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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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”

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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/

10 Largest Things Of Their Kind In The World

Humankind has always been impressed by really, really large things. Whether natural (like the Grand Canyon, which hosts around five million visitors per year) or man-made (like, say, the world’s largest fire hydrant in Beaumont, Texas, which draws considerably fewer), we seem to be inexorably drawn to things that make us feel tiny.

It seems that in our never-ending quest to list interesting things, though, some of the largest have been strangely overlooked.

10 Airplane

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What you see in the image above is the AN-225 “Mriya,” a Ukrainian airliner, giving a piggyback ride to a Russian space shuttle. Yes, the world’s largest aircraft is capable not only of delivering hundreds of tons of cargo and complete, arena-sized concert stages, it’s the aircraft you will need if you’re transporting other aircraft—a Boeing 737 can fit inside its cargo hold.

Built in 1988, it was easily (by 50 percent) the largest plane in the world at the time—and remains so today (yes, there is only one of these). Inactive for about seven years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the massive aircraft was restored and put back into service in 2001, and it gets plenty of use, since it can transport cargo that literally no other plane on Earth can.

Construction began on a companion to “Mriya” (translated as “dream” or “inspiration”), but stalled, probably because it would require another $300 million to complete. It’s landing gear has an astounding 32 wheels, and it holds the world record for heaviest airlifted payload, almost 560 tons—far short of its maximum rated takeoff weight of 640 tons. Its wingspan is the length of a football field, and it’s almost that long from nose to tail as well.

9 Outdoor Swimming Pool

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Most hotel swimming pools are nothing special—they’re known for being small, crowded, and shallow. In an attempt to keep those adjectives out of their pool, designers of the outdoor swimming pool at San Alfonso Del Mar Resort in Chile seem to have overcompensated a bit.

In photos, it looks like some kind of weird, clear lagoon running the length of the resort’s main beach. Upon further inspection, yes, it is actually a swimming pool, and the sheer numbers associated with it boggle the mind. Covering 20 acres, the pool is over 900 meters (3,000 ft) long (the second-longest, in Morocco, is a measly 137 meters). Its deep end is 35 meters (115 ft)—also a world record—and it holds 66 million gallons of water. Also, it could engulf 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools, took five years and nearly $1 billion to build, and costs about $2 million yearly to maintain.

The pool uses an advanced suction and filtration system and virtually no chemicals, making it surprisingly environmentally friendly. Says biochemist Fernando Fischmann, whose company designed the pool: “As long as we have access to unlimited seawater, we can make it work, and it causes no damage to the ocean.”

8 Cave

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In 2009, a local farmer brought a group of British explorers to the entrance of a cave he had found years earlier in Vietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. They were excited at the prospect of finding a new cave system, but what they found was an underground river running along the floor of the single largest cave passage that has yet been found.

Take another look at the above image; in case you missed it, there’s a caver standing on the rock near the middle of the frame. Note that you cannot see the cavern’s ceiling above him. The cave is in a very remote region—previous cave-seeking expeditions to the area likely came very close to finding it, but the terrain is exceedingly difficult. At least five kilometers (three miles) long, the cavern boasts natural skylights (where weaker limestone has washed away) and spectacular ceilings nearly 300 meters (1,000 ft) high.

7 Vacuum Chamber

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Vacuum chambers are used to recreate the conditions of space: to see, for instance, how matter clumps together in the absence of gravity or to test components of space suits. There are some very large ones out there, but only one so large that it’s capable of performing environmental testing on a completely assembled spacecraft: the Plum Brook chamber in Sandusky, Ohio.

The chamber has been used for testing of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, a craft that NASA hopes will one day take astronauts back to the moon and maybe to Mars or distant asteroids. The Plum Brook chamber is 37 meters (122 ft) tall—easily sufficient to fit the spacecraft, at 23 meters (75 ft)—and an incredible 863,000 cubic feet. If you’d like to get a really good idea of the chamber’s immense size, though, just watch The Avengers again. The opening scene, in which Loki steals the Cosmic Cube, was filmed in it.

6 Waterfall

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Inga Falls, along the Congo in Kinshasa, Zaire, is certainly not the tallest waterfall in the world. Heck, it’s not even close—its longest drop is a measly 21 meters (70 ft). (There are three waterfalls in the world with drops over 3,000 feet, to put that in perspective.) At four kilometers (2.5 mi) wide, it may not be the widest of falls, either—but it moves more water than any other waterfall on the planet. A lot more, as it turns out.

Most are familiar with the image of Niagara Falls, or perhaps Victoria Falls, as a standard for huge, terrifying falls that move (literal) tons of water. Victoria moves a lot: over 38,000 cubic feet per second. Niagara moves over twice that much: around 85,000. Inga Falls has an average discharge rate well over 10 times that of Niagara—over 900,000 cubic feet of water per second. Its closest competitor, Livingstone Falls (along the same river), discharges 25,000 cubic feet per second less than Inga; the next closest doesn’t even compare. Niagara and Victoria Falls come in 11th and 15th on that list, respectively.

5 Salt Flats

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The Salar de Uyuni (“Uyuni Salt Flat”) lies atop an extremely high plateau in southwestern Bolivia—at almost 3,600 meters (12,000 ft), the elevation is twice as high as mile-high Denver, Colorado. The salt is as thick as the air is thin (several meters thick, in most places), and the sheer surface area is astonishing—over 10,000 square kilometers (4,000 square miles).

The area, of course, produces a lot of salt. Also? Plenty of lithium. Enormous untapped reserves lie beneath the surface of the flats, comprising an estimated one-half to two-thirds of the world’s reserves. While it looks exceedingly desolate, the area is also home to one of the world’s largest pink flamingo habitats and about 80 other bird species.

The area has another amazing feature: for much of the year, a thin layer of water covers the surface. This produces the effect seen in the above photo. The world’s largest salt flat appears, during these seasonal times, to be the world’s largest mirror.

4 Zoo

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When it comes to naming the world’s largest zoo, there’s more than one way to skin a . . . to calculate such a thing: by area, by the number of species on display, or a matrix involving both. The latter actually makes the most sense—at 12,000 acres, Red McCombs Wildlife in Texas could be considered the largest zoo by acreage, but only hosts about 20 species.

So while it has neither the largest acreage nor the highest number of individual species on display, travel website Touropia proclaimed Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, to be the largest in the world using the combined matrix. The 130-acre complex hosts 17,000 animals of over 960 different species and welcomes over 1.5 million visitors annually. The zoo is also home to the world’s largest indoor desert and has the biggest cat complex and largest geodesic dome in North America.

3 Power Station


For almost 20 years, the Chinese government forged ahead with the Three Gorges Dam project, despite concerns both at home and abroad about its potential ramifications. The threats to the surrounding environment and historical areas, to say nothing of the tens of thousands of locals displaced by the project, were all downplayed by officials throughout the dam’s construction. Only after its completion, at an estimated cost of $23 billion, did China admit that perhaps there were some valid environmental concerns.

And indeed: over one million residents of the Yangtze Valley were displaced by the project, and environmentalists are concerned that its lake has now become a dumping ground for industrial waste. Other environmental and logistic problems (like downstream ports being unable to accommodate ships after a 2011 drought) have also presented themselves in the wake of the dam’s completion.

But the numbers, in terms of power production and sheer scale, are mind-boggling. Standing at 2.4 kilometers (1.5 mi) in length and 180 meters (600 ft) in height, the dam enables oceangoing vessels to sail directly into mainland China for months out of the year and generates as much electricity as 18 nuclear power plants. Its capacity (22,500 megawatts) dwarfs that of it closest competitor, Itaipu Dam in South America (14,000 megawatts).

2 Video Screen

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Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, Brazil is a big building. Nearing completion at the time of this writing, it seats nearly 50,000 and will be the 11th-largest stadium in Brazil, when it plays host to several FIFA World Cup football matches in 2014. It’s a sharp, modern structure, but its facade is what landed it on this list—the entire front of the building is one giant video screen.

The screen will be capable of displaying images, video, and scoreboard information that will be visible to anyone even glancing in the stadium’s general direction. At 20 meters (65 ft) high and an astonishing 170 meters (560 ft) long, the screen is comprised of 34,000 LEDs and is easily the biggest video screen in the world.

To put that in perspective: Americans’ jaws dropped when the gigantic video monitors of Cowboys Stadium were unveiled to the world in 2009. But the Cowboys’ monitors fail to place in the top five largest video monitors in the world, and they’re not even one-third of the length of the gargantuan Arena Corinthians facade.

1 Freestanding Structure

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Finally, we go back to China, where the New Century Global Center opened for business in July 2013. In terms of its footprint, it is the largest man-made freestanding structure on the planet—almost 1.8 million square meters (19 million square feet) of space.

Taking three years to complete, the structure holds a 14-screen IMAX theater, an ice skating rink large enough to host sanctioned international competitions, a complete replica Mediterranean village, and (of course) a water park. The water park alone can accommodate 6,000 visitors at once, all of whom could easily be put up in the 2,000 available hotel rooms. But even these details don’t do justice to the immense scope of this facility—inside this building, you could fit 20 Sydney Opera Houses. Or over 300 football fields. Or Monaco.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/08/03/10-largest-things-of-their-kind-in-the-world/

10 More People You Should Know but Don’t

They have shaped the lives of people in their own countries and around the world, but remain largely unknown. Some may be on the brink of fame, others are well regarded in their own fields. But the individuals on this list, along with countless others, deserve wider recognition, for the contributions they have made to improve the quality of human life.

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Black Republicans are rare, and prominent black female Republicans are especially scarce. Jennifer Carroll, born in Trinidad and educated at St. Leo University, is the first female to serve as Lieutenant Governor in the history of the state of Florida. Carroll also holds the highest elected office of any black Republican in the country. Carroll retired from the United States Navy as a Lieutenant Commander, Aviation Maintenance Officer, earning numerous commendations. Carroll has been especially active in working to bring aerospace jobs to her state, playing a leading role in winning a 10 year contract to manage the International Space Station National Laboratory, worth $15 million per year.

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For girls and young women, Ian Frazer’s discovery that cervical cancer is linked to the human papillomavirus, or HPV, is literally a life saver. He also developed a vaccine, marketed under the name Gardasil, which is effective against two HPV strains linked to 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts. Frazer was one of the first to investigate the link to the sexually-transmitted virus, genital warts and cervical cancer. Born in Scotland, Frazer received a medical degree from the University of Edinburgh. He emigrated to Australia where he established the University of Queensland’s Centre for Immunology and Cancer Research at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.

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For many infertile couples, in vitro fertilization, or IVF, represents the best hope of fulfilling their dreams of having children. British scientist Robert Edwards began researching the process in the 1950s, and achieved success in 1978 with the birth of the world’s first “test tube” baby. Since his discovery, four million births have occurred through IVF, with many “test tube” babies becoming parents themselves. For his work in discovering and developing IVF, Edwards received a PhD from Edinburgh University and was a co-founder of Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge, the world’s first IVF center. Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2010.

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As a rookie pitcher with the Seattle Mariners, Michael Pineda, a native of the Dominican Republic, racked up a 9-10 record with a 3.74 ERA, 173 strikeouts in 28 starts, walking only 55 batters in 171 innings. In January, the Mariners traded Pineda to the New York Yankees, adding even more strength to the traditional baseball powerhouse organization. The right-handed pitcher has a fastball that clocks in at an average 94.7 mph, along with a good slider and overall good control. Although Pineda suffered a career-ending injury in his right shoulder in April, he is recovering after surgery and is expected to report for spring training in February 2013.

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If your knowledge of contemporary pop music begins and ends with Lady Gaga, you’re missing out on a raft of talent. One standout, Lissie Maurus, born in Rock Island, Illinois in 1982, performs under her first name, Lissie. The versatile performer opened for rocker Lenny Kravitz in 2008. She’s also done covers of various artists, including Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” Lissie was nominated for a Grammy for “The Longest Road,” a Deadmau5 remix collaboration with DJ Morgan Page of Los Angeles. She released her first full-length album, “Catching a Tiger,” in 2010 and was named Solo Artist of the Year by Paste magazine the same year.

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Tirunesh Dibaba first made her mark when she won the 2003 World Champion award for the 5,000m run. Since then, the Ethiopian native has won bronze in the 2004 Olympic Games for the 5,000m run and gold medals in 2008 for both the 5,000m run and the 10,000m run as well as both gold and silver at the 2012 Olympics. Dibaba set the women’s world record for the 5,000m run with an amazing 14:11.15 in Oslo in 2008. By winning double gold medals at the World Cross Country championship in 2005, Dibaba became the first athlete, male or female, to accomplish that feat. Dibaba’s athletic talent runs in the family. Older sister Ejegayehu won silver at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Vaclav-Havel

Before his death in 2011, Vaclav Havel was a playwright, a dissident activist for democracy and a statesman who oversaw the peaceful transition of his native Czech Republic to democracy. In 1963, his first solo play, the Garden Party, was staged. His works were frequently banned, and he served numerous prison sentences after the failed 1968 Prague Spring. Nonetheless, he remained active in literature and politics, forming the Charter 77 movement aimed at achieving democratic change. After the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, Havel became president of the former Czechoslovakia in 1989, resigning in 1992 after the peaceful division of the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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In July 2012, the African Union Commission elected Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa as its president, the first time a woman has ever been selected to lead the organization. Her election also marks the first time that a leader from the southern region of the continent had been chosen to lead the union of African nations since its predecessor, the Organization of African Union, was formed in 1963. Dlamini-Zuma defeated incumbent Jean Ping, who had served in the post since 2008. The 53 year-old Dlammi-Zuma, who had previously served as the Minister of Home Affairs for South Africa, called her election a victory for women across the African continent.

68609 Ebadi Shirin

Human rights activist Shirin Ebadi served as a judge in her native Iran before the Islamic Revolution of 1979 made it unlawful for women to serve as judges. During her forced resignation from the bench, she wrote numerous books and articles on legal issues and human rights, including child abuse. She was finally allowed to resume the practice of law in 1992, representing a number of high-profile clients, including the mother of murdered photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. She was also named an official Human Rights Watch observer in 1996. Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Rafto Human Rights Foundation prize in 2001 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.

Xiaobo Postcard

Writer and activist Liu Xiaobo, sentenced in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power,” is a longtime advocate of peaceful political reform and establishment of human rights guidelines in his native mainland China. Born in 1955 in Changchun, Jillin, Liu was educated at Jilin University and Beijing Normal University. He also served as a visiting professor at Columbia University until April 1989, when he left to participate in the 1989 Democracy Movement, staging a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square to attempt to negotiate a peaceful settlement between the military and students. Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia in 2010 while still imprisoned in China.

In conclusion, whether in athletics, entertainment, politics or science, the individuals profiled above illustrate that each person can have a profound impact on the lives of his or her fellow human beings. This is true for young people at the beginning of their careers as well as for mature adults who offer decades of experience and wisdom. The lives of these men and women serve as inspiration to anyone who strives to make significant contributions to the world.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2012/08/13/10-more-people-you-should-know-but-dont/

10 Lesser-Known Facts About The Ancient World

When most people hear about the ancient world, they automatically think of Ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, Persia, Mesopotamia, China, and other great empires from the past. Many are aware of the fact that Ancient Greece gave birth to western philosophy, theater, democracy, and the olympic games. They’ve heard that the Chinese invented paper and gunpowder, and that Rome created one of the largest and most powerful empires of all time.

But popular culture is often ignorant of many other interesting facts about the ancient world—facts which still have great influence on everyday life in the world today.

The aim of this list is to stimulate the curiosity of readers, with each entry hopefully being a new and interesting discovery.

Feta Cheese Picture

Feta cheese, made from the milk of sheep and goats, is Greece’s national cheese and is currently one of the most popular cheeses in the world. But what most people don’t know is that feta dates back to ancient times; it’s even discussed in several Ancient Greek sources. For example, the famous Cyclops in The Odyssey prepares a cheese from sheep’s milk which is believed to be feta.

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Greco-Roman writers and historians usually described the Celts as uncivilized barbarians. There are many historical sources which describe the barbarous Celtic practice of human and animal sacrifice.

All the same, both Ancient Greeks and Romans sacrificed animals—and sometimes even humans—to the gods long before the Celts did so. King Agamemnon, for example, is known to have sacrificed his own daughter, Iphigenia. Ancient Greeks often organized combat games in which human beings fought each other to death for the pleasure of spectators. And it’s well-known that the Romans made their prisoners fight each other—or fight ferocious wild animals—inside public arenas. So who were the Greeks and Romans to throw stones at the Celts for being barbaric?

As it turns out, Celtic religious sacrifices were certainly less cruel and barbaric than many of the slaughters perpetrated by the Romans.

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Most people assume that the seismograph is a product of the Western world—but that’s not actually the case. In A.D. 130, Zhang Heng, a Chinese astronomer and literary scholar, invented the first instrument for monitoring earthquakes. The machine was able to detect and pinpoint the general location of the quake. So Zhang Heng is essentially the grandfather of the modern-day Seismograph, though he doesn’t usually get much credit for it.

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The Capuchin Crypt in Rome consists of five chapels, as well as a corridor two hundred feet (60m) long, and it’s decorated with the bones of 4,000 deceased monks. The Catholic order insists that the display is not meant to be macabre, but a silent reminder of our own precarious mortality. The coffee drink Cappuccino takes its name from this order of monks, who were known for their custom of wearing a hood, or cappucio, with their habits.

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Contrary to popular belief, India was introduced to the Western world and culture long before Great Britain or the other colonial powers landed in the country. Alexander the Great was one of the first important figures to bring India into contact with the West, and more specifically with Greek culture and civilization. After his death, a genuine link between Europe and the East would not be restored until Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed in Calicut, India, in 1498.

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Even though popular culture tends to portray Persians as non-Caucasian people, Persians have always thought of themselves as the original Aryans. In Persian, the word “Iran” actually means “Land of the Aryans.”

The Medes were of Aryan origin, and were the first people to unify Iran around the sixth century B.C. One of the tribes, the Magi, were powerful Zoroastrian priests. The most famous Magi are the Three Wise Men of the Christian Nativity story, who brought gifts to the newborn Christ.

Kottabos

When we make a toast at dinner parties today, most of us really have no idea where this tradition began, or for what reason. In ancient Greece, as it turns out, a dinner host would always take the first sip of wine to assure guests that the wine was not poisoned—hence the phrase “drinking to one’s health.”

The tradition of toasting continued in ancient Rome, but with an addition that gave the custom it’s current name: Romans would drop a piece of toasted bread into each wine glass, so as to temper undesirable tastes or excessive acidity. So today we might make a toast to happiness, but back in ancient times it was a matter of life and death!

Greek Theatre

Most people already know that comedy and tragedy originated in Greece. What many people seem to ignore, however, is precisely how these two terms were born. The word “tragedy” comes from the Greek word for “goat-song,” because early Greek tragedies honored Dionysus, the god of wine, and the people on stage therefore wore goatskins. Tragedies were noble stories of gods, kings, and heroes. Comedies, or “revel,” on the other hand, were most often about lower-class characters and their hilarious antics.

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The first-ever shopping mall was built by the Emperor Trajan in Rome itself. It consisted of several stories and more than 150 outlets that sold everything ranging from food and drink to clothes and spices. It is also known as Trajan’s Market and it’s essentially the world’s first “modernized” mall, at least in terms of the concept.

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Mesopotamia, which essentially covered the area of modern-day Iraq, means “the land between the rivers” in Greek. It is often called the “cradle of civilization,” because it was the location of the world’s first true civilization.

One of the most important contributions to technology—the ability to control the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers—was achieved by the Sumerians. When they had learned how to build levees, they were no longer dependent on the yearly floods and instead found themselves with a stable year-round food supply. This resulted in the first civilization, because it meant that people didn’t have to be nomadic anymore.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/04/08/10-lesser-known-facts-about-the-ancient-world/

Top 10 Things You Can’t Know

No-one can truly be a know-it-all, because quite frankly, we are not allowed to know everything. And the government makes sure of it; this is done via a series of secrecy and privacy laws which tend to differ from country to country, but largely remain the same. Of course it is our right as citizens to know as much as we can, to keep those government blinds slanted open by all means necessary (such as via the Freedom of Information Act – a.k.a. the best friend of any journalist stuck on the local government beat). While that may be, there are certain bits of info that with be unarguably sealed off and “For Your Eyes Only.” Here are ten of those best kept secrets.

Coca-Cola

Secret: Trade Secrets

This is a very necessary legal provision. After all, healthy competition is fundamental to a capitalistic society and making sure companies keep locked up what exactly gives them a leg up ensures that the market isn’t flooded with cheap imitators. In that way, monopolies are also guaranteed. For instance, if anyone ever managed to ascertain Coca Cola’s secret formula, Coca Cola would no longer be the #1 cola in the world, as you could just make it at at home in your bathtub for much less (although with possibly more floating hairs and bits of soap scum). Everything Coke has worked for from the ground up to accomplish in the last hundred plus years would have been unrightfully negated. These laws preserve integrity as much as they might be less in favor of the common man.

Crude Oil

Secret: Locations of Oil Deposits

If this wasn’t a purposeful secret, there’d be Beverly Hillbillies; the locations of oil deposits maintain such a tight lid because otherwise anybody could purchase the land under which the wells appear and become instantly wealthy. And with that, there’d be an incredible lack of fairness if anyone who had privileged access to that kind of information (and there always is someone) were able to go out and invest some of that golden property. The government does, at times, go out of its way to set a level playing field, even when it may seem to favors corporations over people.

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Secret: Any “Intelligence” the Government Choose to Withhold

There is a whole process through which government obtains information about the on-goings of various countries and people and packages them into manilla folders. The government can release information, although it rarely goes out of its way to (why the Freedom of Information Act and Government in the Sunshine Act exist, the essential common purposes being transparency). It may deliberately leak information or demote or remove the “classified” status of a piece of information. But some information is just clutched onto with a death grip, sometimes to save face (lest we forget the the backlashes following Wikileaks and the Pentagon Papers).

Insider

Secret: Insider Information

Another certainty of fairness is the illegality of acquiring financial reports that have yet to be released to the public (and using them advantageously). This ensure no individual cheats the system and has his illicit payday. Remember how humble homemaker and uber-savvy businesswomen Martha Stewart attempted to profit beyond her already gross profits by using this illegal maneuver–a tactic that landed her straight in prison (where she probably had the most ornately arranged cell in the facility). Word to the wise: don’t be like Martha.

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Secret: Bank Account Information

This legal bank provision actually works against the government; the Swiss Banking Act, created in 1934, actually protects off-shore bank accounts, which make it so clients can evade taxes and essentially lie about their level of wealth. This forbids authority figures from accessing information about clients, except when particular individuals are being indicted and their account information may serve the case in some essential way. But you can imagine the kind of abuse and corruption than can ensue with this kind of provision (and if you haven’t experienced it in recent years, you’ve surely witnessed it). This is one of those example where the law seems to serve banks and big corporations more than it does your average Joe. There are a few anti-corruption measures that have been implemented since, such as the U.S Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 and the (all-around-Orwellian) Patriot Act, which both work against bank secrecy, and in particular to cut back on the illegal stuff (money laundering, etc.).

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Secret: Medical Records or Patient Histories

Another provision of U.S. privacy laws, employees – who benefit from the various ways businesses are protected and who are treated as bits of information within a company – are protected from any undue poking around. In addition to bank account information, kept private are individuals medical records. Also in accordance with the Hippocratic Oath, which all doctors and medical specialists must uphold by law–unless it becomes an issue of patient safety or the safety of others–a strict confidentiality agreement with their patients. This, amongst else, prevents pure and utter humiliation.

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Secret: Nuclear Weapon Design Plans

This is evidence that the U.S.-Soviet Arms race has never quite concluded, not in spirit anyway. Maintaining a constant “Top Secret” or “Secret” status, the two highest levels of “Classified” information, of information that if exposed could cause some sort of harm, “Critical Nuclear Weapon Design Information” (as it’s called) is something that will never be revealed to anyone but officials with the utmost kind of security clearance. As our Department of Defense is a very tight-lipped bunch, the fear here is that to disseminate what we have in our arsenal enables rival nations to see what exactly kind we have (and can proceed to call our bluff, as circumstance may provide).

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange

Secret: Anything that Can Jeopardize a War or Endanger Troops’ Lives

This one is a no-brainer. At war-time, the locations of troops or any kind of strategies are off-limits as far as the public goes, for if the enemy caught wind, the consequences could be dire. Some secrets are kept for only the best of reasons.

Queen High Court

Secret: Details of a Court Proceeding that Might Influence the Jury and/or a Case’s Outcome

Witnessing a court case in sessions is to see the justice system kick with life, which is like seeing a doe in the wild. It is a very delicate process, which is decided by individuals with no more the moral wisdom of anyone else picked at random, and which determines the fate and guilt/innocent a human being. And being that no one in this setting is anything but human–one capable of being mislead, influenced, baited, etc.– it makes sense that proceeding maintain a secrecy about certain case details which, in the wrong hands, could endanger participants. Similarly, details of an open investigation are off-limits, as such knowledge could influence the outcome of a case itself.

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Secret: Anything the Government Deems “Classified.”

The government has a strict, multi-level classification by which it deems sensitive materials to be off limits to all but a select, entrusted few. The different levels, from most critical to least, are: “Top Secret,” “Secret,” “Confidential,” and “Restricted” (the rest are “Unclassified”). The more secret it is, the more harm that could come from the learning of. Items falling under such categories include, but aren’t limited to, military plans, negotiation tactics, weapon designs, and other secrets obtained by spurious means. Also, for those conspiracy theorists among us, there may very well exist proof of first contact somewhere within those crowded filing cabinets.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2012/06/11/top-10-things-you-cant-know/