4th of July in History

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 Events That

Occurred On

The 4th Of July

For Americans, the 4th of July is one of the most significant dates in history. Yet, what many may not know is that a host of other historically significant events also occurred on this particular day. Here are ten of the most important for world history, arranged chronologically.

10. The Battle of Mantinea (362 BC)

Battle-of-Mantinea

In a battle of Greek city-states, the Thebans, led by Epaminondas, actually managed to defeat the famed Spartans. Epaminondas won the battle while fighting in the front line, resulting in him sustaining a fatal wound. To make matters worse for the “victors,” the two Theban leaders whom he intended to succeed him perished. A dying Epaminondas thus instructed the Thebans to make peace, despite having won the battle. As a consequence, Theban hopes for hegemony faded, while the Spartans were unable to replace their losses. Because both sides had lost their most capable leaders at Mantinea and its aftermath, the battle paved the way for the Macedonian rise as the leading force in Greece. An ascendant Macedon went on to unite most of Greece, in a campaign under Alexander the Great that conquered most of the Persian Empire, including Egypt.

9. A Major Turning Point In The Crusades (1187)

Saladin

During the Crusades at the Battle of Hattin, Saladin defeated and captured Guy of Lusignan, King of Jerusalem. French knight Raynald of Châtillon died in the aftermath, personally beheaded by Saladin. The Muslim victory set the stage for their march on Jerusalem, which they besieged successfully a few months later in the Autumn of 1187. These two victories destroyed the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, and thereby directly resulted in the coming Third Crusade, a major event in world history in which the Holy Roman Emperor joined with the kings of England and France to attempt to retake Jerusalem. They failed and as such, Saladin’s destruction of the Crusader army at Hattin, capture of Jerusalem’s king, and conquest of Jerusalem itself had long-lasting consequences for Middle Eastern history. If somehow Guy would have triumphed instead and prevented Saladin from moving on Jerusalem, the history of the Crusades and, therefore, of Christian and Muslim relations could have been quite different.

8. THE 4th of July (1776)

declaration-of-independence

During the American Revolution, The United States Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. Yet, American independence was not immediately recognized by the British. So, in 1778, American forces under George Clark captured Kaskaskia during the Illinois campaign, one of many victories that would eventually encourage the British to acknowledge America’s independence. The result meant that the United States Declaration of Independence would go down as one of the most important documents of American times. At least two dozen countries around the world drew upon this document when drafting their own declarations of independence, in the nineteenth through twentieth centuries. Moreover, that it inspired Americans to successful liberate themselves from British rule was not only a hallmark in notions of human rights, but also in ideas of democracy. Consider the number of absolutist governments in the centuries before 1776 versus the increasing number of constitutional governments in the years afterwards. America’s success inspired many other countries’ elder statesmen, whose words regarding freedom bear obvious resemblance to that established by Adams, Jefferson, and Monroe.

7. The Deaths of America’s Founders (1826 and 1831)

july-4-dead-presidents

Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, died the same day in 1826 as John Adams, second president of the United States, on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Just a few years later, fellow founding father, and fifth President of the United States, James Monroe passed away on July 4th, 1831. That three of the first five American presidents died on the 4th of July is not only obviously symbolic, it also reflects something of the end of an era for the first leaders of one of history’s most powerful countries. Their passing was not just the deaths of well-known American politicians, but giants of Western civilization whose legacy still appears visually in numerous monuments, films, and even on currency


6. Alice First Entered Wonderland (1862)

alice-in-wonderland

On July 4th, 1862, Lewis Carroll told Alice Liddell a story that would grow into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequels. Wonderland was subsequently published on July 4th, 1865. The number of adaptations of the book and its sequel, in films, television, and video games is enormous. Allusions to Carroll’s stories in popular culture are incredibly pervasive, especially throughout the Anglophone world, but also in non-English speaking cultures as well. Stories about Alice rival the Oz books and the writings of Jules Verne as far as being regularly adapted in various media over the years is concerned.

5. The Turning Points Of the American Civil War Concluded (1863)

ulysses-s-grant

During the American Civil War, Vicksburg, Mississippi was surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant after 47 days of siege, while 150 miles up the Mississippi River, a Confederate Army was repulsed at the Battle of Helena in Arkansas. On the same day, The Army of Northern Virginia withdrew from the battlefield after its loss at the Battle of Gettysburg, signaling an end to the Southern invasion of the North. These three defeats represented the turning point of the American Civil War. They prevented any remaining chance that a European power might intervene militarily on the South’s behalf. They also demonstrated decisively that the South could not successfully invade the North. For the remainder of the war, the South was now entirely on the defensive and, although she held out for two more years, they were two disastrous years that resulted in the deaths of numerous Southerners.

4. The New Colossus Enlightened the World (1884)

Statue-of-Liberty-1800s

The people of France offered the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World to the people of the United States on July 4th, 1884. The two allies participated in this symbolic act nearly a hundred years after both of their revolutions began in (1776 for America, and 1789  for France.) The erection of the sculpture symbolized the triumph of Enlightenment ideas of liberty, ideas that continue to enrapture large chunks of humanity. Moreover, the magnificence and endurance of the sculpture has led many to refer to it as a “wonder of the modern world,” and “The New Colossus.”

3. The End Of A Dynasty (1918)

tsar-nicholas-II

When Bolsheviks killed future Orthodox saints Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family, they effectively ended the Romanov dynasty that ruled the Russian Empires, one of the largest countries in human history after centuries of rule. The event also foreshadowed the end of other European dynasties amidst the cataclysmic First World War. Following the Russian examples, the Habsburgs of Austria, the Hohenzollerns of Germany, and the Ottomans of Turkey were also toppled by their people in rapid succession.

2. Modern Warfare Was At Its Most Massive Scale (1943)

battle-of-kursk

During World War II, the Battle of Kursk (the largest full-scale battle in history and the world’s largest tank battle) began at Prokhorovka Village on July 4th, 1943. The battle resulted in over a million casualties on both sides (Germans versus Soviets) and the loss of over 10,000 tanks, guns, and aircraft. This decisive Soviet victory crippled Germany’s offensive power in the East, in what was Germany’s final strategic offensive on that front, and thus the final realistic chance for them to turn the tide on the Eastern Front.

1. Filipino Independence Achieved (1946)

Philippines-Independence-Day

After 381 years of near-continuous colonial rule by various powers, the Philippines attained full independence from the United States. The independence of the Philippines coincided with a global trend in the years following World War II in which many African and Asian countries, previously colonized by Western powers, achieved their independence after centuries of Western domination.


4th of July

in History

Misunderstood Movie Trivia – WIF @ The Movies

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Popular Pieces

of Movie Trivia

(Debunked)

Everyone wants to provide small novelty pieces of information about beloved movies. Unfortunately, the high demand means that the product has gotten a bit diluted over time. Misunderstandings or even outright lies now permeate the pop culture landscape. We’re inclined to believe a lot of them if for no other reason than the reputation that people have in show business for being weird, or for crazy things to happen when millions of dollars are spent on make believe.

There’s too much respect for the truth to let that stand. Well, at least we want to help our readers put some smug people who think they’re the smartest people in the world because they know some piece of trivia in their place.

10. Alien’s Gender Flip

Since Ellen Ripley’s status as the main character (and sole survivor, not counting the cat) of the Alien franchise was a surprise in the original film of the series, the part being played by Sigourney Weaver instead of, say, her then-more famous male co-star Tom Skerritt made it a subject of a lot of discussion from 1979 onwards. One of the claims that popped up over the years was that the character was originally intended to be male. This seems to be a carryover from the genderflipped character Ruth Leavitt in the slightly less famous 1971 science fiction classic The Andromeda Strain.

None other than screenwriter Dan O’Bannon refuted the story. He clarified that, intentionally, none of the characters were gender specific in his script so that the casting director could take care of that. He had even included notes about this decision on the last page of his original screenplay. We’ll leave it up to the reader to decide what if anything this says about gender roles in fiction.

9. Johnny Depp/Jackie Earle Haley

It’s a classic story of an audition with a comical twist: Someone who doesn’t even intend to be an actor is just going along with a friend to audition for a job. Turns out the casting director prefers the friend who wasn’t intending to act, and that person goes on to be a big star. Something very similar to that happened to Bob Hoskins, for example. The single most famous example of this would likely be in 1983, when Jackie Earle Haley brought Johnny Depp along with him for a role in A Nightmare on Elm Street and ended up launching his friend’s career. Then for a fun coincidence, Jackie Earle Haley was cast as Freddy Krueger for the 2010 remake.

Except… no. Haley clarified in an interview in Esquire that all this talk of him and Depp at the audition was just a rumor. He doesn’t even know what the origin of the rumor could have been, just that him not bringing Depp there was crystal clear.

8. Daniel Day Lewis’s Insane Method Acting

Daniel Day-Lewis is as much famous for his extreme method acting as he is for winning three Academy Awards for Best Actor. For example, playing the primarily paralyzed Christy Brown in My Left Foot involved him staying in a wheelchair for the duration of the shoot. He supposedly insists on only being referred to by his character’s name. It’s all designed to instill the belief that he spends all day trying to think of himself as the character in some maniacal worship of the acting profession.

On the podcast I Was There Too, Paul F. Tompkins (who worked with him on There Will Be Blood) clarified that Lewis wasn’t so intensely in character at all. Between takes he would discuss the characters as if they were characters, he wouldn’t insist at all on being referred to by his character’s name, and he was fine with dropping the accent once the shoot was done for the day. Indeed, as Tompkins opines, it would be an indication that Lewis isn’t a good actor if he makes others uncomfortable with such unreasonable demands, since part of the nature of being a good actor is to pay attention to the needs of your collaborators.

7. Tricking Alan Rickman

No, this isn’t an assertion that it’s untrue that Alan Rickman was ever tricked. This is referring to a story that, in order to get a better reaction out of Hans Gruber for the shot when he is dropped off Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard, supposedly the director told him that he would be dropped on the count of three. However, to get a genuinely shocked reaction before Rickman had properly braced himself, though, he was dropped on the count of one.

Sorry to ruin everyone’s fun, but Rickman was asked about this very thing during a Q&A event. He unambiguously didn’t remember it happening, which – considering how vividly he remembered the director saying “we’re going to drop the actor” – means that would have been an aspect that would have stuck in his memory. Considering he remembered the fall being higher than the generally reported (40 feet instead of 25) he clearly wasn’t in the mood to downplay anything.

6. Al Capone’s Tailor

Bringing it back to the subject of method acting, we all know perhaps the second biggest method actor in the world was Robert DeNiro for years and years, starting with becoming a real cab driver for weeks to prepare to play Travis Bickle in 1974’s Taxi Driver. By the time 1987 rolled around, for The Untouchables the news went around that DeNiro was supposedly personally tracking down Al Capone’s tailor so that the pajamas he wore (and even his underwear) matched the crime lord’s.

As was pointed out by others well after this misconception spread, given that there was a 56-year gap between Capone’s incarceration and the production of The Untouchables, Capone’s tailor was very unlikely to be in the right shape to work. For one thing, Capone’s tailor was actually Louis Dinato, an associate of Capone’s whose main noteworthy aspect was being repeatedly questioned by the police even after Capone was imprisoned (to no avail), as if he were some sort of interrogation punching bag. The person who actually did the costume work for DeNiro was Rich Bruno, and given that he was only 52 when The Untouchables was made, it would have been quite a trick for the costumer to be tailoring for Al Capone.

5. Spider-Man’s 156 Takes

This one has been a favorite of trivia sites for years: Somehow Sam Raimi’s 2002 film Spider-Man had enough time in the production schedule to devote hours and hours (if not days) to shoot 156 takes of Tobey Maguire catching a tray full of food. Now granted, in 2002 CGI affordable enough for a throwaway gag wasn’t quite up to scratch, so there’s plenty of reason to do it mechanically instead of with computers. But Maguire didn’t do it alone and the “156 takes” claim is certainly a joke (evidenced by the fact that in its source, a commentary track, the commenter gets a laugh from it).

It explicitly was a combination of using a “mechanical rig” to drop the food and gluing the tray to Maguire’s hand, and using force-absorbing gel on the bottom of said food. In fact, if you go frame-by-frame, you can see a white substance stuck to the bottom of the apple. That at least confirms it wasn’t CGI, since why would a CG artist put that on there? Still, it definitely puts this back in the “SFX” category.

4. Werner Herzog’s Shoe Bet

Errol Morris and Werner Herzog are two of the most interesting documentary filmmakers working today, and their film careers were connected in a rather befuddling way. Errol Morris began his career in 1978 with the cult documentary Gates of Heaven(particularly beloved by Roger Ebert) at a time when he had little funding and getting distribution for the film would have been extremely difficult. Herzog came up with a bizarre bet to motivate his friend: If the movie were completed, Herzog would eat his shoe at the premiere. It was enough of an event that a short film was made of the preparation of the meal.

Then Morris came along during a Q&A session at the Lincoln Center and revealed that they actually didn’t have a wager – it was just something that Herzog had made up as an excuse to eat a shoe. Not wanting to be comedically upstaged, while telling the truth about this, Morris said he would joke for years that the bet had actually stipulated Herzog’s foot.

3. The Dark Knight’s Remote Futzing

Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in this 2008 blockbuster was so compelling that much of his manic behavior felt completely natural, leaving audiences open to the notion that even the biggest parts were improvised. A scene where the Joker claps in jail is an example. But the best known example is the scene where the Joker is blowing up Gotham General Hospital, but stops when there seems to be a problem with the detonation. In what was alleged to be improv, Ledger messes with the remote, and then the explosion resumes, leaving him to scramble onto the bus.

As director Christopher Nolan explains in a behind the scenes feature included on The Dark Knight blu-ray, the sudden stop in the explosion and the Joker’s pause was actually planned in advance. In fact, Warner Brothers provided a CGI mockup of how the scene would be staged as evidence. That’s much further than most studios go in debunking a piece of trivia.

2. Citizen Kane’s Non-Plot Hole

Since this 1941 film has for decades been known as arguably the best ever made, it was a delight for film buffs and critics alike to claim that the story has a gigantic plot hole right in the middle of it. The impetus for the story is that the titular Kane’s last word was “Rosebud” and it was supposed to be said to an empty room. Which begs the question of how anyone heard what his final word was if he was alone. There was a story circulated that this was pointed out to auteur Orson Welles by a member of the crew, and Welles responded some variation on “don’t you ever tell anyone this.”

The problem with the plausibility of that little story is that it’s not consistent with the content of the movie. While the opening scene has been watched by cinefiles and parodied many times by shows such as The Simpsons, the scene’s person who heard the words doesn’t appear until much later. Very near the end, the reporter that’s been spending the movie trying to learn from Kane’s intimates what Rosebud could mean has a brief chat with the butler Raymond, who explicitly says he’s the one who heard it. Raymond’s other main contribution to the movie is telling the reporter about the famous scene where Kane wrecks his room until he sees a snow globe and says Rosebud the first time. So if someone had asked Orson Welles about who heard the words, Welles would just have said Raymond instead of acting as if his entire movie were in jeopardy.

1. Being John Malkovich’s Beer Can

A lot of this trivia took a concerted effort to debunk or a celebrity to wanted to set the record straight. In this case, the thing that disproved it was completely unintentional. Indeed, the performer in question might not even have ever heard of the false story.

In Being John Malkovich, there’s a scene where the titular actor is walking by a road while he’s in a rut. An extra in a passing vehicle yelled “Hey Malkovich, think fast!” and threw a beer can at his head. Supposedly the scene was completely unscripted and instead of being rebuked for potentially ruining a take, the actor got a raise (some versions say he got a Screen Actors Guild card) because the line of dialogue was used.

The truth didn’t come out until Malkovich was doing a question and answer session known as a “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) on the popular website Reddit. One of his fans asked about that particular scene without mentioning it was supposedly completely spontaneous. The actor said that he was especially fond of that scene, and had been looking forward to it… as soon as he read it in the script. In fact, director Spike Jonze wasn’t even sure if any of the actors would be able to hit Malkovich in an acceptably low number of takes. In hindsight, it would have been a pretty bad idea to actively encourage extras to do things that might harm actors and ruin takes, so everyone should have found the story dubious even before Malkovich accidentally corrected them.


 

Misunderstood Movie Trivia –

WIF @ The Movies

Finders Keepers – Losers Weepers – WIF Treasure

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Hidden Treasures

Found in

Strange Places

When we imagine someone finding hidden treasures, we may think of uncovering massive shipwrecks under the ocean, or explorers discovering the legendary golden city of El Dorado. It turns out that ordinary people can find hidden treasure just about anywhere in the world. In these 10 stories, people were just going about their normal lives when they stumbled upon an unexpected fortune.

10. Golden Opportunity

Life as a janitor is never easy, and it’s not a career path that normally leads someone to become a millionaire. But for one sanitation worker in South Korea, another person’s trash is truly someone else’s treasure. In April 2018, a janitor working at the Incheon International Airport was changing the bags in a garbage can, and discovered solid gold bars hiding at the bottom of the bin that were wrapped in newspaper. They were worth 70 million won, or $64,807 US.  This employee (who wished to remain anonymous) turned the bounty in to the police, since he suspected that the gold bars were most likely connected to some sort of crime.

In South Korea, there is a “finder’s keepers” law, which says that anyone who turns in an item to the police is entitled to keep it if it is not claimed after six months. There is also a “lost articles act” which says that even if the original owner shows up to get their bars of gold, the janitor still gets to keep between 5-20% of the total value as a reward for turning it on. Considering that these bars were hidden for a reason, the likelihood of the real owner claiming them is slim-to-none.

9. Always Double-Check

The Cerezo family was going through an awful series of tragedies. 14-year-old Savannah Cerezo died in 2012, and in 2015, the family was going through financial problems, and their home went into foreclosure. Most people who buy lottery tickets watch the numbers on live TV with eager anticipation, but for Ricardo Cerezo, he simply bought lottery tickets every week out of habit, because he had some small hope that everything would get better.

Before she died, Savannah gave her parents a cookie jar as a gift. Ricardo treasured one of the last tokens of his daughter’s memory, so he kept all of his lottery tickets and other valuables in the jar. After several months of accumulating tickets, Cerezo’s wife threatened to throw out the slips of paper if he didn’t clean up. So, Cerezo took all of the tickets to his local gas station to have the clerk scan them. One of the tickets said, “file a claim.” He called the Illinois State Lottery, and found out that his ticket was worth $4.85 million.

8. Unique Taste Pays Off

Sometimes, when you go to a museum, a piece of artwork looks so simple, you cannot help but think, “I could do that.” Ben Nicholson is one of those artists. In his most famous works, he layered blocks of colors, and sometimes did landscapes and sculptures. One woman named Jo Heaven was doing some thrift shopping in 2015 when she spotted a picture with a scene of horses, deer, and houses screen printed on cloth.

Despite the fact that the image looked like an elementary schooler created it on MS Paint, Heaven recognized the name of English artist Ben Nicholson, because her mother was an art teacher. She also had a taste for art that was weird and quirky, so she actually intended to keep it for herself, and had no idea it was worth anything. When she got home, she was shocked to find out that it was actually pretty valuable. She eventually sold it for £4,200 or $5,691 at auction, and gave 10% of that back to the charity shop in Swindon where she originally purchased it.

7. Between the Pages

In 2012, a man named Carlos went to his local book exchange in Marlborough, Massachusetts. The program allowed locals to bring in their old books, and they could pick an equal amount to trade and take home with them. When Carlos got into his car with the stack of books, he opened one to skim the pages. He was shocked to see that it had been hollowed out, and had roughly $20,000 inside, along with other valuables. Instead of keeping it a secret, he tried to figure out who the original owner was. There was no name written in the book, and he had no idea who left it behind.

Carlos contacted the local news, saying that if the true owner comes forward by sending him an e-mail, he would give it back. They just needed to identify the name of the book, the approximate amount of money inside. They also needed to identify the other valuable objects that were hidden away. There was never a follow-up to this story, so we’ll probably never know if he got to keep the money, or if he reunited the treasure with its owner.

6. Under the Sea

A fisherman living on the Palawan Island in the Philippines dropped the anchor of his boat, and he noticed that it was stuck on something. He dove underwater to check, and the anchor was caught on the biggest clam he had seen in his entire life. He pried the mouth open, hoping to possibly find a pearl that he could sell to a jeweler. Instead of the stereotypical ball-shaped pearl, he found a massive white mound that weighed 75 pounds. It was unlike anything he had ever seen before.

Since this wasn’t the typical pearl that could be made into a necklace, he assumed it was worthless, and decided to keep it under his bed as a good luck charm.

The man’s aunt, a woman named Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao, works as a tourism officer for Palawan Island, and she was looking for ways to attract more people to come visit, bringing in some much-needed tourist dollars to help the local economy. Her nephew figured that this was such an odd object, maybe people would be interested in seeing it. So he brought the pearl to his aunt, and she put it on display behind glass. Once word got out about the story of this massive pearl, they discovered that it was valued at $100 million.

5. Hard Work Pays Off

The Elliot family had been tenants of a farm in Somerset County, England for years. After working the land for decades, they were finally able to get a mortgage to purchase the property in 1998. Cousins Kevin and Martin Elliot were running the farm together, so they decided that since the land now belonged to them, they could get out a metal detector and see if they could find anything buried on the land.

They knew that the property was very old, and it had been used as farm land for thousands of years. So when they pulled out the metal detector, they were not disappointed. They found 9,213 silver Roman denarius coins. There were so many, they had to carry them in buckets back to the house. After they were confident that they found all of the coins, they sold them to the Somerset County Museum for £265,000, or $358,224.35 US. While there is no report as to what the Elliot’s did with the money, it very well may be that the land paid for itself.

4. A Frugal Shopper’s Fantasy

Almost everyone who moved into their very first apartment had to buy things from a thrift store to furnish it, but almost no one has ended up with a fortune because of it. In 2007, a college student living in Berlin, Germany needed by buy a couch, so she headed to a local flea market to save money finding second-hand furniture. She paid $215 for a couch with a pull-out bed.

When she got it back to her apartment, she pulled out the bed to test it, and a tiny 10-by-12 inch painting was hiding inside. There was no signature on it, and she was unsure of its value, so she brought it to a local art auction. It turns out that the painting was from the 1600s, and it was painted by a friend of a famous Venetian painter named Carlo Saraceni. It was given the name “Preparation for Escape to Egypt” and it sold for $27,630.

3. A Gift From the Past

In France, crumbling chateaus are passed around to extended family every generation. The amount of work that would go into fixing up a mansion or castle and the responsibilities that come with it far outweigh the building’s actual value. Many older homes in aristocratic families remain untouched for several generations, and they fall into disrepair when the children choose to live their own lives in modern-day houses and apartments rather than dealing with their ancestor’s home.

So, when one heir (who wished to remain anonymous) inherited their family home in Normandy in 2016,  it was still filled with antiques and old belongings from years before. They decided to move the furniture, and there were tin boxes covered in a thick layer of dust. Hidden inside were gold bars and coins that were worth $3.7 million. The one and only downside it that they have to pay inheritance taxes after the sale. Even so, that should be more than enough money to make necessary renovations on the crumbling estate.

2. Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

Recycling plants take in scrap metal to melt it down and re-use. The plants hold various metal parts inside of bins, and an employee of Blue Grass Recycling in Burlington, Kentucky named Mike Rogers was cleaning out one of these barrels when he spotted green at the bottom. They were vintage US savings bonds that ranged anywhere from $50 to $500 each, and they were worth a total of $22,000. Someone must have accidentally donated a coffee can or metal container that held the bonds.

When he got home from work, Rogers and his wife did some research to figure out who the original owner was.  After doing some research, the only information he got was that these were purchased by a woman named Martha Dobbins, and they were for “Robert Roberts.” It may sound like a name that no one would dare to give their child, but Rogers actually found hundreds of men named “Robert Roberts” and he had no idea how to find the real owner.

Instead of giving up, he contacted every single Robert Roberts in the country, simply asking if they knew a woman named Martha Dobbins. When he finally found the right man, it turns out that he was 82-years-old, and his mother had died years before. She was secretly saving bonds for her son as a way to thank him for caring for her in her old age, but she died before she could tell him about it, which is why the money was accidentally given away. Just a few days before Christmas, Mr. Roberts got a huge gift he would have never expected.

1. Underground Bling

A farmer in Uekan, Switzerland was walking around his cherry orchard when he spotted something shining underneath the dirt. He started to dig, and found silver Roman coins. There had been a nearby Roman settlement 1,700 years ago in Switzerland, and that field was used for farming back then, as well. Thankfully, there had never been any homes built on top of the land, so the artifacts had remained untouched for all that time. The owner of the orchard called in professional archaeologists to dig up the cherry orchard in order to uncover as many artifacts as they could. In the end, they recovered 4,166 coins. Historians estimated that this amount of money would have been equal to one or two years of wages for a Roman.

Sadly, this farmer doesn’t get to sell the coins for thousands of dollars. There is a law in Switzerland that says that these kinds of historic artifacts belong to the Swiss people, even if it was found on private property. So the farmer got a finder’s fee, and the coins went to a museum.


Finders Keepers – Losers Weepers –

WIF Treasure

Sinister Ministers – Haunted Places of Worship

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Haunted

Places of Worship

Around the World

Temples, churches, mosques, shrines, synagogues, and so on are meant to protect us from evil, or at least serve as temporary refuges. Even the demonic gargoyles and grotesques on Gothic Christian cathedrals, as well as their cross-cultural counterparts, are only supposed to remind us of the forces of darkness—never to invite them inside.

And that may be why so many places of worship appear to attract ghosts, as lost, tortured souls in search of belated salvation. But some of them are allegedly haunted by worse, particularly, though not always, once they’re abandoned…

10. Ari Sephardi Synagogue, Israel

The Ari Sephardi Synagogue of Safed, the most elevated (and coldest) city in Israel, was already pretty ancient when Yitzchak Luria moved to the area in 1570. The old Jewish mystic, founder of modern Kabbalah, is said to have met with the long-dead Prophet Elijah there to discuss the mysteries of the Torah. And to this day, the tiny, cave-like room where they stood is considered a sacred spot.

But the building has also been haunted by apparently more malevolent entities. On a visit to Safed in 1921, the young Baba Sali, Rabbi Israel Abuhatzeira of Morocco, was told that demons had infested the temple. Anyone who went in, he was warned, never came out alive. In fact, things got so bad that the beadle (a kind of usher) had locked up the synagogue for good.

At first he refused to allow even the Baba Sali to get through the door, insisting the building was full of immovable corpses and that entry meant certain death. Eventually, however, the gatekeeper acquiesced—albeit begrudgingly and only to avoid obstructing his visitor’s “holy mission.” Besides, the Baba Sali assured him, the temple would be clear within minutes.

With his aide clinging to his side, the Moroccan stepped through the door and into the main synagogue, finding it filled with a strange blazing light despite the sun setting outside. Undeterred, the Baba Sali made his way to the Ark and read aloud from the Torah scroll, followed by some chants of prayer, until he felt that the danger had passed. He then invited the beadle to come through, dismissing the old man’s sheepish apologies for earlier refusing him entry. Since that time, the synagogue has been open to the public.

Still, the Ari Sephardi’s close proximity to the Safed Old Jewish Cemetery, which has graves dating back to the first century AD, as well as the devastating earthquakes that twice leveled this synagogue to the ground, all continue to uphold its formidably spooky reputation.

9. The Amherst Synagogue, USA

At the other end of the synagogue spectrum, on the surface at least, is the Amherst Synagogue in Williamsville, New York. Built in the 1980s, it remains a modern building even by American standards, with a red brick facade, large windows, and picnic tables outside; but nowadays it sits largely forgotten.

According to local rumor, the bodies of several kidnapped children were buried here, having been lured to their deaths by a mysterious man—a theory attested to by the people who claim to have seen their ghosts. One group of friends, for example, all swear they saw “a ghost child come from the ground.” Another visitor claimed they usually emerge at midnight.

The synagogue is also alleged to have been built on Native American land, hence the (admittedly dubious) photo of a phantom Indian in ceremonial garb at the site. Ghost hunters claim to have witnessed other entities too, including “a heavy set woman, something not human, and a priest or Spaniard … [with]long brown hair and a cross.” Some even say they’ve been chased away by someone or something with an axe. Suffice it to say that many visitors to the site consider it the most haunted they’ve ever been to.

Yet despite three men apparently having lost their lives during the synagogue’s construction, there’s very little information about it.

8. Oiwa-inari Tamiya Shrine, Japan

The suburbs of Tokyo are supposedly home to many vengeful ghosts, or onryo—spirits believed to be capable of causing physical harm. They’re so entrenched in the city’s mentality, in fact, that property developers sometimes forgo profits to avoid disrupting their haunts.

Perhaps the best known—thanks to numerous stage, film, book, and TV dramatizations—is the restless spirit of Oiwa, a woman killed by her cheating husband in 1636. Her ashes are meant to be buried outside the Buddhist Myogyo-ji Temple in Sugamo, where she is said to appear as a horrifically twisted, or “molten,” face in a lantern—her husband’s choice of poison having also destroyed her beauty.

According to legend, Oiwa’s onryo immediately set about destroying her husband’s remarriage from beyond the grave, forcing him to poison his new wife and family. And when she killed him off as well, her remaining relatives built a Shinto shrine to placate her ghost.

While there are justified doubts as to the truth of this story—with some claiming it was all just made up by the kabuki playwright Tsuruya Namboku IV—theatre and media companies are known to pay their respects at the Oiwa-inari shrine before embarking on any adaptation of her story, apparently to avoid fatal “accidents” during production.

7. Avebury, UK

It’s unclear whether the Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire was erected as a place of worship, but it has become one for Neopagans and Druids. Older and larger (by total area) than Stonehenge to the south, Avebury has long been steeped in magic and mystery. And, unsurprisingly perhaps, it has also seen its fair share of hauntings.

In the 1960s, for example, a passing driver claimed to see ghosts in period dress dancing among the stones. Dwarf-like creatures have also been seen here, as well as other phantom “fairy folk.” Some of the stones themselves may even be haunted; for instance, the 40-tonne “diamond stone” to the northwest of the site is said to uproot itself at midnight and cross the A4361 road, while the “devil’s chair” stone to the southeast allegedly spews black smoke.

Poltergeists are also said to be common, particularly in the cottages around Avebury that were built using sarsen stones from the site. Meanwhile, St. James’ Church, which lies entirely within the confines of the stone circle and dates back to the 11th century, is reputedly haunted by a little Victorian boy who hops up and down on a tomb by the door.

6. Doryo-do Temple Ruins, Japan

Officially, the ruined Shinto Doryo-do temple in Hachioji, Tokyo, was named for the kami(spirit) Doryo, but its ambiguous name can also mean “End of the Road Temple.”

It was built alongside a major highway during the Edo period and enjoyed regular foot traffic until the opening of the Yokohama Railway in 1908, when it fell into relative obscurity. But it gained some notoriety in 1963 when its elderly caretaker was brutally murdered—stabbed through the heart and slashed across the throat—during a robbery of the temple’s funds. Two years later, visitors began to report sightings of her ghost among the surrounding trees, as well as the sound of her weeping.

Then in 1973, a university professor lured his pregnant undergraduate mistress to the temple and strangled her to death. Since he threw himself, his wife, and two children from a cliff just months later, her body went undiscovered for some time. Allegedly, it was only when locals heard a young woman crying out “Here! I’m here!” in the woods near Doryo-do that her buried remains were found.

The temple was finally closed in 1983 and torn down in 1990. But to this day the Otsukayama site where Doryo-do once stood (and only its foundation remains) is considered “the most haunted graveyard park in Tokyo,” and possibly the whole of Japan, attracting ghost hunters and paranormal investigators from around the world to uncover the ruins’ secrets.

5. St. Botolph’s Church, UK

Named for the East Anglian patron saint of wayfarers, a man reputed to have cleared demons from swamps, St. Botolph’s Church in Lincolnshire, England, shouldn’t by rights be haunted. But for decades this abandoned 13th-century building, protected by English Heritage and the Churches Conservation Trust, has apparently been a hotspot for ghosts, ghost hunters, and alleged “Satanists.”

In the 1970s and ’80s, when Christian worship here ceased, it was even nicknamed the “Demon Church” by locals. According to the rector of nearby Louth in 2004, the isolated site had been repeatedly desecrated by devil-worshipers starting fires, sacrificing animals, and painting black satanic symbols on the masonry.

Many visitors to the site feel a sudden chill upon entering the graveyard, even on sunny days, along with a sense of doom. Some have also reported phantom footsteps and the sound of thunder, ghostly hooded monks, and the grip of icy cold hands on their own. Eerily, some of the sunken graves apparently show skeletons within.

Local investigators, the Bassetlaw Ghost Research Group, spent a night at the church in the summer of 2003. Among other things, they claim to have seen “small babies among the gravestones and grass.” They also claim to have recorded hundreds of cylindrical “rods” up to a foot in length shooting across the sky.

The site continues to attract paranormal investigators and explorers. Just last year a drone operator ran into some technical interference over the church and stuck the video on YouTube.

4. Fengdu Ghost City, China

Fengdu Ghost City sits on the bank of the Yangtze River in Chongqing, China, and comprises numerous shrines, temples, and monasteries, as well as plenty of statues of ghosts. Visitors to the site, which combines Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist elements, are invited to rehearse their own passage to the afterlife, crossing over the “Bridge of Helplessness” in their journey to the underworld—or Diyu, upon which the entire complex is modeled.

On the surface, Fengdu Ghost City is something of a quirky, if religious, theme park, showcasing the various hells and punishments that await the less pious among us. But at night, it is said to swarm with the souls of the dead who are making the journey for real.

3. Le Grand Cimetière, Haiti

Death is so firmly a part of the Haitian Vodou tradition that cemeteries become places of worship.

At le Grand Cimetière (Grand Cemetery) of Port-au-Prince, for example, services and ceremonies are held among the graves in makeshift marquee churches. People also make offerings and animal sacrifices to the loa (deity spirits) at altars scattered throughout the grounds. Some worshipers even come to bathe naked with the bones of the dead.

The tombs themselves, as well as the trees, are often covered in symbols, slogans, dolls, and other artifacts of the religion—usually in reverence of Baron Samedi, the loa of the dead and ruler of the underworld.

Naturally, le Grand Cimetière is also thought to be haunted—although ghosts wandering through the graveyard may be the least of visitors’ problems. Simply leaving a gift for the loa—a couple of Cuban cigars, for instance—can be fraught with paranormal danger. Specifically, after making their offering, if one doesn’t “close the door” to the underworld by knocking three times on the loa’s altar crucifix, the spirit could accompany them home. And given that some are associated with violence, it may be prudent to go along with the custom.

2. Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb, India

Another allegedly haunted ruin, this one in Delhi, dates back to the early 16th-century and the rise of the Mughal Empire. Now part of the Mehrauli Archaeological Park near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Qutub Minar, the Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb is among the better known sites on this list. But it tends to be eerily quiet. Even the one security guard on duty can seem like a specter at times.

This is the final resting place of the Sufi saint “Jamali,” aka Shaikh Fazlullah or Jalal Khan, and another man (or possibly woman) known only as “Kamali.” Although the official description outside the entrance to the site describes the pair as brothers, some believe they were actually gay lovers—or at least two men bound in the traditionally loving Sufi master-and-disciple relationship. Either way, it’s thought that Kamali died first and Jamali, who enjoyed considerable influence at the time, commissioned the elaborate tomb.

While access to the burial chamber is reportedly limited, visitors to the abandoned mosque have noted all kinds of paranormal activity—from strange white lights and apparitions to the sounds of animals growling. A few become convinced of a presence in the building with them—someone or something watching them from behind a pillar, for instance—while others hear ominous laughter. At least one person claims to have been slapped by an invisible force while exploring the historical site.

Whether these experiences can be attributed to ghosts, or indeed jinns—the Quranic trans-dimensional entities with a fondness for derelict spaces—was a question one visitor posed to the security guard. His response, given the vandalism at the site, was that humans are more problematic.

1. Mehandipur Balaji Temple, India

The problem of humans is far more in evidence at the Mehandipur Balaji Temple in northwest India, where even just queuing outside can turn into a fight for survival against a crowd heaving and stampeding to get in. To be fair, though, most are seeking help with ghosts or demons of their own. Not only is Rajasthan’s so-called “witch temple” said to be haunted but actual exorcisms are routinely carried out here.

The building itself is imposing but old, with towering columns, grimy brickwork, blocked up windows, and crumbling balconies. Pilgrims travel for miles through lifeless desert to get there, only to find themselves in a “dusty haze,” as author Edward Hower puts it, surrounded by “scrawny children,” “ghostlike women,” “scab-eared” dogs, and crows circling overhead “like ashes rising from a smoldering fire.” Inside the temple, the air is filled with pungent smoke and the agonized cries of the “possessed,” while visitors are encouraged to offer strange black balls into fires.

Some families keep their supposedly demon-inhabited loved ones here for weeks on end, putting them up in dharamsala (religious rest houses) and contributing years’ worth of their savings to heal them. This often entails having a priest chain up and mercilessly beat their relative until they purge out the offending preta (hungry ghost). Many families then invest in a kind of gravestone outside, a marker to keep exorcised spirits from following them home. Visitors are also warned not to look back as they leave, or to consume anything at all—even water—because of how densely haunted the area is thought to be.

Understandably, while most psychiatrists tend to think of these “possessed” individuals as merely neurotic, even the most skeptical of visitors are bound to find this strange Hindu temple unsettling.


Sinister Ministers –

Haunted Places of Worship

Christopher Columbus Bio – WIF Confidential

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Fascinating

Facts About

Christopher Columbus

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…

 The elementary school lyrics were the first exposure most students had to the Italian explorer. The line would prove to be some of the only truth told to students about Christopher Columbus and the nature of his explorations into the New World. Was he out to prove that the world wasn’t flat? Was he, in fact, the first man to discover the New World? And how exactly does one discover a place that has millions of inhabitants? Sit back and let the TopTenz team give you the 10 facts about Christopher Columbus that you may not know…

10. Did He Care if the Earth was Flat?

Do you remember being in elementary school and your teacher telling you that Columbus was out to prove the Earth wasn’t flat? We do. For many schools around the United States, teachers used the Flat Earth theory to engage students about the heroic expeditions of Columbus. However, the idea that Columbus was out to prove the Earth was round is just a myth.

Yes, for a period, human beings believed that the world was flat; however, ancient philosophers like Pythagoras came to understand that the world was round in the 6th century BC. You might remember Pythagoras from the Pythagorean theorem… or don’t remember him or geometry much at all. Nonetheless his work, authenticated by Aristotle centuries later, made it very clear that the world was, in fact, round.

What is true is that Columbus underestimated the circumference of the Earth, thinking that Europe was much wider than it was and that Japan was farther from the coast of Asia than it actually was. As a result, Columbus had the false belief that he could reach Asia by going West – a massive miscalculation that led to his discovery of a “New World.”

9. He Struggled Finding Funding for his Voyage

The more one learns about Christopher Columbus, the more his presence in the annals of history seems like a massive insult to the great explorers and thinkers of earlier periods. However, he was persistent. Columbus lobbied European Monarchs and was denied, lobbied, and was denied. That process continued for nearly a decade, with advisers to the Kings and Queens of Europe remarking that Columbus’s math was not just wrong, but embarrassingly wrong. However, Columbus remained steadfast in his beliefs and he was rewarded.

Finally, with the Spanish wars against the Moors coming to an end, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella agreed to finance the voyage. Columbus would sail from Palos, Spain, with three small ships… which we know by now he commanded with misguided maps and calculations. Who could have guessed that this man would make a discovery that would reshape the world?

8. He Wrecked his Ship

The Santa María was the largest of the three ships that embarked on Columbus’s voyage to… ahem, ‘Asia’. And even then, records show that the Santa María was not a particularly large ship, comparable today to a cruising yacht. The Santa María was only about 100 tons with a single deck and three small masts. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean proved fine for Columbus and his men, but the return journey was where tragedy struck.

As children, we probably all asked our parents to hold the steering wheel. How hard could it be? We’d beg and plead and almost always be met with a resounding “No!” That wasn’t the case on the Santa Maria. On the Christmas Eve, 1492, a cabin boy took the wheel and crashed into a coral reef on the northern coast of Hispaniola, close to present day Haitien, Haiti. After two sleepless nights, Columbus had decided to sleep and the crew followed, thinking that the calm night could bring no trouble. They couldn’t have been more mistaken.

Christmas was spent salvaging the remaining cargo, leaving Columbus to return to Spain aboard the Nina. Before leaving, Columbus instructed the crew to build a settlement on the remains of the ship which, they named “La Navidad.” Nearly 40 crew members were left behind at La Navidad, the first European settlement in the New World.

In the fall of 1493, Columbus returned to the settlement and found that none of the crew were alive, describing the La Navidad settlement as being “ burned to the ground.”

7. He Returned to Spain in Shackles

Unfazed by the destruction of his former crew members’ settlement, Columbus decided to rebuild the settlement in a different location. Promising riches to crown and crew member alike, Columbus and his brothers would rule the new settlement with savage cruelty. Believing the island had  great quantities of gold, Columbus forced the native workers into slavery, exploring and mining for gold and rebuilding the settlement. Failure to comply was met with death or the chopping off of limbs.

Convinced that he had found the outer islands of China, Columbus left the encampment for Spain. On his return, he would find the settlement in disarray. Colonists had become embittered with the management of Columbus’s brothers – with some Spanish colonists even being executed at the gallows. The lack of gold and riches also led to many believing that they had been lied to. As a result, colonists complained to the monarchy and a royal commissioner dispatched to the new colony arrested Columbus and brought him back to Spain in chains.The arrest would not hamper Columbus’s explorations, as he would not only be granted his freedom, but also the finances for a fourth voyage.

6. An Eclipse was his Savior

If finding uncharted territory by accident wasn’t enough for you, Columbus would be the beneficiary of even more good fortune while stranded in Jamaica.

 On his fourth and final journey, Columbus promised King Ferdinand the gold that he had so far been unable to fully deliver. In 1502, Columbus set sail, traveling along the eastern coast of Central America – again believing that he was close to find a route to the Indian Ocean. That, he would not find. What he would find was devastating winds; gusts that would wreck one of his ships. Columbus and his men became stranded on the island of Jamaica, where the men’s demands of gold would irritate the natives and lead to their refusal to feed Columbus and his men. Left with little options, Columbus consulted his almanac, realizing that an eclipse was on the horizon. He sought out the natives’ chief and warned him that his God was angry at the lack of food provided for him and his men. He told the natives that a sign would soon come that displayed his God’s anger.

On February 29, 1504, an eclipse would terrify the native population into providing food and trading with Columbus and his party. Months later a rescue party would arrive and Columbus and his men were taken back to Spain.

5. First to Discover New World?

It seems that our Genoese explorer has gotten more credit than he is due. Researchers have confirmed that Christopher Columbus was not the first man to lead a voyage to the Americas. That distinction goes to a Viking, by the name of Leif Erikson.

The exact date is unknown, but scholars put Erikson’s voyage around the year 1000 AD. Son of Erik the Red, Leif Erikson sailed to what is now the Canadian province of Newfoundland, but didn’t settle in the area deemed “Vinland.” After staying for a few years, Erikson and his party returned to Greenland, where he described his travels. Proof of the voyage was uncovered by Norwegian Helge Instad and Anne Stine Instad, who found an ancient Norse settlement.

Less plausible theories suppose that an Irish Monk in the 6th century was the first to discover the Americas in a wood-framed boat covered in animal skin. Another theory holds that in the 15th century, Zheng He, a fleet Admiral who had explored Southeast Asia, India, the Persian Gulf, and the East Coast of Africa had also visited the Americas 71 years before Columbus. The best piece of evidence for this claim was the discovery of an old Chinese map that displays an understanding of the world that predates European knowledge of the Americas. Since the map has been revealed, scholars have questioned its authenticity while others remain convinced that Zheng He did, in fact, explore the “New World” before Columbus. It’s not hard to imagine that in some schools in Far East Asia, it was Zhen He “who sailed the ocean blue.”

4. His Adventures After Death

Although we have questioned his mental acumen, what cannot be questioned is Columbus’s adventurousness in his pursuits and explorations. Those qualities would seem to continue into death, as the deceased bodies of Columbus and his son, Diego, were shipped across the Atlantic to Hispaniola (on the request of his daughter-in-law). They were to be interred in a Santo Domingo cathedral.

Nearly 200 years later, when the French captured the island, the Spanish dug up the bodies of both Columbus and his son and shipped them to Seville via Cuba. Upon further examination, a box with human remains and Columbus’s name was discovered at his original resting place in Santo Domingo in 1877. The finding led to the DNA testing of the remains in Seville, which confirmed that some of the remains were those of Columbus. What are we to make of the box in Santo Domingo bearing Columbus’s name, containing human remains? The Dominican Republic has refused to let their findings be tested, so it is entirely possible that parts of Columbus are spread across the Old and New World.

3. Columbus – Slave Trader

“Only a few hundred were left.” That’s all that remained of the Taino population 60 years after first contact with Columbus. Conservative estimates hold that more than 250,000 inhabited the Dominican Republic before his arrival. It’s a startling figure to consider when contemplating the impact of Columbus on the native populations of the New World.

On Columbus’s first trip, he ordered six of the natives to be seized, stating in his journal that he believed they would be good servants. Other accounts depict Columbus and his men riding on the backs of natives like they were horses. Unable to find large quantities of gold, Columbus enslaved many of the native population, brutalizing them in his quest for the riches of the island. Any form of rebellion led to massive bloodshed – with Columbus even ordering their dismembered bodies to be paraded through the streets. Ultimately, it was the disease brought on by the Spanish that killed off most of the population. However, the Taino people live on in their language: Words like “canoe, hammock,  barbeque, and hurricane” have their origins in the Arawak tribe’s tongue.

2. Columbus was Very Religious

Despite his cruel and inhumane acts, Columbus was a fervent Christian. He believed that his voyages were God’s will, and consequently he would go on to name many of the lands he “discovered” biblical names.

The voyages across the Atlantic were not without biblical influence, as Columbus made sure the crew observed religious rites. Every time they turned the half-hour glass, they exclaimed “blessed be the hour of our Savior’s birth/blessed by the Virgin Mary who bore him/and blessed by John who baptized him.” It is also alleged that despite the crude manner of ship life, Columbus never cursed.

His religious feeling were so strong that upon landing on the American mainland and seeing four rivers flowing from the landmass, he was convinced that he had encountered the Garden of Eden.

1. Columbus Brought Syphilis to the New World

Recent reports have come to suggest that Columbus had an even greater impact on world history than we’ve given him credit for. According to skeletal evidence, Columbus and his crew not only introduced the Old World to the New World, but to syphilis as well. It appears that like Vegas, what happens in the New World will stay in the New World… except for venereal disease.

The sexual nature of the syphilis epidemic made it especially contentious in finding its origins.The first known epidemic of syphilis took place in the Renaissance era (1490s). One of the most notable initial cases was its infection of the army of Charles the VIII after he invaded Naples. The disease would go on to devastate Europe, resulting in 5 million deaths.

While still just a widely held theory, scientists believe they were able to prove the disease’s origin by comparing 26 strains of treponemes from Africa, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands. The results were that the “strains that caused the sexually transmitted disease originated recently, with their closest relatives being germs collected in South America. In other words, it seems to have come from the New World.”


Christopher Columbus Bio

– WIF Confidential

Unusual Buildings Around the World – WIF 10 Cent Travel

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Strange/Great Buildings

From Around

the Globe

There is no doubt that art and architecture can depict the unusual. And when artistic licence meets the concrete world of construction, the results can be nothing short of mind-boggling. In this account, we take a tour in which we discover a horizontal skyscraper, a circular skyscraper, a robot building, a bizarre towering castle of wood, and the world’s largest bread basket, among other constructions that will expand your mind and even end up on your travel itineraries.

10. Horizontal Skyscraper – Vanke Center (Shenzen, China)

When is a skyscraper a skyscraper in name and shape, but not in behavior and function? When it is a fairly typical looking skyscraper that has been painstakingly constructed to lie on its side! The building logically would look totally typical if you were to turn your head 90 degrees to the side when you examine it, for the building’s position is what makes it weird. Why? Because the structure is an eerie sideways skyscraper, built horizontally along the ground but in the form of a skyscraper. Strange and thought provoking. The brainchild of Steven Holl Architects, the Horizontal Skyscraper – Vanke Center in Shenzhen, China may look normal in shape, in sharp contrast to the oddity of its physical position

Standing on supporting pillars, the building is actually the length of the height of the Empire State Building, while its physical location is stretched along an immaculately landscaped garden with grass, woody plants and pools of water. The construction of the building extended from 2006 to 2009. While bizarre, the building has both ample glass and ample class. It serves its purposes including office and conference centre functions plus apartments and hotel suites, creating both a distinctive place to work and live while providing a modern and iconic place to visit. Considered a winner, the project was recognized with a 2010 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects, showcased as an example of excellence.

9. The Wooden Skyscraper (Archangelsk, Russia)

A house of cards may not stand well, but a wooden skyscraper? If one is creative enough to think out of the box and crazy enough to construct a monster castle of boards, then one may well be on their way to scraping the heavens with a tower of mere timber. A work of a madman, a convict, and a potential mad genius, albeit one flouting building regulations in a concerning way, the Wooden Skyscraper of Archangelsk in Russia is a towering monstrosity that is best described as a monument to one man’s personal journey to Babel in the sometimes frozen North.

Known as Sutyagin House, the 144-foot building was begun in 1992 by underworld lord Nikolai Petrovich Sutyagin in defiance of both building regulations and architectural challenges. Impressive in stature, massive but clearly rickety upon close inspection, the giant building stood in the face of all imaginable building regulations before its reign of rebellion was brought to a close. Rising spire-like but resembling a skyscraper merged with a supervillain’s castle, the massive wood structure dominated the local region for years before deteriorating during his time in prison. After his release, city authorities finally succeeded in having the structure, which had been built based on inspiration from Japanese and Norwegian wooden structures and intended as a status symbol and as accommodation, to be demolished.

8. Robot Building (Bangkok, Thailand)

Technology and state of the art buildings often go hand in hand, but it is almost unheard of for a full size skyscraper to actually look like a robot. Technologically advanced buildings may boast their advancement with the right materials, shapes, and structural elements, but simply being constructed to look like artificially intelligent, non-living humanoids is a brave mechanical step in a radically novel direction. Built with an array of superficial features added on to a body, torso and head like structure, the high tech United Overseas Bank headquarters in the form of a robot building in Bangkok, Thailand forms a globally unprecedented and exceptionally striking project.

While looking just like a robot might seem laughable as a merging of architectural and technological oddity, the construction also constitutes a spectacular and unique example of creating a building with “robo-morphic” architecture. The idea was to reflect the high-tech nature of the bank through architecture and the work certainly did its job. The half window, half wall bump out eyes, antennae and ears combine nicely with the abdomen, torso and head to make a pretty cute, albeit huge and stationary robot headquarters. And where did Thai architect and genius Sumet Jumsai get his inspiration? He created the vision for the building based on the idea he developed by seeing his son’s toy robot after the Bank of Asia commissioned him to design them a new headquarters building.

7. Genex Tower (Belgrade, Serbia)

Eastern European architecture can gain the look of science fiction constructions, sometimes merging the modern and the castle-like in one building. Strange, awkward-looking in the eyes of some but also undeniably impressive in sheer size, the Genex Tower of Belgrade is an architectural monstrosity dating back to times of great conflict. Looking like a bizarre cross between the CN Tower and the Brandenburg Gate on steroids, the structure is extraordinary for its gate-like shape coupled with its narrowness and sheer height.

Built as the novel and daring planned creation of architect Mihajlo Mitrovic forms a massive arch built with two skyscrapers, the taller reaching a height of 377 feet, further distinguished with a huge yet remarkably incongruous revolving restaurant perched 459 feet above the ground. The restaurant’s circular shape is a prime example of the irregularity and incongruity of the different structural components of the tower’s form and strange spatial layout. The connecting section of the building that creates the arch shape consists of a two story bridge walkway extending between the unified towers. Walking between the two towers is a startling experience, with nothing below for hundreds of feet as you boldly walk the relatively short distance bridging the giant towers.

6. Burj Khalifa (Dubai)

Acclaimed as the tallest building on the planet, the Burj Khalifa is remarkable not only for its sheer size and height at 2,716.5 feet and more than 160 stories. The building holds a multitude of world records, including tallest building in the world, highest occupied floor, most stories of any building globally, highest outdoor observation deck, tallest service elevator, and tallest free-standing structure. (Oh, and there was also that time Tom Cruise climbed up the side.) Constructed of the gigantic building was started in 2004, while the exterior of the building reached completion in 2009 prior to the opening of the structure in 2010.

Built in part to increase tourism revenue, the construction was supported by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in a bid to create an extraordinarily striking creation that would garner a significantly greater global recognition of Dubai. Containing hundreds of apartment and hotel suites, the building also boasts swimming pools and elevators that include equipment that can reach speeds of 33-feet-per-second. Constructed primarily from reinforced concrete with significant quantities of steel structural elements, the tower has both a stepped appearance and narrow spires that reflect Islamic architectural styles characteristic of Dubai.

5. Goldin Finance Tower (Tianjin, China)

Remarkable for its incredibly ordinariness and simplicity in shape coupled with impossible height and slenderness, the Goldin Finance Tower of Tianjin, China reaches an astonishing height of 1,957 feet but is essentially cube shaped and remarkably spindly. Almost a third of a mile high, the building has been likened to a huge walking stick due to its spindly appearance and supertall design as it nears completion. With 117 stories contained within its vertical rise, the Tianjin central business district landmark is deceptively ordinary in its almost stereotypical skyscraper shape. However, the sheer height of the building combined with its relatively narrow and square base shape in fact accentuates the dramatic appearance of the building, giving it the incredibly striking appearance of a giant square stick.

Unlike more bulbous or spire adorned tall buildings, the Goldin Finance Tower is at its heart a functional building that devotes the bulk of its construction to practical usage thanks to its continuous square shape that rises to great heights without being reduced to narrow spires and vanity constructions. With four prominent corner reinforcements rising vertically, the building contains finely designed, rectangle-shaped window patterns that add to the meticulous and functional look of the building’s construction. Inside, the construction includes sky lobbies and the world’s highest swimming pool, adding more distinctive elements to the already dramatic looking tower.

4. AlDar Headquarters (Abu Dhabi)

Built in Abu Dhabi, the bizarre AlDar Headquarters might shock first time visitors or lead to a false UFO crash report. Why? Because the enormous but beautiful structure is in fact the world’s first circular skyscraper. Towering at 360 feet tall, the building represents unity, stability and rationality as well as infinity and was completed in 2010. The structure resembles a gigantic plate that has been stuck into the desert ground, widened slightly and then packed with office space. The two sides of the building are interspersed with a continuous edge of windows that resembles a band that has been used to join two halves, but further increases the sideways landed UFO appearance of the structure.

Reinforcing beams crisscross the outsides of the building, creating the appearance of a myriad of diamond shape structures on the sides. On a smaller scale, within each diamond like face section, multitudes of diamond like lines define the shapes of multiple window panels grouped together. The result is the convex outer shape the building, which resembles two plates put together in form. While many buildings have been constructed with rounded foundation, the creation of a towering circle that is actually placed to stand upon its side like a UFO or a giant wheel is in fact unprecedented in architectural achievements.

3. Dancing House (Prague, Czech Republic)

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is remarkable, but its lean was certainly not intended and apart from the lean, its architecture is normal. Conversely, the Dancing House in Prague, Czech Republic was purposely built in such a manner that it may look at first glance to be in a state of collapse. Started in 1994 and finished in 1996, the structure consists of two leaning figures that represent dancers Fred Astair, depicted by the concrete tower, and Ginger Rogers, intended to be represented by the leaning glass tower that stands on concrete legs. The combination of the two indeed looks just like a man and a women in the moment of embrace while enjoying a graceful and intimate dance.

The result of architectural collaboration between American architect Frank Gehry and Croatian architect Vlado Milunic, who recruited Gehry to work with him in fulfilling the request of Dutch company Nationale Nederlanden to build an iconic headquarters building. The building where the Ginger Rogers structure stands had been destroyed during WWII by Allied bombing, while the structure that represents Astair, which survived largely intact, was the home since childhood of Václav Havel, who later served as Czech president and commissioned a study of the site by Milunic after Milunic shared his vision.

2. Longaberger Headquarters Basket Building (Newark, Ohio)

Is it bigger than a breadbasket? Well, this turn of phrase may be less useful as a generalization of measure when the breadbasket in question is not just over a foot long, but is an entire office building. Not a full skyscraper, but a building so remarkable in scale for what it represents and as a subject, we have to take our hats off to the Longaberger Company Headquarters building in Ohio. Why? Because the entire building is not only constructed as a gigantic bread basket but it actually looks like one, built to include even a textured exterior design that replicates the look of a woven basket.

The building is fully realistic, complete with metal handles weighing nearly 150 tons that are specially heated to keep them in good condition. The 7-story building was able to accommodate 500 employees, with a intricate and remarkable authentic macroscale weaving design. The spaces in between the replicated weaves formed the windows of the remarkably distinctive building. After facing financial challenges, the company, which specializes in baskets, pottery, and other home décor relocated to a “normal” building in 2016, to the disappointment of some and the satisfaction of others who expressed a preference for working in a more practical building.

1. Fake Hills (Beihai, China)

http://fave.api.cnn.io/v1/fav/?video=architecture/2017/09/11/ma-yansong-mad-architects.cnn&customer=cnn&edition=domestic&env=prod

The hills may be said to have eyes in horror films, but in Beihai, China, those hills that you see may definitely be filled with human eyes as people go about their business in a bizarre but awesome building complex that has been fashioned in the form of a hilly skyline. The Fake Hills represent a very bold expression of the urban planning concept of harmonizing building form and character with the surrounding environment. Extending lengthwise and paralleling the beach except for one unit at right angles, the fake hills form a silhouette of foothill like appearance that are accompanied by lush gardens interspersed with lower individual buildings in between the structures and the beach.

The main structure is unified and narrow, with a curving outline but having a straight across edge that is intended to contain numerous amenities and access points, allowing people to walk along the width of the laterally compressed hills as they undulate up and down. In December 2016, Beijing based MAD completed the first phase of the project as the fake hills get up and running toward being able to accommodate a rich diversity of uses. The towering hills are intended to reflect the hilly coastal scenery of the southern Chinese port city in which they stand, adding depth and character in a dramatic manifestation of economic development efforts compared to the more mundane form of standard apartments.


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Global IQ Ranking – WIF Lists

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The Smartest Countries

in the World

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

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

10. Austria (average IQ: 100)

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

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

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

9. Switzerland (average IQ: 101)

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

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

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

8. Mongolia (average IQ: 101)

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

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

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

7. Iceland (average IQ: 101)

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

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

6. Italy (average IQ: 102)

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

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

5. Taiwan (average IQ: 104)

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

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

4. China (average IQ: 105)

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

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

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

3. Japan (average IQ: 105)

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

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

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

2. South Korea (average IQ: 106)

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

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

1. Singapore (average IQ:108)

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

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


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