10 Totally Crazy Facts About Al-Qaeda

Founded in Pakistan by Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda has become the best known and most hated terrorist organization on the planet. Ever since 1988, Al-Qaeda has served as “the base” for worldwide jihad, and we’re all familiar with their various crimes. However, when they’re not making headlines for blowing up buildings, Al-Qaeda terrorists are dreaming up business schemes, devising some pretty weird plots, and generally acting, well, strange. For example:

10 They Occasionally Show Remorse

Suicide Bombing Kills Eight In Kabul
Al-Qaeda isn’t exactly known for its incredible sensitivity. After a “successful” attack, the head honchos usually release a celebratory video, decrying American imperialism and preaching death to the infidels. However, on a few occasions, Al-Qaeda has stunned the world by publicly saying, “We’re sorry.”

We’ve already read about how Al-Qaeda operatives in Syria accidentally beheaded one of their own guys, leading to some friction and a quick apology. But there’s a big difference between saying sorry to coworkers and apologizing to your enemies. One is awkward, and the other is downright humiliating. But despite the embarrassment, Al-Qaeda once showed remorse for an attack that didn’t go according to plan.

In 2013, the Saudi branch attacked the Defense Ministry in Yemen. Angry about recent US drone strikes, they felt justified in taking their frustrations out on the Yemeni government. However, their commander, Qassim al-Raimi, gave strict orders to avoid the nearby hospital. Evidently, one of his men didn’t get the memo (or just didn’t care) and murdered 52 patients and staff members.

Blowing up hospitals is always a bad PR move, and al-Raimi decided to smooth things over. In a video released by Al-Qaeda’s media outlet, Al-Malahim, al-Raimi said the attack was against Al-Qaeda’s morals. “We confess to this mistake and fault,” he admitted before giving his condolences. He even offered reparations to relatives of the victims. What a nice guy!

Surprisingly, al-Raimi’s video is just one of a rapidly growing series of bizarre apologies. In 2009, the group said they were sorry for murdering Muslims, and in 2007, bin Laden himself apologized for killing Muslims in Iraq. Of course, these videos probably have more to do with appearances than guilt. It’s a move to gloss over the fact that Al-Qaeda kills more Muslims than non-Muslims. Between 2004 and 2008, Muslims made up 85 percent of the group’s casualties. For an organization that’s supposedly protecting the faithful, that’s a pretty bad track record.

9 They Do A Lot Of Paperwork

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Most people hate office work. Poring over forms, staring at spreadsheets for hours on end . . . it’s miserable work. But your mind-numbing 9-to-5 is nothing compared to the daily grind of an Al-Qaeda agent. Their bosses are basically extremist versions of Bill Lumbergh who require employees to fill out stacks and stacks of expense reports.

Al-Qaeda’s obsession with paperwork stems back to 1976, when bin Laden studied economics in college. Later, in the ‘90s, bin Laden ran Sudan’s most powerful conglomerate and made it company policy for workers to keep track of every single purchase, no matter how small. Old habits die hard, and when bin Laden formed “the Base,” he decided to run the organization like a corporation.

It doesn’t matter if they buy a cache of weapons or a bottle of mustard, Al-Qaeda operatives have to get receipts for everything. When UN Peacekeepers searched an abandoned base in Timbuktu, they found over 100 receipts for soap, macaroni, glue, and even a broom. And this obsessive record keeping isn’t just practiced in Mali—cells in Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq religiously fill out invoices, detailing every cent they spend.

In addition to keeping track of who buys what, Al-Qaeda has files brimming with budgets, job application forms, salary info, and even memos from their HR department. Yes, you read that right—Al-Qaeda has an HR department. While this corporate strategy might sound ridiculous, it serves two very basic functions. First, it keeps the organization running smoothly. After all, terrorism is ultimately a business. Second, it helps the brass keep track of the foot soldiers. Most Al-Qaeda branches operate with little supervision, and it helps supervisors keep their men in check if members have to submit invoices in triplicate.

Things can get pretty rough if you don’t follow protocol. Or at the very least, you’ll get a good nagging. Mali-based jihadist Moktar Belmoktar was not a good employee. He never showed up for meetings, and he often neglected important phone calls. Even worse, he skipped over paperwork. Fed up with his negligence, the North African leaders sent Belmoktar a 12-page letter chiding him for his poor work ethic, taking him to task for a number of infractions, such as accepting a $900,000 ransom instead of the originally planned $3 million. Eventually, Belmoktar decided Al-Qaeda was too constricting and created his very own terrorist group. Even terrorists want to be their own boss.

8 They Host Family Events

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Describe Al-Qaeda in one word. Did you say “radical,” “fundamentalist,” or “evil”? Chances are good you didn’t pick “fun.” But despite its moderately strict interpretation of Sharia law, Al-Qaeda certainly knows how to throw a party. In 2013, two Al-Qaeda branches (one Syrian, one Iraqi) took a break from battling the Syrian government to host a family fair.

The extravaganza featured a number of fun events, including tug-of-war between Iraqi and Syrian terrorists. The jihadists organized an ice cream eating competition for the boys and—proving they believe in equal rights—a Quran recitation contest for the girls. In addition to the games, there was plenty of food, and terrorists passed out bread to hungry kids. As bizarre as it seems, the strategy was pretty sound. Feed hungry children, give them ice cream and games, and you become heroes.

Inspired by the festival’s success, the Iraqi group held a second event later that year. Only this time, members passed out Spiderman dolls and, believe it or not, Teletubbies. Who would’ve thought Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, and Po were actually undercover Al-Qaeda agents?

7 They Publish Online Magazines

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Chasing your dreams can be pretty difficult. How do you get started? Where do you begin? Plenty of young terrorists feel the same way. All they want is to launch a holy war against the West, but they don’t know the first thing about building a pipe bomb. Thankfully, there’s Inspire, an online magazine filled with tips for detonating apartments and causing panic in the streets.

Created by Al-Qaeda militants Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan (who both had a date with a drone), Inspire offers articles like “What to Expect in Jihad” and “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” penned by the aptly named “AQ Chef.” In the original issue, even big shots like bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri contributed columns. While some of the articles offer practical advice, others are a bit out there. One instructed readers on how to attach knives to the front of a pickup truck, creating “the ultimate mowing machine.” Another issue suggested torching parked cars or smearing oil on sharp turns, leading to massive car wrecks.

Al-Qaeda even has an ezine for the ladies. Named al-Khansaa after an Arab poet, the pink-and-peach-colored website addresses pressing female issues like the proper way to raise future terrorists. “We will stand covered in our veils and abayas,” the magazine declares, “with our weapons in our hands and our children in our arms!”

Sure, it sounds ridiculous, especially since MI6 hacked Inspire and replaced its articles with cupcake recipes. However, these magazines really do pose a serious threat. Al-Khansaa is giving moms advice on how to indoctrinate their kids. Even worse, Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told authorities that he and his brother learned to make explosives by reading Inspire. It’s all fun and games until somebody loses a building.

6 They Kill Elephants

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Like any organization, Al-Qaeda needs cash. After all, waging war against the West is an expensive endeavor. Since their former boss never used his millions to finance the terror group, Al-Qaeda has had to rely on the kindness of strangers, accepting donations from radical mosques and friendly leaders. They’ve even conned charities into forking over dough. However, Al-Qaeda agents aren’t afraid of a little hard work, and if a nice, illegal business venture pops up, they’ll jump at the chance to make a few bucks.

Lately, entrepreneurial terrorists have been making millions in Africa. The continent is teeming with financial possibilities, most of which walk around on four legs. People in Asia, especially the Chinese, are crazy about ivory, and buyers will hand over good money for trinkets carved out of elephant tusks. The demand is huge, and Al-Qaeda is only too happy to supply. Al-Shabab, the terror group responsible for the attack on the Nairobi shopping mall, is Al-Qaeda’s Somali branch and heavily involved in the poaching business. In fact, they earn about $600,000 a month slaughtering elephants. That’s 40 percent of their budget. If the world really wants to halt Al-Qaeda’s plans, perhaps governments should team up with conservation groups and keep the world safe for people and pachyderms alike.

5 They Love Casio Watches

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The Casio F-91W is cheap, simple, and smacks of the ‘90s. It’s also extremely popular. Nearly 25 years after the first batch hit stores, this Japanese wristwatch is still a best seller across the globe. Renowned for its dependability, the F-91W is accurate to within 30 seconds per month, and that’s pretty darn impressive. It’s also probably why they’re all the rage with fashionable Al-Qaeda agents.

In 2011, Wikileaks released a document called “Matrix of Threat Indicators for Enemy Combatants.” Basically, this pamphlet helps Guantanamo officials determine which suspects are more likely to blow themselves up. According to the guide, if you carry a satellite phone, a radio transceiver, and a wad of Benjamins, you just might be a terrorist. However, the biggest giveaway is that digital watch around your wrist, a gadget the US government has labeled “the sign of Al-Qaeda.”

Evidently, Casios make excellent detonators. When a young jihadist enrolls in terrorist training school, he’s given an F-91W and plenty of hands-on training. With just a few additional supplies, like batteries and a circuit board, the would-be bomber can build a deadly weapon in a matter of minutes. Thanks to the watch, he even has 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds to make his getaway.

According to The Guardian, over 30 Gitmo prisoners were captured wearing the F-91W, while 20 wore its silvery cousin, the A-159W. But is it just a coincidence? Millions of people wear Casio watches, and most of them aren’t considering hijacking planes anytime soon. Perhaps the US military is blowing the Casio connection out of proportion. Or maybe not. Check out a photo of bin Laden himself and see what he’s sporting on his wrist . . . an F-91W.

4 They Hate 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

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What do Alex Jones, Charlie Sheen, and former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have in common? They’re all nuts, and they all think 9/11 was an inside job. The only difference is Ahmadinejad preached his wacky beliefs at the United Nations. In 2010, he flat out told the UN General Assembly that the US government was behind the attacks. In 2011, he followed up on his previous remarks, claiming that 9/11 was an excuse for America to invade the Middle East. While most everyone tuned out his long-winded ramblings, Ahmadinejad struck a nerve with the world’s most notorious terrorist organization.

Shortly after the president’s 2011 address, Inspire magazine replied with a sharp retort. Al-Qaeda was fed up with Iran’s leader blaming the Great Satan for 9/11. After all, they’d knocked down the Towers, so they should get the credit. In an angry editorial, a jihadi journalist wrote that Ahmadinejad needed to knock off the conspiracy nonsense. Not only did the piece call his idea ridiculous, it accused him of being a sore loser. According to Inspire, Al-Qaeda won the support of the world’s Muslims, and Ahmadinejad was throwing a fit. Jealous he’d lost the popularity contest, he wanted to discredit Al-Qaeda with ludicrous conspiracy theories. Ahmadinejad never replied to the claim, which is too bad. That would’ve made an awesome flame war.

3 They Have Their Own Rappers

If Al-Qaeda ever rolls into your town, you should probably hide your iPod. As big believers in Sharia law, the terror group is notoriously strict when it comes to music. After conquering Mali, the country’s blues musicians had to run for their lives or have their tongues cut out. The jihadists also stole radios and snatched cell phones, replacing musical ringtones with Quranic verses. But even though music is considered evil, singing is perfectly fine, especially if it benefits Al-Qaeda.

Enter Omar Hammami, also known as Abu Mansoor al-Amriki. Born in Alabama, Hammami grew tired of the stars and stripes and flew to Somalia, where he joined with Al-Shabab, Al-Qaeda’s Somali cell. With his American background, Hammami was the perfect spokesman to recruit Westerners, and what better way to get angry, young Yankees to join Al-Qaeda than rap music? Uploading his tunes to the Internet, Hammami rapped about gangsta topics like the US invasion of Afghanistan and killing Jews, all without music.

In “Send Me a Cruise” (as in “a cruise missile”), Hammami sang about the glory of martyrdom, and in “Make Jihad With Me,” he tried to recruit Americans to destroy Israel. In the classic “Blow by Blow,” he makes it clear that Afghan fighters will never give up, rapping, “It all started out in Afghanistan / When we wiped the oppressors off the land / The Union crumbled, rumbled and tumbled / Humbled, left them mumbled / Made a power withdraw and cower.” Evidently, songwriting isn’t Hammami’s strong suit, and his career came to an end when his own guys sent him on a one-way trip to Paradise. But thankfully for music fans, Al-Qaeda released more sick beats in 2013 thanks to Deso Dogg, a German convert who raps about suicide missions in Syria.

2 They Tried To Kidnap Russell Crowe

"Robin Hood" Premiere - 63rd Cannes Film Festival
In Body of Lies, Russell Crowe plays a CIA officer hunting down terrorists, but in early 2001, the roles were reversed . . . in real life. While filming A Beautiful Mind, Crowe was visited by a group of FBI agents who delivered some disturbing news. Evidently, some terror group named “Al-Qaeda” wanted to kidnap the famous actor. Their plot was to shake up the world by capturing famous American actors (somebody wasn’t doing their homework; Crowe was born in New Zealand and raised in Australia).

However, Crowe didn’t take the threat very seriously. After all, most people hadn’t really heard of Al-Qaeda at the time. But the Bureau took no chances. As Crowe played the part of John Nash, federal agents were on the set at all times. In fact, they followed him around for four years, escorting him to the Oscars and the Golden Globes. They even kept him safe while he shot Master and Commander. Fortunately for movie lovers everywhere, the plot never materialized, and Crowe went on to star in, well, nothing too exciting. Of course, if terrorists really had tried to capture Russell Crowe, chances are pretty good their plot would’ve failed. After all, if there’s one thing Crowe loves, it’s fighting.

1 They Make Their Own Video Games

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Video games are great for relieving stress. After a grueling day at work, who hasn’t felt better after an hour of shooting up aliens? Well, terrorists blow off steam exactly the same way. In 2013, French planes were raining hellfire on Al-Qaeda soldiers in Mali. Frustrated with their inability to fight back, Al-Qaeda did the next best thing—they made their own video game.

In this terrorist version of Space Invader, you can pilot a black-and-gold Al-Qaeda jet. As you dodge from side to side, your craft blasts away at oncoming French planes. The Al-Qaeda jet can take up to 10 shots before crashing, but don’t think of it as losing. Instead of an obnoxious “Game Over” message, a much eerier “Congratulations, you have been martyred” pops up. If you’re interested (and don’t mind showing up on a government watch list), you can play the game here.

Of course, being Al-Qaeda, they also had to find a way to turn video games into weapons. According to a 2011 Wikileaks document, the group was seriously considering turning Sega games into bombs. According to Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a deputy to Abu Faraj al-Libi (the guy who replaced Khalid Shaikh Mohammed), Al-Qaeda was experimenting with explosive devices that would detonate via cellphones. These devices were hidden inside Sega cartridges, turning Earthworm Jim and Sonic the Hedgehog into bombs.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/03/02/10-crazy-facts-about-al-qaeda/

10 Household Appliances With Surprising Alternative Uses

Most of your household appliances are total slackers. They do the one task they were designed for, and spend the rest of their time just sitting around like a stoner roommate. Well, you don’t have to stand for it. Enquiring minds have found that some of your gadgets are able and willing—with the right encouragement—to do much more than they say on the box.

Hair Dryer

When you remove the “hair” aspect of the hair dryer, what you have is a device that spews hot air like a tabloid celebrity. If you need to light a fire, this can come in handy.

A blast of hot air from the dryer not only warms up your wood and kindling, but also generates a draft by heating up a cold chimney—useful to avoid filling the house with smoke. The trick is legitimate enough that it is even recommended by fireplace manufacturers. The only drawback is trying to explain yourself when someone enters the room and finds you blow-drying a pile of wood.

Microwave Dyeing

A microwave oven is pretty much the easiest household appliance there is. There are only two things to remember: it’s good at heating food, and bad at coping with metal.

As it turns out, you can also dye fabric with it. Seriously.

A microwave oven can highly accelerate the dye drying reaction, reducing the process from hours and hours of conventional drying to mere minutes. It’s not just a dangerous novelty act practiced by renegade knitters and outlaw embroiderers, either. Microwaving is not only a recognised method for dye drying, but often the one recommended.

Rice Cooker Cake

Warm, steamed towels are a luxury usually reserved for spas and high-end restaurants. They relax the body, soothe the skin and warm the muscles before a massage (though usually not at a restaurant). Unfortunately, bulky, expensive towel-warming cabinets are difficult to justify for home use. So why spend money on one? After all, you can just steam towels in your rice cooker.

If you’d rather use your rice cooker in a more conventional manner, its name hides the fact that it can also be used for a mind-bogglingly wide array of meals. It can be used for soup, pudding, seafood, slow-cooked pork chops, and even cake.

Freezer Jeans

A freezer or Box of Eternal Winter is an under-appreciated appliance. It’s easy to forget just how useful it is to have harnessed the power of cold. Your average freezer can be used to kill dust mites, prolong the life of NiMH and NiCad batteries, and even temporarily revive crashed computer hard drives long enough to retrieve important data.

One surprising use for a freezer is its ability to clean your jeans. Denim products tend to fade when they’re washed. This can be averted by putting the jeans in a sealable bag and sticking them in the freezer for a week. This treatment should kill bacteria, remove the musty smell, and restore the crispness of new denim.

Waffle Burger

The waffle iron is another prime example of a supposed “uni-tasker” capable of delivering so many more delicacies. The trick here is to forget the word “waffle” and recognise that your iron is essentially a really efficient tabletop grill. You can use the waffle iron to make almost anything: hamburgers, bread pudding, falafel . . . you name it. It can even be used to bake cookies, and is actually a lot faster than the conventional method.

As an added bonus, everything that comes out of the waffle iron will be shaped like a waffle. Waffleburgers, anyone?

Frozen Margarita

Sure, the ice cream maker can be used for experimenting with bacon ice cream. But if you really want to make the most of the machine, skip the ice cream part entirely. An appliance with the ability to create delicious, frozen mush is just screaming to be used with one ingredient in particular: alcohol. The ice cream maker is ideal for making frozen margaritas and other fancy slush drinks that can usually only be enjoyed during a night on the town.

Food Dehydrator

The Food dehydrator is the kind of product that is generally ordered online at 3 a.m. by night owls with a craving for home-made beef jerky. Once it actually arrives, it tends to find its home under the stairs in the why-on-earth-did-I-ever-buy-this cupboard.

Maybe it’s time to crack open that cupboard. Apart from less obvious culinary applications such as making perfect macaroons and re-crisping stale crackers, a food dehydrator can also act as a humidifier. Counter-intuitive as this may seem, it works. Just put it in a few containers of water in the trays of your dehydrator and the water will evaporate, humidifying the space in the process.

To be extra fancy, throw some aromatic plants in there and you’ll have your very own aromatherapy diffuser.

Dishwasher Cat

The dishwasher is designed to kill bacteria and make things clean without breaking anything into tiny pieces. What doesn’t often occur to people is that it will do this regardless of what’s put in it. From unspeakably filthy sports equipment to children’s toys to garden tools to the greasy hubcaps of your car, the dishwasher is able to clean almost anything. The fact that the machine is also designed to be gentle means that you can use it to safely wash things that might lose their shape in a regular washing machine—such as baseball caps.

You can also use it for steamed dishwasher salmon. They say it’s pretty moist. And clean.

Coffee Maker Ramen

Despite having a name that screams “I’m only here to make coffee,” your trusty coffee maker can be quite the multi-tasker if you treat it right. In fact, a good coffee maker is the only device a creative chef needs. Not only can it boil eggs and cook rice, but it can also be used to create fairly complicated dishes such as poached chicken with couscous.

And it gets even better: as one particularly thirsty group of oceanographers found out, the coffee maker can also be used to brew beer. From cereal.

Vacuum Unclog

Depending on whether you’re at your house or someone else’s, clogged drains and toilets can be either a disgustingly unwelcome mishap or a delightful source of schadenfreude. In the case of the former, put down that phone; a plumber may be closer than you think.

Many vacuum cleaner models feature a wet/dry option. As it turns out, it’s not just for sucking up spilled soup—it can also help unclog your drain. If your vacuum can cope with water, it could well succeed where plungers and snakes have tried and failed. Using towels to create a seal, simply place the end of the vacuum hose into any clogged drain and turn the vacuum on. It should hopefully remove any obstructions.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/01/16/10-household-appliances-with-surprising-alternative-uses/

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Puritans

Our history classes tend to teach us that the Puritans were a stuffy, religious folk that wore a lot of black, had buckles on their shoes and invented Thanksgiving. That’s not giving them their due justice, though, and the truth is a lot more interesting than our teachers ever gave them credit for.

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Puritan Money

The Puritan movement gained a huge number of supporters in London and East Anglia, where a newly formed professional class of citizen was struggling with reconciling their present-day life with the teachings of the church. Before, life revolved around surviving, providing for the family, and subsistence. But with the influx of people moving to cities and entering professional careers instead of remaining in rural settings, there was a new pressure on the rural community to farm for profit and provide much-needed food and supplies such as wool for the cities. This led to the development of another class: the highwaymen. According to church rules, charity that would extend to the poor should include these destitute thieves. Many merchants and members of the new professional class began supporting the Puritan movement, who didn’t think that was the case.

9 The Puritans And The Pilgrims Were Completely Different


We tend to think of the Pilgrims and the Puritans as interchangeable, but they were different groups with very different ideologies. While the Pilgrims were breaking all ties to the Anglican Church, the Puritans had no interest in doing so—at least, completely. The split between the Puritans and the Anglican Church was amicable, and many of their old traditions were carried over to their new lives. The Pilgrims had a different view on their church. Before the Pilgrims were known as the Pilgrims, or the Old Comers, as they called themselves, (they weren’t called “Pilgrims” until 1820) they were originally a sect of Puritans called the Separatists. Seen as radicals among the Puritan movement, they believed that the Church of England had grown secular and corrupt. In order to remove themselves from that corruption, the Separatists moved first to the Netherlands. Facing economic failure and fearing a loss of their language and culture, they then moved to the New World. While the Puritans embraced science and newly discovered knowledge, the Pilgrims tended to hang on to more medieval beliefs in astrology, folklore and myths.

8 Puritans Were Scientists


While it often seems that religion and science are at odds, to the Puritans, they went hand in hand. The oldest university in the United States—Harvard—was founded by the Puritans. Named for the institution’s first benefactor, John Harvard, the school was originally founded to teach religious doctrine. However, the curriculum also expanded into the secular world. The Puritans believed that the more they learned about science and nature, the more they honored God. By gaining more intimate knowledge into His creations, they believed it allowed them to become closer to their creator. Anyone allowed to know the innermost workings of His world was clearly in His grace.

7 Puritan Women Were Highly Literate


In a time when women were still largely uneducated, most Puritan women were not only literate but entrusted to run the majority of household, financial, and legal affairs. While women were still considered inferior to men because of the tarnish of original sin, they were also required to fill a very important role in the household: teaching. A literate, well-read mother was more likely to raise godly children, it was thought. It was necessary for her to be able to read to her children, to teach them scripture and give them the foundation that they would need to become good citizens. Many were also allowed to make critical financial decisions for the family if their husband was away; this led to increased suspicion of women and their power, making their education a double-edged sword. This simultaneous elevation and caution about women shows up in census records. Names of women living in the Massachusetts Bay colony include Silence, Be Fruitful, Comfort, Hopestill, Fear, and Prudence, demonstrating some of the traits that parents found most valuable in their daughters.

6 Old Preachers Were Boring


In the early 1600s, Puritans began to migrate away from the established churches and the traditionally long, boring sermons—sermons that they thought inadequately represented their devotion to the belief system. These groups began to look elsewhere for a religious leader, and usually found one in a young, just-out-of-college man, who spoke not only with the energy and excitement they felt their religion deserved but also was up to date on the current reform theories of the day. Gradually, these groups declared themselves separate from the dull old way of thinking and worshiping, and created their own communities. They called themselves “visible saints,” and later went on to lead the Puritan migration to the New World.

5 Puritans Weren’t Opposed To Alcohol


When the Puritans began construction of Harvard University, one of their first projects was a brewery that would provide enough beer to keep the entire faculty and student body comfortable and happy. Alcohol wasn’t just brewed from hops and barley, but also from carrots, tomatoes, onions, beets, and even corn silk. Puritan leaders like Increase Mather and his son, Cotton Mather (more on him in a minute) spoke of alcohol as a gift from God. The elder Mather took the stand that alcohol, and wine in particular, was to be enjoyed and savored (without partaking too much, as that would be wasting God’s gift). The younger Mather went even further, saying that alcohol had spiritual, nutritional, and medical value, but again warned of the dangers of intoxication.

4 Not All Puritans Supported The Salem Witch Trials

Witch Burning

The tragic events that happened around the Salem witch trials have gone a long way toward painting Puritans as blind, religious zealots. That’s far from the truth, though. Cotton Mather, a minister from Boston who was descended from a long line of religious and political leaders, was in his mid-20s at the time of the trials. While he had long been a student of witchcraft and did believe that possession was the work of the devil, he also adamantly opposed aspects of the trial. He took a stand against the admission of spectral evidence into a court of law; this position was largely ignored, however, and went a long way in convicting the accused. Before the trials, Mather, a longtime supporter of revolutionary medical techniques such as the smallpox vaccination, brought the supposedly possessed Goodwin girls into his home for observation. At the time, his clinical observations were seen as support for the idea that they were witches; later, his documents were used as the basis of the behavioral model for those suffering from clinical hysteria.

3 Puritan Clothing Wasn’t All Black

Puritan Clothing

The typical stereotype of Puritan dress is that everyone wore plain black clothing with no ornament. While there was quite a bit of black clothing, the Puritans also used a variety of vegetable dyes to color an array of clothing items. Articles of clothing from dresses to hatbands could be yellow, red, green, blue, or even—in the case of the particularly wealthy—purple. Brightly colored clothing was seen as an expression of social status; the upper class would often dress in deep purples and bright scarlet colors, showing that they could afford to pay for the expensive dyes and fabrics. In the Massachusetts Bay colony, colors were so important that there were laws decreeing who could wear what colors. Those individuals who could boast of an estate worth more than £200 were allowed to wear whatever they wanted, and it wasn’t uncommon for them to have clothing in the high fashion of the day imported from Europe. Somber black was usually reserved for the clergy; on the other end of the spectrum was people like author John Winthrop, who was said to have several dozen scarlet coats purchased and imported from England. These tendencies also mean that the way we tend to picture the Native Americans who interacted with the Puritans is wrong. Trade was free between the peoples, and many Native Americans had abandoned their traditional furs and skins for more European dress by the end of the 17th century.

2 Puritans Preached Separation Of Church And State

Church and State

After being subject to the laws of England where the king was both the head of the government and the ultimate head of the church, the Puritans called for a separation of church and state. High-ranking church officials were legally banned from holding political office. Unlike England, the government had no authority to remove ministers and other individuals from church positions—even if they were found guilty of a secular crime. Alternately, excommunication from the church carried no immediate secular penalties, such as fines or prison. Certain aspects of the church did extend to the government, however. The state had the authority to form new churches. A portion of public taxes went to fund religious organizations.

1 Religious Freedom Didn’t Mean Tolerance

We’re often told that the Puritans left England to seek a land where there was religious freedom for everyone. That’s a bit of a misleading term, though, that today has come to mean that everyone is free to worship how and who they choose. For the Puritans, religious freedom meant that they were free to worship as their own clergy decreed—and God help anyone who thought differently than they did. Words like “heretic” and “heathen” were in use to describe anyone seeking religious freedom in the terms we understand it today. We like to think America was founded on the shoulders of these rebels that thought everyone should be free to follow their own religion, but the truth is that they believed their way was right, and there were no arguments to be had about that. It wasn’t uncommon for those with views different than the norm—whether it be about the practices of religion or even what materials should be accepted—to be banished from their homes. Anne Hutchinson, a Puritan midwife in the 1630s, was forced to leave the Massachusetts Bay colony for holding her own theological discussions based around opinions that didn’t quite match the standard Puritan doctrine. She also committed the sin of reading sermons other than those approved by the Puritan ministers. This version of religious freedom makes our country’s founding look very, very different indeed.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/10/26/10-things-you-didn39t-know-about-the-puritans/

10 Weird And Painful Facts About Shoes

Whether you sport a pair of Nikes, Jimmy Choos, or ugly old Crocs, everybody reading this list owns a pair of shoes. Footwear plays an important part in our lives, whether it’s keeping our toes safe, making us look cool, or helping us seem just a little bit taller. And as one of mankind’s oldest inventions, shoes have had plenty of time to change our lives and take their toll on our bodies.

10Bill Nye Saved Ballerinas’ Feet

Bill Nye is one of the most popular scientists on the planet. He’s popped up in the news lately thanks to a series of public debates, but when he’s not dancing with the stars or posing with Jay-Z, Nye keeps himself busy by, oddly enough, inventing ballet slippers.

Nye is very concerned about ballerina feet. After filming an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy at the Pacific Northwest Ballet, he noticed something disturbing. A lot of the ballerinas were wearing bloody shoes. Bill realized when the dancers perform en pointe, gravity pushes down on their bodies while the floor pushes back up. These combined forces wreck dancers’ feet, so Nye decided to invent a better ballet slipper.

Named the “Toe Shoe,” Nye’s slipper comes with a specially-designed box that protects the toes while supporting the soles, saving ballet dancers from some really nasty injuries.

9Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe

Remember that scene in The Gold Rush where Charlie Chaplin eats his shoe? Trapped in his cabin during a horrible snowstorm, the starving Tramp decides to boil his boot and eat the laces like spaghetti. Fortunately for Chaplin’s digestive tract, the shoe was actually made out of licorice, courtesy of the American Licorice Company. Werner Herzog, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky.

One of Germany’s most prominent filmmakers, Herzog has directed classics such as Aguirre, the Wrath of God and documentaries like Grizzly Man. He also enjoys making crazy bets. According to Herzog, he was chatting with future director Errol Morris one day when Morris mentioned how difficult it was to find funding for his films. Wanting to challenge his buddy, Herzog told Morris to keep trying, and then added that if he ever finished a movie, “I am going to eat my shoe.”

In 1978, Morris finally released Gates of Heaven, the first of his many documentaries. Always a good sport, Herzog stuck by his word and kept his bargain in 1980. With filmmaker Les Blank filming the proceedings, Herzog cooked his shoe in garlic and duck fat and started chowing down. While completely edible, it probably wasn’t as palatable as Chaplin’s candied boot.

8The Mysterious Shoe Corner Of Hanover Township

Whether it’s a creepy dog park or a portal to hell, every town has its mysterious secrets. Hanover Township is known across Indiana for a particularly strange phenomenon. For the past 50 years or so, a mysterious pile of shoes has grown on the corner of the intersection on 109th Avenue and Calumet Street.

Over the years, every kind of shoe imaginable has shown up at the intersection, from cowboy boots to flip-flops and even a pair of clown shoes. Most of the shoes are rather worn, but a surprising number are brand new, straight from the store. The highway department regularly scoops up the footwear, but the pile is never gone for long. As soon as one clump of shoes disappears, another takes its place. While students are the most likely culprits, no one in town has ever taken responsibility, and no one has ever been caught in the act.

Weirdest of all, no one has any clue how the tradition got started. One prominent theory is that, once upon a time, a bum sat at the intersection, begging for shoes. After he moved on, people just kept on dumping their sandals and sneakers in his memory. Another theory states that the good citizens of Hanover Township started leaving gifts for a poor farming family too proud to ask for help. However, the most fantastic theory is that someone originally left a single men’s shoe and a women’s shoe. The two did what males and females are made to do, and soon, shoes covered the place.

7Roman Kids Wore Shoes As Status Symbols


Though technology has evolved in the last few thousand years, human nature has barely changed at all. For example, check out the Romans. They were just as fashion conscious as we are, and when they woke up in the morning, they dressed to impress. Shoes played a big role in Roman life, and both plebeians and patricians knew that footwear sent out an important message. It let everyone know who you were and how much money you had, just as it does today. Only, in the Roman days, the system was a bit more formalized.

According to archaeologists working at the Vinolanda fort in northern Britain, Roman kids wore shoes that looked exactly like their parents’. And it wasn’t due to some cute wish to be like mommy or daddy. These identical shoes were a way of saying, “I belong in this social class.”

When researchers discovered the lodgings of a prefect named Flavius Cerialis, they found a baby shoe that was a miniature version of a rich man’s boot. Even though it was designed for a kid who couldn’t walk, the shoe was made of pricey leather and was held together by a solid set of iron hobnails. But when archaeologists went poking around the barracks area, they found child-sized boots that looked like what an average Roman soldier would wear. Just imagine a modern military man dressing his kids in combat boots so the world would know their dad was a soldier.

However, for one of the most powerful armies in the history of mankind, Roman legionnaires certainly committed their share of fashion crimes. In 2010, researchers were analyzing a pair of Roman sandals when they realized the rust on one of the nails contained traces of fibers that came from a sock. Yes—Romans indulged in the horrible habit of wearing open-toed sandals with socks. Of course, as the sandal was found in North Yorkshire, the soldier probably needed them to fend off the cold, so we’ll forego tossing him to the fashion gladiators.

6The Mike Milbury Shoe Incident

It was December 23, 1979, the Boston Bruins were playing the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden, and things were heating up. After Boston won the game by one point, Bruins left winger Al Secord decided it was a good time to punch the Rangers’ center, Ulf Nilsson. The situation was quickly devolving when a crazy Rangers fan named John Kaptain leaned over the glass and whacked Bruins enforcer Stan Jonathan in the face with a rolled-up magazine. Adding insult to injury, Kaptain then stole the man’s stick and rushed off into the stands.

There’s an old joke that goes, “I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out.” Well, that’s pretty much what happened. Eighteen Bruins players jumped over the glass panel and did battle with the Rangers fans. As for Kaptain, he had the misfortune into running into Bruins players Peter McNab and “Mad” Mike Milbury.

What happened next has become enshrined in hockey lore. While the two players held him down, Milbury yanked off one of Kaptain’s shoes and started beating him with it. After he finished pouring out his sole, Milbury tossed the shoe into the rink, forcing Kaptain to walk home barefoot.

After the fight (and subsequent riot), Milbury and two other players were suspended, and all but one of the Bruins were fined $500 each. But while Kaptain threatened a lawsuit, the Shoe Incident didn’t lead to any serious repercussions other than higher barriers in Madison Square Garden. Mad Mike went on to become a commentator and general manager of the New York Islanders, but nearly 35 years later, he’s still best remembered for the time he whacked a fan with his own shoe.

5NASA Invented Jet Shoes

The 1960s was the decade to work for NASA. The Space Race was in full swing, the moon was on everybody’s mind, and astronauts were the coolest people on the planet. But space travel could’ve been even more awesome if scientists had finished working on a certain sci-fi project. NASA researchers were testing a pair of fully functional jet-propelled space boots.

The genius behind these crazy clodhoppers was NASA Langley engineer John D. Bird. Inspired by the “Flying Platform” and the way divers propelled themselves with flippers, Bird created a pair of shoes that blasted astronauts through space like Tony Stark. These futuristic boots were worn over an astronaut’s shoes and hooked up to a special backpack full of pressurized oxygen. If the spaceman wanted to move forward, he’d activate a switch inside his shoe using his big toe, releasing streams of oxygen from each boot.

Since these things didn’t come with a steering wheel, astronauts would direct their flight paths with their legs and feet. Not only did this system play on man’s sense of balance, but it allowed astronauts to keep their hands free in case they needed to do any work.

As nutty as all this sounds, the jet shoes actually passed a series of tests, but researchers still had their doubts. They weren’t sure the toe switch would function in a pressurized suit, and they were worried the shoes were just too heavy. The jet shoes were eventually scrapped, leaving the world a little bit less awesome.

4Prostitute Shoes


What’s a chef without an apron, a doctor without a stethoscope, a prostitute without platform shoes? Footwear has always been an important part of a hooker’s ensemble. In Japan, royal concubines tottered around elevated getas, and courtesans in Renaissance-era Venice accompanied noblemen while balancing on 75-centimeter (30 inch) heels. However, perhaps the strangest pair of seductive sandals came from Ancient Greece, where everything was legal and prostitutes paid taxes.

Back when the gods hung out on Mt. Olympus, the lowest of the lowly hookers were known as “pornai” (care to guess which modern-day word derives from that?). Many of the pornai were slaves, stolen from areas like Thrace and modern-day Turkey. Considered barbarians because they couldn’t speak Greek, the pornai worked the streets, hustling on the dusty, unpaved roads.

While these dirt paths were probably murder in the rain, they were perfect for free advertising. The pornai wore studded sandals that imprinted phrases like “follow me” in the sandy streets, leaving a trail for any prospective john. And not a lot has changed since the days of Zeus. Inspired by these ancient shoes, a group called The Aphrodite Project has created a special pair of heels that come with a siren for scaring off attackers and a GPS tracker in case the wearer disappears.

3The Shoes Of World Leaders


It’s rather stressful being a world leader. They have to deal with pressing matters of state, and, worse, they always have to worry about their shoes. Take the president of the United States for example. His tootsies are stylishly covered thanks to the hard work of Johnston & Murphy. Founded in William Dudley’s basement in 1850, the company has provided shoes for every president from Millard Filmore to Barack Obama. And while we’re on the subject, Abraham Lincoln holds the record for the Oval Office’s biggest foot (a whopping size 14), and Rutherford B. Hayes has the smallest (a shrimpy little 7).

But when it comes to style, Queen Elizabeth outshines them all. Attended by a team of fashion experts, the Queen’s outfits are listed in a computer program which keeps track of when she wore what and why. This way, she never wears the same thing to the same kind of occasion twice. Her attendees even have nicknames for her clothing, like a yellow dress they’ve codenamed “buttercup.”

Extra precautions are made to take care of the royal feet. As the Queen can’t exactly slip off her heels in the middle of an event, her designers have to make sure her shoes are as soft as possible. To achieve maximum comfort, the Queen has a servant break her shoes in until they’re nice and comfy. It’s one of the little perks that comes with being a queen.

2Shoes Changed How We Run

If you know one of those marathon maniacs known as “joggers,” you’ve no doubt heard of the latest exercise craze: barefoot running. Obviously, this isn’t great for running over rocky terrain or shards of glass while battling terrorists. However, Harvard biologist Daniel Liebman claims that jogging barefoot might actually be better for our bodies than running in sneakers.

Running shoes have only been popular for the past 40 years or so. Before that, people had to do without the luxury of cushioned heels. And as Liebman discovered, those cushions make a huge difference in the way people naturally move. Liebman observed several groups of US and Kenyan athletes running with or without shoes. Some had spent their whole lives running barefoot, some were lifelong shoe people, and others had recently converted to one camp or the other. Sneaker people hit the ground heel-first, while the barefoot bunch stepped toes- or mid-foot first.

When you strike the ground heel-first, you send a massive shock wave up your body. According to Liebman, it’s like “someone hitting you on the heel with a hammer two to three times your body weight.” Running barefoot is a totally different story. When you land toes-first, almost no force slams into your feet because your weight is better distributed and your steps are bouncier.

As Liebman points out, there’s no way our ancestors—without the aid of Adidas or Puma—could have run heel-first. It would’ve put too much stress on their bodies. So running shoes have changed the way we move.

1Cinderella Surgeries

High heels were originally invented for men—specifically, for Persian soldiers. Women only picked up on the trend in the 1630s. Ever since then, however, high heels have been a female fashion staple, and while some see them as symbols of oppression, others view them as objects of empowerment and sex appeal. But beauty comes with a price, and anyone who’s ever slipped on a pair of pumps knows heels are painful, especially if you don’t possess perfect movie star feet.

However, procedures have come along that promise to change the high heel game. Known as “Cinderella surgeries,” these operations make it less painful for women to wear their favorite shoes. A few procedures are relatively simple, such as snipping away irritating bunions. Then there’s the collagen injection where doctors stick a syringe in a woman’s sole and fill her up with loads of fat. Voila! Instant cushion.

But the most shocking surgery involves the toes. Say a woman has a few toes on her left foot that are longer than the rest, forcing her to wear two different sized heels. Well, thanks to the “Cinderella surgery,” doctors can shave off a few centimeters of toe, and now her problems are solved. Even worse, some women are completely lopping off their pinky toes, leaving them with only four piggies per foot.

While these operations are radical and, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, rather dangerous, it helps to remember the pressure women are under to live up to certain expectations of beauty. As one patient put it, “Unless you’ve been there, and you can’t find shoes, and you’re in pain, don’t judge.”

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/06/09/10-painful-facts-about-shoes/

Top 20 Facts About Sleep

The science of sleep is a modern one – in fact most scientific information on sleep has been gained in the last 25 years. This is a list of 20 very interesting facts about sleep.

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Facts 1 – 10

1. The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.

2. It’s impossible to tell if someone is really awake without close medical supervision. People can take cat naps with their eyes open without even being aware of it.

3. Anything less than five minutes to fall asleep at night means you’re sleep deprived. The ideal is between 10 and 15 minutes, meaning you’re still tired enough to sleep deeply, but not so exhausted you feel sleepy by day.

4. Dreams, once thought to occur only during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, also occur (but to a lesser extent) in non-REM sleep phases. It’s possible there may not be a single moment of our sleep when we are actually dreamless.

5. REM dreams are characterised by bizarre plots, but non-REM dreams are repetitive and thought-like, with little imagery – obsessively returning to a suspicion you left your mobile phone somewhere, for example.

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6. Certain types of eye movements during REM sleep correspond to specific movements in dreams, suggesting at least part of the dreaming process is analagous to watching a film

7. Elephants sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lie down for REM sleep.

8. Some scientists believe we dream to fix experiences in long-term memory, that is, we dream about things worth remembering. Others think we dream about things worth forgetting – to eliminate overlapping memories that would otherwise clog up our brains.

9. Dreams may not serve any purpose at all but be merely a meaningless byproduct of two evolutionary adaptations – sleep and consciousness.

10. Scientists have not been able to explain a 1998 study showing a bright light shone on the backs of human knees can reset the brain’s sleep-wake clock.

Facts 11 – 20

11. British Ministry of Defence researchers have been able to reset soldiers’ body clocks so they can go without sleep for up to 36 hrs. Tiny optical fibres embedded in special spectacles project a ring of bright white light (with a spectrum identical to a sunrise) around the edge of soldiers’ retinas, fooling them into thinking they have just woken up. The system was first used on US pilots during the bombing of Kosovo.

12. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have all been attributed to human errors in which sleep-deprivation played a role.

13. The “natural alarm clock” which enables some people to wake up more or less when they want to is caused by a burst of the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin. Researchers say this reflects an unconscious anticipation of the stress of waking up.

14. Tiny luminous rays from a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt the sleep cycle even if you do not fully wake. The light turns off a “neural switch” in the brain, causing levels of a key sleep chemical to decline within minutes.

15. Humans sleep on average around three hours less than other primates like chimps, rhesus monkeys, squirrel monkeys and baboons, all of whom sleep for 10 hours.

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16. Ducks at risk of attack by predators are able to balance the need for sleep and survival, keeping one half of the brain awake while the other slips into sleep mode.

17. Diaries from the pre-electric-light-globe Victorian era show adults slept nine to 10 hours a night with periods of rest changing with the seasons in line with sunrise and sunsets.

18. Most of what we know about sleep we’ve learned in the past 25 years.

19. The extra-hour of sleep received when clocks are put back at the start of daylight in Canada has been found to coincide with a fall in the number of road accidents.

20. Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24-hour accessibility of the internet.

Source: ABC News Australia

Read more: http://listverse.com/2007/10/29/top-20-facts-about-sleep/

10 More Things You Don’t Know

Ever wanted to learn interesting facts or difficult skills, merely by eating another person who already learned them for you? Studies have shown that certain kinds of flatworm can do exactly that: simply by eating the mashed-up corpses of their wise and experienced elders, they can learn how to navigate a maze, for instance. Since we humans have to rely on other means of acquiring knowledge, here’s a list to get you started:

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One theory of why Albert Einstein was so brilliant at mathematics has to do with a physical abnormality: he was born without the visual reasoning center of his brain. This is the center that enables you to comprehend the difference between a zebra and a trash can. Assuming Einstein had never seen either, he would not have been able to reason which was which. But to make up for this, his mathematical computation center grew to twice the size of yours and mine, because it was able to use all the room next door where visual reasoning was absent.


Because of Fearless Felix Baumgartner and his record breaking skydive in October this year, scientists now know for a fact that if an astronaut equipped with a parachute were to become trapped outside a stationary spacecraft in orbit, he could simply kick off the side of the craft and fall to Earth. He would have to radio ahead, of course, lest he find himself bouncing around in the middle of an ocean. If he were to wear a wing-suit, then upon striking sufficiently thick atmosphere, he would be able to glide the whole way across the Atlantic Ocean, from Nova Scotia to Ireland.

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The astronauts who walked on the Moon quickly discovered a number of very strange things about it, and most of these remain unsolved mysteries to this day. As an example, whenever a meteor of the size of a basketball of larger struck the Moon, the astronauts reported hearing the Moon ring like a gigantic gong – as though it were hollow metal. The Moon is pitched in C-sharp.

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In almost all commercial and print advertisements, watches and clocks read 10:10. If it’s a watch commercial, this is because the hands don’t block the brand name. If the time is featured in a commercial or ad for any other product, the hands resemble a person’s arms raised in happiness. It is a more positive hand position than the inversion of 8:20, and banks on the theory that a person in a happier frame of mind is easier to persuade.


Certain species of planarians (a type of flatworm) have been gradually taught to run a maze. If you grind them up and feed them to a second batch of planarians, the second batch can run the maze on the first try.


There is a South Dakota state law, still current, that goes as follows: “Any group of five or more Indians of any tribe or nation is to be considered a raiding party and may be fired upon.” Many lists could be compiled of truly stupid laws, but this one is genuinely dangerous. A person in South Dakota could deliberately murder 5 Native Americans at once and get off scot free.

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You are born with all the brain cells you’re going to get, anywhere from 50 to 100 billion. They are the smallest cells in the body. Once they die, the number goes down and stays down. A 12-ounce beer will kill precisely zero of them. Drinking 5 beers and waking up with a hangover will kill precisely zero of them. But drinking yourself sick every day for 30 years will kill millions of them, because of the stress through which you’re putting your brain. The next morning’s headache is caused by the alcohol evaporating water all over the body, especially in the head. Drinking water during the night’s festivities will largely prevent the hangover. However, a 10-minute fever at 106 degrees Fahrenheit will kill about 50 million brain cells.

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If hunters are counted as a military force, the State of Wisconsin has the 8th largest standing army in the world, at about 615,000. That’s almost 100,000 more armed people than there are in the Iranian Army.


One of the most horrifying cryptids is the J’ba fofi (CHAH-bah FOO-fee). It is a brown spider, either a tarantula or something similar, with a leg span of four to six feet. The Baka tribe of the Congo Jungle in Africa swears these spiders exist. The Baka have never profited a single cent from tales of the spider, and they adamantly maintain that it lives just outside their villages. It builds ground webs of leaves formed into tubes resembling cornucopias, with a sheet of silk around the front. The Baka claim that anything smaller than a medium-sized dog – including children – can be snatched by the spiders

1024-Masseter Muscle

Consider this a definitive answer to a recurring trivia question. The strongest muscle in the human body, in proportion to weight, is the masseter muscle, which is the muscle you use for mastication. You have two – one on either side of your jaw – and each can impart 900 pounds of force. If only your teeth could withstand it, you’d be able to chew up a cinder block, or puncture a truck tire.

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The butter vs cooking oil debate has finally been resolved. Fotie Photenhauer has published a cookbook in which every recipe calls for human semen as a cooking oil. He touts it as extremely nutritious.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2012/11/26/10-more-things-you-dont-know/

10 Fascinating Facts About The Samurai

Samurai are legendary warriors and perhaps the most well-known class of people in ancient Japan. They were noble fighters that fought evil (and each other) with their swords and frightening armor, following a strict moral code that governed their entire life.

That’s the popular idea, anyway. In reality, there’s much more to the samurai . . . 

10 Female “Samurai”

While “samurai” is a strictly masculine term, the Japanese bushi class (the social class samurai came from) did feature women who received similar training in martial arts and strategy. These women were called “Onna-Bugeisha,” and they were known to participate in combat along with their male counterparts. Their weapon of choice was usually the naginata, a spear with a curved, sword-like blade that was versatile, yet relatively light.

Since historical texts offer relatively few accounts of these female warriors (the traditional role of a Japanese noblewoman was more of a homemaker), we used to assume they were just a tiny minority. However, recent research indicates that Japanese women participated in battles quite a lot more often than history books admit. When remains from the site of the Battle of Senbon Matsubaru in 1580 were DNA-tested, 35 out of 105 bodies were female. Research on other sites has yielded similar results.

9 The Armor

The strangest thing about the samurai is probably their weird-looking, ornate armor. However, each piece of it was functional. The samurai armor, unlike the armor worn by European knights, was always designed for mobility. A good suit of armor had to be sturdy, yet flexible enough to allow its wearer free movement in the battlefield. The armor was made of lacquered plates of either leather or metal, carefully bound together by laces of leather or silk. The arms were protected by large, rectangular shoulder shields and light, armored sleeves. The right hand was often left without a sleeve to allow maximum movement.

The strangest and most convoluted part of the armor, the kabuto helmet, also served its purpose. Its bowl was made of riveted metal plates, while the face and brow were protected by a piece of armor that tied around behind the head and under the helmet. The most famous feature of the helmet was its Darth Vader–like neck guard (Darth Vader’s design was actually influenced by samurai helmets). It defended the wearer from arrows and swords coming from all angles. Many helmets also featured ornaments and attachable pieces, including a mustachioed, demonic mengu mask that both protected the face and frightened the enemy. A leather cap worn underneath the helmet provided much-needed padding.

Although the samurai armor went through significant changes over time, its overall look always remained fairly consistent to the untrained eye. It was so well-made and effective that the US Army actually based the first modern flak jackets on samurai armor.

8 Homosexuality

Not many people know that samurai were extremely open-minded when it comes to sexual relations. Much like the Spartans, another warrior culture, the samurai not only accepted the presence of same-sex relations in their culture—they actively encouraged them. These relationships were generally formed between an experienced samurai and a youth he was training (again, very much like the Spartans). The practice was known as wakashudo (“the way of the youth”), and it was reportedly done by all members of the class. In fact, wakashudo was such a common thing that a daimyo might have faced some embarrassing questions if he didn’t engage in it.

Although wakashudo was considered a fundamental aspect of the way of the samurai, history has kept relatively quiet about it. Pop culture depictions of samurai, ushered in by director Akira Kurosawa and his trusted actor Toshiro Mifune, have never addressed this fact either.

7 Western Samurai

Readers who have seen the movie The Last Samurai might know that under special circumstances, someone outside Japan could fight alongside the samurai, and even become one himself. This special honor (which included samurai weapons and a new, Japanese name) could only be bestowed by powerful leaders, such as daimyos (territorial lords) or the shogun (warlord) himself.

History knows four Western men who have been granted the dignity of the samurai: adventurer William Adams, his colleague Jan Joosten van Lodensteijn, Navy officer Eugene Collache, and arms dealer Edward Schnell. Out of the four, Adams was the first and the most influential: he served as a bannerman and advisor to the Shogun himself. Amusingly, neither of the people Tom Cruise’s Last Samurai character was based on (Frederick Townsend Ward and Jules Brunet) were ever made samurai.

6 The Numbers

Many people think the samurai were either a rare elite force (much like Navy SEALS or the Russian Spetznaz today) or a small, tightly defined caste of noblemen. However, they were actually an entire social class. Originally, “samurai” meant “those who serve in close attendance to the nobility.” In time, the term evolved and became associated with the bushi class, middle- and upper-tier soldiers in particular.

This means there were quite a lot more of these mighty warriors than we generally assume. In fact, at the peak of their power, up to 10 percent of Japan’s population was samurai. Because of their large numbers and long influence in Japan’s history, every single Japanese person living today is said to have at least some samurai blood in them.

5 Fashion

Samurai were the rock stars of their time and their style of clothing massively influenced the fashion of the era. However, save for the most formal occasions, samurai themselves didn’t dress to impress. Although their clothing was elaborate, every aspect of it was designed to fit their needs as warriors.

Samurai dressed for speed, travel, and freedom of movement. Their regular outfit consisted of wide hakama trousers and a kimono or a hitatare, a two-part vest with imposing shoulder points. The costume left the arms free, and the hitatare vest could quickly be removed in case of a surprise attack. The kimono was generally made of silk because of its coolness, feel, and appearance. For footwear, either wooden clogs or sandals were used.

The most distinctive part of samurai fashion, the topknot hairstyle, was also the most widespread. Except for Buddhist monks (who shave their heads), people of all social classes wore the topknot hairstyle for hundreds of years. The habit of combining the topknot with a partially shaved head may have developed out of necessity: The shaved forehead made it more comfortable to wear a helmet.

4The Weapons

As soldiers, samurai employed a number of different weapons. They originally carried a sword called a “chokuto,” which was essentially a slimmer, smaller version of the straight swords later used by medieval knights.

As sword-making techniques progressed, the samurai switched to curved swords, which eventually evolved into the katana. The katana is perhaps the most famous sword type in the world and certainly the most iconic of all samurai weapons. Bushido (the samurai code) dictated that a samurai’s soul was in his katana, which made it the most important weapon he carried. Katanas were usually carried with a smaller blade in a pair called “daisho,” which was a status symbol used exclusively by the samurai class.

While some samurai did indeed fight with nothing but their katana, most took a more practical approach. Swords were far from the only weapon they had at their disposal. They commonly used the yumi, a longbow they practiced religiously with. Spears became important as personal bravery on the battlefield was eventually replaced by meticulous planning and tactics. When gunpowder was introduced in the 16th century, the samurai abandoned their bows in favor of firearms and cannons. Their long-distance weapon of choice was the tanegashima, a flintlock rifle that became popular among Edo-era samurai and their footmen. Cannons and other gunpowder weapons were also commonly employed.

3 Education

As the essential nobility of their era, members of the samurai class were far more than mere warriors. The majority of samurai were very well-educated. At a time when very few Europeans could read, the level of samurai literacy was extremely high. They were also skilled in mathematics.

Bushido dictated that a samurai strives to better himself in a multitude of ways, including those unrelated to combat. This is why the samurai class participated in a number of cultural and artistic endeavors. Poetry, rock gardens, monochrome ink paintings, and the tea ceremony were common aspects of samurai culture. They also studied subjects such as calligraphy, literature, and flower arranging.

2Physical Characteristics

The imposing armor and weaponry makes samurai seem gigantic, and they’re often depicted as quite large and well-built in pop culture. This could not be farther from the truth. In reality, most samurai were quite tiny—a 16th century samurai was usually very slim and ranging from 160 to 165 centimeters (5’3″ to 5’5″) in height. For comparison, European knights of the same period probably ranged from 180 to 196 centimeters (6′ to 6’5″).

What’s more, the noble samurai might not have been as “pure” as the notoriously race-conscious Japanese would like. Compared to the average Japanese person, members of the samurai class were noticeably hairier and their skin was lighter. Their profile—namely, the bridge of their nose—was also distinctly more European. In an ironic twist, this seems to indicate that the samurai actually descend from an ethnic group called the Ainu, who are considered inferior by the Japanese and are often the subject of discrimination.

1 Suicide Rituals

One of the most terrifying things about the way of the samurai is seppuku (also known as “hara-kiri”). It is the gruesome suicide a samurai must perform if he fails to follow bushido or is likely to be captured by enemy. Seppuku can be either a voluntary act or a punishment. Either way, it is generally seen as an extremely honorable way to die.

Most people are familiar with the “battlefield” version of seppuku, which is a quick and messy affair. It is performed by piercing the stomach with a short blade and moving it from left to right, until the performer has sliced himself open and essentially disemboweled himself. At this point, an attendant—usually a friend of the samurai—decapitates the disemboweled samurai with a sword (otherwise, dying would be an extremely long and painful process). However, the full-length seppuku is a far more elaborate process.

A formal seppuku is a long ritual that starts with a ceremonial bathing. Then, the samurai is dressed in white robes and given his favorite meal (much like the last meal of death row prisoners). After he has finished eating, a blade will be placed on his empty plate. He will then write a death poem, a traditional tanka text where he expresses his final words. After the poem is finished, he grabs the blade, wraps a cloth around it (so it won’t cut his hand), and does the deed. Again, the attendant finishes him by cutting his head off. However, he aims to leave a small strip of flesh in the front so that the head will fall forward and remain in the dead samurai’s embrace. This is also so that the head will not accidentally fly at the spectators, which would cause the attendant eternal shame.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/08/06/10-fascinating-facts-about-the-samurai/

25 Fascinating and Fun Factlets

Facts, facts, facts – we can’t get enough of them! This list looks at facts that are both fun and fascinating and, hopefully, largely unknown to most of our readers. They are generally tidbits of information that are not going to help you in your daily life, but they might give you something to talk about at a party. Feel free to add more to the comments.


1. Dracula is the most filmed story of all time. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde comes second and Oliver Twist comes third.

2. Donald Duck has a sister called Dumbella.

3. Coca Cola has a pH of 2.8.

4. Al Capone’s older brother was a policeman in Nebraska.

5. Henry Ford never had a driver’s license.


6. The original name of Pacman was going to be Puck Man until the developers saw the obvious potential for parody.

7. Frank Baum got the name Oz in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ from his alphabetized filing cabinet (O-Z).

8. The Buzz generated by an electric razor in Britain is in the key of G. In America it is in the key of B flat.

9. More than half the world’s population have never made or received a telephone call.

10. Eskimos never gamble.


11. The Snickers bar was named after a horse the Mars family owned.

12. Tomato Ketchup was once sold as medicine

13. George W. Bush was the 17th US state governor to become president.

14. Buenos Aires has more psychoanalysts, per head, than any other place in the world

15. Oscars given out during World War 2 were made of wood, because metal was in short supply.

Chinese Bride

16. 75 percent of Japanese women own vibrators. The global average is 47 percent.

17. The Christmas holidays are the busiest times in plastic surgeons offices.

18. There has never been a sex-change operation performed in Ireland.

19. In China, the bride wears red.

20. Mexico City has more taxis than any other city in the world.


21. Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

22. President Andrew Jackson once killed a man in a duel because he insulted his wife.

23. The first ice pop dates back to 1923, when lemonade salesman Frank Epperson left a glass of lemonade outside one cold night. The next morning, the ice pop was born – and originally called the epsicle ice pop.

24. Nobody knows were Mozart is buried.

25. Leonardo da Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the other at the same time.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2011/04/29/25-fascinating-and-fun-factlets/

10 Strange Sex Facts From Around The World

As anyone who’s done an Internet search without carefully filtering the results can attest, people do some crazy things with their clothes off. Around the world, humanity has a grand history of holding some rather bizarre attitudes toward sex, and whether it leads to sexual proclivity or prudishness, there are a ton of strange happenings regarding sex.

10Nazi Sex Dolls


It is easy to forget just what a horrifying scourge syphilis used to be. Today, the offending bacteria is easily cleared up with a regimen of antibiotics, but not so long ago, it waylaid entire generations. The latent stages of syphilis ravaged the entire body and left victims brain-damaged. Al Capone, a well-known sufferer, was said to be raving and disoriented toward the end of his life, with the mental capacity of a child.

During World War II, soldiers consorting with prostitutes and acquiring sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis were a huge problem. In order to combat infections among the Wehrmacht, Hitler had blow-up sex dolls made. The dolls, which sported a fashionable bob haircut, enjoyed a brief trial before the campaign ended. It’s believed the last of the prototypes was lost during the firebombing of Dresden.

9 Impotence Trials


Catholics tend to be extremely serious about matrimony, especially the whole “til death do us part” bit. The Pope’s refusal to grant King Henry VIII an annulment led to the English Reformation. Worming out of a marriage, however embattled, was practically impossible. But toward the end of the Middle Ages, a bizarre trial emerged in France. While such concepts as “irreconcilable differences” had yet to be invented, there was one grievance the courts would hear: impotence.

Any man who has gotten pee shy while standing next to someone else at a urinal need not read further. Any husband accused of impotence obviously had the burden of proof. The test to indicate his prowess included “standing at attention” before a tribunal of clergy, physicians, and like-minded parties. He would then be forced to ejaculate to their satisfaction.

Not surprisingly, many gentlemen failed this audition. There was, however, a second chance. Should one wilt under scrutiny, he could request a “Trial by Congress,” which essentially boiled down to a live sex show between the indicted husband and the accusing party. Today’s divorce trials are certainly less entertaining, if no less venomous. Not surprisingly, the Catholic Church’s views on the issue have not evolved much.

8 Government-Funded Prostitute Visits

Amsterdam’s Red Light District, De Wallen, is well-known for quasi-legal prostitution and its traffic of international tourists. But among the back-slapping frat boys and narrow-eyed perverts, there are some unexpected customers. In an effort to grant the physically disabled citizens the chance to experience sexual intimacy, the government of Holland has been known to provide them with a monthly stipend with which to visit prostitutes. The Netherlands is far from the only country that affords the handicapped subsidies for adult companionship. They are also available in Switzerland and Germany, among other places, and there are movements to legalize sexual surrogates in Australia and France.

7The Thunderbolt Of Flaming Wisdom

Ta Phrom temple

We tend to think of Buddhist monks living a very spartan lifestyle, shunning earthly indulgences. But 500 years ago, a Tibetan monk named Drupkka Kunley enjoyed the kind of sex life that would make Hugh Hefner seem like a virgin. Although he accomplished much during his lifetime, including introducing Buddhism to Bhutan and building the Chimi Lhakhang monastery, Kunley was best known for his campaign of romance.

Kunley preached enlightenment through sex, earning the title “The Saint of 5,000 Women.” The monk, perpetually drenched in alcohol, claimed to be able to change demonesses into good deities by striking them with his penis, which became known as “The Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom,” clearly the coolest nickname for a dude’s manhood ever.

6Romantic Sleepovers


In much of the West, teenage sex is had under secretive circumstances, groping in the backseat of cars away from the prying eyes of parents. For a teenage boy in the US, the very prospect of meeting his girlfriend’s father inspires terror. And, while a report by the CDC indicates that teen pregnancy in the US is plummeting, it’s still extremely high, right around 30 cases in 1,000, more than six times higher than the Netherlands.

The statistic is especially curious given the sexually permissive culture of the Netherlands. In the US, teenagers would never dream of asking their parents for permission to sleep together at home. Dutch parents, however, are somewhat more accepting of the idea of “romantic sleepovers” held between teen lovers. There is some debate as to exactly how prevalent these rendezvous actually are, but it’s clear that Dutch parents are far more open with their children about sexuality, and this education has led them toward more responsible decisions.

5 Homophobia


Same-sex marriage has become a hot-button issue around the world, with 15 countries legalizing it and other nations, like the US, allowing it on a jurisdictional basis. But in the Caribbean nation of Jamaica, gay, lesbian, and transgendered people dream not of happy nuptials but of survival.

Often thought of as a tropical paradise by tourists sunning themselves on its beach resorts, Jamaica regularly vies with countries like Venezuela and Belize for the title of the world’s murder capitol. For gays, things are far worse. Although it’s not technically illegal to be gay in Jamaica, sex between men is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. There are no laws against hate crimes, and violence against homosexuals is widespread. Police rarely investigate these attacks and put forth a purely symbolic effort. In 2004, Brian Williamson, the head of J-Flag (a Jamaican gay rights group), was found stabbed to death, one of only dozens of such incidents.

Popular Jamaican reggae artists often incorporate vicious and hateful lyrics into their songs. Artist Buju Banton, tied to at least one assault, advocates shooting gays with Uzis and burning them with acid.

4Sex Drive-Ins


For those who frequent prostitutes (or play Grand Theft Auto), the concept of a car date will be quite familiar. You cruise down to one of your city’s seedier neighborhoods, pick up a lady wearing latex pants, and make for the nearest dark alley. Of course, the danger of such activities cannot be understated—prostitutes are a favorite target for serial killers. Gary Ridgway, better known the Green River Killer, had an infamous predilection for ladies of the night, and he may have killed over 100 such victims.

Sex drive-ins were first established in the Netherlands in the mid-1980s, spreading to Germany in 2001. In 2013, one even opened in Zurich, Switzerland. The facility resembles a row of open garages, where a customer can park his car in relative seclusion. Zurich’s sex drive-in serves a number of purposes. Built in an industrial area, it relocates prostitutes away from the city center. More importantly, it helps to ensure the safety and well-being of the girls. There are security guards on duty, along with alarm buttons wired into each box in case of emergency. An attending doctor and social worker promote physical and mental health.

Sex boxes are an extremely forward-thinking gesture, probably best described as being in their “beta phase.” If you’re hoping to see one in your neighborhood any time soon, you’d best write your congressman.

3 Lights Out


Halloween is naturally associated with horrors. Poisoned candy and razorblades in apples have largely proven the stuff of urban legend, but the world is full of real-life monsters. Millions of unattended children visiting the houses of strangers is an opportunity some predators can’t resist. In some areas of Texas, authorities have established a “Lights Out” program, which aims to keep sex offenders under control.

Lights Out was implemented in 2005 after a sex offender was seen at an elementary school Halloween party. It required all sex offenders to refrain from putting up any decorations or keeping any exterior lights on during Halloween, thus dissuading children from approaching their homes. The following year, the program was taken a step farther: Sex offenders were required to report to their probation officers on Halloween night between 6:00 and 9:30 PM, where they attend a counseling session and take a drug test.

2 Magdalene Asylums


The defense of a woman’s propriety has taken many strange turns, but few more punishing than the so-called Magdalene asylums. These facilities, ostensibly populated by prostitutes, were designed to keep women from sacrificing themselves to promiscuity. While some of the residents were prostitutes, many were ordinary girls, some just 12 years old, committed by family members who were afraid for their morality.

The best-known Magdalene asylums were in Ireland. There, the women were—for all intents and purposes—slaves. They generally acted as laundresses, symbolically washing away their sins as Mary Magdalene surrendered her immoral ways to become a disciple of Jesus. The women were forced to live asexual lives—their hair was shaved and their breasts bound. Abuse of all sorts, including beatings, were common.

While most of the world’s Magdalene asylums closed long ago, the last such institution did not shutter in Ireland until 1996. Controversial Irish singer Sinead O’Connor spent time in one as a teenager. In 2013, the government issued an official apology to the women who had served in the laundries and is considering offering some kind of compensation package.

1 Porn And Sex Toys


As the birthplace of the Kama Sutra, that ancient chronicle of erotic love with its detail of acrobatic sex positions, one might assume that India would have rather liberal views on sex. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, the sale of pornographic materials or sex toys is considering “obscene” by the government of India, and under Section 292 of the penal code, their distribution is punishable by up to two years in prison for the first offense. Subsequent offenses can earn you five years in jail. Although it’s a crime to sell porn in India, the laws regarding viewing it have been historically murky. Adult films have recently become quite popular in India; according to Google, Internet searches for the word “porn” have increased fivefold in the last 10 years. However, the rate of sexual violence continues to grow out of control in India, making international headlines, and there has been a push to ban porn altogether.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/10/13/10-bizarre-sex-facts-from-around-the-world/

Top 10 Amazing Facts About Dreams

This afternoon I had a (very rare) nap. During that nap I had a lucid dream (most of which I no longer remember). As I was waking up, I was thinking about my dream and thought that it would be a great idea to write a list about dreams for the site. So, here are the top 10 amazing facts about dreams.

10. Blind People Dream


People who become blind after birth can see images in their dreams. People who are born blind do not see any images, but have dreams equally vivid involving their other senses of sound, smell, touch and emotion. It is hard for a seeing person to imagine, but the body’s need for sleep is so strong that it is able to handle virtually all physical situations to make it happen.

9. You Forget 90% of your Dreams


Within 5 minutes of waking, half of your dream if forgotten. Within 10, 90% is gone. The famous poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, woke one morning having had a fantastic dream (likely opium induced) – he put pen to paper and began to describe his “vision in a dream” in what has become one of English’s most famous poems: Kubla Khan. Part way through (54 lines in fact) he was interrupted by a “Person from Porlock“. Coleridge returned to his poem but could not remember the rest of his dream. The poem was never completed.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Curiously, Robert Louis Stevenson came up with the story of Doctor Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde whilst he was dreaming. Wikipedia has more on that here. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was also the brainchild of a dream.

8. Everybody Dreams


Every human being dreams (except in cases of extreme psychological disorder) but men and women have different dreams and different physical reactions. Men tend to dream more about other men, while women tend to dream equally about men and women. In addition, both men and women experience sexually related physical reactions to their dreams regardless of whether the dream is sexual in nature; males experience erections and females experience increased vaginal blood flow.

7. Dreams Prevent Psychosis


In a recent sleep study, students who were awakened at the beginning of each dream, but still allowed their 8 hours of sleep, all experienced difficulty in concentration, irritability, hallucinations, and signs of psychosis after only 3 days. When finally allowed their REM sleep the student’s brains made up for lost time by greatly increasing the percentage of sleep spent in the REM stage. [Source]

6. We Only Dream of What We Know

62305681.Jlab2Xvw.Img 0568

Our dreams are frequently full of strangers who play out certain parts – did you know that your mind is not inventing those faces – they are real faces of real people that you have seen during your life but may not know or remember? The evil killer in your latest dream may be the guy who pumped petrol in to your Dad’s car when you were just a little kid. We have all seen hundreds of thousands of faces through our lives, so we have an endless supply of characters for our brain to utilize during our dreams.

5. Not Everyone Dreams in Color

07 04 06 B Flat Landscape

A full 12% of sighted people dream exclusively in black and white. The remaining number dream in full color. People also tend to have common themes in dreams, which are situations relating to school, being chased, running slowly/in place, sexual experiences, falling, arriving too late, a person now alive being dead, teeth falling out, flying, failing an examination, or a car accident. It is unknown whether the impact of a dream relating to violence or death is more emotionally charged for a person who dreams in color than one who dreams in black and white. [Source]

4. Dreams are not about what they are about

Enlightened Symbols

If you dream about some particular subject it is not often that the dream is about that. Dreams speak in a deeply symbolic language. The unconscious mind tries to compare your dream to something else, which is similar. Its like writing a poem and saying that a group of ants were like machines that never stop. But you would never compare something to itself, for example: “That beautiful sunset was like a beautiful sunset”. So whatever symbol your dream picks on it is most unlikely to be a symbol for itself.

3. Quitters have more vivid dreams


People who have smoked cigarettes for a long time who stop, have reported much more vivid dreams than they would normally experience. Additionally, according to the Journal of Abnormal Psychology: “Among 293 smokers abstinent for between 1 and 4 weeks, 33% reported having at least 1 dream about smoking. In most dreams, subjects caught themselves smoking and felt strong negative emotions, such as panic and guilt. Dreams about smoking were the result of tobacco withdrawal, as 97% of subjects did not have them while smoking, and their occurrence was significantly related to the duration of abstinence. They were rated as more vivid than the usual dreams and were as common as most major tobacco withdrawal symptoms.” [Source]

2. External Stimuli Invade our Dreams

Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bumblebee Around A Pomegranate A Second Before Awakening

This is called Dream Incorporation and it is the experience that most of us have had where a sound from reality is heard in our dream and incorporated in some way. A similar (though less external) example would be when you are physically thirsty and your mind incorporates that feeling in to your dream. My own experience of this includes repeatedly drinking a large glass of water in the dream which satisfies me, only to find the thirst returning shortly after – this thirst… drink… thirst… loop often recurs until I wake up and have a real drink. The famous painting above (Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening) by Salvador Dali, depicts this concept.

1. You are paralyzed while you sleep

Picture 3-4

Believe it or not, your body is virtually paralyzed during your sleep – most likely to prevent your body from acting out aspects of your dreams. According to the Wikipedia article on dreaming, “Glands begin to secrete a hormone that helps induce sleep and neurons send signals to the spinal cord which cause the body to relax and later become essentially paralyzed.”

Bonus: Extra Facts

1. When you are snoring, you are not dreaming.
2. Toddlers do not dream about themselves until around the age of 3. From the same age, children typically have many more nightmares than adults do until age 7 or 8.
3. If you are awakened out of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, you are more likely to remember your dream in a more vivid way than you would if you woke from a full night sleep.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2007/11/14/top-10-amazing-facts-about-dreams/