The 10 Greatest Syndicated Comic Strips In American History

The only criterion for this list is that the entries must all have been syndicated in newspapers, and they must be great. Superhereos like Superman and Batman don’t count.

10 Krazy Kat

Krazy Kat

Krazy Kat was written and drawn by George Herriman, and ran in the papers from 1913 to 1944. It was the primary influence on Chuck Jones’s Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons. Herriman set it in his native Coconino County, Arizona, where there is a lot of sagebrush desert, but also a lot of beautiful green scenery with mountains and lakes.

The standard comedy of the strip is good old fashioned slapstick, but it has an air of surrealism about it that lends a timeless quality. You might consider it simple by today’s standards, but it was an influence on the majority of cartoonists who followed it.

There are three main characters: Krazy Kat, Ignatz Mouse, and Offissa Bull Pup. Krazy is in love with Ignatz, but Ignatz hates Krazy and is constantly dreaming up more and more complicated plans to throw bricks at Krazy. Krazy is so in love, or so dumb, that s/he thinks Ignatz’s brick-throwing means that Ignatz is in love with him/her.

But before we start throwing out pronouns, keep in mind that Herriman alternates between referring to Krazy as a male or female. This was deliberate. Herriman once explained that Krazy is something like a sprite, or an elf, and has no gender. In several strips, Herriman jokes about the ambiguity. Ignatz Mouse is more or less male, but it never really matters. Krazy speaks in a very weird mixture of dialects, from English to Yiddish.

Bull Pup is definitely male, and always after Ignatz for throwing bricks at Krazy. By the end of the strip, Herriman decided that Krazy and Ignatz were meant for each other and Ignatz started scheming with Krazy to defeat Pup.

The comic even ventures into the “surreal” at times, as there are multiple strips in which Krazy is reading the strip the audience is also reading. Weird. And never dull.

9 Liberty Meadows

Liberty Meadows

Frank Cho syndicated Liberty Meadows from 1997 through 2001. He also published it as a stand-alone comic book until 2004 and again in 2006. This comic fought with its syndicates more than most others since those newspapers require G-rated material. PG at most. They ban bad words, scantily-clad characters, and sex—and Liberty Meadows indulges diabetically in all three.

The humor is more or less the same as the old Looney Tunes shorts: fast-paced and ridiculously slapstick, with the characters beating each other with a variety of hilarious weapons. The stories follow various anthropomorphic animals rehabilitating at Liberty Meadows Animal Hospital under the care of the two head vets, Frank and Brandy. A common source of comedy is that Frank is in love with Brandy, but doesn’t have the nerve to ask her out.

Cho is well known for a lot of work besides this strip, and most includes unbelievably proportioned women, usually dressed in as little as possible (which may explain why the newspaper syndicates had a problem with Liberty Meadows). Brandy is the most famous of all Cho’s female characters. The artist was inspired to draw her based on Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) and Bettie Page. She is roommates with Jen, who is built precisely the same, but with blonde hair and a mole. She is also the polar opposite of Brandy in personality: Brandy is polite and unassuming, while Jen is the world’s most brazen flirt and a fan of extreme fetishism.

Then there’s Ralph, this lister’s favorite character. He’s a midget circus bear with an almost perpetual squint, a mad genius of mechanical engineering who has been rescued from the death-defying daredevilry that he can now no longer live without. His best friends are Leslie the Bullfrog and Dean the (Male Chauvinist) Pig, who is always trying (and failing) to pick up chicks at the bar.

There’s also Julius, the owner of the sanctuary. His life’s goal is to catch Khan, the baddest catfish in the Milky Way (“Wrath of Khan” homages galore). And Brandy’s pets, Truman the duck and Oscar the dachsund. Cho himself makes many appearances as a chimpanzee. It’s hard to say what the best single storyline is, but the one in which Ralph switches Frank and Dean’s brains is definitely a contender.

8 Garfield


Garfield is the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip. Though it has recently gained a reputation for being bland and apolitical, it actually had far more complex and involved storylines in the ’80s and ’90s.

Examples include Garfield heaving Nermal through the door, mailing Nermal to Abu Dhabi, Garfield loathing Mondays, and this lister’s personal favorite: the week-long Halloween strip of 1989, when Garfield wakes up in a long-since abandoned house, completely alone. There are even some who claim that every subsequent Garfield strip has taken place in that empty house, and are simply the hallucinations of a depressed and lonely cat slowly starving to death.

7 Li’l Abner

lil abner

Al Capp wrote and drew Li’l Abner for 43 years. It tells the story of the extended redneck Yokum family and their friends of Dogpatch, Kentucky. Capp depicted the outside world as depraved and almost hopeless, while Li’l Abner, who is 6 feet 3 inches, stoically remains the bright light. He is somewhat dimwitted, but purely innocent, to the point of ridiculous naivete. 5-year-olds trick him into giving things away, because he sees only the good in everyone.

Li’l Abner is juxtaposed against his two tiny parents, Mammy and Pappy. Pappy is ostensibly the source of Abner’s low IQ, while he gets his honesty from both. Mammy is the boss of the whole strip, settling most disputes with, “Ah has spoken!” If this doesn’t work, she uses an uppercut. She cooks the whole family 8 meals a day of pork chops and turnips. Capp stated that he based Mammy mostly on himself, and liked her the most.

The other main character is Daisy Mae Scragg, of the Yokum’s rival clan and mortal enemies. She is smitten by Abner’s rugged good looks, but he is so dumb that he couldn’t take the hint for 18 years of the strip’s run. His proposal in 1952 was a major media event.

Possibly the most famous character from the strip is Sadie Hawkins, since the fictional Sadie Hawkins Day Dances are actually observed at numerous high schools around the United States.

6 Opus


Opus is one of the more adorable comics here, due in large part to Opus the Penguin’s gigantic nose and extreme naivete. But the other characters give it some raucous humor, and often stray into the realm of politics. One of the few strips to be deliberately ended by its creator Berkeley Breathed, Opus ran from 2003 to 2008. Over the course of the strip’s story line the title character returned from Antarctica to his old home in Bloom County. Opus was originally from the Falkland Islands, some 800 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula.

Opus the Penguin had already been a major character in three other strips by Breathed, Academia Waltz, Bloom County, and Outland, and they are all just as good as Opus. Breathed explained his choice of animal, saying “there was no shortage of cartoon dogs.”

Opus’s friends include Milo Bloom, a 10-year-old journalist who seems to be the wisest character of the strips, Binkley, the most neurotic (which is saying a lot), Steve Dallas, the local defense attorney, and Bill the Cat, who is intended as a parody of the titular character of #8. Bill is possibly the dumbest comic character in funny page history, because he did so many drugs in his youth that he is legally brain dead. Bill has been a heavy metal star, a Chernobyl technician, Donald Trump, and many times a Presidential Candidate.

One of the best storylines involves Opus attempting to step on Milquetoast the Cockroach, winding up in court on charges of sexual molestation, and then finally finding himself in jail. He spends the whole time attempting to explain that he was just trying to kill Milquetoast—who counters, “You lingered.”

5 Doonesbury


Doonsebury is one of the most political strips to appear on the actual funny pages. Garry Trudeau is liberal, and yet the strip is quite popular with both sides of the aisle. Trudeau first wrote Bull Tales, a strip for Yale University’s student paper. Doonesbury is a continuation of the same characters, plus many new ones. This was the first comic strip to win a Pulitzer Prize. It is probably the most notable strip to actually age its characters instead of leaving them time-locked at one age decade after decade.

Trudeau took time off from the strip in 1983 and 1984, during which time he took it to Broadway, graduated the characters from Walden College (based on Yale), and advanced their lives. One of the best jokes was the running storyline of Zonker, the hippie of the group, who attended medical school at Baby Doc College in Haiti. The college refers to Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the tyrannical despot of Haiti until his forced exile. Zonker won $23 million in the haitian lottery and spent almost all of it to buy his Uncle Duke out of the zombie slave trade.

There are quite a few openly gay characters in the strip, and it has acquired its fair share of controversy over the years because of this and its political nature. Trudeau has no fear at all, and writes the stories according to his own sense of appropriateness—He wrote out Andy Lippincott, a gay character, in 1990 as dying of AIDS. It has been dropped from well over a dozen major newspapers over the last 4 decades, only to be revived to quell the clamoring of fans.

4 Peanuts


Peanuts is probably the most famous strip on this list, at least in America. Charles Schulz wrote and drew this for 50 years, from 1950 to 2000, retiring only when he felt his death imminent. He died that February, and the final strip was published the next day. He was suffering from cancer and Parkinson’s Disease (which made the task of drawing deplorably difficult), but died in his sleep of a heart attack. Well over a dozen other cartoonists paid homage in their strips.

The strip features a motley gang of neighborhood children who get into all sorts of hijinks. The most famous is the immortal Charlie Brown, but others include his sister, Sally, his best friend, Linus van Pelt (who has an inferiority complex treatable only by his blanket), and Linus’s very bossy, know-it-all sister, Lucy. Lucy runs the neighborhood psychiatric stand like a lemonade stand, offering (typically useless) counseling for 5 cents.

But everyone’s favorite character, and even more a mascot for the strip than Charlie Brown, is his pet dog Snoopy. Snoopy is the source of the lion’s share of the strip’s imagination, routinely lost in a world in which he is fighting the Red Baron or attempting to become a successful novelist (though all his fiction begins hopelessly with “It was a dark and stormy night…”). Peanuts has been extraordinarily influential over the decades.

In 50 years, Charlie Brown never got to kick the football. Schulz said this would have been a disservice to him.

3 Pogo


Written and drawn by Walt Kelly from 1948 to 1975, this one is more satirical than most on this list. It combines slapstick comedy with rather deep philosophy, plus a good amount of poetry. The main characters were almost all animals, led by Pogo Possum, a kind, levelheaded creature with a very high intelligence. Kelly said he was the alter ego we all wish we had. His gentle, patient nature is a reminder of opossums, who always seem to sleep through important events.

His polar opposite is Albert Alligator, the extrovert to his introvert. If Pogo is Winnie the Pooh, Albert is Tigger. He likes to eat anything, whether or not it is food, and there is a running joke throughout the strip of characters momentarily going missing, worrying the rest about whether Albert has eaten them. He is good natured and means well, but is quite irascible and and extreme know-it-all, considering himself the best at everything.

This lister’s favorite character is either Miz Ma’m’selle Hepzibah, a voluptuous skunk, or Miz Beaver, who provides most of the down-to-earth wisdom. She does not trust any of the male characters, but still tries to hook Hepzibah up with one or another of them, usually Pogo, who is the only one Hepzibah ever has any romantic feelings for.

The dialogue is all written in a peculiar dialect, mostly similar to rural Louisiana, and the philosophical musings all take the form of simple, sarcastic and ironic axioms. Perhaps the best, most biting strip is one in which Kelly’s most famous phrase appears, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The strip was published on Earth Day in 1971, and depicts Pogo and Porkypine, the pessimist of the strip, walking through the woods and stumbling upon a huge pile of man-made garbage. Kelly originally used the phrase to attack Joseph McCarthy in 1953. Pogo is one those rarest of comics that appeals to both children and adults.

Kelly is the first cartoonist whom the Library of Congress asked to draw some strips solely for the Library.

2 The Far Side

Dogs and Cats

Gary Larson explained the single-panel design of The Far Side as proof of his short attention span. There are no storylines in this strip’s history, just random humorous observations, most of them featuring the patently bizarre. Larson claimed he came up with most of his good ideas late at night when his nose was an inch from the paper.

Some of his jokes have become a little too dated to work anymore, like “Psycho III,” featuring a woman in the shower and a tank about to bash through the wall. He never dreamed someone would actually make a Psycho III.

His humor alternates among the macabre (like the one with the granny who has poured concrete over her husband while he was sleeping in his rocking chair), the occasional social commentary (like the one with aliens watching Earth from Mars, and admiring the fireworks of two mushroom clouds centered over America and the Soviet Union), to pure nonsense (“Anatidaephobia: The fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is looking at you”).

What Larson’s “strip” lacks in storylines it more than makes up for with laughter. This lister’s favorite of his cartoons (a tough call) depicts too 12th century navy ships squaring off, with this caption written underneath: “Although skilled with their pillow arsenal, the Wimpodites were favorite targets of Viking attacks.” The attention to detail is what makes it great: the Viking warship has a dragon as its figurehead, while the Wimpodites have a sheep. The Vikings’ flag shows a dragon’s talons, while the Wimpodites’ displays a daisy, as do their shields.

A close contender with this one is another Medieval gag involving two castles within a few hundred yards of each other. The garrison of one is rushing inside with a big box that reads, “ACME Gate Smasher and Moat Crosser.” The watchman in the other castle’s parapet thinks, “I wonder if I should report this.”

1 Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbes

Bill Watterson drew Calvin & Hobbes from 1985 to 1995, always refusing to merchandise it, and finally retiring the strip for two reasons: his constant fights with his syndicate over this, and because he perceived all the characters to be fully explored and feared the comic would get stale.

Calvin is a 6-year-old boy who gets consistently terrible grades in school, and yet sounds like a doctor of philosophy during his long discussions of religion, politics, and morality with his best friend, Hobbes the stuffed Tiger. Hesitation must be used when referring to Hobbes as imaginary, since he is an entire half of Calvin’s personality, including his conscience. He is the only person to whom Calvin can truly relate, even though every other character in the strip sees Hobbes as a plush toy.

The storylines abound in this one, and picking the best is frankly impossible. Watterson champions the imagination for all the children readers, and also for the adults. The purest example of this is “calvinball,” a wonderfully fun game the title characters make up in protest to all the rules of organized sports. The only absolute rule in calvinball is that you may not play it the same way twice. The rest is a matter of making it up as you go, and it combines elements of cricket, tag, capture the flag, and several others.

Calvin also imagines himself in a variety of alter egos, including Spaceman Spiff, the intrepid intergalactic explorer of strange, new worlds, who fights and escapes from alien monsters; Tracer Bullet, the hard-boiled, film noir detective; and Stupendous Man, defender of liberty, whose arch-nemeses include Baby-Sitter Girl. Her real name is Rosalyn, and she is the only character in the strip who can truly terrify Calvin.

His parents’ names are never given, and he runs them ragged not as often as expected. He also wages an ongoing war with Susie Derkins, the only girl his age with whom he has any real relationship, namely one of tolerance. One of the best stories Watterson ever did, and one of the best in funny page history is that of the little raccoon, whom Calvin and Hobbes rescue from the woods, and who dies of an unknown ailment. Calvin and Hobbes have a protracted discussion on the fragility of life, and why in the world we’re all here. Not a single joke or gag in the whole storyline. But at the end, they hug and say, “Don’t YOU go anywhere.” “Don’t worry.” Never have two comic strip characters loved each other more.

By virtue of its astounding imagination, often philosophical, often serious drama, almost always light-hearted and hilarious, Calvin and Hobbes would take #1 even without considering how dynamically well drawn it is. The over-the-top mannerisms and action of Hobbes tackling Calvin at the doorway after school drew on the great Looney Tunes and Disney shorts, and paved the way for cartoons like Ren and Stimpy.

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Top 10 Brain Teasers

Brain teasers are a good way to improve your mind and have some fun at the same time. They usually require lateral thinking and patience. This is a list of my favorite 10 brain teasers. Remember, don’t cheat! Take your time and when you think you know the solution, click the “view solution” link. In no particular order:

Mri Brain

1. The Firing Squad

Pirate Pete had been captured by a Spanish general and sentenced to death by his 50-man firing squad.

Pete cringed, as he knew their reputation for being the worst firing squad in the Spanish military. They were such bad shots that they would often all miss their targets and simply maim their victims, leaving them to bleed to death, as the general’s tradition was to only allow one shot per man to save on ammunition. The thought of a slow painful death made Pete beg for mercy.

“Very well, I have some compassion. You may choose where the men stand when they shoot you and I will add 50 extra men to the squad to ensure someone will at least hit you. Perhaps if they stand closer they will kill you quicker, if you’re lucky,” snickered the general. “Oh, and just so you don’t get any funny ideas, they can’t stand more than 20 ft away, they must be facing you, and you must remain tied to the post in the middle of the yard. And to show I’m not totally heartless, if you aren’t dead by sundown I’ll release you so you can die peacefully outside the compound. I must go now but will return tomorrow and see to it that you are buried in a nice spot, though with 100 men, I doubt there will be much left of you to bury.”

After giving his instructions the general left. Upon his return the next day, he found that Pete had been set free alive and well. “How could this be?” demanded the general. “It was where Pete had us stand,” explained the captain of the squad.

Where did Pete tell them to stand?

2. The Servant’s Wish

Once upon a time, in the West Lake village, a servant lived with his master. After service of 30 years, his master became ill and was going to die. One day, the master called his servant and offered him for a wish. It could be any wish but just one. The master gave him one day to think about it. The servant became very happy and went to his mother to discuss the wish. His mother was blind and she asked her son to wish for her eye-sight to come back. Next, the servant went to his wife. She became very excited and asked for a son as they were childless for many years. After that, the servant went to his father who wanted to be rich and so he asked his son to wish for a lot of money. The next day he went to his master and made one wish through which all the three (mother, father, wife) got what they wanted. What was his wish?

Collaborative T

3. The Wisest Son

One day, a father went to his three sons and told them that he would die soon and he needed to decide which one of them to give his property to. He decided to give them all a test. He said, “Go to the market my sons, and purchase something that is large enough to fill my bedroom, but small enough to fit in your pocket. From this I will decide which of you is the wisest and worthy enough to inherit my land.” So they all went to the market and bought something that they thought would fill the room, yet was still small enough that they could fit into their pockets. Each son came back with a different item. The father told his sons to come into his bedroom one at a time and try to fill up his bedroom with whatever they had purchased. The first son came in and put some pieces of cloth that he had bought and laid them end to end across the room, but it barely covered any of the floor. Then the second son came in and laid some hay, that he had purchased, on the floor but there was only enough to cover half of the floor. The third son came in and showed his father what he had purchased and how it could fill the entire room yet still fit into his pocket. The father replied, “You are truly the wisest of all and you shall receive my property.” What was it that the son had showed to his father?

4. Sherlock holmes and the Broken Window

One snowy night, Sherlock Holmes was in his house sitting by a fire. All of a sudden a snowball came crashing through his window, breaking it. Holmes got up and looked out the window just in time to see three neighborhood kids who were brothers run around a corner. Their names were John Crimson, Mark Crimson and Paul Crimson. The next day Holmes got a note on his door that read “? Crimson. He broke your window.” Which of the three Crimson brothers should Sherlock Holmes question about the incident?

5. What is it?

The Pope has it but he does not use it.
Your father has it but your mother uses it.
Nuns do not need it.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has a big one,
Michael J. Fox’s is quite small.
What is it?

6. Wheelbarrow Battle

Two men working at a construction site were up for a challenge, and they were pretty mad at each other. Finally, at lunch break, they confronted one another. One man, obviously stronger, said “See that wheelbarrow? I’m willin’ to bet $100 (that’s all I have in my wallet here) that anything you can wheel to that cone and back, I can wheel twice as far. Do we have a bet?”

The other man, too dignified to decline, shook his hand, but he had a plan formulating. He looked at the objects lying around: a pile of 400 bricks, a steel beam, the 10 men that had gathered around to watch, and a stack of ten bags of concrete mix; he thought for a while, and then finalized his plan.

“All right,” he said, and revealed his object.

That night, the strong man went home thoroughly teased and $100 poorer. What was the weaker man’s object?

7. The Last Stand

General Custer is surrounded by Indians and he’s the only cowboy left.

He finds an old lamp in front of him and rubs it. Out pops a genie. The genie grants Custer one wish, with a catch. He says, “Whatever you wish for, each Indian will get two of the same thing.”
Custer ponders a while and thinks:”If I get a bow and arrow they get two. If I get a rifle they get two!” He then rubs the bottle again and out pops the genie. “Well,” the genie asks “have you made up your mind?”

What did Custer ask for to help him get away?

Girl Thinking

8. Blind Men

There was a man who went to the mall where he bought 3 pairs of red socks and 3 pairs of white socks. Another man who had already bought 3 pairs of red socks and 3 pairs of white socks came back to return his 6 pairs. They were both blind. As they were walking, they bumped into each other. All the socks scattered around the floor, but each pair remained held together by a rubber band. Nobody helped them pick the socks up, but in 3 minutes they both had 3 pairs of red, and 3 pairs of white. How is that possible if they are blind?

9. A man walks in to a bar…

A man walks into a bar and asks the bartender for a glass of water. The bartender reaches under the bar and brings out a gun and aims it at the man. The man says thank you and leaves. What happened?

10. The Last Sunrise

A man walks into his back yard in the middle of the night and fires a gun. Due to his strange behaviour he never sees another sunrise. (No, he didn’t kill himself.) Can you explain this odd occurrence?

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10 Iconic Characters Nearly Ruined By Their Creators

Every now and then, a character comes along who is so well realized that they burst out of their original setting and become world-famous. But many of them nearly didn’t make it. These modern icons were one ill-advised move away from being rightly condemned to oblivion.

10The Doctor
A Supervillain


A time-traveling family show centered around the heroic central character, Doctor Who plays as a sort of Superman in space, complete with messianic imagery. Yet back in 1963, Jesus parallels were the last thing on the writers’ minds. Instead, they wanted the Doctor to be a murderous old psychopath intent on destroying the future.

According to the BBC’s original memos, the Doctor was meant to have escaped from his own time in search of somewhere more “perfect.” While that doesn’t sound too bad, his plan upon finding this perfect home was to destroy his original future and everyone in it. An ongoing story arc would involve authorities from his time desperately trying to track him down and defeat his plan. At the same time, the Doctor was intended to be a suspicious, possibly evil character. In the show’s unaired pilot he openly threatens pretty much everyone he comes across.

Luckily for the BBC’s bank balance, this version was eventually rejected as being too callous, and the franchise was reworked into one a good deal more heroic.

9Indiana Jones
A Pedophile


Part of Indiana Jones’s appeal has always been that he’s a vaguely amoral antihero who doesn’t always do the right thing. But there’s a world of difference between rooting for a character who doesn’t mind bending the rules and rooting for one who has sex with children.

Early in the writing process for Raiders of the Lost Ark, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and writer Lawrence Kasdan were exchanging ideas about Indy’s love interest Marion. Lucas suggested that she and Indiana should have had an affair a decade before the events of the film, when she was only 11 years old.

The other two men didn’t seem keen on this idea. Kasdan commented on the large age difference between the two characters. Spielberg insisted that she should be older, but Lucas said the plot would be “not interesting” if she were aged 16 or more. Later in the conversation, Spielberg suggested that promiscuous young Marion be the seducer, perhaps in an attempt to absolve Indy of blame.

In the final cut, the two did have an affair a decade before the film’s action. Marion was 17, and Indy was 27.

8Luke Skywalker
The Next Darth Vader


Star Wars is infamous for the number of rewrites its initial concepts suffered. For example, the earliest sketches had Luke as a general and Anakin as a bullied fat kid. But none of this compares to Lucas’s proposed ending for Return of the Jedi. Despite having planted the seeds for an epic tale of redemption and good triumphing over evil, Lucas originally wanted to end his trilogy with Luke turning evil and destroying the Rebel fleet.

Jedi would play out mostly like the version we all saw. The Emperor would die, and Darth Vader would sacrifice himself, but then would come one big twist. After Darth Vader expires, Luke would pick up his helmet, put it on, and announce, “Now I am Vader.” Then he’d kill all his friends’ spaceships and become the evil master of the galaxy.

Although co-writer Lawrence Kasdan thought this was the route they should take, Lucas himself eventually nixed his own idea because the film was meant to be “for kids.”

7Deanna Troi


Originally a slice of brainless eye candy, Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation gradually transformed into an intelligent, empathetic heroine capable of piloting the Enterprise. Yet, had Gene Roddenberry gotten his way, this transformation would have been a bit more difficult. Having decided on including a sexy, exotic woman among the crew, he figured he should also give her additional breasts.

The exact number of breasts for this version of Troi varies in reports between three and four. But however you look at it, it would have marked her character out as one thing and one thing only: a perverse fantasy. Just as no one remembers anything else about the triple-breasted hooker in Total Recall, no Next Generation fans would now think of Troi as anything but a sex object.

Aside from condemning the character to be permanently one-dimensional, it would have also made the series a lot harder to take seriously—a blow to a franchise otherwise devoted to dealing in important themes.

6Dr. No
A Monkey


Dr. No remains iconic as the very first James Bond film. For the first time, audiences saw Martini-sipping, womanizing James Bond face off against an iconic, unstoppable villain—an unstoppable villain who was very nearly written as an intelligent monkey.

According to the film’s producer Cubby Broccoli, original drafts of the script took the idea of Dr. No being a character of “menacing dimensions” and translated it into outright craziness. Instead of being a mad scientist, No would have been a monkey granted an exceptionally high IQ.

Thankfully for Bond’s appeal, the decision was ultimately dropped at Broccoli’s behest, and Dr. No became a regular, non-hairy human.

5Harry Potter
Father To The Next Dark Lord


Before we go any further, this one comes with a caveat: J.K. Rowling and her publishers have never confirmed this story. The source for it is award-winning Guardian and BBC journalist Greg Palast, who was in touch with Rowling around the time that the final Harry Potter book came out.

According to Palast, the ending we got to the Harry Potter franchise was only one of several alternative versions Rowling prepared. While most were variants on the story we know, one was strikingly different. Aside from featuring a climactic battle in the Forbidden Forest in which Voldemort teams up with his dead parents, it also involved a very different epilogue.

By Palast’s account, the epilogue would flash forward to Harry’s 150th birthday. He’s now headmaster of Hogwarts, and his wife, Ginny, has transformed herself into a bird instead of growing old. The real kicker comes when Harry’s great-grandson, Tom, destroys his toys in frustration, causing Harry to realize that “the whole world [will] soon darken again for generations to come.”

Readers remain skeptical about Palast’s claim.

4Sonic The Hedgehog
Had A Human Lover


Mario’s only serious rival, Sonic the Hedgehog became an icon to every kid with a Sega Genesis. The wisecracking, super-fast ball of coolness took platform gaming in a whole new direction—a direction that very nearly involved some human-on-hedgehog action.

In the early design stages, Sega pushed for a character known as “Madonna.” The blonde human woman swanned around in a cleavage-revealing red dress and fantasized about Sonic. Early notes indicate that she was meant to chase Sonic around various levels, and they would eventually end up as boyfriend and girlfriend. However, the idea was eventually nixed by product manager Madeline Schroeder, who wanted the character to be more kid-friendly.

Hedgehog-human romance didn’t disappear entirely from the Sonic canon. In 2006, Sonic had a whirlwind romance with the entirely human franchise character Princess Elise.

3Commander Riker
Died And Became A Clone


Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s relationship between Commander Riker and Captain Picard has to be one of the greatest bromances in television history. Armed only with a beard and winning smile, Will Riker managed to charm his way into the hearts of a trillion sci-fi fans. Yet all this goodwill was nearly squandered in 1993, when the writers decided to kill Riker off and replace him with an angry clone.

In the sixth season episode “Second Chances,” the Enterprise crew met Riker’s doppelganger. The writers and actor Jonathan Frakes had loads of fun creating a new alternative Riker. They had so much fun that they seriously considered killing the original character and writing the clone in as a permanent cast member. According to writer Ron Moore, “It was a chance to reinvent the character.”

Thankfully, executive producer Michael Piller refused to sign off on the idea, and the world was spared the sight of a million Star Trek fans having a simultaneous breakdown.

A Winged ‘Birdman’


Since his debut in 1939, everything about Batman has been iconic. His cape, his horrific backstory, his lack of superpowers, his villains, and his moral code have all combined to create one of the most complex comics characters to ever hit the mainstream. Yet it’s pure chance that you’ve ever heard of him. The original Batman was awful.

Before creator Bob Kane brought a little-known writer named Bill Finger onboard, Batman looked like any standard, forgettable superhero—except for his pair of comically oversize wings. Finger designed the iconic cape and cowl. Finger gave Batman his tragic backstory. Finger created the characters of Robin and the Joker. And Finger convinced Kane that calling the character “Birdman” was a stupid idea.

Were it not for Kane’s chance hiring of this penniless scribbler, everything that makes Batman Batman would be missing. Sometimes, the creator of a character is the worst person to be put in charge of them. It also brings up the question of whether Kane should be credited as creator at all, considering he didn’t design any of the important parts.

Ditched Clark Kent


If we’re going for iconic characters, they don’t come much more iconic than Superman. The hero from the planet Krypton battles evil while simultaneously living a double life as timid Clark Kent. But the secret identity was nearly a mere footnote in the character’s evolution. In 1940, co-creator Jerry Siegel came within inches of killing off Clark Kent.

In the unproduced story “K-metal from Krypton,” Superman was supposed to encounter an early version of Kryptonite. Faced with an impending planet-wide disaster, he would sacrifice his secret identity to save Lois Lane, making his true nature public. The Clark Kent persona would be scrapped forever, and Supes and Lois Lane would team up to take on evil and corruption across the world.

Had the story gone ahead, everything iconic about the character—his secretive relationship with Lois, his job at the Daily Planet, his small-town home life, his having to choose between Lois and Lana Lang—would have been wiped out. The entire history of Superman would have evaporated, and the effect on other superheroes could have been incalculable. Without Clark Kent’s inspiration, Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker, Selina Kyle, Dick Grayson, and many others might all have ceased to exist as anything but their alter egos.

DC pulled the plug on the idea, managing to hold off Superman’s big reveal for another 50 years.

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10 Famous Hacks Who Passed Other People’s Work Off As Their Own

People want reward without effort. That’s why so many of us never fulfill our ambitions of becoming novelists or sports stars—the reality of sitting down to write or getting up to train every day is just too hard. But some people get rich, famous, and admired without lifting a finger just by taking someone else’s hard work and claiming all the credit.

10Walter Keane

The talent behind those big-eyed-kid paintings hanging up in your grandma’s home, Walter Keane lived a life of debauchery, alcoholism, and group sex. At least, the second half of that sentence is true. In reality, the person responsible for the paintings was Keane’s wife, Margaret.

In the early 1950s, Margaret was making ends meet selling her paintings outside one of San Francisco’s many beatnik clubs. At some point, she started up a relationship with Walter. They got married, and for two years, everything was fine. Then Margaret discovered her husband selling her paintings as his own. At this point, she probably should have left, but she instead stayed and became Walter’s artistic slave.

As the ’50s rolled into the ’60s, Walter made millions from his wife’s paintings. He bought a gigantic house, palled around with movie stars, and lived a life of luxury. By contrast, Margaret was kept imprisoned in a tiny room, forced to paint for 16 hours a day. Walter refused her contact with the outside world and routinely threatened her with murder. The few times she tried to leave, Walter claimed that he would ruin her and their children.

By 1970, Margaret had had enough. She left Walter and told a reporter everything.

In the acrimonious legal battle that followed, Walter nearly made good on his promise to ruin her. Then a judge had them both paint a picture in the courtroom, proving Margaret’s claim. Today, Margaret’s story is about to become of a biopic directed by Tim Burton, while her former husband is known across the world as an abusive jerk.

9Otto Hahn

As a Nobel Prize–winning chemist and the genius who discovered nuclear fission, Otto Hahn should probably be above reproach. Yet his greatest discovery came courtesy of exiled Jewish physicist Lise Meitner, whose contributions he publicly denied.

In 1938, Meitner and Hahn were working together at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry in Austria (today often referred to as “The Otto Hahn Institute”). The Nazis invaded, and Meitner fled to Sweden, fearing for her life. There, she found herself ignored, cut off from the outside world, and lacking in research equipment. Desperate to continue her work, she started corresponding with Hahn, helping him interpret results and offering theories. It was the start of a collaboration that would make Hahn’s name.

By November that year, Hahn’s research had reached a dead end. He turned to Meitner, who suggested a series of further tests he could perform. It was fission’s “eureka” moment. Armed with Meitner’s suggestions and her previous research, Hahn went on to prove the possibility of fission. Yet when he published his paper, Meitner’s name was nowhere to be found. Her claim was rejected by the Nobel committee, and Hahn spent the rest of his career downplaying her achievements.

8Henry Gauthier-Villars

In 1900, a slim novel shook literary Paris to its core. Allegedly the work of a 16-year-old schoolgirl, it was profane to a stunning degree. The critic Henry Gauthier-Villars (aka “Willy”) claimed to be the true author.

The novel was Claudine at School, and the actual writer was Willy’s first wife, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. A wild child from Burgundy, she had lived the life portrayed in Claudine. Yet rather than bring her before the public, Willy decided to pass her work off as his own. Locking her in a room, he had her produce one Claudine novel after another, signing each one “Willy” and encouraging the world to think he was the genius behind them.

Although it was successful for a while, Willy’s deception didn’t last. Sixteen years after they got married, Colette divorced him. She went on to write dozens of celebrated novels. He went down in history as her dreadful first husband.

7Charles Ross

If you’d lived in Victorian Britain, the name of Ally Sloper would be permanently etched on your synapses. A bumbling, working-class drunk, Sloper was to 19th-century cartoons what Walter White is to prime time drama. The character and his accidental clowning was the perfect tonic for a troubled age and was created by the husband and wife team of Charles Ross and Marie Duval. At least, that’s the official story. The reality is that Ross almost certainly had nothing to do with the character.

Although he possibly came up with the concept, almost everything to do with Sloper was concocted by his wife. Duval drew nearly all the comics and turned the character into a Victorian icon. Ross, by contrast, got all the credit and was hailed as the true genius behind the work for nearly 150 years. Only in the last couple of years, mainly thanks to the work of comics historian David Kunzle, has Duval finally managed to get the credit she deserves.



As creators of FarmVille, ChefVille, and other time-wasting games ending in “ville,” Zynga was briefly one of the most popular games companies on Earth. Under CEO Mark Pincus, they pioneered a strategy of creating addictive, playable puzzles . . . or, rather, brazenly stealing the hard work of smaller developers and passing it off as their own.

FarmVille, for example, was a carbon copy of Farm Town, with so few differences that SF Weekly called them “indistinguishable.” Released six months before its more famous cousin, Farm Town attracted just a fraction of the audience (and revenue) of Zynga’s clone. An identical story happened with Cafe World. Although not as successful as FarmVille, it still made the company millions, despite literally everything about it being stolen from a game titled Restaurant City.

Those are just the two biggest examples, but there are plenty more. In 2012, Zynga took the NimbleBit game Tiny Tower and repackaged it as Dream Heights. Their copying was so absolute that they even duplicated minor game mechanics that in no way affected gameplay or usability. A side-by-side comparison of their many games against the originals reveals just how blatantly they stole from the creators.

5Bob Kane


We’ve told you before about how Batman creator Bob Kane was so useless that he nearly sank the character before the comic even started. It was only thanks to his chance hiring of creative genius Bill Finger as writer that Batman isn’t now known as “Birdman.” But Finger’s contributions went a lot further than that. Kane stole all the credit for Finger’s work and refused to give him so much as a penny.

Although he came up with Batman’s backstory, villains (including the Joker), design, and gadgets, Finger died unacknowledged and utterly broke. So dire were his finances that his family couldn’t even afford a proper funeral. By contrast, Bob Kane became a multimillionaire lauded around the world for giving us the first morally complex superhero.

Kane did eventually acknowledge Finger’s contribution—in 1989, when Finger was already 15 years dead, and Kane didn’t have to give him any money. Even then, Kane underplayed Finger’s role. To this day, all Batman films, comics, games, and merchandise go out with the words “created by Bob Kane.” Bill Finger’s name is conspicuously absent.

4Jimmy Page


Despite seemingly being one of the most creative rock bands in music history, Led Zeppelin were anything but original. The surviving members are currently embroiled in a court case to determine if they ripped off their greatest hit, “Stairway to Heaven,” and it’s looking like the verdict may well be “yes.” But music fans have noted plenty more instances of the band stealing from fellow artists.

The Music Times, for instance, ran an article highlighting at least seven songs that they may have ripped off from other singers. In 2010, American folk singer James Holmes sued Jimmy Page for stealing “Dazed and Confused” from him following a 1967 gig they did together. Websites have catalogued dozens of tracks that probably originated with someone else.

Page continues to dismiss such claims as “ridiculous,” describing himself as “pretty damn original.”

3Antony Hewish


Jocelyn Bell Burnell may be one of the most remarkable people to have ever existed. In 1967, at the age of 24, she helped build a radio telescope at Cambridge University in England. Almost immediately afterward, she used it to discover pulsars, completely upending everything we thought we knew about supernova explosions. The monumental observation netted a Nobel Prize in physics—for her supervisor, Antony Hewish.

While the find had absolutely nothing to do with him, Hewish still walked away with the prize in 1974. But he was kind enough to share it . . . with Martin Ryle, a man you may recognize as also not being Bell Burnell.

In those days, junior assistants simply didn’t make big discoveries. If they did, they weren’t women. The entire mindset of the scientific establishment was that if a lowly 24-year-old did something ground-breaking, it was her supervisor’s right to take the credit—something Hewish had no qualms about doing.

Although Bell Burnell was cheated out of her Nobel, she’s today credited as the sole discoverer of pulsars.

2F. Scott Fitzgerald

One of the titans of American literature, F. Scott Fitzgerald may be the greatest author who ever lived. Aside from writing The Great Gatsby, he produced dozens of short stories and was possibly even responsible for one of football’s greatest tactical innovations. Yet evidence suggests that a surprising chunk of his writings came from the mind of wife Zelda.

Fitzgerald based characters on Zelda, even incorporating bits of her private life into his novels. Things went further than mere inspiration. While writing his first novel, Fitzgerald lifted lines of Zelda’s love letters word-for-word and gave them as dialogue to his characters. By the time they were living together in Paris, he was actively raiding her diaries for ideas and phrases he could use.

When the New York Herald Tribune asked Zelda to review The Beautiful and the Damned, she discovered entire passages that had been written by her. According to biographer Kendall Taylor, Zelda’s influence was so great that she should even be credited as co-author.

Not everyone subscribes to this view. Many claim that even if Fitzgerald openly stole from Zelda, his genius wed those phrases to a plot and made you care about the character. Still, an acknowledgement would have been nice.

1Bertolt Brecht

The great-granddaddy of theatrical modernism, Brecht is lauded even today for his plays and poetry. Musicals like The Threepenny Opera continue to be performed worldwide and have even been used as the basis for works by writers like Alan Moore. But dig deeper, and it becomes apparent that Brecht was, at best, a hack. At worst, he was a serial abuser who forced others to write his greatest works for him.

In a 1994 biography, Brecht scholar John Fuegi stated that the playwright had a habit of courting literary women and then taking credit for their work. Most disturbing was the case of Margaret Steffin, who fell in love with Brecht at a very young age. According to Fuegi, she was single-handedly responsible for eight of Brecht’s plays, plus at least one novel and dozens of poems. At most, Fuegi estimated that Brecht wrote 10 percent of these works. Yet when the rise of Hitler caused Brecht to flee Europe, he left Steffin behind to die in a tuberculosis ward while fleecing her family out of any inheritance money.

This alone would be bad enough to damn him, but there’s plenty of evidence that Brecht forced at least three more women to fill Steffin’s shoes, treating them all with similar disdain. He also routinely swindled his songwriting partner on Threepenny Opera, staging the work as his alone and refusing to hand over earnings. Even the poet W.H. Auden was persuaded to work on Brecht’s screenplays for no money and no credit.

Perhaps more galling, the few unwilling ghostwriters who escaped Brecht’s grasp found it impossible to publish under their own names, since editors thought they were simply plagiarizing Brecht.

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10 Popular Film Locations You Can Visit In Real Life

We all wish that we could take classes at Hogwarts with Harry Potter or get the chance to dance with a real Disney prince or princess in their castle. While none of that, sadly, is possible, there are several real sites throughout the world that were either used directly in one of our favorite films or used as a basis for an animated film.

10Alnwick Castle
Harry Potter

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Every kid who has grown up with the Harry Potter book series has dreamed about getting that fated letter and going to Hogwarts. While there are no classes or wand-waving at Alnwick Castle, it is the location where the first two Harry Potter movies—The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets—were filmed. Visitors may recognize Alnwick Castle’s courtyard as the field where the famous first flying lesson takes place.

Alnwick Castle has also played a major role throughout history—it was one of the most important locations in the infamous War of the Roses between the houses of York and Lancaster. Specifically, it was one of three major castles that Queen Margaret (who was supported by the Lancastrians) managed to recapture after her husband Henry was forced from his throne by the Yorkists.

9Bourne Wood
Multiple Films

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Bourne Wood is one of the most iconic areas for filming, and dozens of movies have used this forest for their scenes. Not only is it where the opening battle scene for the famous movie Gladiator was filmed, it was also used in movies such as The Golden Compass, Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, and Captain America. Besides its prestige in the film industry, Bourne Wood is also an important area environmentally—it’s home to several rare animal species.

Conservationists have raised serious concerns about the risks the movie industry poses to the forest and its inhabitants, especially the explosions and other loud noises that disrupt not only the animals, but also the people living around the woods. Recently, limitations have been proposed to only allow filming to take place six months out of the year, and night filming has been limited to seven days per year.

8Doune Castle
Monty Python And The Holy Grail

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When the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail was shot, this castle was used for not one, but several different castles throughout the story, from the location of the infamous wedding scene to the lair of the man-eating rabbit. Doune Castle has also had a variety of uses throughout history, from a royal retreat used by figures such as Mary Queen Of Scots to a literal prison used to house dissenters against the throne. It also served as a garrison used by the Scottish army against Oliver Cromwell.

However, the castle was not always an effective prison, and there are accounts of enemy soldiers escaping by tying together bedsheets and simply climbing out the window. This makes the scene with Lancelot and the effeminate prince who attempts to escape out the window even more hilarious. Today, Doune Castle is under the highest level of protection for heritage buildings in Scotland.

7Mentmore Towers
Batman Begins

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Recently, superhero movies have become a lot darker and grittier than they used to be—just check out The Amazing Spiderman and Man of Steel for examples. However, there is one superhero that’s always been the dark horse of the comic world. Batman is not only one of the coolest superheroes out there, he also has one of the coolest bases. But while Wayne Manor is undoubtedly awesome, its real-life counterpart, Mentmore Towers, has its own fascinating history.

The towers were actually created by Joseph Paxton (the creator of the world famous Crystal Palace) for the Baron Mayer de Rothschild. However, it had a much more important purpose during World War II—the British government chose Mentmore specifically to protect many of their national artworks. One of the most important treasures was the Gold State Coach, which has been used at the coronation of every British monarch since George IV.

6Neuschwanstein Castle
Sleeping Beauty

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Nearly everyone recognizes the Disney castle; it was first designed as Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the 1959 film, and later became as iconic as Mickey Mouse’s ears. However, not many people know much about the castle it was based on. The castle was commissioned by the king of Bavaria not only as a private retreat, but also as an homage to the famous composer Richard Wagner.

Unfortunately, the king wasn’t able to enjoy his masterpiece for very long—he died less than a year after it was completed, and Richard Wagner died long before. Today, the castle is a huge tourist attraction with more than 6,000 visitors per day during the summer.

5Angel Falls

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If you didn’t cry just a little bit during the Pixar movie Up, you might not have a soul. The story of a man desperate to fulfill the childhood dream that he and his now-deceased wife had of building a home on the mystical Paradise Falls is indeed a beautiful one. However, the waterfalls that they’re based on are just as breathtaking. Angel Falls is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall at over 900 meters (3,000 ft) high.

Located in Venezuela, the falls are named after the pilot Jimmy Angel, who discovered them when his plane stalled near their peak. He and his three passengers, including his wife Marie, were forced to descend down on foot—a trek that took 11 days. When he died, his ashes were scattered over the falls. Of course, Angel Falls is just the European name—the original name is Kerepakupai Vena, which means “waterfall of the deepest place.”

4Timberline Lodge
The Shining

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Unless you’re a horror movie lover, the idea of going to the hotel that was used as the exterior for the creepy hotel in The Shining probably doesn’t really appeal to you. The hotel was actually first created as a Works Progress Administration project during the Great Depression, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt actually came out in person to dedicate it.

However, despite going through a brief decline caused by financial problems, the hotel is actually quite pleasant and popular nowadays, with plenty of options for skiing, music festivals, and wedding venues. They even have a heated pool, just in case you feel the urge to go swimming on a mountain 1,800 meters (6,000 ft) above sea level.

The Lord of the Rings

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Most Lord of The Rings fans know that the beautiful landscape that is portrayed in the movies was filmed on the island of New Zealand, but many don’t know much about the area itself. Most of the scenes for the Shire were shot in the town of Matamata, and a nearby farm became the location for the tourist attraction of Hobbiton, though parts of it have been closed for the filming of the three prequels that are based on Tolkien’s first book, The Hobbit.

There are several Lord of the Rings sites in this area, including the Green Dragon Inn and 17 actual Hobbit holes (there were originally 37) carved into the hills. The town is also known for its thriving racehorse breeding and racing industry.

2Martha’s Vineyard

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Even though it had the unfortunate side effect of demonizing sharks and giving people a lifelong fear of beaches, the movie Jaws is remembered as one of the original summer blockbusters. The movie takes place on the fictitious Amity Island, but it was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts. The island is not only a summer resort, but also a wildlife refuge that had previously been used as a practice bombing range by the US Navy.

Martha’s Vineyard was also one of the first areas in the US to have a deaf community, and there’s actually a unique version of sign language that originated on the island. Recently, tourism has boomed in this area. While sharks have always been drawn to the northeastern coast in search of prey, the population of gray seals has recently bloomed, drawing plenty of real-life great white sharks to the beaches that became famous because of an imaginary killer shark.

1Henry River Mill Village
Hunger Games

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There’s no denying that District 12, home of Katniss Everdeen (the heroine in the wildly popular Hunger Games series) is designed to be grim and depressing, a place without hope. The producers definitely picked a perfect location to use for it. Henry River Mill Village was once a bustling community filled with people working at the mill in order to produce miles and miles of yarn. This boom lasted for around half a century until, like most small towns based on a failing industry, it finally crashed.

The last person left town in the 1970s, and the little village became a veritable ghost town. Curiously enough, the entire town is owned by one man, Wade Shepherd, who had little interest in his property until the producers for the Hunger Games came calling. Now, he’s trying to sell the entire town—for the meager sum of $14 million.

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Top 10 Worst Products Ever

Modern life is filled with a myriad of products; many of them are useful, but many of them are junk. Unfortunately we so often buy into the idea that life is better with these junk products and billions of dollars are spent every year acquiring them. This is a list of the ten worst products in modern times.


It is becoming more and more common these days for people to use throw away cups, plates, and cutlery instead of glass, china, and metal. Not only is this a ridiculous waste of money (for the sake of saving a few minutes of dish-washing time) it places a burden on our natural environment. I am not an environmentalist but even I can’t see any benefit to using disposable eating equipment. There is no reason that children shouldn’t use glass like everyone else – they did in the old days and it didn’t kill them. Do yourself a favor, save some money and buy a real dinner set.


The razor companies have it made – they have a virtual monopoly on the shaving market and people have become so reliant on them that they no longer know how to shave without a throw-away razor. These razors use cheap blades which go blunt quickly and can’t be re-used. Prior to these razors becoming so popular, men would use a straight razor which could be sharpened as needed on a razor strop. The initial price of the razor and strop needed to be paid once in most men’s lifetimes. You can still buy straight razors (or as they are affectionately known: cutthroat razors) and it is well worth the investment.

Diet Shake 1Kg Chocolate

There are two main types of diet products – the first are strong medications that can be very dangerous, and the others are powders, herbal pills, and drinks. At the worst end of the scale we have drinks that solidify in the stomach so you feel full without eating (anorexia anyone?) and at the safer end of the scale are protein drinks used as meal substitutes. The fact is, all of these products are bad because they perpetuate the myth that you need to “diet” to lose weight. The only diet that truly works is moderation – eat less. It saves you money and makes you feel better.

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When you get a cold or a flu, there is virtually nothing you can do except keep warm and eat well. Cough medicines are marketed to people who are suffering and want respite – but it doesn’t come in a bottle. Instead of buying incredibly expensive mixtures (which do little or nothing to help), mix together a little beaten egg white, honey, and vinegar and take it by the spoonful – it is cheap and just as effective at clearing phlegm. If you have flu ache, take tylenol (or paracetamol) and lie down for the afternoon. The flu will run its course naturally and you won’t be out of pocket.


Self help books don’t help. They are merely a marketing gimmick to get people to part with their hard earned money. When was the last time you met a person who had become a property tycoon after reading “Rich Dad Poor Dad”? When was the last time you saw someone beat depression after reading a self help book? This huge market now has books for virtually everything you could need, and ultimately the only person being helped is the author who is slowly getting rich. If you really feel that you need advice on life, try searching the internet for examples from real people who really found a way out of their problems.


Takeda Pharmaceuticals is a company that produces sleeping tablets for pre-pubescent and pubescent children. They used loopholes in the US marketing laws to advertise their products without mentioning the fact that they had not been fully tested on children and without listing any of the potential side effects. While that is bad enough, it is even worse that there are people who would consider buying these for their children. In most cases, a child who is not sleeping well can have their insomnia cured by more vigorous activity during the day. You don’t get side effects from turning off the television and computer.


It is no secret that I despise microwaves. They have played a large part in the removal of decent cooking from so many of our homes and have helped the chemical laden “ready meal” market to blossom. In some supermarkets it is nearly impossible to find raw ingredients for cooking as the pre-cooked, pre-made meals now take up so much room. In most cases, there is nothing you can do in a microwave that can’t be done better on a regular stove and oven – and in many cases it can take as little time! Furthermore, oven cooking won’t give you food that is soggy, limp, and colorless – a microwave will. Every time, guaranteed.

Ab Roller1

Infomercials have been pumping out a variety of ab building machines for the last ten years. The fact is, these machines are used once or twice and then end up in the garage or a cupboard never to be used again. The machines do nothing that the human body can’t already do, and if you are earnest about building up good abs, you would be far better off doing regular sit ups and getting a gym membership. It will probably cost the same price and won’t clutter up your home!

050328 Cereal Hmed 4P.Hmedium

It was a true genius that came up with the idea of taking something healthy and coating it with loads of sugar to appeal to children. Unfortunately this concept has now become so popular that many children will refuse to eat any cereal that is not sugary. All around the world governments are whining about fat children and trying to find a solution by banning all manner of things and trying to promote healthy living – but no one seems to be concerned about the fact that the majority of children start their day with a huge sugar rush followed by a crash and carbohydrate cravings.


Bottled water is an utter waste of money and resources. To illustrate just how ridiculous a concept it is, I will demonstrate with Dasani Bottled Water. This product was created by Coca Cola and was marketed as superior bottled water. First of all, bottled water is a ridiculous concept in the western world where we all have easy access to tap water which is drinkable in most areas. Coca Cola wanted to be part of the ridiculous fad so they entered the bottled water market, but they simply filled their bottles with tap water! When the product was released in the UK it was a disaster. They used the slogan “bottled spunk” which may seem innocuous to the Americans who came up with the idea, but unfortunately in the UK “spunk” is a slang word for sperm. Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, scientific testing of the bottled water showed traces of bromate – a carcinogen. Coca Cola had to withdraw half a million bottles of the water and they pulled the product from the UK market.

Contributor: JFrater

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10 Whatchamacallits And Their Real Names

You see these things around you all the time. Some of them, you even use. The least you could do is know their names!

10 Aglet

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The piece of plastic covering the ends of your shoelace, so you don’t have to moisten them with spit to thread them through your shoelace holes.

9 Bollard

The posts in the parking lot let that lets wheelchairs and shopping carts go through, but not your car.

8 Dingbat

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Non-alphanumeric, non-punctuation characters, usually used when you want to write something that you don’t want your children to read.

7 Ferrule

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The metal band that connects the pencil eraser to the end of the pencil.

6 Keeper

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The leather loop in your belt or watch strap that keeps the end in place after it has been fastened through the buckle.

5 Kerf


The groove made by a sawblade, ie, the width of a cut. In the image above we see a 2.5 micron kerf.

4 Punt, or Kick

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The small indentation at the bottom or a wine bottle, designed to give the bottle extra strength, and also, to make it look like it has more wine than it really does.

3 Philtrum

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The vertical groove between your lip and nose that separates your left and right mustache, unless you’re Hitler, then it’s the part that your mustache covers.

2 Phosphenes

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The points of light that you see behind your eyelids when you shut your eyes really hard.

1 Tragus

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The little piece of cartilage that sticks out at the front side of your ear.

Contributor: Beatrice Adams

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10 Been There Done Thats of Fashion

Nihil sub sole novum… so goes the very famous phrase from Ecclesiastes 1:10 (there is nothing new under the sun). Everything old is new again! No matter how innovative fashion designers think they are, in some way everything has been done before. On this list we present you just ten of the countless examples I could come up with of the fashion world moving in circles. You may be surprised at some of the entries on this list.


With tights being worn by women of all ages today, it’s hard to believe that they were worn by men for centuries! Hose (as it was called back in the day) was worn by men from every class, with the upper class having theirs made out of fine silk and wool, and the lower class’s being made from homespun materials. By the 17th century, they had gradually been replaced by breeches and stockings. Think about that when you see the cute skirt and tights combo in your favorite magazine!

Slaves to this fashion: Most of the female cast of Gossip Girl


Say what? Come again? Yes, gray hair has been seen on young women like Lady gaga and Kelly Osbourne, recently. I know, it seems somewhat edgy and futuristic after you get past the shock, but these ladies are really centuries behind in this hair trend. In the 18th century gray was an extremely popular hair color. Young women like Marie Antoinette powdered their sky high hair soft shades of gray. Sometimes the hair was powdered with other pastel colors, but gray was the most popular.

Slaves to this fashion: See above


Nail salons are so full of women getting french manicures and airbrushed holiday pictures (snowflakes and whatnot) that it’s hard to believe that artificial nails go all the way back to the ancient Egyptians! Theirs were made from beautifully decorated bone, ivory and gold. The more elaborate they were, the wealthier the person was who wore them. Modern acrylic nails are mainly for cosmetic reasons, and don’t indicate wealth, but if you think about it, the upkeep on artificial nails could be seen as wealth indicators because of the money a woman has to spend to get them filled in every few weeks.

Slaves to this fashion: Rihanna, Katy Perry


For most of the 20th century, if your wedding gown was bought specifically for your wedding (and not your best dress) it was white. Today, many wedding dress designers are making colored dresses, which is seen as fashion forward and different. But, up until the mid-1800s, most wedding gowns were colored. In the middle ages, wealthy brides were swathed in yards of richly colored fabric on their wedding day. Phillipa of England, not Queen Victoria, was actually the first documented bride to wear a white dress, but it wasn’t common until brides started copying Victoria’s wedding gown, in 1840.

Slaves to this fashion: Gwen Stefani, Dita Von Teese


With all the bleached blonds you see in Hollywood it is easy to see the style as a thoroughly modern one. Can you imagine seeing them in 16th century Venice? Hair bleaching was done elsewhere, but especially in Venice and hot, sunny regions. Since commercial hair dye would not be available for another 400 years or so, women would sit in the sun for hours with their hair spread over a crownless hat, while herb pastes made from black sulfur, honey and onion skin were spread all over their hair. Mmmm, must have smelled lovely…

Slaves to this fashion: Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton

Pink Chopine

Most people know that platform shoes were a big hit in the 70′s, and are back now, but a lot of people don’t know that platform shoes were around over 600 years ago. Called chopines, they were worn by wealthy women to keep their feet and dresses out of the filthy streets. The higher the chopine, the wealthier the wearer. Some were over 20 inches tall! They were so popular in Spain that a large part of the cork supply was used just for chopines. I, for one, am happy that the platform shoes now are not so drastic, imagine all the broken bones…

Slaves to this fashion: Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham


The Greek goddess look is very “in” right now, with the style popping up at proms and weddings all over the world, but this trend first came about in 1790′s France. With the revolution approaching, no one wanted to be mistaken for an aristocrat, so the opposite of their luxe, heavy, made up dress emerged, called directoire. Although not as popular as it is today, the idealized Greek and Roman dresses, with their graceful draping and lack of sleeves allowed women freedom from restrictive dress that they had not experienced since the time of the actual ancient Greek women.

Slaves to this fashion: Angelina Jolie, Selena Gomez


Search “scene” on Google images, and you will find thousands of pictures of girls with black eyeliner drawn around their eyes, raccoon style. This makeup trend seems to be recent, but it’s not. Back to the ancient Egyptians again! They used kohl to outline their eyes, both to protect them from the harsh desert sun and for beauty reasons. Some people also think they thought this would protect them from the “evil eye”. Men also used the ancient eyeliner, so “guyliner” isn’t new either!

Slaves to this fashion: Taylor Momsen, Adam Lambert

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One of the most widespread fashions of the 2000′s, (and my least favorite) skinny jeans are sometimes worn to rebel or call attention to oneself (especially if they are in neon colors or distracting patterns) and that’s what they were worn for when they came around the first time! Back in the 1950′s, teenagers and 20somethings didn’t want to dress like their parents any more in suits and skirts. Designers realized this and came out with what we would call skinny jeans. “Cigarette” pants for women were usually cropped to ankle length or shorter, and “drainpipe” jeans and pants became popular for men.

Slaves to this fashion: Elvis, Kate Moss


Nowadays, a lot of people in the western world want a dark tan. From ancient times to the early 1900′s, women wanted smooth, porcelain white skin. They believed that only the wealthy could afford to have pale white skin because the lower classes had to work in the sun and were, therefore, tanned. A lead based powder was often used to make their skin even whiter, often to deadly results. The desire to have extremely white skin was so strong, that even though women knew that lead is poisonous, they continued to use it. Then Coco Chanel came back from a trip to the French Riviera in the 1920′s, and her fans went wild over the tan she had gotten while there, and started laying in the sun slathered in baby oil. In the 70′s, tanning beds were made, and have developed into a $5 billion industry. Although they are aware of the dangers of skin cancer, like their predecessors, many women still continue to go to the tanning salon multiple times a week. I can’t decide which one is worse…

Slaves to this fashion: Elizabeth I, cast of Jersey Shore

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10 People Killed While Performing Magic Tricks

Magicians, illusionists, mentalists, escapes artists—they all have their element of danger, which is what makes them exciting to watch. That danger can also be fatal, for amateurs and professionals alike. Here are 10 people who were killed performing such feats.

10 Charles Rowen

1- straight jacket
Charles Rowen, otherwise known as “Karr the Magician” or “Karr the Mysterious,” was a South African escape artist and magician. His main tricks were escaping from straight jackets and jumping into piles of broken glass.

In 1930, Karr was performing in Springfontein, Orange Free State, South Africa. He was attempting a very dangerous stunt in which he was tied up in a straight jacket while a man drove straight at him in a car. The car approached from (180 meters) (200 yards) away, accelerating to a speed of 72 kilometers per hour (45 mph). If you do the math, that would give Karr about 10–15 seconds (depending on how long it would take the driver to get up to that speed) to get out of the straight jacket and get out of the way of the car.

But he was too slow.

Karr was unable to escape in time and he was run over by the car, which almost severed his leg. This happened in front of a large group of people, including small children. Before he died, he exonerated the driver of any wrongdoing.

9 Madame DeLinksy

2- gun trick
The Gun Trick is when a magician pretends to be shot by a gun, giving the illusion that they either stopped or caught the bullet with their body. This trick, especially the bullet-catching variation, is one of the most dangerous tricks in a magician’s repertoire. Despite the gun trick being an illusion, it still puts the magician in harm’s way. No bullets are fired during the trick because people simply can’t catch bullets, yet there are at least 15 deaths associated with this trick.

One of the more notable deaths happened when a Polish magician and his wife, Madame DeLinsky, were performing in Arnstadt Germany for Prince Shwarznberg-Sonderhausen in November 1820. Their version of the the Gun Trick was that Madame DeLinsky would face a firing squad of six men, stopping all six bullets. The DeLinksys asked the soldiers to insert a blank load into their rifle. One solider didn’t and loaded a live round. Madame DeLinsky was shot through the abdomen and died two days later.

8 Benjamin Rucker

3- heart attack
Benjamin Rucker, who performed under the stage name Black Herman, is a bit different than the other magicians here because he died of natural causes—although nobody believed it.

Black Herman was the preeminent African American magician of the time. Because of the Jim Crow laws, he played to mostly black audiences in the South, but was popular elsewhere. One of his signature illusions, which he used to promote his upcoming shows, was being buried alive then exhumed three days later, after which he’d go on with the show. That is why no one believed he really died when he had a heart attack at the end of one of his shows in April 1934. Using the disbelief to their advantage, Black Herman’s promoters charged people to get into the funeral to see that Black Herman was, in fact, dead.

Notably, magician and comedian Tommy Cooper suffered the same fate after having a heart attack on stage, leading people to believe it was part of the act. Nobody charged admission to his funeral, though.

7 Dr. Vivian Hensley

4- razor blade
Nothing puts a black stain on the world of magic like an amateur getting in over his head while trying to perform a dangerous trick. Forty-three-year-old Vivian Hensley was a dentist in Brisbane, Australia. As a dentist he probably should have known the dangers of sticking non-food items into his mouth, but nevertheless, he died a very painful death from something he swallowed.

Dr. Hensley was performing his own trick called “swallowing the rusty razor blade” for his young son. He did the trick by pretending to slip the razor blade into his mouth while really putting it down the sleeve of his coat. On July 6, 1938, while performing the trick he slipped up and accidentally dropped the razor down his throat. His wife made him eat cotton balls as she drove him to the hospital. Despite a battery of X-rays and two bouts of surgery, the doctors were unable to locate the razor, and he died four days later.

6 Janaka Basnayake

5- buried alive
Humans need water, food, and, most importantly, air in order to live, which brings us to the sad tale of 24-year-old Janaka Basnayake from Sri Lanaka. Basnayake was trying to beat the world record for longest time buried alive.

When most magicians do this, there is an escape illusion they perform so they don’t actually spend the time buried. The exception is David Blaine, who spent 6 days being buried alive, but he was a professional with a team of experts. Basnayake wasn’t a professional. Instead, on March 5, 2012, he got his family to bury him in a pit three meters (10 ft) deep, and then cover it with soil and wood. He was buried for seven and half hours before being dug up. They found him not breathing and took him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The sad thing is, The Guinness Book Of World Records doesn’t even recognize this record because it’s too dangerous and they don’t want people even attempting it.

5 Royden Joseph Gilbert Raison De La Genesta

6- barrels
Royden Joseph Gilbert Raison de la Genesta, or just Genesta for short, was an American magician whose signature trick was the milk can, or water barrel, escape trick. This trick has the escapist locked in a large milk can or water barrel filled with water. The trick is to get out before he or she drowns.

Unfortunately, in 1930 during the journey to the fateful performance, Genesta’s milk can was dented, which limited his space and prevented him from making the movements he needed to escape. He was unable to free himself and he drowned. His death had a ripple effect with contemporaries like Houdini because it made the water barrel trick seem even more dangerous, making it a more popular attraction.

4 Jeff Rayburn Hooper

7- drowning
On July 7, 1984, 23-year-old magician Jeff Rayburn Hooper was practicing an escape trick that he planned on performing later that afternoon for the Winona Lake Bible Conference. The trick involved escaping from shackles while being submerged in the lake. Unfortunately, Hooper would not make it to the performance.

While rehearsing the stunt, Hooper handcuffed himself and jumped into Winona Lake, outside Fort Wayne, Indiana. Then he swam out about 100 yards from the shore. Hooper was able to free himself from the shackles. He surfaced and yelled to his assistant for help, but because of the high winds he was unable to swim to shore. The wind was also a major problem when it came to helping him, as rescuers were unable to reach Hooper. He drowned in 1.6 meters (6 ft) of water.

3 Joseph W. Burrus

8- grave
The lifelong dream of 32-year-old Joseph “Amazing Joe” Burrus was to be more famous than his hero, Harry Houdini. On Halloween night in 1992, the anniversary of Houdini’s death, he attempted to try the escape Houdini failed at—being buried alive. Amazing Joe had himself handcuffed, locked in a homemade coffin, then placed in a grave two meters (7 ft) deep and buried alive under seven tons of dirt and cement (about the weight of a male African elephant).

Amazingly, no one was able to convince him that it was impossible, and that he needed some sort of illusion to come out of the trick alive. During his preparation, a reporter covering the story pointed out to him that cement dries quicker on the bottom than on the top. So even if he didn’t get crushed to death, he’d still have to get through several feet of dirt before trying to break through a layer cement that was fast hardening—all without running out of air.

However, the cement was not even an issue for Burrus. The dirt and cement collapsed on him and he was crushed before leaving the coffin. WARNING: That link points to a video showing the actual death of Burrus. Watch at your own discretion.

2 William Elsworth Robinson

9- chinese
William Elsworth Robinson, otherwise known as Chung Ling Soo, was an American magician who adopted the persona of a Chinese magician and never broke character. He never spoke English on stage, and when speaking to journalists, he always used an interpreter. At the time of his death, he was one of the most famous magicians in the world.

The fateful accident happened at Wood Green Empire in London on March 23, 1918. Chung Ling Soo was performing his version of the bullet catch. Sadly, he did not have the gun cleaned out properly after the last time he had performed the trick. This caused a buildup of gun powder in the ramrod tube, which gave it enough force to launch the bullet into Chung Ling Soo’s chest. Breaking character for the first time, he said “Oh my God, bring down the curtan. Something has happened.” He died the next day in the hospital.

If this magician seems familiar, it’s because he appears as a character in the movie The Prestige.

1 Sigmund Neuberger

10- fire
Sigmund Neuberger, otherwise know as the Great Lafayette, was a German magician who was the highest paid magician of his time. The Great Lafayette loved animals, but loved his terrier Beauty most of all. Beauty was a gift from Harry Houdini, who was an admirer of the Great Lafayette. He lavished the dog with its own suite, five-course meals, and a diamond-studded collar.

Four days before the opening of his show in Edinburgh, Beauty died. Lafayette made a deal with the city council that he would allow his own body to be buried there when he died if they would consent to burying Beauty in the nearby Piershill Cemetery. On the opening night of the show, May 9, 1911, there was a fire while he was performing his signature trick, “The Lion’s Bride.” He manage to escaped from the building, but ran back inside to save a horse that was part of the show. Besides Lafayette, 10 other people died because the side doors had been locked tight before the show—Lafayette didn’t want anyone sneaking in.

His body was laid to rest beside his beloved dog.

+ Washington Irving Bishop

Palm Reading
Bishop grew up in a spiritual family; his mother was a practicing medium. As an adult he worked for a psychic, after which he set about trying to expose them and their tricks. Eventually he gave up on exposing psychics and become a mentalist himself. Unlike the psychics he exposed, he professed to audiences that he had no supernatural powers. He became incredibly successful using muscle reading, which involved holding the hand of an audience member and asking them a series of questions. He would feel acute muscle movements in their hands and perform accurate readings.

On May 12, 1889, while performing at the Lamb Club in New York city, he collapsed. Bishop suffered from catalepsy, which is when someone can fall into a coma-like state despite being very much alive. He awoke a short time later and asked to finished the show, but fell back into unconsciousness and eventually died.

That’s where things get a little murky.

Since Bishop suffered from catalepsy, many people believe that he wasn’t really dead. Some people, including Bishop’s mother, believe that the autopsy was what ultimately killed him. Doctors were especially interested in his brain because they wanted to know if his brain was special, giving him his “mind reading powers.” Unfortunately, they never got the chance to study it.

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Top 10 Disadvantages to Capitalism

There has been much discussion of the current economic system in the western world, capitalism. This is mainly because of the growing anti-capitalist movement. However, as the owners of the free media are the wealthy, the anti-capitalist side of the debate has not been fairly covered. This list is not to suggest a viable alternative, although there are many. It is merely to cover the disadvantages of the current system, which have often been ignored by the media and governments.


The common capitalist mantra that “anyone can be rich if they work hard enough” is a fallacy. There’s only so much room at the top. In order to make money, first you have to take it from someone else. This can be done through selling things, taxation or any other means. But this means that the rich cannot exist without the poor. Any way you look at it, there’s never going to be equality under capitalism.


In a society where resources are not evenly distributed, there is always going to be the wealthy who have an excess of resources. While occasionally these resources are given to the poor, often this excess is wasted. Millions of dollars worth of food is wasted by those who have more than they need, while there are many others who desperately need it.

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Of course, if some have an excess of the resources in society, there are others who do not have enough. In Third World countries, many are starving because they cannot afford to feed themselves, while those in Western countries fatten themselves with an excess of food, and waste the rest of it. There is enough food in the world to feed the entire world population.


Under a capitalist system, the profit motive is far greater than altruism. If people are worried about what’s in their own pocket, they will avoid helping their fellow human beings because they’re concentrating on looking after themselves. People feel the need to put themselves first because they think no-one will be there to help them if they lose all their money.


Often companies will cut corners in health and safety restrictions, because it costs them less to pay off the families of those who die in industrial accidents. Often staff are not properly trained in certain areas, or provisions have not been put in place to protect them from certain risks. This has often resulted in injuries and sometimes death.


While every individual has a single vote in a democracy, in a capitalist system, they have very little say in the actions of government. Greater influences on government than ideology or public opinion are the wealthy. Governments will listen to big business and banks because they fund their election campaigns. They will listen to big newspaper barons because they know that they can influence public opinion.


It shouldn’t be hard to convince people not to kill themselves, however, this is what companies are doing as they refuse to put in environmental measures because it will reduce their profit margins. It doesn’t matter to them that, in the long term, we’ll all be dead, as long as in the short term they’ll have the most money.

World War Two Soldiers Training

Many of the wars fought in recent years have been over profit. In Iraq, the war was largely funded by oil barons, and it was private firms who handled most of the security after the initial invasion. In Libya, western forces intervened when the civil war caused oil supplies to be cut off. They only sided with the rebels because they thought they were the most likely to win. In Iran, military intervention is being threatened over the blocking of trading routes to transport oil.

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We wouldn’t stand for dictatorship in our governments, so why do we stand for it in the workplace? CEOs get paid massive salaries, and award themselves huge bonuses on top of them, while they pay their workers minimum wage. The bosses don’t do the work, they don’t produce the goods we consume, and they merely own the means of production. As for those who do? The workers don’t have any say in how it is controlled.


You cannot escape capitalism, it’s everywhere. On every billboard, on every TV program, you have someone telling you to buy something. When this is done by governments in dictatorships we call it propaganda, when companies do it, it’s called advertising. They’re both forms of brainwashing.

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