Indestructible Products – Try as You Might

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Amazing Indestructible

Products

You Can Buy

Today

If only we could bid for a Clark Kent-esque supersuit on eBay — life would be pretty awesome if we were invincible. Ridiculous daydreams aside, some people are hard at working developing indestructible materials. No one has succeeded yet,  but while we’re waiting there are a few things you can get your hands on today that come pretty close.

1. Embassy Tactical Pen

2. Kaventsmann Triggerfish Watch

3. Tungsten Ring

4. Yachiyo Metal Rug

5. Hurricane Proof Monolithic Dome Home

6. Bulletproof Suit

7. Bulletproof Public Toilet

8. ioSafe N2 Indestructible Hard Dive

9. Toyota Hilux

10. Indestructible Tires

This video was written by Mike Brown for TopTenz.net and reproduced by Writing Is Fun-damental


Indestructible Products

– Try as You Might

 

“Food Crimes” – Shocking New Drama from WIF

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Astounding Facts

About

Food Waste

Climate change is a serious problem – probably the most dangerous predicament humanity has ever been in. And every second that goes by and we’re not doing anything about it, the more dangerous things are going to become, and the harder it will be to fix them. But let’s not kick off this list on such a gloomy note, and instead look at what can be done to change that. The answer is as simple as what caused all of this in the first place – namely, the little things. Slight tweaks in our habits can go a long way, without us having to revert to a pre-Industrial, 18th century-lifestyle to get there. And yes, we are on topic here, in case you were wondering.

 Some call this the Age of Efficiency, in which Mother Earth forces us to, in a manner of speaking, evolve or get out of the away. And one of the first and easiest ways to become more efficient as a species is to address food waste. Up until fairly recently in our history, we didn’t have to bother ourselves with waste of any kind. But in more recent decades, however (with the spread of consumerism), we can no longer afford this luxury. Luckily, in what some call “the world’s dumbest problem” many see an opportunity – and that is, of course, wasted food.

10. The Overwhelming Statistics

There is a tremendous amount of food being wasted around the world. In fact, roughly one third of all food goes to waste, either during production and retail, or thrown away by the consumers themselves. That’s about 1.3 billion tons per year, or about half of the world’s entire cereal production. In the already developed parts of the world, like Europe and North America, consumers’ behavior plays a bigger part in food squandering than in developing countries. Here, on the other hand, technical, managerial, or financial constraints have a much larger role. The lack of infrastructure, agricultural grants, advanced harvesting and transportation technology, or adequate cooling facilities, account for most of the food waste. In all, developing countries lose 40% of their discarded food during harvest and processing, while already developed countries waste 40% of their food at the retail and consumer levels.

On average, rich countries produce almost 2,000 pounds of food per person per year, whereas poorer regions produce slightly above half, or 1,014 pounds. Out of these, European and North American consumers alone squander some 230 pounds, whereas consumers from Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are responsible for 17 pounds each. Every year, consumers from these rich areas waste almost as much as the entire food production in Sub-Saharan Africa – 222 million and 230 million tons, respectively.

9. Food Equals Money – Wasting One Means Wasting the Other

Tax cuts seem to be a trending topic nowadays. Now, regardless of the fact that taxes are what make a middle class broad and stable, governments usually sell these tax cuts to us as a great way to save money. But we have a much better alternative for you. While the planned tax cuts are said to save low-income households some $40 per year, the average household of four can save around $2,000 just by being more conscious about their food management behavior. It is said that, on average, one American family throws away about a quarter of all the food they buy, which is the equivalent of anywhere in between $1,365 to $2,275 annually. In total, the United States wastes 35 million tons of food this way every year, which is the equivalent of $165 billion. Worldwide, this sum jumps to roughly $1 trillion.

In an estimate by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food waste has risen in the United States by 50% since 1990 and is now three times as high as it was during the 1960s. One element that has exacerbated the problem, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is the steep rise in portion sizes and calorie density. Over the past 20 years, hamburgers have expanded by 23%, soft drinks have increased by 52%, while chips and pretzels have grown by 60%. Pizza, on the other hand, remained more or less the same, but it now has 70% more calories than it had in the ’80s. An average Caesar salad doubled, and a chocolate chip cookie quadrupled their respective calorie counts. Supermarkets have also employed various psychological tricks and tactics to make their customers impulse-buy. From offering various product samples, to providing us with big shopping carts, and strategically placing products around the store, they make us buy more than we actually need. One great way of avoiding these traps is to make a shopping list and then stick to it.

8. Fridges, Plates and Food Trays

In general, humans love wide open spaces. Interestingly enough, however, the same thing doesn’t apply to food. Like portion sizes, plates have also grown over the years. Whether it was the larger food portion or the larger dinner plate that came first, we have no way of knowing, but since the 1960s, average plates have increased by around 36 percent. And when we have a big plate, we tend to pile on more food, regardless of whether we will be able to eat it or not. Color contrast also plays a role here. Scientists have discovered that people tend to add more food to their plate if their colors –the food’s and the plate’s – match. The opposite happens, however, if the plate is similar to the background (such as the tablecloth). So, in other words, if you want to eat more greens, you should do it on a green plate against a red tablecloth.

Something similar applies to food trays. A big tray will make people add more to it, with much of the food ending up going to waste. Jill Horst, the director of residential dining services at the University of California Santa Barbara, noticed this in her college dining hall. In 2009, Horst decided to eliminate food trays altogether, and food waste dropped by 50%. Students can still eat as much as they want, but they now have to manage their trips and portion sizes.

But when it comes to our homes, oversized fridges are the main cause for food going bad. Like the plate, fridges have also increased in size, especially in the United States, where we have 25 cubic feet (and larger) models. By contrast, most European fridges are around 10 cubic feet. We’re not comfortable with a seemingly empty fridge, and we tend to want to fill it. But a lot of food products can still spoil in a fridge after only a week, and a big one makes us buy more than we would be able to consume during that time. Refrigerators were also proven to decrease the value of food we put inside. Surveys have shown that we feel less guilty if we drop a carton of eggs that’s been sitting in the fridge for several days, as opposed to when we just got home with it from the supermarket.

7. Land, Water, and Biodiversity Simply Wasted Away

Another way of looking at our own inefficiency when it comes to food is to analyze the three criteria listed above. In 2007, the total land area used on food that eventually ended up at the dump was around 1.4 billion hectares. That’s more than Canada and India put together! The major contributors when it comes to food waste are meat and dairy. Now, even though these make up just 4 and 7 percent of all the wasted food, respectively, these squandered animal-based products take up a whopping 78% of the surface area mentioned above. To better understand this phenomenon, we should be aware that an area roughly the size of the entire African continent is made out of pasturelands, while a third of all arable land available is used for animal feed.

What’s more, roughly 10 million hectares of forest worldwide are being cleared annually. Food management inefficiency contributes to a large degree here – over 74% – with agricultural lands expanding into wild areas at an unprecedented rate. Overfishing is of serious concern, as well. It’s estimated that by 2048, there will no longer be any more commercially viable fish left in the oceans. This is in part because fishing is still seen as hunting, where fishermen catch as much as they possibly can – not because of demand, per se, but because other fishermen might catch them if they don’t. Secondly, size-selective fishing has cut the average size of fish in half over the past four decades, and has severely hindered their capacity to replenish their populations. Moreover, bycatch – or marine species caught unintentionally and then discarded – amounts to 27 million tons annually (since 1994). Over 300,000 whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and porpoises also die in fishnets every year.   

When it comes to our fresh water supply, 70% goes into agriculture, 20% is used in industry, while the remaining 10% is for everyday, domestic use. Wasted food accounts for a quarter of all available fresh water on the globe. That’s equal to 3.6 times the amount of total water used in the United States, the annual discharge of the Volga River (the largest in Europe), or about 60 cubic miles in total.

6. Just a Quarter of All Food Waste Can Feed All the World’s Hungry

Yes, this is the sad reality we are currently living in. On average, the United States throws away enough food to fill up 730 football stadiums to the brim every year – half of which is untouched, fresh, and completely edible food. That’s equal to 20 pounds for every man, woman, and child per month. In other words, the United States, like many European countries, has twice as much food stacked on supermarket shelves and in restaurants than it actually needs to feed the American people. If we were to take into account the amount of corn, oats, and other edible plants used as animal feed, the United States has four times as much food as its population needs. And yet, 1 in 7 Americans need to use food banks or are struggling to put food on the table. That’s nearly 50 million people.

Internationally, well over 800 million people endure regular hunger or are malnourished. The 1.3 billion tons of food discarded for various reasons worldwide is enough to feed more than 3 billion people, or 10 times the population of the United States. Now, if we were to save a quarter of all the food wasted, we would be able to feed over 870 million people – more that the world’s entire hungry population. When looking at these numbers, we can see why some people call this the world’s dumbest problem. This incredible amount of excess can only be characterized as a success story that started some 12,000 years ago with the Agricultural Revolution. But our incredibly poor management pushes the planet’s ecological limits to the brink of collapse, and this success is quickly turning into a tragedy. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be over 9 billion people on Earth. Will the other 1.5 billion people have enough to eat, or will they go hungry?

5. Unsustainable Beauty Standards

Over the past several decades, we’ve gotten so used to the food abundance all around us that we’ve begun to grade our food in terms of its appearance. Never mind the fact that ‘ugly’ foods are totally good to eat – if they don’t meet absolute perfection in terms of their shape, size, or coloring, we simply throw it away. And by we, we’re referring to the farmers who grow this food in the first place. They’re not really to blame here, however, as they are the ones who have to bear the financial cost of this wasted food. A slight bump, a variation in color, or any other simple imperfection can downgrade a piece of fruit or vegetable from a Class I to a Class II, with a price decrease of two thirds or more.

This makes it completely unprofitable for the farmers to even pick them up – spending even more money, time, and energy in the process. Under normal circumstances, farmers throughout the entire agricultural industry have to leave more than a third of their harvest to rot on the ground because of these government-approved grades and standards. But these undesirable fruits and vegetables could easily find their way into the hands of people who actually need it, right? Yes, but unfortunately the cost of picking, packaging, storing, and shipping this produce is not covered by any reliable government grants or tax breaks, and farmers have to, first and foremost, look after their own bottom line.

And once these top grade foods do make it onto the shelves, supermarkets and grocery stores have to overstock so as to give the appearance of abundance. They are fully aware that if only a few items remain on display, people generally don’t want to buy them. This trend happens because we tend to assume that the last option is, more often than not, a bad option – which in this case is just false. And as a result, this overstocking leads to many items going bad, either on the shelves or in the store’s warehouse.

4. If It Was a Country, Food Waste Would Be the Third Largest Emitter of Greenhouse Gases

See? We told you that climate change stuff in the intro was on topic. Agriculture is, without a shadow of a doubt, humanity’s biggest impact on the planet. It takes, by far, the largest amount of land and water of any other activity. Soil degradation and water pollution are topics that we won’t even begin to touch on in this list, and instead, we’ll only try and focus on air pollution instead. After all, the change in the chemical composition of our atmosphere is what causes global warming and climate change in the first place. Worldwide, food waste accounts for 3.3 billion tons of CO2 and CO2 equivalents in the atmosphere. To put this into perspective, if it were a country, it would rank as the 3rd highest emitter after China and the United States – and that’s without actually subtracting these countries’ own share of wasted food. Nevertheless, these emissions can be broken down into two parts.

First, we have methane gas emissions coming from rotting food. If we were to throw away an apple core or a banana peel somewhere in the woods, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But when hundreds upon hundreds of tons of organic material are piled in landfills, this food waste begins to decompose in an air-depleted environment, which leads to the creation of methane gas. And as some of us know, methane gas is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. American landfills are responsible for 17% of all the country’s methane emissions. Second, we have all the energy that’s used to produce this food in the first place. It is estimated that for every one kcal of food, farmers use 3 kcal of fossil fuel energy. And this is before taking into account food processing, transportation, or storage. In 2003 alone, the United States consumed over 300 million barrels of oil on food that made it straight to the dump, where it almost immediately began churning out methane gas.

3. Misleading Expiration Dates

We don’t know about you guys, but we here at TopTenz used to suffer mini heart attacks every time we realized that the yogurt we’ve been so feverously munching down on was two days past its expiration date. But if you are anything like us (and if you are, our sincere condolences), then rest assured because as it turns out, almost all of these dates are complete BS. The bad news here is that these expiration dates are at best an approximation, and at worst, a way for food manufacturers to make a quick buck by indirectly telling us to throw away perfectly edible food and then go out and buy more. To date, only baby formula has a federally-required expiration date stamped on it, while all the other ‘best-by’ labels are up to the manufacturers themselves.

Expiration dates began appearing around the early ’70s when much of the population stopped growing and making their own food and began buying it from grocery stores. These stores then came up with the idea of an ‘Open Dating’ system, which is when a manufacturer voluntarily stamps a date on its food product, loosely indicating when the item will reach peak freshness (not when it will go bad). This method was used by retail stores to determine for how long to display it on their shelves. The ‘Closed Dating’ system, on the other hand, shows the date when the item was produced. Though helpful at first, this system ended up being taken too literally by consumers and is now a much bigger problem than a solution. Even though it’s almost impossible to determine how much edible food is thrown away based on these dates, surveys have shown that 54% of consumers believe that eating food past their best-by date is a health risk. What’s more, 91% of consumers have said that they occasionally throw away food past their ‘sell-by’ date, while 37% said that they always toss their food after its ‘best-by’ date.

The US government had several pieces of legislation in the works regarding these expiration dates, but with the exception of baby formula, none of them went into law – except maybe in our heads. In any case, this is by far the fastest and easiest way for any government to begin tackling the problem of food waste. In the meantime, everyday consumers shouldn’t take them too seriously and only use them as a base of reference. Even though they look official, they’re not.

2. The Landfill Lunch

With all the facts presented here about food waste, it could be quite hard to understand why politicians don’t talk about this issue, let alone do anything about it. To be fair, governments are oftentimes nothing more than the ‘mirror-reflection’ of the people they represent, and only after enough citizens actively demand something will things begin to change. Nevertheless, it’s never a bad idea to bring up the topic of food waste with the world’s political society. This is everyone’s problem, after all, and we all need to find a solution. And what better way to make politicians start talking food waste than to serve it to them at lunch, right? Well, this is exactly what happened during a 2015 UN Summit, where over 30 world leaders, including France’s then-president François Hollande and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, were seated at the dinner table and catered to by some of the world’s most prestigious chefs.

Everything seemed normal until they were presented with the US-themed menu. Prepared by renowned New York chef Dan Barber and former White House chef Sam Kass, the meal was comprised of, for starters, the so-called ‘Landfill Salad’, made out of vegetable scraps and sub-par apples and pears. The veggie burger was made out of “pulp left over from juicing,” and a “repurposed bread bun.” The fries were actually a kind of starchy corn used in animal feed, which makes up 99% of all the corn produced in the United States. And as refreshment, the distinguished guests were served “Chickpea Water”… or the liquid that’s drained from a can of chickpeas. In an interview, Barber said, “It’s the prototypical American meal but turned on its head. Instead of the beef, we’re going to eat the corn that feeds the beef. The challenge is to create something truly delicious out of what we would otherwise throw away.”

1. The Awesome Power of the Individual

As average citizens of the world, living in the relative comforts of anonymity, we oftentimes find it daunting and feel almost helpless to do anything about the global state of affairs. Even if we were to do our best and waste little to no food whatsoever, it would still feel like a drop in the ocean. But never underestimate the power of leading by example. Instead of feeling down – or worse yet, being part of the problem – disregard your negative feelings and focus on the positive. Convince several of your friends of the benefits of not wasting food, and before you know it, you might start a chain reaction that can alter the face of the world.

But let’s tone down the inspirational talk for a moment and focus on a real-life example instead. Selina Juul, a graphic designer living in Denmark, has been credited by the Danish government for singlehandedly helping the country reduce its food waste by 25% in just five years. Today, Denmark is the leading country in the worldwhen it comes to managing its food waste. The whole thing started several years ago when Juul established a lobby group called Stop Spild Af Mad (Stop Wasting Food). As a Russian immigrant, she moved to Denmark when she was 13 and was shocked by the sheer amount of food people were wasting on a daily basis.

“Coming from a place where there were food shortages and people queued for bread, I was amazed at how much was wasted in Denmark, so I started a Facebook page,” she said in an interview. Juul then began offering tips like, “encouraging people to make a list before they go to the supermarket or take a picture of the inside of your fridge with your phone, if you have no time.”

Three months later, and based on her ideas, Denmark’s largest supermarket chain began replacing its quantity discounts like “buy two get the third free” with single item discounts to minimize food waste. An average supermarket wasted on average 100 bananas per day, but after they put up a sign saying “take me I’m single,” the number of discarded bananas dropped by 90%. Today, every supermarket in Denmark uses at least one food-saving strategy. “She basically changed the entire mentality in Denmark,”said Maria Noel, communication officer at a Danish retail company.


“Food Crimes”

– Shocking New Drama from WIF


 

Man-made Islands – WIF Travel

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Amazing

Man-Made

Islands

The gradual formation of the Earth has given us some impressive islands, which are home to some of humankind’s biggest cities and even countries. While humans can’t make islands as impressive as mother nature, we’ve certainly have made some very cool ones. These are 10 of the most amazing artificial islands from all around the globe.

 10. Notre Dame Island (Canada)

In order to get ready for the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, the city of Montreal, Quebec, needed to build a metro system. In order to build one, they needed to dig out 15 million tons of rock, and they came up with an ingenious way to use it – they built Notre Dame Island in the Saint Lawrence River.

Today, the island is home to several tourist attractions, including the Jacques Villeneuve Circuit, which is where the Canadian Grand Prix is held, and it’s also where the Montreal Casino is located.

9. Wilhelmstein (Germany)

Wilhemstein is found on Lake Steinhude, which is the largest lake in northwestern Germany. Its construction was ordered by William, Count of Schaumburg-Lippe, and it was built between 1765 and 1767. Fisherman would take rocks over in their boats and then drop them in the water until the island was formed.

The island is 134,548 square feet and was originally designed to be a fortified hideaway for the Count. Today it is a museum and a tourist attraction.

8. Treasure Island (USA)

The artificial island with the best name started off as a sandy shoal off the coast of San Francisco. The city decided the shoal was a hazard for boats, so construction on the island started in 1936, overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 25 million cubic yards were taken from all over the bay to make the island, which is a mile by a mile-and-half. It was completed in 1939, just in time for the Golden Gate International Exposition. After the exposition came to an end in September 1940, the Navy took it over and it became Naval Station Treasure Island. It was closed in September 1997 for civilian use.

Today, the island is best known for its flea market and annual music festival called Treasure Island Music Fest, because if you’re holding a concert at a place like Treasure Island, you don’t really need a clever name.

It also has a restricted area of abandoned houses because the soil is contaminated with radioactive waste. The Navy never explained why there was radioactive waste, but there are two theories. The first is that they repaired ships there that may have been exposed to nuclear radiation during nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific. Another theory is that they purposefully covered a ship in radiation to train servicemen to wash off the radiation.

For decades, the Navy hid the fact that the island was contaminated with radioactive waste and then refused to investigate it when it was made

public. It was only in 2010 that they started to clean up the area.

Last year, after 20 years of planning, it was announced that 8,000 homes, a hotel, and parks are to be built on the island, which will cost $5 billion.

7. Hulhumalé (Maldives)

Found in the Indian Ocean, Maldives is a tropical country and home to a 0.7 square mile man-made island called Hulhumalé. People first moved onto the reclaimed island in 2004, and as of 2016, it is home to 40,000 people.

When developing the island, there was a focus on sustainability and the island was designed to be climate change resilient. It’s also the only smart city in Maldives; there is a smart grid built into the city and it has a state of the art traffic light system.

On the island, you can find hotels and restaurants, but the main attraction is the beautiful beach, which has water that is full of marine life. Water sports, like snorkeling, are available and boat trips are quite popular.

6. THUMS Islands (USA)

The THUMS Islands were constructed in 1965 in Long Beach, California. They’re a set of four artificial islands, and the name is an acronym for the five companies who had it constructed – Texaco, Humble (now Exxon), Union Oil, Mobil, and Shell. From the companies who built it, you’ve probably gathered that there aren’t any homes on the island, and you’d be totally correct. Instead, the islands are oil drilling facilities.

The problem facing the developers when constructing the islands is that oil drilling facilities aren’t exactly the prettiest structures and the area where they planned to build the facility was full of million dollar beach front properties. So to make it less of an eye sore, they hired architect Joseph Linesch, who was known for his work on theme parks like Disneyland. The final product is what The Los Angeles Times calls “…part Disney, part Jetsons, part Swiss Family Robinson.”

 The island is still used for oil drilling and as of 2015, there were about 1,550 active drills.

5. The World (United Arab Emirates)

The United Arab Emirates’ biggest and most populous city, Dubai, has several impressive man-made islands and one of the most interesting projects is the World Islands. Construction started on the islands in 2003, but momentum on the project came to a halt because of the 2008 financial crisis. Since then, the 300 islands that make up the seven continents have started to sink into the Persian Gulf.

In 2014, the project came back to life and construction restarted on the islands. The developers said that it will have lavish hotels and restaurants, along with half-submerged, half-skylit floating homes that are called seahorses. They cost $2.8 million each and 70 percent have already been sold.

4. Amwaj Islands (Bahrain)

Bahrain is a small country in the Persian Gulf and it is home to a group of beautiful artificial islands called the Amwaj Islands.

Construction on the islands started in 2002 and from the beginning it was designed to be a smart city. Cisco and Oracle were given contracts to develop fiber optic networks for all the homes and businesses on the islands.

The islands have different sections and one of the most impressive areas is Al Marsa, also known as the Floating City. The houses are surrounded by deep canals, which allows home owners to park their boats in front of their homes, making it look like a very modern version of Venice, Italy.

Another impressive area of the islands is the Central Lagoon, which is the commercial area of the islands. In the Central Lagoon, there is nearly 600,000 square feet of commercial space including open-air markets and two dozen restaurants.

3. IJburg (Netherlands)

In cities where there are housing shortages, governments and real estate developers have to get a little creative when it comes to building new homes. One city that is having a particularly difficult time with a lack of housing is Amsterdam. One of their solutions is a series of artificial islands called IJurb.

Construction on the islands started in 1996 in IJmeer, which is a lake east of the city. There are three islands: Steigereiland, Haveneiland, and Rieteilanden, and they are connected to each other and the mainland by bridges.

As of 2015, there were 20,000 residents living in IJurb, but once construction is completed, it will provide homes for 45,000 people. Also on the islands are schools, shopping centers, hospitals, restaurants, and beaches.

Within IJurg, there is a neighborhood called the Waterbuurt or the Water District. In that neighborhood, the homes are floating houseboats that are moored to jetties. People who don’t mind spending a little bit more even have a dock outside their home where they can dock their boat.

2. The Pearl-Qatar (Qatar)

Qatar is an oil rich country in the Middle East, and even though it may be physically impossible to play soccer there because of the extreme heat, it’s set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. A few tourists coming to enjoy the World Cup will be able to stay on one of the most unique man-made islands in the world, the Pearl-Qatar. Construction on the infrastructure of the island took about 10 years and it was completed in 2014.

It has nearly 20 miles of coastline and on the island there are three five-star hotels, 492,000 square feet of international retail, restaurants, and entertainment. This includes a 64,000 square foot family entertainment center.

As of 2014, there were 12,000 people living on the island, but that number is expected to increase four-fold by 2018.

1. Palm Jumeirah (United Arab Emirates)

On both sides of the World Islands are the two Palm Islands. On the left is Palm Jumeirah and on the right is Palm Jebel Ali. Palm Jebel Ali has yet to be finished and it’s unclear when it will be completed. When the construction is finally done it’s expected to house 250,000 people, and it will have four theme parks. Construction on Palm Jumeirah went a bit smoother and in 2006 people started to move to the island.

When it was completed, it added 320 miles to the coastline. Amazingly, out of the two islands, Palm Jumeirah is the smaller one and it’s only about half the size of the Palm Jebel Ali. It’s home to several hotels, resorts, restaurants, and shopping centers. It also has a monorail to get around.

All three of Dubai’s artifical islands were built by dredging up millions of cubic feet of sand from the seafloor, and then sprayed into the pattern of the islands using GPS. Then, for the Palm Jumeirah, seven million tons of mountain rock were used to form a seven-mile breakwater around the 17-fronded palm tree to protect the island from waves and ocean storms.


Man-made Islands

– WIF Travel

Game Changing Moments – WIF History

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Historical Moments

That Changed

Everything

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

 10. James Comey Releasing The Final Report About Hillary Clinton

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

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

9. The Assassination Of Abraham Lincoln

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

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

8. The Yalta Conference Reinforced Soviet Hegemony In Eastern Europe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Game Changing Moments

– WIF History

Truth or BS? – Wild Card Saturday

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Things That Sound

Like BS,

But Are True

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

 10. The Highest Court of the Land

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Hippos Sweat Red and it Works Like Sunscreen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Why is Bluetooth Called Bluetooth?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Truth or BS

– Judge 4 Yourself

Rare Can’t-Miss Photos – WIF Photography

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Rare Pictures

You Should See

With the almost insane amount of pictures taken on a daily basis around the world these days, it’s quite hard to say that there’s such a thing as a rare one. That same thing certainly doesn’t apply for past photos. But regardless of whether they’re past or present, there are some rare pictures out there that you should definitely see. And that’s because, as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, unless you’re standing in front of the bathroom mirror, trying to subtly flex so you can impress strangers on Instagram.

 10. Maradona’s Hand of God

It was on June 22 during the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico that history was written, and past injustices were avenged – or so the Argentinians say. It was Argentina facing England in the quarter-finals and tensions were running high among the 115,000 fans in the stadium. It was only four years earlier that the two countries were again engaged, but in a totally different way. That was during the Falkland War, fought over the islands in the South Atlantic – a short, but brutal conflict that ended with Argentina’s defeat. So, as you can imagine, the match was for far more than just the chance at the title. Luckily for Argentina, however, they were playing their greatest footballer ever – Diego Armando Maradona.

Six minutes into the second half and the man-legend himself was in the penalty area with the ball flying towards him. The English goalkeeper was charging forward to punch the ball away, only for Maradona to somehow head it over him and into the goal. The crowd went wild! After the match, however, he jokingly commented that the goal was “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.” As you can see in the photo, he wasn’t a particularly tall player, only 5-foot-4, and so he made use of his left hand so he could reach it. Just in case you’re unaware, unless you’re the goalie using your hands in soccer (or football, if you like) is very illegal. And almost everyone, his teammates included, saw it, with the exception of the referee. Maradona later said that “I was waiting for my teammates to embrace me, and no one came… I told them: ‘Come hug me, or the referee isn’t going to allow it.” That goal later became known as the Hand of God.

And to make matters even worse for the English, only four minutes later Maradona scored another goal, voted in 2002 as the Goal of the Century. The match ended 2-1 for Argentina, and they went on the win the World Cup. After the England match Maradona said that “Although we had said before the game that football had nothing to do with the Falklands war, we knew they had killed a lot of Argentine boys there, killed them like little birds. And this was revenge.”

9. The Night Prohibition Ended

It’s somewhat amazing and funny to see a group of grown men and women looking like a bunch of kids who just turned 21. And it’s not like most of those people in the photo weren’t drinking any alcohol throughout the Prohibition Era, but they could now do it legally. Soon after the end of WWI, Congress passed the 18th Amendment into law, prohibiting the sale and manufacture of alcohol all throughout the United States. Originally intended to crack down on crime, drunkenness and lewd behavior, Prohibition ended up doing the exact opposite in most respects.

While alcohol consumption did fall by nearly 70% during the early years, it nevertheless gave rise to organized crime. The years that followed weren’t called The Roaring Twenties for nothing, you know. Underground speakeasy lounges opened up all over the place, and the country experienced a high rise in smuggling and bootlegging. It is estimated that around 10,000 people died of alcohol poisoning during the Prohibition Era from bootleg whiskey and tainted gin. The government even poisoned alcohol in order to scare potential drinkers. Some grape growers, who didn’t replace their vineyards with orchards, opted instead for manufacturing juice concentrates to be sold in brick form. Consumers would dissolve those bricks in water and get grape juice. But there was a clear warning on the label to not leave the solution to ferment for 21 days or it would otherwise turn into wine. And a good thing the warning was there, too – you know, for the consumer’s safety.

It was during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency that the 18th Amendment was repealed on December 5, 1933, as a way to raise taxes during the Great Depression that began several years earlier. Some states maintained the ban on alcohol many years after 1933, with Mississippi being the last to start legally selling alcohol again in 1966. But some counties spread throughout 10 states still ban it to this day. One such county is incidentally the one where Jack Daniel’s whiskey is produced.

8. What Does an Upside-down Iceberg Look Like?

As most of us know, icebergs only show about 10 percent of their actual size, with the rest being submerged underwater. And that upper part that we normally see is heavily weathered by the elements and is always covered in snow. But as filmmaker Alex Cornellwould come to see on a trip to Antarctica in 2014, the underbelly of an iceberg is even more incredible than its upper part. It has a stunning aqua-green color with different shades of blue and green pressed in different layers. And not to mention the liquid water that flows through it “almost like an ant colony,” as Cornell described it. The reason the iceberg has that amazing color is because the ice is ancient. Over many thousands of years, as snow piles on the ice, the one at the bottom forces all the air pockets out. In this state, heavily compacted ice absorbs a tiny amount of red light, giving it this bluish tint. And to see something like this is rare, even in iceberg country.

But as one of the scientists present on the ship said, this phenomenon could happen more often as time goes on. In the past, the ice sheets would extend for miles out to sea, and when icebergs did break off, they did it more calmly. But with the more recent increases in temperature, that no longer happens and the ice breaks off almost immediately after it no longer touches land. “Like squirting toothpaste out of a tube. A little bit of toothpaste comes out the tube, then it breaks off, and a little bit more comes out the tube, then it breaks off. So you get these really thin pieces of ice that flip over right when they’ve broken off,” explains Justin Burton, an assistant professor at Emory University.

7. Too Revealing?

Back in the 1920s lady beach goers were being arrested by the police for wearing swimsuits that were too revealing. But were these bathing suits too revealing? The short answer is… yes. Kind of. For the time. When looking at past events, it’s easy for us to judge them by our present standards, but as any good historian can tell you, you shouldn’t. Analyzing history based on our current views of the world is known as presentism and should be avoided if you really want to understand the events that happened back then. By looking at things through our present-day lens, we basically remove that particular event out of its own context and we end up judging those people for things that didn’t belong in their time or way of thinking.

In this photo, two women were being arrested by the police on July 12, 1922 for defying a Chicago edict that forbade “abbreviated bathing suits.” At the same time in New York, 20 female special deputies known as “Sheriffettes” were patrolling the beaches looking for ‘too much skin.’ In 1921, a woman was arrested in Atlantic City for wearing her stockings rolled down below the knees. When a police officer demanded that she roll them back up, she refused and ended up punching him in the eye. But looking at the broader picture,women’s bathing suits in the early 1900s were made out of wool, incredibly cumbersome, and had high necks, long sleeves, skirts, and pants. Not even men were allowed to be bare-chested, with the authorities saying that they didn’t want “gorillas on our beaches.” So, these suits could have easily been considered as “abbreviated” back then.

In any case, in 1908 came film star Annette Kellerman who got arrested on a beach in Massachusetts for wearing a one-piece body suit that showed her neck and arms. She brought it back from England and it was somewhat similar to men’s swimsuits at the time. By the 1930s and with the arrival of new clothing materials such as nylon and latex, swimsuits lost their sleeves and began hugging the body more. They also had shoulder straps that could be lowered for tanning.

6. Two Unlikely Partners in Crime

In November 2016, the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center posted several photos of a coyote and a badger working together for their common good. Interspecies collaboration is uncommon in nature, but not unheard of. And when it does happen, it’s usually between prey animals trying to increase their chances of survival, and not between the predators themselves. But in what can only be described as ‘synergy at its finest’, here we have two different predators working together to catch food for themselves. Even though the two were also spotted hunting alone, they do team up on occasion – and most often so during summer.

On the one hand, we have the coyote, who is an excellent runner and can catch prey trying to escape. But if that prey has a burrow in which to hide, then it’s game over for the coyote. Luckily, his friend the badger is an excellent digger, so if that happens and the prey runs into a hole, he then takes over the operation and gets the job done. While studying the pair, the researchers have come to the conclusion that by working together, not only do the two have a greater chance of actually catching something, but they also spend a lot less energy in doing so. So, maybe there’s a lesson in there for all of us on the merits of teamwork and cooperation.

5. The Day Sweden Switched Lanes

It wasn’t that long ago that the Swedes were driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, so on the 3rd of September, 1967, they changed it to the right side… literally. This day came to be known as H Day, where the “H” stands for “Högertrafik” – the Swedish word for “right traffic.” Now, even though the photo gives the impression that everything was in chaos, it actually wasn’t as bad as it looks. Four years before the switch happened, the Swedish government appointed a special committee to oversee the transition. They implemented an extensive education program, they advertised the change on milk cartons and even on women’s underwear. Several days before H Day, they put out over 130,000 reminder signs, as well as flyers on people’s windshields. During the night in question, the traffic was shut down for several hours across the country, over 360,000 road signs were changed, and the drivers were then instructed to change lanes once everything was in place. Only 157 minor accidents were reported on H Day with only 32 personal injuries.

The reason for the change was logical, even though many people didn’t really want it in the first place. For starters, most other European countries, Sweden’s neighbors included, were driving on the right-hand side already. Secondly, most cars in Sweden were imported from the United States and they already had left-side driver seats. In the early days, this mismatch of left-side steering wheel and left-hand roads proved to be an advantage for the Swedes because they had more to worry about with the poor conditions of the side of the roads than oncoming traffic, but by the 1960s this was no longer a problem. And lastly, the country witnessed a tripling of the number of cars in ten years and they were expecting to double again by 1975. So, they decided to make the switch before that happened. The change also brought with it a steep drop in road accidents, particularly during overtaking, or those involving pedestrians. The insurance claims also went down by as much as 40%.

4. The 110 Million-Year-Old Statue

When discovered, most dinosaur fossils look just like a pile of rocks, and only a trained eye can distinguish one for what it actually is. And in the vast majority of cases, these fossils are no more than mere fragments or partial skeletons. But back in 2011, every paleontologist’s wet dream came true when this 2,500-pound dinosaur fossil was unearthed in Canada’s Millennium Mine in Alberta. The fossil was so well preserved it even bears the tile-like plates and parts of its skin. This not only helped scientists have a far more detailed look at an actual dinosaur, but it also offered information regarding its color. Because, believe it or not, we still don’t know what color dinosaurs were, and all depictions we see of them are only based on informed speculation. Nevertheless, this dinosaur seems to have had a reddish or reddish-brown color, which was in contrast to its light colored horns.

When alive, this nodosaur stretched more than 18 feet long and weighed close to 3,000 pounds. The herbivore sported a tough, thorny armor on its back and two 20-inch-long spikes coming out of its shoulders, somewhat similar to bull horns. It is estimated to have lived sometime between 112 to 110 million years ago, during the mid-Cretaceous period, and most likely suffered a tragic end. Paleontologists speculate that it was swept out to sea, possibly during a flash flood, and once it sank to the bottom, minerals quickly infiltrated its skin and bones, turning the dinosaur into stone. Some pebble-like masses found inside the carapace were, most likely, the dinosaur’s last meal. Today, the statue-like fossil is at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Canada.

3. 41 Klansmen and a Ferris Wheel

This photo was taken in Cañon City, a small mining town in central Colorado, on April 27, 1926. One interesting thing about it is that it wasn’t until 1991, when it was donated to the Royal Gorge Museum & History Center in Cañon City, someone else (other than those Klansmen in the photo and some of their friends and family) had the chance to see it. And it took another 12 years before the photo somehow made it from the museum’s archives to the internet in 2003. The reason this is interesting is because the local newspaper ran a story called “Klansmen pose for picture on merry-go-round” without actually adding the picture. But regardless of the fact that it took this photo decades before people could actually see it, it nevertheless represents a somewhat crucial point in American history. And a hopelessly inaccurate newspaper headline, because geez, that’s totally not a merry-go-round.

That year was the KKK’s zenith in power, popularity, and influence over the country. By the mid-’20s the Klan had somewhere between 4 to 5 million members, or about 15% of the country’s entire eligible population. And what’s more, Cañon City was the Klan’s capital back then. The state’s governor was a Klansmen, the senator was openly endorsed by the KKK, the mayor of Denver had links with them, and the town’s Baptist Reverend, Fred Arnold, was the actual Grand Dragon. Now, even though their attire is identical, and the bigoted beliefs are similar, the 1920s version of the KKK was notably different than the Klan that emerged during the 1960s in the South.

For starters, the old-school Klansmen focused their attention on Catholics more than black people; they strongly supported Prohibition, and mostly used intimidation rather than actual violence to deter new immigrants. The end of WWI saw a great deal of immigration, mainly from Italy and other Southern European states, and the Protestants were afraid to lose their jobs because of them. But two years after this photo was taken, the Klan would all but disappear. In 1928, the Reverend Grand Dragon died unexpectedly, and with no succession plan in place, the KKK lost most of its influence in both politics and the general population.

2. Two Afghan Medical Students and Their Teacher

When looking at this photo of two female medical students listening to their female professor as they’re examining a plaster mold, Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be the first place that comes to mind, does it? But back in the mid-1950s, ’60s and early ’70s, the country was going through a period of relative peace and prosperity, spared for a brief moment in time from the many internal conflicts and foreign interventions that had plagued it for decades before, and have since. These two decades in Afghanistan’s history saw the biggest strides made by its people towards a more liberal and westernized way of life.

The country remained neutral during WWII and didn’t align with either of the two superpowers during the Cold War that followed. It nevertheless was the beneficiary of aid from both the US and the Soviet Union, who were trying to ‘court’ it to their side. Modern buildings began to spring up all throughout Kabul and burqas became optional for a while. If Afghanistan would have been allowed several more decades of social and economic stability, it would have been unrecognizable by comparison to today’s actual look. Unfortunately, however, things were not to last. Foreign pressure, military coups, subsequent invasions, and ensuing civil wars have made Afghanistan into what it is today – and the war still wages on. If anything, this photo shows what peace, even if it’s short lived, does to people.

1. Savage Capitalism

The buffalo, America’s most iconic animal (second only to the bald eagle) was nearly hunted to extinction by the late 19th century. Once, more than 60 million head strong, their numbers were reduced to only 100 by the early 1880s. The reasons for its systematic extermination were, first and foremost, industrialization and expansion. The Great Plains Indian tribes, most notably the Comanche, were standing in the way of the Americans’ expansion for decades and the best way to deal with them was to deprive them of their main source of food, which was the buffalo. Up until the 1860s, the Indians were hunting them at about a rate of 280,000 head per year – which was around the maximum of the sustainability limit the buffalo population could provide. But in the winter of 1872 to 1873 alone, more than 1.5 million hides were shipped out East. The motivation for this government-endorsed mass killing was the many factories springing up on the East Coast and the ever increasing need for industrial belts, and other everyday leather products.

Hunters were paid $3.50 ($110 today) per hide and could singlehandedly kill an entire herd in mere hours. They would choose a vantage point farther away and then shoot them one by one until all of them were dead. People were even doing it from trains traveling to and from the East and West Coasts, so as to entertain themselves. Many Indians were in on it too, even to the bitter end. And once the proud beasts were all dead, they were skinned and their carcasses left to rot where they fell. Once whitened under the scorching sun, the bones were collected and sent to be turned into fertilizer for the now buffalo and Indian-free Great Plains.

But Mother Nature had a rather ironic way of returning the favor to the savage capitalists. There was a delicate balance struck between the many buffalo herds and the Great Plains themselves, put there by countless eons of coevolution. And when the buffalo were all gone, and together with the intensive agriculture that followed, the topsoil slowly began to erode, leading to the devastating Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Many people died of dust pneumonia, malnutrition, and other complications. America then saw the greatest mass migration in its history, with over 2.5 million people moving to other places, and at a time when the country was already going through the Great Depression no less. Some scientists now fear that with the current climate trends, another Dust Bowl may be looming just over the horizon.


Rare Can’t-Miss Photos

– WIF Photography

Easy to Learn Languages – WIF Grammar

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Incredibly Easy

Languages to Learn

Everyone but the biggest knuckle-dragging Neanderthal agrees that learning another language is a good thing. Aside from unlocking a whole new way of thinking, it also allows you to appear worldly, sophisticated and (probably) great in the sack. But with only a small percentage of Americans and an even-smaller percentage of British speaking a second language, it seems most of us can never dream of achieving this common goal.

Or so you’d think. Despite what your Spanish-fluent coworker may want you to believe, not every language is difficult to master. For every tongue like Czech, Japanese or Mandarin that’ll leave your head spinning, there are a dozen that you can comfortably pick up over the course of a single, intensive summer. Not too long ago we told you about the hardest languages to master. Well, there’s a flip-side to that coin. Want to start unlocking the secrets of those exotic foreigners? Here are ten languages so easy even amiable doofuses like us could pick them up.

10. Spanish

Spanish is a major, major world language. If world languages were a high school, then Spanish would be the laid-back popular kid all the other kids want to hang with (English would be the frat dude who insists on chanting USA! USA! while everyone’s trying to talk). Most of Central and South America speaks Spanish, as does Equatorial Guinea in Africa and, err, Spain. Simply put, you learn Spanish and you’re unlocking a heck of a lot of the world for yourself.

So why is Spanish so easy for us English-speakers? Well, both Spanish and English incorporate a whole lot of Latin into their vocabulary. The structure is fairly simple, too. While there are some differences (you’d say “the car red” instead of “the red car”, for example), they’re pretty easy to wrap your head around. Then there’s the ease with which you can practice. Just about everybody living in the USA has access to Spanish-language cable TV, so soaking up that sweet vocabulary is super-easy.

9. Portuguese

Compared to other colonial powers, Portugal didn’t leave a particularly important legacy (sorry, Macau and Angola). But it’s greatest impact just happened to be in one of the largest countries in the Americas. Brazil is massive, a regional economic titan that sprawls across nearly 50 percent of South America. It has over 200 million residents, one of the greatest soccer teams on Earth, and more jaw-dropping natural beauty than even yo momma.

All this is supremely easy to access. Portuguese is closely-related to Spanish, with all the advantages that entails. In our high school analogy, Portuguese is basically Spanish’s shy but friendly cousin everyone secretly has the hots for. The flip-side of this is that if you already know Spanish then Portuguese is harder to initially get to grips with. This is because the two languages are stuffed with ‘false friends’, words that sound identical but carry very different meanings. So you might construct a perfect restaurant order in Spanish, only to find you’ve accidentally asked to spend a filthy evening with your waiter’s wife (or whatever).

8. French

We’re gonna let you in on a secret. If a language falls into the ‘romance’ category, then it’s gonna be easy for you to master. And ‘romance’ is a category French doesn’t just belong to; it’s a way of summing up France’s entire cultural ethos.

French is the prettiest, most-sophisticated girl at school. The good-looking dude who knows he’s the coolest in class. It’s a language that once was perhaps the most-important on Earth. Although those days are gone, it’s still Kind of a Big Deal. Want to travel to Morocco, Algeria, the Congo, Belgium, Switzerland or Haiti? Learn French. Want to impress the pants off your next boyfriend/girlfriend? Learn French. We’re not sure how much clearer we can make this. French is freakin’ cool.

Once again, French incorporates a lot of Latin words. It also has a strong history with English. In 1066, William the Conqueror stomped on England and made medieval French the lingua franca of the ruling classes. That influence can still be felt today, in words like encore, serviette and coup d’etat. In total, English incorporated over 10,000 words from French.

7. Italian

Italy never quite acquired the global clout its cousins did. Today, learning Italian pretty much restricts your travels to Italy. Lucky for you, Italy just happens to be one of the most-cultured, historically-important, and beautiful countries on Earth.

Italy is the reason you can learn Spanish, Portuguese and French with such ease. It was the Romans who spread out and brought Latin to these countries, stamping their mark on everywhere from modern-day Britain, to Libya, to Syria, to Germany. Spanish is essentially just a bastardized descendant of ‘Vulgar Latin’, the language used by the grunts and soldiers of the Empire. This means there’s a whole lot in common between the two modern tongues, one especially pronounced if you happened to learn Argentinian Spanish, which has a rhythm more suited to the backstreets of Naples than the sidewalks of Madrid.

Perhaps the biggest advantage to learning Italian is just how much awesome culture you get to unlock. From Dante’s Divine Comedy, to the films of Federico Fellini, Italian is the language of some of the world’s most kickass masterpieces.

6. Swedish

Let’s step away from the sunny climes of southern Europe. Sweden is a completely different kettle of (fermented) fish. A cold, snow-bound country in the darkest reaches of Northern Europe, it’s about as removed from our previous languages as rotten herring is from pasta. Yet, crucially, it isn’t all that removed from English. See, English doesn’t just have Latin roots; it also has Germanic. And Swedish is aprime example of a Germanic language.

For learners, this translates to a language that’s comparatively simple. Aside from shared words (like midnatt for midnight), the two languages have a similar grammar, meaning mastering Swedish is essentially an exercise in remembering lots of vocabulary. As a special extra treat, the verbs don’t change much. So while English speakers would say “Ispeak English, he speaks English,” a Swede would just say “I speak Swedish, he speak Swedish.”

So what are the advantages of learning Swedish? Not many, if you hope to travel the globe; Swedish is spoken by only 10m or so people, nearly all of them in Sweden. If you want to live in one of Europe’s most pristine countries, though, it’s a no-brainer.

5. Norwegian

Norwegian is the closest we have in the modern day to being able to speak Viking. That alone should be reason enough to study it. But if you’re not swayed by manly beards, manly helmets with manly horns, or man-punching your way across the seven seas, then there’s at least one other good man-justification. Norwegian is easy for English-speakers to learn.

Another Germanic language, Norwegian shares all the positives of Swedish, while beingeven simpler. The grammar is close to English, while verbs are easy to master (there’s little change depending on the context). Again, there are a lot of closely-related words. Again, the rhythm and emphasis are not too dissimilar. In a broad study conducted at the turn of the 21st century, the Federal government declared Norwegian one of the easiest languages for Americans to learn.

There is a downside to all this. Not only is Norway’s population under 6 million, about 95% of them speak perfect English. The language is taught at all school levels. Meeting a Norwegian who doesn’t speak English is almost as rare as meeting an American who is fluent in Norwegian.

4. Esperanto

Esperanto is the most widely-spoken made-up language in the world. Yup, even Klingon and Elvish have fewer devotees (perhaps related to Klingon and Elvish being stupidlyhard). Invented in 1887 by L.L. Zamenhof, it was designed from inception to be crazy easyto pick up. One of Zamenhof’s stated goals was to make a language so simple that learning it would be “mere play.”

To that end, he incorporated different bits from lots of European languages, mashed them all together, simplified them, and called it a language. The result is a tongue that sounds strangely familiar, whether you’ve ever encountered it before or not. Go watch a video of someone talking in Esperanto. Chances are you’ll find yourself vaguely understanding bits and pieces of it.

In lists like this, we wouldn’t usually include a made-up language, because that way madness lies. But Esperanto is in a different league. Around 2 million people have some knowledge of it, and it’s estimated that up to 1,000 families may be ‘native’ speakers. For comparison, that’s more native speakers than even an actual language like Cornish has.

3. Afrikaans

The language spoken by the descendants of Dutch famers in South Africa and Namibia, Afrikaans has a long and turbulent history. For some Boers, it is an integral part of their identity, a way of planting their flag in a culture that has changed seismically over the last 20 years. It’s also the African language English speakers stand the greatest chance of learning. For example, the sentence “what is that?” translates, unbelievably, to wat is dit?

Afrikaans exists somewhere between Dutch and English, while being simpler than both. The grammar is logical and consistent, with none of the weird exceptions English insists on throwing in. The verbs are also super-easy. While in English we use dream, dreamed and dreamt to all mean the same thing in different contexts, Afrikaans would simply use ‘dream’.

Again, Afrikaans isn’t a great traveling language. You’re pretty much restricted to just two countries in southern Africa. On the other hand, if you’ve ever wanted to understand Boer culture or to spend extended time in South Africa, it would almost be crazy not to learn it.

2. Frisian

Quick, hands up who has ever heard of Frisian? By our estimate, roughly 90 percent of you just sat on your hands, shook your heads and muttered something like “Fri-wha?”That’s OK, don’t sweat it. It’s a pretty obscure tongue. So, to quickly bring us all up to speed: Frisian is the native language of Friesland, a part of the Netherlands that Americans basically never go to, due to its lack of pot and hookers. It’s spoken by half a million people, and it’s probably the closest language to English in the world.

Seriously, Frisian and English were basically the same darn thing until comparatively recently. The two languages only started evolving independently 1,200 years ago, a long time in terms of getting over your last breakup, but next to nothing on the linguistic timescale. Even today, Frisians like to drop the old saying “good butter and good cheese, is good English and good Fries” into conversation. In both English and Fries, the sentence sounds identical.

If you’re a native English speaker, learning Fries is a walk in the park. While the written form looks more like Dutch, the spoken form has a near-identical vocabulary, sentence-structure and pronunciation to English. You’re probably reasonably fluent already, without taking a single lesson.

1. Dutch

Dutch is considered by linguists to be the easiest major language for English speakers to understand (Frisian’s easier, but by no stretch of the imagination is it ‘major’). It is spoken in the Netherlands (duh), Belgium, Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles, with about 23 million speakers worldwide. It has so much in common with English that you can learn it in almost no time at all.

This is the result of a happy historical accident. While most languages easy for English speakers incorporate Latin or Germanic root words, Dutch incorporates both. This means a staggering amount of Dutch vocabulary sounds extremely familiar to English speakers, with the added bonus that the structure is similar too. Pronunciation is also pretty intuitive, aside from the odd, weird vowel sound. Lastly, the grammar is consistent, logical and doesn’t feature any odd (for English speakers) stuff like genders or cases. For English-speakers, that’s like hitting the Konami Code of language learning.

The only downside with Dutch is similar to Norwegian. Nearly everyone in the Netherlands and Belgium speaks fluent English, meaning chances to practice your stuttering Dutch are basically non-existent.


Easy to Learn Languages

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– WIF Grammar