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Fact of the Day - AMAZON RIVER

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Did you know... There are no bridges across the Amazon River.
When it comes to the Amazon River, there’s no such thing as water under the bridge. The idiom simply doesn’t apply there, as no bridges cross the Amazon River despite it being at least 4,000 miles long. This isn’t because the idea has never occurred to anyone — it would just be extremely difficult to build any. The Amazon has both a dry season and a rainy season, and during the latter its waters rise 30 feet, causing three-mile-wide crossings to grow by a factor of 10 as previously dry areas are submerged. The river bank itself is also in a near-constant state of erosion due to how soft the sediment it consists of is, and there’s no shortage of debris floating in the water. Beyond all those logistical hurdles, there simply isn’t much use for bridges across the massive river. For one thing, there are few roads on either side of the Amazon that need to be connected. The river is, of course, in the middle of a dense rainforest, the vast majority of which is sparsely populated. Other long rivers have numerous crossings, however: The Nile has nine bridges in Cairo alone, for instance, and more than 100 bridges have been built across China’s Yangtze River in the last three decades. For now, boats and ferries are the preferred method of crossing the Amazon, and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.

 

The Amazon used to flow in the opposite direction.
These days, the river flows east and into the Atlantic. That wasn't always the case, as it used to flow west into the Pacific — and even both directions simultaneously. This was during the Cretaceous Period, between 65 million and 145 million years ago, and was the result of a highland (mountainous area) that formed along the east coast of South America when that landmass and Africa broke apart. The Andes eventually formed on the western half of the continent, which forced the river into its current eastward flow. (Interesting Facts)

 

AMAZING FACTS ABOUT THE AMAZON RIVER WE BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW!

by Times Travel | May 16, 2022

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1. Amazing facts about the Amazon River we bet you didn’t know!
The Amazon river is undoubtedly one of the world’s most significant water bodies. Apart from being the world’s largest, there are many other facts about this massive water body that are both intriguing as well as surprising. For starters, here are some amazing facts about the Amazon river we bet you didn’t know about.

 

2. World’s richest tropical forest

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The Amazon rainforest inhabits the drainage basin of the Amazon river, the reason why this massive rainforest is the world’s richest in terms of biodiversity. As per the records, this rainforest is home to millions of insect species, 2000 mammals and birds, and 40000 plant species, along with some 390 billion individual trees.

 

3. No bridges!
Well, it might be difficult to comprehend how this mighty river has no bridge over it! It’s just the river, lush green forests surrounding it, and endless views of the sky to grace your views. As such, 10 million people living on the banks of this river can get past this river only via boat, whereas lack of infrastructure has helped the region to retain its natural appeal. Also, the lack of bridges is due to the seasonal changes in the Amazon riverbed.

 

4. Its origination

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This river has been in debate regarding its origin and length for a long time. It’s so complicated that there are various sources to cement their records, and arguing that it originated from the Mismi Peak in the Andes of Peru, and even Maranon River to the Ucayali River. With different sources suggesting its claim of origin, it’s worth noting that they are all located in Peru.

 

5. World’s largest river by volume of water
There have been debates regarding the world’s longest river for a long time between the Amazon and Nile; however, the Amazon has no competition when it comes to its size or volume. It is undoubtedly the world’s largest river with an average discharge volume of 209,000 m3/s; this vast freshwater discharge of the Amazon river travels straight into the Atlantic Ocean, which helps in diluting the sea’s salinity for an area of around 2500000 km².

 

6. World’s second longest river

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While the Nile River often gets away with the title of world’s longest river with a length of 6695 km, the Amazon also often disputes that claim. There have been many expeditions led by famous explorers, who set off to measure its length and many found that its total length is greater than that of the Nile river. Yet, there are others who have claimed that the distance of the Amazon river is lesser than that of Nile, which further leads to more confusion, and is still open for future debates.

 

7. Crosses across several countries
The Amazon river crosses through Columbia, Brazil, Venezuela, and Peru, with Brazil holding the largest portion by far. Also, the areas or the Amazon river's watershed receives freshwater from even more countries. Plus, rainfall in Columbia, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela supplies the Amazon with much of its freshwater.

 

8. It once flowed in opposite direction

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This mighty river, at this moment, flows into the Atlantic Ocean, which was always not the case. As per the records, several millions years ago, the river used to flow westward, which changed its course when a tilt in the earth caused the river’s reversed flow eastward. If records are to go by, this change occurred due to the result of erosion along with a series of geological occurrences.

 

 

Source: Facts About the Amazon River | What You Don't Know About the Amazon River

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Fact of the Day - COLLEGE TRADITIONS

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Shoe Tree
Murray State University (Murray, KY)

Did you know... There are strange things happening at college campuses across the country. Students are nailing their shoes to trees, howling at the moon, and kissing statue’s bums with no one giving these weird pastimes a second thought. From the outside looking in, there is no way to explain these odd acts. But, college traditions are a huge part of what takes a bunch of students and makes them a community that lasts a lifetime. (Kaeli Nieves-Whitmore | Last updated on October 8, 2021)

 

Unusual U.S. College Traditions

by Interesting Facts

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When you think of U.S. college traditions, alcohol-fueled antics and Animal House tropes may come to mind, but that wouldn’t be giving college students nearly enough credit. Whether it’s honoring a specific chemical element, chucking broken pianos off rooftops, or celebrating a particularly significant prime number, students have found creative ways over the years to forget the stresses of academic life. These stories showcase 12 of the strangest college traditions found on campuses throughout the United States.

 

1. Dragon Day (Cornell University, Ithaca, New York)

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Every year in March, first-year students at the Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning build a massive dragon to wage battle against a phoenix designed by the school’s College of Engineering students. Known as Dragon Day, the tradition dates back to 1901, when a student at the Ithaca, New York, school named Willard Dickerman Straight proposed a day to celebrate the architecture college. Through the decades, the event evolved alongside a growing rivalry between the architecture and the engineering students, until it eventually took the shape of today’s Dragon Day. It used to be that after the ensuing scuffle between the dragon and phoenix in the Arts Quad, the dragon was burned to a crisp, but this post-battle tradition has since been abandoned.

 

2. Piano Drop (M.I.T., Cambridge, Massachusetts)
A 1972 debate in M.I.T.’s Baker House dormitory started over a simple question: “What are we going to do with this broken piano?” Someone suggested throwing the piano out the window, but student guidelines at the Cambridge, Massachusetts, university forbade throwing anything out of windows. However, an astute M.I.T. student named Charlie Bruno pointed out that the guidelines didn’t say anything about the roof. Fifty years later, M.I.T. students still muscle a broken, irreparable piano up to the roof of Baker House each year and watch it plunge to the ground.

 

3. Dooley Week (Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia)

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A skeleton named Dooley, known as the “Lord of Misrule,” serves as the spirit of Atlanta’s Emory University. The tradition dates back to an October 1899 article in Emory’s monthly literary journal titled “Reflections of a Skeleton,” written from the humorous perspective of a medical skeleton housed in the science room. In 1909, the skeleton appeared in another article in the same literary journal, and took on the name Dooley. Today, Emory celebrates its resident spirit with a weeklong celebration. On one unspecified day during Dooley’s Week each spring, a person dressed as Dooley (or is it Dooley himself?) and accompanied by a coterie of guards dismisses classes for the day, and students celebrate with activities including games and concerts.

 

4. Pterodactyl Hunt (Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania)
A longstanding tradition at Pennsylvania’s Swarthmore College states that once a year the “temporal boundary between the present and 65 million years ago weakens, letting loose vicious pterodactyls and a slew of countless other monsters.” Students — armed with foam bats — defend the campus in a campus-wide LARP (live action role-playing) game of unparalleled chaos and weirdness. The university’s Psi Phi Club organizes the monster showdown to encourage students to stop worrying about grades for a night and instead take up arms against supposed pterodactyl invaders.

 

5. Shoe Tree (Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky)

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On the campus of Kentucky’s Murray State University grows an unusual tree. Its trunk is completely obscured by hundreds of pairs of shoes, but, strangely, the “pairs” don’t match. In a sign of their devotion, couples who met on campus each leave behind one of their shoes, with the date of their anniversary written on the soles, to form a new “pair.” Some alumni couples who procreate return to the shoe tree to add a third baby shoe to their small footwear tribute. The tradition dates to around 1965, and the current tree is the third tree to stand on the spot — the first was struck by lightning and burned down, and the second was removed due to falling limbs.

 

6. The Healy Howl (Georgetown University, Washington D.C.)
Several key scenes in the classic 1973 horror film The Exorcist were shot on Georgetown’s campus, so to celebrate the school’s small part in film history, the film is screened on Copley lawn each year on the night before Halloween. Once the credits begin rolling around midnight, students at the Washington, D.C., college walk to nearby Healy Hall and howl at the moon in an attempt to scare off any ghosts and ghouls from campus.

 

7. Seventh Annual Nitrogen Day (Reed College, Portland, Oregon)

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Nitrogen is the most abundant gas in Earth’s atmosphere, but it’s often overlooked because of its mostly inert properties — you can’t see, smell, or taste it. To give nitrogen its proper due, students at Portland, Oregon’s Reed College hosted the first Nitrogen Day in 1992, which featured grilled hotdogs (because of the nitrates), a ceremony called “In Nitrogen We Trust,” lots of liquid nitrogen freezing, and musical performances from a group by the name Just Say N to O Band. Despite being celebrated for two decades, each year’s event is labeled the Seventh Annual Nitrogen Day due to the element’s venerable position on the periodic table.

 

8. Great Midwest Trivia Contest (Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin)
The “great” qualifier is not hyperbole: Started in 1966, the Great Midwest Trivia Contest is a 50-hour-long trivia marathon held during the last weekend of January at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and broadcast by the student radio station WLFM. The last question of the previous year’s contest becomes the first question the following year — which helps earn it the nickname of the “world’s longest-running trivia contest.” Because teams have access to the internet, the questions are usually quite difficult. For example, past questions have included: “Translate the phrase ‘Bon matin, j’aime le jeu’ from French to Furbish” (as in the language of Furbys) or “What is the binary code for the 13th letter when it is translated?”

 

9. The Pull (Hope College, Holland, Michigan)

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Dating back to 1898, “The Pull” is one of the oldest college traditions in the U.S. It’s exactly what it sounds like: an epic game of tug-of-war. Every fall, freshmen at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, face off against sophomores in a grueling game held across the Black River. Each team — composed of 18 “pullers,” who lay in pits and pull with all their might, and 18 “moralers,” who provide moral support and direction as the team’s “eyes” from above the pits — fight for every inch of rope. Most matches last upwards of three hours. However, the 1956 pull lasted a record-breaking short two minutes and 40 seconds.

 

10. Van Wickle Gates (Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island)
Dedicated in 1902, Brown University’s Van Wickle Gates stand as a proud symbol of the Providence, Rhode Island, campus and its 250 years of history. However, the gates themselves are only open three days each year. At the beginning of fall and spring semesters, the gates open inward towards campus to admit new students, and during end-of-year commencement ceremonies, the gates open outward. According to longstanding tradition, students who walk through the gates before their graduation are doomed to drop out. The university’s marching band members, who must walk through the gates for every commencement ceremony, attempt to avoid this fate by crossing as many limbs as possible or by hopping backwards when passing through the gate.

 

11. Liquid Latex (Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts)

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Each April, students stage a “Liquid Latex” show at Brandeis University, a liberal arts college west of Boston. The students apply copious amounts of liquid latex paint to mostly nude models in various intricate designs and choreograph dances. It’s one of the largest liquid latex performances outside of Brazil’s Carnival celebrations — and it’s just risqué enough to earn an honorable mention in Playboy magazine.

 

12. Number 47 (Pomona College, Claremont, California)

Pomona College has a strange relationship with the number 47. In the summer of 1964, science students at the Claremont, California, college were conducting experiments about the random occurrence of certain numbers in nature. Because 47 is such a large prime number, they used it as a control to see how frequently other numbers occurred. Strangely, the student began seeing the number 47 everywhere: The college is located on the nearby freeway’s exit 47, the college’s motto has 47 characters, the school’s organ has 47 pipes, and so on. Although it was an example of frequency bias — in which our brains are primed to see specific things when we’re actively searching for them — the number made its mark. It even snuck into pop culture: Pomona alum Joe Menosky included many references to 47 when writing episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Today, the college still honors its obsession with the number by holding an annual celebration on April 7, or 4/7.

 

 

Source: The Weirdest College Traditions  |  Facts About College Traditions

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Fact of the Day - HARRY HOUDINI

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Did you know... Though Harry Houdini died nearly a century ago, his mystique has never faded. The famed magician captured the imagination of the world with his death-defying stunts and performances, many of which still baffle modern magicians. Whether he was escaping from a straitjacket while suspended from a crane above the streets or getting out of his famed “Chinese water torture cell” with just moments of air to spare, Houdini had a habit of leaving everyone in awe. And with performances that spectacular, it shouldn’t come as a shock that his life was just as fascinating. Read on for some interesting facts about Harry Houdini. (By Stacy Conradt | Original: Mar 18, 2009 | Updated: Mar 23, 2022)

 

Magical Facts About Harry Houdini

by Interesting Facts

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Jaw-dropping. Death-defying. Head-scratching. Few entertainers reach the heights achieved by early 20th-century illusionist Harry Houdini, who earned renown for his ability to free himself from seemingly impenetrable modes of confinement. The escape artist’s legend endures not only because he constantly introduced new mesmerizing challenges to his repertoire, but also because he was a skilled promoter who used embellishment and misdirection to his advantage. For decades, biographers have had to contend with Houdini's changing accounts of formative events in his life, along with the myths that built up around his celebrated performances. Nevertheless, several truths have emerged, like Houdini himself rising to the surface after one of his patented underwater escapes. Here are seven facts about the life of a man who pushed the boundaries of reality to great effect and everlasting fame.

 

1. Houdini Was Inspired by the “Father of Modern Magic”

According to the researcher John Cox, Houdini's beginnings as a serious stage artist can be traced to his discovery of Frenchman Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, the "father of modern magic." After reading Robert-Houdin's memoir in 1891, the New York City teen — then known as Ehrich Weiss — quit his job as a tie-cutter, changed his name to Harry Houdini, and set his legendary career in motion. However, his eventual mastery of stagecraft seemingly soured Houdini on the tricks of his predecessor, and in 1908, he bluntly denounced the methods of his erstwhile hero with the publication of The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin.

 

2. Houdini's Performances Were a Family Affair

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Although Houdini is largely remembered as a one-man show, a couple of loved ones were prominently involved in his performances. He shared the stage with his younger brother Theo in the early 1890s and later helped establish Theo as a rival illusionist and escape artist named Hardeen, with their manufactured “bad blood” providing extra publicity for their dueling performances. Houdini spent even more time working with his wife, Bess, who faithfully served at his side after taking over for Theo in 1894. Although she reportedly retired in 1908, Bess occasionally rejoined her husband on stage, and once again became a trusted partner by the time he launched his late-career 3 Shows in One act.

 

3. Houdini’s “Mirror” Handcuffs Challenge Cemented His Fame

The performance that solidified Houdini's iconic status took place in March 1904, when the "Handcuff King" agreed to a challenge from the London Daily Mirror which placed him in a pair of special cuffs that allegedly took five years to construct and “could not be picked.” Working his magic from behind a curtain, an exasperated Houdini appeared at one point to stretch, get a glass of water from Bess, and accept a cushion. He later dramatically slashed off his coat with a penknife and emerged triumphant after more than an hour's struggle. As with many of Houdini's tricks, the secret to this famous escape went to the grave with its master, although some have speculated that he simply used a key that was passed along in the cushion or glass of water.

 

4. Houdini Once Dazzled Teddy Roosevelt

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While Houdini could command crowds of 10,000 spectators for his outdoor shows, he likely got one of his biggest kicks from a semi-private performance for Theodore Roosevelt aboard the SS Imperator in June 1914. The illusionist employed a slate trick, a common practice among mediums at the time, where the participant writes down a question and then a “spirit” answers it. Houdini had Roosevelt write down a question, "Where was I last Christmas?" and then placed it between the pages of a book. The book was then reopened to reveal a map of South America and details of the former President's then-unknown trip to a tributary of the Amazon River. Houdini reassured his stunned audience that he wasn’t really communicating with spirits, though he declined to admit that he’d learned of Roosevelt's expedition from editorial friends at the U.K.'s Telegraph, and then used his sleight-of-hand skills to slip the map into the book.

 

5. Houdini's Screen Career Flopped

After years of filming his performances, Houdini went all-in on the burgeoning motion-picture industry as he entered his 40s. He starred in the 15-part serial The Master Mystery (1918) and a pair of feature films, and by 1921, he had also launched an interrelated web of companies to produce, develop, and distribute movies. But while audiences loved his live shows, Houdini failed to find the magic formula with his big-screen offerings, which typically showcased him escaping hairy situations set up by the action-romance script. After The Man From Beyond (1922) and Haldane of the Secret Service (1923) bombed, Houdini abandoned his Hollywood hopes and returned to his tried-and-true methods of entertainment.

 

6. Houdini Almost Died While Being Buried Alive

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Houdini's death-defying stunts occasionally veered off their carefully planned paths, and while the story that he got trapped beneath a frozen river may have ultimately been a fabrication, an attempt at a "buried alive" trick nearly took his life. According to Cox, the incident likely happened when Houdini, preparing for a show in the Los Angeles area in spring 1919, did a test run of being handcuffed and buried beneath six feet of soil. The earth proved weightier than expected, however, and after his cries for help went unnoticed, the almost-suffocated showman managed to dig his way to the surface. Houdini later referred to it in an article for Collier's as "the narrowest squeak of my life."

 

7. Houdini Was Anti-Spiritualist But Also Believed in Communicating With the Dead

Few public figures were more vocal than Houdini when it came to opposing the Spiritualist movement that gained steam in Western culture after World War I. He feuded with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on the topic, undertook a lecture tour to expose the methods employed by mediums, and even testified in congressional hearings about a proposed bill to regulate the fortune-telling business. Yet for all his skepticism, Houdini remained intrigued by reincarnation and the possibilities of communicating with the dead. He and his wife agreed to try to contact one another should death pull them apart, a pact faithfully followed by Bess for a full decade following Houdini's passing on Halloween 1926. As far as we know, there was no evidence of contact.

 

 

Source: Facts About Harry Houdini  |  Facts About Illusionist Harry Houdini

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Fact of the Day - ATACAMA DESERT

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Did you know... The Atacama Desert (Spanish: Desierto de Atacama) is a plateau in South America, covering a 1,000-kilometre (600 mi) strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes mountains. According to estimates the Atacama Desert proper occupies 105,000 square kilometres (41,000 sq mi), or 128,000 square kilometres (49,000 sq mi) if the barren lower slopes of the Andes are included. Most of the desert is composed of stony terrain, salt lakes (salares), sand, and felsic lava that flows towards the Andes.  (by TASHA WILLIAMS | 2017) (Wikipedia)

 

Things You Might Not Know About the Atacama Desert

by Interesting Facts

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The Atacama Desert in Chile, one of the world's oldest deserts, is also one of the driest places on Earth. While parts of Antarctica have never recorded any precipitation, the Atacama’s rainfall statistics are still quite impressive. Until the early 1970s, some portions of the desert hadn't seen rainfall for around 400 years. It’s rare to see heavy rainfall even now (though occasionally flash flooding can occur), and when it does, it's a spectacular sight. The desert blooms, transforming into a beautiful carpet of wildflowers. But even when there isn’t any rain, the vivid colors of its mineral-rich rock and intense hues of its lagoons and salt flats make this a truly breathtaking place. Here are five things you might not know about the Atacama Desert.

 

1. NASA Uses the Desert to Mimic Mars

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When NASA decided to look for life on Mars, it started right here on Earth. In fact, one of the Atacama's most famous valleys – Valle de Marte – translates to Mars Valley due to its resemblance to the red planet. The rough rocky surface, characterized by bumpy nodules of rock salt or halite, is as close as you’ll get without setting off for space. The Atacama Rover Astrobiology Drilling Studies project, or ARADS for short, has conducted a series of experiments in the region, from growing trees to testing vehicles. Unsurprisingly, the Atacama Desert’s otherworldly landscape has made it the choice of several filmmakers, too, including in the British series Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets and the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace (though not as Mars).

 

2. It's One of the Best Places in the World for Stargazing

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This remote, high-altitude locale — reaching elevations of 13,000 feet — also happens to be one of the best on the planet to observe the night sky. On average, the Atacama Desert experiences 330 cloud-free nights every year, a fact not overlooked by the world’s top astronomers. If you’re used to stargazing from a town or city, the sight of so many stars glittering against a pitch-black sky is sure to be jaw-dropping. Stargazing tours depart from the main tourist town of San Pedro de Atacama to an array of nearby telescopes, where an astronomer guide will help you spot constellations, nebulae and even the rings around Saturn. Scientists flock here too. On the Chajnantor Plateau, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, or ALMA for short, boasts a collection of 66 radio antennas — making it the largest radio telescope in the world. Collectively, those antennas are capable of identifying an object the size of a golf ball from a distance of nine miles. The European Southern Observatory operates another two sites in Chile’s Atacama Desert, at La Silla and Paranal. They’re also building what’s known as the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), which should be able to collect 100 million times more light than the human eye, enabling it to search for planets circling stars and help boost understanding of black holes and galaxies.

 

3. Though It's One of the Driest Places on Earth, the Fauna Is Surprisingly Diverse

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Visitors to the Atacama Desert are often taken aback at just how much wildlife can exist in what appears to be such an inhospitable place. But there are places where rainfall is sufficient to support vegetation and animals, including wild Andean foxes, which live off lizards and small rodents. The viscacha, a type of chinchilla, can also be seen. Herders tend flocks of llamas, bringing them down to mountain lakes to graze. Their wild cousins, vicuñas and guanacos, are harder to locate, but migrate towards water sources. Birdlife is also abundant. Some of those dazzling high altitude lakes and salt flats boast colorful flocks of flamingos. Where the desert meets the coast, Humboldt penguins nest in cliffs overlooking the ocean. Hummingbirds visit seasonally, drawn by nectar, seeds and insects. When there’s sufficient water to bring out the blooms on the region’s flowers, you might even spot birds of prey, such as burrowing owls.

 

4. Water Is Harvested From Fog to Grow Crops — And Even Brew Beer

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Around a million people live in the Atacama Desert, many of them making a living from copper or lithium mining or from tourism. But while the annual rainfall is less than one millimeter per year, some residents manage to grow crops via an ingenious method of fog harvesting called “camanchaca.” Near the coast, parts of the Atacama Desert are susceptible to thick fog, which rolls in off the Pacific Ocean. In the 1950s, a scientist called Carlos Espinosa Arancibia came up with the idea of a fog catcher — basically, a net with holes to capture the water vapor, which would collect  and drip down the netting into a channel underneath. From there, the moisture could be piped to where it was needed and used to irrigate crops. Since then, research has continued and at the Atrapaniebla (Fog Catcher) Brewery in Peña Blanca, this precious water has even been used to make beer. The owners claim it is the only beer in the world to be produced in this way.

 

5. It's Home to Mummies That Are Older Than Egypt's

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If you thought the mummies in Egypt’s ancient pyramids were the oldest on the planet, think again. The oldest Chinchorro mummy, the Acha man, dates back to approximately 7020 BCE, several thousand years before the first of the Egyptian mummies. Around a third of these mummies, like Acha man, were mummified naturally, with the dry desert climate helping to preserve the bodies. Later, embalmers replaced internal organs with animal hair and created a clay mask in place of what would have been skin and flesh. Unusually, the Chinchorro people didn’t reserve mummification for royalty, nor did they favor one sex over the other. Archaeologists have recovered 282 Chinchorro mummies from the Atacama since the first discovery just over a century ago.

 

 

Source: Facts About The Atacama Desert  |  Atacama Desert Facts

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Fact of the Day - NATURAL SELECTION

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Did you know... Natural selection is a mechanism of evolution. Organisms that are more adapted to their environment are more likely to survive and pass on the genes that aided their success. This process causes species to change and diverge over time.

Natural selection is one of the ways to account for the millions of species that have lived on Earth. Natural selection is one of the ways to account for the millions of species on Earth. For example, the beetle family Curculionidae (snout beetles) is extremely diverse, comprising an estimated 83,000 species. (By Emily Osterloff)

 

Interesting Facts About Natural Selection

by Victoria Simpson  |  April 22 2020

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You may have heard the term “natural selection” in conversations revolving around science. What is it? The Encyclopedia Britannica defines natural selection as “the process that results in the adaptation of an organism to its environment by means of selectively reproducing changes in its genotype or genetic constitution.” What does this mean? Generally speaking, natural selection is the idea that out of all living things, only some will survive and reproduce. The ones that do are those which have successfully adapted to their environments in order to thrive.  According to this theory, organisms that do not adapt and evolve will eventually disappear from the world. Those that remain on Earth do so because they have adapted at a genetic level, which has allowed their physical features to evolve throughout time, and them to live on. 

 

1. The Theory Was Popularized By Charles Darwin

The theory of natural selection is associated with Charles Darwin. Darwin was an English scholar who focused his work in geology, biology and the natural world.   He famously traveled to the Galápagos Islands in 1832 and lived there for five years.  During that time, he watched the natural world, while collecting specimens and studying them. Darwin went on to collect data about the natural world for twenty more years and in 1859, his groundbreaking book, On the Origin of Species, was published. This shared his ideas about evolution with the world.  Darwin was the first person to state that all the species on Earth have descended from common ancestors. As such, he is seen as the godfather of evolution, of which his theory of natural selection is a cornerstone.

 

2. The Theory Was Developed Before People Knew You Could Inherit Your Mom’s Eyes

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Darwin was the first person to bring the idea of evolution to the masses. Amazingly, he did this before the advent of genetics. When Darwin wrote down his ideas, the scientific world had not yet proposed the modern theory of genetics we know of today.

 

3. It Acts On An Organism’s Physical Characteristics

The theory of natural selection has to do with an organism’s physical body. Humans, for example, are believed by scientists and many others, to have descended from primates. Our coccyx, otherwise known as the tailbone, is a remnant we have from our days as a primate, and is our “vestigial tail”. When primates descended from the trees and began walking upright, a tail was no longer needed for them to balance and get around. Humans have thus evolved to have no tail. The theory goes that, those early ancestors of homo sapiens (us) who stopped developing tails were the ones to survive and reproduce. In this way, they were part of natural selection. 

 

4.  Over Time, Even Slight Advantages Can Become Dominant

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You might think that only those physical traits that present major evolutionary advantages would become dominant in a species. Darwin, however, found this was not the case. Even a trait that slightly improves an organism’s chances of surviving and reproducing, and that can be inherited by its offspring, has a good chance of being passed down through the generations.  For example, if a gene happens to make some squirrels slightly faster than others, it can be passed down. As long as it presents even a tiny advantage and it is heritable, this genetic difference could come to dominate the entire species in generations to come.

 

5. A “Fit” Individual Is One That Reproduces

When you think of someone being strong and having a good level of fitness, you might equate that with living a long time. To be “fit” by Darwin’s definition however, means to be an organism that reproduces. The expression “survival of the fittest” does not reference the survival of the individual, but the continuation of their familial line, when looking at modern evolutionary theory.  Someone might not live a long time, but if they have many children, their genes have a better chance of becoming more common in the generations to come. The individual may still die young by our standards, but their genes have been passed on, and as such, they are therefore “fit”.

 

6. It Can Be Classified By Trait, Genetic Diversity And Life Cycle Stage 

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Natural selection can be classified in many ways. It can be classified according to how it acts on an organism’s traits, on a species’ genetic diversity, and according to the life cycle stage that it acts upon.

 

7. It Can Also Be Classified By Unit Of Selection, And A Competition For Resources

In addition to the factors listed above, natural selection can also be classified by the way it acts on units within species. Is it acting on individuals, or is acting on groups? It can also be classified by the resources the organisms are competing for.

 

8. Natural Selection Is Likely A Cornerstone Of The Origin Of Life

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Some scientists believe that life first appeared in the universe as short self-replicating RNA polymers. When these RNA chains first experienced Darwin’ conditions for natural selection-variation of type, the ability to inherit genes, and to compete for limited resources- some believe that life began to evolve to what it is today.  

 

9. Natural Selection Contributes To Antibiotic Resistance

What do antibiotics have to do with all of this? One word: superbugs. Superbugs are infectious illnesses that could once be treated with antibiotics, but that are no longer killed off by them. The microorganisms have evolved to be able to survive the attacking antibiotics. This is a prime example of natural selection, and evolution, at work.

 

10. Not Everybody Likes Darwin’s Ideas

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As you may be aware, many people in the past and today did not and do not believe in evolution. The science is there, but religious and personal beliefs may cloud people’s support for his theories.

 

 

Source: What is natural selection?  |  Natural Selection Facts

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Fact of the Day - BELGIUM

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Did you know... Belgium has a 500-year-old tradition of shrimp fishing on horseback.
On the western tip of Belgium’s coast, the town of Oostduinkerke keeps alive a tradition more than twice as old as Belgium itself. Since the late 15th century, seaside communities that line the North Sea have practiced a form of shrimp fishing in which horse-riding fishermen, or paardenvisser, trawl the coast’s shallow waters to capture tasty crustaceans. About 500 years after it began, the tradition was recognized by UNESCO as part of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage. But what was once a common sight in the sea’s shallow waters is now a rarity, as only 17 known paardenvissers still exist. Although the method at its most basic is simply dragging a net behind a Brabant draft horse, the process actually employs some clever physics and mechanics. Attached to each net are two metal-and-wood boards that, thanks to water pressure, keep the net continuously open. A metal chain attached to the front of the net sends shockwaves through the sand, causing shrimp to jump into the trap. As the horse drags the net through the surf, water pressure pushes the catch to the back of the net, which makes room for yet more shrimp. Adorned in their typical bright-yellow oilskin jackets, paardenvissers are often seen along Oostduinkerke’s coast during shrimp fishing seasons (from March to May and from September to November), as well as in June when the entire town gathers for the Shrimp Festival. This two-day event is filled with elaborate floats, costumes, and a parade celebrating the town’s crustaceous cultural heritage — one that shows no signs of stopping.

 

In 2020 Belgium broke its own world record for the longest time without a government.
On September 30, 2020, Belgium formed a coalition government 652 days after the last one had collapsed — setting the record for the longest time any country has been without a government during peacetime. This doesn’t mean lawlessness reigned during the long political crisis, however. Instead, an interim caretaker government ran things until an official government took the helm. This not-exactly-laudable world record surpassed the previous record by only 63 days — and that previous record was also held by Belgium, which in 2010-2011 experienced a similar crisis. Although somewhat small, Belgium is notoriously difficult to govern, in part because wealthier, Dutch-speaking northerners and poorer, French-speaking southerners each have their own political parties and views. (Interesting Facts)

 

COOL, FUN, WEIRD & INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT BELGIUM

By: Author Sophie Nadeau | Last updated: 11th January 2022

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Belgium is a beautiful country in Western Europe that’s sandwiched between the Netherlands, France, and Germany. Unfortunately, due to its incredibly famous neighbours, it’s often overlooked by many Europe visitors.  However, you’ll find a whole treasure trove of interesting attractions should you opt to visit the tiny country. Here’s your guide to the best fun, weird, and interesting facts about Belgium.

 

1. Belgium has three official languages

Depending on which region of the country you’re in, you’ll find that people in Belgium will speak French, German, or Dutch (which is known as Flemish in Belgium). There is no language called ‘Belgian’. Many people in the Flemish speaking part of Belgium also have a great level of English.

 

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2. Belgium is technically a Kingdom

Much like the United Kingdom, which lies just across the water, Belgium is technically a Kingdom on account of the fact that it has a royal family. The head of the monarchy is either a King or a Queen and there have been seven Kings since Belgium became its own independent country in 1830. The current King of Belgium has been Philippe since 2013 when he took over from his father who abdicated.

 

3. Belgium can function without a government
One of the most interesting facts about Belgium is that it can function without a government. The country is a federal state, meaning that, while there is still a central government, there are also three regions, each with their own government. The three regions are Wallonia, Flanders, and Brussels-Capital. Due to the complexities of forming a government between the three regions, it can take a long time to form a central (federal government). From 2019-2020, it took a staggering 652 days for a federal government to be formed.

 

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4. There are seven parliaments in Belgium
As previously mentioned, there are a lot of complexities when it comes to the running of Belgium! One of the most interesting facts about the political situation in Belgium is that it is the only country in the world to have 7 parliaments (yes, you read that correctly!) There is a parliament to represent each of the three regions, each of the three communities (French speaking, German Speaking, and Flemish speaking), as well as the entirety of the country as a whole (federal government).

 

5. The national symbol of Belgium is the Manneken pis
One of the most fun facts about Belgium is that the national symbol of the country is a statue of a small urinating boy. Standing at just 70 cm tall, many visitors are drawn to Brussels for one of the most unusual (and free to see) attractions that the Belgian capital city has to offer: the chance to see a small statue of a weeing boy! Often dressed up in various outfits and drawing crowds from near and far for several centuries, the Manneken Pis dates back to the 17th-century. Thanks to the popularity of Manneken Pis, there is now an entire subculture of urinating statues that has emerged as a result of the original tiny statue! As well as a 1980s creation of Jeanneke Pis, a urinating sister for Manneken Pis, there is also a urinating dog statue, Het Zinneke, which was erected in 1998. For even more offbeat attractions to see in the Belgium capital, check out our guide to the best hidden gems of Brussels.

 

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6. Belgian chocolate is incredibly famous
Belgium is known around the world for the excellent quality of its chocolate. In fact, it’s estimated that the 725,000 tons of chocolate produced each year in Belgium means that Belgium is responsible for around 11% of the world’s chocolate production!

 

7. French fries actually come from Belgium!
If there’s one thing you should know about Belgium, it’s that French fries were invented in the country (though definitely don’t refer to them as such when you’re visiting Belgium!) Known as ‘frites’ in French and ‘frieten’ in Flemish (Dutch), fries in Belgium are typically served with a kind of mayonnaise and not ketchup.

 

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8. There are over 1000 beers brewed in Belgium
Of course, when it comes to Belgium facts, it probably hasn’t escaped your notice that there’s plenty to learn about when it comes to food and drink in Belgium. While there are no exact statistics as to how many beers are brewed in Belgium, most estimates suggest that the number is between 1000 and 2000. Another specialty of Belgium is Trappist beer, which can only be called such if it is beer brewed in a monastery. Of the 11 Trappist beers in the world, 6 can be found in Belgium. For an even more in-depth look into beers in Belgium, make sure to visit Delirium Café, which boasts over 2000 types of beers! Much like wine, there is actually a specially shaped glass for each beer. There are some pretty unusual beer glass shapes out there, one of my favorite's being in a bar in Ghent where you have to swap your shoe for the ‘loan’ of the glass during the duration of your drink. For even more information, check out our beginner’s guide to Belgian beer.

 

9. There are lots of types of Belgian Waffles
What may well surprise you on a trip to Belgium is that there are actually lots of different types of Belgian waffles. The most famous types of waffles are the Brussels Waffle (light and in the shape of a rectangular window) and the Liège Waffle (which is sweet and contains large sugar chunks). 

 

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10. The Belgian flag is in different proportions to many other European flags
Whereas the French flag is in 2:3 proportions, the Belgian flag is in 13:15, making it appear more square-like in appearance than many of its nearby country counterparts. The Belgian flag is striped with equal parts black, yellow, and red, which are the national colours of Belgium.

 

11. The capital of Belgium is Brussels
The capital city of Belgium is Brussels, a unique city which is easily reached from many other European capital cities such as Paris and Amsterdam. Thanks to the country’s fairly small size, it’s fairly easy to take day trips from Brussels to the rest of the country.

 

12. Brussels is home to one of the biggest Christmas Markets in Europe
It’s estimated that around 2.5 million visitors head to the Brussels Christmas Markets on an annual basis! Indeed, such is the size of the annual festive event, that the Christmas Market is one interesting Belgium fact is that the Christmas Market is one of the biggest in Europe.

 

 

Source: Facts About Belgium  | Cool Fun Facts About Belgium

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Fact of the Day - NORSE DEITIES

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Did you know.... Norse mythology teems with gods, goddesses, giants, dwarfs, elves, and all kinds of unearthly creatures. With the more well-known gods and goddesses getting a lot of exposure through movies like Thor, and cult TV shows like Supernatural and The Almighty Johnsons, a lot of the lesser-known Norse deities and their fascinating backstories get a bit snowed under. Many of them are just as interesting as your regular Odins and Freyjas. (Johanna Brook | NOVEMBER 12, 2013)

 

Lesser-Known Norse Deities Who Deserve Their Spot in the Pantheon

by Interesting Facts

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Some have days of the week named after them and others are Marvel superheroes, but many Norse gods haven’t been thought about much outside of academic circles since the Icelandic poet and historian Snorri Sturluson wrote about them in the 13th century. That’s a shame, since the pantheon of Norse mythology extends far beyond the likes of Thor and Odin — and includes such deities as the crone who brought the god of thunder to one knee in a wrestling match. (Snorri wrote the Prose Edda, which, alongside the Poetic Edda, whose author is unknown, remains the foundational text for modern understanding of Norse mythology.) Here are five lesser-known mythological figures Snorri wrote about, and why they’re worth knowing — or perhaps even making a movie or comic book — about.

 

1. Elli

Few mythical figures, whether gods or otherwise, can claim to have held their own against Thor. Even fewer can say they beat him, but the giantess Elli is one of those who can rightfully make the boast. Admittedly, there’s some trickery involved in the story. The giantess, considered the personification of Old Age, is said to beat Thor in a wrestling match while the god of thunder visits the giant king Utgard-Loki in his castle. As part of a series of tests of strength, Thor agrees to wrestle Utgard-Loki’s nurse — a challenge he accepts without realizing his opponent’s true identity. Thor struggles throughout the contest until Elli forces him to one knee, at which point Utgard-Loki declares the match over, and commends Thor for faring as well against old age as he did. The tale is recounted in the Gylfaginning section of the Prose Edda, and sadly marks Elli’s only mention in the text.

 

2. Lofn

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Norse mythology tends to evoke images of strength, battle, and violence. One exception is Lofn, a kind of matchmaker who specializes in forbidden love affairs. She’s described by Snorri as “so gracious and good to call on that she gets permission from Alfodr [Odin] or Frigg for the intercourse of people, men and women, although otherwise it would be banned or forbidden.” Also known as “The Comforter,” the goddess of love and gentleness has a special fondness for small and/or helpless beings. “Lof,” meaning “praise,” is derived from her name.

 

3. Víðarr

Sometimes known as the Silent God, Víðarr (also anglicized as Vidar and Vithar) is the son of Odin and the jötunn (a being akin to a giantess) Gríðr — making him Thor’s half-brother. He’s often associated with vengeance, and with good reason: Odin’s ultimate fate is to be killed by the wolf Fenrir during Ragnarök, the “Twilight of the Gods” that’s essentially Norse mythology’s end of the world; Víðarr’s destiny, meanwhile, is to avenge his father by slaying Fenrir. Víðarr is also one of the few gods who survives Ragnarök (at least in some accounts), though little is written about him beyond his actions during these cataclysmic events other than to mention his status as the second-strongest god after Thor.

Víðarr is mentioned in both the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda, with the latter describing his most important deed thusly:

 

Then comes Sigfather’s | mighty son,

Vithar, to fight | with the foaming wolf;

In the giant’s son | does he thrust his sword

Full to the heart: | his father is avenged.”

 

4. Angrboða

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With a name that's been translated as “she who brings sorrow” and “grief-bringer,” Angrboða has a lot to live up to. For better and (mostly) for worse, she does. A giantess (jötunn) and one of the trickster god Loki’s lovers, she ultimately gives birth to three monsters: Fenrir, the wolf fated to kill Odin during Ragnarök; Hel, who rules over the dead; and Jörmungandr, the serpent who encircles the entire world and is Thor’s archnemesis. The mother of monsters is indirectly responsible for some of Norse mythology’s most catastrophic events, though there’s no indication that Angrboða herself is evil — after birthing that terrible trio, she’s mostly known to reside in Jötunheim (the land of the giants) on her lonesome without any contact with either Loki or the monstrous spawn they had together. Some people's children, as they say.

 

 

5. Hoenir

Hoenir — whose name is spelled several different ways (Hönir is also common) — works alongside Odin and Loki to create the first humans, Ask and Embla, by imbuing two pieces of driftwood with “essential gifts” whose exact properties remain a matter of debate centuries later. Here’s how the moment is described in Völuspá (Prophecy of the Seeress), the first poem in the Poetic Edda:

 

They had no breath,

they had no soul,

they had neither hair nor voice,

nor a good appearance.

Odin gave them breath,

Hoenir gave them a soul,

Lodur / Loki gave them hair

and a good appearance.”

 

Here’s where it gets confusing. Hoenir's gift imbues the humans with óðr, an untranslatable Old Norse word that can encompass everything from understanding to poetic inspiration to frenzy on the battlefield. But since óðr is the root of Odin’s name and another Norse tale suggests that humans derive their óðr from Odin himself, some consider this mention of Hoenir to be an extension of Odin himself. Hoenir remains important not despite this ambiguity but because of it — much of Norse mythology is murky and ambiguous, with few figures embodying those qualities quite like he does.

 

 

Source: Unknown Norse Gods And Goddesses  |  Facts About Norse Deities

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - BOOK ENDINGS

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Did you know... Some books are just so amazing that they have to be made into movies! Here are some movies that were adapted from books, but with changed endings. Some books are just so amazing that they have to be made into movies. For those who have zero interest in reading or who process information better through a visual medium, movie adaptations of books are a great way to transmit these stories. It's also a great way for readers to see their books comes to life (literally). Sometimes, a creative team might take a little too much creative license. They might change the setting, tone, or if they're bold, the whole ending. This isn't always bad, but it's a risk. Here are 10 movie adaptations of books that took that risk. Spoilers are ahead!  (SARA CAPANNA | PUBLISHED JUL 29, 2020)

 

Stephen King Movie Adaptations That Changed the Book Ending

By Jake Rossen | September 14, 2022

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In addition to being one of the bestselling authors of all time, Stephen King might be the most-adapted. Beginning with 1976’s Carrie, the Brian de Palma-directed film version of his 1974 debut novel, King has seen dozens of his novels, novellas, and short stories translated for the screen. And while Carrie had high fidelity to the source material right down to the blood-soaked prom night, not all filmmakers opt to go with King’s written finish. Take a look at eight movies that opted to end things differently—but beware of spoilers (and some nasty twists) ahead.

 

1. Cujo (1983)

 

Cujo, King’s 1981 page-turner about a rabid Saint Bernard, was written at the height of the author’s addiction problem, which King has said resulted in him not even remembering writing the novel. Perhaps that made the movie a fresh experience for him. In the book, Donna Trenton and son Tad are trapped in a car with the titular canine prowling outside, eager to devour both of them. In the film, the two survive Cujo’s rampage. In the novel, King takes the bold step of having poor Tad succumb to dehydration while trapped in the car. King seemed fine with the change, noting that the ending to the book resulted in an avalanche of hate mail. “I was very, very active in getting that changed,” Dee Wallace, who played Donna Trenton, told Den of Geek in 2007. “Actually, Stephen King wrote us and said ‘Thank God you changed the end, I never got more hate mail than when I killed the boy at the end of Cujo.’ And at least you have the three-quarters of the people who come to see this movie that haven’t read the book. You cannot ask a theatre audience to go through and invest all this love and then pulling for this little boy to be saved and then rip that away from them, in a movie. And obviously it doesn’t work in the book.”

 

2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

 

Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the King novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” from 1982’s Different Seasons collection took some time to catch on. Initially a box office disappointment, it won audiences over thanks to home video and plenty of cable airings, but it’s possible King’s original ending might have left them cold. In Shawshank, an accountant named Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of killing his wife. Andy occupies his time by befriending Red (Morgan Freeman) and plotting his escape. After years of effort, he manages to dig his way out. In the novella, Red is released after being paroled and sets out to find Andy, who has given Red hints as to his whereabouts. In the film, Darabont is more explicit, with the two characters reuniting onscreen. The change came after studio executives at Warner Bros. encouraged the director to leave King’s more ambiguous ending—which Darabont had originally intended to use—behind.

The original script ended with Red on the bus, uncertain but hopeful about the future, that’s the way the [King] story ended,” Darabont said at a 2014 anniversary screening. “[Studio executives told me], ‘After two-plus hours of hell, you might owe them that reunion.’”

 

3. The Stand (2020-2021)

 

The Stand (1978), King’s longest book to date (the unexpurgated 1990 version runs almost 1200 pages), is potent enough to act as a blunt force object. So is the prose: Following a pandemic that leaves most of the world dead, a band of survivors crosses the country to confront Randall Flagg, a demonic entity who wants to rule what’s left. The 1994 limited series adaptation on ABC was largely faithful to King’s work, but the 2020-2021 version that streamed on CBS All Access (now Paramount+) was a bit different. While it didn’t radically alter the ending, it took a few narrative steps forward. In the novel, after Flagg is vanquished thanks to a nuclear warhead, survivor Stu Redman returns home to his love, Frannie, and their baby. In the 2020-2021 series, Frannie (Odessa Young) suffers an accident caused by a resurrected Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård), who makes her an offer: He’ll spare Stu (James Marsden) and their child if she agrees to host his malevolent spirit inside of her. She declines, but all is not lost: A force for good—possibly a reincarnated Mother Abigail—heals her, leaving Stu’s family intact. King approved of this new coda. In fact, he wrote the new ending.

 

4. The Shining (1980)

 

King was no great fan of Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of his 1977 novel. He was against the casting of star Jack Nicholson because of his well-known, Oscar-winning performance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and felt it tipped off the audience, so to speak, about his character's eventual descent into madness. But perhaps the biggest change comes at the climax. In the book, Jack Torrance exerts enough control over the Overlook Hotel to allow his son Danny to escape. Once Danny and his mother Wendy are safe, the hotel’s boiler explodes, killing Jack and decimating the grounds. Kubrick was concerned an explosion would be too pat. Instead, he conceived of an ending where Jack freezes to death outside after pursuing Danny in a topiary maze and later appears in a photograph taken at the hotel in 1921. Kubrick also revised his own climax: Originally, he had a scene of Danny and Wendy in a hospital to reassure the audience they were all right. A ball rolls onscreen—one seen in the hotel—that hints that perhaps they’re not. While the scene was included at critic screenings, Kubrick trimmed it out of the film just before its release. You won’t see it in any Blu-ray extras or on YouTube, though. Kubrick, who did not want his film reedited, destroyed extraneous material from the film.

 

5. Doctor Sleep (2019)

 

King’s 2013 sequel to The Shining had to confront the author’s ending to the first book, which destroyed the Overlook. A now-adult Danny Torrance, who is still afflicted with “the Shining,” can’t return to the hotel; instead, he faces off against psychic nemesis Rose the Hat at her group’s camp site, which is on the hotel’s grounds. His dead father, Jack, manifests to help him ward her off. But the Overlook property proved so iconic that director Mike Flanagan opted to abide by the continuity of the 1980 Stanley Kubrick film when adapting the sequel. In the 2019 film, the hotel is still standing, which means Danny (Ewan McGregor) can make his last stand within its haunted hallways against Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson). Jack Torrance isn’t a Jedi-like apparition, but he does appear near the end as the hotel’s bartender to strike up a conversation with Danny. In the film, he’s played by Henry Thomas of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial fame.

 

6. It Chapter Two (2019)

 

Published in 1986, It—the story of Pennywise, a demonic force who takes the shape of a clown to terrorize children in Derry, Maine, every 27 years—is often thought of as King’s ultimate achievement. The novel was adapted into a 1990 television miniseries and two films (released in 2017 and 2019, respectively) that split the book in half. In the book’s finale, It takes the final form of a giant spider, while the now-adult members of the Losers Club reflect on their childhood memories before facing it again. The 2019 film does away with the spider—though Pennywise does shape-shift into an arachnid-like creature, it’s not his true form—and passes up on an uncomfortable flashback of the friends having an underage sexual awakening, which is in the original book.

 

7. Children of the Corn (1984)

 

King’s short story, which was culled from 1978’s Night Shift collection, is a potent lesson in juvenile delinquency: Kids rule a rural Nebraska town with bloody consequences for any adults who happen to pass through. That means trouble for traveling couple Burt and Vicky (played by Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton in the 1984 film adaptation). In the short story, the child cult butchers Vicky and removes her eyeballs, then her body is presented as a sacrifice to the cult's evil figurehead, He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Burt is also killed. In the film, the couple manages to escape—eyeballs intact.

 

8. The Mist (2007)

The most infamous example of reworking King’s vision comes at the conclusion of 2007’s The Mist, another Frank Darabont-directed adaptation taken from 1985’s Skeleton Crew novella. In The Mist, artist David (Thomas Jane), his son Billy, and others are trapped in a grocery store, an enveloping mist obscuring a menagerie of monsters outside.

At the end of the novella, David and a few survivors are able to make a break for it, and there’s some optimism that hope lies somewhere in the fog. But in the film, Darabont adds a healthy dose of cruelty: Fearing they won’t make it after their car runs out of gas, David opts to shoot his son and the others before they die horrible deaths. Moments later, a military convoy appears out of the mist. If he had waited, David would have found salvation. It’s the opposite of Cujo’s change, and proof that the big screen isn’t always a safe harbor for the author’s ill-fated characters.

 

 

Source: Movies Based On Books That Changed The Ending  |  Ste[hen King Movies-Different Book Endings

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Fact of the Day - FAMOUS HATS

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Did you know... Hats have been used throughout history to convey meaning—whether as a status symbol, a political statement, or simply for sartorial style. Such is the power of a good hat that certain styles have become intrinsically linked with just one famous individual, and inevitably become the first item you reach for when trying to portray that character at a costume party. Below are eight world famous historical hats and the people who wore them. (By Claire Cock-Starkey | Oct 6, 2016)

 

The Stories Behind 7 Famous Hats From History

by Interesting Facts

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"A person carries off the hat,” leading milliner Philip Treacy (who’s made hats for British royals, Lady Gaga, and Kate Moss, among others) once said. "Whether it’s a topper adopted by the average person or a custom piece worn by a celebrity, a hat reflects personality, style, and practicality. Here are seven popular hats that have become linked to their most famous wearers."

 

1. Jackie Kennedy’s Pillbox Hat

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Small, round, and rigid, usually with a flat or slightly rounded top, the pillbox hat emerged on American women’s heads sometime in the early 20th century, but First Lady Jackie Kennedy made them her own. During John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign, she wore a white pillbox by Givenchy in front of a crowd of 2 million people. She later sported pillboxes by Halston, Oleg Cassini, and other American designers, and established a new and modern look for mid-century America. The whereabouts of the pink pillbox she wore when her husband was assassinated in 1963 — an indelible hat in American memory — are unknown.

 

2. George Washington’s Tricorn Hat

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Whether or not you stuck a feather in it and called it macaroni, the tricorn hat was a staple on patriots’ heads during the American Revolution. The three-cornered, low-crowned hat grew out of the habit of military officers pinning up (or “cocking”) their broad-brimmed hats on three sides to funnel rain away. They became de rigueur for fashionable men in the late 17th and 18th centuries in Europe and the American colonies. The tricorn was usually worn with one point forward and often decorated with lace, braids, or feathers. George Washington wasn’t the only revolutionary to don one, but he was likely the most recognizable among his countrymen.

 

3. Napoleon’s Bicorne Hat

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A close relative of the tricorn hat was the bicorne hat — a broad-brimmed, low-crowned hat cocked on two sides. Most military personnel in the 18th century wore one of the corners forward, but Napoleon sported the pinned side to the front, believing that it made him appear approachable. One of the most reproduced portraits of the general, Jacques-Louis David’s Napoleon Crossing the Alps, depicts him wearing his signature chapeau. Napoleon remains so identified with the style that several of his bicornes have sold at auction for stratospheric prices. The one he is believed to have worn during his successful 1807 campaign sold for $1.4 million in September 2021.

 

4. Abraham Lincoln’s Top Hat

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As tricorn hats fell out of fashion, the top hat (stove-pipe hat) took over. Championed by Regency dandy Beau Brummel, a confidante of the future George IV, top hats were tall, flat-topped, narrow-brimmed, and originally made of beaver felt; they were possibly modeled on the 17th-century capotain or “Pilgrim hat.” Silk top hats became more common by the mid-19th century and were worn by all respectable Victorian men. Abraham Lincoln was not alone in wearing top hats to public events, but at 6 feet and 4 inches tall, plus an 8-inch hat, he really stood out in a crowd. The top hat Lincoln was wearing when he was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre is one of the Smithsonian’s most treasured artifacts.

 

5. Davy Crockett’s Coonskin Cap

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David Crockett — military scout, Tennessee politician, and member of Congress — had a talent for spinning tales about his experiences as a frontiersman. Following his death at Texas’s Alamo in 1836, numerous books, plays, and pamphlets embellished his skills as a fearless hunter and sharpshooter in a raccoon-skin cap. Whether Crockett ever wore one is debatable. But when Disney released the 1955 live-action film Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, starring Fess Parker in a coonskin cap, American boys went bananas for the rustic toppers. At the height of Crockettmania, stores sold about 5,000 faux-fur coonskin caps a day.

 

6. Al Capone’s Fedora Hat

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Fedoras emerged in the 1880s, possibly based on an earlier Alpine design of soft felt with a center crease and a pinch at the front. Its debut closely followed the premiere of Victorien Sardou’s play Fédora, and the name got attached to the hat. But fedoras really entered the style pages in the 1920s, when flashy gangsters like Al Capone were rarely pictured without them in newspapers and newsreels. Fedora fans copied Capone’s habit of wearing them tilted on his head. Even after Prohibition ended in 1933, the style remained associated with tough guys and shady types in novels by Raymond Chandler and film noir pictures.

 

7. Winston Churchill’s Homburg Hat

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One of the many hat styles popularized by European royalty, the homburg originated in the German spa town of Bad Homburg in the 1880s. Some historians believe the form, with a single crease at the crown, a wide grosgrain band, and a flat brim with curled edges, was based on a traditional hunting hat from the region. The homburg gained worldwide attention when the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) wore them, but the person most associated with homburgs is surely Winston Churchill. The British prime minister wore a gray homburg to the 1943 conference with President Franklin Roosevelt in Casablanca, where the two leaders hashed out a plan to end World War II. Churchill and the homburg remained linked in the public imagination thereafter.

 

 

Source: World-Famous Historical Hats | Facts About Famous Hats

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Fact of the Day - UNDISCOVERED SHIPWRECKS

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Did you know... Shipwrecks are the stuff of movie magic. Nothing makes for better blockbuster fodder than a giant glamorous vessel crashing into an iceberg and sinking to the bottom of the ocean—just ask James Cameron. However, these incidents on the high seas are just as much fact as they are fiction. And while technological advancements and the concerted efforts of treasure hunters have led to the discovery of many of the greatest ships lost at sea (the Titanic included!), there are still dozens out there. From Christopher Columbus' Santa Maria to "Australia's Titanic," here are some of the most famous shipwrecks that have yet to be discovered. (By ALEX DANIEL | AUGUST 30, 2019)

 

Valuable Wrecks Still Waiting to Be Found
By Daniel Stone | Aug 16, 2022

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There are roughly 3 million shipwrecks in Earth’s oceans, lakes, and rivers, according to an astounding estimate by UNESCO. Many wrecks lie where you’d expect them to be, like the World War II wreck-yards of the West Pacific and North Atlantic. And there are wrecks where you’d never think, including the desert of Namibia and under cornfields in Kansas. There are even wrecks in New York City: After the twin towers fell on 9/11, excavators found a shipwreck under the rubble from 1773—they dated the ship by examining the rings in its wood planks. Like celebrities, there are the A-list shipwrecks. The Titanic, the Lusitania, and the Endurance have their own films, books, fan clubs, museum exhibits, and consumer products. But there’s another class of wrecks: the missing, forgotten, and the quietly but eye-popping valuable. Several in this class have been missing for centuries, some carrying millions (or billions) in lost treasure. The key to finding them, according to famed wreck hunter David Mearns, isn’t to laboriously search the seabed, but to do months or years of research on every detail of a ship, including how it was built, where it went down, and any eyewitness accounts. Anyone can get started from their house, Mearns told me in an interview for my new book, Sinkable: Obsession, the Deep Sea, and the Shipwreck of the Titanic. Here are six of the world’s most lucrative and culturally valuable lost wrecks still waiting to be found.

 

1. Flor de la Mar  // 1511 

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Replica
The centerpiece of Portuguese military power in 1502, the Flor de la Mar was effectively a looting ship. For a decade, the vessel made trips from Portugal to Ormuz (in today’s Iran), Malacca (in Malaysia), and Goa (in India), bringing arms and muscle to colonized people, and returning to Portugal with gold and other valuables. In 1511, when it was returning back from Malacca overloaded with 400 men and thousands of pounds of gold—believed by some to be worth more than $2 billion today—the Flor de la Mar sank during a storm near Sumatra. If the 500-year-old rumors are true, the Flor de la Mar could be the most valuable shipwreck on Earth. There’s just one wrinkle: The high-value cargo has caused Portugal, Malaysia, and Indonesia to all claim rights over the future bounty, leaving a much smaller slice for the enterprising explorer who finds it.

 

2. S.S. Waratah // 1911

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The S.S. Waratah was a British passenger ship often called Australia’s Titanic—but it launched in 1908, four years prior to the actual Titanic. It had capacity for 750 passengers and 150 crew and made one round-trip voyage from London to Sydney. But on its second voyage, the ship was reportedly overweighted and prone to small fires breaking out from an uninsulated boiler. It disappeared somewhere near Cape Town, South Africa, in a historic shipwreck graveyard known for rough waters, bad weather, and rocky outcrops. Made more famous by its parallels to the Titanic—both ships were considered technologically advanced, geared toward the wealthy, and wholly unsinkable—efforts to find the Waratah picked up in the 1980s. Groups of researchers have made at least six expeditions around the presumed wreck site with no luck. “I‘ve spent 22 years of my life searching for the ship,” Emlyn Brown, the chief wreck hunter, told The Guardian when he finally gave up in 2004. “I’ve exhausted all the options. I now have no idea where to look.”

 

3. S.S. Arctic // 1854

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Launched in 1850, the Arctic was luxurious and quick—able to cross the Atlantic in 10 days. The private ship was built with a generous subsidy from the U.S. government to help the American-based Collins Line compete with the British Cunard Line. Four years into its transatlantic service, the Arctic collided one night in 1854 with a French steamer near Newfoundland (incidentally, not far from where the Titanic disappeared along the same route heading in the opposite direction). At the time of its sinking, the Arctic was a tragedy that killed almost 300 people. But it was made worse by the horrifying revelation that the crew had scrambled into the too-few lifeboats and all the women and children on board had died. The Arctic tragedy undercut the longstanding belief—which a 2012 study found to be largely a myth—that women and children are traditionally rescued first. Usually they’re last, if they’re rescued at all. Despite this embarrassing and avoidable tragedy, no inquiry was ever held in the U.S. or UK, and neither the ship nor its doomed passengers have ever been found.

 

4. Merchant Royal // 1641
The most lucrative wreck recovered to date was the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, a Spanish galleon carrying so much gold that it took two months to load the riches evenly before the ship set sail in 1622. When it was found by bombastic wreck-hunter Mel Fisher in 1985 off the Florida Keys, the gold was valued between $400 and $450 million. The Atocha’s hoard, however, would be dwarfed by that of the Merchant Royal, an English ship believed to be carrying 100,000 pounds of gold worth more than $1 billion today. It sank somewhere around the Isles of Scilly near Cornwall, England. In 2007, members of a professional salvage company working under the codename Black Swan Project thought they had found the ship. Their haul—a disappointing $500 million, considering they were expecting more than twice that—raised questions about the wreck’s true identity. The vessel was later deemed to likely be the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, a galleon that sank in 1804—meaning the Merchant Royal and all its gold may still be sitting somewhere near Land’s End, England, waiting to be found.

 

5. Santa María // 1492

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The famous trio of ships—the Niña, Pinta, and the Santa María—carried Christopher Columbus on his ocean crossing to Hispaniola (modern-day Haiti) in 1492. But only the first two ships made it back to Spain. According to reports of the voyage, tension grew between Columbus and Juan de la Cosa, a cartographer and the Santa María’s on-board master. Things came to a head when the Santa María ran aground near Hispaniola on Christmas day 1492. Columbus blamed de la Cosa and considered asking the queen to charge him with treason and abandonment of the ship. (She didn’t.) The ship was lost and has never been found. Based on its cultural value alone, explorers have made repeated expeditions to find the Santa María. One archaeologist thought he had located the wreck in 2014, but UNESCO nixed the finding, saying it was a different ship based on its copper fastenings, which weren’t used until centuries after Columbus.

 

6. Amelia Earhart’s Airplane // 1937

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One of the 20th century’s most enduring mysteries isn’t a shipwreck, but the wreck of an airplane lost at sea. Aviator Amelia Earhart made history repeatedly in her long-haul flights across the Atlantic, and as the first person to ever fly between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. But in 1937, on the final leg of her attempt to circumnavigate the world, her plane—with navigator Fred Noonan and herself in the cockpit—went down in the Pacific. Earhart and Noonan were declared lost at sea and presumed dead, but the plane wreckage has never been found. Decades of explorers have longed to find the wreckage, which may lead to Earhart’s existing remains, and thus solve the century-old mystery of what really happened. In 2017, National Geographic partnered with Bob Ballard, the man who found the Titanic, to search for conclusive evidence. Based on radio and logbook data, Ballard and the team narrowed the search area to the waters off the small Western Pacific island of Nikumaroro. But DNA testing of evidence from the area was inconclusive, and Earhart’s mystery endures.

 

 

Source: The Most Famous Shipwrecks Still Waiting to Be Discovered  |  Facts About Shipwrecks Yet To Be Found

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Fact of the Day - CURRENCY

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Did you know... The Constitution only authorized the federal government to issue coins, not paper money.
Article One of the Constitution granted the federal government the sole power “to coin money” and “regulate the value thereof.” However, it said nothing about paper money. This was largely because the founding fathers had seen the bills issued by the Continental Congress to finance the American Revolution—called “continentals”—become virtually worthless by the end of the war. The implosion of the continental eroded faith in paper currency to such an extent that the Constitutional Convention delegates decided to remain silent on the issue. (CHRISTOPHER KLEIN | UPDATED:AUG 22, 2018 | ORIGINAL:FEB 25, 2013)

 

Forgotten Pieces of U.S Currency

by Interesting Facts

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In an increasingly cashless society, all physical currency has become comparatively rare: It’s never been easier for most people to simply use their debit card, Venmo, or saved payment information to complete most of their purchases. Even so, approximately $1.87 trillion in physical U.S. currency is still in circulation — the vast majority of which naturally consists of the six most common notes ($1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100). They weren’t always the most common, however, as America has produced many now-rare forms of currency throughout its financial history. Here are six of them.

 

1. Half-Cent Coin

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The next time you’re charged a fraction of a penny for something and bemoan the fact that you don’t have exact change, feel free to curse fate — and the U.S. Mint — for discontinuing the half-cent coin way back in 1857. Making the humble penny look like big money in comparison, it was introduced as a result of the Coinage Act of 1792 and had five different designs during its run. All of them were variations of Liberty herself, and the coin was made of 100% copper. A fraction of a cent is referred to as a mill (₥), a now-abstract unit of currency that lives on in accounting (and occasionally gas prices); mills were usually used for small purchases such as sales tax before losing most of their real-world value.

 

2. $2 Bill

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No childhood was complete without a random $2 bill stored away for a rainy day, especially if it was gifted to you by a relative. Every kiddo’s favorite banknote featured Thomas Jefferson on the front (or obverse, as it’s called) and John Trumbull's painting "Declaration of Independence" on the back (reverse), with the U.S. Currency Education Program estimating that there are still 1.2 billion in circulation. A lesser-known fact is that the note is actually still issued by the Federal Reserve Board, which orders new currency from the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) every year. Unlike the bills you're more familiar with, however, the $2 bill is only ordered every two to four years. There's a good reason for that: most of these orders are to replace notes that have received too much wear and tear to remain in everyday use; because $2s aren't used as often, they don't need to be replaced as often. In some ways, this is actually a self-fulfilling prophecy: because people think the bills are uncommon, they treat them that way, inadvertently ensuring that they maintain this rarefied status.

 

3. $500 Bill

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Though it hasn’t been in circulation since 1969, the $500 bill is unique among discontinued currencies in that it's still considered legal tender. First introduced on a federal level in 1862, the high-denomination bill featured everyone from John Quincy Adams and William Tecumseh Sherman to Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley throughout its tenure. Now a sought-after collector’s item, it’s worth much more than $500 if you can get your hands on one.

 

4. Three-Cent Coin

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The problem with three-cent stamps is that there's no way to buy them without receiving change back. Prepare to be amazed, dear reader, as such a coin used to exist from 1851-1889: the noble three-cent piece, whose convenience was unmatched in antebellum America. They were made of silver, which helped lead to their downfall — that precious metal was frequently hoarded during the Civil War, meaning that the three-cent coin wasn't as widely circulated as it was intended to be. Then, when the price of stamps was eventually increased, our intrepid hero’s utility was drastically reduced and it stopped being produced.

 

5. $5,000 Bill

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There’s rare, and then there’s the $5,000 bill. Originally created to help fund the Revolutionary War, this fine specimen didn’t come into official government use until 1868, when another history-altering war was raging. It was blessed with a portrait of our fourth president (or James Madison, as his friends called him) and recalled by the 37th, one Richard Nixon, in an effort to prevent money launderers from carrying out their ill deeds with its assistance. Only a few hundred remain, making them as valuable as they are rare.

 

6. $100,000 Bill

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Everyone knows that the $100 bill is the highest denomination of U.S. currency. What the $100,000 bill presupposes is … maybe it isn’t? The note, which featured an image of Woodrow Wilson on the obverse, was never issued for public use or circulated into the general economy. Rather, the gold certificate was created at the height of the Great Depression (1934, to be precise) by the BEP for Federal Reserve Banks to make transactions with one another. Only 42,000 were made, and they can't be held by collectors due to legal reasons, but institutions like the Smithsonian and the Museum of American Finance are allowed to exhibit them.

 

 

Source: Things You May Not Know About American Money  |  Facts About Forgotten U.S. Currency

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Fact of the Day - BLACKCURRANTS

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Did you know... Growing black currants was once banned in the U.S.
In the United Kingdom, black currants are a go-to flavor for candies, beverages, and some medications, but fewer than an estimated 1% of Americans have ever sampled the fruit. The small, purple-black berries (which taste like a blueberry-cranberry blend) grow in clusters on the Ribes nigrum bush, and were once enjoyed by American colonists and early Presidents. In 1899, an estimated 12,000 acres of commercial farmland were dedicated to this crop, which was harvested for wine, baked into pies, and preserved as jam — but the success of American black currants was short-lived, thanks to an ecological snafu. In the early 1900s, researchers discovered that pine trees near black currant plantings often became sick with a type of fungus known as white pine blister rust. The disease causes lesions on branches and trunks; as the blisters spread, the tree begins to die, and its evergreen needles turn a rusty hue. In an effort to protect the white pine logging industry — one of the most valuable in the nation at the time, and worth up to $1 billion — Congress banned black currants in 1911, going so far as to destroy currant farms with herbicides. Five decades later, botanists lobbied in favor of a return to currant farming, arguing that newly developed bushes were disease-resistant and posed little risk when planted away from pine trees. But despite federal approval for growing the currants in 1966, many states upheld their bans. Connecticut’s 1929 law fined anyone in possession of currant plants up to $25 until 1988, and New York — the top currant producer of old — held out until 2003. Today, black currants are making a slow comeback, with berry farmers in New York, Minnesota, Connecticut, and elsewhere hoping these fast-growing vines will be restored to their former glory.

 

THINK TWICE
Bristlecone pine trees keep their needles for 30 years.
Pine trees are known among arborists for their longevity, with some species living 300 to 500 years. Bristlecone pines are especially long-lived, with the slow-growing elders of the species reaching nearly 5,000 years old. Bristlecones are in no rush to grow, a feature that helps these hardy conifers survive in challenging climates. Primarily found among the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountain ranges, the trees survive despite short growing seasons, often intensely cold temperatures, rocky soils, and winds that form their trunks and branches into gnarly twists. To thrive, the trees conserve much of their energy by retaining their needles — unlike other pine trees that replace their bristly leaves every two to seven years, bristlecones hold onto their needles for about 30 years or more. (Interesting Facts)

 

Blackcurrant Facts for Kids

by KidsKIddle

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Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) is a small, bitter-tasting fruit. It can be found in central and northern Europe and northern Asia. Blackcurrant has a lot of vitamin C in it. Blackcurrant gets its name from its dark color. It is also used to make jelly, ice cream, and cordial. Blackcurrant is a popular flavor in the United Kingdom. Blackcurrants are also used in salads and in baking, similar to raisins.

 

History
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The blackcurrant is native to northern Europe and Asia. It was cultivated in Russia by the 11th century when it was present in monastery gardens and also grown in towns and settlements. Cultivation in Europe is thought to have started around the last decades of the 17th century. Decoction of the leaves, bark or roots was also used as traditional remedies. During World War II, most fruits rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, became difficult to obtain in the United Kingdom. Since blackcurrant berries are a rich source of the vitamin and blackcurrant plants are suitable for growing in the UK climate, the British Government encouraged their cultivation and soon the yield of the nation's crop increased significantly. From 1942 onwards, blackcurrant syrup was distributed free of charge to children under the age of two, and this may have given rise to the lasting popularity of blackcurrant as a flavouring in Britain. In Britain the commercial crop is completely mechanised and about 1,400 hectares of the fruit are grown, mostly under contract to the juicing industry. Commercially, most large-scale cultivation of blackcurrants is done in eastern Europe for the juice and juice concentrate market.

 

Currant and gooseberry output in 2005

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Blackcurrants were once popular in the United States as well, but became less common in the 20th century after currant farming was banned in the early 1900s, when blackcurrants, as a vector of white pine blister rust, were considered a threat to the U.S. logging industry. The federal ban on growing currants was shifted to jurisdiction of individual states in 1966, and was lifted in New York State in 2003 through the efforts of horticulturist Greg Quinn. As a result, currant growing is making a comeback in New York, Vermont, Connecticut and Oregon. However, several statewide bans still exist including Maine, New Hampshire, Virginia, Ohio, and Massachusetts. Since the American federal ban curtailed currant production nationally for nearly a century, the fruit remains largely unknown in the United States, and has yet to regain its previous popularity to levels enjoyed in Europe or New Zealand. Owing to its unique flavour and richness in polyphenols, dietary fibre and essential nutrients, awareness and popularity of blackcurrant is once again growing, with a number of consumer products entering the U.S. market.

 

Uses
Culinary uses

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In Lithuanian cuisine, Juodųjų serbentų pyragas, or blackcurrant pie, is a popular dessert.


The fruit of blackcurrants can be eaten raw, but it has a strong, tart flavour. It can be made into jams and jellies which set readily because of the fruit's high content of pectin and acid. For culinary use, the fruit is usually cooked with sugar to produce a purée, which can then be passed through muslin to separate the juice. The purée can be used to make blackcurrant preserves and be included in cheesecakes, yogurt, ice cream, desserts, sorbets and many other sweet dishes. The exceptionally strong flavour can be moderated by combining it with other fruits, such as raspberries and strawberries in summer pudding, or apples in crumbles and pies. The juice can be used in syrups and cordials. Blackcurrants are a common ingredient of Rødgrød, a popular kissel-like dessert in North German and Danish cuisines. Blackcurrants are also used in savoury cooking because their astringency creates added flavour in many sauces, meat and other dishes and they are included in some unusual combinations of foods. They can be added to tomato and mint to make a salad, used to accompany roast or grilled lamb, used to accompany seafood and shellfish, used as a dipping sauce at barbecues, blended with mayonnaise, used to invigorate bananas and other tropical fruits, combined with dark chocolate or added to mincemeat in traditional mince pies at Christmas. Japan imports $3.6 million of New Zealand blackcurrants for uses as dietary supplements, snacks, functional food products and as quick-frozen (IQF) produce for culinary production as jams, jellies or preserves.

 

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Blackcurrant Pie

 

Beverages
The juice forms the basis for various popular cordials, juice drinks, juices and smoothies. Typically blended with apple or other red fruits, it is also mixed with pomegranate and grape juice. Macerated blackcurrants are also the primary ingredient in the apéritif liqueur crème de cassis, which in turn is added to white wine to produce a Kir or to champagne to make a Kir Royale. In the United Kingdom, blackcurrant cordial is often mixed with cider (hard cider) to make a drink called "cider and black". If made with any common British lager beer, it is known as a "lager and black". The addition of blackcurrant to a mix of cider and lager results in "diesel" or "snakebite and black" available at pubs. A "black 'n' black" can be made by adding a small amount of blackcurrant juice to a pint of stout. The head is purple if the shot of juice is placed in the glass first. Blackcurrant juice is sometimes combined with whey in an endurance/energy-type drink. In Russia, blackcurrant leaves may be used for flavouring tea or preserves, such as salted cucumbers, and berries for home winemaking. Sweetened vodka may also be infused with blackcurrant leaves making a deep greenish-yellow beverage with a tart flavour and astringent taste. The berries may be infused in a similar manner. In Britain, 95% of the blackcurrants grown end up in Ribena (a brand of fruit juice whose name is derived from Ribes nigrum) and similar fruit syrups and juices.B lackcurrant seed oil is an ingredient in cosmetics preparations, often in combination with vitamin E. The leaves can be extracted to yield a yellow dye, and the fruit is a source for a blue or violet dye resulting from its rich content of anthocyanins.

 

 

Source: Facts About BlackCurrants |  Facts and Health Benefits of Blackcurrants

 

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Fact of the Day - HEAVY METAL

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Did you know... The heavy metal genre originated out of simply rhythmic and music structures, other technical aspects of the music and rock, incorporated into distorted guitar sounds and extremely fast drums? Heavy metal is the beginning of it all and out of it was born such genres as black metal, death metal, thrash metal, nu-metal or power metal. A few well-known brands actively participated in the beginnings of these sub-branches, which were Iron Maiden, Slayer, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. Heavy metal bands definitely influenced the music industry, but did you know that they left an imprint on fashion as well? Judas Priest revolutionized the fashion of the heavy metal stage with its provocative and edgy dress style. (By Reeder -March 1, 2022)

 

Fascinating Facts You Didn’t Know About Heavy Metal

by Apex Rock | Jul 23

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There are some fascinating facts about heavy metal that you might not know. Thus I put up a shortlist of some of my favorite tidbits.

 

1. Heavy metal is older than you might think
The history of heavy metal is very long and dates back to the early days of rock music. The term “heavy metal” was first used in the late 1960s to describe bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. These bands had a very hard sound, which is why they were called heavy metal. The phrase was also used to describe their music and image. Still, it’s hard to say precisely when heavy music started, but several bands were among the first to start incorporating heavily distorted sounds in their music. The first ever song considered a heavy metal song was “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks in 1964. Another early pioneer of heavy music was Deep Purple. Their song Child in Time is considered the “first doom metal song.” The first ever band to be considered a heavy metal band was Black Sabbath, who released their self-titled debut album in 1970. This marked a new era for rock music and turned into something different from what people were used to hearing.

 

2. Metal was once seen as a threat to the moral fabric of society and was considered satanic
In the 1980s, heavy metal was often blamed for promoting violence, drug use, suicide, and other anti-social behavior. This stigma is still reflected in the lyrics of some heavy metal bands, such as Megadeth and Pantera. KISS were once forced to change their logo because, in Germany, it bared resemblances with a Nazi-looking symbol.

 

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3. The Metal band Bathory is named after the Blood Countess, Elizabeth Bathory
Bathory is a metal band from Sweden. The band's name comes from Elizabeth Bathory, also known as The Blood Countess or Countess Dracula. She was a Hungarian noblewoman accused of torturing and killing hundreds of young girls to bathe in their blood. Bathory believed that drinking the blood of virgins would keep her youthful and beautiful. The band names themselves after the countess because of all the gore leitmotifs associated with this historical figure. Elizabeth was eventually found guilty and imprisoned for life.

 

4. Metal has been more popular on Spotify than Pop
In 2015 the streaming service revealed that metalheads were the most loyal music lovers and listeners. Spotify’s research sought to determine which fans were most loyal by genre. All charts were normalized with the genre according to the most loyal fans. Metal has remained in the top ten — and often in the top five — most faithfully listened to genres not only in the Nordic countries but also in south-western Europe and many other countries. The data showed how far heavy metal dominated the streaming waves, with pop coming in second.

 

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5. Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a bat
Ozzy has been known to do some crazy things, but the most infamous thing he did was when he bit the head off a bat during a concert at the Des Moines Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Iowa, Ozzy. Ozzy was in the middle of a concert. There were thousands of fans in attendance who were loving every second of it, but little did they know that this night would be forever remembered in the history of metal music. People think that Ozzy did it on purpose because he was in a state of delusion, but it wasn’t his fault. Ozzy was so intoxicated that he didn’t realize what it was until it was too late. He has said that the incident haunts him, and he regrets it. He thought he was biting a rubber toy and not a dead animal.

 

Final Thoughts
Metal is loud and sometimes silly but is always fun to play. I bet you know more fun facts about this music genre. I would love to see what you have to say about heavy metal.

 

Source: Metal Music Facts You Will Find Interesting  |  Bizarre Facts and Curiosities Surrounding Metal Music

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Fact of the Day - EARTHQUAKES

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Did you know... The Earth shakes every 26 seconds, and scientists aren’t sure why.
Like a lot of strange happenings, it was first noticed in the 1960s: A small seismic pulse, large enough to register on seismological instruments but small enough to go otherwise unnoticed, occurring every 26 seconds. Jack Oliver, a researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, first documented the “microseism” and sussed out that it was emanating from somewhere “in the southern or equatorial Atlantic Ocean.” Not until 2005 was it determined that the pulse’s true origin was in the Gulf of Guinea, just off Africa’s western coast, but to this day scientists still don’t know something just as important: why it’s happening in the first place. There are theories, of course, ranging from volcanic activity to waves, but still no consensus. There does happen to be a volcano on the island of São Tomé in the Gulf of Guinea near the pulse’s origin point, not to mention another microseism linked to the volcano Mount Aso in Japan, which has made that particular explanation more popular in recent years. Though there’s no way of knowing when (or even if) we’ll learn the why of this phenomenon, one thing’s for sure: better a microseism than a macroseism.

 

California isn’t the most earthquake-prone state.
That would be Alaska, which isn’t just the most earthquake-prone state in the country — it’s one of the most seismically active areas in the world, with 11% of all earthquakes occurring there. That’s because Alaska is part of the Ring of Fire, a nearly 25,000-mile-long area along the Pacific Ocean characterized by volcanic and seismic activity. The second-largest earthquake ever recorded (a staggering 9.2 on the Richter scale) took place in the Prince William Sound region there on March 27, 1964, lasting about 4.5 minutes and causing a tsunami that was felt as far away as California. Beyond that, three of the eight largest recorded earthquakes in the world have also been in Alaska, as were seven of the 10 largest in America. It has experienced an average of one magnitude seven-to-eight earthquake every year since 1900 and one “great” earthquake (magnitude eight or higher) every 13 years. (Interesting Facts)

 

Brief Facts About Earthquakes

by FoxWeather | October 16, 2021

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Hundreds of earthquakes happen each day but only a few rise to the magnitude of impacting life above the earth's surface. One of the most unpredictable, life-changing natural disasters on the planet are earthquakes. The chance of you actually feeling one below your feet is relatively low, but they can occur on every continent around the world.

 

1. Half a million occur per year
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that around 500,000 earthquakes occur each year. Many of those happen deep in Earth’s crust, and without the use of seismographs, they would go undetected. Seismologists estimate that only around 20% of the world’s earthquakes are felt by humans and about 100 each year cause damage.

 

2. The "Ring of Fire" is a hot zone
The region around the Pacific Ocean from New Zealand up and over to South America is the world’s hotbed for earthquake activity and is known as the "Ring of Fire". The USGS estimates that 90% of earthquakes occur in this region. Experts say the abundance of volcanoes and the constant movement of the tectonic plates play a role in the activity.

 

3). Earthquake scale
Charles F. Richter developed the original earthquake scale in 1935. Over time, technology has improved and today researchers use the moment magnitude scale to quantify the size of an event. There aren’t any limits on how small or large magnitude values are on the scale, but most graphics usually show ranges from 0 to 10. Earthquakes with a magnitude of less than 2.0 can’t be felt but are the most common. Earthquake damage doesn’t happen until a magnitude of 4.0 or greater is reached.

 

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Did you feel shaking? Report it to the USGS

 

4. Largest recorded earthquake was a magnitude 9.5
The USGS says the largest earthquake ever reported was centered in Chile back on May 22, 1960. It measured a magnitude 9.5. It’s estimated to have killed more than 3,000 and caused $550 million in damage ($5 billion in 2021, adjusted for inflation). The largest earthquake ever reported in the United States was a magnitude 9.2 that happened in Alaska. The March 28, 1964 earthquake is estimated to have killed 131 and caused $400 million in damage ($3.5 billion in 2021, adjusted for inflation).

 

5. Can change the length of a day
Mega-earthquakes can shorten the length of a day for the entire planet. NASA says that large earthquakes can shift Earth's axis, thus changing the length of the day. The change of the day's length is not noticeable to the naked eye and is measured in microseconds (one-millionth of a second). Scientists believe the 2004 magnitude 9.1 Sumatran earthquake shortened the length of the day by 6.8 microseconds.

 

6. Shaking is brief
The larger the earthquake, the greater likelihood the ground will shake longer. Because most earthquakes are weak, the shaking only lasts for a few seconds. In the rare mega-earthquakes, it is possible that shaking will last a couple of minutes. Experts say just because the shaking ends doesn’t mean that the tectonic event is over. Aftershocks can last for months or even years after the main event. The USGS says these mini-earthquakes are caused by the re-adjustments of fault. Generally, the greater the original quake, the more aftershocks there will be.

 

7. Can’t predict
No one, not even the best scientists at the USGS, can predict an earthquake. Experts say it's because the mechanisms that trigger shaking happen so far under the ground in slow motion. But advances in recent years have given people a better timeframe of when to expect an earthquake. Experts at Caltech say early warning systems have gotten better at alerting people ahead of the main event in recent years. Systems like ShakeAlert detect the first waves generated by shaking and can alert people before the arrival of an earthquake's more significant waves. These earthquake alerts give people seconds to prepare.

 

 

Source: Facts About Earthquakes | More Facts About Earthquakes

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Fact of the Day - ALASKA

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Did you know... Alaska’s flag was created by a 13-year-old.

Every flag has a story, but few are as endearing as Alaska’s. One of the rare places to have a flag before it was actually a state, the Last Frontier held a contest to design its territorial standard in 1926-27 — and a 13-year-old won. (The contest was only open to Alaskan children in the 7th-12th grade, but still.) Benny Benson lived in an orphanage known as the Jesse Lee Home in Seward, Alaska, when he came up with the winning design, which included a description he wrote himself: “The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaska flower. The North Star is for the future of the state of Alaska, the most northerly in the Union. The dipper is for the Great Bear – symbolizing strength.” His design also featured “1867” in commemoration of the year the United States bought Alaska from Russia, although the numbers didn’t make the final cut. In addition to being hailed as a local hero, Benson won a watch with his design on it and a $1,000 scholarship. He eventually used that money to attend Hemphill Diesel Engineering School after moving to Seattle in 1936. He was 45 when Alaska became a state in 1959, fulfilling the hopeful description of his design. Alaska kept its flag rather than adopt a new one, and Benson’s work lives on today.
 
Paraguay is the only country with a two-sided flag.
Just as most (but not all) flags are quadrilateral, most countries’ standards are also one-sided, meaning they only have designs on their fronts. The exception that proves the rule is Paraguay, whose flag has both an obverse (front) and reverse (back) side. The front features red, white, and blue horizontal stripes and the country’s coat of arms in the center, while the back has the same stripes but the seal of the treasury in the center instead. Some countries used to have two-sided flags, including Lithuania and the Philippines, as did countries that no longer exist (the Republic of Formosa, in what is now Taiwan, had an especially nice one in 1895), but Paraguay is the only present country with one. Here in the U.S., Oregon also has a two-sided flag. (Interesting Facts)
 
FUN FACTS ABOUT ALASKA YOU PROBABLY DON'T KNOW!
by Gabija Damaskaite | May 10, 2022
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Alaska, broadly nicknamed "The Last Frontier", is the 49th state of the United States but the only one that is parted from the other states by land. Its name derives from the Aleut word "Aleyska", which means "a great land". Now let's jump on to the fun facts about Alaska.

 

1. ALASKA IS BIGGER THAN THE NEXT LARGEST STATES, COMBINED!
When we say Alaska is huge, we mean it's HUGE! At 663,300 square miles, Alaska is by far the largest US state by area. Its total size is larger than the three next largest US states, Texas, California, and Montana, combined! If Alaska were a separate country, it would go on a list of the top twenty biggest countries in the world. And it goes on... To truly understand how massive Alaska is, it's best to compare it to other countries. Below, you'll find a picture of Alaska's size compared to...

 

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2. ALASKA HAS 3 MILLION LAKES
Yes, you read right. 3 million. In fact, Alaska is home to more than 40 percent of the country's surface water resources. It has 3 million lakes bigger than 5 acres, and 12,000 rivers, along with numerous creeks and ponds.

 

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3. ALASKA HAS THE STATE'S LARGEST GLACIER
Matanuska Glacier is the largest glacier in the United States that is accessible by road, and it most definitely deserves a space in your Alaskan itinerary! This amazing Alaskan attraction is worth seeing not only for its size but also for its amazing naturally formed ice formations that showcase deep blue-colored ice.

 

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4. ALASKA HAS THE LARGEST FOREST IN THE STATES
Alaska hits the charts again with the largest national forest in the United States. The forest, called Tongass, is located in the capital of Alaska, Juneau. This vast area of 16.7 million acres is considered to be a must-visit site in Alaska. Tongass National Park is home to numerous unique flora and fauna. On a tour, you can encounter such wildlife as beavers, foxes, deer, moose, or even grizzly bears!

 

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5. ALASKA WAS ONCE SOLD FOR $7.2 MILLION
Did you know that until October 18, 1867, Alaska belonged to... Russia? Alaska was first visited in 1741 by a Russian expedition led by Vitus Bering. It then stayed in the Russian ownership until it was sold to the United States for $7.2 million, which in today's economy translates to... $55 million.

 

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Click the link below to read more about Alaska. ⬇️

 

 
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Fact of the Day - COMIC STRIPS

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Did you know... Newspapers are dying. Which means that newspaper comic strips are dying as well. Online greats like xkcd, The Perry Bible Fellowship, and Achewood  offer digital satisfaction, but how long will it be until you can no longer pick up a newspaper, leaf past the news, and arrive at the comics? Rather than sweat out how many days the world has left until Marmaduke is put to sleep and Cathy stops complaining, it's best to honor the the greatest cartoons to have ever been black and white and read all over (and the ones in color, too). (BRENDEN GALLAGHER  |  January 27, 2013)

 

Longest-Running Sunday Comic Strips

by Interesting Facts

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The Sunday funnies are as much a part of the quintessential U.S. newspaper as the crossword puzzle and want ads. And though the number of print newspapers in circulation has decreased significantly over the past few years, comic strips and their characters are still a touchstone of our culture: Calvin and Hobbes, Cathy, Peanuts, Garfield, and Dilbert are just a few of the household names that are rich with nostalgia. Before these colorful comic strips came into being, however, there were decades’ worth of comics depicting everything from a wisecracking police detective to a punk kid with a slingshot to a glamorous newspaper reporter who always got the scoop. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the longest-running comic strips, many of which have changed hands over the years. Whether we realize it or not, comic strips help capture the essence of the moment, and through them we can glimpse the zeitgeist of a generation — often with a necessary splash of humor.

 

1. The Katzenjammer Kids (1897-2006)

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The Katzenjammer Kids isn’t widely known anymore, but it holds a few Sunday Funnies distinctions. Cartoonist Rudolph Dirks was 20 years old when his comic following the mischievous duo of Hans and Fritz, two young troublemakers who get into tiffs with their parents and school officials, first ran. Dirks created the series for William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal in 1897, but when he took a job at New York World, Hearst kept the name of the comic. This led to a lawsuit and Dirks’ creation of a competing, near-identical strip called The Captain and the Kids, which ran from 1914-1979. The Katzenjammer Kids was drawn by a number of other cartoonists until it ceased syndication in 2006 — an amazing 109-year streak. Dirks, most notably, is credited as the first cartoonist to use speech balloons to express character dialogue, a practice that is still very much used today.

 

2. Gasoline Alley (1918-present)

Gasoline Alley was created by cartoonist Frank King in 1918 during his tenure at the Chicago Tribune. The premise is pretty straightforward: The strip follows a group of automobile enthusiasts who meet in an alley. It largely revolves around a main character, Walt Wallet, and his circle of family and friends. In 1921, King’s editor asked for the comic to introduce a baby, since he believed that would draw more female readers. To solve the problem of Walt being a bachelor, King had Walt discover a baby on his doorstep; he named him Skeezix (a cowboy slang term for an orphaned calf). And then, King added a dimension that was brand-new to comics: He let the characters age in real time. Skeezix grew into a child and then a teen and eventually enlisted during World War II. Walt also aged, married, had more children and then grandchildren. Gasoline Alley is still going strong; it’s now drawn by cartoonist Jim Scancarelli, who explains Walt now aging well past 100 as “Walt has good genes.”

 

3. Barney Google and Snuffy Smith (1919-present)

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Rounding out the trifecta of longest-running, uninterrupted Sunday comic series of all time is Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, the brainchild of cartoonist Billy DeBeck. It started as a daily strip in the sports section of the Chicago Herald and Examiner in 1919, with the title Take Barney Google, F’rinstance. The titular character was a diminutive man with large “banjo” eyes who played poker and bet on horse races and prize fights. A horse named Spark Plug was added in 1923, and in 1934 Barney met Snuffy Smith, a hillbilly moonshiner who has been with him ever since. Fun fact: The common phrase “googly eyes” actually originated from the comic strip, in reference to Barney’s huge eyes, and a song called “Barney Google (with the Goo-Goo-Googly Eyes)” was released in 1923.

 

4. Little Orphan Annie (1924-2010)
For most folks, the mention of Little Orphan Annie conjures up images of an innocent little redhead and her beloved dog, Sandy. It might even cue that catchy song about perseverance and how the sun will most definitely come out tomorrow. But although the strip was positively received over the years, it was also pulled from newspapers nationwide numerous times for its often controversial storylines. Its creator, Harold Gray, was known to use the Daddy Warbucks character as a mouthpiece for his political views, and those plots included everything from calling all political leaders criminals to criticizing the country’s mental health care system. Eventually, the comic ran its course and was discontinued in 2010, having spawned a beloved musical and a number of movies.

 

5. Popeye (1929-1994)

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Popeye (full name: Popeye the Sailor) was first introduced into the cultural lexicon after appearing in the King Features comic strip Thimble Theatre in 1929. But the muscular sailor proved to be so popular that the strip was renamed Popeye in later years. Popeye’s defining features — a pipe protruding out of his mouth, two anchor tattoos on his forearms, and his love of spinach — have been mainstays in pop culture and have shown up in comic books, video games, TV cartoons, and even a 1980 live-action film starring Robin Williams as Popeye. The popular fast-food chain Popeyes, however, is not tied to the comic, despite previous speculation.

 

6. Blondie (1930-present)
Blondie is a comic strip that shows how the (cartoon) nuclear family can shift and adapt over time. The strip, created by Chic Young in 1930, chronicles the daily lives of titular character Blondie Boopadoop, a former flapper turned housewife; her husband, Dagwood Bumstead, a former heir who’s always late for work; and their two teenage children, Alexander and Cookie. Though the characters themselves haven’t aged a day, their lingo and accessories have shifted over the years to get with the times, including the slow modernization of their kitchen, the addition of cell phones, and references to Facebook, modern music, and current TV shows. After Chic died in 1973, creative control for the strip passed to his son, Dean Young; the comic is still going strong, 90 years later.

 

7. Dick Tracy (1931-present)

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Dick Tracy the comic strip birthed Dick Tracy the American icon. Cartoonist Chester Gould created the sharp, crime-fighting police detective in 1931, and the titular character is perhaps best known for his square jaw, bright yellow hat and coat, and his super-enviable two-way wristwatch. One of the long-running series’ most memorable periods (besides the Madonna period) was perhaps the “Space Period,” when Dick was fighting crime and tracking down bad guys on the Moon. Presently, the detective continues to fight crime (on Earth) and occasionally makes a cameo in other comic strips, as he did at Blondie and Dagwood’s 75th anniversary party in 2005.

 

8. Prince Valiant (1937-present)
Hal Foster was already known for his Tarzan comic strip in 1937 when he approached media mogul William Randolph Hearst with an idea for a comic strip. Foster, who was a fan of the King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table legends, pitched a strip he called Derek, Son of Thane — an idea that Hearst loved with a title he hated. The comic was renamed Prince Valiant and Foster would go on to depict the young royal’s epic adventures through different time periods, ranging from the late Roman Empire to the High Middle Ages. One notable feature of the strip is that there are no word or thought balloons at all; instead, the story is illustrated in captions situated at the bottom or sides of the panels.

 

9. Brenda Starr, Reporter (1940-2011)

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Brenda Starr was originally created as a “girl bandit” character, but creator Dale Messick was encouraged to make the Rita Hayworth-esque Starr a reporter instead so that the Chicago/New York syndicate would pick it up. Not only that, but the creator was using a pen name: Knowing that the publisher had sworn off “women cartoonists,” Dalia Messick switched to the more male-sounding name Dale Messick professionally. But even after it was accepted, Brenda Starr, Reporter still got second-class treatment, at least initially — when it first published in 1940, Brenda was relegated to the Sunday comic book supplement rather than the daily paper. Luckily, Brenda was a star, and the strip was a success long after Messick stopped writing it in 1982.

 

10. Beetle Bailey (1950-present)

Regular readers of the Sunday comics will recognize Beetle Bailey for its consistent aesthetics and humor throughout the decades, due in large part to the fact that its creator, Mort Walker, was the illustrator for the strip for 68 years — from its inception in 1950 up to his death in 2018. This makes Beetle Bailey one of the oldest comic strips that was still being produced by its original creator, which is no small task. His sons Brian, Greg, and Neal Walker are keeping the strip alive following Mort’s death. The comic strip chronicles the titular character’s antics at Camp Swampy, which is broadly based on the real-life Camp Crowder in Missouri, where Walker was once stationed.

 

11. Dennis the Menace (1951-present)

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Mischievous little boys tend to do well for comic strips, as evidenced by Hank Ketcham’s Dennis the Menace, a strip that has since sparked a live-action TV show in the 1960s, an animated show in the 1980s, and a series of film adaptations. The muse for the popular series was none other than Ketcham’s young son Dennis, who was just 4 years old when the cartoonist first dreamed up the idea. Supposedly, Ketcham was trying to find the perfect name for his character when his then-wife Alice stormed into his studio and exclaimed, ”Your son is a menace!” and thus, Dennis the Menace was born.

 

12. B.C. (1958-present)
Like an early Flintstones, B.C. features a group of cavemen and talking animals (including, of course, dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures). It is often a tongue-in-cheek take on modern technology and woes, with shops in the strip displaying carved stone signs for “retail store,” “wheel repair,” or “psychiatrist.” Cartoonist Johnny Hart created the strip in 1958, and his grandson Mason Mastroianni took over as both the artist and the writer of the strip when Hart died in 2007. The prehistoric comic continues to this day.

 

 

Source: Best Sunday Comic Strips of All Time | Facts About the Longest-Running Comic Strips

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Fact of the Day - FALL SPICES

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Did you know... The sights and smells of Fall make for a magical time of the year. The sad part about Fall is that it usually ends all too soon. Fall spices are synonymous with that magical Fall feeling, and will help you get lost in the season. Whether you use these Fall spices in cookies, hot ciders, teas, soups, potpourris, or placed in a dish for a table centerpiece, you will feel like you’re truly embracing Fall. Besides the delightful aroma, these Fall spices provide considerable health benefits. ( iTOVi Social Media | October 7th, 2016)

 

Seasoned Facts About Fall Spices

by Interesting Facts

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Some flavors just beckon with the changing of the seasons. When fall rolls around, many of us begin craving the layered, warming flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and the infamous mix known as “pumpkin spice.” It’s not unusual to turn to spices as we celebrate shorter days and sweater weather — as it turns out, humans have been relying on spices to flavor the season for centuries. Here are seven tantalizing facts you might not know about our favorite autumn spices.

 

1. Pumpkin Spice Is Almost as Old as the United States

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Food trends come and go, but pumpkin spice has an enduring power over Americans, perhaps because it originated here in the days of the Founding Fathers. Colonial newcomers learned quickly to cook pumpkins, taking the once-unfamiliar squash and turning it into table fare and brewed beer. So it makes sense that the first cookbook written by an American and published in the U.S., Amelia Simmons’ 1796 work American Cookery, offered up two recipes for “pompkin” pie — which just so happened to be flavored with a blend of nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and mace (a spice made from the webbed covering that grows around nutmeg). It would take a while, but spice companies eventually caught on to pumpkin spice’s harvest-time popularity, launching their own blends around the same time canned pumpkin puree hit the market in 1929. Despite having few ingredients and being easy to replicate, pumpkin spice has become a spice of its own — McCormick’s first pumpkin pie spice, released in 1934, features the same ingredients nearly 90 years later: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.

 

2. Cinnamon Trees Were Once Guarded by Secrets and Myths

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Cinnamon may just be fall’s favorite spice, considering how much we use its scent to freshen our homes and sprinkle it onto desserts and flavored coffees. But as popular as cinnamon is now, it was once so in-demand that spice traders concealed its real origins to help line their pockets. Cinnamomum trees are native to India, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar, but early merchants drove up the price by telling outlandish tales of how it was dangerous to harvest the bark of the trees thanks to aggressive “winged creatures” in distant lands. Amazingly, their efforts helped keep cinnamon’s real habitat secret for centuries.

 

3. Cloves Were the Original Breath Mint

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Cloves are grown in Madagascar, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere, but a staggering amount of the spice — 74% in 2019 — comes from Indonesia, where the dried flowers of the native Syzygium aromaticum tree are harvested. Today’s cloves are mostly used to add sweetness and warmth to dishes, but these pods — also called “nails” for their resemblance to the fastener — were once used in ancient China as breath mints. To avoid the offense of bad breath, visitors to the Han dynasty royal court around 200 BCE would pop a clove into their mouths before meeting with the emperor, though the spice could also be used as a natural anesthetic to treat toothaches. By the Middle Ages, cloves had reached Europe, where they were used to season food at a high price that wouldn’t deflate for centuries. In the 1600s, Dutch traders who held the clove monopoly regularly destroyed Syzygium trees and portions of the clove harvest to create scarcity and drive up spice prices. But starting in 1770, French smugglers whisked clove seedlings out of Indonesia to create their own supply, eventually pushing down the price. Today, you don’t have to go far to find cloves: They’re commonly found in ketchup but get the most use in autumnal fare like pumpkin pie and spice cake.

 

4. There’s No Such Thing as “Wild” Ginger

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Humans have revered ginger for more than 2,500 years, rightly crediting the spicy root with calming nausea and upset stomachs. But a few things aren’t so true about ginger — it can’t cure the plague as medieval doctors once believed, and it’s not a naturally growing plant species. Botanists consider ginger a cultigen: a plant that doesn’t exist naturally in the wild, and was instead bred by early humans so much that it became fundamentally different from its wild ancestors. Ginger slowly spread across the world from India over the centuries, thanks to Arab, Spanish, and Portuguese traders. In Europe, the pungent rhizome was a 16th-century favorite — even beloved by British monarch Queen Elizabeth I, who’s credited with serving gingerbread men cookies at royal banquets.

 

5. Nordic Countries Consume the Most Cardamom

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Cardamom is native to India, where farmers have undertaken the labor-intensive harvest of its green, seed-filled pods for at least 5,000 years. With a spicy citrus flavor, the spice is commonly used in rice, desserts, and chai spice blends for a warming tea on a crisp day. But nowhere is it more sought-after than in some Nordic countries: Sweden claims the second-highest cardamom consumption, following only Norway, whose citizens consume almost 30 times more per capita than any other nation.

It’s unclear how cardamom — often considered the world’s third-most expensive spice because it must be harvested by hand — became so popular in Scandinavian countries. Some historians believe the spice took hold between the eighth and 13th centuries, and it continues to fuel cold-weather dishes like meatballs, sweet buns, and holiday glögg.

 

6. Nutmeg Enthusiasts Once Carried Their Own Spice Graters

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Modern chefs reach for nutmeg when cooler temperatures linger, generally using the warm and nutty flavor to spice up pies, drinks, and other sweets. But at one point in history, nutmeg was used just as frequently as black pepper is today. Sourced from the seeds of the Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree found in Indonesia’s Banda Islands, nutmeg was first used as far back as 3,500 years ago, archaeologists believe. By the 14th century, spice traders considered it more valuable than gold. Nutmeg flourished in popularity in the 17th and 18th centuries, and wealthy connoisseurs of the spice began carrying their own miniature graters so they could season meals to their liking.

 

7. Allspice Is Just One Spice

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Allspice has gone by many names. Because the dried berry harvested from Pimenta dioica trees found in the West Indies looks like a peppercorn, it’s sometimes called Jamaica pepper or myrtle pepper. In the 17th century, Londoners introduced to the spice deemed it the unimaginative “newspice.” But the name we most commonly use was given around the 1600s because the flavor resembled a blend of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Over time, the name has become something of a confusing misnomer, but the spice used to flavor apple cider, spiced wine, and other autumnal treats is really in a category of its own.

 

 

Source: Fall Spices for Your Health  |  Facts About Fall Spices

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Fact of the Day - AUTUMN LEAVES

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Did you know... There’s a lot to love about fall – the change in weather, apple picking, pumpkin picking, pumpkin spice everything, Halloween and more – but if there’s one thing in particular that we love most about the season, it’s the leaves changing color. Yes, we love the way the trees look in spring and summer too, but looking out and seeing a sea of different colors gives us a feeling we can’t describe! Would you say that you love fall foliage just as much as we do? If so, we bet you’ll enjoy this guide that we’ve put together – below, we’re covering everything from fall foliage facts to different leaf colors, how leaves change color and where you can go for the best views. (Madeline Brik)

 

Crisp Facts About Autumn Leaves

By Interesting Facts

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There are many things to love about fall — from the brisk air to the tantalizing scent of pumpkin spice — but there's one striking visual that sets autumn apart from any other season: the brilliant hues of red, orange, and yellow foliage. From the chemical composition of leaves to their surprising place in the Japanese culinary world, here are six fascinating facts about the science and culture of autumn leaves that may leave you (sorry) wanting more.

 

1. Deciduous Trees Change Color, But Coniferous Trees Don't

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The bright crimson and gold tones of fall foliage are found primarily on the branches of deciduous trees, an arboreal subset that includes oaks, maples, birches, and more. The word "deciduous" itself stems from the Latin decidere, meaning "to fall off," and the term is used to describe trees that — unlike conifers and other evergreens — lose their leaves during the autumn as they transition into seasonal dormancy. Deciduous trees have broadleaves: flat, wide leaves that are more susceptible to weather-induced changes compared to the thin needles of their coniferous counterparts. As sunlight decreases and temperatures drop, chlorophyll production in these broadleaf trees ramps up, which in turn gives way to other pigments that produce the red, orange, and yellow tones of autumn. There are some geographic exceptions to this rule, however. Deciduous trees in the southern United States are more likely to maintain their green color than those in the North, primarily due to the region’s milder winters. No matter the location, most coniferous trees — a group that includes pines, spruces, and firs — will maintain their green needles year-round. The needles feature a waxy coating that protects them from the elements and contain a fluid that helps them resist freezing. Those factors create conditions that allow coniferous trees to survive harsh winters with their verdant colors intact, although conifers will lose some of their oldest needles each fall. A rare subset, called deciduous conifers, crosses both worlds, with needles that change to brilliant hues and then drop off each fall.

 

2. A Leaf's Color Is Determined by Its Tree Type

There are three different pigments responsible for the coloration of autumn leaves: chlorophyll, carotenoids, and anthocyanin. Chlorophyll, the most basic pigment that every plant possesses, is a key component of the photosynthetic process that gives leaves their green color during the warmer, brighter months. The other two pigments become more prevalent as conditions change. Carotenoids are unmasked as chlorophyll levels deplete; these produce more yellow, orange, and brown tones. Though scientists once thought that anthocyanin also lay dormant during the warmer months, they now believe that production begins anew each year during the fall. The anthocyanin pigment not only contributes to the deep red color found in leaves (and also fruits such as cranberries and apples), but it also acts as a natural sunscreen against bright sunlight during colder weather. During the transformative autumnal months, it’s easier to discern the types of trees based on the color of their leaves. Varying proportions of pigmentation can be found in the chemical composition of each tree type, leading to colorful contrasts. For example, red leaves are found on various maples (particularly red and sugar maples), oaks, sweetgums, and dogwoods, while yellow and orange shades are more commonly associated with hickories, ashes, birches, and black maples. Interestingly, the leaves of an elm tree pose an exception, as they shrivel up and turn brown.

 

3. The Etymology of the Word "Fall" Refers to Falling Leaves

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Prior to the terms "fall" and "autumn" making their way into the common lexicon, the months of September, October, and November were generally referred to as the harvest season, a time of year for gathering ripened crops. Some of the first recorded uses of the word "fall" date back to 1500s England, when the term was a shortened version of "fall of the year" or "fall of the leaf." The 1600s saw the arrival of the word  "autumn," which came from the French word automne and was popular among writers such as Chaucer and Shakespeare. By the 18th century, "autumn" became the predominant name for the season in England, though over the following century, the word "fall" would grow in popularity across the Atlantic. But while some proper British English linguists consider fall to be an Americanism, the term actually originated in England, and both “autumn” and “fall” are used interchangeably today.

 

4. Tempura-Fried Maple Leaves Are a Japanese Delicacy

While most Americans rake up autumn leaves and throw them into a garbage bin, in Japan, they are the main ingredient of a delicacy. Momiji tempura is a popular snack that originated in the city of Minoh, about 10 miles north of Osaka, where the first commercial fried leaf vendor opened in 1910. Legend has it that around 1,300 years ago, a traveler was so taken by the beauty of the autumn maple leaves in the region that he decided to cook them in oil and eat them. Fear not if you're a germaphobe, though — the leaves used in momiji tempura are freshly picked off trees, never scooped up from the ground. Preparation involves soaking the maple leaves in salt water (sometimes for up to a year), frying them in a tempura batter, and coating them with sugar and sesame seeds for a sweet, crunchy treat.

 

5. American Trees Produce Redder Leaves Than Northern European Ones
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While America is home to a wide array of both reddish and yellow autumnal hues, trees in Northern Europe are more universally yellow in color. One fascinating theory for why that is goes back to 35 million years ago. During the ice age of the Pleistocene era, America's north-to-south mountain ranges allowed for animals on either side to migrate south to warmer climates, whereas the east-to-west Alps of Europe trapped many animal species that became extinct as freezing conditions took hold in the north. The result was American trees producing more anthocyanins — and thus a darker red color — to help ward off insects, whereas European trees didn't need to do the same, since extinct insect species no longer posed a threat. This phenomenon also occurred in East Asia, where forests bear a similar resemblance to those in America, as opposed to the uniquely yellow forests of Northern Europe.

 

6. Modern-Day Leaf Peepers Have a Centuries-Old Japanese Precedent

There’s a term for serious fans of fall leaves: leaf peepers. These hobbyists travel near and far to view some of the most spectacular autumn forests around the world. In certain areas across the United States, such as New England, leaf peeping has proven to be a multi-billion-dollar industry, with those states welcoming millions of tourists annually to view the breathtaking foliage. People can even join up with fellow leaf peepers on online forums to report fall foliage sightings, view webcams, and utilize other tools for those who may not be able to travel to see these forests in person. A similar tradition in Japan is called momijigari, or "autumn-leaf hunting." The custom is believed to have started among the elite during the Heian Period toward the end of the eighth century, and later gained widespread popularity during the Edo Period in the 18th century. With around 1,200 species of trees (out of an estimated 73,300 on Earth), Japan is certainly a prime location for leaf peeping.

 

 

Source: Fall Leaves and Foliage Facts  |  Autumn Leaves Facts

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Fact of the Day - DANCING PLAGUE

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Did you know... that The Dancing Plague of 1518, or Dance Epidemic of 1518, was a case of dancing mania that occurred in StrasbourgAlsace (modern-day France), in the Holy Roman Empire from July 1518 to September 1518. Somewhere between 50 and 400 people took to dancing for weeks. The outbreak began in July 1518 when a woman began to dance fervently in a street in Strasbourg. By early September, the outbreak began to subside. Historical documents, including "physician notes, cathedral sermons, local and regional chronicles, and even notes issued by the Strasbourg city council" are clear that the victims danced; it is not known why. Historical sources agree that there was an outbreak of dancing after a single woman started dancing, and the dancing did not seem to die down. It lasted for such a long time that it even attracted the attention of the Strasbourg magistrate and bishop, and some number of doctors ultimately intervened, putting the afflicted in a hospital. Events similar to this are said to have occurred throughout the medieval age including 11th century in Kölbigk, Saxony, where it was believed to be the cause of demonic possession or divine judgment. In 15th century Apulia, Italy, a woman was bitten by a tarantula, the venom making her dance convulsively. The only way to cure the bite was to "shimmy" and to have the right sort of music available, which was an accepted remedy by scholars like Athanasius Kircher.

Contemporaneous explanations included demonic possession and overheated blood.

(Wikipedia)

 

 

Medieval and early modern Europe saw “dance plagues” in which people danced uncontrollably for days.

by Interesting Facts

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There’s dancing like no one’s watching, and then there’s dancing like you have a plague. Such was the plight of hundreds of denizens of Strasbourg, then part of the Holy Roman Empire and now part of France, where a “dancing plague” lasted for weeks in 1518. First on the dance floor (read: city square) was one Frau Troffea, who danced until she collapsed from exhaustion one extremely hot day in July; after recovering her strength, she resumed her rug-cutting. She and the 30 or so others who joined in over the next week in a variety of public locations seemed unable to stop, as though their movements were involuntary. The “plague” lasted until early September, by which time at least 400 had joined in. Many were injured, and some sadly didn’t live to tell the tale. This wasn’t the only dance plague to occur in medieval and early modern Europe. Similar events took place throughout the Holy Roman Empire as well as in Germany, Switzerland, and France, though none have been documented as thoroughly as the one in Strasbourg. No one is sure, all these centuries later, why any of this happened in the first place — many contemporary explanations were religious and/or superstitious in nature, whereas more modern theories suggest that a mold called ergot might have been responsible. As with many phenomena from ages past, we may never know the full story.

 

Swan Lake was initially considered a failure.

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Anna Sobeshchanskaya as Odette in Julius Reisinger's original production of Swan Lake, Moscow, 1877
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky died in 1893, 16 years after what he called the “humiliating disappointment” of what’s now widely considered one of the greatest ballets of all time. Those in attendance at Moscow’s Imperial Bolchoï Theater on March 4, 1877, were apparently unmoved by the debut performance, in part because of a disconnect between the choreography and the composition — choreographer Julius Reisinger was said to have been “overwhelmed” by Tchaikovsky’s score, and the two were never in sync. It also didn’t help that Anna Sobeshchanskaya, who was slated to play the leading role of Princess Odette, had the part taken away from her after an engagement-gone-wrong with a Russian official; the reviews for Pelageya Karpakova, who took over for her, were less than kind. It wasn’t until Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov helmed a new version two years after Tchaikovsky’s death that Swan Lake’s brilliance was truly recognized.

 

Click this link to read more on the Dance Plagues.

 

 

Source: Wikipedia - Dancing Plague of 1518  |  Interesting Fats About Dance Plagues

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