Top 10 American Icons That Are Not American

We all grow up with famous brands that evoke that special memory of home. Brands that are especially American – brands that make us burst with national pride. But, alas, what many people don’t realize is that many of those brands are not American any longer (or never were!) This is a list of the ten most famous American icons that are, in fact, foreign. If you can think of others, be sure to mention them in the comments.

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The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company was founded by Harvey Firestone in 1900 to supply pneumatic tires for wagons, buggies, and other forms of wheeled transportation common in the era. Firestone soon saw the huge potential for marketing tires for automobiles. The company was a pioneer in the mass production of tires. Firestone used this relationship to become the original equipment supplier of Ford Motor Company automobiles, and was also active in the replacement market. Firestone was bought out in 1988 by Bridgestone, a Japanese rubber conglomerate based in Tokyo and founded in 1931. Bridgestone is currently ranked first in the global tire market, with Michelin second, Goodyear third and Continental fourth.


The Dial Corporation is a maker of personal care and household cleaning products based in Scottsdale, Arizona. It began as a brand of deodorant soap manufactured by Armour and Company, the legendary Chicago meatpacking firm, and through a series of mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, emerged by the 2000s as a stand-alone leading personal care and household cleaning products company. In 2004, the company was bought by Henkel KGaA, a German consumer products firm. Other brands owned by Henkel are Schwarzkopf, Sellotape, and Persil, the company’s most famous brand (and the name of the world’s first laundry detergent).


Shell Oil Company is the United States-based affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell, a multinational oil company (“oil major”) of Anglo Dutch origins, which is amongst the largest oil companies in the world. Approximately 22,000 Shell employees are based in the U.S. The head office in the U.S. is in Houston, Texas. Shell Oil Company is a 50/50 partner with the Saudi Arabian government-owned oil company Saudi Aramco in Motiva Enterprises, a refining and marketing joint venture which owns and operates three oil refineries on the Gulf Coast of the United States. Parent company Royal Dutch Shell has its origins in Holland and Britain.


Church’s Chicken is a U.S. chain of fast food restaurants specializing in fried chicken. The chain was founded as Church’s Fried Chicken To Go by George W. Church, Sr. on April 17, 1952 in San Antonio, across the street from The Alamo. The company now has more than 1,600 locations worldwide. Their slogan is “I know what good is.” At the end of 2004 the company was sold to Arcapita (formerly Crescent Capital Investments). Because Arcapita is an Islamic venture capital firm, bacon was removed from the menu after the sale (pork not being halal). In accordance with Islamic Sharia law, the company does not invest in any businesses which offer credit or charge interest, or sell pornography, alcohol, or pork products. The company also owns Caribou Coffee.

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Toll House is a brand of cookies and brownies marketed by Nestle. It is named for the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, where Ruth Graves Wakefield is credited with inventing the chocolate chip cookie by mistake in the 1930s in a nearby Rhode Island town. Ruth Graves approached Nestle after the popularity of her cookies skyrocketed. The price that Nestle paid her for the recipe was a life-time supply of chocolate. Nestle is a Swiss company and owns the rights to the cookies and the recipe.

Holiday Inn Medallion Logo Webcopy

The original Holiday Inn chain of hotels was founded in 1952 in Memphis, Tennessee, by homebuilder Kemmons Wilson to provide inexpensive family accommodation for travelers within the USA. Wilson initially came up with the idea after a family road trip to Washington, DC, during which he was disappointed by the quality and consistency provided by the roadside motels of that era. The name Holiday Inn was given to the original hotel by his architect Eddie Bluestein as a joke, in reference to the Bing Crosby movie. The Holiday Inn is now owned by British company InterContinental Hotels Group PLC which owns and operates several hotel brands.

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The Chrysler building is a very distinctive art deco skyscraper in New York City, recognized by anyone who has seen an American film. For 11 months it was the world’s tallest building and it is still the world’s tallest brick building. In 2007, it was ranked ninth on the List of America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects. As an iconic part of the New York City skyline, the Chrysler Building has been depicted countlessly in almost every medium—film, photography, video games, art, advertising, music, literature, and even fashion, as its use quickly establishes without doubt the location in which the depicted events are occurring. This amazing American Icon is now owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council which paid over 800 million dollars for the 75% share it owns. Abu Dhabi Investment Council manages the excess oil reserves of the emirates – valued at $1 trillion.

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Trader Joe’s was started in 1958 as a chain of “Pronto Market”. When founder Joe Coulombe was on vacation in the Caribbean he came up with the idea of a themed market with exotic foods – something lacking in the other chain stores at the time. The first store named Trader Joe’s was opened in 1966 in California. The original store is still in operation. The chain is now owned by a family trust of German billionaire Theo Albrecht who is behind the German supermarket chain Aldi.

7-Eleven Tokyo

7-Eleven is a worldwide chain of convenience stores which is the largest chain store in the world – beating McDonald’s by 1,000 stores. It is located in eighteen countries. Among 7-Eleven’s offerings are private label products, including Slurpee, a partially frozen beverage introduced in 1967, and the Big Gulp introduced in 1980 that packaged soft drinks in large cups ranging in size from 20 to 64 fluid ounces. 7-Eleven is owned by Seven & I Holdings Co., Ltd. which is a Japanese company and the fifth largest retailer in the world. Seven & I Holdings also owns Denny’s and White Hen Pantry.

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Budweiser is one of the most popular beers in the United States. It is an American style lager and is made with a mix of barley malt and rice. It is produced in a variety of breweries across the US and the world. The name originates from the German meaning “From Budweis” which was a Bohemian city. On July 14 it was announced that Anheuser-Busch (the company that produces Bud) was to be bought out by Belgian company InBev for 52 billion dollars. This deal sees the largest US brewer now owned by the beer giant from Belgium.

This article is licensed under the GFDL because it contains quotations from Wikipedia.

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Top 10 Tips for a Great First Date

Here is a list for the boys. There is a saying that “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” With that in mind, it is vital to be fully prepared to make a great impression on each date you go on. Here are 10 tips for men on dating success and making an impression that will last.


1. Pay

Pay for everything. Don’t mention splitting the bill. If the lady suggests paying part of the bill do not accept the offer. If she insists, allow her to pay what she wishes (this is not just a rule for dating). You will be the best judge at the time whether your date is only insisting because she feels obliged.

2. Location

No movies on the first date. How can you get to know each other if you spend the majority of the time in silence? I would recommend taking your date out for dinner (no lunch dates on the first date either). Take her somewhere you feel comfortable and somewhere you can easily afford. You don’t want to be nervous all through the date that you might get stuck with a crippling bill. If price is a big concern for you, you can organize your own date in a public place (like a park or even at your own home) and prepare the meal yourself. If you can’t cook, takeaways are fine, but serve it on plates at the table and try to make an effort.

I would also suggest that you not go too overboard with the first date. Keep it simple and moderately priced. You can get extravagent on subsequent dates if things go well.

3. Manners

First off, if you are going to dinner, read the Rules for Fine Dining list; try to remember at least one or two. When you pick up your date, get out of the car and hold the door open for her. Do the same when you are letting her out of the car. If you are dining out for your first date, hold the chair out for your date and help her sit.

Don’t be late.

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4. Respect

That means not to expect anything in return! A date is not payment for future pleasures, it is a way to get to know someone to gauge compatibility. This rule also means you should not try to get your date drunk, drugged, or compromised in any other way. At the end of the date you can offer a small kiss – offer nothing else and expecting nothing back.

5. Confidence

Be confident and take charge of the evening. This does not mean you should drag your date around by the arm; be firm with your suggestions and be confident that you will have a good date and make a good impression – remember, if you were a total loser you wouldn’t be on the date in the first place.

6. Grooming

Dress appropriately for your date, and you should probably let your date know where you are planning to take her in advance so she can also dress appropriately. If you are going to the beach for a seaside dinner, dress nicely (no jeans) but don’t overdress. Similarly, if you are going to a fancy restaurant, wear a shirt and tie. Make sure your shoes are clean and polished if necessary.

Shower. Shampoo. Shave. If you have cologne, wear a little but not too much.

7. Conversation

Do not focus on yourself during the evening – ask your date questions about herself (this works in all social situations). Listen to the replies too and don’t just look for an opening to start discussing yourself. Do not talk about your job for more than a few minutes – while our own work is a fascinating subject for us, it is seldom fascinating for someone else. Be sure to compliment your date – but don’t go overboard – you will seem desperate.

Do not ever talk about dates you have had with other people or your ex-girlfriends.

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8. Timing

Don’t let your date last too long. Think of it like a good meal – you should finish your plate feeling like you want just a little more. This is the best time to finish a date. This also means that you should not plan for the date to be too far from home otherwise the travel can ruin things.

9. Gifts

It can be a very nice idea to give your date a small gift on the first date. Don’t go crazy on something expensive – just a nice little token like a single rose is fine. Keep in mind where you are going and how you plan to get there so your date does not end up being lumbered with something that she has to carry around all night. Oh – and don’t pick the rose from your dates garden – buy one.

10. Conclusion

If you enjoyed your time with your date and would like to see her again, call her and tell her so. Don’t wait too long (and definitely don’t play hard to get). Be completely honest. Having said that, if you had an awful time, you should still be honest (though not brutal). There is no point in leading someone on – it will end up badly for both of you.

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10 Censored News Topics and Events

Censorship is the suppression of public communication that is considered to be objectionable, harmful or sensitive. Many different types of censorship exist, including moral, military, political, religious and corporate. Project Censored is a research group that tracks the news published in independent journals and newsletters. From these, they compile an annual list of 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country’s major national news media. This year’s top three stories were Global Plans to Replace the Dollar, US Department of Defense is the Worst Polluter on the Planet and Internet Privacy and Personal Access at Risk. This article will examine ten censored topics and events.


On October 16, 2004, the journal Astronomy published an online article that discussed a new-found strewn field of impact craters in southeastern Bavaria, Germany. It reported on a field of impact craters stretching from the town of Altötting to the area around Lake Chiemsee. The strewn field falls within an ellipse 36 miles long and 17 miles (58 by 27 kilometers) wide, and may hold at least 81 impact craters ranging from 10 to 1,215 feet (3 to 370 meters) in size. A large collection of articles have been published in Germany on the subject. They suggest that Lake Tüttensee is the largest crater of the strewn field. It exhibits an 8 m-height wall, a rim-to-rim diameter of about 500m and a depth of roughly 30m.

According to the Chiemgau impact research team, physical and archeological research has placed the impact event between 700 and 300 B.C. which is during the Holocene epoch. The figure may be fine-tuned to around 200 BC (2,200 years ago), due to tree-ring evidence from preserved Irish oaks, which have showed a slow growth event around 207 BC. The impact is suggested to have come from a low density disintegrated, loosely bound asteroid or a disintegrated comet. In order to form Lake Tüttensee, the biggest chunk of the object would have smashed into the ground with a force equivalent to 106 million tonnes of TNT, or 8,500 Hiroshima bombs.

Research into the Chiemgau impact crater was started in 2000, after unearthed pieces of metal containing minerals not previously seen in the region were discovered, by amateur archaeologists who were digging around Lake Chiemsee. Additional evidence comes from local discoveries of Celtic artifacts, which appear to have been burned on one side. In addition, Roman authors during this time in history wrote about showers of stones falling from the skies. The Chiemgau impact crater is an obsolete theory that is not accepted by the scientific community. The claim has been refuted by geological research and the discovery of a soil horizon of undisturbed peat. According to scientific research, Lake Tüttensee is one of many Kettles under the foothills of the Bavarian Alps.


Operation Payback is the name given to a group of Internet activists who have been attacking opponents of Internet piracy, under the name “Anonymous.” In 2010, several Bollywood (Indian cinema) companies hired Aiplex Software to launch DDoS attacks on websites that did not respond to software takedown notices. In retaliation, piracy activists organized Operation Payback, in September 2010. Operation Payback has since conducted a wave of Internet attacks on major pro-copyright and anti-piracy organizations, law firms and individuals.

In September 2010, in an attempt to ensure that Portuguese citizens don’t access The Pirate Bay to download illegal music and videos, Associação do Comércio Audiovisual de Portugal (ACAPOR) filed a complaint with the government. In response, the ACAPOR website was defaced, presenting a speech from Operation Payback and a redirect to The Pirate Bay after a few seconds. On October 4, 2010, Operation Payback launched an attack on the Ministry of Sound London website and the Gallant Macmillian website. On October 15, 2010, was infected and defaced. Three days later Operation Payback launched a DDoS attack against the UK Intellectual Property Office.

In 2010, Gene Simmons of KISS was quoted as saying, “Make sure your brand is protected…Make sure there are no incursions. Be litigious. Sue everybody. Take their homes, their cars. Don’t let anybody cross that line.” In response, Operation Payback took his two websites offline. On October 26, 2010, LimeWire was ordered to disable the “searching, downloading, uploading, file trading and/or file distribution functionality” after losing a court battle with the RIAA. In retaliation, members of Operation Payback took the RIAA website down, on October 29.

In December 2010, WikiLeaks came under intense pressure to stop publishing secret United States diplomatic cables. Corporations such as Amazon, PayPal, BankAmerica, PostFinance, MasterCard and Visa froze donations to WikiLeaks due to political pressures. In response, Operation Payback directed their attention to the companies. On December 8, 2010, operation Payback brought down both the MasterCard and Visa websites. The attempt to take down Amazon was aborted after they failed to recruit enough users to their botnet. On January 27, 2011, five males aged between 15 and 26 were arrested in the U.K. on suspicion of involvement in Operation Payback.


The Mosquito is an electronic device that is used to deter loitering by young people. It emits a sound with a very high frequency. The device was invented by Howard Stapleton in 2005, and was originally tested in Barry, South Wales. The newest version of the device, launched in 2008, has two frequency settings, one of approximately 17.4 kHz that can be heard only by young people, and another at 8 kHz that can be heard by most people. The target age demographic for the device is 13 to 25-years-old. Children have the ability to hear higher frequency sounds than adults.

The Mosquito is sold as a small speaker that produces a high frequency sound much like the buzzing of an insect. The device is marketed as a safety and security tool for preventing youths from congregating in a specific area. In the UK, over 3,000 have been sold, mainly for use outside shops and near transport hubs. The Mosquito is also sold in Australia, France, Denmark, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and the USA. The device is spreading across the U.S. and Canada. It is used in many cities, municipalities, school districts and public parks. The Mosquito has attracted controversy. Critics say that the device discriminates against young people and infringes on human rights, especially if used in public location, such as a park, where teenagers are allowed to gather.

A large collection of people have filed suit over the device. The inventor, Howard Stapleton, has asked European governments to legislate guidelines governing its use. The German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has released a report that identifies a collection of possible safety hazards with The Mosquito. Lengthy exposure can be a problem for small children and infants. It can cause the onset of dizziness, headache, nausea and mental impairment.

The Mosquito has received support and endorsements from municipalities, school districts, property management companies, convenience stores and other organizations. A UK group called “Buzz off” is campaigning for The Mosquito to be banned. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, has claimed that the sound is “untested and unregulated” and that it can be a “sonic weapon directed against children and young people.” In an interesting twist, there is a Teen Buzz ringtone that has been marketed. It is used by some kids to prevent teachers from hearing their ring.

Usa 193

USA-193 was an American military spy satellite, launched on December 14, 2006. The craft’s precise function and purpose was classified. The satellite malfunctioned shortly after deployment, and was intentionally destroyed 14 months later, on February 21, 2008. It was shot down by a modified $9.5 million SM-3 missile, fired from the warship USS Lake Erie, stationed west of Hawaii. After the failure, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) indicated that the satellite contained the hazardous materials hydrazine and beryllium. On January 29, 2008, an Associated Press story quoted a U.S. Air Force general as saying that a contingency plan was being made to destroy the satellite because intact pieces “might re-enter into the North American area.”

Planning for the destruction of USA-193 began on January 4, 2008, with President Bush approving the plan at an expected cost of $40 million to $60 million. The task force had the goal of “rupturing the fuel tank to dissipate the approximately 1,000 pounds (453 kg) of hydrazine, a hazardous fuel which could pose a danger to people on Earth.” The SM-3 missile was fired from the missile cruiser USS Lake Erie, and intercepted USA-193 about 133 nautical miles (247 kilometers) above the Pacific Ocean. At the time of impact, the satellite was traveling with a velocity of about 17,500 mph (around 28,000 km/h).

U.S. officials denied the accusation that the event was intended to prevent sensitive technology from falling into foreign hands. They also denied that it was a response to the 2007 Chinese anti-satellite missile test. The Russian government claims that the event was a test of the U.S. missile defense program. Russia accused the U.S. of using the hydrazine worries to cover up the test of an ASAT (Anti-satellite weapon).


The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a large body of water about 95 miles (153 km) long. It forms the outlet for the Salish Sea to the Pacific Ocean and provides part of the international boundary between the United States and Canada. On April 4, 1997, a Russian merchant ship named the Kapitan Man was discovered to be anchored in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) due north of Port Angeles, Washington. Responding to a request, the Canadian Forces dispatched a CH-124 helicopter to fly by the ship and take photographs of the vessel and its abnormal aerial antenna structure. The structure was indicative of a ship that may conduct ELINT or SIGINT intelligent gathering activities.

On board the helicopter was U.S. Navy Lt. Jack Daly and Canadian Forces pilot Capt. Patrick Barnes. Lt. Daly was the Navy’s foreign-intelligence officer in charge of a surveillance operation against Russian, Chinese and other spy ships operating in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. This section of the United States is known for a large collection of major nuclear ballistic missile submarine and aircraft carrier bases. While taking photographs of the ship, Lt. Daly suddenly experienced an intense pain in his right eye and temporary blindness. After examination, it was concluded that Daly suffered direct laser burns to his eye, as well as other vision problems and severe headaches. Captain Barnes was also injured in a similar manner and was permanently grounded as a result of the incident.

Shortly after the attack, Coast Guard teams were given two hours to search the Russian vessel but did not locate a laser. Teams were not given full access to the ship and the Clinton administration had warned the Russian government in advance that it would be searched. The ZM-87 Portable Laser Disturber is suspected of being the weapon that was used against the U.S. and Canadian military. After the incident, Lt. Daly became adamant that the State Department had orchestrated a media cover-up of the espionage activity to avoid hindering international negotiations. Daly went so far as to say “According to the U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 3, this cover-up was treason.”

An introduced species is a species living outside its native distributional range, which has arrived by human activity, either deliberate or accidental. Introduced species and their effect on the natural environment is a controversial topic. Perhaps the best area to study invasive species is on islands. Many bird species have evolved flightless on islands and are often threatened by invasive species. Introduced species regularly cause havoc on islands. A large collection of invasive species have spread across New Zealand.

The largest commercial crop in New Zealand is the Pinus radiata, which is the native Californian Monterey Pine tree. The pine tree grows great in New Zealand. However, the forests are also occupied by deer from North America and Europe and by possums from Australia. All of these animals are exotic species and they have thrived in the environment. Another pest is the common gorse, originally a hedge plant in Scotland. Like the Monterey pine, the gorse has shown to grow well in New Zealand. However, it is regarded as a noxious plant which threatens to obliterate native life.

Rabbits were introduced to New Zealand as a food source in the 1800s. They have since become a severe nuisance to farmers, notably on the South Island. Rats, dogs and cats have become a major problem for flightless birds. Sparrows, which were brought to control insects, have since displaced native birds. The longfin eels and other freshwater fish in New Zealand’s Lake Wairarapa are being forced to compete for resources with non-native fish. Two notable varieties of spiders have also been introduced to New Zealand. The white tail spider and the Red back spider. Both may have arrived via shipments of fruit.

As a large number of species have been introduced to New Zealand, some have accidentally escaped and caused problems in other areas of the world. One of the most notable examples is the New Zealand mud snail, which has become an invasive species in many countries. Almost without exception, the introduced species to New Zealand have been detrimental to the native flora and fauna. However, some, such as sheep and cows and the clover upon which they feed are important to the economy. Some species of flora have increased biodiversity.

Peru Crater

On September 15, 2007, a chondritic meteorite crashed near the village of Carancas, in the Puno Region of Peru, near the Bolivian border and Lake Titicaca. The explosion shattered windows at a health center located 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) away. The impact created a crater 4.5 m (15 ft) deep, 13 m (43 ft) wide, and scorched the Earth. The official size of the crater was given as 13.80 by 13.30 meters (45.28 by 43.64 feet). One of the first people to reach the area was a local official named Marco Limache. He reported a large amount of “boiling water coming out of the crater, and particles of rock and cinders nearby.” Limache gave a detailed description of how the crater was giving off a horrible smell.

Soon after the impact, over 600 villagers who had visited the site became ill from unexplained causes, including symptoms of dermal injuries, nausea, headaches, diarrhea and vomiting. On September 20, 2007, Peruvian scientists confirmed that there had been a meteorite strike, but no further information on the illnesses was released. Impact crater specialists have called the meteorite unusual. The ground water in the area is known to contain arsenic compounds, and the illness may have been caused by arsenic poisoning, but it has been argued that the arsenic content near the crater is no different from that of the local drinking supply. Another theory is that the illness was caused by the vaporization of troilite, which is a sulfur-bearing compound present in the meteorite.

All reports have indicated that the impact caused ground water in the area to boil for ten minutes. This has presented a problem for experts because meteorites are usually cold when they hit the ground. They don’t cause excessive heat. To explain this, the meteorite is said to have a high degree of iron and magnetic properties, similar to metallic objects. A large number of conspiracy theories have been connected with the impact. They revolve around the fact that the meteorite is unusual and the fireball was seen coming from a low trajectory. The most extreme conspiracy revolves around the claim that an extraterrestrial UFO entered the Earth’s crust. Other people have suggested the impact came from a U.S. spy satellite, the KH-13, which was destroyed in orbit. The explosive impact of the meteorite originally led Peruvians to think that the neighboring nation of Chile had launched an attack.


Since the beginning of the Gulf War, military personnel in the US and UK have displayed unexplained medical symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders and memory problems, in addition to neurologic, neuropsychological, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular conditions. Approximately 250,000 of the 697,000 veterans who served in the Gulf War have been diagnosed with an enduring illness. The cause of the illness is unknown, but exposure to toxic chemicals has been identified as a culprit. This includes the exposure troops received after the destruction of the Khamisiyah weapons depot, where large quantities of Iraqi chemical munitions were stored, containing sarin and cyclosarin nerve agents.

Three large studies have been conducted that show a significant but modest increase in birth defects in children born to Gulf War veterans. Other Gulf War-related health issues include the rates of diagnosable medical conditions, cancer and post-war mortality among veterans. Aside from the many physical and psychological issues involved with war deployment, Gulf War veterans have been exposed to a unique mixture of hazardous substances. These include pyridostigmine bromide pills given to protect troops from the effects of nerve agents, depleted uranium munitions, and anthrax and botulinum vaccines. Military personnel also had to cope with swarms of insects, which required the widespread use of pesticides.

The Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan has displayed a more traditional rate of war time sickness. However, the bizarre symptoms of Gulf War illness are still visible. The current incident is centered on the high rates of respiratory, neurological and heart ailments. For VA benefit purposes, Gulf War service is defined as active military duty any time from the first Gulf War starting August 2, 1990 through the current conflict in Iraq. This includes veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2010) and Operation New Dawn (2010 and continuing).

Gulf War Veterans who meet the criteria do not need to prove a connection between their military service and medically unexplained chronic illness in order to receive VA disability compensation. VA presumes certain chronic, unexplained symptoms existing for 6 months or more are related to Gulf War service without regard to cause. Recent reports have indicated that U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait have been confronted by a collection of harmful microscopic dust particles laden with toxic metals, bacteria and fungi. The dust contains 147 different kinds of bacteria, 37 metals, including aluminum, lead, manganese, strontium and tin, as well as fungi that could spread disease.

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George Anthony Smith was a former footman and valet in the Royal Household of Prince Charles. In 1995, Smith made some startling accusations against the Prince of Wales and a man named Michael Fawcett. He alleged that he had been raped by Michael Fawcett, who was one of Prince Charles closest friends. Besides accusing Fawcett of rape, George Smith said that Michael Fawcett was in a homosexual relationship with the Prince of Wales, who protected him. The shocking news made some headlines in November 2003, and was the subject of a legal injunction in the United Kingdom to stop exposure.

George Smith’s claim of a sexual relationship between the Prince of Wales and Fawcett was repeated in a legal statement issued by him to the Mail on Sunday newspaper. In response, Michael Fawcett took a High Court injunction to prevent their disclosure. The injunction was granted. The Prince’s Private Secretary issued a statement denying the allegations and questioning the trustworthiness of the unnamed Smith as a source.

The story still cannot be published in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but it has been written about extensively in the Republic of Ireland and Italy. Geoffrey Wheatcroft, a British media commentator, called Smith “probably the most unreliable source for any story on anything, anywhere in the United Kingdom.” George Smith claims to have only witnessed a member of the Royal Family and his aide “tucked up under the sheets, lying next to each other.”

In an interesting twist, George Smith discussed the matter with Diana, Princess of Wales. He told her that he had been raped. He also told Diana that he witnessed the Princess’s estranged husband, the Prince of Wales, lying in bed with his aide, Michael Fawcett. Diana is said to have taped the interview. The whereabouts of the tape became a matter of considerable controversy following Diana’s death, in August 1997. On August 24, 2005, George Anthony Smith died in Newport, Wales of an unknown illness. He was only 44-years-old.

Sea Level Rising

The Climatic Research Unit (CRU) is one of the leading institutions concerned with the study of climate change. In November 2009, hackers gained access to a server used by the CRU and stole a large amount of data, anonymously posting online more than 1,000 emails and more than 2,000 other documents. The event occurred two weeks before the Copenhagen Summit on climate change. Following the leak, global warming skeptics began to highlight sections of the information that showed how scientists have manipulated statistics on climate change and suppressed their critics. The accusations have been denied by the CRU. CRU’s researchers stated that the emails were taken out of context and merely reflect an honest exchange of ideas.

According to Newsweek, climate skeptics believe that the documents show that global warming is a scientific conspiracy. In one email exchange, a scientist writes of using a statistical “trick” to illustrate historical trends in global warming. The Guardian’s analysis of the emails found that the hackers filtered the information using keywords, including Yamal, tree rings, and Phil Jones. The use of “tree rings” was an attempt to bring to notice the divergence problem. A large number of organizations released statements on the issue. The American Association for the Advancement of Science gave a quote, “There are multiple lines of scientific evidence that global climate change is caused by human activity. It is a growing threat to society.”

Six committees investigated the allegations and published reports, finding no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct. However, the reports did criticize climate scientists for their disorganized methods, bunker mentality and lack of transparency. In several email exchanges, Kevin Trenberth, a climatologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and other scientists discussed gaps in understanding. “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming in 2009 and it is a travesty.” Overall, the incident was considered a public relations disaster for the scientific community. Historian Spencer R. Weart, of the American Institute of Physics, said the incident was unprecedented in the history of science, having “never before seen a set of people accuse an entire community of scientists of deliberate deception.”

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10 Celebrities with Strange Physical Flaws

Sure, they may look perfect on the silver screen, but all ten of these celebrities have a physical imperfection caused by a birth defect, accident or just plain old heredity. Read on to find out which celeb was born with a conjoined twin, whose thumb looks like a penis, and who can swim as well as a scuba diver thanks to his naturally webbed toes.


Megan Fox was born with a condition called “brachydactyly” thumbs, which means that her thumbs are slightly clubbed or misshapen. Both digits are short and have a very wide nail, though they are perfectly functional. This condition is usually hereditary, though it can also be caused by an injury in childhood.


Lily Allen is no shrinking violet, so it comes as no surprise that she is extremely open and up-front about her extraneous nipple. Lily has been known to freely show off the tiny freckle-like mark under her left breast, with absolutely no embarrassment. Nor should she be embarrassed; roughly 2-3% of the human population have an extra nipple, including fellow celebrities Mark Wahlberg, Tilda Swinton and Carrie Underwood.


Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo was born with one leg almost two inches shorter than the other. He had the problem corrected as an adult in a grueling procedure that involved the surgical breaking of his leg, followed by months of wearing a brace and physically stretching the leg several times per day. This experience inspired Cuomo to write a song called “The Good Life,” and he featured an x-ray image of his broken leg on the single’s album, Pinkerton.


Andy Garcia was born with a conjoined twin attached to his shoulder. Doctors surgically removed the unformed fetus when Garcia was a toddler and still too young to remember the ordeal.


When actor Vince Vaughn was seventeen he lost the tip of his right thumb in a car accident. He is famously unperturbed by this slight physical deformity and has been known to joke that his thumb now resembles a penis with a fingernail.


Smashing Pumpkins lead singer Billy Corgan was born with a large port-wine stain birthmark, or Klippel-Trenauney syndrome (KTS), covering most the palm and fingers of his left hand. Corgan does suffer some physical impairment due to this congenital circulatory disorder, though it does not effect his ability to shred on guitar.


Many people assume that Joaquin Phoenix’s scar resulted from the surgical correction of a cleft palate, but Phoenix was actually born this way. His prominent scar was formed in utero as a mild form of cleft palate called a microform cleft.


When hunky Scottish actor Gerard Butler had to shave his head for a movie role, he was shocked to discover that one of his ears sticks out noticeably more than the other, due to an ear surgery he’d had as a child. Butler, who is deaf in his right ear as a result of the tinnitus that has plagued him since his youth, laughingly says that the costume designers on movie sets now have to routinely glue back one of his ears.


Jennifer Garner is a beautiful woman, so most people don’t find themselves staring at her feet very often. However, if they did they’d see that Garner has brachymetatarsia, a condition in which one of the five long bones of the foot is shorter than the others, resulting in a shortened toe.

As actor Dan Aykroyd demonstrates in the video above, two of the toes on each foot are webbed almost to the top knuckle. An estimated 1 in every 3000 people has a form of webbed feet. Actor Ashton Kutcher has also shown off his webbed toes on occasion.

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5 Most Mind-Numbingly Atrocious State Songs

There is no state song that’s any good, really. There’s probably not one person in the United States who actually loves their state song, much less that could actually sing their state’s official song. The typical ones are loaded up with words like fertile and verdant, with apostrophes slapped randomly into words like ev’ry and treach’rous. Chances are good that your state song was written by two old battleaxes, probably sisters, named Myrtle and Eustacia Crockpot-Twistlington, and each verse makes less sense than the last.??Those are the good ones. At least, that’s what state songs are supposed to be like, if we’re going by averages. That means that to be one of the truly worst state songs, you have to work extra hard at being exceptionally terrible in some way. These are the ones that are, shall we say, special.??


?It takes a bold state, one that’s exceptionally sure of itself, to choose a state song with a title that’s self-satirizing. You don’t see Arkansas hustling to make “Proud to be an Illiterate” official, or Utah folks singing “We’re Pretty Much Mostly Mormons.” Florida is cool, though. Kinda like the obese guy nicknamed Fatty: confident enough to roll with it. That’s why the fact that Florida acknowledges its population of retirees is not the bad part.??The bad part is that the song is better known by the title “(Way Down Upon) The Swanee River,” a song that, no two ways about it, is racist as all get-out. Written by Stephen Foster in 1851 as a minstrel song, it references “darkies” and is written in an obvious ethnic dialect. While some contemporary singers like to throw in a “Lordy” in place of “darkies” and modernize the language, the official state song remains as the one in this vernacular:

Way down upon de Swanee ribber,
?Far, far away,
?Dere’s wha my heart is turning ebber,
?Dere’s wha de old folks stay.

?For the record, other states with racist verses have adopted new lyrics or modernized versions of their state songs, if not replaced them outright. Florida thought about it in 1997, when a state representative attempted to have it changed. “Nah,” the old white men must have thought. “We like the old one. It’s snappy!”??


?It’s hard to know whether to admire New Jersey or pity it for being the only state without musical representation. It was the third colony to become a state (in 1787) and yet in all that time has yet to decide on an official state song. Maybe the New Jersey governors are just genius enough to refuse to allow their state to be touted with incomprehensible lyrics.??The author of the song “I’m From New Jersey” has been lobbying for decades to get his song recognized, but the governor has never signed. It could be the fact that the songwriter’s name is Red Mascara. Or, it could be the fact that he has pimped out the song to other cities, substituting their names for New Jersey in the lyrics. His own website has a downloadable version with “Philly” substituted for “New Jersey.”??The lack of a song has led many to unofficially think of Jersey icon Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” as a de facto state song, and the state even named it the “Unofficial Youth Rock Anthem” in 1979. This leads to to questions. First, what is the Official Youth Rock Anthem of New Jersey? And second, why does the government of New Jersey give any kind of recognition to a song that, in a nutshell, says “Let’s get the hell out of town?”

Baby this town rips the bones from your back.
?It’s a death trap; it’s a suicide rap
?We gotta get out while we’re still young.



?If Maryland really wanted a state song that showed less support for the Confederacy, it could possibly switch to “Dixie.” Written in 1861 as a poem that has been referred to as America’s “most martial” verses, the first line refers to Lincoln as a despot, then goes on to rally the people to “avenge the patriotic gore.” It continues:

She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb-
?Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!

?A later verse says “‘Sic semper! ’tis the proud refrain.” You may recall that Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth used those words as his refrain too, calling “Sic semper tyrannis” when he shot Lincoln. The song is also a schoolboy’s joke book, as it’s difficult to imagine anyone of school age singing “She breathes! she burns! she’ll come! she’ll come!” with a serious expression.??The bloodiness of the Maryland state song is tempered a bit, though, when you actually hear the song being sung. The song’s tune is an old one. You’ll recognize it as “O Tanenbaum” or “O Christmas Tree.” The first time you hear the tune of a beloved Christmas song with lyrics about a despotic Lincoln, it comes as a bit of a shocker.??


?Tennesseans must laugh in the faces of the state song-less New Jersey residents. The Southern state never met a song it didn’t like. Tennessee holds the record for number of state songs, with a grand total of seven, plus one hilarious “bonus track.”??The hit list of official Tennessee state songs includes “My Tennessee,” “When It’s Iris Time in Tennessee,” and “The Tennessee Waltz,” which suggests that pretty much any song that has “Tennessee” in the title gets made official, even if it’s a song about your best friend stealing your boyfriend (the waltz). “Rocky Top,” one of the other four official state songs, merely mentions the state, and is otherwise a hillbilly anthem:

Once two strangers climbed ol’ Rocky Top,
?lookin’ for a moonshine still;
?Strangers ain’t come down from Rocky Top;
?Reckon they never will;
?Corn won’t grow at all on Rocky Top;
?Dirt’s too rocky by far;
?That’s why all the folks on Rocky Top
?get their corn from a jar;

?The eighth song you can find on the official Tennessee government website is the “Bicentennial Rap,” which the local legislature adopted as the Official Bicentennial Rap Song in 1996. It may be the only rap song to reference the Gore family, Elvis and Dollywood. It was supposedly adopted to make history appealing to students, which makes the line “Whisky, whisky, sipping smooth” a bit of a head-scratcher. You can read the full lyrics here. Because no one has been crazy enough to make a recording of this for youtube, you can watch “Rocky Top” above.??


?The runners-up for worst state song are too close to call. Should it be Louisiana, whose “You Are My Sunshine,” (clip above) was written by a man who vehemently opposed integration (one time during his tenure, he rode his horse up the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol to protest integration)? Or should it be Missouri, whose state song was made popular by being associated with Truman, then Truman himself said it was crappy and he hated it???Other contenders include North Carolina, whose state song proclaims that its men are “plain and artless.” Connecticut just said, “What the heck” and picked “Yankee Doodle.” South Carolina isn’t alone in personifying its state as a woman, but things get weird when it talks about what happens when a foe tries to part her skirts.??Perhaps someone should go into the business of writing new state songs, or maybe we should scrap them altogether. We’ve got a national anthem, and it’s not that bad. Sure, it used to be a drinking song, but “home of the brave” beats “plain and artless” any day.

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10 Well Known People and their Phobias

We all have fears, right? They range from the subtler things like a fear of spiders (arachnophobia), to the more serious fear of people (sociophobia). But did you know there are many celebrities and historical figures who have suffered from phobias just like you? While most of them fear simple things like you and me, some are just a little bit more extreme. And by a little, I mean a lot! So please enjoy this list of the top ten well-known people and their phobias!


George Washington: first president of the United States of America. He commanded forces in numerous battles, defended our country against the British, and risked his life to save others. He seems fearless, right? Wrong! He had a very serious fear of premature burial. This was clearly expressed on his deathbed, in 1799, where he made his attendants promise that his body would be left out for two days, in case he was still alive. This may seem pretty odd for a man like George Washington, but taphephobia was a common fear for noble people, as well as commoners, living in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Although the fear is not as well known today as it was back then, primitive medicine meant that premature burial has indeed happened throughout the ages.


As I stated early, we all have fears. Woody Allen, however, has taken fear to an extreme. The 74-year-old actor and screenwriter is afraid of practically everything. Although he has normal phobias that cause him to fear heights, enclosed spaces and insects, he also has more abnormal fears. Among his weirder terrors are fears of bright colors, animals, elevators and peanut butter sticking to the roof of his mouth! In addition to his countless phobias, he also admits to having very neurotic needs, such as requiring his shower drain to be in a corner rather than the center and cutting his banana into exactly seven pieces before putting them into his cereal every morning. His bounty of fears made him a necessity on this list!


The 34th president of the United States, a man remembered mostly for his role in the Watergate scandal, had an excessive fear of hospitals. He believed that if he were ever to go into a hospital, he would never come out alive. In 1974, he suffered from a blood clot and refused to be taken to a hospital for treatment. However, he was told that if he didn’t go, he would die, and he had to go. This fear is fairly common among people, and they fear hospitals for much the same reason as Richard Nixon.


Alfred Hitchcock, a famous Hollywood director and producer known for movies such as Psycho and Vertigo, had an extreme fear of eggs. He said that they are revolting to him! He stated that he never tasted an egg in his whole life, and he refused to even be around them. He claimed that nothing was more revolting to him then seeing a white round thing with no holes spill its yellow liquid. It is unknown why a man like Hitchcock would have such a random fear.


Sigmund Freud, the neurologist who founded the psychoanalyst school of psychiatry and created many world-changing theories, feared weapons and ferns. He is often credited with saying that a fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity. Also, it is common for people to fear weapons. As for having a phobia of ferns, that is not a very common fear. It is difficult to know where this could have come from, as he said little about it and there is scarce detail about it. It is unlikely that he had a traumatic experience with ferns as a child. However, those who knew him agreed that he did fear ferns, and that he would never eat them.


Oprah, the queen of daytime television, has a great phobia of gum chewing. This began for her at an early age, when her grandmother would collect gum and keep it in rows on a cabinet. Oprah was so revolted by this that it caused her to fear gum for the rest of her life. One time, she said, she threw out a plate because it had a piece of gum on it! She is so sickened by gum chewing that she has banned it at her television studio. Surprisingly, her employees and studio audience usually cooperate and give her no reason to fear. Who would have thought that a woman such as Oprah would fear something like gum chewing?


This actress, famous for films such as Miracle on 34th Street and West Side Story, suffered from a fear of water — specifically, being in water. Although it is unknown how this phobia started, it is rumored to have begun when Natalie’s mother tricked her into standing on a bridge for a movie. The bridge had been rigged for Natalie to fall into the water below. This is said to have taken place when Natalie was young, so the fear stuck with her for life. Ironically, she died from drowning one night after falling off of a yacht.


This actor, director, musician and writer has many fears. For starters, he suffers from chromophobia, or the fear of bright colors. But wait, there’s more! He has a fear of antique furniture! Any furniture that was made before the 1950s totally gives him the freaks. According to him, he was once in a restaurant full of antique furniture, which resulted in him not being able to eat, drink or even draw breath. Last, but not least, he fears clowns, which is also known as coulrophobia. Just the sight of the clowns painted face really frightened him! This fear of clowns is also shared by Johnny Depp.


Nikola Tesla was a famous inventor, best known for his work on electromagnetism and electricity. He was a germaphobe who avoided touching people, and anything else that contained germs, at all costs. Tesla was known to wash his hands extremely frequently. In addition to his germaphobia, he was very frightened of jewelry, especially earrings that contain pearls. Pearls revolted him to a very high degree. In addition to his fears, he preferred to do everything in threes or multiples of three. For example, he was adamant about staying in hotel rooms that were divisible by three.


The great Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, and great military and political leader, feared felines. Don’t wait for a punch line, because there isn’t one. Cats chilled Napoleon to the bone. However, it is unknown why he feared them. But what is known is that the sight of a kitty would put him in panic mode. And it isn’t just Napoleon! Many other men who tried to rule the world feared cats, including Hitler, Mussolini and Julius Caesar. I guess cats and dictators were never meant to get along!

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Top 10 Reasons the Newspaper is Dying

Looking back upon the heyday of the newspaper industry, images of angry cigar-smoking editors, journalists with fedoras carrying “press” cards and sharpened pencils, and little Dickensian children on the street corner shouting “Read all about it!” are evoked. That was back when nothing MORE than newspapers existed, that is in the form of competition. Yes, the paper was as cutting edge as the refrigerator back when the nation relied on its local street urchin to find out what was new in the world. Nowadays, in spite of a good many paperboys who regularly find summer employment, it’s the tech-savvy youth that are primarily responsible for the undoing of anachronistic traditions. You’d think an industry whose very purpose is to keep regular tabs on the status quo would be able to adapt to an ever-changing environment, but such was apparently not the case as an industry of old dogs failed to learn any new tricks (instead they just continued licking themselves). Here’s a look at the top ten reasons why not all traditions are timeless, and particularly why the newspaper industry is folding under itself (and being held in place with a rubber band).

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Reason: It’s Made By and Aimed at “Old People.”

You’re going to lose a lot of business targeting the most transient demographics, the ones on the way out the door, whereas there is a lot of money in tapping into the prodigal youth. You want to secure a place in the hearts of those that really pull all the strings, the ones that will inherit the earth one day. To simply secure the ports of every hospital feeding tube is extremely short-sighted. Most successful business models aren’t based on a client-base that remembers when things used to cost a nickel (e.g. Facebook, iPods, any beverage ever, etc.). Not only do newspapers adapt poorly to an internet model, they also seem to be completely clueless about what appeals to younger demographics (beyond the extremely topical). That’s a matter of external research, but try telling any stubborn print publication run by complacent old coots to look outside of itself.


Reason: There’s no Passion in the Journalism.

When you read any front page news story, chances are it’ll be the driest, most cliche-prone pile of bullet points you’ll find outside of a reporter’s notebook. Beyond the basic story elements (the ol’ “Who, What, When, Where, Why and How”) there is rarely any narrative or creative expansion, really no more than the laziest consolidation of a tape recorder’s content. The straight-forwardness is crucial to the relay of the most vital information, but more than being just a journalist (but a bona fide writer), the material should be at least interpreted in a way that would appeal to those otherwise uninterested in bland subject matter (e.g. real estate, finances, etc.). Or just keep on writing to appease the routine-seekers…


Reason: There’s no Journalism in the Journalism.

How much of the news we receive really matters? Relevance is the crux of the news industry for sure, but is a car accident or local robbery really relevant to anyone who doesn’t confuse breaking news with gossip? There are two types of news: “hard news” and “soft news.” The former would be like a local politician passing a bill or a murder, while the latter would be something like a business profile or feature on a kid in a wheelchair who can do Pee-Wee Herman impressions. The difference is in how immediate or timely a story is. But what should matter most is how much a story resonates with us as humans, not so much as how a story appeals to our lowest instincts to draw us in. When politics enter the newsroom, papers often use common affiliations to solicit to large, generic groups of people. Journalism should be a neutral platform to which everyone can subscribe unequivocally, not just those on the inside of the slant.


Reason: It’s Impractical and Inconvenient.

This is the reason a lot of retro-technology is pushed aside so quickly for the next flashy thing. Vinyl records became immediately more bulky and involved as soon as CD’s came about, as convenience is always preferred to quality or substance. Accordingly, it’s completely impractical to dig through a compost pile of newspapers to ascertain a news story from last year; whereas with the internet, archives exist, and virtually nothing is out of reach with a single laptop or handheld smartphone with internet access. Then there’s the matter of paper waste, the very reason hardcore green-heads don’t read the paper.


Reason: It Costs Money.

As the old adage goes, why pay for something that’s free? This is the very ideology that devastates the music industry and paper industry alike. Like pirated music, news is very much available for free on the internet, largely from websites pertaining to major city newspapers. With that being the case, news being readily accessible, and streamed to your homepage even, it seems redundant to pay a monthly subscription to hear the same thing from a pile of carbon (or digital equivalent). And that is the central problem with the newspaper, it really offers nothing new.


Reason: It Requires Literacy.

Simply put, most Americans don’t like to read, recreationally or otherwise. Newspapers endorse literacy implicitly on a daily basis. Granted, the industry is aimed at the least educated-types for a reason, as people don’t often have the attention span to sit down and absorb a single thing without being simultaneously stimulated by 18 others. Truth be told, if the paper didn’t have so many full-page pictures, or a funnies section, it would’ve died a long time ago (some people get all their news from Doonesbury alone).


Reason: Wasteful Overhead.

Between large headquarters, lofty offices, salaried employees and warehouses containing cumbersome printing presses which use (i.e. waste) all sorts of ink and paper every day, a lot of money goes into the daily newspaper that shows up at your door step every morning. All that money is exactly what keeps the industry from garnering any viable or growth-enabling profit margins, when online-based newspapers (like AOL’s Patch) are accountable for virtually no overhead (operating mostly out of coffee shops and a host website, in lieu of a physical headquarters) and make all their money through ad revenue. This is the Age of DIY, digital music, E-books and reality TV: less material equals more room for profits.


3. Big Business Pretensions.

Again, the newspaper industry still thinks it’s on the same page as Wall Street, Big Oil and Big Tobacco, and can maintain that Tony Montana business ethos of wasteful expenditures and general impetuosity. It’s almost foolish to think you can keep up a business full of highly-demanding, not to mention overpaid, staff members, providing benefits and the kinds of perks that are usually found in the fluffiest regions of the corporate world. But when starving journalists fresh out of grad school are willing to do the exact same work for a lot less, and with a lot more zeal for the trade as an art form, it becomes a million times more practical to take on a body of freelancers who cut overhead into a fractional value. But if you insist on guaranteeing each employee gets a new jet ski or swimming pool full of caviar for a Christmas bonus, so be it.

Fox News Logo

Reason: Cable News.

With cable news, reading is obsolete. This is exciting for people uninterested in maintaining the acuteness of their wits. For those who like doing no work and reaping all the benefits, including a dash of enlightenment, it’s a sheer delight to be able to watch television and effortlessly absorb all the necessary points a newspaper requires you to sift for. This is huge competition for such a literacy-dependent medium as the newspaper. Not only that, the paper only comes once a day, meaning that anything that happens thereafter can’t be reported until the very next day. Cable news on the other hand can report a story on the minute and as it happens, even before it happens; for instance, when the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death hadn’t yet been made official, CNN was there to break it as it was being relayed from various sources and inside informants, who were alluding to some “important announcement” to be made by the President. The paper “broke” this news the following morning.


Reason: The Internet.

The internet is responsible for a lot of deaths. Primary, the death of humanity. Through it, people no longer need interact face to face or leave their houses to buy things or even work (in some cases). When news can be broken the second it happens, or at least as long as it takes for a witness to type it and publish it online (with Twitter or Facebook, that is only seconds), it’s a remarkable thing. That is unless your business model still operates on a once/day basis. In that case, you come off as perpetually slow to the punch, nothing more than a recap of what’s already been said/revealed. It is for that reason that the newspaper is no longer a practical way to receive information, that is when it comes to the very topical. Since most papers don’t dig much further than the topical, it is not introducing a new element and hardly a fresh perspective. There is a lot to say for a tangible product, but the product in journalism really comes down to a single abstraction: knowledge. That is what needs to be sold effectively. Sadly, there’s nothing effective about a newspaper anymore.

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10 Forgotten Hollywood Scandals

They just don’t make scandals like they used to. Our instant access, 24/7 news and social media cycles grind out tabloid fodder faster than Apple can slap an “i” on any product. Along the way, the stories lose impact. Once upon a time, however, indignity carried plenty of weight. Long before the vogue of being famous for being famous, Hollywood royalty captured the hearts of the American audience. Fans adored and idolized their favorite stars. Scandals weren’t shocking because of what happened, but because of who they happened to. The shame of fallen stars meant more because the stars meant more.

Maybe Hollywood is a fairy tale, and always was a fairy tale. These are a few of her stories that have faded over time.

10 Elizabeth Taylor: Three’s A Crowd


Imagine the Brangelina headlines playing out 50 years ago, back when Nikita Khrushchev made Time‘s 1958 man of the year, Eisenhower was in the White House, and Captain Kangaroo was on TV. Oscar winner Elizabeth Taylor, to riff on the old joke, believed in marriage so much that she took vows eight times. Marrying Richard Burton twice remains part of the Taylor legend. But it was her romance with Eddie Fisher that proved the most controversial. Brangelina had nothing on her.

Taylor married mega-producer Mike Todd in 1957. She became widowed when Todd perished in a plane crash barely one year into their marriage. The tragedy earned Todd the sad distinction of being the only husband Taylor did not divorce. The turn also provided Todd’s close pal, singer Eddie Fisher, the opportunity to console Taylor. Despite Fisher’s marriage with actress Debbie Reynolds, sympathy went the way of amour, and Liz and Eddie said “I do” the following year.

The Taylor-Fisher wedlock became unlocked within five years when Taylor came across Richard Burton, and Reynolds eventually forgave Taylor. Looking back on her loves, lost and found, Taylor once commented “I am a very committed wife. And I should be committed, too—for being married so many times.”

9 Lana Turner: Sweating The Sweater Girl


You may have heard the one about the starlet who was discovered while sipping on a soft drink at a soda fountain—that was Lana Turner. The actress once dubbed the “Sweater Girl” matched Elizabeth Taylor for turns at the altar, but her claim to scandal fame centers on an underworld lover.

Johnny Stompanato—a small-time, Los Angeles hood associated with gangster Mickey Cohen—became Turner’s lover in 1957. The reportedly torrid affair reached white heat on April 4, 1958. As testified in court, Turner’s 14-year-old daughter listened to the lovers quarreling big time at their Bel Air home. When Stompanato threatened to disfigure Turner, Cheryl grabbed an eight-inch carving knife and went to her mother’s defense. The teen fatally wounded the gangster in the gut, a justifiable homicide according to the coroner’s inquest. Within one week of the slaying, personal letters made their way into the press. One Stompanato love letter carried an ironic phrase: “You know, baby, I’m so lonesome for the touch of you, I could die.”

The court sent Cheryl to live with her maternal grandmother while Turner went on to score a box office smash with 1959′s Imitation of Life. Stompanato’s son, John II, brought a $750,000 damage suit against mother and daughter, charging that his father had been slain without cause. Lana and Cheryl settled out of court in the amount of $20,000.

8 Ingrid Bergman: Love, Italian Style


Ingrid Bergman was supposed to be different. She was supposed to be above the stuff of tawdry gossip. She’d won the Oscar for Gaslight in 1944 and appeared as Joan of Arc in 1949. But an extramarital affair? And becoming pregnant? Say it ain’t so, Joan.

Bergman met director Roberto Rossellini in 1949 on the set of Stromboli and nature took its course. The affair ended her 13-year marriage to Petter Lindstrom, and she left behind 10-year-old daughter, Pia. Her son with Rossellini, Robert, came into the world a matter of days before her divorce became finalized.

Rossellini played it mum when approached in Italy, despite swirling rumors. Once the story hit the States, the self-appointed guardians of the day’s morality had a field day. Religious groups, censorship boards, and various levels of government rallied the faithful. Charging that the love affair “tends to glorify adultery,” the call went out to ban Bergman off the cinematic map.

Even the U.S. Senate got in the act. Edwin C. Johnson (D-Colo.), chair of the body’s Commerce Committee, slammed Bergman, Rossellini, and the RKO film studio. The legislator accused Bergman of taking a “nose dive from the highest pinnacle of respectability, fame and glory, to the role of common mistress.” He summed up Rossellini as “vile and unspeakable” and “a common love thief.”

Six years, two more kids, and one divorce later, Bergman returned to triumph over Hollywood. She divorced Rossellini in 1956, the same year she starred in Anastasia, for which she received her second Academy Award. In 1972, Sen. Charles H. Percy entered an official apology to Bergman into the Congressional Record.

7 Jean Harlow: The Honeymoon Is Over

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Paul Bern’s suicide note made it short and sweet:

“Dearest Dear, unfortunately this is the only way to make good the frightful wrong I have done you and to wipe out my abject humiliation. I love you. Paul. You understand that last night was only a comedy.”

The butler discovered the producer’s unclothed body—with a pistol in his hand and a gunshot wound in his head—on September 5, 1932. The event left his wife of two months, Jean Harlow, devastated.

The actress known as The Blonde Bombshell professed, “I can’t understand why this terrible thing should have happened. As for the note left by Paul, I have no idea what it means.” That wasn’t good enough for the police, reporters or movie audiences in 1932. Everyone and their mother wanted to know the reasons why the 42-year-old wanted to make a widow out of this sexy, 21-year-old star. Peculiarities thread their way through the story. Bern was notorious for being on the arm of the screen’s greatest sirens, but behind the public image, many considered him an incomplete man. There was plenty to be read between the lines, including that he never consummated his marriage to Harlow.

Then there was Dorothy Millette, Bern’s common-law wife from his New York days. Millette’s body was discovered in the Sacramento River two days following Bern’s suicide. Rumors persisted that she visited his home shortly before his death, as did the rumors that studio execs and assistants essentially ransacked the death scene to remove any embarrassing evidence long before the police arrived.

Years later, playwright, screenwriter, and former journalist Ben Hecht attacked the story in the pages of Playboy. His November 1960 article sparked enough controversy to compel District Attorney McKesson to re-probe the original probe, but he found nothing to investigate. For his part, Hecht admitted to Toronto newsmen, “My story was based on rumor and gossip. I have no evidence whatsoever. My report was based on a story that has been circulating in Hollywood for a long time.”

6 Jackie Coogan: Stealing From A Baby


Can you picture Uncle Fester as a child star? Actor Jackie Coogan made his first splash 43 years before the Addams Family TV series. He became a star at age seven when he supported Charlie Chaplin in 1921′s The Kid. More significantly than that, he helped reform child labor laws by dragging his parents into court.

Coogan’s childhood success translated into plenty of scratch. In addition to acting fees, he also took in a pretty penny from product endorsements. In 1938—married to starlet Betty Grable and trying to make a comeback—he wanted his folks to show him the money, so he filed a legal action against his mother and stepfather that sought a reckoning of all those earnings. Exactly how much? By Coogan’s accounting, he should have socked away $4 million.

The story made the pages of Life magazine. The publication pitched their coverage in full support of Coogan, quoting his mother as saying “No promises were ever made to give Jackie anything.” His stepfather came off even more bluntly: “Every dollar a kid earns before he is 21 belongs to his parents. Jackie will not get a cent of his earnings.”

Coogan never made out. He eventually reached a settlement that netted him about $125,000, a far cry from the millions he claimed. His action, however, set a legal precedent. The California Child Actors Bill, popularly known as The Coogan Law, became state law in 1939.

5 Errol Flynn: In Like You-Know-Who

Bad publicity isn’t all bad. At least it wasn’t for the Warner Bros. swashbuckling hero, Errol Flynn. On October 16, 1942, police arrested Flynn on charges of sexually attacking 17-year-old Betty Hansen. The actor regained his freedom by posting a $1,000 bond.

With her sights set on breaking into Hollywood, Hansen candidly explained to authorities how she left her Lincoln, Nebraska home for a stint as a drugstore waitress in Hollywood. She admitted to having illicit relations with several studio employees in order to land an invitation to the September 27 Bel Air affair. “It was an afternoon swimming and dancing party. My boss wouldn’t let me off, so I quit my job to go.” According to Hansen, after a short rest from one too many cocktails, she allowed Flynn to escort her to an upstairs bedroom where they became intimate. “With my consent?” Hansen asked out loud. “Why, of course, with my consent.”

The minor claimed she never intended to charge anyone. Her sister, with whom she lived, brought the matter to the police. The state doubled-down the proceedings by adding in the statutory rapes charges brought by Peggy La Rue Satterlee from an August 1941 incident aboard Flynn’s yacht, Sirocco.

A jury of nine women and three men deliberated for 13 hours before acquitting Flynn. The actor had this to say: “My confidence now has been justified in essential American justice. I really mean it. I didn’t become an American citizen for nothing. The fair play I received during the trial proves that. I want to thank all those who stood by me during the trial.”

After the verdict, authorities sent Hansen home to her parents in Lincoln, Nebraska. Before leaving for her home in Applegate, California, Satterlee told a reporter, “I hate Flynn more than anybody else in the world. Maybe I’m better off the way it turned out, but I didn’t want it this way.” She added, “I knew those women on the jury would acquit him. They sat there and looked at him adoringly, just like he was their son or something. They never did believe he was guilty.”

The trial and all its coverage didn’t hurt Flynn’s career or reputation one bit. It even added a new phrase to our lexicon: “in like Flynn.”

4 Charlie Chaplin: A Boot For The Tramp


Charlie Chaplin’s film-making career began in 1914 and ran until 1967. Between his legendary status and longevity, “The Little Tramp” received his share of bad ink, deserved and otherwise. His expulsion from the United States tops them all.

In September 1952, Chaplin sailed for Europe to promote his latest flick, Limelight. Two weeks after his departure, the US attorney general ordered immigration services to refuse the actor-director re-entry, pending his agreeing to an investigation into his political activities.

In October, Chaplin surrendered his re-entry permit. The star proclaimed, “I have been the object of lies and vicious propaganda by powerful reactionary groups who, by their influence and with the aid of America’s yellow press, have created an unhealthy atmosphere in which liberal minded individuals can be singled out and persecuted . . . I find it virtually impossible to continue my motion picture work, and I have therefore given up my residence in the United States.”

Chaplin returned to a forgiving US government and a sentimental Hollywood in 1972. He received an honorary Oscar that year, upstaging the likes of Jane Fonda and Gene Hackman. At the same time, Limelight finally received a full release in the states, including Los Angeles, and qualified for Academy Award nominations. In 1973, Chaplin received his one and only “regular” Oscar when Limelight won best music score.

3 Thomas H. Ince: Remembered By Rumor


Ince’s death will forever overshadow his accomplishments. Among his credits, Ince is cited as helping to establish the studio system, defining the role of producer, and developing the use of the continuity script. Instead, he’s not remembered so much for how he died, but rather for how he could have died.

The official story goes that Ince joined the party on William Randolph Hearst’s yacht on November 16, 1924. Other guests included Hearst’s mistress Marion Davies, Charlie Chaplin, New York movie columnist Louella Parsons, author Elinor Glyn, and Dr. Daniel Carson Goodman. Ince grew terribly ill that evening, perhaps from severe indigestion, and Dr. Goodman escorted him off the yacht. They traveled by train toward Los Angeles, departing for a hotel room in Del Mar due to Ince’s worsening condition. Ince’s wife, Nell, was contacted, and she joined them at the hotel where another physician was called before Ince returned home. On November 19, Ince died of a heart attack.

The series of events play screwy enough, but hardly appear worthy of scandal, conspiracy theories, or worst of all, suspicions of murder. But that’s the gossip that’s forever surrounded the death of Thomas Ince.

Prevailing legend puts it that Hearst became suspicious of Davies and Chaplin. A case of mistaken identity occurred on board, and Hearst shot Ince. As one of the most powerful media moguls of his day, Hearst could theoretically have covered up anything he liked. Maybe all those maneuverings from boat to train to hotel to home don’t add up to the smoothest of conspiracies, but it’s hard to ignore other details.

Since the death certificate claimed natural causes, there was no inquest, no autopsy. Funeral services were held on November 21 and the body summarily cremated. Nell Ince left shortly for Europe after a trust fund had been set up for her by Hearst. Parsons received a lifetime contract from Hearst after the incident, along with boosted syndication. Add to that conflicting reports from nearly every guest involved, and we get a legend that’s too large to ignore. It’s large enough to blot out the achievements of one of Hollywood’s true pioneers.

2 Fatty Arbuckle: A Bad Rappe


Scandals can be murder, even when a charge is dropped to manslaughter. In the case of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, scandal murdered his career.

The rotund comedian had shot to Hollywood’s heights in a matter of five years. In 1918, he signed a three-year contract for the outrageous payout of $3 million, but his meteoric rise crash-landed for good three years later. A high-profile court case thick with melodrama brought him down—a Hollywood superstar, murder accusations, a politically ambitious district attorney, dubious witnesses, and more than its share of sexual overtones.

On September 11, 1921, police arrested Arbuckle after Virginia Rappe fell seriously ill at his September 5 party. Four days later, she died at a nearby hospital. Originally charged with murder, Arbuckle suffered accusations of violent sexual assault, and he remained in jail three weeks before receiving bail on a reduced rap of manslaughter. Three trials held over the following seven months ended in Arbuckle’s acquittal.

The jury went out for six minutes and deliberated for only one. According to foreman Edward Brown, “Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle.” That turned out to be too true. The studios ran from Arbuckle like smallpox. Legal fees and related costs wiped out his fortune. An attempted reconciliation with his wife ended in failure.

A ruined Arbuckle found little success for the next 10 years, whether in Hollywood or abroad. Hope finally returned to the comic filmmaker after completing a series of two-reelers that impressed Warner Bros. The studio decided to give him a shot at directing a feature film on June 28, 1933. That same evening, Arbuckle died in his sleep from a heart attack at the age of 46.

1 Peg Entwistle: The Dream Is Over


Oscar Levant once said, “Behind the phony tinsel of Hollywood lies the real tinsel.” The death of actress Peg Entwistle is an ugly, symbolic expression of that thought.

On September 16, 1932, Entwistle found herself a flop at the age of 28. In the previous two years, she’d landed only one film role, and RKO had declined to renew her contract. That evening, she decided to pay one last visit to the famous Hollywood sign. Next to her neatly folded coat, she set her purse on the ground. She climbed up the maintenance ladder until she reached the top of the “H.” Then she leaped to her death.

Two days later, a hiker discovered the tragedy, finding this note in Entwistle’s purse: “I am afraid I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.”

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10 Bizarre Beauty Products

The lengths some people go to in the pursuit of beauty (failing that, youthfulness is pretty popular too) is really quite surprising. Even though we have been hearing for decades of the ridiculous-sounding things that our ancestors did to improve their looks and laughing derisively (seriously, the Egyptians used crocodile dung as a type of facial mask!), some of the products we use today are no less weird and disgusting. The list covers 10 of the most bizarre beauty products that are in use today – many of them can even be purchased online. While the top two items on the list are among the most well-known contemporary beauty products we hope you’ll see the reasoning behind their placement. In no particular order:


Collagen injections are used to smooth out frown lines, crows feet wrinkles, and smile lines as well as to give the appearance of full lips. Like botox, this procedure is quite common but where the main ingredient comes from is just bizarre. Notwithstanding the ninth item on this list – there are two main sources of collagen, a protein responsible for skin strength and elasticity, bovine (cow) and… human. About three in 100 people experience an allergic reaction to bovine-derived collagen which has prompted manufacturers to source collagen from aborted fetuses, placentas, and donated cadavers as the probability of an allergic reaction is virtually non-existent. Possibly the most morally outraging source of collagen is the rumored harvesting of collagen from executed prisoners in China, taken without the consent of the prisoner or their family and exported to the UK for socialites to shoot into their faces.


While the botox procedure to prevent frown lines and wrinkles may sound fairly familiar and commonplace if you think about what you’re having injected into your skin it really is quite bizarre. Botulinum toxin (bo + tox = botox) is one of the most poisonous naturally occurring substances on the planet and the single most toxic protein. Eating food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum can lead to serious food poisoning (the fatality rate is 5 to 10%) if there is toxin present. One microgram (1/1000000 of a gram) is lethal to humans. The amounts used in cosmetic procedures are consequently very small.

Poisonous Toxic Venom Antivenom Snake Fangs Treatment 2007 News White House Com

The neurotoxins produced by members of the cobra family of snakes (and some vipers and rattlesnakes) act on prey by blocking the nerve impulses to the muscles and inducing paralysis. Realizing that snake venom could produce a similar effect to that of Botox, the beauty industry has come up with a synthetic form of snake venom that is applied to the face as a cream rather than injected. It is meant to be safer and less invasive. The venom that was used to create the synthetic version comes from ‘snake farms’ in Brazil where thousands of snakes are ‘milked’ for their venom.


According to manufacturers of the product, placenta wrinkle cream derived from bovine placentas can slow down the appearance of visible signs of aging by moisturizing skin and combating wrinkles. Some companies also use plant placenta (yes, flowering plants have placentas!) and even human. Claims were first made in the 1940s (when this idea was first marketed) that the nutrient rich placenta gave off the benefits of hormones and stimulated cell growth. Since the FDA quickly decided that this constituted a medical claim, saying this became illegal in the US. The manufacturers changed these claims to say that the proteins present in the placenta moisturize one’s skin and hair.


How dedicated are you to having smooth, shiny hair? If you’re serious enough there’s the option (in the UK at least) to have a hairdresser massage bull semen into your scalp. The reasoning behind this “ewww” inducing idea? Hair is made up of protein, although essentially your hair is dead, and some proteins can help form a protective layer around the hair. Some people thought it would be a good idea to market protein treatments as a way of keeping your hair healthy anyway. The supposedly ultimate source of concentrated protein? Bull semen.

Nightengale Dropping Face Cream

There is an old Japanese beauty secret making its way over to the western world. It’s called ‘uguisu no fun‘ or sterilized nightingale droppings. An enzyme called guanine (also added to various make up products for its pearly sheen) found in the nightingale’s droppings apparently does a good job of bleaching and exfoliating skin. Kabuki actors and geishas have been using uguisu no fun for hundreds of years to remove make up and to keep their skin soft. The joy of spreading bird excrement on your face doesn’t come as cheap as a jar of Olay though. It’s around twenty US dollars for one ounce. If you’d rather have someone else do the smearing, you can go to the Shizuka Day Spa in New York and $180 later your face will be smooth and soft.

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If you’re willing to give the leeches a go, you might also be interested in letting a school of small fish nibble the dead skin cells off your toes. The idea is that you put your feet into a tank containing a species of carp (doctor fish) and wait 15 to 30 minutes while they feast on your calluses. Because the fish are toothless the process is meant to be very safe, as they can only suck off pieces of dead, flaking skin. In Turkey, where the treatment originated, the fish live in natural hot springs and are a popular skin care option for the people who bathe there.


Letting blood-sucking parasites attach their slimy bodies to you as a ‘detox’ sounds like a questionable idea. However, leech therapy, or hirudotherapy, has been practiced since 1020 AD for treating skin disease and helping patients recover from surgery. These days, leeches can be used in the treatment of varicose veins, reducing blood coagulation, and helping stimulate blood circulation in reattached organs that require critical blood flow. If you are more adventurous you can follow in the footsteps of celebrities, such as Demi Moore, and make your way to Austria to have your blood feasted on by the medicinal species of leech, Hirudo medicinalis.

Alg Okajima

This odd treatment isn’t plastered on your face, or combed through your hair, but eaten instead. Pig’s feet are being marketed as an edible way to combat wrinkles by New York restaurant Hakata Tonton’s owner. He figures that since the tootsies of the pig contain a high amount of collagen (which is used in anti wrinkle creams and lip injections) a person might as well eat them to gain similar benefits. Although collagen is one of the major proteins involved in maintaining skin and muscle tone, consuming a meal of pig trotters is almost certainly a less effective method of keeping the scalpel away than simply maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and staying out of the sun.

Cream Of Snail Slime

Because snails can heal and regenerate their shells using the slime they secrete the beauty industry is now using the slime of the common garden snail species (Helix aspersa) in beauty products. The myriad of claims for its efficacy range from getting rid of acne to improving stretch marks and scarring. The snail secretion, which is also used by the snail to reduce friction as it moves, seems to have anti-bacterial in addition to antioxidant qualities. If it works for the snail, why not put it on your face?

Contributor: downhighway61, and Tempyra

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Top 10 Worst Marketing Gaffes Ever

Advertising is a part of life whether we like it or not. It is on TV, in Movies, on the Internet, on Buses and practically anywhere it can be seen by prospective customers. Sometimes ads are funny, sometimes they are poignant, but mostly they are annoying. And sometimes, ads are downright stupid. This list looks at 10 marketing gaffes, and blunders, or just downright bad commercials.

This advert by McDonald’s – which was meant to “adultify” the fast-food joint used Mack the Knife as its theme. Mack the Knife (the character) comes from The Beggar’s Opera in which the he typifies the anti-establishment sentiments of its writer John Gay. The more famous song as we know it was written by Kurt Weill for The Three Penny Opera based on a reworking of the tale by Bertolt Brecht – a Marxist who, ironically for McDonald’s, despised capitalism – the very thing which enabled McDonald’s to become what it is today.

McDonald’s isn’t the only company to make marketing gaffs – in December 2008, Burger King purchased the rights to an advertising campaign that centered on a taste-test marketing campaign, dubbed “Whopper Virgins.” The test claimed to target participants who were unaware of the existence of Burger King or McDonald’s, and had never eaten a hamburger. Opponents of the campaign called it exploitative and racist. As one would expect from a campaign such as this, Burger King was chosen as the favorite by all of the “poor foreigners” involved.

Skittles are wonderful colorful candies that everyone loves to eat. In fact, they are awesome. Not so this ad. For some reason it was deemed a good idea to make an ad which parodies the suffering caused by disease. Yes – it appears amusing, but after watching this, the thing I want is a razor blade, not a packet of skittles.

Frankly, I don’t find the idea of a creature which looks like a cross between a rat and a coughed up hairball to be an appealing mascot for a fast food store. And I am not alone in this. When Quizno’s released this series of ads (basing them on a popular Internet Meme at the time), there was such a backlash from consumers that they had to pull them – fast. Poor Quiznos also caused controversy with this ad for its sexual innuendo.

In the fast paced world of computer software, every opportunity to advertise is significant. Such was the case in the press conference above in which Microsoft had Bill Gates demonstrate Windows 98 to the entire world. Unfortunately for Bill, in the middle of the demo, Windows crashed and showed the dreaded Blue Screen of Death. There is a very uncomfortable pause while both of the men on stage try to think of something witty to get passed it.

Poor Gary Coleman has had some bad luck in his life. Despite the illness which rendered him short for life, he became one of the most popular child actors on Different Strokes in the 1980s. At the peak of the show he was earning $100,000 per episode – but his parents, lawyers, and the taxman stole the majority of it leaving him penniless. But then, during 2006 and 2007, he appeared in commercials for a cash-advance loan company called CashCall. He ends the commercial by saying, “Pay your bills on time and everyone will love you.” He even remarks in one commercial that “no one would lend [him] money, not even [his] relatives.” and “What’choo talkin’ ’bout CashCall?” in another. Demeaning.

Mcdonalds Id Hit It Ad.Jpg

When McDonald’s came up with this marketing campaign, their ad executives didn’t know what the phrase “I’d hit it” meant. They simply heard kids using the jargon and decided it would be their next big slogan. Unfortunately for McDonald’s, it means (according to Urban Dictionary): “I’ll have sex with her but I’ll be damned if I respect her.” Even worse, the full phrase of the slogan was “Double Cheeseburger? I’d hit it. I’m a Dollar Menu guy.” Nice.

This one has featured on listverse before, but it is simply too bad not to include. Obviously when it was first released the AIDS virus was not known, but it is definitely one of the most cringeworthy ads in history. Not only is it named after one of the worst diseases in humans at the present time, it advocates diet pills for weightless rather than exercise and portion control. “Lose weight deliciously with the aid of Ayds!”


Album covers have long been used as advertising gimmicks – to attract buyers by the often unrelated artwork. Unfortunately for the Beatles, the 1966 US release of their album “Yesterday and Today” featured the above album cover. Upon release, reaction was immediate, and Capitol received a storm of complaints from dealers. The record was immediately recalled and all copies were ordered shipped back to the record label, leading to its collectibility. Despite all of the controversy, the album reached number one in the United States.

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This one is on the list for its sheer awfulness – for the company it may be a success – for every person that has to suffer it – it is an abomination. The smiley central ads usually make annoying noises and the worst thing about it is that if you do click the ad and install their smileys – it installs spyware which tracks your web habits for advertising purposes. [JFrater: These awful things even appeared on listverse causing hours of wasted time being spent tracking down the host advertiser to have it blocked. Smiley central is evil.] Smiley Central is owned by – previously AskJeeves.

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