FASCINATING FACTS: 10 Stimulating Facts About Conjugal Visits

FASCINATING FACTS: 10 Stimulating Facts About Conjugal Visits


For most of us, our understanding of prisons comes from what we see on TV and in films. From the hazing in The Shawshank Redemption to the underhandedness of Orange is the New Black, much of what we see is fairly realistic.

But there is always a bit of exaggeration and artistic license. In the case of prison stories, the plotlines concerning conjugal visitation may be the worst offenders. Below, we break down some of the most rampant rumors about conjugal visits and show that the reality can be far less exciting.

10 Phasing Out

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Despite the prominence of conjugal visits in popular culture, very few states in the US allow them. In 1993, there were 17 states that had some form of conjugal visitation, with the duration and requirements varying from state to state. By 2014, this number had dwindled to just six states.[1]

In January and April 2014, Mississippi and New Mexico, respectively, ended their conjugal visitation programs. That left just four states that allow them as of late 2017: Washington, Connecticut, California, and New York. California and New York are the only states that have ever allowed same-sex couples to participate in the program.

9 Not Sexy

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Another misconception perpetuated by popular culture is that the term “conjugal visit” is a polite way of saying “sexy time.” In reality, conjugal visits (aka family extended visits) are not necessarily for sleeping together. They can be given to relatives, friends, or close acquaintances.

This can include immediate family members such as parents, siblings, or children; other relatives such as aunts, uncles, or cousins; and even non-relatives, such as religious leaders, friends, employers, and embassy officials for foreign prisoners.

There are two main arguments for keeping or reinstating conjugal visitation programs. First, given the strict requirements for receiving such a visit, prisoners will have an incentive to behave themselves while behind bars. Any violent behavior or rule breaking will disqualify them from the program.

The second argument is that such visits help families maintain a close bond. This is beneficial for any children involved. It also helps with the rehabilitation of prisoners when they leave as they will be returning to a more loving and stable environment.[2]

8 Accommodations

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Since conjugal visits are about more than just a roll in the hay, the people involved require a bit more than just a bed and some condoms. But it might surprise you just how much more they are given and are allowed to take. Since visits can last anywhere from one hour to three days and children can be admitted, prisoners and their families are given fairly generous accommodations to provide some semblance of normalcy.

Rather than just a simple room, these visits take place in custom trailers, cottages, or apartments, which can be fully kitted out with a kitchen, dining room, living room, bathroom, and multiple bedrooms. There are also games, TVs, and DVDs. Some even have outdoor areas with barbecues.

Visitors can even bring in outside food to prepare, though it is subject to inspection. The accommodations will be inspected every four hours, including during the night.[3]

7 Human Right

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The US is far from the only country to allow conjugal visits. Although the US has been gradually reducing the number of people allowed access to the program, India is just getting started. In 2015, a petition to allow such visits was placed before Justice Surya Kant, who declared that all but the most dangerous criminals were entitled to these visits under the constitutional right to “life and personal liberty.”[4]

But it doesn’t end there. Prisoners fathering children behind bars has been used as an argument against conjugal visits in the US. This is particularly true since Michael Guzman, who is serving a life sentence for murder, married four times and had four kids while in prison.

Justice Kant’s decision means that procreation is a human right, with prisoners now allowed to provide a semen sample to be used in artificial insemination.

6 Saudi Arabia

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In Saudi Arabia, they take a far different approach to rehabilitating prisoners than in most other countries. With the view that making prison as horrible as possible will only result in worse prisoners, the Saudis opt to treat prison more like rehab and make it a pleasant place.

In the al-Hair prison, which is used to house people who are involved with but have not carried out terrorism, prisoners get a double bed with their own TV and shower. More significantly, they are entitled to a lot of conjugal rights.

Families of the convicted are put on welfare and, if need be, flown in and put up in hotels at government expense so that they can visit the prisoners. There are 18 suites in the prison that can sleep up to nine people each. These suites come with a buffet, sweets, flowers, and access to a playground.[5]

Overnight stays are given as a reward for good behavior, but prisoners are allowed to spend up to five hours a month with their wives. If a prisoner has multiple wives, he gets multiple visits a month. Prisoners are allowed out for funerals or weddings (again, this does not apply to actual terrorists), and they are even given up to $2,600 to use as a wedding gift.

5 Gay Rights

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You may be surprised to learn that the liberal states of California and New York are far from the only places where gay prisoners can receive conjugal visits. In 2011, Costa Rica’s first court ruling on discrimination based on sexual orientation stated that conjugal visitors did not have to be of the opposite sex (as previously specified). In Brazil, same-sex conjugal visits have been allowed since 2011.[6]However, female inmates in Brazil still find it extremely difficult to get such visits.

While not available throughout the majority of the country, Mexico City has allowed same-sex conjugal visits since 2007. In 2013, Israel ruled that same-sex couples in a civil union were entitled to conjugal visits, although it was April 2017 before the first such visit was actually granted.

4 Conjugal Criminal

Even in states or countries where conjugal visits are legal, there are harsh restrictions on who is eligible for them. Criminals who are deemed too dangerous, have exhibited violent behavior in prison, or are in federal prisons are automatically ruled out.

In the last year before Mississippi ended their program, just 155 out of 22,000 prisoners were granted conjugal visits. This is due to the fear that the inmates will harm their visitors. No case illustrates this better than that of Klaus-Dieter H.

In 2010, Klaus had been incarcerated in a German prison for 19 years for the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl. Despite this, he managed to find a girlfriend, a 46-year-old single mother, through the prison pen pal program.

The two were granted a conjugal visit and locked in an unmonitored room for six hours. When police opened the room to let them out, they found the woman dead. She had been strangled and stabbed, and her head was beaten in. Klaus had also cut his own wrists but survived.[7]

It is unusual for sex offenders or killers to get conjugal visits, but many people point to this case when calling for the end of the program altogether.

3 Visitor Background Checks

Even if a prisoner has been well-behaved and is not deemed a threat, that does not guarantee that a conjugal visit will be granted. Anyone who wishes to visit a prisoner in such a capacity must also pass a background check, and there are plenty of reasons why the visitor’s application may be rejected.

Anyone who is on bail or probation is automatically deemed ineligible. The same is true for anyone who has recently been incarcerated, is deemed too dangerous, or has an outstanding warrant against them. However, it would take a special kind of stupid to apply to get behind bars while the police are trying to take you in.

Perhaps most interestingly, none of the inmate’s victims will be allowed a conjugal visit. So even if you are married or have forgiven the criminal, your application will be denied.[8]

2 Easy Access

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Most countries that allow conjugal visits make it somewhat troublesome to get them granted. Even in Saudi Arabia, there are limits to who gets them and for how long. But in Colombia, it seems as if it’s almost easier to get a conjugal visit than not to.

Bellavista is one of the country’s most infamous and overcrowded prisons. Originally built with the capacity for about 1,500 inmates, it now houses over 5,000, almost all of whom are entitled to weekly conjugal visits.

The average length of an inmate’s sentence in Bellavista is 30 years, so the prison is more lax than most when it comes to prisoners setting up a normal life. On average, about 3,500 women show up on Sunday for some alone time. But this can grow to as many as 6,000, which suggests that a few of these men may be getting more than one visitor.[9]

Given that most of these men don’t have their own beds, let alone their own cells, it’s not hard to see how you might end up with more than two people involved.

1 Origins

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You could be forgiven for thinking that the origins of conjugal visits were about preserving families, the sanctity of marriage, or even just men taking pity on other men. But you’d be wrong. Like so many of America’s greatest accomplishments, the origins of conjugal visits in the US can be traced back to old-fashioned racism.

The warden of Parchman Farm, a mixed-race prison, started allowing conjugal visits in 1918. But only for the African-American prisoners. White prisoners had to wait until the 1930s before they were awarded the same privileges, and women, 1972.[10]

The reasoning for this was based on the commonly held belief that black men had greater sex drives than white men and satisfying this need would mean they would work harder. Although it was not official policy, guards brought prostitutes for the men to sleep with in the fields on Sundays, and conjugal visits were born.


Scars Of The Secret War

Scars Of The Secret War


War lingers in the landscape. The Secret War is one of America's dark chapters. But as the name implies, it is a chapter rarely read. We take a short look at a war that continues to define the country more than a generation later.


15 Photos Of Horrible People From History Being Their Horrible Selves

15 Photos Of Horrible People From History Being Their Horrible Selves

While certain evil entities like vampires cannot be photographed, human monsters can be captured in their full, foul, inglorious selves. The villains here, ranging from assassins to war criminals to lousy kids, all found themselves caught on camera, in some cases belying their own horrible selves by partaking in normal behavior. Just because something looks okay doesn't mean it is, and these people are the exact opposite of okay. If anything, the photos below show that human monsters are the scariest, most unassuming monsters of all.

Dystopian Fiction: How Reading Transforms Your Mind


Dystopian Fiction: How Reading Transforms Your Mind

1984 and Brave New World. Together, these novels paint a full picture of how human beings are susceptible to the tactics of totalitarian regimes. They also show how art is a vital protection against any system of control, as it enhances a societies ability to empathize.


An Illustrated History Of Dinosaurs

An Illustrated History Of Dinosaurs

Our image of dinosaurs has been constantly changing since naturalists started studying them about 350 years ago. Taken together, these pictures can tell us a whole lot about just how much we have learned. Let's explore the history of dinosaur science as seen through the history of dinosaur art.




Racing In The 1970's Was Just As Awesome As You Think It Was

Racing In The 1970's Was Just As Awesome As You Think It Was

John Ficarra has researched a lot of cars but getting the whole story on one Kremer K3 led him down a very interesting rabbit hole of understanding the back story of the Whittington Brothers.

Fascinating Facts: 10 Facts About Ordinary Ancient Egyptians

Fascinating Facts: 10 Facts About Ordinary Ancient Egyptians

The stars of ancient Egypt are undoubtedly the pharaohs, the gold artifacts, and the pyramids. Often overlooked, however, are the common people who reflect the complexity and mystery of their famous culture.

They played sacred games, had a sense of humor, and promoted members of society who were often discriminated against in both the ancient and modern worlds. Not everything was easy. From rampant health problems to murder, civilians also suffered dark times and tempers.

Featured image credit: crystalinks.com

10.They Loved Board Games

After a long day of hauling pyramid blocks, ancient Egyptians needed entertainment. A popular activity was board games. They were made for two people as well as multiple players, and if a board was not available, one was drawn on the ground.

The favorite game was Senet. It had 30 squares in rows of 10, some marked with symbols of good or bad luck. Egyptians being Egyptians, the winner was the one whose pawns entered the afterlife first by escaping bad fortune blocks.

Senet was deeply intertwined with the divine. The victor was said to be protected by the gods, and the boards were often included in tombs to protect the deceased during the transition to the afterlife.

Aseb had 20 squares. To free a piece from the home block required a four or a six from the dice. If the piece landed on a square held by the opponent, the piece was banished back to home.

The rules of Mehen and another game, Hounds and Jackals, are not known. Mehen’s board was a curled-up snake with lion pieces. Hounds and Jackals had 10 stalks, each topped with a canine head, and was likely a racing game.[1]

9.Artists Sneaked In Humor

Photo credit: factsanddetails.com

Egyptian art is not known for its colorful clowns. That does not mean that ancient artists had no sense of humor, even though convention demanded images with poise. The artists could and did poke subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) fun at patrons and foreigners.

In Thebes around 2000 BC, a tomb carver created a wall image of the deceased. Dagi was a pharaoh’s vizier. He was important in life and should perhaps have been portrayed with a noble countenance. But the artist gave him a depressed look with a raised eyebrow as if Dagi was surprised that he had died.

A carving done during the reign of Amenhotep III (1389–1349 BC) shows a scribe and a baboon, the animal associated with Thoth, god of writing. The baboon has comically bushy eyebrows.

Artists did not hold back on the sarcasm when it came to Egypt’s enemies.[2]An ivory plaque shows a captive Assyrian prince moving in a silly way and with bulging eyes. Tensions with the Nubians probably caused one artist to sculpt a relief showing a Nubian with exaggerated and unflattering facial features.

8.Artists With Unusual Arthritis

Photo credit: passion-egyptienne.fr

When researchers recently analyzed the remains of those who forged and decorated the famous Valley of the Kings, they found something odd. Around 3,500 years ago, the village of Deir el-Medina supplied the royal burial ground with carvers and painters.

Usually, years of building and creating art would cause upper body issues. However, osteoarthritis was rife in the men’s ankles and knees. After studying the village’s ancient records, the cause was revealed. Despite the hard labor involved at the necropolis, it was not the men’s jobs that messed up their bones. It was how they traveled to work every day.

During the week, they lived in huts near the royal tombs and used a short steep hill to go to work and to return when the day was done. At the end of the week, they went to Deir el-Medina—a 2-kilometer (1.2 mi) walk over hills. When the week started, they trooped back again.

This continued for years and for some individuals, decades. The excessive hiking is most likely why this group of artists developed a condition not usually seen in their profession.[3]

7.Class Determined The Menu

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The complete book on what ancient Egyptians ate will probably never be written. No recipes have ever been found, but an idea can be gleaned from their art and history. Some ingredients were enjoyed by all classes, but commoners were not allowed to handle certain preparations. Fish curing was strictly the domain of priests.

Every day, regardless of breeding, everybody consumed the nation’s staples—beer and bread. Then there was beer bread, which was fermented in water to produce a cloudy brew that aided the nutrition of the lower classes. In addition to grain-made meals, such as porridge, there was also game meat, honey, dates, fruits, and wild vegetables.[4]

Workers only ate twice a day. Breakfast included bread, beer, and sometimes onions. The workers could look forward to a better dinner. In addition to the staples, they could expect cooked vegetables and meat.

Nobles had veggies, meat, grains, wine, and dairy products with every meal. But the priests and royalty got the best culinary fare. Tomb images depict banquets packed with flowing wine, honey-smeared gazelle, roasted fowl, fruits, and desserts such as honey cakes.

6.They Had Serious Dental Disease

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The Egyptians did not suffer from enamel failure because they lived before the invention of A-grade floss. It was because they could not keep the sand out of their food. The problem was immense.

A study done on 4,800 teeth showed that 90 percent were worn down. Many suffered such abrasion that the living center, or pulpal tissue, was exposed. This led to other conditions such as cysts, multiple abscesses, and osteoarthritis of the jaw.

Needless to say, chronic dental pain must have been a fact of life in ancient Egypt. A diet filled with fibrous foods did not help, but the main problem was sand. It blew in with the wind and was collected with the grain during harvest. Sandstone grinding tools also contaminated the flour. Most of it ended up in the bread, which was eaten every day.[5]

As a result, ancient Egyptians chewed on quartz, mica, feldspar, and hornblende among other rock particles. Despite the Egyptians’ known adherence to cleanliness, there is no evidence that the complex society practiced oral hygiene. Nothing among their plentiful toiletries resembles a dental tool.

5.Salaries Of Grain

Photo credit: nbbmuseum.be

The monetary system of ancient Egypt is not fully understood. In the past, it was believed that the system was based on barter without any form of currency. But this deduction was made solely by looking at paintings which showed the exchange of goods.

While trade certainly existed, it could not uphold the commercial system of a kingdom so vast. Among its wealth commodities was grain, which was grown on a mass scale. Surplus cereal was stored in a network of silos across Egypt and used to pay laborers who worked on major public projects.[6]

But what if somebody wanted to buy a house? A bag of grain just would not do.

Ancient Egyptians worked with a unit of worth called “shat.” Experts still do not know exactly what it was, but a house could be bought with items, such as cloth and furniture, as long as they held the equivalent of the selling price in shat. This currency standard existed as far back as the Ancient Empire (2750–2150 BC). One shat was said to be worth 7.5 grams (0.24 oz t) of gold.

4.Family Expectations

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Boys were encouraged to marry and have lots of little Egyptians. Girls usually married in their early teens. While love matches did happen, marriage was primarily a viable support unit for everybody involved. There was no welfare for the old or poor, and family provided the only safety net. A man was seen as incomplete until he took a wife, after which he was expected to be the provider.

Murals traditionally depict men as dark from working outside and the ladies as paler from running the household. Egyptian wives had the highest birth rate in ancient times and thus constantly faced the dangers of childbirth. There was no effective contraception, and midwives could do nothing during a disastrous delivery.[7]

Even so, babies were cherished and breastfed for up to three years. Boys would learn a trade while their sisters were trained in childcare, cooking, and making clothes. Both genders were instructed by their parents in matters of the world, religion, and ethics. The oldest son (in some cases, a daughter) was expected to take care of his elderly parents and also see to their funerals.

3.Women Were Legal Equals

Photo credit: ancient.eu

Egyptian women were not destined to exist as housebound wives. They handled the domestic duties but were free to work elsewhere and own property. Unlike ancient Greek women (who were not even regarded as Greek citizens), ancient Egyptian women could live without a male guardian.

They initiated divorce, went to court, and served as members of juries. They were not forced into arranged marriages, but they could draw up legal documents and pursue careers. This horrified Greek visitors, who incorrectly assumed that the roles were reversed in Egypt.[8]

Still, the majority of higher professions were dominated by men. A small percentage of women broke through this glass ceiling and became honored priests, scribes, and pharaohs.

Female doctors were also respected. One named Peseshet held the title of the “overseer of doctors.” The oldest record of a woman practicing medicine mentions Merit Ptah, who lived in Egypt 5,000 years ago. In essence, ancient Egypt was the first region to empower women, not the West as so many assume.

2.Handicapped Egyptians

Photo credit: Olaf Tausch

In the ancient world, people with handicaps were often treated worse than women. Mental illness was viewed with such shame that Chinese families hid such members from view. In Greece, they were abandoned to wander the streets.

Ancient Egypt no doubt had its haters, but the populace and physicians generally had a very accepting attitude toward people with disabilities. Their moral writings taught respect for those facing physical challenges. Individuals born with dwarfism were not viewed as handicapped. They had no fear of unemployment and worked as attendants, overseers, caretakers, artists, and entertainers.

Among the skeletons of Deir el-Medina (the village of the arthritic artists of the Valley of the Kings) was a young man. He was born with a useless leg, a serious disability for a group that hiked great distances. Instead of being an outcast, his otherwise healthy remains showed that he lived well and was employed in a manner that accommodated his situation.[9]

As far as mental illness was concerned, Egyptians came the closest to modern treatment. Instead of blaming or shaming the patients, the afflicted were encouraged to engage in creative pursuits.

1.Ancient Abuse

Photo credit: Live Science

A lot of art shows happy domestic scenes between partners and their offspring. Idealized family notions and legal equality was one thing, but violence toward women and children remained a reality.

Horrifying cases have been recorded. The 2,000-year-old skeleton of a toddler in Dakhleh Oasis had fractures of the back, pelvis, ribs, and arms. Some were old breaks, a classic sign of long-term physical abuse. Both upper arms were broken as if he or she had been violently shaken by an adult. The broken collar bone showed no healing and could have been part of the event that ultimately killed the youngster.

In the ancient town of Abydos, a 4,000-year-old victim was found. The woman was around 35 when she was fatally stabbed in the back. Her bones revealed a lifetime of physical assaults. She had old and new fractures that match those of battered women repeatedly kicked or punched in the ribs. Her hands had injuries, probably from attempting to shield herself or to break a fall. Since her abuser remained close for a long time, he could have been a male family member or her husband.[10]

10 Things About Old TV Shows We Do Not Miss One Bit

10 Things About Old TV Shows We Do Not Miss One Bit


There are plenty of things about old TV shows we do not miss one bit, but then again we miss when TV wasn’t so addictive that it owned our entire being. Now we’ve forgotten how to read, do word puzzles and our muscles are so decayed we can barely go for a walk without straining something. But otherwise, TV is great, especially today.

10 Things About Old TV Shows We Do Not Miss One Bit

1. Missing Them Because…Well, Life

We’re not claiming to have had a life at any time, but it was pretty annoying having to block out part of your week to sit down and watch your show. If you missed a line, there was no rewind. If there was a school assignment, you had to miss it altogether. There was no going back, at least until reruns and box sets came into being.

2. Continuity Errors

If there’s one thing we don’t miss when watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reruns from the ’90s, it’s the motherfucking continuity errors. Why are there three Leonardos in some scenes, sometimes speaking to one another? The voices, the letters on the belt, the colors of the bandanas. It’s a wonder how we’re not more screwed up after that kind of childhood.

3. Studio Laughter

I don’t like being told when to do anything, let alone when to laugh. Mockumentaries like The Office and shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia were the start of ridding laugh tracks in American sitcoms. If you don’t know when to laugh nowadays, it means you have no sense of humor and should go back to watching The Big Bang Theory or The Cosby Show or whatever. Oh, wait.

4. Grain and Glitch

We think it goes without saying, if it’s not 4K, get the hell out of our face, unless of course, it’s The Wire or Seinfeld or something with Humphrey Bogart. Standard definition is worse than missing it altogether these days. Third world countries laugh at standard-def, don’t they?

5. Awkward Pauses During Laugh Tracks and After Scenes

How weird is it that we used to think it was normal to watch people make jokes, then pause before speaking while the laugh track ends? That, and it completely erodes comedy if you have to watch the characters make weird faces while they get the end-of-scene shot from a different camera angle.  That was a huge problem on Friends, along with the next thing we’re going to discuss.

6. Homophobia, Sexism and Racism 

It’s always fun to go back and watch your favorite shows to see if you interpret them in a different light, considering how much you have (clearly) evolved as a person, at least until that homophobic jab is thrown between two dudes or the sexist comment or ass slap happens in the workplace. Don’t you feel awkward having either not noticed it before or taking it as an acceptable norm now? I mean, nobody was Matt Lauer-ing anybody on TV, but still awkward. Is it too soon for that? Merry Christmas!

7. Commercials and Infomercials

What the hell is a commercial, you ask? Well, youngster, it was a break in the suspense of something we were enjoying to briefly return to the real world where we are constantly being sold ideas, usually not so subliminally, about products we don’t need. Sure we love Pringles and Brad Pitt, but how does that help me find out who the thief is in this episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

8. Scratched Box Set DVDs

You thought you’d come a long ways from not having access to reruns to having them anytime you wanted. Then you toss in your favorite DVD to find it skipping on your favorite scene where Kramer tells Jerry he finally got a job, although he isn’t asking to be paid, and that his briefcase is full of crackers. But you wouldn’t know that because you were too busy washing your disc with toothpaste in the toilet thinking that’s going to fix your life. Man, how the times have changed!

9. Getting Up to Change the Channel

Can you imagine if we had to go back to getting up to turn the knob? It’s a pain that kids today will never know. That, and…

10. Rabbit Ear Antennas

You had one friend hold them while you sat back and waited for the reception to be perfect, at least until they let go of them to join you. Good thing you had that friend who was just loser enough that he’d watch the entire episode, commercials and all, standing up by the TV while you enjoy yourself comfortably on the couch while you mother made you dinner. What a great time for you to be alive.


10 Unexplainable Events That'll Have You Wearing Your Tinfoil Hat

10 Unexplainable Events That'll Have You Wearing Your Tinfoil Hat


Cicada 3301

Cicada 3301 was a name given to a secret unknown organization that posted a series of nearly-unsolvable games and riddles online, and is believed to have been an attempt to recruit highly-advanced codebreakers and linguists. Their puzzles focused heavily on data security, cryptography, and steganography and are dubbed one of the ‘Top 5 Eeriest, Unsolved Mysteries of The Internet’ by The Washington Post.

Many have speculated that the NSA, CIA, MI6 or Freemasons are involved. While a few anonymous individuals have stepped forward claiming they had completed the process, they did not divulge any information and the organization has yet to confirm their claims.


Padmanabhaswamy Temple Vault B

Located in Kerala, India, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple is as intricate and fascinating as it is mysterious. While the origin of the temple is lost in antiquity, this holy place of worship has been referenced in ancient Tamil literature as early as the 6th century AD and is known for its enigmatic features and 6 vaults — of which only 5 have been opened. The 6th vault is hidden behind an enormous set iron doors, donning two large serpents wrapped around the tree of life. It’s a room in which no one has ever entered, as legends warn that trespassers will be met with disastrous results.

Despite the claims that no individual has set foot within the vault, some assert that experts entered it in both 1990 and 2003 and found a room located beyond the entrance with walls made of pure gold. Experts also believe there are ropes of gold several meters long, Napoleonic coins, Venetian jewelry, diamond belts, emeralds the size of ostrich eggs, barrels of golden rice, and other artifacts that could total around $22 billion.


The Oak Island Money Pit

The Oak Island Money Pit is one of the more curious treasure mysteries know to man. It has a history that boasts ties to everything from The Holy Grail to Shakespeare, and the buried fortunes of famous pirates. The ‘pit’ itself is an incredibly deep hole which contains an astonishingly complex design that’s kept both treasure-seekers and excavators out for two centuries. It’s unclear who dug the highly-intricate structure.

Early search parties of the pit were successful to a depth of around 90 feet, where they discovered an inscribed tablet that was eventually decoded and read “forty feet below, two million pounds lie beneath.” Excavation beyond that has caused immense flooding within the pit, which to this day quickly fills itself back up when water is removed.


The Circleville Letters

Back in 1976, residents of Circleville, Ohio began receiving threatening and hatefully-worded letters from an anonymous person who accused them of scandalous ‘secrets.’ One woman in particular, Mary Gillespie, endured especially nasty treatment over a non-existent affair with a superintendent. Both she and her husband Ron weathered the letters until they zeroed in on who they thought was writing them, Mary’s brother Paul Freshour, and wrote him a threatening letter.

The letters stopped for a significant period of time until one day in 1977 their phone rang and Ron answered. Mary never figured out what was said, but it is assumed it was the phantom author as Ron stormed out to his truck extremely irritated with a pistol in hand and sped off. Later that day he was found dead from an apparent car wreck, with one single shot fired from his gun. Mary’s brother was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Despite this, the letters didn’t stop. In fact, Freshour himself received one while in prison that read:

“Now when are you going to believe you aren’t going to get out of there? I told you 2 years ago. When we set ’em up, they stay set up. Don’t you listen at all?”


Tunguska Blast

On June 30th, 1908 the most powerful explosion in recorded history took place, and we’re still not certain as to what caused it. The Tunguska Blast exploded with 185 times more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb, leveled 772 square miles of forest, flattened roughly 80 million trees and shattered windows in the nearest town located 35 miles away. Residents of the town even felt the heat from the blast and several were knocked from their feet. Researchers today point to an asteroid, but there is no recorded impact crater and very few traces of extraterrestrial objects have been recovered.


Dyatlov Pass Incident

In 1959, nine experienced hikers disappeared in Dyatlov Pass, Russia. Their camp was discovered with tents cut open from the inside and their bodies were found up to 2,000 feet away from camp. There were no signs of a struggle. Their injuries were quite peculiar: One victim had a fractured skull, another had brain damage but no physical signs of an injured skull and another had their eyes and tongue removed.

According to Dr. Boris Vozrozhdenny, the force required to cause such damage would have been extremely high, comparing it to the force of a car crash. Theories on what happened range from an animal attack, hypothermia, paranormal activity, a secret weapons test, and UFOs.


The Dropa Stones

Back in 1938, archaeologist Dr. Chi Pu Tie made an unusual discovery during an expedition into the Baian-Kara-Ula mountain range in China, where he found a series of tiny circular stone discs that shared eerily similar markings to phonograph records — but dated back 12,000 years. There were 716 discs in all that measured up to 1-foot in diameter, and each disc carried two grooves that originated from a hole in their center in the form of a double spiral.

These grooves contained tiny hieroglyphics that were only distinguishable by a magnifying glass. After studies at Bejing University yielded no results, the discs were given to a man name Tsum Um Nui. After nearly 4 years, Tsum Um Nui managed to decipher the hieroglyphics and said they revealed a fascinating story of an alien spacecraft that crashed landed to Earth. He says that the passengers of the ship were unable to repair their vehicle and were forced to adapt to the conditions on Earth. His findings were published in a professional journal in 1963, but were (and still are) met with criticism and disbelief.


Gobekli Tepe

In southeastern Turkey lay a temple so old that it has rewritten our understanding of human history. Known as Gobekli Tepe, this temple is nearly 12,000 years old and has quite literally confounded experts since its discovery in 1994. It simply should not exist. Why, you ask? For the sake of brevity, we’ll quickly mention just several reasons.

Its construction is generally considered to be dated as pre-civilization, the precise craftsmanship is thousands of years ahead of its time, the weight of the stacked pillars range between 20 and 60 tons which would be a Herculean task to move for even modern humans, no one can explain how the stones were brought there and the quality of the three-dimensional drawings and animals are extremely elaborate and way ahead of their time. And did we mention this was completed during a period in time where humanity was still considered hunter-gatherers?


The Insatiable Appetite of Tarrare

Tarrare was an 18th century Frenchman with an absolutely unexplainable and insatiable appetite. His unfulfilling cravings were so fantastically horrid that his parents turned him away at the age of 17 and he promptly joined a freak show. Tarrare could easily “eat a meal intended for 15 men,” and would consume anything – literally anything – put in front of him ranging from rocks to live animals.

When Tarrare was hospitalized later in his life, he agreed to adhere to literally any treatment that would help him. Doctors treated him with laudanum, wine vinegar, and tobacco pills without success. They fed him mass amounts of soft-boiled eggs in an attempt to satiate his appetite while they worked up a meal-plan, but their treatment was stopped short when Tarrere was caught by hospital staff drinking the drained blood of patients and a 14-month-old child mysteriously “disappeared.” His autopsy found that his stomach took up most of his gut and that he had a massively fatty liver. His organs were in such bad shape that the chief surgeon called off the post-mortem examination prematurely. His disturbing appetite was never explained.


The Oakville Blobs

In 1994, Oakville, WA experienced a rainstorm in which gelatinous blobs around the size of rice grains fell to the earth. One farmhouse owner in particular, Sunny Barclift, investigated the substance and was immediately rushed to the hospital where he complained of nausea and dizziness. When he returned home, he found that one of his cats has passed away from making contact with the substance as well.

Barclift asked his practitioner, Dr. David Litle, to run some tests on the substance and his results were troubling. The substance contained human white blood cells. His findings were reported to Washington State Department of Ecology’s hazardous materials spill response unit, where they not only confirmed the presence of white blood cells but discovered bacteria that is usually found in the digestive system of human beings. Many theories have been presented to explain the appearance of the blobs, but none of them have proved to be correct.




12 Weird Things People Used To Do Before Wi-Fi Existed

12 Weird Things People Used To Do Before Wi-Fi Existed


It can seem hard to fathom now, but there was a time before computers were a central part of our everyday lives, and there are even a few of us dinosaurs left who remember that time well. In reality, it wasn't that long ago, but reflecting upon the weird things people did before Wi-Fi, it seems in many ways like a completely different world. Dial-up connections made logging onto the Internet time-consuming and frustrating. The scarcity of computers in general - schools, libraries, and a few privileged households - made them rare, exciting, and thrillingly new. What we now view as outdated technology from before Wi-Fi was once considered the fast lane on the "information superhighway" (a phrase both archaic and quaint in its throwback to another era). In short, computers were a delicacy, the notion of speed was in the eye of the beholder, and the idea of walking around with a portable, handheld phone/radio/television seemed like something straight out of science fiction.

The Hidden History Of The London Railings Is More Interesting Than You’d Think

The Hidden History Of The London Railings Is More Interesting Than You’d Think



Once plentiful after World War II in London but are now very rare, do you what’s so interesting about these railings?





FASCINATING FACTS: 42 Facts That Come From The Past

FASCINATING FACTS: 42 Facts That Come From The Past

Duck-Like Dinosaur Is Among Oddest Fossils Yet Found

A newly discovered dinosaur fossil has features that may look oddly familiar to us. Found in Mongolia, Halszkaraptor escuilliei looked and hunted like a duck. It’s related to the Velociraptor, and is one of the few known dinosaurs that lived on the water. The turkey-sized dino roamed Earth’s ancient wetlands more than 70 million years ago. Scientists rescued the fossil after it had illegally been poached and smuggled out of Mongolia.


18 Predictions About The Future That History Proved Way, Way Wrong

18 Predictions About The Future That History Proved Way, Way Wrong


This Rejection Letter From 1928 Is Absolutely Brutal

This Rejection Letter From 1928 Is Absolutely Brutal -


If you’re a writer who submits your work to publications then you probably know all about rejection — hell, some of the greatest authors out there today were once rejected, too. So you are going to be able to relate to this just-found letter from 1928 that might just be one of the most brutal rejection letter’s we’ve seen.

The Twitter “Letters of Note” shared a typewritten rejection letter written by the publishing house of Angus & Robertson LTD in 1928. The letter, addressed to F.C. Meyer, is right to the point — the point being that Meyer will not be getting published by Angus & Robertson LTD.

Check out the letter below.




As you can see the letter reads:

Dear Sir,

No, you may not send us your verses and we will not give you the name of another publisher. We hate no rival publisher sufficiently to ask you to inflict them on him. The specimen poem is simply awful. In fact, we have never seen worse.

Yours faithfully,

Angus & Robertson LTD

Yours faithfully? That’s rough. But don’t worry because there’s some good news: Meyers actually ended up getting published:


And if you’re wondering the type of writer that Meyer was well here is a taste of it:


Um…OK…perhaps that publisher was right. I mean, Meyer did get a special historical mention in the 2001 Artscape Terribly Bad Verse & Awful Poetry Competition.




But hey, never give up on your dreams, folks.


FASCINATING FACTS: 20 Facts About “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

FASCINATING FACTS: 20 Facts About “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

Christmas is a time for slipping into festive gear, singing holiday songs, adorning your home with decorations, and distributing gifts to your loved ones. But imagine if all of these tasks were to be part of Halloween! How twisted would that be? That is exactly what is portrayed in the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas. The movie beautifully mixes jolly and grisly with great success. Even if this holiday movie is part of your Christmas tradition, we bet you are still unaware of some fascinating facts about The Nightmare Before Christmas. Thanks to IMDB, we bring you 20 such facts that will help you know a little bit more about this amazing Christmas treasure.

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas is based on a poem Tim Burton wrote in 1982 while working at Disney, who had purchased the film rights but felt it was too weird. Years later (after being fired from Disney), Tim realized they still owed the rights and convinced Disney to greenlight the movie.

Image Source: Flickr

Even though the film’s title is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, he did not actually direct the movie. He was busy with Batman Returns at the time. So, he handed over the hefty responsibility of directing this famous, stop-motion movie to his old Disney Animation colleague Henry Selick. Selick made his feature, directorial debut here.

Burton’s name goes above the title for serving as producer, creating the story, and coming up with the look and the characters for The Nightmare Before Christmas.(source)

2. Disney found the movie “too scary” for kids to be released under the Disney Animated Features banner.

Image Source: Touchstone Pictures1 and Skellington Productions via Giphy

Because of the dark and deeply weird nature of the movie, Walt Disney Studios decided it was too off-brand to be released under the Disney Animated Features banner. The movie is filled with creatures that Disney deemed too scary for kids – characters that take off their own heads and limbs. There are also skeletons, nasty toys, and a creepy villain named Oogie Boogie. So, the film was made through their sub-division Touchstone Pictures.(source)

3. It took one week for the producers to shoot one minute of the movie. Overall, the movie, which is of 70 minutes, took three whole years to be produced.

Image Source:  TV is OK Productions and Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE)

The movie is based on a concept known as “claymation.” It utilizes stop-motion animation. This means that rather than filming moving objects, the crew first move the figures and sets little by little taking still photographs. They then finally play them back in rapid succession to simulate movement.

Even though claymation is recorded at 12 frames per second and shown at 24 frames per second, for The Nightmare Before Christmas, the scenes were filmed at 24 frames per second. This means that they had to change the pose of the character 24 times for each second of the actual, completed film. They worked with storyboards where they first laid out the entire scene and made refinements before the time-consuming process of animation was started.

One minute of the movie took about a week to shoot, and The Nightmare Before Christmas took three years to complete.(1,2)

4. Originally, the voice for Santa Clause was to be played by Vincent Price. But before he could record his lines, his wife passed away. The director felt that Price’s sadness could be heard in his voice and felt him unfit to portray the joyous Santa.

Image Source: Touchstone Pictures1 and Skellington Productions,  Wikipedia

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Henry Selick, the director, said the following about Vincent Price, “We recorded him, and he would’ve done the introduction to the film, since it’s supposed to be Santa Claus’s voice at the beginning/end, but [Price] had just lost his wife, and he was despondent, and it just didn’t work. He was the first choice, that didn’t work out, and we met with Don Ameche, who was insanely grouchy. I couldn’t believe how grouchy he was. Then we met with James Earl Jones, and Danny had a weird moment where he went up to him and said he’d written the part especially for James Earl Jones, and James Earl Jones got very angry and yelled, ‘You don’t know me!’ It was a very tough voice to cast, and we just went with a local actor from San Francisco [Ed Ivory].” (source)

5. Danny Elfman is actually the singing voice for Jack Skellington. He is responsible for the Simpsons theme, the scores for Pee-Wee’s Big AdventureBatman (1989), and Justice League. 

Image Source: Photo by Mel Melcon – LA Times

In 1985, Elfman was approached by Tim Burton and Paul Reubens to write the score for their first feature film, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Elfman went on to score all but three of Burton’s major studio releases: Ed WoodSweeney Todd, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

His other remarkable works include the Simpsons theme, the opening theme for the Sam Raimi Spider-Man series, the composition of the film score for Oz the Great and Powerful, and additional music for Avengers: Age of Ultron, score for Fifty Shades Darker, and the recently released Justice League(source)

6. The most difficult shot in the entire movie was when Jack Skellington is reaching for the doorknob to Christmas Land. It required a perfect reflection of the forest behind Jack for the shot to work.

Image Source: Touchstone Pictures1 and Skellington Productions via Giphy

The filmmakers were very dedicated and wanted the scenes to be as alive as if shooting a live-action movie. This led to one shot proving to be especially challenging. When Jack discovers the part of the forest with pathways to other holiday worlds, he looks longingly at the Christmas tree door. A close-up of its shiny golden knob reflects this mournful skeleton as well as the trees behind him as he advances to open it. Getting the reflection just right took a great deal of time, care, and attention.(source)

7. Two different people voiced the character Jack Skellington, the “Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town.

Image Source: ,2

Chris Sarandon was the speaking voice, whereas Danny Elfman was the singing voice of Jack Skellington, a skeleton known as the “Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town. He owns a ghost dog named Zero who has a small, glowing, jack-o’-lantern nose. Danny Elfman also voices Barrel, one of the trick-or-treaters working for Oogie Boogie.

Elfman was initially cast as Jack’s singing voice and, after the songs were recorded, Sarandon was cast to match Elfman’s vocal style. The director felt that Sarandon’s speaking voice complimented Elfman’s singing voice.(source)

8. The top stop-motion animators in the world worked simultaneously on 20 miniature sets, managing to complete about 70 seconds of the film per week.

There were around 120 people working at the same time for the production of this movie. It included animators, puppet and prop-makers, set builders, art directors, camera operators, lighting designers, and editors.

There were 20 stages going at once and as many as 15 animators working simultaneously. When one animator was working with Jack climbing a tower, another was working with Jack walking through the forest, and another was working with Jack singing through the streets.(source)

9. Each puppet had an armature inside it enabling flexible movement.

Image Source: TV is OK Productions and Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE)

The sculpture department sculpted the characters from the drawings that they got from the art department. They sculpted them in oil-based clay. Oil-based clay is very versatile and can be smoothed out with alcohol.

Moreover, each puppet had an armature inside it which is basically a ball and socket. This enabled the animators to move the puppets into specific postures during the shoot. All the intricate parts of the armatures were hand-machined to fit perfectly for each puppet. This ensured that each tiny movement looked smooth and fluid when posed 24 different times for each second of film.

The movie had more than 60 individual characters, and three or four duplicates were made for each of them. So, the total number of puppets was closer to 200.(source)

10. Jack Skellington had 400 different heads that are replaced each time he changes expression,  and Sally had a mask for every expression change.

Image Source: Touchstone Pictures1 and Skellington Productions via Giphy

Jack was designed as a long-limbed, spider-like man. To animate his various facial expressions and mouth movements, the animators used 400 hand-sculpted replacement hands. So, every time Jack had a different mouth expression, a whole different sculpture of the head was used. To make him blink, they used replacement eyelids and put them inside Jack’s hollow sockets. For each blink, the animators had to shoot 3-4 frames.

Image Source: TV is OK Productions and Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE) via Giphy

Sally, on the other hand, had a different mask for every expression change. Since she had long hair, it was difficult to change her whole head like Jack. So, the animators resorted to masks instead. (source)

11. Jack Skellington, the lead character/puppet in 1992’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, actually made cameos in earlier Tim Burton films: his 1982 short film Vincent and Beetlejuice (1988).

Image Source: Sleepy Hollow via Giphy

During the opening scene of Sleepy Hollow, a scarecrow bearing a strong resemblance to the Pumpkin King scarecrow at the beginning of “This is Halloween” can be seen.

Image Source: Disney, Paramount

In the 2010 film Alice in Wonderland, Jack’s face can be found on the Mad Hatter’s bow tie. In James and the Giant Peach, Jack makes a cameo as Captain Jack. Upon discovering him, Centipede says “Uh, Skellington?” A silhouette of Jack is shown in The Princess and the Frog as one of the shadows Dr. Facilier summons. Other cameos can be seen in The CriticLenore,  Robot ChickenMADTiny Toon AdventuresPanty andStocking, etc.(source)

12. Despite Tim Burton’s huge involvement with the creation, he was only present about 8 to 10 days of its production during its two-year production cycle.

Image source: Tim Burton at set – The Red List

On the direction of the film, Selick reflected, “It’s as though he [Burton] laid the egg, and I sat on it and hatched it. He wasn’t involved in a hands-on way, but his hand is in it. It was my job to make it look like ‘a Tim Burton film’, which is not so different from my own films.”

On Burton’s involvement, Selick claimed, “I don’t want to take away from Tim, but he was not in San Francisco when we made it. He came up five times over two years, and spent no more than eight or ten days in total.”(source)

13. Patrick Stewart was the original narrator of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Image source: Wikimedia

Patrick Stewart was brought onto the movie early on in its development when Burton’s original poem was supposed to play a bigger part in the narrative. But Tim Burton eventually cut Patrick Stewart’s narration. His voice can be found on the film’s official soundtrack. Here’s an opening monologue in his voice:


14. Disney fought to have Jack Skellington’s empty sockets filled with a pair of friendly eyes.

Image source: Giphy

A common guideline in animation and puppet-creation is that eyes are crucial to having an audience connect with a character. Animators and puppet-makers always live by this rule. Hence, Disney fought for Jack to have his empty sockets filled with eyes. But Tim and Henry did not accept this as this would never capture the king of the Halloween town’s essence. They ultimately proved that their anti-hero didn’t need oculars to connect.(source)

15. There are hidden Mickey and Donald Duck references in particular scenes of the movie.

Image Source: Touchstone Pictures1 and Skellington Productions

Mickey appears as a menacing toy, a flying stuffed animal with a sharp-toothed grin. Also, the girl that Mickey attacks as a menacing toy is wearing a Mickey print nightgown, while her brother’s pajamas are covered in Donald Duck faces.(source)

16. In the extended ending to the film, many years later, Santa Claus returns to Halloween Town to visit Jack, and finds that he has about four or five skeleton children.

Image Source: Touchstone Pictures1 and Skellington Productions

The ending monologue in Patrick Stewart’s voice goes something like this:

17. The “Kidnap The Sandy Claws” music is heard in The Haunted Mansion Holiday ride at Disneyland California and Disneyland Tokyo as an instrumental version.

Image Source: Giphy

The Haunted Mansion Holiday is a guest favorite each year. Jack Skellington and co. take over the Haunted Mansion. More than 400 flickering candles and 100 jack-o’-lanterns create a ghostly glow on the façade of the Haunted Mansion. (1,2)

18. All the sets were built in miniature form, but they were lit as if they were full-size movie sets. Some sets required as many as 20-30 lights.

Image Source: The Nightmare Before Christmas 4D – 20th Anniversary Release – El Capitan Theatre, Hollywood – Flickr

Even though the sets were miniature versions of actual sets, they were lit up like full-size movie sets by using smaller lighting equipment. Many of the scenes required as many as 20 to 30 different lights to create the dramatic effects. “What we’re trying to avoid is that looking like we are doing tricks. Coupled with that, trying to keep some style to it. The biggest challenge on the show I would say it’s keeping it consistent,” said Peter Kozachik, director of photography.

Eight camera crews worked on the filming. They pushed the barrier with a lot of motion-controlled cameras.(source)

19. Set designer Gregg Olsson built a quarter-scale mock-up of Halloween Town as a model for the real set. The set also had trap doors so animators could pop up and do the animation from beneath.

Image Source:  TV is OK Productions and Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE)

Gregg Olsson made a quarter-scale, mock-up model of the set from the drawings made by Tim Burton. He also worked on the camera angles to decide how much set is needed for each of the scenes.

He says, “Once the conceptual art is done, we need to somehow realize it in three dimension height, width, and depth.” The actual set was four times larger than the mock-up set, about 24 feet in length. Moreover, they had to break apart the set into pieces because, all together, it wouldn’t fit into their stages. “So we built into it some specific breaks so that a piece like this could come out,” says Olsson.

Also, animators had requested Olsson that they would prefer not to reach more than two to two and a half feet to reach the puppets. So, Olsson made the pieces of the set under two feet. For the parts that were more than two feet, Olsson provided trap doors so that animators could open up a set of stage, come up, do the animation, and then close the trapdoor.(source)

20. Two items were invented to facilitate the filming of the movie. One was a “light alarm” to warn animators if any of the stage lights failed, and the other was a system that enabled a puppeteer to seamlessly switch to a replacement puppet if one broke.

Image Source:  TV is OK Productions and Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE)

The Nightmare Before Christmas made several advances in claymation technology. The movie helped to streamline the process of producing claymation movies. The first major invention was a “light alarm” which warned the animators if one of the lights on the set went out.  Before this, if the animators did not see that the light was out, they would have to start the shot over.

The second invention was a system for replacing puppets seamlessly into the shot if one broke. This also saved a lot of time during shooting.

The final advancement was the use of computer-controlled cameras. Before this movie, claymation was limited to a static camera. The use of computer-controlled cameras allowed the animators to create the smooth, sweeping and turning shots that one normally sees in traditional film.(source)

10 Super Kinky Facts About Sex In Ancient Egypt

10 Super Kinky Facts About Sex In Ancient Egypt

If you thought the Romans and Greeks were liberal when it came to sex, prepare to be shocked. Sex in ancient Egypt had almost no limits, but that doesn't mean they did everything they could think of. They didn't have orgies, but they pushed boundaries that would make even the Romans balk. Sex with animals, sex with corpses, and sex with siblings weren't just practices seen in the noble families but with citizens of every class.

Still, it wasn't like the streets of Egypt were overflowing with men and women having sex with the corpses of animals. They actually had some strict rules about things like adultery and used early forms of birth control. They also kept records of their practices, which paved the way for advances in sex in the centuries since. So, if you were ever curious about how crazy things got in ancient Egypt, check out the list of ancient Egyptian sex facts below!

10 Drownings That Did Not Involve Water

Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death.[1] Typically, water comes to mind—young children unsupervised in a pool or an overconfident swimmer getting pulled under by a strong current. Water might be the most common substance that people drown in, but it certainly isn’t the only one. A person can drown in any liquid.

Below are ten unusual drowning cases that were not caused by water. Some of these substances must have made a horrible way to die that much worse. But others just might have made the end a little sweeter for the victims.

10.Plunged Into Paint

30-year-old Christopher Shute worked at a Ford transit van plant located in Southampton, England. The factory contained a massive tank that collected and recycled paint from the factory’s paint shop. Within the first year of operating, the paint tank began malfunctioning on a regular basis, which resulted in paint overflowing the tank.

In August 2000, the paint tank began overflowing while Shute was working. Shute climbed on top of the tank to try to stop the spill.[2] While he was up there, he fell through an opening in the tank where a lid had been removed. The overflowing paint would have made it impossible for Shute to see that the lid was missing.

Shute tried to pull himself out, and a colleague tried to reach him, but the paint made everything too slippery. Shute drowned.

Not long before Shute’s death, another worker had fallen into the tank while it was being cleaned. Had proper safety rails and procedures been implemented at that time, Shute’s accident would likely not have happened.

Ford and two acting managers were held liable for Shute’s death. The popular car manufacturer and the two managers in charge of Shute all admitted to the charges of failing to ensure the safety of their workers. This resulted in a £300,000 fine for Ford, and the managers were each fined £5,000.

9.Trapped In A Grease Pit

Photo credit: WRBL

In October 2017, Sadie Grace Andrews, three years old, visited an ice cream shop in Auburn, Alabama, with her family. She and two of her siblings were playing behind the store when Sadie stepped on the lid of a grease trap, causing the lid to flip open. Sadie tumbled into the 1.8-meter-deep (6 ft) pit, and the lid fell closed behind her.

Security cameras showed that her father had turned his head for only a moment. When her family realized Sadie was missing, they alerted authorities and began searching right away. It took less than ten minutes for Sadie’s father to locate the young girl in the grease trap. She was unresponsive. Family members and employees of the ice cream shop performed CPR until paramedics arrived at the scene. Sadie was rushed to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning.[3]

8.Immersed In Molasses

In the summer of 2016, Robert Herweyer was newly married and expecting his first child. Herweyer worked for Agri-Technology in Saugatuck, Michigan, a small company that supplies farms with agricultural products. On July 26, 2016, Herweyer was cleaning a 3.7-meter (12 ft) molasses tank. When the level of molasses became too low to pump out, Herweyer entered the tank in order to adjust the valve. He used safety equipment, lowering himself into the contraption with straps and a forklift while another worker assisted. Herweyer appeared to be fine while working in the tank, but when he began to climb out, he suddenly stopped moving.[4]

His coworker called to him, but Herweyer failed to respond. Herweyer fell down and slipped under the molasses. His coworker tried and failed to lift him from the tank before running to get help. The plant owner used an electric saw to cut the tank open and free Herweyer. Witnesses estimate that he was submerged in the molasses for four to five minutes before they were able to free him. He did not respond to CPR efforts. The emergency room doctor who treated him found molasses in his lungs and determined that Herweyer died from drowning.

7.Plummeting Into Manure Ponds

A drive through the countryside can often include the unpleasant scent of manure. If you thought the smell was bad, imagine what it would be like to drown in it.

In February 2016, Ruperto Vazquez-Carrera showed up for his shift at Sunrise Organic Dairy in Idaho. He was driving a feed truck across the farm when he crashed it into a manure pond. He managed to escape from the truck but became disoriented while swimming in the muck consisting of animal feces and urine. His body was located 64 meters (210 ft) from the truck, pointed away from the direction that would have quickly led him to land.

Drowning in manure happens more often than you might think. Just seven months after Vazquez-Carrera’s death, a dairy worker at a different Idaho farm met the same fate after driving a tractor into a manure pond.

The feces-filled ponds are common on dairy farms. They store animal waste and prevent it from polluting waterways. The contents of the ponds are later used as fertilizer. On both Idaho farms where employees drowned in manure, there were no barricades, floodlights, or even signs to warn the drivers away from crashing into the pond on a dark morning.[5]

6.Engulfed In Liquefied Vegetables

In July 2010, tragedy struck a ketchup factory in Lucknow, India. The factory contained a 6-meter-deep (20 ft) tank that was used to ferment vegetables. A worker was scooping fermented liquids from the tank when her ladder slipped, and she fell in. Her fellow employees saw the accident and rushed to help her. In a lethal parade, seven more people fell into the tank.

Authorities arrived and extracted the workers from the vat. They were all rushed to a local trauma center, where six were declared dead.

Police believed that once inside the tank, the toxic gasses produced during the fermentation process caused the workers to fall unconscious. Once the workers lost consciousness, they drowned in the liquefied vegetables.[6]

5.Death By Chocolate

In 2002, Yoni Cordon was working at Kargher Corporation, a candy factory located in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. His body was discovered submerged in a 4,500-liter (1,200 gal) vat of melted chocolate.

A platform near the vat was used for mixing ingredients, and it is believed the 19-year-old was working on the platform when he slipped and fell into the tank. No one saw Cordon fall in, so it was unknown how long he was in the tank before coworkers discovered his body. Foul play was not suspected, and Cordon’s death was ruled an accident.[7]

Cordon is not the only case of chocolate drowning. In 2009, Vincent Smith II also fell into a vat of melted chocolate. The 29-year-old had held a temporary position at Cocoa Services Inc. in New Jersey. Smith was standing on a 2.7-meter-high (9 ft) platform while he added chocolate to the vat. A blade used to mix the chocolate hit him, knocking him into the tank. Coworkers attempted to help him, but Smith was dead by the time he was pulled from the molten chocolate.

4.Caught In Cooking Oil

Donald Boone worked at a Frito-Lay factory in Lubbock, Texas, for more than six years. On February 9, 2001, Boone and another employee were making repairs on the roof of a 4.5-meter-tall (15 ft) tank that contained cooking oil. Boone’s coworker bent down to retrieve a tool. When he looked up, he saw Boone’s legs disappearing through a 0.6-meter (2 ft) opening in the tank.

Boone’s coworker called for help. A valve to release the oil in the vat was opened, and another worker tried looking for Boone through the tank’s roof opening, but all he could see were his shoes.

Paramedics arrived quickly, only five minutes after Boone had fallen into the tank. Boone was pulled from the oil and rushed to the emergency room, but he did not respond to resuscitation efforts. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.[8]

It was later discovered that Boone hit his head when he fell into the tank, which rendered him unconscious and caused him to drown in the cooking oil.

Frito-Lay Inc. agreed to pay $57,000 in fines for safety violations that were discovered during the investigation after Boone’s death.

3.Falling Into A Pit Toilet

In 2014, Michael Komape was five years old and attending his first year of primary school in a South African village on the outskirts of Polokwane. On January 20, Michael’s mom, Rosina, received a call from the primary school principal. The principal informed her that Michael had been missing for approximately two hours.

When Rosina arrived at the school, teachers told her they had searched everywhere, including the student toilets. They also asked Rosina to stay away from the toilets. Rosina then spotted Michael’s best friend, who told her he had seen Michael fall into one of the toilets. Rosina looked into the pit toilet that Michael’s friend pointed out, and saw her son’s arm rising above the pool of feces. He had drowned in human waste.[9]

The fire department pulled Michael’s body from the pit, and the school immediately shut down the student toilets. Faced with the liability of the dilapidated pit toilets that caused Michael’s death, the government installed brand-new lavatories at the primary school, as well as other schools in the area, within weeks.

Michael’s parents and siblings are suing the state for his death. The trial was postponed until November 2017 because of various technical delays. The Komape family is seeking monetary damages for shock and trauma as well as an amount for constitutional damages. They are also requesting a change in the safety and hygiene requirements of schools as well as an apology from the state for their role in the neglect that led to Michael’s death.

2.Submerged In Sulfuric Acid

Fernando Gonzalez worked for Coastal Circuits Factory in Redwood City, California. The 18-year-old was expected home early on the morning of September 23, 2007, after working a late-night shift. When he failed to show up, his father, who was also a Coastal Circuits employee, went to the factory to look for him. Shortly before 2:00 AM, Gonzalez’s father found his body in a vat of sulfuric acid.

Initial reports stated that Gonzalez was one of two Coastal Circuits employees working at the time. He had been submerging circuit boards in the sulfuric acid. Authorities believed toxic fumes from the chemicals caused Gonzalez to lose consciousness before falling forward into the vat and drowning.

There were many questions left unanswered in the immediate aftermath of Gonzalez’s death. A Coastal Circuits spokesperson declined to explain why Gonzalez had been working such a late shift with only one other employee or why he hadn’t been wearing any facial protection while working with chemicals. There was no explanation for why the other employee had not called for help after Gonzalez’s accident.

Later reports revealed more questions than answers. Gonzalez was referred to as working alone when the accident occurred, and no mention was made of another employee. In addition, toxicology reports showed that Gonzalez did not succumb to any chemicals before falling face-first into the vat of sulfuric acid.[10]

Despite the mystery surrounding the incident, officials did not investigate Gonzalez’s drowning as suspicious, and his death was ruled an accident.

1.Tsunami Of Beer

The Horse Shoe Brewery was located in St. Giles in London. In 1810, the brewery installed a 6.7-meter-high (22 ft) wooden fermentation tank. The massive structure was held together by giant iron rings that surrounded the tank. Four years later, on October 17, 1814, one of those iron rings snapped. The tank exploded, releasing a tsunami of beer. The force behind the tidal wave of ale was so great that the back wall of the brewery collapsed. The pressure also broke open several other containers of liquid, and their contents added to the 4.5-meter (15 ft) tidal wave that flooded the streets. In total, more than 1.2 million liters (320,000 gal) of beer burst from the brewery.

The area surrounding the brewery was densely populated by slums, and it didn’t take long for the flood of beer to claim lives. Eight people drowned, including four mourners participating in a wake for a toddler who had died the day before.

Those left standing were quick to profit from the catastrophe. Hundreds of people grabbed every container they could find and scooped up the free beer. Overindulgence resulted in alcohol poisoning, which claimed another life days later. Relatives of the beer flood victims charged people money to view the corpses of their lost loved ones. One of these morbid exhibitions caused so many people to gather in one house that the floor collapsed, dropping everyone into a cellar still flooded waist-high with beer.

The incident caused breweries to gradually replace wooden fermentation tanks with lined concrete vats.[11]

FASCINATING FACTS: 10 Facts About Gene Wilder’s Life

FASCINATING FACTS: 10 Facts About Gene Wilder’s Life

Gene Wilder, one of America’s most beloved comic actors, stole the hearts of many with his performances in movies like The ProducersBlazing SaddlesYoung Frankenstein, and especially as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Apart from being an actor, he was also a screenwriter, director, and producer for many films including The Woman in Red and especially Young Frankenstein for which he received Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. After living a long and fulfilling life, he has recently passed away, and to commemorate him, here are some lesser-known facts about Gene Wilder’s life.

1. Gene Wilder’s real name is Jerome Silberman. He changed his name because he could not see a “Jerry Silberman” playing Hamlet, though he also admitted he could not see “Gene Wilder” playing Hamlet either. 

Image Source: HFPA ARCHIVESshakespeare

Like many actors of that time, Wilder decided to adopt a stage name when he was accepted into the Actors Studio in 1961. He chose the name “Wilder” because it reminded him of Thornton Wilder, the author of his favorite play Our Town. He chose the name “Gene” from Look Homeward, Angel, Thomas Wolfe’s first novel, after the lead character, Eugene. He also liked the name “Gene” because as a child, he was very impressed by a distant relative who was a bomber navigator during World War II and was “handsome and looked great in his leather flight jacket.”(12)

2. Wilder was born and raised in a Jewish family, but the only thing he believed in was the Golden Rule — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Image Source: Maureen Keatingwikipedia

Wilder’s father, William J. Silberman, was a Russian Jewish immigrant who worked as a manufacturer and salesman of novelty items. His mother, Jeanne Baer, was born in Illinois to Russian immigrant parents. Though Wilder did not believe in God or any religion, he stated that he feels very Jewish. He also jokingly refers to himself as a “Jewish-Buddhist-Atheist,” the Buddhist part relating to the time he sought healing when his wife Gilda Radner was suffering from cancer.(12)

3. Gene Wilder became interested in acting at the age of eight when his mother was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and the doctor told him to “try and make her laugh.”

Image Source: sheratoniowacityUniversity of Iowa Archives

In 1941, Wilder’s mother had a heart attack because of rheumatic fever. When she was back from the hospital, the doctor whispered to him not to argue with her as it might kill her and to try and make her laugh. For years, he lived fearing that a few sharp words could fatally harm her and well-timed jokes could extend her life. Growing up, he also felt extremely guilty about being happy because his mother was suffering and in pain. So, every time he felt happy, he would feel the need to cut it off and pray for forgiveness.

When he was 11 years old, he saw his sister perform a monologue. He noticed how the audience, who were chattering till then, fell silent when the lights were off and the spotlight fell on his sister along with everyone’s attention. He stated in an interview that his mother being ill most of the time made him feel deprived of attention which he felt he could get while acting. So, he went to his sister’s teacher and asked if he could become his student. The teacher told Wilder to come back two years later if he still felt interested in acting. Wilder did, and the teacher accepted him as a student.(source)

4. When Wilder was studying at Black-Foxe, a military institute in Hollywood, he had to face bullying and assault as he was the only Jewish boy in the school.

Image Source: classmates

When Wilder’s mother was ill, she heard about the Black-Foxe Military Institute from distant relatives and talked his father into sending him there. Wilder was 13 years old at that time and the only Jew in the school. The other kids would beat him up and bully him because of it. Though he wrote home about the bullying, his father kept it from his mother. When he came home for Christmas holidays, his body was covered in bruises from the beatings. Since the other students didn’t hit his face and he was wearing a full-sleeved uniform shirt, his mother did not notice anything wrong at first. Later when he was changing for dinner, his mother walked in and saw the bruises. After that, his parents pulled him out of the school.(12)

5. Before becoming an actor, Wilder served in the US Army as a medic. He worked in treating psychiatric patients. 

Image Source: United States ArmyWarner Brothers/Tandem Production

In 1956, a year after graduating in Communication and Theater Arts at the University of Iowa, Wilder was drafted into the US Army. After finishing the recruitment training, he was assigned to the medical corps and sent for training to Fort Sam Houston. He chose to serve as a paramedic in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Valley Forge Army Hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania so that he could attend classes at HB Studio (Herbert Berghof Studio) in New York. Two years later, he was discharged from the army and returned to New York to continue studying acting.(12)

6.  Gene Wilder was a fan of Johnny Deep and refused to watch the 2005 remake of Willy Wonka because he didn’t want to be disappointed in Depp.

Image Source: Everettwikia

When Tim Burton made Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005 with Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, it was received with many positive reviews. In 1971, Wilder played the same character in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the original adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel. When Burton offered Depp the role, he signed without reading the script and hoped to approach the role differently than how Wilder had done, also stating that Wilder’s characterization of Willy Wonka stood out as a unique portrayal. In 2007, Wilder stated that “The thing that put me off … I like Johnny Depp, I like him, as an actor I like him very much … but when I saw little pieces in the promotion of what he was doing,  I said I don’t want to see the film, because I don’t want to be disappointed in him.”(source)

7. It was Gene Wilder who came up with the idea for Young Frankenstein and pitched it to Mel Brooks on the set of Blazing Saddles.

Image Source: earlsmithstrandAngela George

Following several box office failures including The Producers and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Wilder found success with Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) in 1972. Around this time, he came up with the idea of Victor Frankenstein’s grandson who inherits the mansion and the research. While he was writing the story, his agent, Mike Medavoy, approached him and suggested that he made a film with Peter Boyle and Marty Feldman. After watching Feldman in Dean Martin’s Comedy World, Wilder wrote the entire Transylvania train scene and sent it to Medavoy who suggested he talk to Mel Brooks about directing the film.

Brooks, however, was not sold on the idea in the beginning considering it just “cute,” and also because there were already several other Frankenstein movies. But Wilder approached him again during the last few weeks of shooting Blazing Saddles and told him that Frankenstein’s grandson doesn’t want anything to do with the family and that he was ashamed of the wackos. Brooks found the idea funny and they both began work on the script.(source)

8. Both his mother and his wife died of ovarian cancer. After that, he actively promoted cancer awareness and treatment and founded the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles.

Image Source: angryasianman

Wilder’s mother died in November 1957 and his third wife, Gilda Radner, died in May 1989. After their marriage on September 14, 1984, they tried to have children, but Radner suffered miscarriages, and the doctors could not determine the cause. In October 1986, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Though it went into remission after a year and a half of treatment, it returned and spread to other parts of the body by May 1989 leading to her death. Following that, Wilder founded the cancer detection center and also co-founded Gilda’s Club, a support group that works towards raising awareness of cancer.

In 1998, Wilder also wrote the book Gilda’s Disease in collaboration with oncologist Steven Piver about his personal experiences while Radner was struggling with cancer. In 1999, Wilder himself was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma which went into complete remission by March 2005 following chemotherapy and stem cell transplant.(source)

9. Gene Wilder stopped making movies because he didn’t want to make films filled with violence, profanity, and nudity. He chose to write instead.

Image Source: latimes

Wilder’s last appearance in a film was in 1991 in Another You and on television in 2002-2003 in three episodes of Will & Grace. After that, he began to focus on writing and wrote a few novels as well as memoirs. In an interview by Time Out New York magazine in 2013, Wilder stated that he would act again if there was a wonderful script, but that he was “tired of watching the bombing, shooting, killing, swearing, and 3-D. I get 52 movies a year sent to me, and maybe there are three good [ones].” Apart from writing, Wilder also enjoyed art and was a watercolor artist.(12)

10. Gene Wilder died at home on August 29, 2016, while listening to one of his favorite songs – “Over the Rainbow” sung by Ella Fitzgerald.

Image Source: Caroline Bonarde UcciWilliam P. Gottlieb

Wilder died at the age of 83 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Stanford, Connecticut. He had been suffering from the disease for three years before his death. He chose not to make it public as he did not want the children’s delight at the thought of Willy Wonka to be mixed with worry, disappointment, or confusion. He was holding the hands of his family when he died. According to his family members, ” the music speaker, which was set to random, began to blare out one of his favorites –  Ella Fitzgerald. There is a picture of Ella and him meeting at a London Bistro some years ago that are among each of their most cherished possessions. She was singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as he was taken away.”(12)

What Is A Devil's Garden And How Is It Formed?

What Is A Devil's Garden And How Is It Formed?

In the Amazon rainforest, you can find a very strange phenomenon - a so-called Devils Garden. Areas of the forest that are dominated entirely by a single species of plant. In an environment with an unparalleled diversity of plants and animal species, these spots of regularity feel very out of place - almost mystical. Not surprising that locals think evil forest spirits cultivate these gardens. But in reality, there is a logical but very interesting explanation for them.

FASCINATING FACTS: 13 Tipsy Facts About Alcohol

FASCINATING FACTS: 13 Tipsy Facts About Alcohol


Getting your “liquor coat” –drinking to get warm–is a myth because alcohol actually lowers your body temperature.

United States has the highest legal drinking age in the world.

In Missouri, if you are under 21 and you’re taking out the garbage and the bag contains an empty bottle of alcohol, you can be charged with illegal possession of alcohol.




Top 10 Ancient Constructions With Fascinating Tales And Riddles

Top 10 Ancient Constructions With Fascinating Tales And Riddles -

Archaeology’s twin children—mystery and revelation—keep it among the most captivating fields of research. Ancient constructions are particularly tantalizing—the bigger the discovery, the better.

A small, rare artifact is valuable, but entire temple complexes, lost geoglyphs, and castles invigorate history in leaps and bounds. Building projects can betray the fear, vanity, or social aspects of whomever raised them. But perhaps the most magnetic moments are the unexpected structures, some found in huge numbers or in thoroughly investigated monuments, and their purpose cannot be deciphered.

10 The Gegharot Occult Center

Photo credit: Live Science

During a violent era in Armenia’s past, one settlement used divination to make sense of the future. Between 2003–2011, archaeologists cleared three shrines inside a fortress at Gegharot.

Around 3,300 years old, each consisted of a room with a clay basin. Artifacts suggested three different types of divination were once practiced at Gegharot. A large number of knucklebones from cattle, goats, and sheep were found. They were scorched and bore artificial marks. These were likely used in osteomancy—the throwing and reading of bones, depending on how they land.

There were signs of lithomancy, deploying stones instead of bones. Perhaps the oddest was reading the future with flour. Officially called aleuromancy, it might have been performed in the eastern shrine. There were tools to grind grain but no oven. The room’s basin had burns and could have been used to bake tiny loaves. These were then assigned images with stamp seals found inside.

All the effort the people of Gegharot invested in divination brought no safety. Gegharot and every other fortress in the area burned down during a massive conflict.[1]

9 Castle Under The Lake

Photo credit: sciencealert.com

Tahsin Ceylan wanted to catch the monster rumored to live in the depths of Turkey’s Lake Van. After hearing about submerged ruins, he spoke with experts and they all told Ceylan not to bother. The second biggest lake in the Middle East was barren as far as scholars were concerned.

A researcher himself, Ceylan and his team went ahead anyway. After 10 years, no monster surfaced but the divers found remnants of a forgotten city. In 2016, they discovered 1,000-year-old tombstones and stalagmites forming a square field some 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) long.

Early in 2017, they added a Russian shipwreck that had sunk seven decades ago. But the prize moment came later in the same year. Deep beneath the surface sat a castle. Constructed with large, angular blocks, the building covered about 1 kilometer (0.6 mi) along the lake’s bed. Walls stood 3–4 meters (10–13 ft) tall, wonderfully preserved despite being 3,000 years old.[2]

The castle’s owners are believed to be from an extinct civilization known as Urartu, or the Kingdom of Van. During its existence (ninth to sixth centuries BC), the lake was lower. But it rose with the years and eventually swallowed the castle.

8 The Palpa Orca

Photo credit: Live Science

In the Palpa desert of Peru, thousands of ancient images adorn the earth. But one was missing. German archaeologists recorded a killer whale in the 1960s but failed to properly describe its location. Lost for over half a century, Peru’s Ministry of Culture became aware of the orca’s existence after viewing a geoglyph catalog at a German institute.

After searching for years on Google Earth and the hills of Palpa Valley, archaeologists found it in 2015. Etched into a hillside, the pattern measured 70 meters (230 ft) long. Erosion had faded the orca badly. Restoration work in 2017 rendered it in better condition.[3]

Incredibly, tests at the site suggested that the geoglyph was over 2,000 years old—more ancient than the famous Nazca lines in a neighboring region. Similar to the Nazca art, the orca was “drawn” by clearing the outline of stones. The artists belonged to the Paracas culture (800–200 BC), which was older than the one in Nazca.

There is still no clear answer why both civilizations covered over 450 square kilometers (174 mi2) with large geoglyphs.

7 Steppe Geoglyphs

Photo credit: sciencealert.com

In 2007, Dmitriy Dey from Kazakhstan watched a program about pyramids. Intrigued, he used Google Earth to see if any existed in his country. There were none. But Dey saw over 260 artificial structures, and some were epic. The biggest, an intricate square, is larger than the base of the Great Pyramid of Cheops.

As Dey’s discovery became known, experts were so stunned that they feared a hoax. However, NASA snapped satellite images and confirmed the mysterious shapes. The earthworks made no sense when viewed at ground level. But from above, colossal crosses, squares, lines, rings, and mounds dotted the steppe. The unique collection also included trenches and ramparts.

Whoever the architects were, their skills changed how scholars view Neolithic nomads. The construction required numbers, sheer effort, and staying put—all the things a nomadic group was not usually credited with.

The purpose and age of the structures remain uncertain. The resident Mahandzhar culture (7000–5000 BC) could be linked to the oldest of the buildings. Researchers also dated one of the mounds to 800 BC, perhaps hinting at a continuous effort over time.[4]

6 Pyramid In Nazca

Photo credit: NBC News

The mud city of Cahuachi was once home to the Nazca people of Peru. The site was abandoned between AD 300–350. Before everyone left, all the monumentswere sealed away beneath the desert’s sand. Around 40 of these mounds exist at Cahuachi. In the past, their material turned scanning equipment useless. Since most of the buried monuments are adobe structures (sun-hardened soil), scans could not distinguish them from the mound’s earth.

Recently, a satellite separated the two for the first time when it scanned a site near the city. The images revealed an adobe pyramid within, covering an area of 9,000 square meters (97,000 ft2). The base measured 91 meters (300 ft) by 100 meters (328 ft). Heavy walls and seven levels added to the monument’s majestic presence.[5]

It resembled another inside Cahuachi, the massive asymmetrical Grand Pyramid. During previous digs, anthropologists found human skulls arranged inside the Grand Pyramid, each carefully prepared as an offering. Since the two pyramids are similar, it is likely that the new pyramid also holds human sacrifices.

5 Singleton’s Lost Castle

Photo credit: BBC

A few years ago, a patch of Northern Ireland came under the ownership of The National Trust. The thickly wooded lot was located on the Mount Stewart estate in County Down. To see if anything was down there, archaeologists searched the area with radar. When the scan isolated one possible location, a normal photograph was taken from the air. It suggested a round structure on the ground. Reaching the site, however, took over 800 hours of chopping down trees.

In 2017, enough ground was cleared to reveal what had made the circle on the photo. It was a Norman-era castle built eight centuries ago on the estate’s Ards peninsula. At least one resident has been traced—a Norman called Robert de Singleton who lived there in 1333.

In excellent condition, the structure was build during the 12th century in the military motte-and-bailey style. The mound (motte) on which it stood spanned 23 meters (75 ft) in diameter. The second trademark feature—the bailey—was a deep ditch that would have enclosed everything with a palisade in the past.[6]

4 Nero’s Vanity Project

Photo credit: phys.org

Archaeologists have pondered over Silchester since Victorian times. Two Roman temples had previously been found on a farm, but precisely how Silchester and Rome were linked remained a riddle.

When archaeologists returned in 2017, they found insight into how Emperor Nero (r. AD 54–68) wanted to be viewed by the locals. They identified the ruins of a third temple and found tiles inside bearing Nero’s name. This confirmed the new find as unique—a Roman temple in Britain from the age of Nero.

The tiles may sound drab, but they are incredibly scarce in the UK. To find seven at Silchester supports the idea that Nero ordered the construction project. The temples were impressive for the time.

Back then, Silchester was the Roman city of Calleva and the earliest buildings were the temples, preceding all other monuments by decades. They stood around 15 meters (50 ft) tall and the foundations averaged 15 meters (50 ft) by 17 meters (55 ft). It is believed that Nero raised magnificent structures at Calleva to look good in front of the natives.[7]

3 Theater Under Jerusalem’s Wall

Photo credit: jpost.com

In 2017, an excavation attempted to establish the age of Wilson’s Arch in Jerusalem. The stone bridge was ancient and curved toward the Temple Mount. When the dig extended to the iconic Western Wall, spades struck a first for Jerusalem.

Astonished archaeologists found an enclosed space that banished all thoughts about the bridge. It was a small but fine theater capable of seating an audience of 200. It was also the first public Roman architecture unearthed in the city.

The precise purpose might never be known, but the theater was likely a musical hall or assembly house. Tests suggested the building was raised in the second century AD.

During this period, Rome controlled Jerusalem with little tolerance toward the Jewish people, who were expelled. This conflict could explain why the theater appears to be incomplete. Not all the staircases were carved, and some stone blocks were marked for cutting, which never happened.

Researchers believe that the theater’s builders—and perhaps financial resources—were probably poured into suppressing a Jewish uprising known as the Bar Kokhba Revolt.[8]

2 The Saudi Gates

Photo credit: Live Science

In a world where new discoveries are limited mostly to single sites or artifacts, the Saudi gates are an exception. Discovered via satellite in 2017, around 400 megaliths line west-central Saudi Arabia. They are not really doorways. But from the air, most resemble old field gates.

There is nothing natural about them. Somebody put a huge effort into building these stone walls, with some beating the length of a football field. A few have multiple walls, while others form rectangles. Some of the single walls have stones stacked at each end.

The structures clearly served a purpose. But for the time being, nobody knows the reason. Their age is also lost in time. Archaeologists who attempted to discern a rough estimate noticed that certain formations were at the lowest level of rebuilding and lava flows. Later structures included hunting traps or “kites” and circular structures called wheels, all constructed on top of the mystery ruins.

No man-made building was found beneath the gates, which made them the oldest in the area. More research is required, but some gates could have been built as far back as 7,000 years.[9]

1 The Great Pyramid Void

Photo credit: National Geographic

In a 2017 announcement, scientists dropped the bombshell that they had discovered a massive void in the Great Pyramid of Giza. Nothing major has been found in the Egyptian icon since the 1800s. The cavity runs nearly 30 meters (100 ft) long above the Grand Gallery, the monument’s main corridor.

In 2015, Egyptologists tried a noninvasive technique called muon radiography. Muons are cosmic particles that constantly pass through everything on Earth. By tracking the speed—quickly for empty spaces or slowly for solids—scientists can recreate a building’s interior.

Muon detectors were left inside the pyramid for months. When the data was analyzed in 2016, the void stunned everyone. The muons revealed that the void had a cross section that matched the Grand Gallery. Unlike the latter, which leads to the tomb of pharaoh Khufu (r. 2509–2483 BC), the void appeared to be sealed off.[10]

Muons can only paint a limited picture. It is not clear what is inside, why it was included in the 4,500-year-old monument, or whether this is the combined image of multiple structures. One tentative theory suggests that it could be a decommissioned construction ramp.




21 Insane Rock Star Rumors That Are Actually True

21 Insane Rock Star Rumors That Are Actually True

As much as you may want to believe them, most rumors about famous celebrities are completely false. Considering all the sex, drugs, and rock and roll in rock music, it's not surprising that almost every rock star has a few rumors that surround them. But, again, most of these simply aren't true.

However, don't despair, because in the midst of the countless made-up or exaggerated tales out there, some of these rock star rumors are actually true! Hopefully, these 100%, actual, I'm-not-lying-at-all, real-life true stories about rock stars will give you your rumor fix.




Can you pick the missing words from the titles of these movies from 1972?

100 Years Ago, The Largest Manmade, Non-Nuclear Explosion Leveled Halifax, Canada


100 Years Ago, The Largest Manmade, Non-Nuclear Explosion Leveled Halifax, Canada

 Halifax was a busy port during World War I, and a communication mixup led to a munitions boat crashing and exploding.


Batman's Village of Fools: Gotham, England

Batman's Village of Fools: Gotham, England -


There's a link from a 13th century legend, to a 16th century insult book, to a 19th century writer, to a 20th century comic book hero. And it starts in a small village near Nottingham, in the time of Robin Hood. Here's why Batman comes from Gotham City.


FASCINATING FACTS: 22 Very Creepy Facts

FASCINATING FACTS: 22 Very Creepy Facts


How Did The Halifax Explosion Happen?

How Did The Halifax Explosion Happen?

100 years ago, the Canadian port city of Halifax was struck by one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history. How did it happen?

10 Times People Created Their Own Language

10 Times People Created Their Own Language

The idea of people creating their own language might sound bizarre, but as we are about to find out, it does happen. Sometimes, the languages were created in order to unite the speakers of different languages, while at other times, it was for research purposes. In at least two instances, the languages were innately created by the speakers, who did not even realize that they had invented a new language, and in one case, it was created so we could speak with aliens. This part is a bit controversial since the creator denied inventing the language but insisted that an alien had taught it to him.

So far, the race to create a new language has been a tough one. Many of these languages never caught on. Some are works in progress and are still being developed while one has stood the test of time and is now a recognized language.


aUI (pronounced a-OO-ee) was introduced to we earthlings by John W. Weilgart who claimed a green, elf-like alien had taught him the language. Weilgart believed that aUI, which consists of several symbols, would replace complicated, natural languages like English. In aUI, outer space is represented by a circle, “inside” is represented by a circle with a dot in the center, and power is represented by a lightning bolt. New words are formed by combining the symbols together.

In 1968, Weilgart released a book titled “aUI: The Language of Space,” which contained the symbols that formed the language along with their etymologies. Weilgart advised that all humans learned how to speak aUI before aUI speaking aliens landed on earth. He also suggested that we peacefully negotiated with the aliens whenever they arrived and avoided any form of altercation with them.[1]

9.Lingua Ignota

About a thousand years ago, Hildegard von Bingen, a lecturer, composer, and nun created a language alongside an alphabet. No one knows what she called the language, but it is referred to as Lingua Ignota. She included the language in the Reisen Codex, where she revealed the names she had given several divine beings, humans, plants, and objects. She spelled God as “Aigonz,” angels as “aiegenz,” and humans as “inimois.” Talking about humans, father is “peueriz,” mother is “maiz,” and wife is “kaueia.”

Linguists believe Lingua Ignota was based on Greek and maybe Cyrillic, even though they suspect it was influenced by Latin and German. Apparently, Bingen had a fondness for using the letter “z” which is common in German. Bingen’s method of writing Lingua Ignota follows Roman Cursive even though it also resembles the symbols of the Zodiac. So far, no one has been able to explain why she created the language.[2]

8.The Language of Poto and Cabengo

Grace and Virginia Kennedy were a pair of young twin sisters who innately created their own language way back in the 1970s. They used the language in their conversations and even renamed themselves Poto and Cabengo. Worse, they did not understand any other language. Their father mistook their conversations for gibberish and thought they were mentally unstable. He did not even bother sending them to school. It was only when he took them to a speech therapist did someone realize that the girls had invented a language.

A basic conversation between both sisters went like this:

“Pinit, putahtraletungay” (Finish, potato salad hungry)
“Nis, Poto?” (This, Poto?)
“Liba Cabingoat, it” (Dear Cabengo, eat)
“la moa, Poto?” (Here more, Poto?)
“Ya” (Yeah)

Linguists and speech pathologists had a hard time deciphering the language. It took months before they realized that “pinit” meant “finished,” “buda” meant “butter,” and “toolenis” was “spaghetti.” One major problem linguists encountered was the rate at which the girls changed the way they pronounced their words. In one instance, they pronounced “pandaydooz” in 26 different ways within fifteen minutes.[3]

Linguists later discovered that isolation played a huge role in the creation of the language. Apparently, the girls spent most of their earlier years with their grandmother who rarely spoke to them. The few times she did, it was in German even though they lived in the United States. Both girls were later “cured” of their bizarre language. However, they still had speech problems more than two decades later.

7.Nicaraguan Sign Language

Nicaragua got its first school for the deaf in 1977. The school had no plans for teaching the students sign language. Instead, it focused on teaching Spanish and lipreading, which the students never understood. However, something else happened: the students created their own language, which is known today as Idioma de Señas de Nicaragua (ISN) or Nicaraguan Sign Language. The creation of the language was of interest to linguists as it was the first time they ever witnessed the creation of a natural language.

As it turned out, the language started off with the deaf students creating signs for common objects and activities. They added more signs over time, and before long, they created the grammatical structure guiding the use of the language. All this was done innately without any form of planning. Some linguists have used the Nicaraguan Sign Language to prove the theory of Universal Grammar, which states that humans have the innate ability to unconsciously create new languages when necessary. The theory is inconclusive and remains debated today.[4]


Loglan (short for logical language) was created by James Cooke Brown in 1955. Brown created the language to test the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which states that the structure of a language determines the limit to which a speaker of that language can reason. In other words, the language spoken by a person determines the maximum level of development that can be achieved by that person. So, people can never develop past the limitation placed on them by their language.

Brown created Loglan to test whether it would make people think differently and, thus, exceed the limitation placed on them by their former language. Unlike natural languages like English, Loglan is free of ambiguity. It lacks words that have the same meanings or sound similar when pronounced. For example, “ice cream” and “I scream.” The language itself is based on Predicate Calculus, one of the fields of mathematical logic, although an understanding of Mathematics is not a prerequisite to speaking Loglan.

The Loglan vocabulary presently consists of about ten thousand words of which about one thousand are frequently used. New words are created either by joining two Loglan words together or borrowing words from other languages, most especially the International Scientific Vocabulary. Many speakers of Loglan believe that it is perfectly suited to one day become the official language of the world.[5]


Lojban was created by the Logical Language Group (LLG) in 1997, although the group had been working on it since 1987. It was developed from Loglan, and the LLG had extensively studied Brown’s works. The basis of Lojban was 1,350 words, which the LLG had taken from Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic, which are the six most spoken languages in the world. The group specifically avoided ambiguous words like “bank,” which has several meanings; “your” and “you’re,” which sound alike but have different meanings; and “its” and “it’s,” which have different meanings even though they are only differentiated by a punctuation mark.

Spelling in Lojban is strictly phonetic. Words are pronounced the same way they are spelled. They are also easily identifiable, and a person can tell the part of a speech a word represents by merely looking at the way it is used. Lojban has speakers all around the world but the majority are concentrated in Australia, Israel, and the United States. Speakers attest that the language sounds like Italian.[6]



Folkspraak is intended to become a universal language that could be understood by speakers of all Germanic languages. Germanic languages are a group of languages that started off as a single, but now extinct, language. They include English, German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Faroese, and Gothic amongst others. However, English, Dutch, German, Danish, Norwegian, Bokmål, and Swedish are the major languages used for Folkspraak.

Folkspraak is still a work in progress and is being created by a group of people who meet in a Yahoo group. The attempt to create the language is fraught with several problems. First, there is no definite method of creating new words. So, some creators have added words from other Germanic languages like Frisian, Low German, and Norwegian Nynorsk. Creators also regularly disagree on several issues relating to syntax, vocabulary, and grammar. In fact, Folkspraak now has several dialects, which might lead to the creation of more than one language.[7]


Tutonish was Elias Molee’s attempt to create a universal language for speakers of Germanic languages. It was based on English and German but maintains a structure similar to all Germanic languages. In Tutonish, the first three lines of the Lord’s prayer goes like this:

“vio fadr hu bi in hevn” (Our Father, who art in heaven)
“holirn be duao name” (hallowed be thy Name)
“dauo reik kom” (thy kingdom come)

Upper case letters are missing in the quote because Tutonish was entirely written in lower case. Molee promoted his language by writing several books where he called for a simplification and unification of all Germanic languages. Some of his books were reviewed by the New York Times, and he even once presented the language to King Haakon VII of Norway. Later, reporting the event in his autobiography, he wrote, “e king ws very friendly t me” (The king was very friendly to me). He later renamed the language Alteutonish, but it never caught on.[8]


The attempt to create a universal language for all Slavs dates back to 1666 when Juraj Križani created a language called Ruski. The language never caught on, but it did encourage several others to attempt to create a universal mother tongue for speakers of all Slav languages, which includes Belorussian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Macedonian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, and Ukrainian languages.

Most attempts to create a universal Slav language failed because the Pan-Slavists proposing the idea almost always based it on their own native Slavic language. Some Russian Pan-Slavists even once suggested that other Slavs adopted Russian, which is spoken by between 65 and 70 percent of Slavs, as their universal Slav language. Other Pan-Slavists suggested adopting Old Church Slavic, which is closely related to the common ancestor of all Slavic languages and was written (and probably created) by two brothers in the ninth century. This proposal failed because Old Church Slavic lacked modern words and was considered too archaic.

Today, all attempts to create a universal Slavic language has been merged into Interslavic. In July 2017 the movement clamoring for a single Slavic language held a conference where Interslavic was used publicly for the first time. After the conference, Novoslovienskij and Slovianski-N, the two major languages that formed Interslavic, were merged to form Medžuslovjansky.[9]

1.Lingwa de Planeta

In 2010, a group of linguists, led by Russian psychologist Dimitri Ivanov, created a language called Lingwa de Planeta. It is still a work in progress, but the group hopes it could one day become the lingua franca of the world. Lingwa de Planeta is based on words taken from Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, which are the ten most spoken languages in the world.

Ivanov’s team used ten languages as their base because they did not want to favor one language over another. At the same time, they also want Lingwa de Planeta to be easily understood by the speakers of all ten languages. Ivanov and his team believe that humans will need a single language sooner or later thanks to the proliferation of the internet, which has brought us all closer than ever.[10]

FASCINATING FACTS: 25 Google Facts That You Don’t Need To Uh… Google

FASCINATING FACTS: 25 Google Facts That You Don’t Need To Uh… Google

Where would we be without Google? Soak up some of these awesome facts.
Search yourself, you know this to be true.




The 21 Lamborghini Fastest Car Series List From 1964 - 2017 Super Cars Technology.

Urus is here, with the raw power of a Lamborghini super sports car, and the versatility and functionality of an SUV. Exquisite design, stunning performance: Urus is everything you’d expect from Lamborghini. In the city streets. On off-road tracks. In challenging weather conditions: Regardless of the setting, Urus delivers pure Lamborghini emotions, in absolute comfort and safety.




The British Library Has Fully Digitized 570 Pages of Leonardo da Vinci’s Visionary Notebooks

The British Library Has Fully Digitized 570 Pages of Leonardo da Vinci’s Visionary Notebooks

The British Library has fully digitized one of Leonardo da Vinci’s visionary notebooks, ‘The Codex Arundel’, and anyone is free to view and browse the prized historical artifact in amazing high-resolution detail.

The British Library has uploaded 570 high-res images of the notebook, which features a collection of papers written in Italian by Leonardo da Vinci (b. 1452, d. 1519), in his characteristic left-handed mirror-writing (reading from right to left), including diagrams, drawings and brief texts, covering a broad range of topics in science and art, as well as personal notes.

The core of the notebook is a collection of materials that Leonardo describes as “a collection without order, drawn from many papers, which I have copied here, hoping to arrange them later each in its place according to the subjects of which they treat”, a collection he began in the house of Piero di Braccio Martelli in Florence, in 1508. To this notebook has subsequently been added a number of other loose papers containing writing and diagrams produced by Leonardo throughout his career.

‘The Codex Arundel’ offers a glimpse into one of the most brilliant minds humankind has ever known. Da Vinci has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter and tank, he epitomised the Renaissance humanist ideal. [source]

Many historians and scholars regard Leonardo as the prime exemplar of the “Universal Genius” or “Renaissance Man”, an individual of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination”. [source]

Below you will find select pages from the fascinating notebook. You can see it in its entirety by clicking here.


FASCINATING FACTS: 10 Crazy Facts About Sinterklaas Day: The Insane Dutch Christmas

FASCINATING FACTS: 10 Crazy Facts About Sinterklaas Day: The Insane Dutch Christmas

When nights falls on December 5, Sinterklaas comes to the Netherlands. While every good boy and girl is sleeping, the Dutch Santa Claus sneaks into their house and leaves treats and presents for the children to find when they wake up in the morning.

But Sinterklaas Day isn’t just an early Christmas. It’s something altogether different. Sure, a jolly old saint gives kids presents, but all the little details are just a little bit different—and, as you’ll soon find out, a whole lot weirder.

Get ready for the story of Sinterklaas—complete with African slaves, kidnapped children, castrated priests, and more. Today, we’re going learn all about the Netherlands’ strange, magical, and possibly just the tiniest bit racist holiday.

10.Sinterklaas, The Castrated Rooster

Sinterklaas looks an awful lot like a thin Santa Claus. He’s a jolly old man with a white beard and a red gown. Sure, he has a bishop’s hat and staff and there’s no Mrs. Sinterklaas, but he doesn’t seem that different. But it’s not just that he doesn’t have a wife—Sinterklaas is celibate.

That’s not just a minor detail about Sinterklaas. There are holiday carols entirely about the fact that Sinterklaas is a virgin. Like the classic carol “Sinterklaas kapoentje” (“Sinterklaas, you castrated rooster!”).[1]

This isn’t some minor song. It’s a huge part of the holiday. Remember that scene in Miracle on 34th Street where the little Dutch girl sings a Sinterklaas song to Santa? Well, that’s the song she’s singing—a beautiful melody about Sinterklaas being a castrated farm animal.

The song’s so old that nobody’s completely sure why they’re calling him a rooster, but it’s almost certainly about his vow of chastity. Most people just try to avoid talking about it, and so the English version usually changes it to “Sinterklaas, little rascal.” But that’s not what it really means.

For all we know, the song just might be literal. It just might be a glimpse into an old tradition lost in time. Maybe, instead of singing carols in a deep, jolly, tenor voice full of cheer, Sinterklaas just might sing castrato.

9.Black Pete, Sinterklaas’s African Slave

Photo credit: qz.com

Sinterklaas doesn’t visit the children alone. He has helpers. His helpers, though, aren’t a group of merry, pointy-eared elves. They’re African slaves, all called Black Pete.

Officially, Black Pete is supposed to be a Moor from Spain, but it’s pretty rare that an actual Moor plays him. Instead, Black Pete’s usually played by some white Dutch person in blackface, complete with cartoonish red lips and a wig of natty black hair. And he doesn’t talk like a Moor. He speaks with the accent of an African slave in the Dutch colony of Suriname.

Black Pete is Sinterklaas’s dim-witted rapscallion helper—and he’s a bit terrifying. He’s in charge of breaking into people’s homes and beating bad kids with a broom handle.[2]

He’s changing a bit. These days, some Dutch people have tried to rebrand him any way they can, but it doesn’t always work. The strangest and most popular idea is to say that Pete’s not really black, he’s just a very dirty white person in desperate need of a shower—which somehow feels worse.

8.Sinterklaas’s Original Assistant Was Satan

Photo credit: helltruth.com

Black Pete might seem a little racist, but he sure beats Sinterklaas’s original helper. When Sinterklaas went to children’s homes in the Middle Ages, he took a different friend with him: Satan, the Prince of Darkness.

The details of this story are a little vague. All we know for sure is that, in the Middle Ages, Dutch people really liked drawing pictures of Sinterklaas dragging Satan around in chains.[3] There isn’t much written about it, so we can’t answer that pressing question in your head: Why in the hell did Sinterklaas think it would be a good idea to bring Satan with him while he sneaked into children’s homes?

This seems to be the start of the Black Pete story, though. After a while, people became uncomfortable with telling their children that Satan would be coming for them, so they switched him out for a black slave. Which still wasn’t right, but they didn’t initially see it that way.

7.Sinterklaas Lives In Spain

Photo credit: MarkDB

Sinterklaas doesn’t have some exotic home like the North Pole. He just lives in Spain. And he doesn’t come to the Netherlands on a flying sleigh. He charters a steamboat.

Nobody’s entirely sure why Sinterklaas, who’s based on the Turkish Saint Nicholas, became Spanish, but they’re fairly sure it has to do with a lot of people being confused about everything.

Originally, Sinterklaas was supposed to be Dutch—until someone wrote a song about him going to Spain to get oranges. The songwriter didn’t really understand what oranges were, so he called them “orange-colored apples.” His audience just got more confused and didn’t realize that Sinterklaas was just supposed to be visiting Spain. Instead, it soon became his home.

Either way, today he shows up on a boat. All the kids eagerly wait to see him and his black slaves pull up to the coast of Amsterdam. Then they follow him as he rides his horse through the town, making his slaves throw cookies at small children.[4]

6.Parents Leave Black Pete Bottles Of Beer

Photo credit: untappd.com

On December 5, the children get ready for the magical moment when Sinterklaas and his Black Petes will sneak into their homes and leave them presents. And so, waiting for his arrival, they leave their shoes by the fireplace so that he has a place to put his little gifts.

The holiday is more about giving than receiving, and so the children leave little gifts for Sinterklaas and his friends. For Sinterklaas, they will leave coffee and poetry. For his horse, they will leave hay and carrots. And for Black Pete, they will leave a couple of bottles of beer.

As it turns out, Black Pete is a hard-drinking man. It’s such a big part of his character that there are several seasonal “Black Pete” beers on the market in the Netherlands, all dark ales that often show a swarthy-looking man in blackface getting hammered out of his mind.[5]

5.Black Pete Beats Children In A Burlap Sack

Not every child gets presents on Sinterklaas Day. If children have been bad, parents will leave the kids little notes from Sinterklaas warning them that they need to clean up their act—or else. Come December 5, if that child doesn’t start acting right, he’ll get something a lot worse than a lump of coal.

When climbing into kids’ homes, the Black Petes bring burlap sacks and broom handles. Their job is to track down any misbehaving children, throw them in the sack, beat them with the broom handle, and then drag them off to Spain. What happens there, no one knows for sure. But the children never return.[6]

Of course, parents never actually have their children beaten and shipped to Spain, but they can still leave kids with “bad presents.” If a child misbehaves, the parents can leave a broom handle in their child’s shoe and give him a firsthand glimpse of the fate he narrowly avoided—as long as the adults are comfortable with parenting through psychological terror.

4.Black Pete Isn’t Magic, He Just Breaks Into Your House

Photo credit: boingboing.net

When Sinterklaas comes to the children’s homes, he doesn’t have any magical reindeer or supernatural powers to help him deliver toys to every boy and girl in the whole country. He only has one tool at his disposal: a massive network of slaves.

The Black Petes are usually in charge of getting the gifts into the house, but they just break in.[7] Traditionally, Black Pete will scale the wall of your home while Sinterklaas will ride his horse up. Then Black Pete will sneak down your chimney and start creeping through your things, looking to see if anyone left any liquor lying around.

That’s how Sinterklaas knows if you’ve been naughty or nice, too. The Black Petes will climb onto your rooftop, listen in on what you’re doing, and report back to Sinterklaas as to whether you deserve treats or should get the sack.

3.Parents Hire Professionals To Lie To Their Children

Photo credit: boingboing.net

Parents around the world lie to their kids and tell them that Santa Claus is real. But the Dutch take it a little bit further. They hire actors.

In the Netherlands, there’s a whole guild of professional Black Pete impersonators whom you can hire to come into your home. It’s a big organization, too. There are more than 600 registered Black Petes in Amsterdam alone.[8]

It’s not uncommon for parents to hire a Black Pete to come to their home on December 5 or, if they’re on a budget, to have a neighbor put on the disguise. When the kids are getting ready for bed, the Black Pete impersonator will knock on the door, drop their presents in a burlap sack, and then run away—while letting the kids catch a glimpse of Sinterklaas’s helper running off into the night.

Which has to make it pretty hard for kids to figure out that Sinterklaas isn’t real. Because all those unanswerable questions—like “How does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?”—actually have an answer: a massive network of unpaid slave labor. The kids even get to see the slaves firsthand.

2.Sinterklaas Writes Poems Making Fun Of Children

Presents aren’t the only things that Sinterklaas leaves. As a fun little bonus in the Netherlands, Santa Claus drops off a little something extra that is customized for a child: a poem that pokes fun at his failures.

It’s almost like a real-life Airing of Grievances. On Sinterklaas Day, people will give each other little four-line poems ridiculing each other for their bad habits or their character flaws. They might make fun of a friend for being too boastful or a child for struggling with her grammar homework.[9]

The parents will make poems for their children and sign them “Sinterklaas,” letting the kids believe that Sinterklaas is fed up with their nonsense. Come December 5, it’ll be there, next to the chocolate and presents—a tiny letter from a mythical being letting the kids know how they suck.

1.Luxembourg’s Version Is Even Worse

Photo credit: pinterest.com

As strange as Sinterklaas Day is in the Netherlands, it’s a lot weirder in Luxembourg. There, people also receive visits from Sinterklaas, but he doesn’t bring the Black Petes to Luxembourg. Instead, Sinterklaas brings Houseker—and he’s terrifying.

Rather than dressing in bright, fun colors like the Black Petes, Houseker dresses in torn black robes that make him look like a dying beggar or the image of death itself. And instead of bringing cookies and treats for the good kids to eat, he just brings a stick and a temper.

His entire role is beating children. Houseker doesn’t give any gifts or march in any parade—he just beats kids with a stick.[10] That’s his whole thing. The best a child in Luxembourg can hope for is that Houseker will leave him alone.

Top 10 Fascinating Facts About China’s High Speed Trains

Top 10 Fascinating Facts About China’s High Speed Trains

Starting in the early years of the 21st Century, China began to build high speed track. And build. And build. Fast forward at near hyperspeed to 2017, and the country is a vast network of bullet trains hurtling millions of passengers over distances we’d usually consider “impossible.” While Japan may have started the locomotive speed boom in Asia, it’s China that has made it its own. And, as China tends to do, they’ve also made it bigger, crazier and more fascinating than anybody else.

The Extraordinary Origins Of Ordinary Things

The Extraordinary Origins Of Ordinary Things



Investigate the curious beginnings of a few everyday objects. We begin with the WWII origins of instant ramen, learn about the accidental invention of Silly String, and meet the voice behind the Kool-Aid Man.


8 Inventors Who Ended Up Regretting Their Inventions

8 Inventors Who Ended Up Regretting Their Inventions

Our world has been built by the minds of great men and women from all over the world. These people dreamt about what most considered to be impossible and succeeded in bringing them to reality. Their sheer will, determination, and genius made life infinitely better for all of us. But amongst geniuses who literally changed the world, there are a few who came to regret creating their inventions.

An idea born in the mind of someone may have the most purest intentions but once it’s out there in the world, people can shape it and distort it to their needs. Sometimes the usage of an invention in a particular way might not have entered the mind of the inventor and what was created for good purposes gets used for bad.

Here are some of the greatest people who came to loathe what they created.

1.Alfred Nobel – The man who paved the path for destruction and peace

Alfred Nobel’s life history is one that is deeply interesting. Here was a man who was an industrialist, an engineer and an inventor who later came to be synonymous with the word “peace” through his Nobel Award foundation. In 1860, he was looking for ways to blast rock efficiently and he discovered that mixing nitroglycerine with silica would create a volatile paste called dynamite. However, when he saw that people were misusing his creation for maiming and murdering people, he came to regret his own invention. In his will, he stipulated that most of his assets should go towards the creation of a unique fund that would reward people who brought a positive change in our world. To this day, it honors the work of people all over the world who aim to truly make our world a better place. In many ways, though he did not live to realize it, he managed to transform his biggest regret into one of mankind’s greatest triumphs.

2.J. Robert Oppenheimer and the heavy burden he had to shoulder

J. Robert Oppenheimer, who is considered to be the father of the atomic bomb, held the position of Director of the Los Alamos Lab during the time of the World War II. Countries were fighting each other, millions of people were dying every day and there was no end in sight. While creating the atomic bomb, everyone on the research team believed that they were creating a safer world for themselves and the citizens of their country. However, after seeing the mass death and destruction of millions of Japanese people, they came to regret making the bomb. Oppenheimer in his last years talked about how the war had made humankind numb and that they had made a grave mistake in ever creating the weapon of mass destruction. The atomic bomb did win the war for America but in the most horrific and cruel way possible.

3.Mikhail Kalashnikov – The man who created the fearsome AK47

Mikhail Kalashnikov who created the extremely dangerous AK47 is another one in the long list of people who came to regret their inventions. Mikhail passed away in 2013 and he died knowing that he had created a weapon of mass terror. When he made the rifle, he never thought that it would be the most popular weapon of choice for gang lords, terrorists and dictators all over the world. In his last years, he sent a heartfelt letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church asking several questions that weighed in his mind. He wondered if he should be the one to blame for the millions of deaths the weapon had caused over the years? He wondered why God allowed man to have such cruel urges and capacity for greed and aggression.

4.Dong Nguyen – The man who made “Flappy Bird” and his regret

It’s time to move on to some lighter content. The world does not need more depressing stories at this time. A few years ago, a game broke out on online markets throwing the world into an addictive frenzy. That game was “Flappy Bird” and the man who made it all possible was Dong Nguyen. In a bizarre twist of fate, he came to loathe his product due to its insane popularity. While others felt validated seeing the world embrace their creations, Nguyen felt the opposite. At its peak, Flappy Bird was generating nearly $50,000 per day which was astronomical for a small independent game developer. But all the attention he started getting started disrupting his life and in the end he chose to go back to his simple life rather than get subjected to the insanity of mankind over a game.

5.Ethan Zuckerman – The creator of the most annoying digital product in the world

If there is one thing that really annoys the hell out of people, it is the incredibly frustrating pop up. It comes out of nowhere right when you’re in the middle of something important as if it has a mind of its own. You can’t help but think that the entire purpose of the pop up is to frustrate you all the way to kingdom come. Interestingly, the man who invented it shares our views too. He worked for Tripod.com in the 90’s, which was a website that marketed both content and services to graduates. Later on the company turned into webpage hosting provider where they needed to bring in more advertisement money to keep the business afloat. And out of that despair and darkness came the most vicious and annoying digital item in our world; the “pop up”. It was initially made so that brands don’t have to worry about being associated with the content their ads play on. Before, you would see ads of big companies on porn sites but Zuckerman figured out a way to display the ad on a separate window. Though made with good intentions, he has come out in interviews apologizing for creating it.

6.Tim Berners Lee – The story of the double slash

You may not know about Tim Berners Lee but if you have used a computer, you have written down one of his creations. Having developed HTML, he changed the world forever but he does have one small regret and that is the double slash. At the time of creation, the double slash was used to separate the protocol name and the rest of the web address. But it was later discovered that only a colon was required. Today, the browser automatically inserts the “http://” before your web address but there was a time when you had to do it manually. Although quite mundane to think about today, it really was a big annoyance during that time. But he did develop the internet so we all forgive him for that.

7.Bob Propst – The man who invented the office Cubicle

You haven’t lived until you have complained about the symbol of office drudgery that is the cubicle. This is again a product that was created with good intentions but went to transform itself into the complete opposite of what it was meant for. Bob Propst first created the office cubicle so that employees can have more privacy and freedom while working. The first prototypes were more spacious and allowed people to get their privacy while being free enough to interact with other employees. But business in their perpetual goal of being miserly started making the cubicle smaller and smaller to the point where an individual would feel choked. Due to the increasing demand for smaller cubicles, manufacturing companies started making them as small as they can. Finally Propst ended up denouncing his creation saying that the ideology of modern corporation’s cubicle-izing people was monolithic insanity.

8.Kamran Loghman – The man who created pepper spray and the agony it brings

Kamran Loghman is yet again another inventor who was completely appalled by the misuse of his invention. Loghman worked in the FBI where he helped to weaponize what we know today as the pepper spray. He even wrote down guidelines for its use as it could be highly dangerous in certain situations. Recent misuse of his product especially by the police made him regret making it in the first place. You have to wonder the world that exists where the misuse of a weapon couldn’t get predicted especially after the monumental failures behind the invention of countless weapons throughout history. Must be nice to live in such a world!

The Story Of The Hoover Dam

The Story Of The Hoover Dam

National Archives and Records Administration
ARC Identifier 37058 / Local Identifier 115.31. Explains the overwhelming need to control and regulate the raging waters of the Colorado River; the 1928 passage of the Boulder Canyon Project authorizing construction of the Hoover Dam; the ensuing construction of diversion tunnels and then the dam itself; building of support facilities, such as a steel fabrication plant for giant pipe construction; and creation of hydroelectric operations that provided electricity to California, Nevada, and Arizona. Also details how Lake Mead evolved into a successful recreational area as a result of the dam construction. Department of the Interior. Bureau of Reclamation. (06/20/1923 - 11/06/1979)


How The World Ships 7.4 Billion Packages Every Year

How The World Ships 7.4 Billion Packages Every Year

International shipping has become such an everyday part of our lives that we often don’t even think about how packages end up at our front door. In reality, international shipping is a complex process with many moving parts and a history that is directly tied to the rise of aviation. Here’s a brief history of air mail and international shipping, the secret behind how the world ships 7.4 billion packages every year.

Super Sexy Vintage Christmas Magazine Covers From The 40s To The 90s

Super Sexy Vintage Christmas Magazine Covers From The 40s To The 90s

Christmas is approaching fast, and you can find its icons even in the men’s magazines, playing with the fantasy of Miss Santa. The Flashbakwebsite created a compilation of the vintage covers of men’s magazines from the 1940s to the 1990s, taking advantage of the Christmas period to display sexy covers mixing gifts, fancy costumes, snowmen and horny Santa Claus…






















































Legalizing Marijuana Could Lead To A Communist Revolution In Canada

Legalizing Marijuana Could Lead To A Communist Revolution In Canada

Jason Kenney’s culture and tourism critic says legalizing marijuana could have ‘astronomical’ consequences


Alberta Conservative MLA Ron Orr is worried that legalizing marijuana could send Canada down a slippery slope into communism.

Standing in the Alberta legislature Wednesday to denounce the legalization of cannabis, the culture and tourism critic for Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party said “smoking marijuana” has become a “fashionable, refined pastime amongst the young.”

And the Alberta lawmaker warned the “human, social cost of this is going to be astronomical,” but “nobody’s taken a moment to think about it.”



Orr, apparently, has thought about the recreational use of marijuana and he sees a “direct historical connection” with the use of opium in “seventeenth century China,” observing opium “was just a flower, and it was smoked, just like marijuana was smoked.”

As Orr went on to argue, the “historical parallels” should be cause for alarm when thinking about legalizing marijuana, because the opium trade led to “a number of serious wars” and set the stage for “the Chinese Cultural Revolution under the communists,” a road he says he’s “not really willing to go down”:

“Their whole society was so broken down and debilitated by it that it contributed to the Chinese Cultural Revolution under the communists, the execution of thousands of people, dealers were executed, fields were plowed under and planted with real food and I, for one, am not really willing to go down this road. The human tragedy of what’s going to happen with this has yet to be revealed. Yes, opium smoking, like marijuana, was a fashionable refined pastime especially among the young – but I’ll tell you something, it doesn’t lead to the good life. It’s an escape.”



Can you pick how long each historic event lasted?



10 Historical Predictions That Were Surprisingly Accurate


10 Historical Predictions That Were Surprisingly Accurate

Predicting the future in most cases is guesswork whether it is done scientifically or statistically by analyzing available information, or it is an intuitive sense of what could happen. There are also things that one might unintentionally say that would eventually end up being true. Retrospectively, many such predictions can seem uncanny and impossible. Yet they do happen, and here are 10 such direct and indirect predictions that came out true.

1. In 1909, Mark Twain predicted his own death. He was born shortly after the appearance of Halley’s Comet in 1835 and said that he would “go out with it,” which he did. 

Image Source: Mathew BradyNASA/W. Liller

Mark Twain was born on November 30, 1835, exactly two weeks after Halley’s Comet reached its perihelion. During his later life, he went through a period of depression due to deaths of his daughter, wife, son, and a close friend. In 1906, he began writing his autobiography in the North American Review in which he wrote, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet.” As he predicted, he died of a heart attack on April 21, 1909, the day after the comet returned.(source)

2. In 1863, Jules Verne wrote Paris in the Twentieth Century, which predicted a world of glass skyscrapers, high-speed trains, gas-powered automobiles, calculators, cities with elevators, and a worldwide communications network.

Image Source: Félix Nadarwikipedia

When Verne wrote the book, his publisher, Pierre-Jules Hetzel, refused to release it as he felt it was too unbelievable. For 126 years, the manuscript was supposedly locked up in an empty safe and rediscovered by Verne’s great-grandson in 1989. Often referred to as his “lost novel,” the book explores the life of a young man who struggles to survive in 1960s Paris. It presents a dystopian view of technological advances and a philistine future civilization which only values business and technology.

The book’s description of 1960s technology is astonishingly accurate. There are detailed descriptions of cars powered by internal combustion engines, gas stations, paved asphalt roads, elevated and underground passenger trains, magnetic high-speed trains, electric lights, fax machines, elevators, computers, a network similar to the Internet, wind power, automated security, the electric chair, and many more. It also predicts suburbs, mass-produced education, department stores, and even a version of feminism with women working.(12)

3. In 1838, Edgar Allen Poe wrote a novel about a shipwreck where three survivors ate the fourth survivor, a cabin boy named Richard Parker. In 1884, there was a real shipwreck, in which three survivors ate the fourth survivor, who was also a cabin boy named Richard Parker.

Image Source: Unknownwikipedia

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket was Edgar Allen Poe’s only complete novel and tells the story of a young man who stows away on a whaling ship called Grampus. On May 5, 1974, author and journalist Arthur Koestler published a letter from one of his readers, Nigel Parker, relating an astounding similarity between Poe’s novel and an actual event that happened decades ago. In 1884, the yacht Mignonette sank, and four men were cast adrift. After going weeks without food, they decided to sacrifice the youngest, a cabin boy named Richard Parker who fell into a coma and use him as food just like in Poe’s novel.

The survivors, Tom Dudley and Edwin Stephens, were tried for murder in the famous case R v Dudley and Stephens, which became a precedent in the world of common law that necessity is not a defense for murder. Dudley and Stephens were sentenced to death with a recommendation for clemency. The sentence was later reduced to six months in prison. Though Poe himself called the book “very silly,” it became very influential for authors like Herman Melville and Jules Verne.(source)

4. In 1952, Wernher von Braun wrote a book called The Mars Project which imagined that civilization on Mars would be led by a person called “Elon.”

Image Source: NASAUmschau Verlag

Wernher von Braun was a German rocket physicist, astronautics engineer, and space architect who wrote a The Mars Project (Das Marsprojekt in German) as a technical specification for a manned expedition to Mars. In the book, during a 1980s project to colonize Mars, the characters discover that the planet was already inhabited by an advanced civilization. The Martian government was ruled by a group of ten men with an elected leader having the title “Elon.” In the present day, investor, engineer, and inventor, Elon Musk is the CEO of the company SpaceX which seeks to make human colonization of Mars possible.(source)

5. In 1909, Tesla predicted the Internet but with all our devices using wireless electricity to boot.

Image Source: wikipediawikipedia

Towards the end of 19th century, Nikola Tesla proposed a telecommunications and electrical power delivery system that could allow “the transmission of electric energy without wires” on a global scale. By the end of 1900, he secured enough money to start building a wireless station at Wardenclyffe, New York which he believed could transmit messages across the Atlantic to England and to the ships at sea. But the project had to be abandoned in 1906 as he didn’t receive funds to scale up the project and include wireless power transmission. However, in 1909 he stated that,

“It will soon be possible, for instance, for a business man in New York to dictate instructions and have them appear instantly in type in London or elsewhere. He will be able to call up from his desk and talk with any telephone subscriber in the world. It will only be necessary to carry an inexpensive instrument not bigger than a watch, which will enable its bearer to hear anywhere on sea or land for distances of thousands of miles. One may listen or transmit speech or song to the uttermost parts of the world.”(source)

6. In 1845, the planet Neptune was mathematically predicted before it was directly discovered based on minute irregularities in the orbit of Uranus. 

Image Source: RJHallwikipedia

Since its discovery by William Herschel in 1781, Uranus had finished orbiting the Sun by 1847 and astronomers who observed its orbit found irregularities that couldn’t be satisfactorily explained by Newton’s law of gravitation. These irregularities could, however, be explained if there was another, farther planet disturbing the path of Uranus around the Sun. In 1845, French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier who specialized in celestial mechanics, and British mathematician and astronomer John Couch Adams separately began to calculate the details of such a planet.

Unable to convince any French astronomers, Le Verrier sent his calculations to the Berlin Observatory. On September 23, 1846, the planet was observed after searching for less than an hour and at less than one degree from the position Le Verrier predicted. Two more nights of observation confirmed its position and movement earning him the Copley medal from the Royal Society.(source)

7. In 1754, the French mathematician Abraham de Moivre predicted the date of his own death by noticing that he slept an extra 15 minutes each day. 

Image Source: University of York

Abraham de Moivre is well-known for the de Moivre’s formula which links complex numbers and trigonometry, and for his work on normal distribution and probability theory. Though he was successful as a mathematician, he was unable to get an appointment as a chair of mathematics, a position that could have alleviated his financial situation. Despite that, he continued to study probability and mathematics until his death. As he grew older, he started needing more sleep, and it is believed that he noted he was sleeping an extra 15 minutes at night. Using that, he was able to calculate the date of his death as the day that sleeping time would reach 24 hours which was November 27, 1754. Though some are skeptical about the story, he did, in fact, die on the very day he predicted he would.(source)

8. In 1898, Morgan Robertson wrote a novella in which a ship named Titan, deemed unsinkable, sinks in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg. Fourteen years later, RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg. 

Image Source: George G. Rockwoodwikipedia

Robertson’s novel The Wreck of the Titan: Or, Futility is the story of a disgraced former US Navy officer who becomes an alcoholic and works as a deckhand on the Titan. Written years ago, similarities between the book’s Titan and RMS Titanic are considered quite uncanny. Just like the Titanic, the fictional ship sank on a night in the month of April. Titanic was 800 feet (244 meters) long and carried 2,200 passengers, and Titanwas 882 feet (269 meters) long and carried 2,500 passengers. Both the ships were claimed unsinkable and did not carry enough lifeboats; 24 on Titan and 16 on Titanic. Both struck the iceberg on the starboard side. When that happened, Titan was traveling at 25 knots and Titanic at 22.5 knots.(source)

9. On June 19, 1941, when three Soviet anthropologists exhumed the Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur’s body, they found an inscription saying, “Whomsoever opens my tomb shall unleash an invader more terrible than I.” Three days later the Soviet Union was invaded by Hitler. 

Image Source: wikipediawikipedia

Timur, also known as Tamerlane and Amir Timur, was a Turco-Mongol conqueror who became the first ruler of Timurid Dynasty and founded the Timurid Empire in Persia and Central Asia in late 14th century. He died on February 19, 1405, and was buried in Gur-e-Amir in his tomb in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Five centuries later in 1941, the Soviet anthropologists Mikhail M. Gerasimov, Lev V. Oshanin and V. Ia. Zezenkova dug up his tomb to examine his remains.

In the tomb, they allegedly found an inscription that said, “When I rise from the dead, the world shall tremble.” After exhuming the body, Gerasimov found another inscription that warned of the invasion that would be unleashed upon whoever opens his tomb. Three days later, Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa considered the largest military invasion upon the USSR. In November 1942, his remains were buried again with full Islamic rites, a time that also happens to be just before the Soviet’s victory in the Battle of Stalingrad.(source)

10. In 2001, one of the Johnny Bravo episodes depicted a poster in the background with one of the twin towers burning and the words “COMING SOON” written on it.

In the episode “Chain Gang Johnny” aired on April 27, 2001, Johnny wants to join the Brotherhood of Gnu, a fraternity that Pops and Carl are members of. For the initiation, he is taken to a black-and-white, Danish movie by Carl that he finds boring. The poster can be seen after they finish arguing about the symbolism in the movie posted on the cinema’s wall behind them.(source)

10 Lesser-known Facts About Slavery

10 Lesser-known Facts About Slavery

Slavery has existed since before written history in almost every culture and civilization. It started about 11,000 years ago during the Neolithic Revolution after the invention of agriculture. In its strictest sense, slavery can be defined as a situation in which people own individuals and apply the same rules they would to any form of property. Throughout human history, millions of people suffered the utter disregard for their rights and feelings as slaves. Even though slavery has been formally abolished in most parts of the world, it continues to be a problem. Children and adults alike are trapped in indentured labor and forced to work as slaves. Here are some unknown facts about slavery through history and in the present.

1. One of the first legal slave owners in American history was a Black tobacco farmer named Anthony Johnson.

An African Slave and Colony of Virginia
Image Source: Albrecht Dürer, wikipedia
Born in Angola, Johnson was first sold to the Arab traders and then to a merchant working for the Virginia Company as an indentured servant. He arrived in Virginia in 1621 and was again sold to a White tobacco planter. In 1635, he and his wife, Mary, became free after finishing their years of the indenture and were granted a large plot of farmland. In 1651, he also acquired 250 acres of land under the headright system after buying the contracts of five indentured servants, four White and one Black.

In 1657, Johnson’s White neighbor forged a letter in which the former acknowledged a debt. Being illiterate, Johnson was forced to hand over 100 acres of his land to him. As racism became more common in the 1660s, Johnson moved his family to Somerset County, Maryland, where he took a 300-acre-land lease and developed it into a profitable tobacco farm.(source)

2. In the 1850s, a slave wanting to escape was considered to have a mental disorder called “drapetomania.” The prescribed treatment was whipping or cutting big toes to make running impossible.

Samuel A. Cartwright on Drapetomania
Image Source: wikipedia, aboutpresidentabrahamlincoln
Drapetomania was hypothesized in 1851 by American physician Samuel A. Cartwright. In a paper delivered before the Medical Association of Louisiana, he described it as something “unknown to our medical authorities, although its diagnostic symptom, the absconding from service, is well known to our planters and overseers.” He stated that it was the consequence of masters treating their slaves with too much familiarity.

If the slaves showed any signs of sulkiness and dissatisfaction, which could be a sign of flight, Cartwright prescribed whipping as “preventive measure” and removing big toes to make running impossible. His views were since debunked and considered pseudoscience and racist. In 1856, renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted made a satirical observation that since White indentured servants also felt the need for flight, the disease must have been introduced to Africa by European traders.(source)

3. It is a common misconception that slavery is a thing of the past. In the 1940s, slave labor was used in the production of the V-2 guided ballistic missile, whereas the Egyptians used paid labor rather than slaves to build pyramids as far back as 2575 BCE.

V-2 Rocket and Egyptian Pyramids
Image Source: wikipedia, Ricardo Liberato
V-2 or Vergeltungswaffe 2, “Retribution Weapon 2” in German, was the world’s first long-range, guided ballistic missile. The V-2 rocket was also the first man-made object to travel into space by crossing the Kármán line located 100 km above sea level and considered the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. Despite being a technologically modern project, over 12,000 slave labors from concentration camps, including Auschwitz, were used in its production.

On the other hand, paid labor was used for the construction of Egyptian pyramids which were built over 4,000 years ago. According to Zahi Hawass, a well-known Egyptian archaeologist, whenever a worker died during the construction, they were given an honorable burial in tombs near the sacred pyramids of the pharaohs. It took 10,000 workers and more than 30 years to build a single pyramid. The laborers were provided every day with 21 cattle and 23 sheep to eat daily from the farms.(1, 2)

4. There are more slaves now than at any other time in human history. Approximately 27 million are enslaved around the world, and 15 million of them are in India.

Modern Incidence of Slavery
Image Source: Walk Free Foundation
Contemporary slavery includes chattel slavery which is still practiced in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, debt bondage, serfdom, domestic servants forced to work in captivity, child soldiers, certain adoptions which force children into slavery, commercial sex, and forced marriages. According to Kevin Bales of the anti-slavery group Free the Slaves (FTS), there were around 27 million people in slavery as of 1999. The International Labor Organization estimated 12.3 million forced laborers in 2005. Siddharth Kara, an activist and expert on modern day slavery and human trafficking, estimated that there are 28.4 million slaves in 2006 of whom 18.1 million are in debt bondage, 7.6 million in forced labor, and 2.7 are trafficked slaves. According to a report by Human Rights Watch in 2003, there are an estimated 15 million children in debt bondage in India alone who work to pay off their family’s debts.(source)

5. Jazz was born because the “Black Codes” forbade slaves from drumming. New Orleans was the only place where it wasn’t actively discouraged, and hundreds of slaves could gather each Sunday to trade, sing, dance, and play music.

Jazzing Orchestra 1921
Image Source: Robert Runyon
The origins of Jazz date back to late 19th century and early 20th century when African folk music and the cultural influences of West Africa mingled with American and European classical music. Until the mid-1800s, lavish festivals were organized in New Orleans at Place Congo or Congo Square featuring African-based dances to drums. By that time, there had also been an increase in the number of Black musicians who learned to play European instruments such as the violin. Since the Black Codes outlawed drumming by slaves, their drumming traditions did not survive in North America but can be found in Cuba, Haiti, and the Caribbean. The abolition of slavery in 1865 gave African Americans ample opportunity to find work in entertainment and the speakeasies during Prohibition which saw the rise of the Jazz Age increasing its popularity and appeal.(source)

6. Arab slave trade began long before the USA was created and lasted 14 centuries, longer than Atlantic or European slave trade.

Slave Market in 13th Century Yemen
Image Source: wikipedia
Arab slave trade or Islamic slave trade started as early as 7th century and continued until the 1960s in one form or another. As Islamic Sharia Law allowed slavery but prohibited enslaving existing Muslims, initially people living in the frontier areas of the Muslim world, Central Asia, and Europe were enslaved. A few centuries later, non-Muslims, mostly Africans, were enslaved. According to Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau’s estimates based on Ralph Austen’s work, 17 million Africans were enslaved by the Arab slave trade. Another estimate by Ronald Segal puts the number between 11.5 and 14 million.(1, 2)

7. Native Americans owned slaves and continued to do so after The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 due to tribal land sovereignty.

Native American Slave Ownership
Image Source: smithsonianmag
Before the Atlantic slave trade started, European settlers enslaved 30,000 to 53,000 Native Americans in major slave colonies like Virginia and South Carolina. During the 1800s, as the African slaves became more common with the beginning of Atlantic slave trade, Native Americans were forced off their lands. One such well-known example of forced removal was the Trail of Tears that forced people of Cherokee and other tribes to move westward to present-day Oklahoma. Some of the tribes, especially the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole tribes, also known as the “Five Civilized Tribes,” had made significant efforts to assimilate themselves into European society through formal schooling, converting to Christianity, and even owning slaves in order to avoid removal. Two of these tribes, the Chickasaw and Choctaw, continued to own slaves until 1866 even though slavery was abolished by the other tribes after the end of Civil War.(source)

8. By the time slavery was abolished in Brazil, an estimated 4.9 million slaves were imported from Africa. Today, apart from Nigeria, Brazil has the highest number of people of African descent.

Slavery in Brazil, by Jean-Baptiste Debret
Image Source: Jean-Baptiste Debret
In Brazil, slavery began long before the first Portuguese settlement was established in 1532. The importation of African slaves began in the mid-16th century, and during the 17th and 18th centuries, indigenous people were also enslaved. Slave labor was extensively used for the country’s economic growth through sugar, which was its major export between 1600 and 1650. During the Atlantic slave trade period, Brazil imported more slaves than any other country. It is estimated that from 1501 to 1866, 4.9 million slaves were brought from Africa.(source)

9. Over a million White slaves were captured from Europe in between the 16th and 18th centuries. They were sold to the Ottomans by the pirates operating in North America.

Barbary Slave Trade
Image Source: sheikyermami
During the time of Ottoman Empire, there were pirates and privateers called the “Barbary Pirates” who operated in North Africa based primarily in the ports of Sale, Rabat, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. They acquired European slaves by attacking ships and by raiding the coastal towns of Europe from Italy to Netherlands, and even as far north as Iceland and east into the Mediterranean. The main purpose of these raids was to capture Christian slaves for the Ottoman slave trade and also for the general Muslim slave market in North Africa and the Middle East. According to Ohio State University history Professor Robert Davis’ estimates, between one million and 1.25 million White Christian Europeans were enslaved in North Africa by these slave traders during this time.(source)

10. During the 1930s, around 26 audio-recorded interviews of former slaves were made who gave hauntingly calm narratives of their lives as slaves during the years before slavery was abolished.

Between 1936 and 1938, over 2,300 former slaves were interviewed by writers and journalists as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Many of them were born during the last years of the slave regime or during the Civil War. Their narratives provide first-hand accounts of what slavery was like in those days on plantations, in cities, and on farms. Among these were 26 audio-recorded interviews that are held by American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. One of the interviewees was Fountain Hughes, the grandson of Wormley Hughes and Ursula Hughes. Wormley Hughes and his family were owned by former President Thomas Jefferson at the time of his death.(1, 2)

World's First (internal combustion engine) Car!

World's First (internal combustion engine) Car!

 In which Derek drives a replica of the first internal combustion engine car patented by Karl Benz in 1886 and talks about how cars have improved since then (claims about Nazi speed records on public roads only valid until November 3rd of this year).

YouTube description:

I got to drive the world's first car (replica), patented by Benz in 1886
Check out the series on new safety features: http://ve42.co/MB
This video is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, who invited me to come to Stuttgart to see their latest cars, crash test facilities and experience the innovations they are working on.

Designing The Fastest Wheels In History

Designing The Fastest Wheels In History

 Behold the fastest wheel of ALL time!


26 Historical Photos Of The Old Wild West

26 Historical Photos Of The Old Wild West

Chinese Laborers. The idea of foreigners taking local jobs is not isolated to the United States nor modern times. Long before the working class of the U.S. blamed Mexicans for taking their jobs, it was the Chinese. Immigrants from China worked for less than their American counterparts, $1.00 a day instead of $2.50. They also required less of their employers. They moved and managed their own labor camps, unlike the white laborers who demanded help.

True Cowboys. These true cowboys of the Wild West are not what one tends to imagine. They were hardworking laborers, who wrangled cows on horseback. Life was simple, dirty, and happy for most of them. The guns they carried were more a matter of fashion than protection from outlaws; good for putting down a sick animal or fighting off a wild one.

Terry’s Texas Rangers. Assembled in 1861, by Colonel Benjamin Franklin Terry for the Confederate Army, the 8th Texas Cavalry was a fierce regiment of fighters. Folks called them Terry’s Texas Rangers for short. In their four years together, they fought in 275 engagements over seven states. In 1865, they surrendered with the Tennessee Army.
General Custer. Born George Armstrong Custer, on December 5, 1839, Custer made his way up the ranks of the U.S. Army during the Civil War and the Indian Wars. He graduated from West Point in 1857 but at the bottom of his class. That might be why lost the Battle of Little Bighorn against a fierce Lakota-Cheyenne coalition.
Belle Star was another female outlaw in the Wild West. She was born on February 5, 1848, named Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr, but better known as Belle Star. An outlaw, yes, but she was also a lady, She rode sidesaddle because that’s how ladies rode a horse, but she still carried two pistols at all times. Star was a horse thief or that’s what they were able to pin on her. She died of a gunshot wound in 1899, the source of which remains a mystery.
Sierra Nevada Mountain Trail. Crossing the fields of the Midwest were not so bad, save crossing rivers and dealing with bandits. It was the trek over the Sierra Nevada Mountains that proved challenging. It was dangerous. Wealthy travelers hired armed men to keep them safe on the dangerous trails. Nobody, however, could keep travelers safe from rock slides.
Kit Carson. Born in 1809, Christopher Houston Carson was a frontiersman, a mountain man, and a trapper, who was key to the development of California later in life. People knew him as Kit Carson. He spent a good deal of time with Native people during his life. Carson married three times in his life, twice to Native American women. The third woman was a Mexican.
Pearl Hart. Born Pearl Taylor, Hart was a Canadian-born outlaw who made a name robbing stagecoaches. She was also one of the few female outlaws of the Wild West. Inspired by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, Hart left her husband at age 22 to chase the Wild West. He found her and talked her into coming home, but she left him again, then robbed a stagecoach on a whim in Arizona. That started a string of robberies, which caught up to her that same year. They arrested her, and despite a brief escape, she spent three years on a five-year sentence.
Bloody Bill. His parents didn’t name him that. When they had him in 1840, they called him William T. Anderson. Bill, as he preferred, worked on the Confederate side of the Civil War. He was a leader of the Quantrill’s Raiders, a band of guerrillas who went rotten. His band targeted Union loyalists in Missouri and Kansas. In September 1864, in Centralia, Missouri, Bill’s band killed some 124 Union soldiers in an attack. A month later, at age 24, Bill died in battle. Someone snapped this image several hours after he passed.
Rufus Buck Gang. A unique gang of outlaws, the Rufus Buck Gang was a collection of black and Creek Indian men. They were not a group of misunderstood outlaws. These were bad men. Operating in the Arkansas-Oklahoma area from 1895 to 1896, history remembers them for robbery, murder, and rape. No surprise, when the law finally caught up with the Gang, the people hung them.
Mining Money. Montana—1889. The story of mining hasn’t changed much in the last 200 years. It was dirty work, where owners made bank, and laborers made decent wages, but at a cost. The dangers associated with mining were high. If it wasn’t collapsed mines, it was noxious gases, inhaled crud or the constant pain from working in a hunched over position.
Wild Western Man. This image appeared in a Kansas City newspaper. What’s interesting about the image is how it captures the traditional clothing worn by cowboys. Large brimmed hats, in this case, a Mexican sombrero-style hat, were less about fashion and more about function. The brim kept the oppressive sun off the body, enough to keep a cowboy from overheating.
19th Century Move. Making the move west started long before humans Paved Route 66 to Hollywood. In the 19th century, however, it was a more treacherous journey. This is a couple taking a break in Kansas en route to the fancy Wild West. What would possess someone to brave the elements, wild animals, and nut jobs on the route is beyond this writer.
John C. H. Grabill started life in Ohio but relocated at a young age with his family to Illinois. Grabill started working in mines, but took an interest in photography and started taking historic photos. Grabill built a reputation for capturing the Wild West, starting in South Dakota, but expanded into Wyoming, and Colorado. The Library of Congress has 188 photos on file captured by Grabill.
Wild Bill Hickok. James Butler Hickok, or Wild Bill as most folks knew him, was a gunslinger. He was fast, considered the fastest shot in the West, but likely a result of his overinflated reputation. The biggest contributor to that mystique was Bill himself. The tales that he killed some 100 people or so was the wildest lie told about him. He maybe took out seven people, tops, during his time on the planet.
Buffalo Bill’s Cowboys. The centerpiece of Bill’s show was the cowboys. Men who worked for Bill would re-enact gunfights, using real bullets. They were sharpshooters, who had to audition to prove their skill because gunshot deaths really spoil a good show. Those cowboys made good money and traveled quite a bit, so it wasn’t a bad life.
Buffalo Bill’s Grass Dancers. William Fredrich Cody, Buffalo Bill as history remembers him, started life in modern-day Iowa. He was a hunter, a scout, and a Union soldier in the Civil War. When he was 23, he created a show called Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. As part of the show, two Oglala Lakota Indians, Elk and Black Elk, performed dances wearing traditional native gear, shells, and bells. They traveled with Bill as far as Europe, dancing for crowds and royalty.
Pistols. Owning a gun in the Wild West wasn’t such a rarity, but pistols and their ilk were like fashion accessories. The gun a man carried said something about him. That, and they’re basically the most phallic thing on tintype. Anytime a cowboy was the subject of a photo, he made sure to let the world see the size of his gun.
Kraemer’s Saloon. Notice anything weird about this bar? Nope. It looks like many bars one would find in towns all over the world. This one, from Michigan (not so Wild Westy, I know) captures the unspoken standard of alcohol sales. Inside, a bar would stretch along one wall where patrons could enjoy refreshments. The end.
Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. Born in 1848, Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp was a gambler and badass sheriff. Thanks to the movie Tombstone, most folks know him as the deputy town marshal who participated in the shootout at the O.K. Corral. Some folks think he looks like Kurt Russel. Meh, not so much. The guy next to him in this shot is Bartholemew William Barclay “Bat” Masterson. Wyatt and Bay shared a fondness for gambling, but also for being badasses. They posed for this picture in Dodge City, in 1876.
Buffalo Soldier. Speaking of Buffalo… History has muddied the definitions of the Buffalo Soldier. Most references include any black soldier part of the U.S. Army formed around 1866. The true Buffalo Soldiers were the 10th Cavalry Regiment, first organized on September 21, 1866, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Native Americans gave them that name due to their hair, which curled like the bison.
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. Bill’s Show, which began in 1883, ran for several decades under variations of the same name. They were like a circus, a traveling show of acts and tents. The show, which made annual appearances, featured some recognizable names, Annie Oakley, and Calamity Jane. They depicted famous scenes from the Wild West, the ride of the Pony Express, Custer’s Last Stand, and more. Bill took his show to England, playing it for Queen Victoria in 1887. For five months they toured the cities of Great Britain.
Olive Oatman. Relax. This is not a vampire who’s recently feasted on the neck of her last victim. Those marks on her chin are tattoos. Oatman, was 14-years-old when an unconfirmed tribe of Native Americans killed her family. That was in 1851. Only she and her younger sister survived, traded to a band of Mohave who tattooed both sisters. Oatman’s sister did not survive the ordeal, dying of starvation before they released Olive.
Ambrotype Photograph. Before tintype photographs became the norm, for about ten years photographers captured images on Ambrotype. The Ambrotype replaced the Daguerreotype, the first commercially available method of photography. With Ambrotype, instead of using paper, the method imprinted the images on glass. They were original images, only duplicated by taking a photograph of the picture.
Death Valley, California. At 282 feet below sea-level, Death Valley is one of the most inhospitable places in California—nay—the United States. Temperatures in the hottest time of year can regularly exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, at 134 Fahrenheit, Death Valley maintains the highest temperature on record. While the Valley of Death has little to offer besides a place to hide where nobody will bother to look, it was also a good place to mine borax.
One of the last legal hangings, 1898.