-balls, but there’s one major problem: unless they’re married, have kids, and live in a condo, most folks can’t own pets. Japanese landlords are pretty darn strict and won’t allow cats in their apartments. So what’s a young animal lover to do?

Visit a cat café, of course! While the first café appeared in Taiwan in the late ‘90s, these kitten clubs have taken Japan by storm. Today, there are close to 150 cafés across the country, and they’re the perfect places for stressed-out office workers hoping to relax with their favorite animals. Cat cafés keep anywhere from twelve to twenty-four felines on staff, and while there are a few purebreds here and there, most are mixed breeds. Customers spend their time sipping coffee (which usually costs about $1.97 per cup), relaxing at tables or on sofas, and waiting for the kittens to come visit. Some people even sketch or take pictures of the cats, but flash photography is strictly forbidden (as is waking a sleeping cat, which sounds pretty wise).

Cat cafés attract people from all walks of life. Tourists, office workers, and businessmen all stop by to chill with the kitties. While most spend about an hour and a half, some spend up to six hours while others take off whole days from work to visit the cafés, hoping to escape the rigors of everyday life. Obviously, this can get pretty pricey. The Neko no mise café charges $1.50 for every ten minutes, and at the Calico, customers pay $9 for the first hour and about two dollars for every fifteen minutes after that. Still, if you yearn for feline affection and can’t own a pet, the cat cafés might be worth every penny.

9. Buy A Clone

clones

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish there was a Mini-Me?”  Well, if you visit Tokyo’s Clone Factory, your Dr. Evil dreams just might come true. Of course, this new-you might be a little, well, inanimate. Unfortunately, the Factory hasn’t discovered the secret of creating an actual clone, but they’ve come up with the next best thing. If you’re willing to part with $1,300-1,750, these techno-wizards can conjure up a doll that bears your exact likeness.

The process involves a lot of digital cameras and a 3D printer. After a client sits in a chair, she has her picture taken with multiple cameras, each one positioned at a different angle. When the photo shoot is finished, the technicians whip up a digital map of the customer’s head and print it onto the plaster that soon transforms into the head of a smiling (and much too lifelike) doll. The Clone Factory’s creations are extremely popular with brides hoping to memorialize their wedding day in 3D form. Of course, if you want to release your inner geek, you can deck out your doll in anime attire or Storm Trooper armor. Afterwards, you can take your doll home and creep out your friends with the 20-inch version of you sitting up on your mantle and smiling for all eternity.

8. Send Your Stuffed Animal On Vacation

Unagi-Travel

In the 2001 French hit Amelie, the eponymous heroine swipes her father’s garden gnome and sends it on a trip around the world, having a flight attendant photograph the little guy in front of famous landmarks. In Japan, Sonoe Azuma will do the exact same thing, only she charges a small fee and works with stuffed animals.

Azuma manages the crazy-yet-cute travel agency known as Unagi Travel. For $45, she’ll escort teddy bears, plush sheep and cotton-filled dogs around Tokyo, taking their snapshots in front of places like the Tokyo Tower and the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa. For $55, she’ll give toys a VIP tour of Japanese hot springs though chances are pretty good the dolls don’t spend much time in the water. And Azuma even offers her services to folks outside of Japan. She runs an English language website for clients in America and Europe where clients can consider purchasing tours of Kyoto ($95), Kumano Kodo ($55) and an enigmatic mystery tour ($35, no Beatles involved). During the trip, she keeps her clients up to date on their animals’ whereabouts via Facebook, and when the trip is over, she mails the toys and photos back home, free of charge.

While Azuma’s business sounds a bit, well, bizarre, it’s actually a source of comfort for many people. For example, her tours have helped people struggling with the loss of family members. Seeing their dolls traveling around Japan has actually lifted their spirits and helped them deal with their grief. Even more impressively, Azuma has inspired people to seize the day and make their lives extraordinary. She tells one story about a woman who suffered an illness that affected her ability to walk. At first, she was too depressed to go to therapy, but after she saw pictures of her toys traveling across Tokyo, she decided she’d visit those places herself and regained the use of her limbs. Ultimately, Unagi Travel is innocent fun and an inspiration for people who’ve given up hope of traveling themselves.

7. Hire A Friend For A Day

Hagemashi-Tai

Feeling lonely? Quite a few people in Japan have the blues too. In fact, over a million citizens suffer from hikikomori, an extreme form of loneliness where people lock themselves in their bedrooms and cut off all communication with friends and family. While most Japanese aren’t that lonely, many have trouble meeting new people. And that’s where rent-a-friend agencies come in handy.

Businesses like Hagemashi Tai (I Want to Cheer You Up) hire out actors who’ll take on most any role, from boyfriend to best man. For example, fake friends will show up at weddings and pretend to be buddies with the bride or groom. One single mom hired a guy to attend sports day at her children’s school, posing as their uncle, and one envious woman rented a phony admirer to make her lover jealous.

Similarly, Ossan Rental fills a very specific niche. The company’s name translates as “Old Guy Rental” and hires out a grand total of two men: founder and fashion expert Takanobu Nishimoto (46) and retired baseball player Mikio Sendou (65). For $10 an hour, these older gents will escort clients to shops, play games, and spend the day talking and offering advice. While Ossan Rental might sound a bit strange, their services are purely platonic (you can visit the site here) and, if nothing else, they help lonely people get and about and make actual human connections.

6. Bathe In A Wine-Filled Spa

Hakone-Kowakien-Yunessun

The Hakone Kowakien Yunessun isn’t your average onsen (hot spring). Located outside Tokyo, the Yunessun Spa Resort is only open twelve days a year, but it certainly draws a crowd. In addition to themed spas like the Ancient Roman Baths, the resort offers unusual pools filled with liquids that most of us usually think of as beverages.

For example, one emerald-colored pool is full of green tea which is supposedly good for your skin. Visitors who want something a bit stronger might slip into the coffee spa and relax in the biggest cup of Joe on the planet. (Employees actually brew the coffee in pots and roll it out to the pool in barrels.)  Of course, if you want an adult drink, there’s the sake spa which allegedly gets rid of wrinkles. Strangely, there’s a ramen bath which has plenty of pepper and pork broth, but no actual noodles. However, the most popular pool is the red wine spa, all of which flows from a giant Merlot bottle. And if you ever decide to visit Yunnessun, drop by on Valentine’s Day when the resort offers a sticky chocolate bath. Sweet!

5. Hire A Fake Priest

gaijin-priest

Christianity isn’t all that popular in Japan. While 77% of Americans and nearly 60% of Britons identify with the faith, only a measly 1% of Japanese believe in Jesus Christ. And that’s what makes Japanese weddings so incredibly weird. Nearly 90% of nuptials are done in traditional Christian fashion, complete with white dresses, Ave Maria and, most importantly, fake priests.

The fascination with Western weddings got started in the ‘80s, when millions of Japanese citizens watched celebrities like Princess Diana and singer Momoe Yamaguchi take their vows on TV. Since then, the number of Christian weddings has skyrocketed, only most of the priests officiating are white guys from the US and Europe. Of course, there are actual Japanese priests, but there are three reasons they don’t preside over most ceremonies. Firstly, there simply aren’t enough pastors to show up at every event. Secondly, most native priests aren’t crazy about this trend because most of these weddings don’t actually involve Christianity — couples are more concerned with image than Scripture, so religious themes are glossed over. Thirdly, most people don’t want Japanese priests, as many feel they aren’t “authentic.”  After all, if you’re going to have a Western wedding, you want a Westerner to run the show, right?

Sensing a golden opportunity to make quick cash, bridal companies started hiring out native-English speakers to work as priests, none of whom have religious training. In fact, many aren’t even Christians. All that matters is that they know Japanese, can read a few token verses and wrap things up in twenty minutes or less. For less than half an hour of acting, fake priests can make us much as $120 (according to a 2006 article). Of course, Japanese couples aren’t just paying the preachers. They’re paying for the churches as well. Quite a few hotels in Japan have Christian style chapels, and you can even find sanctuaries in strange spots like supermarkets. Without a doubt, it’s a bizarre trend, but hey, the couple gets their dream wedding, and the “priest” makes a couple of bucks. Everybody goes home happy.

4. Buy A Fake Finger (If You’re A Criminal)

yakuza-fingers

The fake finger industry caters to a very unique clientele: members of the Japanese Mafia, also known as the Yakuza. Why would gangsters need fake fingers, you ask? It has to do with a bloody underworld ritual known as yubitsume. If a mobster offends his superior, there’s only way to atone: he has to chop off the last joint of his pinkie, usually the left one. If he screws up again, he’ll cut the finger off at the next joint. Hopefully the gangster will get his act together, but if not, he has to move on down the hand, lopping off appendages for every offense. It’s believed this tradition stems back to the days of the samurai, when an amputated finger meant a warrior couldn’t wield his sword properly and had to rely on his master for protection. Today, it’s a sign of criminal activity, and if a gangster leaves the mob, he’ll have a really hard time getting an honest job thanks to his stubby nubs.

That’s where people like Shintaro Hayashi and Yukako Fukushima come in. Both Hayashi and Fukushima make prosthetic body parts, usually for accident victims or breast cancer patients. However, as the government cracks down on the gangs, people like Hayashi and Fukushima are getting more and more business from Japan’s criminals. Some prosthetic makers (like Fukushima) only provide fake fingers for retired gangsters hoping to start over. Others, like Hayashi, are less choosy and will produce duplicate digits for mobsters who want to keep their identities a secret while at public events.

Fake fingers can run anywhere from $1,400 to $3,000. Sure, they might be pricey, but there’s a lot of craftsmanship involved. Made out of silicone, the fingers look one hundred percent realistic. They’re custom made, each finger specially crafted to appear as a natural extension of the hand. They also curve in such a way that the wearer can grasp items without actually moving his mock appendages. Some gangsters even buy multiple fingers to match the seasons (lighter tan for winter, dark for summer) and often come back to have their prosthesis repainted, especially when the color starts fading. It’s a lucrative business, and it’s the only time gangsters don’t mind getting the finger.

3. Dine On Dirt

Ne-Quittez-Pas

Japan is home to quite a few freaky restaurants like Alcatraz ER (a hellish prison hospital) and Alice of Magic World (care to guess the theme?). However, Ne Quittez Paz stands apart from its gimmicky cousins thanks to its boxer-turned-chef Toshiro Tanabe. A Gallic gastronomist, Tanabe runs a really classy joint and has a flair for French food. Not only that, he’s constantly searching for ways to transform food into art, and that’s what inspired his craziest creation yet.

For $110 per person, Ne Quittez Paz serves a full course meal with a special ingredient: dirt. The idea of consuming soil might not sound appetizing, but rest assured — Tanabe uses only the best. It comes from a company called Protoleaf, an organization that goes to countries like Sri Lanka and India and digs ten meters below the ground to find the real primo soil. Afterwards, they heat it up, killing all the bacteria, and then ship it to Japan where Tanabe uses it to make miracles happen in his kitchen.

If you order Tanabe’s dirt special, you’ll start off with potato starch and soil soup and a side salad sprinkled with dirt dressing. Your main meal would consist of an earthy risotto and sea bass, and to end it all, you’d dine on dirt ice cream and dirt gratin. (Try not to “soil” your clothes.)  To be sure, Ne Quittez Pas is a unique restaurant and probably the only place in the world that takes “surf and turf” literally.

2. Visit An Ear Cleaning Parlor

Professional-ear-cleaning

If your ears feel a bit greasy, chances are good you’ll reach for a Q-Tip. However, things are a bit different in Japan. For a small fee, young ladies will clean your ears for you. Ear care is very important in Japanese society. In addition aiding the auditory canal, it’s believed ear cleanings improve skin health and help weight loss. In fact, clean ears are so important that some consider it a mother’s duty to keep her kids and husband wax-free. But when those kids grow up, many frequent the ear cleaning parlors that have popped up all over Japan. Since there aren’t any government regulations, anyone can start their own wax removal business, and professional ear cleaners only need seven to ten days worth of training before they can start poking around in ear canals.

If you visited an ear cleaning parlor, you’d first enter a room decorated in traditional Japanese fashion. A young woman wearing a kimono would make you a cup of tea and chat a bit before sitting on the floor. After putting your head on her lap, she’d lay a napkin over your face and whip out her mimikaki. Essentially a pick made out of bamboo, metal or plastic, the mimikaki comes equipped with a special scoop for scraping out stubborn chunks of ear wax. Services generally last for thirty to seventy minutes and can cost from $32 to $100. In addition to the cleaning, some parlors offer ear massages and even ear divinations. By examining all the folds and flaps of an ear, workers claim they can actually predict your future.

It probably won’t come as a surprise that most ear salon clients are men. Many claim they’re seeking out these peculiar parlors because having their ears cleaned reminds them of their childhoods. However, there’s often a sexual element involved, and workers are allowed to walk away if they feel threatened by the customers. Sadly, sometimes things get out of hand, like the 2009 case when a woman was stabbed to death for rejecting a client’s advances. Fortunately, these incidents are few and far between, and ear cleaning parlors continue to exist on the bizarre border of nostalgia and sex.

1. Buy Crooked Teeth

tsuke-yaeba

Any single ladies in the audience with crooked teeth? If so, you should buy a plane ticket and fly to Japan. Overcrowded mouths are all the rage in the Land of the Rising Sun, where snaggletoothed girls are considered super cute. In fact, they’re considered so attractive that many are intentionally wrecking their smiles in the name of beauty.

This toothy style (known as tsuke-yaeba) became fashionable thanks to celebrities like pop singer Tomomi Itano, whose naturally twisted teeth made guys go nuts. Inspired by their idol, trendy teens (and even women in their 20’s) started visiting special clinics where dental beauticians built some truly bizarre bridgework. For $400, dentists will glue fake ivories onto real teeth, giving the impression that the molars are shoving the canines forward. And if a girl is unsure about this new look, she can just buy temporary teeth. However, lots of ladies decide to go with permanent caps.

Evidently, this fanged fashion is so popular that there’s even a girl band where the members all sport tsuke-yaeba. But what is it about crooked teeth that make them so appealing? According to the guys, these multi-layered grins make girls more approachable. Their imperfections make it easier for dudes to strike up a conversation. On top of that, crooked teeth are often described as “impish” and give girls a childlike quality that some guys go for. (They must love Kirsten Dunst movies.)  While tsuke-yaeba might sound strange to Westerners, is it really any weirder than Botox injections and fake tans? Remember, beauty is in the eye in the beholder — or in this case, the mouth.


Japanese Silly Shopping Spree –

WIF Around the World

Disneyland Days Gone By – WIF Almanac

Leave a comment

Disney Theme Park

Attractions That

No Longer Exist

Walt Disney opened Disneyland in 1955, and since then, the corporation has only grown its park locations all over the world. Over 20 million people visit each of these locations every single year. So, it only makes sense that in order to keep these Disney fans coming back, improvements need to be made to the park rides and attractions. Here are 10 attractions that simply did not make the cut.

10. Videopolis

When you think of Disneyland, you probably don’t think about nightclubs. During the 1980s, Michael Eisner, the CEO of Disneyland decided that he wanted attractions that would appeal to local teenagers. At the time, season passes were only $40 all year, or $35 during summer break, with a student ID. This meant that local teens could visit Disneyland every night of the year to dance to music videos and live bands. There was even a TV show on The Disney Channel showcasing Videopolis. They also hosted a televised event called Disneyland’s Summer Vacation Party, where Disney mascots danced in the audience with the teens while listening to the very ’80s bands, Oingo Boingo, ELO.

This teen dream came crashing down, when a 15-year-old died from getting shot in the parking lot of Disneyland in 1987. For years, Studio K at Knott’s Berry Farms in Anaheim, California hosted dances every night, and it was a go-to place for high school kids, since admission was free. Disneyland quickly became designated as the place for “rich kids” to go clubbing, since it cost $40 to get in. With inflation, that is closer to $92 today, which most parents could not afford.  Local gangs decided to wait out in these parking lots, because it’s safe to guess that they were selling them something to help enhance their Disney experience, if you know what I mean. Disneyland quickly realized that this nightclub didn’t exactly align with their family values, and decided to end Videopolis in 1989. Today, the theater is used for family-friendly performances.

9. The Great Movie Ride

This ride was a collaboration between Disney and Turney Classic Movies at Disney World in Orlando, Florida that began in 2015, and expired in 2017. Guests sat in a car that was guided through sets that were made to look like classic movies like Singin’ in the RainThe Wizard of OzThe Public Enemy, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. They were all complete with their own animatronic “actors” that play out famous scenes. Audience members sat in a moving car for 18 minutes.

While the ride was iconic, the movies that were included may have been unknown to young children who were visiting Disney World. Surely, Turner Classic Movies was hoping to entice people to tune in to watch these classics, but maybe they didn’t get the views they were hoping for. The attraction is being replaced with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which combines an animated film and real-life changing sets. It truly does look like it will be stunning, and it is officially scheduled to premiere in 2018.

8. The Peoplemover and the Rocket Rods

In the 1960s, Tomorrowland was a showcase of how Disney Imagineers saw the future. One ride that guests absolutely loved was called The Peoplemover. Slow-moving cars go along tracks that are built throughout all of Tomorrowland. The ride never stopped, and people got on and off so efficiently, that there were never a very long line.

When they revamped the look of the Tomorrowland park, they decided that the Peoplemover just wasn’t “cool” enough for their new style in Disney World Orlando. They kept the old tracks, and added a new ride called The Rocket Rods. Each rocket-shaped vehicle could only take a few people at a time. The ride sped up, and then slowed down at every turn. Wait times in line were nearly two hours long, and guests were very underwhelmed by the entire experience.

Not only was the concept a bust, but only a few weeks after opening the ride, it had to be shut down for three months of repairs.  Even when it reopened again, the ride needed to be shut down for repairs at least once a day, and the concrete tracks supporting the ride were beginning to crumble. In the year 2000, the ride closed down completely, but the tracks are still there, gathering dust.

7. America Sings

In order to celebrate the upcoming Bicentennial 200-year anniversary of The United States, Disneyland opened the attraction America Sings in 1974. It was a musical show set on a rotating stage. Animatronic animals moved along with a recording of songs from American history. Once the song was done, the stage would move, and new animatronics would appear.

After only a few months of the attraction’s existence, a young woman named Deborah Gail Stone was working at Disneyland part-time as a hostess. She leaned back in her chair while the rotating stage was changing, and it crushed her head. Deborah’s family tried to sue Disneyland for their daughter’s death, but they lost the lawsuit, because leaning back in her chair was against safety procedure. The attraction continued for over 10 years, but since it was really meant to celebrate the Bicentennial, there was no need to keep the creepy robot party going for so long. It eventually shut down in 1988, and it was never reopened.

6. Superstar Limo

The ride Superstar Limo put park guests in the position of being the hottest new Hollywood star. A moving car begins at the Los Angeles Airport, and makes its way through famous locations, past some caricatures of famous movie stars like Whoopi Goldberg, Cher, and Tim Allen, and ends at The Chinese Theater.  The artistic style looked more like scene out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? than a Disney park ride.

It opened at Disney’s California Adventure in 2001, and while some people enjoyed it, the majority of guests were confused. Some people were downright offended, specifically because the ride actually recommends getting tattoos, which is understandable troubling for some parents. In fact, Superstar Limo got such a negative reaction from local newspapers and park guests, that it was closed down after less than a year.

5. Maelstrom

The Maelstrom ride took guests on a viking ship, floating past characters from Norwegian folk tales and legends, including a three-headed troll, a sea dragon, and…polar bears? It ends with guests walking around an indoor replica of a Norwegian fishing village. There is a 5-minute long movie at the end called The Spirit of Norway, which gave an overview of what life in Norway was like.

It opened in 1988, and lasted until 2013, when Disney released the plans to rehabilitate it into Frozen Ever After. Considering that the locations in the movie Frozen were inspired by Norway, the boat and the surrounding theme did not need to be changed very much. The Fishing village became the town square of Arendelle. Guests still board a boat, only this time, they see animatronic characters from the Frozen movies. The technology used in both rides is relatively the same, but the guests are far happier with Frozen Ever After than they were with Maelstrom.

4. Body Wars

There was a section of Disney World’s Epcot called Wonders of Life pavilion that was built to educate people on the human body, and encourage health and fitness. It was completely sponsored by MetLife Insurance, who paid to have their company’s name plastered everywhere.The most popular attraction in The Wonder of Life was Body Wars.

Guests were “shrunk down” inside of a ship, which moved as they watched a film about a group of scientists exploring the inner workings of the human body. The film was directed by Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played Spock in the original Star Trek series. So, it’s no wonder why it was successful.  While there were plenty of other things to do at the Wonders of Life pavilion, Body Wars was by far one of the go-to attractions in Epcot in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

When Disney lost their partnership with MetLife, the attraction slowly began to lose more and more of its sections, due to the major budget cuts. Eventually, the Pavilion was converter for the annual Food and Wine Festival.

3. Submarine Voyage

In the 1950s, submarines were still a very new technology, and the public was fascinated by them. So, it only made sense when Walt Disney wanted to include Submarine Voyage in Tomorrowland. During the 1960s, they even hired local teenage girls to swim around as live mermaids. The mermaids were obviously the most popular part of the attraction. According to former park employees, people would throw money out to the mermaids as tips, and one time, a young man from the Navy jumped into the water so he could swim out to their tanning rock to hang out with the mermaid girls. Security eventually had to fish him out, of course.

The park eventually realized there were multiple safety issues with the mermaids, including the fact that many girls say they could feel themselves getting sucked into the propellers. They were no longer part of the experience in 1967. The ride lasted until 1998, when it was eventually shut down. In 2007, it was reimagined as the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.

2. Alien Encounter

The “ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter” – or Alien Encounter for short – was an attraction in Walt Disney World park in Orlando, Florida. The storyline of the attraction surrounded an alien corporation called X-S Tech. The ride used air, lights, and surround sound in the seats to scare guests into believing that an alien monster had escaped inside of the room.

Adults and teenagers loved this ride, and it gained a true cult following of fans who revisited the ride every year. However, it made many parents angry, because they believed it was far too scary for kids. The ride ran from 1995 to 2003, until it was shut down, and reimagined as Stitch’s Great Escape.

1. Big Thunder Ranch

At Big Thunder Ranch, the most exciting thing you would find was… a cow. Yes, a cow. Its name was “Micky Moo”, because of the Micky-mouse shaped patches on its fur. The attraction was built in 1986 as a Western-style petting zoo and Barbecue restaurant. There was an old fashioned blacksmith demonstration, but beyond that, there wasn’t much to do at Big Thunder Ranch.

In 1998, the space was renovated into The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Festival of Fools. Strangely enough, they brought Big Thunder Ranch back in 2004, only this time, characters from the not-so-popular Disney movie Home on the Range was incorporated, so at least the second time around, it made a little more sense. However, it was closed down a second time in 2016 to make way for Star Wars Land. Which, we can all agree, is probably going to be a slightly more popular attraction.


Disneyland Days Gone By –

WIF Almanac

Ancient Tools and Toys – Real Old

Leave a comment

Oldest Known Objects

Made by Man

(and his Ancestors)

Whenever something incredibly ancient and incredibly cool turns up, there’s always someone on hand to shout that it’s evidence of aliens. Awesome as it would be to know ET was hanging out here in 10,000 B.C. (or whenever), the truth is both much simpler and much more interesting. See, you don’t need aliens to explain away intricate ancient objects. We humans have been capable of creating incredible stuff since before there were even humans.

 The following objects are all man made in the sense that ‘a proto-human intelligence was responsible for their creation’. But not all of them came from the mind of homo sapiens. Instead, some come courtesy of our distant ancestors, the thinking apes who preceded us and helped us on our journey. Think the prehistoric world is dull? Think again.

10. Ice Age “Batons” (Approx. 28,000 years old)

Yes, we know what you’re thinking. Something along the lines of: “Gee, these ice age batons sure look like a certain part of the male anatomy.” So before we go any further, let us just categorically state that, yes, these batons do indeed look like a bunch of comedy-sized wangs. And there’s a good reason for that. Wanna guess what it is? That’s right, far from being immature, you’ve hit on what these probably were. You’re looking at an image of a stone age sex toy.

Known euphemistically as ‘batons’, these proto-Ann Summers toys have been found in a number of Ice Age sites, no doubt leading to many awkward conversations among archeologists. The oldest of all is from Germany, specifically a place known as Hohle Fels Cave. Now, pay attention, because you’re gonna be hearing that name again and again in this article. Hohle Fels contains one of our best-preserved collections of Ice Age artifacts anywhere in the world. In 2003, it also turned out to contain the oldest baton yet found. The one you see above dates from around 28,000-30,000 B.C.

Just think about that, for a second. This ancient – ahem – toy is older than Stonehenge, Machu Picchu and yo momma combined. Not that it was all dirty. According to those who found it, the tool was also used for “knapping flints” (whatever the heck that is).

9. Animal Figurines (30,000-40,000 years old)

Sometimes, the world just likes to drop something incredible in our laps, presumably just for the fun of watching us collectively freak out. The ancient figurines found at Hohle Fels (that place again) are one of those somethings. Among the oldest sculptures ever found, they depict miniture birds, horses’ heads, and half-animal humans in jaw-dropping detail. Did we mention the detail? When they were made public, in late 2003, archeology expert Dr Anthony Sinclair declared: “They are as good as anything you will see thousands of years later – from 3-4,000 BC.” Suck it, Ancient Greece.

But even these works of genius have nothing on the oldest figurine we’ve yet found. Discovered in the same cave of wonders as the figurines was the Venus of Hohle Fels. A tiny carving of a woman, the Venus may also be the earliest extant work of erotica. The carving has improbably large breasts, a big backside, and exaggerated genitals. She’s also a lot fatter than we’re guessing any Ice Age human ever was, unless there’s a prehistoric McDonalds waiting to be found in Hohle Fels somewhere. This suggests she may have been a fantasy, an example of Ice Age man’s longing for a well-stacked, fleshy woman. Nice to see some things never change.

8. Neanderthal Cave Art (40,800 years ago)

Yeah, Neanderthals aren’t human. Well, get used to it. We’re gonna be leaving homo sapiens for good in a little while to go gallivanting around the world of Homo erectus and all his extinct pals. But first, let’s just pause and take a breather, and admire the view of one of the oldest expressions of abstract art ever found. Discovered in a Spanish cave in 2012, this image dates back a staggering 40,800 years in time.

Imagine the incredible amount of time that exists between you and Julius Caesar or Jesus Christ. Now times that unimaginable distance by ten. Now double it, and then give up and throw the whole concept of picturing this away, because you’re never gonna be able to really grasp just how stupidly long ago this was. Back then, ‘popping out for a bite’ meant stepping outside and being swallowed by a sabretooth tiger. It was a world so unimaginably different from ours as to be… well, unimaginable. Yet the not-quite-humans who inhabited this space still felt moved to do something uniquely human. They created art, using the only things they had: their hands and some plant pigment. And we think that’s just swell.

7. Ancient Flutes (42,000 years old)

The Aurignacian culture is the coolest thing you’ve probably never heard of. A bunch of early humans who started doing their thing in the Upper Paleolithic era, the Aurignacians mark the point where art and music and specialized tools began to emerge. So, yeah, pretty much everything you take for granted today started here. At one point, scientists thought this period of intense change started no earlier than 40,000 years ago. Then someone stumbled across a 42,000 year old bone flute in yetanother German cave and the dates had to be revised upwards.

 If the thought of an ancient flute doesn’t send a chill down your spine, you may want to quickly double check and make sure you’re not in traction. These finds mean the earliest European humans were creating music from almost the moment they arrived on the continent. Just imagine. It’s dark. You’ve just come back from a long day’s woolly mammoth punching, or whatever the heck Stone Age man used to do. The only light in your cave is from the flickering of the fire. You sit around, staring into its shifting flames. And then, slowly, someone pulls out a flute and starts to play…

See what we mean? Magical. This is the dawn of human emotion we’re witnessing here, and we’ve still got well over a million years of history left to go.

6. Aterian Beads (110,000 years old)

Grotte des Pigeons is a cave in Eastern Morocco that for ages wanted nothing more than for people to forget it had such a stupid name. Then, sometime in the mid-20thCentury, some archeology guys came along and decided, hey, this looks like a pretty good spot to dig. So they dug and they dug and they dug until suddenly everyone was too busy exclaiming over all the crazy awesomeness in Grotte des Pigeons to concentrate on its stupid name. There were ashes and tools and carved rocks and all sorts of treasures. But the biggest treasure of all may have been the beads.

 Made of shells with perforated holes, some still with traces of red ochre on them, the beads were likely the earliest examples of jewelry we have. The researchers dated them to an impossibly-distant 110,000 years ago, a time when the wheel was a far-off dream, and the concept of agriculture was like witchcraft. Yet our ancestors were still making jewelry. Even in a world of unrelenting danger, bear attacks and lifespans of under 30 years, we still just wanted to look good. We can’t tell if that’s shameful or the coolest thing ever.

5. Bone Awls (200,000-400,000 years old)

OK, from here on in, the dates get vague and the periods of time involved become utterly incomprehensible. If you’re cool with that then stick with us, because this is also where we’re gonna find the coolest stuff. For this entry, that means bone awls. A feature of the Middle Stone Age (MSA), bone awls were little sharpened bits of bone, probably used for piercing holes in hide and making clothes. As such, they show our ancestors moving on from just wrapping themselves in the skin of a dead zebra to actually creating their own garments.

Like most of the stuff in the MSA, bone awls were likely invented in Africa and then taken to Europe along with the first early humans. Good job, too, as Europe back then was likely freezing. Honestly, we complain if we get stuck without heating for half a day during a mild winter. Imagine having to huddle round a fire in a cave for warmth AND design your own clothes using only sharpened bits of bone and the flesh of whatever you’d killed. There are residents of Jersey Shore who live more-fulfilling lives than that (kidding. No they don’t).

4. Projectile Points (200,000-400,000 years old)

This is where the MSA really hit its stride. Before early humans perfected projectile points, killing an animal meant charging at it with a kamikaze yell, waving an axe above your head and hoping it didn’t eat you (it frequently did). With the advent of sharpenedprojectile points, the equation changed dramatically. Now you didn’t have to get within eating-distance to kill your dinner. Humanity’s time at the top of the food chain had survived.

Stop and think about this for a second, about all the stuff we take for granted. Before projectile points were invented, the only time you got to eat a fast moving animal like a bird was when it dropped dead of kidney failure right in front of you. Suddenly having spears and arrows allowed humans to expand their diets. It allowed them to create small stockpiles of food and defend themselves from a distance. Some have even suggested formulating complicated hunting plans using these tools helped us develop modern human intelligence.

Of course, our ancestors did plenty of hunting before the invention of spears and arrows. But, still. Their coming was a gamechanger that reorganized our entire species.

3. Hand Axe (1.76m years old)

Long before the Aurignacian came along with their music and painting and liberal hippy art stuff, the hottest culture in human history was the Acheulian. Occurring sometime around 1.76 million years ago, this stone age revolution saw our ancestors discard the simplistic tools they’d been using up until then, and start crafting complex weapons unlike anything ever seen before. Stones with specially-sharpened ends that were wielded by hand, these ‘hand axes’ saw early humans able to easily kill other animals for the first time in history.

For a long time, scientists thought the Acheulian revolution started around 1.4 million years ago, the period a number of hand axes found in Ethiopia dated from. Then 2011 came along and turned all that on its head. That was the year that archeologists digging on the muddy banks of Lake Turkana in Kenya uncovered hand axes dating from 1.76 million years ago. That’s a difference of 360,000 years; equivalent to the distance in time between you reading this on your tablet and our ancestors’ creation of stone projectile points.

Those who created and used these hand axes, by the way, definitely weren’t human. They were probably Homo Erectus, the guys who decided walking on two legs was the way to go.

2. Oldowan Tools (Around 2.5m years ago)

Unlike the hand axes of the Acheulian revolution, no non-experts today would be able to recognize Oldowan Tools as even being tools. They were pebbles and rocks that had been crudely chipped to give one serrated edge, likely for cutting, chopping and scraping. We’re talking the absolute most basic of basic implements, here. This was the dawn of the Paleolithic era, the point in time when hominids realized you could get more done with implements than you could with your teeth. It sounds simple to us now, but back then no-one had ever even thought of it. How could they? They were little more than apes at this point.

Despite the mind-blowing chasms of time between us and the first Oldowan tools, they’ve been found all over the world. At least, all over the world as it would have been back then, which basically means ‘Africa’. At this point, Europe and Asia were as alien to these tool makers as planet Weezigg-Cloop is to you (we’re gonna discover it in about 4,000 years. It’s gonna be awesome).

Interestingly, some scholars think those using these tools may have been vegetarian, hence their being content with not developing better tools for like 700,000 years. Who needs an animal-killing hand axe when you don’t eat animals?

1. Contents of the Lake Turkana Toolbox (3.3m years old)

And then we have the Lake Turkana Toolbox.

To be clear, the Lake Turkana Toolbox shouldn’t exist. Digging it up and dating it to 3.3m years ago is like opening Tutankhamun’s Tomb to find a Boeing 747 inside. In fact, scratch that. The distance of time is so vast that it would be like opening Tutankhamun’s Tomb to find a Sci-fi device that won’t be invented for another 796,000 years. One that does stuff we in backward old 2017 can’t even imagine. 3.3m years ago is meant to be a time when no species existed that was capable of making tools. And yet, in 2015, scientists discovered that this was exactly what the apes hanging around Lake Turkanahad been doing.

 To be sure, they don’t look like tools. They look like sharp rocks. But, like the Oldowan Tools above, the point is that someone – or something – made them sharp. Whatever that pre-human creature was, it was starting Earth’s sentient species down a path that would eventually lead to hand axes, then projectile points, then beads, then art, then music, then sculpture… and so-on right the way up to the tablets and spacecraft and 3D printers of today. When you look at it like that, you gotta admit these dull old rocks are secretly kinda cool.

Ancient Tools and Toys

– Real Old

Women of Dubious Repute – WIF Digest

Leave a comment

Terrible Female

Role Models

With the march of progress still going strong (despite some people feeling that certain recent events represent major setbacks), all these future female leaders and other achievers will do well to have some good role models to aspire to. This list is not about that.

 Here, we’re looking at women that got into the limelight by being scourges to society, or at least being drains on it. Women who advanced bad causes that left dead bodies in their wake, treated their underlings terribly, stole vast sums of money, and in short were everything misogynists would say are the natural result of placing women in positions of authority. Despite that, they managed to either acquire large public followings or power and influence in other ways. Sometimes there’s no accounting for the public’s taste.

10. Rita Crundwell

This entrepreneur seemed for years to have it made. She was breeding horses that were so highly valued that she made three quarters of a million dollars from a single sale. She was famous and connected enough that in 2008, NFL legend Terry Bradshaw gave her a personally autographed t-shirt. Certainly being the comptroller of the Illinois city of Dixon seemed pretty small potatoes compared to that. It suddenly made much more sense when, in 2015, she was convicted of embezzling $54 million from municipal funds. This was unusual not so much because it was a woman embezzling, but because of the sheer scope of it, as women usually embezzle smaller amounts that men do.

Despite being sent to prison, Crundwell’s horse breeding company continued to be one of the ten most successful in the country. Her royalties in prison amounted to roughly $14,000 a year in assets the government was unable to seize. Indeed, she was even able to continue to sell her merchandise from the old days for as much as $205 a pop. Sometimes even felony conviction can’t even temporarily stop the right business person.

9. Jenny McCarthy

It’s since been overshadowed by her actions in 2007, but this Playboy model and television host was once popular enough that she hosted her own sketch comedy show. It was because of this that she brought a lot of clout with her when, in 2007, she went on television and told an audience of millions that Andrew Wakefield had found that there were ingredients in vaccines that gave her son autism. All of Wakefield’s findings had long been discredited, but still McCarthy persisted with her beliefs enough to write multiple books on the subject and make the Anti-Vaccine Movement a household phrase.

It’s difficult to determine how many of the deaths caused by the anti-vaccination movement can be attributed to her in a moral sense, if not a legal one. The New Yorker, for one, attributed deaths to her campaign. However true that may be, there’s no denying that she did much to spread very harmful ideas to millions of people.

8. Claudia Ochoa Felix

In this woman’s case it remains murky how much, if any, criminal activity she was directly involved in. This situation is due not only to some of her life choices, but how she’s chosen to present herself online. She was reportedly the significant other for a Mexican drug lord named José Gamboa and following his arrest in 2013, it was claimed that she took over his gang (it wouldn’t be the first time a woman did this under the circumstances: Sandra Beltran did so as well until she was convicted in 2007). Although she has denied involvement in criminal activity, she made Twitter and Instagram accounts for herself, which included numerous photos of Felix or someone who looks suspiciously like her with men who were armed with AK-47s. There were also numerous photos that are very likely of her with such weapons partially painted gold or pink. By far the most dubious one was a photo of her child covered in bank notes, one which she took down.

In Claudia Felix’s defense, she held a press conference to state that she had no affiliation with any drug dealers, and that many of the photos on her profile (which she claimed was highjacked) were not of her. She did not identify who the imitator was or speculate why she was being imitated, but she claimed she was being harassed over her social media posts. Whatever the case, setting up accounts which projected the glamour of the criminal lifestyle to over one hundred thousand followers gained her the nickname the “Kim Kardashian of Crime.” Goes to show that despite regret or innocent intentions, actions like these can have consequences far beyond what was intended.

7. Jodi Arias

While Claudia Felix was not convicted of any crimes, Jodi Arias was after something of a circus of a trial. In 2008, her boyfriend Travis Alexander was shot and beheaded, his body being discovered and reported to the police five days later. Eventually evidence would come out that Arias flirted with some of the attendants at his memorial service. Later, charges were pressed against her. Her initial testimony was that masked intruders killed him, but she then changed it to say it had been in self-defense.

During the three year trial, highlights included Arias portraying Alexander as a sex pervert. Through a friend she maintained a Twitter account, which she used to attack the prosecution and the deceased to tens of thousands of followers. And yet despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, she had enoughmale admirers that she reportedly received marriage proposals on a daily basis. Hey, no one said that only other females would fall under the sway of these bad influences.

6. Lisa Frank

If you associate the idea of something being feminine with rainbows, unicorns, fields of flowers, etc., then few people did more to shape that perspective in modern times than Lisa Frank. From her humble beginnings in New York during the 1970s she built a merchandise empire called Lisa Frank Inc. that in the late ’90s was generating $60 million in revenue per year from its headquarters in Tucson, Arizona.

 However, despite the superficial pleasantness of the company, it was a notoriously badly operated business where treatment of employees was awful. In Tucson it was known as the “Rainbow Gulag.” The management was abusive, often withheld severance payments, and stiffed contractors. Sometimes as many as one third of the employees turned over in the course of a one year period. Much of this was the fault of Frank’s husband James Green, but she was the one who turned over control of the company to him and let him continue his horrible behavior almost unabated. No matter how much an artist wants to focus on comfortable fantasy worlds, they can cause a lot of harm if they neglect the real world.

5. Park Geun-Hye

This 65-year-old former president was not the first South Korean president to resign in disgrace, but the events surrounding her departure were unusually dramatic. Elected in 2013, in 2016 thirteen charges of corruption were levelled against her. So severe were they that it was put forward that the electronics giant Samsung alone was going to give her a $37 million bribe.

Despite a unanimous ruling of guilt by South Korea’s Constitutional Court, the president refused to relinquish power. What followed was one of the most determined nonviolent protests in modern history. With the president’s approval rating at about five percent, hundreds of thousands of average citizens marched and assembled in the city of Seoul for a demonstration that began in November 2016 and lasted until the disgraced president finally gave in and stepped down on March 10, 2017. On March 30, 2017, the previously legally immune ex-president was belatedly arrested to stand trial again. Rarely do democratically elected officials so stubbornly resist the clearly expressed will of the people.

4. Jasmin Rivera: Female Robin Hood

On December 28, 2011, this 30-year-old homeless Boston resident robbed a Citizens Bank near the Boston Opera House, then took a cab to return to a homeless shelter. When she cavalierly told her cab driver what she’d done, he initially didn’t believe her until she saw the police outside the bank. She ended up paying him about double his fare to be dropped off early, whereupon the very honest driver went to tell the police. When the police found her, Rivera had not attempted to stash the money or spent it on a relative extravagance. She was handing the money out to whichever children happened by at Ramsey Park.

Despite doing something that might seem at first like one of the most generous things someone can do with stolen money, after Rivera’s arrest it was quickly determined that she was not mentally well. No doubt that was exacerbated by the fact she’d been homeless for twelve years. Her theft did so little good for anyone that even the cab driver she’d generously tipped ended up losing the fare because it was seized into evidence.

3. Carry Nation

Undoubtedly the most famous of the campaigners for alcohol prohibition, if only for her extreme methods which combined motives that seem unbearably priggish with rebelliousness. In 1900, at age 54 and after ten years as a peaceful member of the temperance movement, this retired teacher felt compelled to literally attack the Carey Hotel bar with a hatchet and, adjusting for inflation, she caused tens of thousands of dollars in damages. After she was released from prison, she continued to wreak havoc on places where alcohol was sold.

Although it’s not an age we associate with that sort of radicalism that would endorse this, Carry Nation soon developed a following. In a move that seems far ahead of its time, she sold souvenir hatchets to her fans. Although she eventually went back to more peaceful activism for more socially beneficial causes such as the Suffrage Movement, it was her work with a hatchet that definitely reached and inspired the most people. Considering the effects of the Prohibition era during the 1920s had on public health, corruption, and mob violence, it also did untold harm far beyond those wrecked saloons.

2. Anti-Suffragists

While activists who fought for the right for women to vote, such as Susan B. Anthony, are practically hallowed in American history for their work, on the other side of that particular coin were a surprising number of women that were opposed to it. They included Josephine Dodge and Kate Wiggin, which understandably are not household names. The anti-suffragists overwhelmingly were women with wealth and connections through marriage or birth who, naturally, didn’t want much social upheaval under the circumstances.

Despite being dedicated to the principle that women should be denied basic rights of representation, it was not necessarily a malicious movement. Many of the women involved were community organizers who worked at hospitals and shelters. Others worked in organizations devoted to providing women free medical education. One prominent talking point was that women should stay out of politics not because they weren’t capable of it, but because politics would be a corrupting influence. While of course the movement ultimately was unsuccessful, its influence was felt long after, as National Public Radio tells us that many women were disinclined to exercise their right to vote for decades.

1. Leni Riefenstahl

It’s unfortunate that Leni Riefenstahl is probably the only female film director from the first half of the 20th Century that anyone with a passing interest in the subject could name. Her 1935 propaganda film on the Nazi Party Congress, Triumph of the Will, was a massively persuasive film at the time (though Roger Ebert, for one, called in “paralyzingly dull.”) Beyond that, her work influenced countless high-profile films such as Star Wars. Amazingly, from the 1970s on, some feminists, such as author Susan Sontag, were paying tribute to her.

For her part, Riefenstahl was very unwilling to apologize or even admit complicity when she was acquitted after the end of World War Two. She denied that her documentary influenced anyone since Germany was allegedly pro-Nazi anyway, and denied being a member of the Nazi party. When propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels’s private journal was used to debunk that second claim in an interview, she threw a fit. Some people just can’t get away from the truth of their influence.


Do Not Emulate

– Women of Dubious Repute

Amazing Jobs! – Volunteered, Donated and FREE

Leave a comment

Amazing Jobs

People Do

For Free

The very nature of our capitalist society is that, for our labors, we receive monetary compensation. However, some work is unpaid. A breakdown of this unpaid labor might show that most are in the form of internships, where a person provides their services for free with the understanding that they will get paid later. The other big portion of “volunteer” labor would be forced community service, where doing work for free is a punishment for misbehavior.

There are some altruistic people who do unpaid charity work, like working with the less fortunate, but outside of charity people who do work for free are seen as odd, or being exploited somehow. With that in mind, here are 10 surprising jobs people in the world have done completely for free…

10. The Pirate of Massapequa

Two months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hyman Strachman was drafted into the Army, serving in an intelligence unit in the Pacific. Being so far from home, he remembered the relief that movie night brought. Fast forward 70 years later and Strachman thought he could provide the same service to the men and women fighting overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. So then at that time, in his early 90s, for free and at his own expense, he started pumping out popular titles of bootleg DVDs. To improve his output he purchased a professional DVD copier and soon he was sending hundreds of DVDs to an Army chaplain, who would gift the pirate DVDs to the troops. His work made him a hero in the military, and until the war wound down in 2013 he pirated over 300,000 discs and sent them overseas.

Since he bought illegal bootleg DVDs off the street and then made hundreds of equally illegal bootleg copies, he was known as the “The Pirate of Massapequa.”His work made him famous and reporters lined up to interview him. While the RIAA went after single mothers and teenagers for bit or renting single songs, they dared not touch Strachman – a 90-something widower and WWII veteran supporting the troops. Even though he was committing a crime, he received many awards for his work and in 2015 Strachman was even honored by a Veterans Appreciation Breakfast hosted by Senator Michael Venditto.

Possibly due to the massive karma he received for his volunteer work, Strachman lived to the ripe old age of 97, dying on February 1, 2017, in his Massapequa, New York nursing home.

9. Maintain Guzzlers

Since the early part of the 20th century, in parched regions through Western America, the government set up water stations. Called guzzlers, these water centers support threatened animal and bird populations. Starting in the desolate parts of Oregon, they spread throughout the west, with 1,600 in Nevada alone.

They are often like larger, concrete versions of a water bottle in a hamster cage, and while some are filled with rainwater many regions are too dry and require top offs by someone who has to haul water deep into remote forests and scrubland. To keep away partying teens and unethical hunters that would camp out and shoot thirsty animals, the locations are kept top secret. Decades ago government funding for the guzzlers dried up, so now local volunteers keep them and the water they provide flowing. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) even has an “Adopt A Guzzler” program.

8. Professional Photographers Hate Him

In the age of smartphones, everyone has a camera. Already in war zones around the world, we can see citizen reports almost as soon as the incident takes place. The job of a paid photographer is changing and on the front lines is Gage Skidmore, a 20-something student who lives with his parents. Priceonomics’ Zachary Crockett calls him the “most prolific photographer you’ve never heard of.” On his Flickr account, he has over 50,000 photos that he has released under Creative Commons. Under Creative Commons, you can do whatever you want with the image, including reproduce it and sell it yourself, as long as you say that Skidmore took the photo (by the way, this feels like a good time to note that the picture used for this entry was taken by Skidmore). His most famous picture, a shot of Trump, is used on Trump’s MAGA web page.

Much like Deadheads who follow the Grateful Dead around America, Skidmore got his start following Ron and Rand Paul around the country. At first, he roped his parents into driving him around snapping shots of the Paul political dynasty. Then his friends and people with the same political beliefs chipped in, but what never changed was that he gave away his professional-grade photos. Along the way, he also took a number of shots of other candidates, further amassing his collection of public domain political photos.

Why does he give away his photos? Skidmore says, “as the Internet has become an integral part of our lives, photographers have had to adapt. Creative Commons is a vehicle that allows my photos to be received by a wide audience … I don’t need to sell my photos in order to have a meal the next day. In the long run, I’ll probably take a more traditional career path in the business world.”

7. Donating Pictures for Wikipedia and the World

Wikipedia thrives because its media, and even the text of every article, is in the public domain – meaning you can use everything on the website for free, with no copyright charges. This is fine for the text, but is telling for the visual images. Each picture has to be either donated to Wikipedia or already in the public domain. This restriction causes the quality to suffer as only very old or amateur, low quality images are copyright-free.

 Evan Amos vowed to change this by, for at least gaming articles, taking professional grade photos of gaming systems. Each of his photos is carefully staged, back-lit, beautifully captured, and then donated to Wikipedia at a high resolution (as you no doubt guessed, the above picture of a Sega Saturn – remember the Sega Saturn? – is one of his). He scours collectors across the country to track down rare, little know gaming consoles like the 1977 Bally Astrocade gaming system, and always donates the resulting pictures to Wikipedia and the world.

6. Man with the Golden Arm

When James Harrison was a young child he had a medical condition and had to get one of his lungs removed. Something happened during that operation, like Peter Parker getting superpowers when he was bitten by a radioactive spider. Harrison also received superpowers; not Spidey-sense, but life-saving blood. Harrison’s blood prevents rhesus disease – a disease that kills thousands of babies a year. Known as “The Man with the Golden Arm,” according to the Australian Red Cross blood service, Harrison and his special blood have saved over 2 million babies.

A wise man said that with great power comes great responsibility, and James Harrison believes this, too. He doesn’t charge for his blood or donate it for any sort of profit, instead donating it and his time free. Because, let’s face it… you’re not much of a superhero if you’re basically holding the health of babies for ransom.

5. Amateur Detective Hunts Down Marathon Cheats

To participate in famous running events like the Boston Marathon you need to be consistently fast, famous, or running for thousands of dollars for charity. The status achieved by just running in these races is huge, so there is an entire underground industry of cheaters that get people into these races even though they don’t have the necessary qualifying times.

One way to get into the big marathons is to cheat on qualifying races. By cutting the course or even taking public transportation for part of the race (which, believe it or not, has happened), a runner can cross the finish line with a fast enough time. Another way is bib swapping (the bib being the racing number). You can do this by either buying a faster runner’s number or just paying someone to pretend to be you and run the marathon in your place. The final way would be to just find some way to hack the results and enter a faster time for you. Seen as a victim-less crime, these practices went on for years until people started to take action.

Cincinnati Business analyst Derek Murphy was one of those people. He spends hours tracking cheaters for free, and for the integrity of the sport. He developed an algorithm to investigate people who finished the race much slower than their qualifying time. He then used photos from the race to see if the same people ran both the qualifying race and the marathon. This was how he found that a high school educator had gotten someone to run the qualifying race for her. Eventually, from the 27,167 runners who started the 2015 Boston marathon, Murphy found 47 who cheated on qualifying runs. Of those, 29 were bib swappers, 10 were course cutters, 4 hacked their results, and another 4 got someone to run the race for them.

4. Sverker Johansson: Mr. Ten Percent

Swedish physicist Sverker Johansson is an impressive individual. Not happy with being an expert in one area, he holds multiple degrees including economics, particle physics, linguistics, and civil engineering. He also has a passion for spreading this knowledge and does so through the biggest online respiratory in history: Wikipedia.

Sometimes writing up to 10,000 articles a day, he alone is responsible for about 10% of all the articles on Wikipedia. Now, he isn’t doing this himself; he has developed a team of knowledge spreading bots that create and write the articles for him, but he still spends massive amounts of time supervising his bot army and making sure they stay on task. Which sounds like the origin story of the world’s nerdiest supervillain.

3. Dutch High School Student Creates Maps of the Syrian Conflict

For years the fabric of Syria has been ripped apart by civil war. At first, the media covering the stories pushed the narrative of a large group of rebels fighting the government. The reality on the ground is that there are dozens of groups fighting the government… and each other. Frustrated by this ignorance, Thomas van Linge, at the time a Dutch high school student, started making colorful maps that showed the shifting zones of control between the major Syrian groups. He then published his work on media sharing sites like Twitter for free.

Hours of his time goes into research and creating each map before van Linge posts his images. In an interview with Newsweek, he said he puts in so much time because, “I want to inform people mostly and show people the rebel dynamics in the country … I also want to inform journalists who want to go to the region which regions are definitely no-go zones, which regions are the most dangerous, and also to show strategic developments through time.” The public and the media see the value in his work, and his maps have been used and “cited on news stories in the Huffington Post, Lebanon’s Daily Star and Vox, as well as on the University of Texas at Austin’s website.”

2. Wikipedia Superstars

Wikipedia is probably one of the greatest resources of the modern age. A world of information at your fingertips. How big? Well according to the site itself, “as of 23 October 2017, there are 5,497,372 articles in the English Wikipedia.” With just a handful of paid staff, most of the work goes to editors who volunteer their time and expand the website, check the validity of its content, or more of the hundreds of daily tasks needed to keep the website going. However, the King of Editors is one man: Justin Anthony Knapp (username “koavf”), who was the first to do 1.5 million edits. In an article titled Seven Years, One Million Edits, Zero Dollars: Wikipedia’s Flat Broke Superstar, Knapp was asked why he works for free and he responded, “I’ve never accepted any restitution for my work on Wikipedia—it’s purely voluntary … Editing these projects is relaxing and rewarding—those are both premiums in any prospective job.”

Another Wikipedia editor with a mission is Giraffedata, aka Bryan Henderson. He’s in the top 1,000 editors of Wikipedia for the sole reason of changing what he views as the incorrect usage of  “Comprised of.” Henderson thinks that instead of using “comprised of” people should use “composed of” and so he goes through millions of Wiki pages and changes each instance… one at a time. He doesn’t even use a bot or script. Which is admirable, but man… that seems like taking nitpicking grammar to an entirely new level.

1. Cajun Navy

The United States of America has a mythos surrounding its citizens’ independence and their can-do attitude. Pundits always talk about a golden age when Americans only had themselves and their community to depend on. They went out into the West and built whole towns themselves with little to no government help. Alone in the wilderness, when disaster hit they only had themselves and the community to get the job done. This attitude of coming together in times of disaster has no finer example in the modern age than the Cajun Navy.

When Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans and the surrounding region it also destroyed the local and regional government’s ability to help its citizens. Not waiting for the feds to reach them, people with small boats and local knowledge came to the rescue. Dubbed the Cajun Navy, this grassroots volunteer group used small boats and risked life and limb to pull victims out of the rising water. Now they and their boats are always on hand when disaster hits, deploying as recently as 2017 when Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston.


Amazing Jobs!

– Volunteered, Donated and FREE

The NULL Solution = Episode 47

Leave a comment

The NULL Solution = Episode 47

…Skaldic has chosen his own path, he chooses the Null way…

CHAPTER FIVE

Null Not Void

 In times of doubt, when what she sees does not compute, Deimostra McKinney will pursue it to the point of understanding. Just why the Null are labeled as inferior eludes her. And why do the so-called Gifted have the right to lord over them. As far as she can tell the Null she has met are as pleasant, maybe even more genuine than their counterparts.

It is time for Cerella to finish the subject she hurriedly brushed aside when the Null first met the Space Family McKinney. At the time, ⃝    was the topic that dominated any discussion that shed light on the Null and their secluded Tower.

That Deimostra is a societal infant and that she can identify injustice is telling for sure.

“It has always been so Deimostra. It has never been an issue. They are not intuitive of the mind. They are inferior. They are well cared for. They lack for nothing. They are Null.”

“And yet Eridanus’ welfare has been in Skaldic’s capable control until the time we got back,” she takes exception to inferiority.

Skaldic has chosen his own path. He chooses the Null way.

“Then why weren’t we banished to our own tower or the Null Tower when stepped off the NEWFOUNDLANDER? You must have thought us to be less-than-nothing. Stowaways on your precious property… that’s what we were.”

“It was Celeste who convinced us that you were intelligent beings. She communicated in the Olde Language and you were not considered a threat to us.”

“There, don’t you get it Cerella? Why can’t the Null learn what we learned? Or why do they even need to?”

“We have the left old behind and have embraced the new. The Null have no interest in the ways of the Gifted.”

Celeste is near, picks up on her daughter’s argument discussion and adds her perspective. “On Earth, we had people we called slaves. They were savages from the wilds of the continent Africa. They were bought and sold like a commodity… the Null are not slaves.”

“But until The Gifted fell silent, the Null were not allowed out of their tower, like they have some strange disease. They aren’t slaves, but there is a distinct separation going on here.”

Mother raises both arms and shrugs, “She has a good point Cerella.”

Defeating centuries of perception is like running into a brick wall; the inexorable force meets the immovable object.

“All but Skaldic and his attendant will be permitted outside the Null Tower.”

And that, is as they say, is that.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 47


page 50