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Fact of the Day - SLEEPWALKING


John Everett Millais, The Somnambulist 1871


Did you know.... that sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism or noctambulism, is a phenomenon of combined sleep and wakefulness. It is classified as a sleep disorder belonging to the parasomnia family. It occurs during slow wave sleep stage, in a state of low consciousness, with performance of activities that are usually performed during a state of full consciousness. These activities can be as benign as talking, sitting up in bed, walking to a bathroom, consuming food, and cleaning, or as hazardous as cooking, driving a motor vehicle, violent gestures and grabbing at hallucinated objects. Although sleepwalking cases generally consist of simple, repeated behaviors, there are occasionally reports of people performing complex behaviors while asleep, although their legitimacy is often disputed. Sleepwalkers often have little or no memory of the incident, as their consciousness has altered into a state in which memories are difficult to recall. Although their eyes are open, their expression is dim and glazed over. This may last from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. Sleepwalking occurs during slow-wave sleep (N3) of non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM sleep) cycles. It typically occurs within the first third of the night when slow-wave sleep is most prominent. Usually, it will occur once in a night, if at all. (Wikipedia)


What Scientists Know About Sleepwalking

by Molly Sequin  |  Jul 18, 2016


Sleepwalking is strange: a person is asleep, but they are also moving around on their feet.  If you know someone that sleepwalks, you undoubtedly have a ton of questions, such as: Should I wake them up? Can they hurt themselves? Can they hurt me? Somnambulism, as it is called in the medical world, is actually a fairly common disorder. We've compiled a list of what scientists know about sleepwalking. Take a look.


1. Almost all children have sleepwalked at some point.


Between 1% and 15% of the US adult population sleepwalks. But almost all children have sleepwalked at some point. This could be because kids experience less REM (rapid eye movement) sleep than adults. The highest prevalence of sleepwalking occurs between ages 3 and 7, and kids that wet the bed are more likely to be sleepwalkers. 


2. It doesn't hurt a sleepwalker to wake them up


It's a common misconception that sleepwalkers should be left alone. This idea is believed to come from an old myth that said that a person’s soul would leave their body during sleep, so waking them was seen as dangerous (they could become "souless"). You can, in fact, wake sleep-walkers without causing them harm (though it may be difficult to rouse them from their slumber). However, it is probably best you just coax them back to bed. 


3. Waking a sleepwalker might disorient them


Sleepwalkers will likely be very confused or frightened when they wake up. Men have also been known to be violent when waking from a sleepwalking episode. 


4. Wake and sleep states are not mutually exclusive.


When someone is sleepwalking, the parts of the brain that are capable of generating complex behaviors are awake, but the parts that store memories and contribute to conscious decision-making are asleep. People don’t remember sleepwalking because the action takes place in the part of the brain responsible for remembering heavily practiced movements. This is why sleepwalkers only do things that they have done before.


5. Sleepwalking is partly genetic.


Almost 80% of sleepwalkers have a family history of sleepwalking. And an identical twin is 5 times more likely to sleepwalk if their twin is also a sleepwalker. 


6. There are ways to try to prevent sleepwalking.


Sleepwalking can be the result of poor sleep hygiene. To prevent it, avoid stimulants like caffeine and alcohol before bed, try not to take daytime naps, don't eat too close to bedtime, and establish a regular and relaxing bedtime routine. 


7. Sleepwalking can be harmful when it is associated with REM-sleep behavior disorder.


REM-sleep behavior disorder is associated with neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease. During REM-sleep, or the body's deepest sleep, you become functionally paralyzed. However, people with REM-sleep behavior disorder don't fully experience this, and so they can act out their dreams. This can cause sleepwalkers to harm themselves and others.


Be sure to see a doctor if you are concerned about your sleepwalking. 


Source: Wikipedia - Sleepwalking  |  Facts About Sleepwalking

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Fact of the Day - AGATHA CHRISTIE


Did you know.... that Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. She also wrote the world's longest-running play, The Mousetrap, which was performed in the West End from 1952 to 2020, as well as six novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. In 1971, she was made a Dame (DBE) for her contributions to literature. Guinness World Records lists Christie as the best-selling fiction writer of all time, her novels having sold more than two billion copies. (Wikipedia)


Shocking Facts About Agatha Christie
by Mercedez Pulse  |  February 23rd, 2018


Known as the ‘Queen of Mystery’ Agatha Christie’s iconic murder mysteries have haunted readers for decades, with over 2 billion books sold worldwide. Responsible for creating some of the most iconic characters and stories, including mystery detective Hercule Poirot, the legacy of this British novelist is unparalleled.   The best-selling novelist of all-time has defined the mystery genre through her mysterious, bizarre, and shocking storylines. Her memorable characters are only rivaled by the Christie’s own unforgettable backstory. Here are fourteen facts about Agatha Christie that are downright shocking, bizarre, utterly entertaining. 


1. Her first novel was inspired by a dare.

As a teenager Agatha Christie experimented with poetry and short stories. However it wasn’t until her sister challenged her to attempt a longer written work that she wrote her first novel. Her novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), introduced detective Hercule Poirot, who would later become a popular literary icon.


2. She mysteriously disappeared for 11 days…leading to alien abduction conspiracies.  


In 1926, Christie’s life suddenly became a mystery novel in itself when, grieving the devastating death of her mother, and going through a divorce from her husband Colonel Archibald Christie, Christie abruptly disappeared. Her family, police, and the public were left bewildered. She vanished without a trace, leaving behind her daughter (in the care of household staff), wedding ring, and abandoned car, which led to a manhunt that ultimately turned up nothing. Eleven days later she was finally sighted… at a spa hotel in which she had been staying the entire time, under the name of her husband’s mistress. Christie claimed to have had amnesia,  and her bizarre disappearance was never fully explained. Throughout the sensationalized ordeal there were countless theories surrounding Christie’s disappearance. Some people theorized that the whole ordeal was a publicity stunt to increase book sales. Others believed Christie’s amnesia was real, perhaps as a result of an accident. Others believed Christie was attempting to setup her husband and characterize him as a suspect Gone Girl style. Those theories are not nearly as interesting as one put forth by Gareth Roberts, one of the writers for BBC’s Doctor Who. In an episode titled, “The Unicorn and the Wasp”, the writer theorized that Christie indeed suffered amnesia after a traumatic encounter with an alien wasp.  Could it be true? Guess we’ll never know for sure.


3. She pursued smoking… but failed.

Though nowadays millions of people try desperately to give up smoking, Christie tried desperately to take up the habit. World War I had popularized tobacco, so smoking was seen as lavish and didn’t have the reputation that it does now. Wanting to fit in, Christie experimented, however she just couldn’t get in to it.


4. She had a taste for poison.


During World War I, Christie worked as an apothecaries assistant and handled a variety of toxins, leading her to developing an advanced knowledge of poisons. Her interest in poison translated on paper, as it was her preferred method of murder in many of her works. Her preference stemmed in part from her aversion to graphic violence. It may help too that it makes the murder suspect all the more mysterious.


5. Her mother was psychic.

Christie’s mother, Clarissa Boehmer, was a self-proclaimed clairvoyant who reportedly convinced her children that she could see the future. Her esoteric beliefs reportedly led her to refrain from teaching Christie how to read at a young age (though the author taught herself) and homeschooling her.


6. She once held the Guinness World Record for the world’s thickest book.


In 2009 HarperCollins published a collection of Christie’s Miss Marple stories – comprising of twelve novels and twenty short stories. The collection featured a mere sixty-eight crimes committed, sixty-eight secrets and lies, twenty-two false accusations, twenty-one romances, and 143 cups of tea consumed, delivering a whopping 4,032 pages, weighing more than fifteen pounds, and priced at $1,500 dollars. The record was surpassed in 2013 when a 89,471 page book titled Verdens Største Ordbog (The world’s largest dictionary) was published in Denmark.


7. She had a passion for archaeology. 

Christie’s second husband, Max Mallowan, was an archeologist and frequently invited her along on his expeditions to the Middle East. These expeditions greatly influenced her writing. Christie and her husband often traveled on The Orient Express, which later inspired her successful murder mystery, Murder on the Orient Express (1934). Influences of her time spent in the Middle East can be seen in many of her works including, Murder in Mesopotamia (1936), Death on the Nile (1937), Appointment with Death (1938), and They Came to Baghdad (1951).


8. She holds another record as the first woman to surf standing up.


Though many famed writers, including J.D. Salinger, were recluses who shut themselves away with their work, Christie wasn’t one of them. She loved spending time outdoors and had a particular passion for surfing. Her interest arose during a stay in Hawaii and she is believed to be the first British woman who surfed while standing up.


9. Her fear of poverty inspired her portrayal of money as a motive.

Though she was born to a middle-class family, Christie was conscious of the power and limitations of money throughout the childhood after her father experienced financial setbacks. After her father passed away when she was eleven, the author was reportedly haunted by a constant worry of her family’s financial situation. Tracing the author’s life, career, and legacy in her 2007 biography, Agatha Christie: An English Mystery, Laura Thompson wrote, “Agatha had a fear of poverty, deriving from her memory of the sudden downward swoop of the Miller fortunes. Money is central to Agatha’s writings. As both Poirot and Miss Marple [Christie’s two most famous characters] are aware, it constitutes the prime motive for crime.”


10. She was a self-proclaimed “sausage machine.”

Though the exact number of works written by Christie varies between sources, everyone agrees that she wrote a freaking lot. The “queen of mystery” is known not only for her compelling reads, but the sheer volume of written works. At the height of her career, Christie referred to herself as a “sausage machine,” in reference to her ability to churn out a lot of material rapidly. 


11. Her pseudonym Mary Westmacott remained a secret for nearly two decades.

Though the name Agatha Christie is known by many, the famed author also wrote six novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott around 1930. Unlike the murder mysteries associated with her name, the author created a new reputation by diving into the romance genre releasing titles like Giant’s Bread (1930). Her pseudonym went undisclosed for nearly 20 years.


12. Her number of sold works outnumbers the populations of China and America (combined).


Agatha Christie, who passed away in 1976, had an estimated net worth of $600 million. She wrote 66 crime mystery novels and 14 volumes of short stories, all of which sold over 2 billion copies. She is also the most translated author in history — more so than Shakespeare — with her books published in 103 languages.


13. She detested marmalade pudding.

Christie disliked marmalade pudding, so much so in fact that she used it as a murder accessory in her novel A Pocket Full of Rye (1953). Perhaps she wanted to warn off readers from consuming the treat. Guess we’ll never know.


14. Her protagonist Hercule Poirot was adored by many people… except for Christie herself. 


One of the most prolific literary characters is Christie’s murder mystery detective Hercule Poirot, who made around 100 appearances in Christie’s works. Though beloved by many, the author repeatedly voiced her dislike of Poirot, once referring to him as an “detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep.” In an interview with BBC, Christie’s grandson Matthew Prichard revealed that the Poirot’s popularity with readers led Christie’s publishers to push the writer to continuously “churn out” Poirot mysteries. So if you think his frequent appearances was a result of Christie’s love of him, think again.



Source: Wikipedia - Agatha Christie  |  Facts About Agatha Christie

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Fact of the Day - JOHN STEINBECK


Steinbeck in 1939


Did you know..... that John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. was an American author and the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature winner "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception." He has been called "a giant of American letters." During his writing career, he authored 33 books, with one book coauthored alongside Edward Ricketts, including 16 novels, six non-fiction books, and two collections of short stories. He is widely known for the comic novels Tortilla Flat (1935) and Cannery Row (1945), the multi-generation epic East of Eden (1952), and the novellas The Red Pony (1933) and Of Mice and Men (1937). The Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath (1939) is considered Steinbeck's masterpiece and part of the American literary canon. In the first 75 years after it was published, it sold 14 million copies. Most of Steinbeck's work is set in central California, particularly in the Salinas Valley and the California Coast Ranges region. His works frequently explored the themes of fate and injustice, especially as applied to downtrodden or everyman protagonists.



Novel Facts About John Steinbeck



John Steinbeck is one of the most popular authors of the 20th century, known for his deft social commentary and grasp on the lives of the everyday person. Born on February 27, 1902, this literary figure is remembered for novels like 1937's Of Mice and Men and 1939's The Grapes of Wrath, along with select nonfiction work and screenplays. Here are 11 facts about Steinbeck's life and career.


"My dog ate my work" is probably the oldest excuse in the book—but for Steinbeck, it was true. One evening, after being left alone for a bit too long, his beloved Irish setter, Toby, decided to devour the first half of Steinbeck's manuscript for Of Mice and Men. Luckily, Steinbeck was an avid dog-lover, so he took the incident in stride and spent the next two months rewriting his work. "I was pretty mad but the poor little fellow may have been acting critically," Steinbeck wrote of the event.



As a child, Steinbeck was enthralled with Arthurian tales of knighthood, adventure, and honor—and as he began producing his own work, like 1935's Tortilla Flat, he borrowed many of the plots and themes that defined Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d'Arthur (or The Death of Arthur). In 1958, Steinbeck even set out to retell Malory’s stories for a modern audience in The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights. But by 1959, the author had abandoned the project and never completed it before his death in 1968. In 1976, though, the unfinished manuscript was posthumously released and remains in print today.

After playwright Arthur Miller refused to name names of suspected communists during an investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1956, he was brought to trial and was found guilty of contempt of Congress in May 1957. Upon hearing about Miller’s punishment, Steinbeck wrote a response titled "The Trial of Arthur Miller" for the June 1, 1957, issue of Esquire. In the essay, Steinbeck expressed his distaste for the intrusive and speculative nature of HUAC, calling the trial "one of the strangest and most frightening dilemmas that a people and a government has ever faced." He was one of the few public figures to defend Miller at the time.


John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, and used the region as the setting for many of his books, including the short story collection The Long Valley. Salinas plays an even bigger role in 1952's East of Eden, which Steinbeck called "almost the autobiography of the Valley."


After dropping out of Stanford University, Steinbeck worked as a caretaker at the luxe Cascade Estates on the California side of Lake Tahoe near Mount Tallac. While working and living on the property, he also found time to finish his first book, Cup of Gold, which was published in 1929. The historical novel is based loosely on pirate Henry Morgan’s assault on Panama City in the 17th century.



Although the typewriter has been around since at least the 1870s, Steinbeck preferred to write his stories in graphite and always had a large set of sharpened pencils on hand while working. And he happened to be very particular about his favorite writing instrument: He reportedly hated yellow pencils and only worked with long, round, black ones to avoid distractions. According to Steinbeck’s son, Thomas, he would sharpen 24 pencils every day before writing and was allegedly known to use as many as 100 in a single day.


With a body of work like Steinbeck's, it's no surprise that he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940 for The Grapes of Wrath and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. But he also scored three Academy Award nominations during his career. In 1944 and 1945, he was nominated for Best Writing, Original Story for his work on Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat and Irving Pichel's A Medal for Benny, respectively. And in 1952, he was nominated for writing the story and screenplay to Viva, Zapata!


Steinbeck published Travels with Charley: In Search of America in 1962 after taking a road trip around the United States with his poodle, Charley. The book was a hit, landing on The New York Times Bestseller list for nonfiction soon after it was released; however, in 2011, Pittsburgh newspaper columnist Bill Steigerwald wrote a piece for Reason magazine claiming he had retraced Steinbeck’s journey and found the book to be riddled with inconsistencies, including the fact that Steinbeck would only be able to make parts of the trip if he could "push his pickup truck/camper shell Rocinante to supersonic speeds." Later, Steinbeck’s son, John, agreed, saying, "He just sat in his camper and wrote all that [expletive]."

In June 1943, Steinbeck was hired by the New York Herald Tribune to spend several months reporting on the war in Europe. But instead of detailing battles and logistics, Steinbeck wrote about the human stories of the soldiers behind the war. Some accounts include a man afraid his wife would no longer love him due to his injured hand ("I got to get that hand working. She wouldn't like a cripple with a hand that didn't work," the soldier apparently told Steinbeck) and of American troops planting native vegetables in England to help deal with homesickness.


In 1940, Steinbeck set out to explore the Gulf of California—also known as the Sea of Cortez—with his good friend and marine biologist Ed Ricketts. During the six-week journey, the pair recorded detailed notes of their findings, including the discovery of more than 50 new marine species. The duo published the trip log in Sea of Cortez shortly after their return, complete with a narrative portion by Steinbeck and species lists from Ricketts. After Ricketts's death in 1948, Steinbeck reissued the work as The Log From the Sea of Cortez, consisting solely of the narrative portion of the work with an additional eulogy to Ricketts at the end.

J. Edgar Hoover began his career in law enforcement by finding and deporting communists as an assistant to the U.S. Attorney General in the early 20th century. Years later, as the head of the FBI, Hoover continued his anticommunist campaign, and Steinbeck was among those he suspected as being sympathetic to the Red Menace. But according to Steinbeck’s son, Hoover couldn’t find any evidence to actually take the author to trial, so he instead used his power to have the IRS audit Steinbeck’s taxes every year "just to be politically annoying."



Source: Wikipedia - John Steinbeck  |  Facts About John Steinbeck

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Fact of the Day - BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE


Buffy Sainte-Marie, 2015

Did you know... that Buffy Sainte-Marie, CC is an Indigenous Canadian-American singer-songwriter, musician, Oscar-winning composer, visual artist, educator, pacifist, and social activist. Throughout her career in all of these areas, her work has focused on issues facing Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Her singing and writing repertoire also includes subjects of love, war, religion, and mysticism. She has won recognition, awards and honours for her music as well as her work in education and social activism. Among her most popular songs are "Universal Soldier", "Cod'ine", "Until It's Time for You to Go", "Now That the Buffalo's Gone", and her covers of Mickey Newbury's "Mister Can't You See" and Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game". Her music has been recorded by Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Cher, Donovan, Joe Cocker, Jennifer Warnes, Barbra Streisand, Shirley Bassey, Roberta Flack, Janis Joplin, and Glen Campbell. In 1983, Sainte-Marie became the first Indigenous person to win an Oscar. Her song "Up Where We Belong", co-written for the film An Officer and a Gentleman, won both the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 55th Academy Awards and the Golden Globe for Best Original Song. In 1997, she founded the Cradleboard Teaching Project, an educational curriculum devoted to better understanding Native Americans. (Wikipedia)


Posted by Erica Commanda  |  Date: May 22, 2015


At 74 years old, there is no slowing down the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie. With a long history behind her she has just released her twentieth album, Power In The Blood on May 12, 2015. Sainte-Marie has worn many hats as a singer, songwriter, teacher, actress, humanitarian, activist and world traveler. She has witnessed and accomplished many things and in honor of her many feats, here are eight interesting facts regarding Buffy Sainte-Marie’s lengthy career.


1. Oscar Winner


Buffy is the first Indigenous person to win a coveted Oscar in 1983 for her song, Up Where We Belong. “Right now my Oscar is in the Smithsonian, because I’m the first Native American, I think the only, to win an Oscar” she says, not letting success get to her head. On top of all of this, her award case includes a Gemini for the same Oscar winning song, a Juno in 2009 and most recently the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 2010.


2. Educator


One of Buffy’s main goals is to educate people around the world about Indigenous people and to reverse the associated negative stereotypes. For five years between 1976-1981, Sainte-Marie was a regular on Sesame Street, pushing societal boundaries with topics such as educating Big Bird on breastfeeding her child, Cody, onscreen.


3. Digital Artist


It’s also well documented that Buffy has been a digital artist since 1984. Her collection, 16 Million Colours, includes eleven mostly large scale images that can be found in galleries across North America including The Winnipeg Art Gallery, First Nations University, American Indian Arts Museum, The Gallery for Contemporary and Indigenous Art (Tucson) amongst others.


4. Ahead of Her Time


It’s fitting that someone who embraced technology from the onset became the first documented person to send a digital file over the Internet. In an interview with The Guardian she is quoted as saying “Do you know…..my album Coincidence & Likely Stories in 1991 was the first ever delivered via the internet and the Guardian did a big story on it with a picture? People didn’t want to know about electronic music or digital or any of that then, but you were the first paper in Europe to write about the early use of the internet in that way.” Buffy Sainte-Marie on a Rollercoaster Career… – The Guardian


5. Philanthropist

In addition to her appearance on Sesame Street, Sainte-Marie also founded The Cradleboard Teaching Project. Funding it mostly out of her own pocket, she has expanded it with the help of support from W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Herb Alpert Foundation and The Global Fund for Children. The mission statement reads: “It’s our hope at Cradleboard that we can joyfully replace the old inaccuracies, with reality, delivered by teams of experts; to the lifelong benefit of Indian children; and that every mainstream child will have access to an enriching Native studies unit provided by Indian people, including children of his or her own age.” Lenape (Delaware Indian) Program – Native American Heritage Programs


6. Lives With Goats


Buffy lives in Kauai, Hawaii peacefully on an estate with goats. As “a young singer with too much money. I had been travelling so much and I was too famous for my own good,” she then decided to settle down in a solitary piece of property she found in the 60’s where she now resides with approximately 27 goats, two horses, chickens and a cat. Buffy Sainte-Marie Shares Her Journey – The Star


7. Friends with Joni Mitchell

Buffy played a pivotal role in helping fellow artist Joni Mitchell get signed. Both “came from Saskatchewan and (Joni) was being ignored by the folk bosses who ran the record companies. I thought that she and my friend Leonard Cohen were fantastic talents, so I carried Joni’s tape around in my purse, playing it for all the bigwigs. Finally a young guy in an agency I was working with got it! He became her manager and built a huge career with her.” Antony Hegarty Takeover: Buffy Sainte-Marie – Dazed Digital


8. Badass


Buffy Sainte-Marie was so badass, she was blacklisted by the American government for her outspoken views on the Vietnam War and Indigenous rights. “Recognizing the power of her songwriting and activism, the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations considered her an ‘artist to be suppressed,’ and Sainte-Marie all but disappeared from the US music industry.” Buffy Sainte-Marie Bio – Official Website


Power In The Blood was recorded in Toronto with three producers: Michael Phillip Wojewoda (Barenaked Ladies, Rheostatics), Jon Levine (Nelly Furtado, K’naan, Serena Ryder) and Chris Birkett (Sinéad O’Connor, Talking Heads). Alongside new original tracks that touch on “the sanctity of life, the splendour of Mother Nature and scathing political and social commentary,” are the opening cut “It’s My Way,” a re-recording of the title track from her 1964 debut album, and “Power in the Blood,” a collaboration with electronic group Alabama 3.


It’s My Way / Power in the Blood / We Are Circling / Not the Lovin’ Kind / Love Charms (Mojo Bijoux) / Ke Sakihitin Awasis / Farm In the Middle of Nowhere / Generation / Sing Our Own Song / Orion / The Uranium War / Carry It On


Source: Wikipedia - Buffy Sainte-Marie  |  Little Known Facts About Buffy Sainte-Marie

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Fact of the Day - SHIPWRECK


The shipwreck of SS American Star on the shore of Fuerteventura

Did you know.... that a shipwreck is the wreckage of a ship that is located either beached on land or sunken to the bottom of a body of water. Shipwrecking may be intentional or unintentional. Angela Croome reported in January 1999 that there were approximately three million shipwrecks worldwide (an estimate rapidly endorsed by UNESCO and other organizations). (Wikipedia)



by Sky History


On Billion Dollar Wreck, father and son Martin and Grant Bayerle Martin seek to uncover hidden treasure on the ill-fated RMS Republic - a famous shipwreck off Nantucket, Massachusetts. And they're not the only ones. There's been a long fascination throughout history with shipwrecks and the treasure that they could hold, and the United Nations estimates that there are at least three million shipwrecks on the ocean floors.


Here we take a look at 10 of history's most famous shipwrecks:




Wreck of MS World Discoverer as of July 2007
The MS World Discoverer was a Danish cruise ship created in 1974. While carrying passengers on a cruise in 2000 it struck a rock at the Solomon Islands, resulting in the ship subsiding. A distress signal was quickly dispatched and all crew and passengers were escorted safely to another passenger ferry. There have been several attempts to salvage the shipwreck, but none have been successful, partly due to the fact that much of the ship has been looted and damaged during the Solomon Islands Civil War. The ship has remained at Roderick Bay ever since, and is now a popular local tourist attraction and it can even be viewed on Google Maps.




Black Swan rescued 61 survivors from two of Empire Star's lifeboats
The Black Swan or The Black Swan Project, is believed to be the greatest recovery of gold treasure in history. The treasure was found on the remains of the Spanish warship Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes which sank off Portugal in 1804. In 2007 the American company Odyssey Marine Exploration announced that it had uncovered gold worth an estimated $500 million (£314 million). However, the Spanish government declared that they rightfully owned the gold, and the case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, only for the gold to be returned to Spanish authorities in 2012, where it is now displayed in various exhibitions across the country.




Built in 1963 MV Dona Paz passenger ferry sank on 20 December 1987 when collided with MT Vector

The sinking of the MV Doña Paz is remembered in history as the deadliest of all peacetime maritime disasters. It was a Philippine registered ferry and while carrying over 4,000 passengers, collided with an oil tanker MT Vector on December 20, 1987. A fire and explosion ensued, killing a predicted 4,386 passengers and there were only 24 survivors. A lack of proper safety and communication measures were blamed, and it reportedly took 8 hours for the Philippine maritime authorities to hear of the incident. Due to the fire much fo the ship was destroyed, and it is now remembered as "Asia's Titanic."




Model of the Queen Anne's Revenge
Queen Anne's Revenge was an 18th century warship mostly known for being the ship of legendary pirate Blackbeard (Edward Teach). First serving in the British Navy, the ship was later captured by the French and then by pirates from 1717 onwards. Although Blackbeard used the ship for less than a year, he achieved some of his greatest prizes during this time. In 1718 he grounded the ship and abandoned it, escaping capture by the British by boarding a smaller nearby ship. In 1996 the remains of Queen Anne's Revenge were discovered, about one mile ashore from Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. So far thirty one canons have been discovered and more than a quarter of a million artifacts have been recovered. As one of the few pirate ships to be discovered, it is now listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.




Vasa's port side
Vasa is a Swedish warship, believed to have been built between 1626 and 1628. The ship sank twenty minutes into its maiden voyage on 10 August 1628 after being hit by strong winds and flooding. Sinking less than a mile into its journey, it was regarded as a great embarrassment for the King of Sweden, and there were several salvage attempts, but none were successful. It was not until 1961 that the shipwreck was successfully recovered, including thousands of artifacts. The hull of the ship was found to be remarkably intact and with the help of some restoration, the ship is now a popular Swedish tourist attraction, with over 22 million visitors to date.




Photo of the remains of the Mary Rose and support structure in 2019
The Mary Rose was a Tudor warship commissioned and run during the reign of Henry VIII. Launched in 1511, it served in many battles against France, Brittany and Scotland, and in 1545 it sank during a battle against the French. Sinking in the Solent, close to the Isle of Wight, it was not rediscovered until 1971, and was salvaged in 1982. The remains of the shipwreck are now viewable in a museum in Portsmouth, and has become one of the most expensive and expansive projects in maritime archeology history. In addition to the ship's structure itself, over 26,000 artefacts have been recovered - many of which are now on public display. The remains of about half of the deceased crew members have also been recovered, and bone analysis has revealed that many suffered from health conditions such as arthritis, rickets and scurvy.




Arizona (BB39) port bow, before being modernized at Norfolk Naval Shipyard between May 1929 and January 1930
The USS Arizona was an American battleship built for the US Navy launched in 1915. The ship served many purposes, from escorting President Woodrow Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference to being sent to Turkey during the Greco-Turkish War, and was sent from California to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in 1940 in response to the threat of Japanese Imperialism. On 7 December, 1941 USS Arizona was bombed by the Japanese, exploding and sinking. 1,177 crew members and officers were killed. The shipwreck was declared a National Historic Landmark on 5 May 1989. Today the shipwreck remains and can be viewed at the USS Arizona Memorial, and is annually visited by two million people.




RMS Lusitania: Built in 1904-1906
RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner launched in 1906, and made a total of 202 trans-Atlantic crossings before it was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat on 7 May 1915. Of the 1,962 passengers and crew aboard, 1,191 lost their lives. Causing outrage and shock across the world, some believe it was a major factor in encouraging the US to enter World War II as an ally. Today the shipwreck is in a state of severe deterioration. As it had been operating for seven years prior to sinking, it is in much worse condition compared to The Titanic and much was destroyed upon the initial blast of the torpedo. It lies 11 miles south of the lighthouse at Kinsale, Ireland. There have been various salvage attempts of the Lusitania, with many of the remaining ship's items being recovered, some of which are privately owned while others are on displays in museums around the world.




Republic sinking by the stern after being hit by the Lloyd Italiano liner Florida.
The star of Billion Dollar Wreck, the RMS Republic was built in 1903 and operated as a steam-powered ocean liner. It wasn't until 23 January 1909 at 5:30 a.m. that disaster struck, colliding with the Lloyd Italiano liner SS Florida just off Nantucket, Massachusetts and sinking the next day at about 8.40 p.m. A total of six lives were lost, and the evacuation process was praised as flawless at the time. Since the sinking, there have been many rumours and legends surrounding the treasure that supposedly went down with the ship. Ranging from $250,000 to $3,000,000 in estimates of the value of the sunken treasure - if excavated today it could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars - perhaps even a billion. It is now son and father Grant and Martin Bayerle's mission on Billion Dollar Wreck to recover the rumored treasure and claim it as their own. The shipwreck itself is 250 feet under water and much of it has deteriorated - however the vaults that contain the alleged treasure appear to be very much intact.




The bow of the wrecked Titanic, photographed in June 2004
Just about everyone knows about Titanic - and its fate. A lot of us will know it from James Cameron's 1997 mega-blockbuster Titanic, which included actual footage of the ship's eerie remains. The supposedly "unsinkable" ocean liner set sail on its maiden voyage on 10 April, 1912 only to hit an iceberg just before midnight on 14 April and sank in less than three hours. Claiming 1,514 lives, it is often remembered as one of the most famous and tragic shipwrecks in history. It wasn't until 1985 that a Franco-American expedition was able to reach the shipwreck, and discovered that it had been split in half - with each half lying within about a third of a mile apart from one another. The stern section was found to be almost completely crumbled, where as the bow is in much better condition, with some of the interiors incredibly intact. Hundreds of artifacts have been excavated from the shipwreck and can be viewed in various exhibitions around the world - from tableware to furniture and even menus.



Source: Wikipedia - Shipwreck   |  Facts About Famous Shipwrecks

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Fact of the Day - ELLA FITZGERALD


Ella Fitzgerald, November 1946.

Did you know.... that Ella Jane Fitzgerald was an American jazz singer, sometimes referred to as the "First Lady of Song", "Queen of Jazz", and "Lady Ella". She was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing, timing, intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing. (Wikipedia)


Important Ella Fitzgerald Facts You Need To Know
By Taylor Fields  |  February 3, 2019



Ella Fitzgerald is an icon. Named "The First Lady of Song" (and rightfully so), Ella is not only an important figure in music, but in history. Over the course of her career, she has accomplished so much, and helped set the stage for many of today's superstars.  From working with jazz legends like Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole, to performing at the most prestigious concert venues around the world, and overcoming discrimination, Ella left behind such an exceptional and important legacy. In 2017, the world celebrated what would have been Ella's centennial birthday. Ella would have been just over 100 years old today, but we continue to celebrate her impact on music and beyond for the next 100 years to come and so on, especially during this month, Black Music Month. So, here are 10 important facts that you need to know about "The First Lady of Song":


1. She was the first African-American woman to win multiple Grammy Awards.

Ella was the first African-American woman to win multiple Grammy Awards -- and it happened at the very first Grammy Awards ceremony in 1958. Ella took home two awards for Best Vocal Performance and Female and Best Jazz Performance, Individual. In total, over the course of her career, Ella has won 14 Grammys, and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1967.

2. She became one of the first stars to perform during the Super Bowl Half Time Show.

As we are heading into the 2019 Super Bowl, and you think about the star power behind each halftime performance over the last 20+ years, it wasn't always like that. It wasn't until Michael Jackson's 1993 performance that halftime became the star-studded affair it is today. BUT, in 1972, Ella Fitzgerald, along with Carol Channing, performed during Super Bowl VI where the Miami Dolphins faced off against the Dallas Cowboys in New Orleans. They performed a tribute to Louis Armstrong (who had passed away the year before). This also made Fitzgerald the first African-American woman to perform during Super Bowl Halftime.  

3. She was once a runner for local gamblers.

After moving to New York, to help contribute money to the household, she took on some small jobs, even running for local gamblers. She picked up their bets and dropped off money.

4. Her first on stage performance was at the Apollo during Amateur Night.

Ella's name was pulled out of the weekly drawing at the Apollo, and she competed during Amateur Night -- not a bad way to perform on stage for the first time! And, fun fact, she was actually planning only to dance that night, but changed her mind when she saw the Edwards Sisters at the show. According to Ella's website, she said, "They were the dancingest sisters around." Ella ended up singing Hoagy Carmichael's "Judy" -- after which the audience wanted an encore.

5. One of her most famous songs came from a nursery rhyme.


Ella made her first recording, "Love and Kisses," in 1936. However, perhaps what is her most famous song, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," is simply a playful version of the nursery rhyme. The 1938 song skyrocketed Ella's career hitting number one, selling 1 million copies, and stayed on the pop charts for 17 weeks.

6. Facing discrimination, Ella's band was once arrested backstage in Dallas.

While touring for the Philharmonic in Dallas, Texas, police arrested band members in Ella's dressing room where they were shooting dice. Ella's manager Norman felt strongly about civil rights and the police were not a fan of his principles. According to Ella's website, she said of the incident, "They took us down, and then when we got there, they had the nerve to ask for an autograph."

7. Marilyn Monroe helped her to get booked at popular '50s nightclub Mocambo.

Marilyn Monroe personally called the owner of Mocambo and demanded Ella be booked right away. Ella has said, "I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt. It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the '50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him - and it was true, due to Marilyn's superstar status - that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman - a little ahead of her times. And she didn't know it."

8. She became the first black woman to headline the famous Copacabana nightclub.

Speaking of popular nightclubs, the Copacabana is one of the most famous, located in midtown Manhattan, and Ella became the first black woman to headline the venue.

9. Her final performance was at New York City's famed Carnegie Hall.

In 1991, Ella performed her final concert at one of New York's most prestigious concert venues, Carnegie Hall, making it the 26th time she had performed there.

10. She has been dubbed "The First Lady of Song.

"By the 1990s, Ella had recorded over 200 albums. And with 14 Grammy Awards under her belt, selling over 40 million albums, she is more than worthy of the title, "First Lady of Song."

Celebrate Ella Fitzgerald by checking out her music via the Thumbs Up: Ella Fitzgerald playlist on iHeartRadio.


Source: Wikipedia - Ella Fitzgerald  |  Facts About Ella Fitzgerald

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Fact of the Day - BUZZ LIGHTYEAR


Did you know.... that Buzz Lightyear is a fictional character in the Toy Story franchise created by Pixar. He is a toy Space Ranger superhero according to the movies and an action figure in the franchise. Along with his friend, Sheriff Woody, he is one of the two main characters in all four of the Toy Story animated movies.  He also appeared in the direct-to-video film Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins and the television series, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command that was led from the film. Buzz Lightyear is voiced by Tim Allen in the Toy Story films, a few video games, and the Buzz Lightyear movie, while Patrick Warburton provides the voice for the TV series. Chris Evans is set to voice a human version of the character in the next film: Lightyear, which will explore his backstory.  (Wikipedia)


Facts About Buzz Lightyear From Toy Story
Written by: Becca Marsh  |  Published on: March 30, 2021


Buzz Lightyear is famous as the spaceman who features in the Toy Story movies alongside Woody. But how did this intergalactic hero end up on earth, and how did he become so famous in the Disney universe?


Here are 11 out of this world facts about Buzz Lightyear.


Buzz was based on a “G.I Joe” character.


Director John Lasseter wanted to create a character in the Toy Story universe with the same personality of a G.I Joe type of character, being a hero who saves the day, but he wanted a more modern appearance. There weren’t many space characters at the time, so the idea was born to create a character with a G.I. Joe personality, but with a space ranger look. The outfit design was based on the real Apollo 11 astronauts, with the skullcaps, white suits, and clear helmets. It is said that the purple and green on Buzz’s iconic outfit were the choice of Lasseter’s wife.


Buzz Lightyear’s name was inspired by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.


The character was originally called Luna Larry, but the producers thought that the name sounded a bit too wacky for the character they wanted to portray. After this name change, Pixar producers looked at different space terms to incorporate in the name, and Lightyear was chosen. They then decided to name him after Buzz Aldrin as an homage to the second person to walk on the moon. Buzz Aldrin even took a Buzz Lightyear toy to one of his speeches at NASA to showcase his links to the character. Aldrin has never received any endorsement fees for the use of his name.


His significant other is Jessie.


This might not have been obvious until the end of Toy Story 2, where Buzz shows how love-struck he is by Jessie. But Buzz is attracted to her adventurous personality, and throughout the Toy Story films, he looks out for Jessie and cares for her when she has her panic attacks. This affection is shown even more so when Buzz accidentally gets put into Spanish mode, where he refers to Jessie as “my desert flower” and dances around her. The couple share many adventures throughout the movies, some more successful than others, but they continue to comfort and stick by each other’s side.


Buzz Lightyear’s enemy is Emperor Zurg.


In the Toy Story movies, Buzz Lightyear has more than just one enemy. The likes of Sid Phillips and Stinky Pete are amongst them, but his true enemy is Emperor Zurg, also known as Evil Emperor Zurg. Within the Toy Story universe, Buzz Lightyear is archenemies with Zurg as he is the sworn enemy of the Galactic Alliance. Their relationship is simple, Zurg is the bad guy, and Buzz is the hero, but they have had several encounters in the movies, making the audience question their relationship. In Toy Story 2, Zurg expresses that he is Buzz’s father, but this is most likely a distraction so he can attack Buzz. It is suggested that Disney wanted to make a reference to Star Wars, recreating the famous scene with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, but it is not known if this is true or not.


The character of Buzz has over 15 quotes.


Buzz has many famous quotes in the Toy Story movies, but not all were used in the first Toy Story. As the movies developed, relationships changed, and the quotes evolved with the characters, but some of his most recognized quotes include; “I’ve set my laser from stun to kill,” “my eyeballs could have been sucked from their sockets,” and “this is an intergalactic emergency!” The first figure of Buzz Lightyear made in 1995 was released before the Toy Story film, and it was programmed with four quotes. These included the famous “to infinity and beyond,” “I am Buzz Lightyear,” “I come in peace,” and “Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!


Buzz’s most famous quote is “To infinity and beyond.”


Possibly one of the most famous quotes of all time, “to infinity and beyond,” has been used in pop culture ever since the character made it famous. The quote originated from a book title “to infinity and beyond,” written by Eli Maor in 1991, 4 years before the release of Toy Story. The book explored the history of infinity and was perhaps the inspiration for Buzz’s quote. It has also appeared on t-shirts, merchandise, and even in pop songs. The lyrics “to infinity and beyond” feature in the famous “Singles Ladies” track from Beyoncé. The phrase even made international news in 2008. A father and son duo attempted a 15 hour long treading water record attempt in the Atlantic Ocean, and used it as their safety phrase to keep track of each other.


There is an evil Buzz Lightyear.


If you are familiar with the series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, then you will know that Buzz has an evil version of himself from another universe. The evil Buzz Lightyear is said to be even eviler than Emperor Zurg, and in this alternate galaxy takes on the role of Zurg as evil emperor. His first appearance is in the episode called “The Lightyear Factor,” where Zurg’s brain pod opens a portal to an alternate universe. At the end of the episode, evil Buzz falls into the sun and is presumed dead until he makes an appearance at the end.


Buzz has his own feature film and TV spin-off.


Not only does Buzz feature as a main character within the Toy Story movies, but he has his own feature movie Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins, which was released on August 8, 2000. This movie was based on a miniseries called “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command,” which was Pixar’s first hand-drawn animated project. A video game based on the series was developed by Traveller's Tales in 2000 and was released for PlayStation, Game Boy Color, Dreamcast, and Microsoft Windows. The game allows you to control Buzz in his race to defeat his enemies.


He has featured in other Pixar movies.


Alongside other characters from Toy Story, Buzz has had the opportunity to feature in other Pixar shorts. The most memorable shorts he featured in are Hawaiian Vacation as well as Small Fry. Buzz also made an appearance in 2003 with the release of Finding Nemo as one of the toys next to the toy box in the dentist waiting room.


Buzz has really been to space.


We all know that Buzz Lightyear is a space ranger, so in the movies, he must have been to space. But in June 2008, a real-life 12 inch (30.5 centimeters) figure of Buzz Lightyear was sent into orbit. Buzz was sent to The International Space Station, where he remained in orbit for 467 days. He was sent up as part of an educational partnership between Disney and NASA which, alongside the space expedition, provided games, competitions, and video footage of Buzz floating in space for children. This Buzz figure can be visited in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.


Buzz is number 1 in the top 20 greatest Pixar characters.


In 2007 Buzz Lightyear was voted as the most favorite Pixar character of all time out of the top 20 characters by readers of the British magazine “Empire.” The magazine also rated him 94th in greatest characters of all time. Now you know more about this complex intergalactic spaceman, you can see how he has become one of the most recognizable characters in history. The Toy Story movies will continue to inspire and excite children across the world.


Source: Wikipedia - Buzz Lightyear  |   Buzz Lightyear Facts

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Fact of the Day - MASKS


Stone mask from the pre-ceramic Neolithic period dates to 7000 BC

Did you know.... that a mask is an object normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance, or entertainment. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes, as well as in the performing arts and for entertainment. (Wikipedia)


Interesting Facts about African Masks
by admin   |  June 25, 2014 


Carved wooden masks


One of these following facts about African masks should give you much information about what kind of mask it is. Masks are sometimes considered as a ritual and ceremonial event. They are an essential feature of the traditional culture and art of the people of Sub-Saharan and West Africa. While the specific implications associated to ritual masks widely vary in different cultures, some traits are common to most African cultures: masks usually have a spiritual and religious meaning and they are used in ritual dances and social and religious events, and a special status is attributed to the artists that create masks and to those that wear them in ceremonies. To get to know more about the masks, here are some other facts about African masks you might like.


1. Influences
Masks are one of the elements of African art that have most evidently influenced European and Western art in general; in the 20th century, artistic movements such as cubism, fauvism and expression have often taken inspiration from the vast and diverse heritage of African masks.


2. Ritual and Meanings
In most traditional African cultures, the person who wears a ritual mask conceptually loses his or her human identity and turns into the spirit represented by the mask itself. This transformation of the mask wearer into a spirit usually relies on other practices, such as specific types of music and dance, or ritual costumes that contribute to conceal the mask-wearer’s human identity.



Fang mask

3. Different Traditional Masks
Since every mask has a specific spiritual meaning, most traditions comprise several different traditional masks. The traditional religion of the Dogon people of Mali, for example, comprises three main cults (the Awa or cult of the dead, the Bini or cult of the communication with the spirits, and the Lebe or cult of nature); each of these has its pantheon of spirits, corresponding to 78 different types of masks overall.


4. Subject and Style
African masks are usually shaped after a human face or some animal’s muzzle, albeit rendered in a sometimes highly abstract form. The inherent lack of realism in African masks (and African art in general) is justified by the fact that most African cultures clearly distinguish the essence of a subject from its looks, the former, rather than the latter, being the actual subject of artistical representation.



Female ancestor mask

5. Symbol
Traits representing moral values are found in many cultures. Masks from the Senufo people of Ivory Coast, for example, have their eyes half closed, symbolizing a peaceful attitude, self-control, and patience. In Sierra Leone and elsewhere, small eyes and mouth represent humility, and a wide, protruding forehead represents wisdom.


6. Animals
Animals are common subjects in African masks. Animal masks might actually represent the spirit of animals, so that the mask-wearer becomes a medium to speak to animals themselves (e.g. to ask wild beasts to stay away from the village); in many cases, nevertheless, an animal is also (sometimes mainly) a symbol of specific virtues.



Ngond mask

7. Variation of the Animal-mask Theme
A common variation on the animal-mask theme is the composition of several distinct animal traits in a single mask, sometimes along with human traits. Merging distinct animal traits together is sometimes a means to represent unusual, exceptional virtue or high status.

8. Feminine Mask
Another common subject of African masks is a woman’s face, usually based on a specific culture’s ideal of feminine beauty. Female masks of the Punu people of Gabon, for example, have long curved eyelashes, almond-shaped eyes, thin chin, and traditional ornaments on their cheeks, as all these are considered good-looking traits. Feminine masks of the Baga people have ornamental scars and breasts. In many cases, wearing masks that represent feminine beauty is strictly reserved for men.



Traditional Dogon mask

9. Mask of the Dead
As the veneration of defunct ancestors is a fundamental element of most African traditional cultures, it is not surprising that the dead is also a common subject for masks. Masks referring to dead ancestors are most often shaped after a human skull. A well-known example is the mwana pwo (literally, “young woman”) of the Chokwe people (Angola), that mixes elements referring to feminine beauty (well-proportioned oval face, small nose and chin) and other referring to death (sunken eye sockets, cracked skin, and tears); it represents a female ancestor who died young, venerated in rites such as circumcision rites and ceremonies associated to the renewal of life. As veneration of the dead is most often associated with fertility and reproduction, many dead-ancestor masks also have sexual symbols; the ndeemba mask of the Yaka people (Angola and DR Congo), for example, is shaped after a skull complemented with a phallic-shaped nose.


10. Commercial Masks
As African masks are largely appreciated by Europeans, they are widely commercialized and sold in most tourist-oriented markets and shops in Africa (as well as “ethnic” shops in the Western World). As a consequence, the traditional art of mask-making has gradually ceased to be a privileged, status-related practice, and mass production of masks has become widespread. While, in most cases, commercial masks are (more or less faithful) reproductions of traditional masks, this connection is weakening over time, as the logics of mass-production make it harder to identify the actual geographical and cultural origins of the masks found in such venues as curio shops and tourist markets. For example, the Okahandja market in Namibia mostly sells masks that are produced in Zimbabwe (as they are cheaper and more easily available than local masks), and, in turn, Zimbabwean mask-makers reproduce masks from virtually everywhere in Africa rather than from their own local heritage.



Wood and copper mask


Source: Wikipedia - Mask  |  Facts About African Masks

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Fact of the Day - RODEO CLOWNS


Did you know.... that a rodeo clown, bullfighter or rodeo protection athlete, is a rodeo performer who works in bull riding competitions. Originally, the rodeo clown was a single job combining "bullfighting"—the protection of riders thrown from the bull, as well as being an individual who provided comic relief. Today in the United States, the job is split into two separate ones: bullfighters who protect the riders from the bull, and entertainers (barrelmen) who provides comic humor. However, in other parts of the world and at some small rodeos, the jobs of rodeo rider protection and comic remain combined. (Wikipedia)


History of the Rodeo Clown

by Pam Hillman  |  FEBRUARY 16, 2020



This week an icon in the PRCA rodeo passed away.


Lecile Harris (1937-2020), died in his sleep Wednesday night after the final show of the Dixie National Rodeo and Livestock Show in Mississippi, my home state. At 83 years young, Mr. Harris was still doing what he loved, being a rodeo clown. And he was good at it. It was a shock to hear the news on Thursday morning, and it got me to thinking about the history of rodeo clowns.


When competitive rodeo became all the rage in the early 1900s, promoters hired cowboys to entertain the crowd between events. Prior to that, let’s just say the games and matches played out on the plains between cowboys matching skills and wits, there wasn’t really any need to “entertain” between the events that the cowboys themselves had come to see. But once there was a paying audience, those people wanted a lot of bang for their buck, and wanted to be entertained every second they were at the “show”. Much like the people at the medieval jousting matches and the Roman Coliseums.




The cowboys whose job it was to entertain the crowd started wearing oversized, baggy clothing, and some even painted their faces just as circus clowns do. The rodeo clown took a lot of cues from circus clowns and court jesters as their job—initially— was the same: to entertain the rowdy crowd. It wasn’t exactly dangerous… unless the crowd became unruly, I suppose. But soon the crowds grew bored and wanted more danger and ill-tempered bulls were brought in for the bull-riding events. As most of us know, bull riders are only expected to stay on for 8 seconds and after that, that mean, ornery, I-will-trample-everything-in-my-path bull is out for blood.



Rodeo Clowns, June 24, 1959 


So the rodeo clowns stepped up to distract the bulls from the rider so he could get to safety. Many times the clowns worked in pairs, and I’ve seen as many as three or four in the arena. In the 1930s, Jasbo Fulkerson introduced a wooden barrel as a barrier and a way to escape the enraged bull. These days, a heavy duty plastic barrel does the trick, but still, it all looks quite scary when you see a bull butting one of those things and you know a bullfighter is inside! These men are professional athletes and the proper term for them is bullfighter all across the globe. Many still wear baggy bright clothes and all kinds of flashy things to get the bulls’ attention, but make no mistake, they are highly skilled at what they do. When a rider is injured or hung up, they risk their lives to free that rider. Honestly, they are some of the bravest, most skilled men I’ve ever seen in action. In larger rodeos, there are bullfighters who are 100% focused on the bull, and then there’s the rodeo clown (sometimes called the barrelman) whose job is to poke fun at the bull, the riders, the other bullfighters and entertain the crowd, while also convincing everybody he’s the tough one out there in the ring. But even that seasoned old cowpoke who might be a bit over the hill has paid his dues, and at one time, he was the one with an angry bull breathing down his neck.




Such was the case with Lecile Harris. He started out wanting to ride bulls, but his tall, lanky frame wasn’t suited to the job. He fell into the job of bullfighter when another guy failed to show up one day, and the rest is history. He was a natural and was always a “class clown”, so he loved hamming it up for the crowd. At the age of 52, he was injured in the arena, which ended his career as a bullfighter, and he spent the next 30 plus years in the ring entertaining the crowds as the main attraction, the Rodeo Clown. Six decades in the ring, and he’d performed a few hours before he drew his last breath.


RIP, Lecile Harris.


For more older photos of rodeo clowns,

visit Lecile's FB page and scroll through

the photos. Or go to Youtube and search

for rodeo clowns or rodeo bullfighters to

see some of these guys in action!


The multi-talented Harris was a football player at the University of Tennessee-Martin, a session drummer in the Memphis are during the 1950s and early ‘60s and has done some performing on television and in films. He spent five years on the TV series Hee Haw and appeared in the films Walking Tall: The Final Chapter, The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James and W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings.


And check out "A Cowboy's Guardian Angel"


Source: Wikipedia - Rodeo Clown  |  History of a Rodeo Clown

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Fact of the Day - DEUS EX MACHINA


Deus ex machina in Euripides' Medea,

performed in 2009 in Syracuse, Italy;

the sun god sends a golden chariot to

rescue Medea.


Did you know.... that deus ex machina  is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem in a story is suddenly and abruptly resolved by an unexpected and unlikely occurrence. Its function is generally to resolve an otherwise irresolvable plot situation, to surprise the audience, to bring the tale to a happy ending, or act as a comedic device. (Wikipedia)


Worst Cases Of Deus Ex Machina That Ruined The Anime
A get-out-of-jail-free card that's a hallmark of lazy writing, the Deus Ex Machina is one of the most infamous and hated tropes in fiction.



The Deus Ex Machina (or God In The Machine) is the most controversial yet misunderstood plot device in all fiction. Simply put, it's when "god" (read: the writer) steps in to give the desperate heroes a sudden solution to a hopeless situation. Deus Ex Machina aren't inherently bad, but when used clumsily or improperly, they can ruin even the best anime. It should be noted that these aren't unpopular plot twists and endings, but bad plot contrivances and unearned conclusions.


Pokémon: The First Movie — The Pokémon Cried So Hard That Ash Ketchum Came Back To Life


Pokémon is no stranger to plot contrivances, but nobody minds since they give the anime its goofy charm. One of the best hilariously bad story-breaking examples came from Pokémon: The First Movie, where Mewtwo was a few steps away from declaring war on humanity and Ash Ketchum died trying to stop him. More specifically, Ash was petrified into stone, but he was as good as dead. Just before his death could've really hit home, the surrounding Pokémon cried and their tears somehow brought Ash back to life. Mewtwo pontificated about how Pokémon and humans are actually capable of loving each other, but this didn't explain the Pokémons' magical tears, nor were they ever bought up ever again.


Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters — The Heart Of The Cards Broke All Tension & Logic


Deus Ex Machina in anime might as well be renamed "The Heart Of The Cards," the abstract force that helps Yami Yugi win literally every card duel he's in. In practice, believing in a card's heart somehow allows Yugi to draw the right card at the right moment. That, or it powers up the card or gives it a new effect. The actual logic or limits of The Heart Of The Cards is never properly defined, though it's essentially Yugi's carte blanche to break the rules or even rewrite them while in the middle of playing a children's card game. As a result, what little internal logic Yu-Gi-Oh! had was broken from the very first episode.


JoJo's Bizarre Adventure — Jotaro Kujo Suddenly Learned How To Stop Time Better Than Dio


JoJo's is known for seemingly random power-ups, but Stardust Crusaders' final fight is egregious even by the series' standards. With no build-up whatsoever, Jotaro's Stand (Star Platinum) learned how to stop time just like the unbeatable Dio and The World could. Seconds after revealing this, Jotaro blew up a Dio who was just as confused as the audience. The only explanation given was that Star Platinum just happened to unlock Time Stop the moment Dio slammed a road roller into Jotaro's face. Despite this coming completely out of left field and undoing Dio's established threat in seconds, a majority of the JoJo's fanbase doesn't hate this contrivance because it was so ridiculously cool and badass that no one dared question it.


Naruto: Shippuden — Madara Uchiha Was Defeated By The Anime's Actual Villain


For years, Madara was hyped up to be Naruto's big villain that Team Seven and every living ninja had to defeat. Madara was practically a ninja god by Shippuden's tail end, meaning only a Deus Ex Machina could plausibly beat him. In fact, Naruto mastermind Masashi Kishimoto himself admitted that this was an oversight. Even when Naruto and Sasuke were blessed with god-tier power-ups from the legendary and barely mentioned Sage Of The Six Paths, they didn't stop Madara. Instead, it was Black Zetsu acting on orders from Kaguya Otsutsuki, Naruto's actual true evil who was rarely seen or spoken of beforehand, who did. Naruto and Sasuke were then able to quickly beat up Kaguya with their god-tier jutsu due to her lack of combat experience.


Bleach — Sosuke Aizen's Deus Ex Machina Were Defeated By The Heroes' Own Deus Ex Machina


When Aizen entered the battlefield of the Fake Karakura Town, he was basically a god. Because of how overpowered he was, and thanks to his endless contingency plans for literally every attack, it was impossible to defeat him. In effect, the only way to overcome Aizen's Deus Ex Machina was with even more Deus Ex Machina. After Ichigo's new game-breaking techniques only momentarily stopped Aizen, the power-enhancing Hogokyu suddenly rejected Aizen. Just then, Kisuke Urahara's sealing spell - which he fired into Aizen via Kido earlier - took effect. This battle of Deus Ex Machina got so out of control that it was hard to take Bleach's ever-escalating stakes seriously.


Gantz — Gantz Decided To End The Anime Out Of The Blue


At the time of Gantz's airing, the manga was barely halfway done. The otherwise straightforward death game anime needed a concrete ending, but instead of declaring a winner and loser, it got surreal. This was achieved through the black sphere, Gantz, the anime's literal Deus Ex Machina that acted on its own whims and abruptly ended the story. After Kei defeated the murderous Muruto, Gantz transported Kei to the day he died. While being cheered on by the dead characters, Kei stopped running from the train and faced it head-on. Gantz's countdown hit zero and it vanished, ending the anime. To this day, this is one of the most baffling finales in anime history.


Darling In The FranXX — Hiro & Zero Two Used The Power Of Love To Save The Universe


Darling In The FranXX's romantic endgame was always going to be Hiro and Zero Two, but the way their love's perfection saved the day reduced the dark mecha anime to a borderline farce. Long story short, Hiro and Zero Two's love was so beautiful that it embodied mankind's undying willpower to thrive and end the VIRM once and for all. The VIRM is an ancient cosmic threat, and humanity needed more than some robots piloted by teenagers to beat them. The solution was for Zero Two - empowered by Hiro's love and their friends' support - to fuse with their mecha, Strelizia, to unleash Strelizia True Apus, a planet-sized Zero Two that blew up the entire VIRM planet.


Wonder Egg Priority — The Conflicts Resolved Themselves & Left The Anime In Shambles


After starting out strong, Wonder Egg Priority dropped the ball when the time came to resolve its biggest mysteries and fights. In the penultimate episode, the artificial human Frill was revealed to be behind the uptick in suicide incidents among girls for unknown reasons. Worse, she had her sights set on Ai, Neiru, Rika, and Momoe. But in the heavily delayed finale, these core conflicts conveniently solved themselves without the cast's help. Frill just left after convincing Neiru (who's actually an artificial human) to join her, and everyone else gave up before Ai rescinded at the last minute. These simultaneously answered some of the anime's biggest questions while leaving more in its wake.


Sword Art Online — Kirito Is Practically A Living Deus Ex Machina


Beyond the implication that Kirito is the greatest gamer ever, almost all of his victories had no build-up or justification. When he's not defeating armies without losing a single hit point, Kirito is saved by or saves the day thanks to godsent contrivances. These robbed Sword Art Online of all stakes and emboldened the criticism that it was a transparent power fantasy. Examples include Kayaba conveniently giving Kirito the game's admin rights in Fairy Dance's final fight, perfectly predicting how his assassination attempt in Phantom Bullet would go, suddenly knowing how to do gymnastics in Alicization, and - most notoriously - hacking/programming a dead Yui back to life in the original anime.


Neon Genesis Evangelion — Human Instrumentality Was An Abstract Intervention, Not The End Of The World


Instead of having Shinji Ikari resolve his angst through an earth-shattering battle like what most mecha anime do, Evangelion dropped the fights and psychoanalyzed him in a two-part clip show. Though this finale benefited greatly from hindsight, it's still one of the most infamous and most literal Deus Ex Machina ever seen in anime. While Evangelion's last two episodes were recontextualized by the sequel movies, it's still an obvious cop-out - especially after it seemed to lead up to a biblically apocalyptic clash. This now iconic Deus Ex Machina was only made possible by the perfect storm of Gainax's financial problems and showrunner Hideaki Anno's personal struggles.

Source: Wikipedia - Deus ex Machina  |  Deus Ex Machina That Ruined The Anime

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Fact of the Day - BLACK SUNDAY


The "Black Sunday" dust storm approaches 

Spearman in northern Texas, April 14, 1935.


Did you know... that Black Sunday refers to a particularly severe dust storm that occurred on April 14, 1935 as part of the Dust Bowl in the United States. It was one of the worst dust storms in American history and it caused immense economic and agricultural damage. It is estimated to have displaced 300 million tons of topsoil from the prairie area. On the afternoon of April 14, residents of several plains states were forced to take cover as a dust storm or "black blizzard" blew through the region. The storm hit the Oklahoma panhandle and northwestern Oklahoma first, and moved south for the remainder of the day. It hit Beaver, Oklahoma around 4 p.m., Boise City around 5:15, and Amarillo, Texas at 7:20. The conditions were the most severe in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, but the storm's effects were also felt in other surrounding areas. The combination of drought, erosion, bare soil, and winds caused the dust to fly freely and at high speeds (Wikipedia)


Black Sunday: The Storm That Gave Us the Dust Bowl



It seemed like an ordinary day at first. Like any other day, folks on the Great Plains were struggling to get by. People walked to church, swept up from the dust storm that had blown through the week before, perhaps discussed the Congressional hearings that had brought the plight of the region, which had been ravaged by drought and the economic effects of the Great Depression, to the attention of the rest of the nation.


But Black Sunday—April 14, 1935—was no ordinary day. 


That afternoon, a gigantic cloud swept across the Great Plains. It was 1000 miles long and blew at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. It was made of 300,000 tons of dust whipped from the ground of northern farmlands, where poor soil conservation techniques had led to widespread erosion made worse by the unending drought.




Great Plains residents were used to dust, but they had never seen anything like this. One observer compared it to “the Red Sea closing in on the Israel children … it got so dark that you couldn’t see your hand before your face, you couldn’t see anybody in the room.”


You couldn’t see the street lights,” recalled Jim Williams, who watched the storm from his home in Dodge City, Kansas. “It rolled over and over and over and over and over when it came in,” another witness remembered, “and it was coal black; it was coal black, and it was terrible that afternoon. It was hot and dry.”


Humans weren’t the only ones terrified by the storm. Birds fled ahead of the cloud. Confused by the dark, chickens started to go inside to roost. Cows ran in circles. 


Once the storm subsided, a simple spring day had become the worst day in recent memory. The “black blizzard” that swept across the plains states left a trail of devastation in its wake—leveled fields, crashed cars, reports of people who had been blinded or given pneumonia by the storm. Everything was covered in dust, which choked wells and killed cattle. “Black Sunday,” as the storm became known, was the death knell for the poor farmers of Oklahoma and Texas. Demoralized and impoverished, thousands of so-called “Okies” cut their losses and began the long migration to more favorable locations like California.



In Boise City, Oklahoma, an Associated Press reporter named Robert E. Geiger had weathered the storm with photographer Harry G. Eisenhard. “Three little words achingly familiar on a Western farmer’s tongue,” he wrote after the storm, “rule life in the dust bowl of the continent—if it rains.” Some speculate that Geiger meant to say “dust belt,” a term he used to refer to the devastated region before and after Black Sunday.


Inadvertent or no, the term was picked up almost immediately. Geiger had given name to a phenomenon that would come to define the economic and social impacts of the Great Depression. But though Black Sunday and the Dust Bowl it helped name drew attention to the plight of the plains and turned soil conservation into a national priority, its effects were best summed up by a folk singer, not a reporter or politician. These are some of the lyrics to Woody Guthrie’s “Dust Storm Disaster,” which tells the story of the “deathlike black” cloud that enveloped America that day in 1935:




It covered up our fences, it covered up our barns,
It covered up our tractors in this wild and dusty storm.
We loaded our jalopies and piled our families in,
We rattled down that highway to never come back again.


Source: Wikipedia - Black Sunder (storm)  |  Facts About Black Sunday

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Fact of the Day - CRUSADES


Did you know... that the Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The best known of these Crusades are those to the Holy Land in the period between 1095 and 1291 that were intended to recover Jerusalem and its surrounding area from Islamic rule. (Wikipedia)


Facts About Crusades
History  |  May 6th 2016


Facts about Crusades present the information about a series of wars. At that time, Jerusalem and Holy Land were controlled by Muslims. The Christians of Europe tried to take over the lands. During the middle Ages, Jerusalem was considered as a significant site for various religions in the world.  It was considered as the site where Muhammad rose to heaven for Muslims. It was believed that King Solomon built the temple of God in the Jerusalem. On the other hand, Christians considered it as an important site because it was the site where Jesus Christ was crucified.


Get other interesting facts about crusades below:


1. Who Fought In Crusades?
Jerusalem was controlled by the Arabs. They had to fight against the armies of Europe who tried to capture Jerusalem. Most European armies were from Holy Roman Empire.


2. The First Crusades
The European armies consisted of commoners, peasants and knights during the 1st crusades. They had around 30,000 soldiers. They had different reasons to be engaged in the first crusades. Some of them wanted to go to the heaven because the fight had something to do with religious belief. Others wanted to improve the skill, rank or wealth.




3. The Beginning Of Crusades
The first Crusades began when the Turkish warlord Atsiz, who seized most of Syria and Palestine as part of the expansion of the Seljuks throughout the Middle East. The Seljuk hold on the city resulting in pilgrims reported difficulties and the oppression of Christians. The result was the First Crusade.


4. Byzantine Emperor Alexius I

Byzantine Emperor Alexius I wanted to get rid of the Turks who controlled the land by asking a help from Pope. The Franks and Holy Roman Empire decided to help Byzantine Emperor after Pope gathered the army.




5. The Long War
were considered as a very long war for it lasted for more than 200 years. The initial crusades took place in 1095.

6. The Most Successful Crusade
The most successful crusade is the first crusade. It took place in 1095 until 1099. Jerusalem was under the control of armies of Europe after they expelled the Turks.




7. The Second Crusade
In 1147 until1149, the Second Crusade took place, but it was not successful. The Turks earned victory to control the City of Edessa in 1146. Find facts about Coventry Blitz here.


8. The Third Crusade
King Richard the Lionheart of England, King Philip Augustus of France and Emperor Barbarossa of Germany were the leaders in the Third Crusade which took place in 1187 until 1192. For this reason, the Third Crusade is also known as the Kings' Crusade.




9. King Richard
King Richard was considered as the Lionheart of England. Fizzling out with a whimper, the Crusade collapsed because, by the time they arrived at their objective, the western leaders found themselves without sufficient men or resources to resist the still intact armies of Saladin. Although a compromise was negotiated with access for pilgrims to Jerusalem permitted and a Christian foothold maintained in the Middle East, another attempt to take the Holy City would shortly be made the original objective of the Fourth Crusade of 1202-1204 CE.


10. Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III hoped that he was successful to retake Jerusalem. Therefore, he led the Fourth Crusade which took place in 1202 until 1204. However, in a bizarre combination of cock-ups, financial constraints, and Venetian trading ambitions, the target ended up being Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire and the greatest Christian city in the world. Sacked on 12 April 1204 CE, Constantinople was stripped of its riches, relics, and artworks, and the Byzantine Empire was divided up between Venice and its allies. The Fourth Crusade thus gained its infamous reputation as the most cynical and profit-seeking of all the crusades. Check facts about Crimean War here.




Source: Wikipedia - Crusades  |  Facts About The Crusades

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Fact of the Day - FORMULA ONE


The start of the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix

Did you know.... that Formula One is the highest class of international auto racing for single-seater formula racing cars sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile. The World Drivers' Championship, which became the FIA Formula One World Championship in 1981, has been one of the premier forms of racing around the world since its inaugural season in 1950. The word formula in the name refers to the set of rules to which all participants' cars must conform. A Formula One season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix, which take place worldwide on both purpose-built circuits and closed public roads. (Wikipedia)


Wild Facts About Formula 1 Racing That Most Fans Don't Know


F1 has been around since 1950 and has been a driving force in the racing industry. People have dreams of becoming one of the famed Formula 1 racers, but fans have the pleasure of watching the action take place. The cars race by on our screens as we cheer on our favorite teams from the couch, or if we're lucky, from the stands at the track. There are several facts many people probably don't know about Formula 1 racing, but we have uncovered them just for you. Your knowledge of the sport may be vast, but there are some things even the biggest fans don't know. Keep reading to learn 10 wild facts about Formula 1 racing that most fans don't know!


Teams Can Have as Many as 600 People


There might only be about 50 people trackside on race day, but there are so many more team members working behind the scenes to make it happen. There are some teams with close to 600 people working to make their team the best of the best. Every team has engineers, management officials, assembly workers, and more working to support a single franchise. This number can vary from team to team, but it comes at no surprise that such a large number of people work together to try and bring home a victory. 


There are Two Championships


Many assume that drivers are racing for single a championship title, but there is actually a second title to be won called the Constructor's Championship. The teams enter two of the exact same cars under two different drivers, and each car earns points in each of the races. A constructor is the group of people who design these cars and only ten times in history has the award been given to a team who didn't win the driver's award. The constructor's championship may not seem like much, but the prize is a large sum of money that can make or break a team the next season.


A Car Costs $10 to $20 Million


These cars were not just thrown together, but millions of dollars are poured into their creation. The companies generally don't release the exact price of these powerful machines, but it is estimated that an effective car will run someone about $12 million, which gets more expensive every year. The main issue is that the rules about design keep changing from year to year, and the adjustments made to the vehicles are more than just a simple fix. This might seem low when compared to the team's budgets of $400 million, but this dollar amount doesn't take into account the salaries of the workers responsible for putting this vehicle together.


A Driver Generally Loses About 9 Pounds of Water During a Race


The drivers who handle these monster machines can lose between eight and nine pounds of water weight over the course of a race. This is due to the poor ventilation of the vehicles, the stress it puts on their batteries, and the focus they need to drive properly. These figures are usually only seen on extremely hot race days, as an ample air conditioning system isn't on their priority list in a vehicle. Drivers are given a drinking system in their units to keep them from getting dehydrated over the course of a race, and some even choose to relieve themselves in their own cars.


The Steering Wheels Have Over 20 Buttons


The steering wheels on F1 cars are not your run of the mill devices, but they look more like something you would use to play a video game or fly an airplane. They grow more high tech every year and usually, the drivers are directly involved in the creation process. You can control the engine modes, talk to your team, or even set the speed limit. The rubber handles are usually molded to a particular driver's hand and they can take up to eighty hours to put together due to their sheer complexity.


Number 13 Has Only Been Assigned Twice


A number is assigned to every car and driver to help identify who is who in a race. It is a racing tradition not to use the number 13 for any team, but it has been used in Formula 1 two times in its history. It was used in the 1963 Mexico Grand Prix and the 1976 British Grand Prix, but it didn't qualify in the second race. The driver in the race in Mexico was Moisés Solana, a nobody, so both the number and the newcomer shocked the racing world when they showed up at the race. The driver in the British Grand Prix was a woman named Divina Galica, but her time did not allow her to qualify.


2018 Was the Only Season to Start and End With the Same Drivers


2018 was the first and only season where the same group of drivers made it from start to finish throughout the entire season. It is not uncommon for teams to trade out drivers for new ones halfway through the season, but this was the one occasion where no one  It's quite a feat for these drivers to keep their positions, but we never do now what is running through the corporations' heads as they try their hand at winning a championship.


Drivers Focus On Strengthening Their Necks


You might have noticed that many F1 drivers have ridiculously thick necks, but this is what they desire. Their necks can experience up to 5Gs of force while wearing a helmet and other support gear that weighs up to 15 pounds. This means the driver has to be able to withstand 75 pounds of force being applied to their neck as they focus on driving a vehicle. This is no simple feat which is why drivers train to keep their necks and upper backs in the best shape possible through a series of exercises designed to strengthen these muscles.


The Cars Never Refuel


Formula 1 might have pit stops, but unlike Nascar, they do not refuel their vehicles. The cars run on the same tank of gas for the entire race and their team is only permitted to replace the tires. The reason behind this is because it became a safety concern as any mishap with the lines could be harmful to the driver, crew, and spectators. It also took away any advantages some teams might have over others, making it a fair race for all parties involved.


53 Formula 1 Drivers Have Died


This number has dropped astronomically since new safety measures have been implemented, but the most recent death did occur back in 2017 at the Historic Grand Prix. This sport is dangerous and only becomes more so as cars reach new top speeds and gear is upgraded to create better vehicles. Since 2000, we have only seen the loss of four drivers, but the number still brings a tear to our eyes as we imagine the pain their families must be feeling. They died doing what they loved, and we will remember them for the rest of time for their sacrifice in this sport.

Source: Wikipedia - Formula One  |  What Fans Don't Know About Formula One Racing

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Fact of the Day - COLDEST CITIES


Ottawa, Canada


Did you know... that some people live for plunging temperatures, chilly evenings, and snowy mornings. And while a tropical getaway has its own appeal, there's something about a frigid winter holiday that feels magical. From the coldest capital city in the world to entertaining snow and ice festivals, there are many wonderfully icy winter destinations for those who don't mind a little chill.  (The Discoverer)



The World's Coldest Cities

By ROBERT SCHRADER   |  Updated on 07/09/20 

Fact checked by JILLIAN DARA



For the majority of people, a cold front in winter means bundling up with an extra layer, but there are a few places on Earth that drop the temperature to wild extremes. Happily, most winters don't come close to the bone-chilling -90 F/ -68 C temp of the remote village of Oymyakon in Russian Siberia, which is often known as the coldest city on Earth. Temperatures dropped to an all-time low in 1933 to make the town the coldest permanently lived-in human settlement, according to Guinness World Records. From Canada to Kazakhstan, these are the coldest cities in the world, ranked from warmest to coldest, based on average January temperature.


01. Astana, Kazakhstan


Average January temperature: 6.4 F/ -14.2 C

Astana is a modern city defined by futuristic architecture, glittering mosques and a wealth of shopping and entertainment centers. Although the summer months are warm, winters in Astana are long, dry, and exceptionally cold. Extreme lows of -61 F/ -51.5 C have been recorded, although the monthly average for January is 6.4 F/ -14.2 C. Most years, the city’s river remains frozen over from mid-November to early April, makes this one of the coldest cities in the world.


02. International Falls, Minnesota, United States


Average January temperature: 4.4 F/-15 C


This northern Minnesotan city calls itself "The Icebox of the Nation," and with record lows of -55 F/ -48 C and an average seasonal snowfall of 71.6 inches, that claim is well-justified. International Falls has the most days per year with high temperatures below freezing of any incorporated city in the contiguous U.S.—not to mention some spectacular night skies. It is best known for its Canadian border crossing, and as the gateway to nearby Voyageurs National Park. The park is popular for kayaking and hiking in summer, and cross-country skiing and ice-fishing in winter. International Falls might not be the coldest city on Earth, but it's close.


03. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia


Average January temperature: -11.2 F/-24.6 C


Perched 4,430 feet above sea level on the edge of the steppes of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar is the world’s coldest national capital. The city experiences extreme seasons with recorded summer highs of 102 F/ 39 C; however, plunging lows of -44 F/ -42 C during the long winter months give Ulaanbaatar an average annual mean temperature that hovers just below freezing. As well as being the international gateway to Mongolia’s spectacular wilderness areas, Ulaanbaatar boasts a bevy of rich cultural sights ranging from Tibetan-style Buddhist temples to fascinating modern art galleries. Ulaanbaatar is one of the coldest cities in the world in general, in addition to being its coldest capital.


04. Barrow, United States


Average January temperature: -13 F/-25 C


Located above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, Barrow is the northernmost city in the United States. It has the lowest average temperature of all Alaskan cities, exacerbated by frequent cloud cover and extreme winds of up to 60 miles per hour. The sun remains below the horizon for 65 days each year, while on average, only 120 days of the year experience high temperatures that are above freezing. However, despite record lows of -56 F/ -49 C, there are plenty of reasons to visit Barrow. These include its rich Iñupiat culture, the beauty of the surrounding tundra and the opportunity to witness the northern lights in this cold city (which is admittedly not the coldest city on Earth).


05. Yellowknife, Canada


Average January temperature:-18.2 F/-27.9 C


The capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories lies 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Out of the 100 Canadian cities included in a survey by Environment Canada, Yellowknife is the coldest year-round, has the coldest winter, the most extreme windchill and the most extended snow cover season. The lowest temperature ever recorded was -60 F/ -51 C, and yet ironically, it also boasts the sunniest Canadian summer. Rich in gold-rush history, Yellowknife is a mecca for adventurers, offering activities ranging from hiking beneath the midnight sun to dog-sledding, snowmobiling and spotting the northern lights, in addition to its title as one of the coldest cities in the world.


06. Norilsk, Russia

Average January temperature: -22 F/-30 C


Norilsk is the world’s most northerly city with more than 100,000 inhabitants, and one of only three major cities located in the continuous permafrost zone. At 14 F/ -10 C it has the coldest mean annual temperature of any big city, while lows reach extremes of -63 F/ -53 C. in the winter. Norilsk is unlikely to become a major tourist destination, despite having museums, an art gallery and one of the world’s northernmost mosques, as the mining industry has made it one of the most polluted places on Earth and the city has been closed to foreigners since 2001. The coldest cities in the world aren't always the cleanest!


07. Yakutsk, Russia

Average January temperature: -41 F/ -40 C


The capital city of Russia’s Sakha Republic, Yakutsk is located approximately 280 miles south of the Arctic Circle. With average January temperatures of -41 F/ -40 C, Yakutsk is thought to be the coldest city on Earth, at least when major cities are considered. Sights like the Permafrost Kingdom ice museum, the Christian Market and the National Art Museum of the Republic of Sakha, make this city a worthwhile destination for those that don’t mind the chill. Average temperatures of 67 F/ 19.5 C in July make it a summertime possibility for fair-weather travelers.



Source: Facts About the Coldest Cities in the World  |  The World's Coldest Cities

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Fact of the Day - HIJAB


An Asian Muslim girl wears hijab (headscarf).

Did you know... that a hijab is a veil worn by certain Muslim women in the presence of any male outside of their immediate family or sometimes by men, which covers the head and chest. Another interpretation can also refer to the seclusion of women from men in the public sphere, whereas a metaphysical dimension, may refer to "the veil which separates man, or the world, from God". (Wikipedia)


Things You Need to Know About the Hijab

by Jessica Harn  |  October 2017


Hijab is not just a scarf, it is a way of life for many.


The hijab, which is the Islamic expression of modesty and devotion, is more often than not misunderstood and misinterpreted in both society and mass media. What is the hijab, why do people wear it, and why should we care? Here are 10 things you need to know about the hijab before making an assumption about Islam.


The hijab is not just the scarf

Contrary to popular belief, the hijab is not just the physical scarf that many Muslim women choose to wear over their hair. The hijab in its entirely is the belief that as a Muslim, one must try to diligently live every day in respect of God, with modesty, and show devotion to the religion as a whole. By wearing the physical scarf, it is one way of expressing one’s love for Islam. In this way, hijab can also be the way one acts, thinks, and treats others, aside from wearing the physical scarf.




There are many different forms of hijab

The hijab comes in many forms, and in many levels of covering one’s body as well. The shape of the scarf over the head differs from person to person, some choose to cover their faces as well, and some only choose to dress modestly while still showing their hair. These are all forms of hijab, even if it does not look like the stereotypical one sees in the media.


The hijab also applies to men

Because the overarching meaning of hijab is to live one’s live modestly with love for God, the hijab also applies to men. While not as well known outside the Muslim community, men also strive to wear the hijab both physically and mentally every day, the same as Muslim women. The men’s physical hijab however focuses more on covering the lower body and not the hair or upper body.


Who can Muslims take off the hijab for?

The hijab, once worn as a scarf covering one’s hair and covering the body, can only be taken off in front of family members or women. A Muslim woman wearing the hijab will therefore usually refrain from showing her hair to any man not related to her by blood.


The hijab is a choice for the majority of Muslims

Putting aside extreme countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, Muslim women are not always forced to wear the hijab. In fact the majority of them choose to wear it and are in love with their hijab, and are completely free to choose when and how to wear the scarf.




There will never be one uniform reason on why Muslims choose to wear hijab

Although there may be some general similarities to why Muslim women choose to wear the hijab, there will never be one overarching specific reason why that satisfies all. Muslim women choose to wear the hijab for countless different reasons, from personal to religious purposes, from interpretations of the Quran to fashion; the reasons behind every single person’s choice to wear the hijab will differ. But that is the beauty of it, that it is not a universal object that conforms everyone. In fact, it can express every person’s unique strength and belief system.


What the Quran says about the hijab

Although there are many interpretations to what the Quran actually says about the hijab, the most common understanding comes from these verses:

Say to the believing men that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts. That is purer for them” (Quran 24:31)

Oh you Prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and the women of the believers to lengthen their garments. This is better so that they will be recognized and not harmed. God is the Forgiver and the Merciful” (Quran 33:59)


The hijab is not oppressive or restraining

Although this misconception is slowly changing, the hijab is still too often equated with oppression. The hijab is in no way oppressive or restraining to the majority of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, and does not prohibit them from pursuing their dreams, acting the way they want, dressing how they like, or marrying who they love. The hijab is far more often than not a freedom of expression.


Why the hijab is empowering for millions of Muslims across the globe

The important thing to understand about the hijab is that it is in fact extremely empowering for millions of Muslim women. The hijab empowers them with the pride and love for their religion, and the power of modesty also helps many feel stronger. Being modest means forcing people to judge you based on your mind and your heart, and less so on your face or body. This gives courage and self-esteem to many who choose to wear the hijab.




Understanding the hijab is understanding another form of feminism

Finally, because the hijab can be so empowering to so many people, wearing the hijab has become an expression of feminism. Wearing the hijab can mean to many that they have the freedom to choose how to self-express. Because a woman is using self-expression and not being forced to dress a certain way by societal pressures, many women then feel empowered and more equal to men because they are forcing people to judge them on their capabilities and not on how sexualized their bodies can be.


Source: Wikipedia - Hijab  |  Facts About the Hijab

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