Friday, 31 March 2017


10 Horrifyingly Deadly Sweets And Treats
By S. W. Goodman,
Listverse, 31 March 2017.

When it comes to murder weapons or freak accidents, we do not usually look for suspects in a candy dish or bakery. Chocolate, caramel apples, and bubble gum seem so harmless.

However, throughout the years, some of the most horrific and shocking deaths can be traced back to candy and other fateful dessert choices. From the Candyman Murders of 1974 to India’s recent toxin outbreak, these ten shockingly dangerous sweets show just how dangerous our favorite desserts can be.

10. Pesticide Pastries


In 2016, in the Punjab province of Pakistan, a family prepared to celebrate the newest addition to their family. Following the birth of a happy and healthy little boy, an ecstatic father rushed to a bakery to purchase an assortment of tasty “laddoo,” sweet, ball-shaped pastries, in honor of his son’s arrival. It never occurred to him that he was unconsciously sentencing himself and 11 close family members to death.

Unbeknownst to the father and fellow customers, the pesticide shop next door to the bakery was undergoing construction and renovations. Oddly, the owner of the bakery graciously offered to store some packaged pesticides for the neighboring poison shop until the construction ended. Although full explanations are still unclear, officials are certain that some of this poison “mysteriously” found its way into the pastries.

The pastry shop owners and an employee were arrested on suspicion of knowingly poisoning their customers. Over 70 people became seriously ill from these deadly pastries. Out of these 70 victims, 23 died from poisoning. Regardless of whether this poisoning was intentional or not, one thing remains clear, a little Pakistani boy lost his father and family on his birthday.

9. Trick-Or-Treat Murder


Halloween is said to be the perfect time for ghouls and monsters to walk among us. However, under cheap, plastic masks, some real monsters lurk - often much closer than we think.

In 1974, in a quiet Pasadena neighborhood, 30-year-old Ronald Clark O’Bryan lurked under the best disguise of all - a friendly, all-American dad.

On Halloween night, O’Bryan, his wife, and their two children, Timothy and Elizabeth, enjoyed dinner with their close friends, the Bates family. The children rushed through dinner and eagerly prepared for an exciting night trick-or-treating. Armed with costumes, candy pails, and their fatherly escorts, the group took off for a fateful night.

After the children tried and failed to gain candy from a discouraging, vacant house, Jim Bates ushered the children back to the sidewalk in search of a new target. After lagging behind the group for several minutes, O’Brian suddenly reappeared with a fistful of giant Pixy Stix. The children’s eyes grew wide at 22 inches of sugary wonder as O’Brian explained that the “rich neighbors” finally decided to give out the “expensive treats.”

Later that evening, O’Brian’s son, little eight-year-old Timothy, began complaining of stomach pain. Before the night ended, the little boy became violently ill with vomiting and was in excruciating pain. He was dead by morning.

Although O’Brian managed to put on a false mask of shock and horror over his son’s death, a prompt autopsy of Timothy’s body revealed a horrifying level of cyanide - enough to kill three adults. Police launched an investigation and managed to find one of the deadly Pixy Stix for examination.

It was not long before justice revealed the depths of O’Brian’s deception and depravity. A temptingly large insurance policy of US$60,000 prompted the father to kill his son in hopes of gaining enough money to rescue him from past financial struggles. The jury found O’Brian guilty of murder with a death penalty to be carried out on March 31, 1984. Protestors outside the prison shouted “trick-or-treat!” as the father met his end.

8. Lethal Dose


Too much of anything is a bad idea. Shockingly, this principle applies to our favorite candies and treats. In a fit of morbid curiosity, researchers at the American Chemical Society conducted an experiment to determine just how much candy is a “lethal dose.” Using some of the most famous types of Halloween candy such as candy corn, dum dums, and sugar babies, scientists began calculating the deadly dose of sugar.

“LD50,” a term used to describe “the quantity per kilogram that would kill half of an animal test population,” was applied to each candy. For sugar, this number is 13.5 grams per pound. For an average adult of about 180 pounds (81 kg), about 5.4 pounds (2.5 kg) of sugar would be a deadly poison. Translated literally, 262 small candy bars or approximately 1,627 kernels of candy corn could send you to an early grave. For candies with higher levels of sugar such as sugar babies, blow pops, and nerds, it is even easier to reach the fateful 20,000 calories required for a sugary death. Although not as scary, candy is a deceptively dangerous type of poison.

7. Explosive Gum


“Explosive chewing gum” sounds like something out a corny comic book or even a creation of the mischievous fictional character Willy Wonka. However, for 25-year-old Ukrainian, Vladimir, this dangerous candy was responsible for his horrific and shocking death.

The explosion occurred at his family home where the young college student was spending his holiday between semesters. His mother ran into the room only to find her son in critical condition with no jaw and very little of his face remaining.

This young college student was an apt inventor and curious chemistry student at Kiev Polytechnic Institute. Although his family and friends knew of his penchant for tinkering and experimentation, no one suspected the deadly experiment he created.

Forensic testing on Vladimir’s gum revealed a mysterious, unidentifiable substance responsible for the sudden explosion. Many feel this horrible death was an accident. Vladimir was not suicidal; if anything, his academic and social future was very bright. Life is incredibly fragile; something as small as a contaminated piece of gum can easily end it.

6. Death by Chocolate


Anything can become a death trap. At the wrong place and at the wrong time, even our own job may become something out of a horror film. For 24-year-old confectionery worker, Svetlana Roslina, her job became her grave.

Roslina, a mother of two, arrived for a normal day at work at the Fedortsovo Chocolate plant near Moscow. By 6:00 p.m. that evening, police arrived to find the young woman trapped within a giant chocolate mixer. Her body was completed minced with only portions of her legs remaining intact. Even if she had been found in time, the extent of her horrific injuries ensured her death.

Although authorities and the plant managers are still uncertain of the exact cause of her death, some suspect that Roslina fell into the vat trying to retrieve a lost cellphone. Others feel she may have simply been trying to empty a large sack of ingredients when the mixer blades accidentally trapped her.

5. Sweet Heartache


The licorice plant is responsible for much more than the modern-day “Twizzlers” and “Red Vines.” Historically, licorice was an important medicinal herb for both Greeks and Romans in the third century. England and other European countries continued to cultivate and experiment with licorice root for both medicinal and commercial purposes, ultimately developing the tasty candy we know and love.

Some feel the licorice plant is helpful for treating medical disorders such as heartburn and bronchitis, but a growing number of medical researchers feel that its key ingredient, an ultra-sweet compound known as “glycyrrhizin,” is a recipe for disaster for those with cardiovascular issues.

New research has revealed that eating just two ounces (56 grams) of black licorice a day for two weeks can cause alarmingly dangerous heart rhythms in some people. These heart patterns are caused by abnormal kidney function. Glycyrrhizin causes the kidneys to excrete too much potassium. As this mineral passes from the body too quickly, the heart rate becomes uneven and potentially deadly. This mineral imbalance also causes abnormal water retention, a serious threat for those with high blood pressure and other heart defects. Although this famous candy may not necessarily cause a full-blown heart attack, doctors warn that it certainly does not help one’s odds of staying out of the emergency room.

4. Poison Apples


For Snow White, a single apple nearly proved deadly. Although her fateful apple was only a fairytale, for at least four people in the United States, apples proved to be the deadly stuff of nightmares.

On January 6, 2015, a Californian apple grower recalled their Granny Smith and Gala apples after an outbreak of deadly Listeria monocytogenes - the same bacteria responsible for over 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths every year.

Among the contaminated fruit, pre-packaged caramel apples were the deadly perpetrators linked to four deaths and over two dozen further illnesses. The bacteria proved most serious for expectant mothers, infants, and others with compromised immune systems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a quick warning when signs of the contamination began to surface.

Oddly enough, the Listeria bacteria did not affect plain apples; people were warned to stay clear of all caramel apples with nuts, sprinkles, and other toppings. Although the contamination was eventually contained, the damage was done. What started out as a sweet treat, quickly turned into a national nightmare, affecting at least ten states.

3. Laced Lollipops


Homemade candy sounds like a great idea. After all, it is cheaper, it sounds healthier, and it could even be a great craft for kids. However, homemade is not always better. For San Antonio residents, homemade candy nearly ruined their children’s yearly trick-or-treat experience.

Hidden inside harmless-looking gummy bears and lollipops, were high levels of THC, one of the key chemicals found within marijuana plants. This chemical compound is infamous for triggering a huge dopamine release within the body, resulting in powerful euphoria and hallucinations that last for as long as two hours. Although initially pleasant, this compound still carries risks, particularly if accidentally consumed by children. When disguised as candy and other tempting treats, overdosing on this drug is deceptively easy.

Several days before Halloween, a couple was arrested on suspicion of illegally growing marijuana in their yard. Detectives searched their home and found stashes of homemade candy as well as candy molds and supplies. An impressive stockpile of lollipops and other candies were also found inside the couple’s cars.

They eventually admitted that all of the candy was laced with THC - something forensics later confirmed. Authorities suspect that the couple planned to pass out the candy on Halloween night to unsuspecting children. Although all the candy and drugs were safely confiscated, detectives feel they narrowly avoided a massive Halloween overdose.

2. The Black Widow Jello Murders


When it comes to domestic murder, Julia Lynn Turner is a gruesome legend. Using an ingenious but sickening plan, she successfully managed to kill off her husband and boyfriend with nothing more than poisoned jello, and she nearly got away with it.

Firefighter Randy Thompson and police officer Glenn Turner shared the same unexpected death. Although both men experienced what looked like nothing more than a simple case of the flu, they died 24 hours later with a heart-failure diagnosis. It was not until a later autopsy that ethylene glycol, a key ingredient in antifreeze, was found in both bodies. Their heart-failure diagnosis was quickly changed to poisoning.

Julia Lynn Turner denied any guilt, but the US$186,000 in benefits and insurance she received after the deaths suggested otherwise.

Turner admitted that her husband Glenn ate several crackers and some jello shortly before he showed symptoms of poisoning. Due to the color and consistency, the jello was the best possible hiding place for the lethal antifreeze. Although Turner was caught and convicted, she was later found dead in her cell from an apparent suicide by overdose - ironic considering what she did to her lovers.

1. Forbidden Fruits


Famous Bible characters Adam and Eve were the first to suffer from a forbidden fruit. However, they were not the only ones to suffer from poorly-chosen fruits.

In 2014, Dr. Rajesh Yadav moved to Muzaffarpur, India, to investigate a deadly outbreak plaguing the country. Beginning in 1995 during the monsoon season, Indian children began suffering unexplainable seizures that nearly always led to comas. In 40 percent of these cases, the children died.

The outbreak was chaotic and unpredictable, rising suddenly and disappearing just as fast. One of the few details that stood out was the fact that the outbreaks usually occurred in mid-to-late May. Although all other investigators were at a loss, Dr. Yadav and the India Epidemic Intelligence Service were determined to settle the mystery once and for all.

With the help of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, India’s National Center for Disease Control began systematically going through possible culprits of this deadly illness, that only seemed to target children. Pesticides, rats, and even heat stroke were early theories. It was not until 2013 that the biggest clue surfaced. “Jamaican vomiting sickness,” a toxic outbreak in the West Indies showed shockingly similar symptoms. This illness was a result of fruit toxins. Indian investigators quickly began connecting the dots. The lychee orchards in rural India were the culprit.

Mischievous children loved to steal the sweet dessert-like fruits for after-school snacks. Researchers found that the lychee fruit contains a toxin called “hypoglycin.” The children that ate unripe lychees on an empty stomach experienced a catastrophic drop in blood sugar, resulting in the seizures and comas.

With time and warnings, the death toll began to fall as more and more parents saw the danger in letting their children indulge in these deadly fruits. What seemed like a good dessert and snack, was literally the biggest danger for these Indian children.

Although a handful of candy or a warm pastry are not usually considered weapons of choice, history has shown us that some of the greatest dangers come packaged in the sweetest of disguises. Even fruit - nature’s dessert - may prove lethal in the wrong hands or circumstances. Before we indulge in our favorite dessert, we should keep in mind that it may very well be our last.

Top image: Black licorice. Credit: nataliaaggiato/Pixabay.

[Source: Listverse. Edited. Top image added.]

Thursday, 30 March 2017


The phrase “irrational exuberance” was coined to describe what was going on in the tech world of the late 1990s. Investors were putting huge amounts of money into startups that had no plan for becoming profitable. It all crashed eventually, leaving us only some humorous and horrible stories.

Infographic Sources:
10 Big Flops
2. Sock Puppet Finds a New Home
3. 8 Dot-Coms That Spent Millions on Super Bowl Ads and No Longer Exist
4. Netpliance Quits Web Appliance Business, Slashes Jobs
5. Shareholder Sues Netpliance Over plan to Go Private
6. Netpliance Executes Stock Split, Changes Name
7. 3com Buys Tippingpoint
8. H-P to Acquire 3Com for $2.7 Billion
9. 17 Dot Com Failures and Their Modern Counterparts
10. Case Study - a Classic Example of Failed Ecommerce Strategy
11. From the Ashes of Webvan, Amazon Builds a Grocery Business
12. The Grocery E-Tailer That Raised Over $800 Million… Before Filing for Bankruptcy
13. AmazonFresh, Amazon’s Grocery Delivery Service, Wakes Back Up With a Launch in Boston
14. AmazonFresh Grocery Delivery Service Now Available in Los Angeles
15. Launches AmazonFresh Grocery Service in San Francisco
16. AmazonFresh Rolls Into San Diego
17. Where Are They Now? New York City’s Dot Com Entrepreneurs
18. Joe Kraus: General Partner
19. Google Has Officially Dethroned Apple as the World’s Most Valuable Company
20. The $7 Billion Delusion
21. Ask Jeeves Finalizes iWon & Excite Acquisition
22. US Online Retail Sales Will Grow 57% by 2018
23. Webvan Delivers Its Last Word: Bankruptcy
24. Webvan Goes Under: Online Grocer Shuts Down

[Source: Who Is Hosting This.]

Wednesday, 29 March 2017


10 Natural Disasters That Created A More Beautiful World
By Jessica Betts,
Listverse, 29 March 2017.

Yellowstone National Park ranks as the #1 best national park in America. Santorini, Greece, is a bucket list destination, honeymoon location, and dream vacation spot. The African Safari has more to see than we can ever see in one trip. Yet, these locations have more in common than their uncommon beauty. The history of their formation ranges from unexpected to tragic, and every single one can attribute their creation to a well known natural disaster.

10. Yucatan Cenotes and the Chicxulub Asteroid


The many cenotes (sinkholes) that pepper the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico are unique. Their turquoise waters rest beneath sky lit caves. Lush plants grow along their high walls, opening to azure skies. Yet, the true magic happens in the water beneath the limestone sinkholes.

The cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula are meromix aquifers. This means that 10 meters (33 feet) below the top layer of clean groundwater is another layer of salt water. The two layers do not mix, and through most of the year, they remain crystal clear. The cenotes were a source of fresh water for the Mayans in dry times. They also played an important role in Mayan spirituality. A cenote called Chichen Itza has revealed many artifacts sacrificed to the well. Seeing one of these cenotes leaves little mystery about why the Mayans would worship in such a place.

It is easy to concentrate on the relaxation you could enjoy in such a beautiful location. Yet, the cenotes of Yucatan show us more than a glimpse into the lives of the Mayans who lived near them. They outline the impact crater of Asteroid Chicxulub. This is the asteroid that we give credit for the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period. Along the edges of the impact crater, is the ring of Yucatan cenotes. This ring gives us an idea of how large the asteroid might have been when it hit; 240 kilometers (149 miles) across.

9. Niagara Falls and the Ice Age


The Niagara Escarpment is well known for the vast amounts of water that flow over it. In New York and Ontario Canada, the Niagara River plummets up to 34 meters (110 feet) to the pools below. More than 170,000 cubic meters (six million cubic feet) of water pour over the crest line of the falls every minute. The powerful falls provide a breathtaking backdrop for vacations and destination weddings alike.

The creation of Niagara Falls took much longer than an asteroid hitting the planet. The Pleistocene, which formed this site and many others, was a long-lasting natural phenomenon. Most people know the Pleistocene by its more common moniker, The Great Ice Age. This is when much of the world’s megafauna, including the mastodons and the wooly mammoth, went extinct.

Along with the extinction, there were massive changes to the world’s landscape. One of the extensive changes was the formation of the Niagara Falls. The water that supplies the falls came from the last northward retreat of the glaciers, which covered Southern Ontario with ice sheets two-three kilometers thick. That is almost two miles of ice.

8. Crater Lake


In the Southwestern forests of Oregon is the beautiful Crater Lake. Pristine blue waters, lush green pines, and the wistful magic of Pumice Castle and Wizard’s Island. There is something about Crater Lake that draws you in. It begs you to spend a few nights camping in the Crater Lake National Forest. If you are lucky, you might even spot The Old Man of the Lake. The Old Man is an ancient hemlock that has managed to float upright for over a 100 years. Beneath the sun bleached, well-traveled log is a crater that, at its deepest point, is 592 meters (1,943 feet). The combination of beauty and mystery that Crater Lake provides is one that you will not want to miss.

There is no mystery in the creation of the lake itself. The top of the ancient volcano sunk during its eruption. The caldera took 250 years of rainwater to fill. Approximately 7,700 years ago the volcano, named Mt. Mazama, was over 3,600 meters (12,000 feet) tall. The eruption blasted 20 kilometers (12 miles) high, and a cloud of ash and lava fragments, called pyroclasts, carried as far as central Canada. There are ash particles from the explosion as far away as Greenland.

7. Yellowstone National Park


Almost thirteen hundred kilometers (800 miles) away from Crater Lake is Yellowstone National Park. The park is a unique combination of flora, fauna, and fountains that shoot steaming water into the sky. Yellowstone is well known for the geyser “Old Faithful,” whose regular blasts can reach up to 56 meters (185 feet). Other rare sights include the Yellowstone Sand Verbena and Yellowstone Sulfur Wild Buckwheat. They are endemic to the area, meaning they are only found in the park. It is not uncommon to see bison, moose, wolves, and bears after spending only a few hours inside the beautiful landscape.

However, there is a dangerous history to Yellowstone. Many people know about the potential of the Yellowstone supervolcano erupting in our future. What few know about are the three major explosions that overtook the land before it became a national park.

Dating back 2.1 million years, the park was home to three massive eruptions. The strength of these explosions reached up to 6,000 times the strength of the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption. The resulting calderas, plants, and animals are what now makes up most of the park today.

6. Ngorongoro Crater


The location of the Ngorongoro Crater is near the more well-known Serengeti plains. It is the world’s sixth largest unbroken caldera. In the crater, you can find elephants, zebra, and black rhino. Cheetahs and lions also roam the crater, along with 500 documented species of birds. The vegetation ranges from bamboo to short grass and native trees. There are even rainforests near the rim. The wildlife and vegetation are not the only things you might see when visiting the crater, though.

The native Maasai people and their livestock live in harmony with the local wildlife. The nearby crater of Olmoti offers stunning waterfalls. Empakai, another crater in the park, holds a deep lake and lush, green walls. There is no end to the sights that the Ngorongoro Conservation Area offers us today.

Three million years ago the Ngorongoro crater was a massive volcano that towered over the land. The volcano’s height ranged between 4,500 to 5,800 meters (14,800 to 19,000 feet) high, nearly as high as the nearby Kilimanjaro stands today.

The caldera has a depth of 610 meters (200 feet) and a base area covering 260 square kilometers (100 square miles). This three-million-year-old volcanic eruption would have been a massive natural disaster, sure to have destroyed everything in its path. Today the result is a location of incredible beauty.

5. Okavango Delta


When you think of the Kalahari Desert, you might think of orange sands and a blistering sun. Yet, at the base of the Okavango River, we can find an inland delta. The Okavango Delta is a unique World Heritage site that does not empty into the ocean like most deltas do. Instead, it has transformed the Kalahari into a permanent marshland.

Crystal blue waters and a vast ecosystem of plant and animal life thrive there. African Elephants, Zebras, Hippo, and several other large animals populate the delta. The annual flood-tide from Angola brings, even more, life to the otherwise arid desert backdrop. A safari adventure to Okavango Delta is not one we should miss.

We could have missed it, though, if it were not for the earthquake that caused the East African Rift Valley. The Okavango river once did as all rivers do; it flowed down towards the ocean through large lakes. Then the newly named Nubian and Somalian plates began to form. As a result, the rifts and earthquakes interrupted the flow of the river, and it spilled out onto the desert to form the lush landscape.

4. Undara Lava Tubes


If you are planning to go to Australia, the Great Barrier Reef might come to mind. The cities of Sydney and Brisbane could also be your ultimate destination. Yet, a short 3.5-hour drive from Cairns will take you to a system of lava tubes you will not want to miss. Undara is an Aboriginal word that means “the long way,” an apt name for one of the longest lava tubes on the planet.

The tubes extend for approximately 32 kilometers (20 miles). That is a long hike, but it is worth the time. The tubes contain some of the most biologically diverse caves in the world. The collapsed roofs in the caves allow sunlight to reach the plants and animals living there. This includes four species of bat and the common wallaroo. Thickets of semi-evergreen vine grow in the cave as well. The origin of the vines traces back to the separation of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwanaland. Those are some old vines.

The creation of a lava tube is an inherent natural disaster - a massive volcanic eruption producing 23.3 cubic kilometers (5.6 cubic miles) of lava. The flow moved at a rate of about 1000 cubic meters (35.300 cubic feet) every second and traveled over 160 kilometers (100 miles), consuming everything in its path. The Undara Lava Tubes formed when the lava gushed into a dry riverbed, and the top layer solidified. The lava inside the tube carried on for many kilometers before draining out. What it left behind was the shell of the tubes we see today.

3. Ujung Kulon - Krakatoa


As far as rare sights go, the Javan Rhinoceros is one of the rarest. With only 60 rhinos left, they are an endangered species that is only found in the Ujung Kulon National Park. There are also 57 rare plants that grow in the Indonesian park. As a World Heritage Site, the park is a breathtaking journey of soft sand beaches and snorkeling. Tropical mountains and several islands may also catch the eye.

The main feature of Ujung Kulon is the now dormant volcano Krakatoa. Krakatoa is well known for its violent explosion in 1883. The explosion killed 36,000 people, and the sound it made during its explosion reached as far as 4,800 kilometers (3,000 miles) away. This was the loudest sound ever recorded on the planet. The resulting ash cloud blocked the sun for several days in the area. The loss of lives and damage to nearby islands resulted from the natural disaster. The lush green rainforests and pristine natural ecosystem were also a result. The national park that now lays at the volcano’s base is a clear show of the resilience of the planet.

2. Mediterranean Messinian Salinity Crisis


Turquoise seas, warm winters, and sun shining summers. White sand beaches and whitewashed walls. Cities built on rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean. This imagery is the quintessential vacation. This is the place you dream of when you talk about your hopes to travel the world and see the sites. This is the Mediterranean. The cultures that thrive on the islands here have brought us a unique cuisine and history. Rome, Greece, Sicily, and Carthage all fought for control of it over the years. The 3,900-kilometer (2,400-mile) long sea played an important role in their rises and falls in power. It also allowed trade between the Europe and Asia.

Yet, the cultures and civilizations we have today were once at risk of never existing. The beautiful islands, coastlines, and calderas might never have happened. If it were not for the Zanclean Flood, the Mediterranean could still be the desert basin it was 5.6 million years ago.

Blocked from its ocean sources, four kilometers (2.5 miles) of water vanished from the Mediterranean. For perhaps 800,000 years the Mediterranean remained mostly dry. Then about 5.33 million years ago there was a rapid refill of the sea. The same Gibraltar straits that had blocked the ocean opened again. An estimated 90 percent of the basin filled within a two year period, filling at a rate of up to ten meters per day. The islands we have now, the land of dream vacations, returned, due to a massive flood.

1. Galveston Hurricane, 1900


Over fifty kilometers (32 miles) of shoreline and activities for every kind of person, the Island of Galveston, Texas, is one that offers a no-fuss vacation. Only 50 minutes from Houston, this island is one that you can get to by car. There is plenty of shopping, attractions, and cruising to keep you occupied. Beaches, dolphin swims, and horseback riding will draw you to the natural side of this island city.

Galveston was not always the sunny, happy town it is today. It is well known for being the location that Hurricane Galveston made land in 1990. A category four storm with winds up to 225 km/h (140 mph) tore over the island. The death toll reached over 6,000 of the 37,000 citizens and over 3,500 buildings and homes vanished.

Some call it the worst Natural Disaster in US history. The one thing that is certain is that this hurricane was a tragedy. Yet, today you can still go to Galveston, you can sit on the beach and stare out at a much calmer sea. You can hear the laughter of local children and see the beautiful city that stands proud today.

These natural disasters have torn the land apart. They have blasted holes into the earth and taken more lives than we can count. Yet, the earth, the animals, and the people who live on it are resilient. Whenever tragedy strikes, we will recover and repair. The destruction will fade, making way for a more beautiful world.

Top image: Ujung Kulon, Indonesia. Credit: trian wida charisma/Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.

[Source: Listverse. Edited. Top image added.]


10 Common Misconceptions About Famous Organizations and Societies
By Gregory Myers,
Toptenz, 24 March 2017.

History is often written by the winners, or at least by the survivors. And even in present day, news is often presented with a bias. Many organizations will go to great lengths to cover up what they are truly about, in order to continue to obtain funding and work toward goals that most people may actually oppose. It’s very easy for history, even recent history, to be blurred by the lens of misinformation. And our own biases and misconceptions can make us far more susceptible to be convinced by untruth.

10. The Incredibly Manly Spartans Were Far More Used to Male Love


Many people think of Spartans as examples of the manliest of the manly men that ever walked the planet. They were a pure warrior society known for caring only about glory in battle and being the toughest you could possibly be. They also spent most of their time growing up completely cut off from female contact - remaining in military barrack-like institutions that allowed only for training with males. Spartans also were well known for having pederastic relationships. It was encouraged for young training Spartans to have an older male to form a close relationship with, where the older male was known as the inspirer and the younger as the hearer.

More damningly, weddings were not formed through careful courtship, but essentially decided for the sake of convenience. Part of the wedding ritual also involved a sort of ritual rape, where beforehand the woman shaves her head and dresses in men’s clothing. Some historians have theorized that this ritual was designed to help ease Spartans into having sex with women, when they were normally used to having sexual relations with men.

9. Despite Their Peaceful Reputations, Buddhists Have a History of Violence


Buddhists are known around the world for being the most peaceful religion imaginable. Most people would never consider that the Buddhists might engage in violence or goad violence on, mainly due to the actions of people like Gandhi, and many monks who performed amazing acts of protest such as burning themselves alive. However, Buddhism is not always an entirely peaceful and kind religion. Many people think that Buddhism believes intentional killing is always wrong, but this is not necessarily the case. Buddhism tends to spend far more time worrying about the intention than the actual action. Monks have even prayed alongside soldiers, defending their actions by stating that they are not directly promoting death, but that it is better to have soldiers with a clear head.

In some parts of the world with Buddhist majorities such as Burma (also known as Myanmar), many monks have been accused of either not condemning, or even goading on violence against Muslim minorities. The fallout from these actions has been very brutal, as hundreds have died in deadly clashes, most of them Muslim. While Buddhism may be a mostly peaceful belief system, most religions are as well - humans just happen to be very good at finding excuses for violence.

8. The Knights Templar Were Mainly a Group Of Very Rich Bankers


Many people think of the Knights Templar as some secret group of shadowy assassins or very powerful warriors. The Assassin’s Creed game series has led people to believe they were an elite force of some kind, but the truth is a bit more boring. While they did have troops who fought for them, it is quite likely that most of them were far more loyal to their paychecks than they were to any nebulous cause. The Knights Templar were an early group of bankers, who formed a lot of banking regulations and structures that are still used in some forms today.

However, while the Templars were not much more evil or mysterious than most powerful organizations in history, like most people their influence became so large that they became a threat even to their own allies. As bankers nearly everyone was in debt to them, and as the crusades ended and support for their military campaigns ended, those who had debts with them started to look for an easy way out.

When Pope Clement V decided he wanted to merge them with another organization, King Philip IV of France used the opportunity to start arresting large amounts of Templars, and did everything he could to encourage terrible rumors about them - all because he was deeply in debt to them. While they likely had far too much influence, and may not have been a particular force for good in the world, it is quite likely many of the crazier rumors were largely exaggerated by their enemies.

7. PETA Actually Kills Animals and is Against Adopting Them


Most people know PETA as that zany animal rights organization, but the fact of the matter is that they don’t really care about animal rights at all. They are very much against people eating meat, and they are against people owning pets, but they don’t actually really care all that much for the rights of animals as many activists would think of it. The truth is that PETA is good at getting attention, and also really good at hiding what they are truly about. PETA believes that the animal population is so out of control that, until it is under control, the best thing to do is euthanize stray or even extra animals, even if they are perfectly healthy puppies and kittens.

PETA’s shelter at their headquarters isn’t even certified to be an actual adoption shelter - they don’t have the facilities or licensing to hold animals for more than 24 hours. PETA has killed tens of thousands of animals through quick euthanasia instead of even trying to adopt them out, because of their extreme beliefs. There is nothing wrong with being an animal rights activist, but there are many sane organizations out there that support such causes - PETA is not one of them.

6. The Suffragette Movement Wasn’t Entirely Peaceful


When many people think of the women’s suffrage movement they usually think of a largely peaceful movement, full of marches and letter writing, in order to ensure that women have the vote. However, while the United States movement was largely peaceful, across the pond it was quite a different story. The British women’s suffrage movement was marked by very militant tactics, that some have tried to label as terrorist. At times they were known to plant bombs, commit acts of arson, smash in shop windows and other acts of violence and destruction - far from the image many have of women’s suffrage protests.

While some of these actions made it to the United States, the British movement still remains the more violent of the two. This is likely due to the fact that the movement in Britain dealt with much more severe force in response to their protests, often ending up on the end of incredibly violent and brutal police beat downs for daring to stand up for their right to have their voice heard. Some people think that it was only violence that won women the vote, but this would also be inaccurate. While the movement was more violent than many might think, it would have never have been successful if it had only acted with destruction in mind.

5. Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders Were Shameless Glory Hounds


Many people tend to think of Teddy Roosevelt as one of the great American giants - a man of unflinching honor and bravery who proved his mettle in battle time and again. However, the truth is that everything about Teddy Roosevelt was carefully manufactured to create a very specific persona, and behind it all Teddy was a shameless glory hound who wanted to be given accolades and be told how special he was. While he was assistant secretary of the Navy he once said that he thought the country needed a war, all because he wanted all generations to get a chance to prove themselves as warriors. Some historians believe he had this complex because his father had chosen not to fight in the Civil War.

Teddy Roosevelt abdicated other duties and left to form the rough riders with the sole intention of creating an elite group that would gain great glory and honor in battle. Later after people had seen in the news of his glorious exploits, he said “I am entitled to the Medal of Honor and I want it.” His ego was incredibly large and it is clear that he did not fight in order to protect his country or do his duty, but solely for the glory that he would receive from it. Teddy Roosevelt may not have been afraid to throw himself into a deadly battle, but he did it for all the wrong reasons.

4. Australia’s Crime Ridden Roots of Legend May Be Somewhat Oversold


Many people have heard that somewhat insulting claim that Australia is a country where the people are almost entirely descendants of prisoners or prison guards. And while there is a certain level of truth to it (just look at notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly up there), there is also a huge misconception about what prisoner means in this context that has led a lot of people to create a false impression in their heads. England did send a large amount of people over to Australia to essentially form a new colony, without giving them any choice, but they really weren’t the hardened criminals that many people think of.

The truth is a bit sadder and shows how cruel and awful humanity can be. The types of people sent over tended to be completely nonviolent offenders and other dregs of society who were usually very poor. In many cases those sent over on the boats were children, and oftentimes the crimes they had committed were as simple as stealing a loaf of bread in order to eat - one of the least awful crimes possible. In other words, while many people think that England was sending over their violent criminals, they were mostly sending over the poor that they didn’t know what to do with.

3. Russia’s Genocide of Their Own Civilians Easily Rivaled That of the Nazis


Many people in the western world tend to think of Hitler as the most evil being who ever existed - at least in recent enough history to have full awareness of his actions and beliefs. However, the truth is that because the Russians were our allies during World War II, and because we had such a tricky relationship with them at the best of times, we have often glossed over the true evil of Joseph Stalin - a man who could easily rival Hitler when it came to massacring and torturing innocent civilians, including those within his own borders.

Stalin eliminated the Kulak class, a group of richer farmers, killing millions and deporting many millions more. Some of those who were killed were paraded naked in the street and even forced to dig their own graves. This elimination of the farming class caused a huge famine in Ukraine that led to the deaths of 3-5 million more people. Stalin was systematic in putting anyone who might be part of an opposition group, or any ethnic group he didn’t like, into brutal gulags. While he may have killed less than Hitler, the brutality of his camps easily rivaled that of the Nazi’s - and the Russians were good at hiding their overall body count. They never had the other countries marching in to inspect the numbers either, so it is hard to be certain whether the figures we have don’t downplay the atrocities.

It is also little known that the Russian soldiers who liberated Germany and Berlin raped many of the women that they came across when freeing people from concentration camps. These women had already had to endure such horror, and now they had to endure even more from people who claimed to be their liberators. While some could blame the dehumanization of war that could affect any human being and not just the Russians specifically, the damning part is that the Russian leadership knew of the issue and refused to do anything to discourage it.

2. The Amazons are an Incredibly Misunderstand Group and Less Crazy Than People Think


The Amazons are incredibly famous and known around the world, but most people are pretty hazy on who are what they actually were. Some people know them only as mythological and don’t believe they were even real - they were. And other people have taken to heart fantastic tales that claim that Amazons cut off one of their breasts in order to be better at firing arrows. This claim is of course not true, and also wouldn’t actually help you fire arrows better - although that hardly needs to be said. The even more common legends claim that they hated men and boys, were a mainly lesbian society and were very anti-man.

The Amazons were a group of ancient Scythian warrior women, indeed a mostly female society, but they had absolutely no quarrel with men and certainly were known as being lovers of men as well. While there may be some truth to them giving male children away to neighboring tribes to be raised, there is no truth to the tales that they castrated their boys. While they were above such insane actions, they could still be quite a zany culture. They were certainly keen on enjoying themselves, and smoked marijuana, got numerous tattoos, and even drank a fermented mare’s milk with powerful mind altering properties during some of their rituals.

1. The Founding Fathers Didn’t Really Believe in Democracy the Way Many Envision it Today


When talking about the direction that the United States of America should take in terms of political legislation and other decisions, many people will start theorizing about what the founding fathers would have wanted. Their names especially come up when people are talking about freedom from tyranny and the people making their voices heard. However, the truth is that the founding fathers wanted as little involvement from the common person as possible, and cared little for the kind of democracy most people envision today. When the United States had formed a union but had not yet officially won independence, most states did not allow you to vote unless you were actually a landowner - in some cases you were allowed as long as you paid a high enough percentage of taxes.

It was only after the war had been won that most states started doing away with the requirement to own land in order to vote, but that doesn’t mean that everyone suddenly had the right. They caved because the war had largely been started on the idea of “no taxation without representation,” so it would be hypocritical if taxpayers couldn’t vote.

Shortly after the war most states adopted laws allowing those who paid taxes to vote, but it was still some time before the laws became inclusive even to the common man who had little enough to pay in taxes that he didn’t qualify in many states, and much longer still before minorities and women were allowed the right to vote. And, despite many people romanticizing the founding fathers as a group that was against religious discrimination, many states in the early days of our union did not allow Catholics or Jews to vote.

Top image: Painting of the Amazons. Credit: Tischbein/Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: Toptenz. Edited. Top image added.]