<![CDATA[Ranker: Recent Politics & History Lists]]> http://www.ranker.com/list-of//politics--and--history http://www.ranker.com/img/skin2/logo.gif Most Viewed Lists on Ranker http://www.ranker.com/list-of//politics--and--history <![CDATA[13 Ways Authoritative Figures Publicly Displayed Bodies to Scare People]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/tyrants-displaying-human-corpses/christopher-myers

Subjugatin' ain't easy. You can't just show up and expect everyone to give you their stuff and obey what you say. People ask inconvenient questions like, "who the heck are you?" and "from whence do you derive your authority?" If your reply, "The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. That is why I am your king" doesn't work, it is time to resort to violence.

History is full of brutal subjugation techniques. The tools of psychological terror range from heinous torture to nauseating violence and dismembered corpses. What really seems to do the trick, however, are public spaces festooned with human remains. Nothing enables tyrannical oppression like the public display of dead bodies. When peasants see a dead guy with his eyes gouged out hanging from the castle walls, they're generally too busy pissing themselves to think about rebellion.

13 Ways Authoritative Figures Publicly Displayed Bodies to Scare People, history, politics & history, violence, politics, other,

Japanese Samurai Took the Heads of Their Enemies and Showed Them Around

When samurai got a kill in battle, they would lop off the head of the defeated enemy and take it back to the general as proof of their deed. Taking the head of a high-ranking general or skilled swordsman was worth bonus points. The more heads you collected, the more honor (and rank) you gained. Also, it was a pretty good way to show everyone you were a huge bad-ass. The heads were perfumed and presented nicely to the lord inspecting them for authenticity, and then returned to the family for proper burial.

The Romans Crucified Just About Anyone Who Pissed Them Off

Jesus Christ wasn't the only guy to get the business end of the crucifixion stick. Crucifixion was a common, horrifically brutal, subjugation technique of the Romans. The process was severe; the condemned was beaten with varying degrees of severity, then forced to carry the heavy cross or post to the execution spot.

Upon arriving at the execution site, the condemned was strung up at one of numerous angles, including upside down, sideways, and Jesus style. Nails were driven through the palms at a nerve, to cause the most pain. This induced involutnariy palm clenching. Some evidence suggests feet were nailed to the sides, not the front, of the cross, through the ankles. Then the condemned was left to die a slow, agonizing death as the lungs filled with fluid in full view of the public.

Today, ISIS is apparently taking a page from this book and crucifying people. Though the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights believes the victims are executed before crucified, the message is still pretty straightforward: "Obey."

Christopher Columbus Paraded the Body Parts of Natives Through the Streets

Christopher Columbus was a total dick. His rule over Hispaniola, the island containing modern-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic, was best described as tyrannical. After the first expedition, he left 39 men behind. When he returned with 1,200 more men, he found the original 39 dead (most likely from being dicks to the natives). So, Columbus went medieval on the natives. His men engaged in beheading contests, cut natives in half to test the sharpness of their swords, and practiced wanton rape.

The penalty native slaves endured for not keeping up with Columbus's gold mining quotas was having their hands cut off and hung about their necks as they bled to death. Some 10,000 died in this manner, and a total of 250,000 natives are believed to have been killed during a two-year period.

Even in a time period known for brutality, Columbus's actions were seen as atrocious (or at the very least ineffective management); he was sent back to Spain in chains. And was then pardoned.

The Scythians Drank from the Skulls of Their Enemies

The Scythians were a civilization of warlike nomads in the Eurasian steppes between 900 and 100B.C. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Scythians turned the skulls of their enemies into drinking cups. He writes:

The skulls of their enemies, not indeed of all, but of those whom they most detest, they treat as follows. Having sawn off the portion below the eyebrows, and cleaned out the inside, they cover the outside with leather. When a man is poor, this is all that he does; but if he is rich, he also lines the inside with gold: in either case, the skull is used as a drinking-cup. They do the same with the skulls of their own kith and kin if they have been at feud with them, and have vanquished them in the presence of the king. When strangers whom they deem of any account come to visit them, these skulls are handed round, and the host tells how that these were his relations who made war upon him, and how that he got the better of them; all this being looked upon as proof of bravery.

That's certainly one way of doing things. 

The Assyrians Were Just Crazy About Flaying People Alive

If you can imagine an entire civilization as insanely sadistic as Ramsey Bolton in Game of Thrones, you will come close to how the ancient Assyrians behaved. The civilization existed from around 1400 to 609 BC, in current day northern Iraq and southern Turkey, and these guys make ISIS look like choir boys. Their entire society was based firmly in war; they believed they had to lay waste to their neighbors and build elaborate structures with the plunder to appease the gods.

Of course, when you're constantly obsessed with conquest, it's important to try to make enemies surrender immediately, rather than engage in long and costly sieges. As it turns out, avoiding being flayed alive was a powerful motivator. Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal explained the scene of one conquered city that refused to surrender:

"I flayed as many nobles as had rebelled against me [and] draped their skins over the pile [of corpses]; some I spread out within the pile, some I erected on stakes upon the pile … I flayed many right through my land [and] draped their skins over the walls."

Yeah, that's going to be a big old nope.

Nothing Says "Obey Me" Like a Head on a Spike

There is a long tradition in many societies of putting heads on spikes as acts of intimidation. It just feels natural, implying, "look at this guy. You don't want to end up like him."

The English were probably best at the practice, and took it to a whole new level. London Bridge showcased the severed heads of traitors and enemies of the state for centuries. At one point, there were 30 heads above the Stone Gateway, displayed simultaneously. Some notable heads include those of William Wallace, Thomas More, and Bishop John Fisher.

Of particular interest is how Oliver Cromwell's head (which has its own Wikipedia page, just fyi) ended up on the bridge. Upon his death in 1658, Cromwell, who was once head of state of England, Ireland, and Scotland, was buried like royalty at Westminster Abbey. A year later, though, his son was overthrown, and King Charles II returned from exile to reestablish the monarchy.

Suddenly, many of the people who Cromwell really pissed off were back in power. They took the opportunity to exhume his corpse, cut off his head, and stick it on a spike over London Bridge. This must have pleased more than a few Irish ("Cromwellian conquest of Ireland" is also a Wikipedia page). The message was sent: Don't mess with the monarchy.

Xerxes Liked to Make Examples of Foes

Xerxes I was a ruler of ancient Persia, as well as the guy who decided to mess with Leonidus in the movie 300. As it turns out, those dudes were based on real people, although real Spartans wore armor instead of standing half naked with their well-oiled abs glistening in the sun. Xerxes, on the other hand, really was pretty brutal.

One story illustrates this point well. Pythias the Lydian hosted Xerxes at Sardis (what is now Turkey) and offered him a considerable amount of money to fund the campaign to conquer Greece. Xerxes was impressed, and instead gave Pythias a bunch of money. Now, all five of Pythias's sons were conscripts in Xerxes's army. When Pythias noticed bad omens, he asked his buddy Xerxes a favor - release one of his sons from service, so Pythias would have someone to take care of him in his old age.

Xerxes took this as an indication Pythias didn't believe in the prospects of the campaign, which pissed him off. So, as any rational leader would, Xerxes cut one of Pythias's sons in half,  put a section of corpse on either side of the road, and made his entire army walk through the middle. Eesh.

The Ancient Chinese Invented Death by 1,000 Cuts

The ancient Chinese invented some pretty brutal methods of public execution, the worst of which was lingchi. Known also as "death by 1,000 cuts," lingchi began with tying the condemned to a post. The condemned then had pieces of his body cut off, one small bit at a time. After a good bit of this (in the neighborhood of 1,000 cuts), he was stabbed through the heart.

The execution didn't end there, though. The condemned's head, arms, and legs were also removed. Basically, the entire body was hacked to pieces in a public square. Sometimes the punishment would bear the further penalty of having the head displayed in the square for ridicule, in case someone didn't get the memo.

Vlad the Impaler Really Earned His Nickname

Good old Vlad III of 15th century Romania was brutal enough to inspire the character Dracula. In fact, the name Dracula comes from Vlad's father's position in the crusading "Order of the Dragon" (Dracul). Dracula means "Son of Dracul."  Vlad III spent some time fighting the Muslim Ottoman Empire and some time fighting Christian forces as an ally to the Ottomans, and in both cases, he was crazy about murdering people.

Vlad consolidated his rule and struck fear into enemies and subjects by impaling people. Fields of them, in fact. Rows of stakes were planted vertically, and victims lowered onto them. Usually, the spike entered the rear and exited the mouth (ass to mouth?), but many other angles of impalement were also used. Stakes were oiled and not too sharp, so as to to prevent sudden death from shock. Once impaled, victims were left to die a slow and agonizing death, after which they rotted among their fellow impaled corpses.

Also worth pointing out - in the image above, Vlad is straight up just having a meal at a nicely set table next to his field of impaled victims, while an underling chops up corpses right in front of him. It's probably not historically accurate, but it raises more questions than it answers. 

King Edward Longshanks Had "Traitors" Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered

King Edward I (yes, the guy from Braveheart) invented this method of execution because he didn't want anyone to get in the way of his conquest of Great Britain. He first used it on the formerly independent Prince of Wales, Dafydd ap Gruffydd, and later on William Wallace (Mel Gibson from Braveheart). Because Longshanks declared treason a triple crime (against God, man, and the king), it required a triple execution.

First, the condemned was chained, prostrate, to a glorified fence post, and drawn through the streets by horses, so loving townsfolk could stone and mock him. When the The Man had enough of that, the victim was hung by a rope, and his sensitive parts were removed, i.e. emasculation (if you haven't figured it out, they cut his d*ck and nuts off).  

That humiliation complete, the condemned was cut down for a primitive version of vivisection; his stomach was cut open and his entrails removed and burnt. Then, the executioner cut open his chest and removed his (ideally) still-beating heart, holding it up to the crowd. Of course, that wasn't enough, so the condemned was then decapitated and quartered (cut into pieces).

Oh, and this was still practiced as an official execution method in England as late as the 18th century. Suddenly, the 8th Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment makes a lot of sense. After all, the guys who wrote it were considered traitors to the crown.

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:22:58 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/tyrants-displaying-human-corpses/christopher-myers
<![CDATA[Best Presidents of the United States]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/best-presidents-of-the-united-states/will-doro

Best Presidents of the United States,

Abraham Lincoln

Franklin D. Roosevelt

George H. W. Bush

George Washington

James Monroe

Jimmy Carter

John Adams

Theodore Roosevelt

Thomas Jefferson

William Howard Taft

Sun, 04 Dec 2016 02:11:22 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/best-presidents-of-the-united-states/will-doro
<![CDATA[8 Weird Facts About Ghana's Insanely Elaborate "Fantasy Coffins"]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/ghana-fantasy-coffin-facts/richard-rowe

Every culture has its unique funeral customs; but the most interesting ones usually come from those cultures that celebrate death instead of mourning it. Such is the way in Ghana, who honor their deceased ancestors by sending them off in the most insanely elaborate coffins you have probably ever seen. Larger-than-life-sized Nike trainers, Coca-Cola bottles, naked women, grand pianos. . . they can all serve as caskets for the dead.

In this tiny nation on the Ivory Coast, the dead are seen as protectors of the living - spirits that dwell among us and interact with us on a daily basis. For this reason, it's important to keep the dead happy. One way to do that is to send them off in style, ferried to the hereafter encased in a one-of-a-kind work of art - a fantasy coffin.

Unless you've got a sense of humor about these things, it does seem a little morbid at first. But what's wrong with enjoying those last few moments of life with the people we love the most? After all, the Ghana fantasy coffin business has in itself become a great boon to the living of Ghana. And dead or alive, you have to appreciate that kind of legacy. Read on to learn interesting facts about fantasy coffins and see pictures of these unique pieces of art.

8 Weird Facts About Ghana's Insanely Elaborate "Fantasy Coffins",

They Make TONS of Them

Kane Kwei alone produces something like 300 coffins a year, and the other three shops a further 300 between them. That's a staggering figure when you look at all the artistry, skill and creativity that goes into every one. You have a hard time finding any industry anywhere in the world that produced the sheer volume of custom artwork that Ghana's coffin industry does.  

A Lot of People Want to Be Buried in Huge Cocoa Pods

By far, the most popular burial coffin in Ghana is the cocoa bean pod. As you may know, a good amount of the world's chocolate comes from Ghana - cocoa is the country's second largest export behind oil. The cocoa bean is central to the lives of many Ghanans, especially those whose families have been working in the chocolate business for generations. And you thought YOU loved chocolate.  

You Can Find Them in Art Museums

Over the last few decades, Ghana's fantasy coffins have gathered huge international acclaim. They've been featured as folk art in museum collections from Paris, Seattle, and Los Angeles to London. 

A Coffin Costs About Two Months Average Pay

Kwei sells its coffins (those designed for actual burial) for a mere $125 USD. Which seems like a steal - until you remember that the average Ghanan only makes about $900 dollars American per year. That's 13 percent of their annual salary; a little less than two months worth.

That seems like an exorbitant figure; but here in America, where the average salary is (theoretically) $43,000 a year, that's about $5,500. Not too far off of what many people pay for higher end coffins, and only about twice what the average coffin costs. 

Funerals Can Be Put Off for Months While Coffins Are Made

As you might expect, a coffin that costs a lot can take months to pay for. But that isn't the only reason funerals in Ghana are routinely put off for months after death: all of these shops have waiting lists a mile long of people just dying to get into their products. (Yeah, that happened.)

Weirdly, this reality has spawned a sort of secondary cottage industry in Ghana. While before people were just buried in cheap, wooden boxes almost immediately after death, now they have to be embalmed, preserved and stored for weeks or months. This has built up a healthy secondary industry for morticians and funerals homes, which were practically nonexistent in Ghana 40 years ago.

The wait also gives families time to plan and show up for the massive parties that also accompany any funeral in the country - which hasn't hurt the catering business much, either.

They Represent the Personality of the Owner

Ghanaian coffins are kind of like custom cars in the United States: they're built to reflect the personality, interests, and even vices of the owners. An avid soccer fan might be buried in a big Adidas sneaker, or a writer in a fountain pen. A fisherman would choose a marlin or trout, while a sunbather might prefer a giant bottle of SPF 50.

Someone's coffin might even represent the type of car they owned or always dreamed of owning. Some are a little more cryptic than others, but you can probably take a guess at the preferred pastime of the owner of the coffin above.  

The Coffins Are Mostly Built by One Family

As of right now, there are only four custom coffin shops in Ghana, but the original Kane Kwei Coffins is still the largest. It's also the only custom coffin shop in Ghana to specialize in nothing but that. Others have diversified into jewelry boxes, furniture and that sort of thing; and even they are almost universally owned and operated by former Kwei employees and apprentices - "extended family," if you will. To call this a "cottage industry" is an understatement. 

It's a Surprisingly Recent Tradition with Deep Roots

The whole idea of the fantasy coffin only dates back to about 1980, when coffin-maker Kane Kwei opened his first custom coffin shop in Accra. But the idea had been gestating for quite some time. His family says that the idea first came to Kwei in 1940, when the chief of his village died unexpectedly.

The people of the village wanted an elaborate coffin, but Kwei told them it would take some time. Instead, he suggested they bury the king in his palanquin, as had been done a few times in Ghana's history. Palanquins are those royal "taxis" you see carried around by teams of servants in movies. They did indeed bury the chief in his palanquin, and this reportedly served as the inspiration for Kwei's fantasy coffin business.  

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 18:15:03 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/ghana-fantasy-coffin-facts/richard-rowe
<![CDATA[The Absolute Worst People In History.]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/the-worst-people-in-history/bjr24

The worst people to ever step foot on the Earth. Don't like it? Vote and add your own choices.

The Absolute Worst People In History.,

George Soros

Angela Merkel

Barack Obama

Che Guevara

Fidel Castro

Hillary Clinton

Joseph Stalin

Karl Marx

Ted Bundy

Woodrow Wilson

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 00:41:28 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/the-worst-people-in-history/bjr24
<![CDATA[26 Striking Photos of Dangerous & Contested Borders Around the World]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/international-borders-pictures/rylee_en

The world is rife with borders. Borders between states, nations, regions, continents, hemispheres. Land formations like mountains, rivers, and valleys partition land around the world, and lakes, seas, and oceans carve land masses into territories. Yet the borders that get the most attention are usually dangerous international borders, which are often hotspots of violence, migration, and military activity. Some are even dead man zones created out of necessity on account of regional conflict, such as Russia's annexation of Crimea, or ideological proxy wars such as the one that carved Korea in half.

Contested international borders around the world, and the striking photos thereof, tend to to be contained to historically conflicted regions, such as the Middle East and Africa, both of which still suffer the consequences of colonialism and foreign intervention, and east Asia, where the collapse of dynasties and empires and the advent of nation states and the great schism between communism and capitalist democracy engendered generations of conflict and border disputes. Israel, for instance, appears quite a bit

Scroll on for striking photos of dangerous and contested international borders, which reveal a great deal about the conflicts and tension from which they arose. Bear in mind some of these photos warn of potential danger based on ideological or historical tension - the Indian sign leading into China, for instance, is more a "keep your eyes peeled, you never know with these guys" than a "THEY'RE GOING TO KILL YOU."

26 Striking Photos of Dangerous & Contested Borders Around the World,

North Korea & South Korea, Joint Security Area

Afghanistan & Pakistan, Border Checkpoint

Western Sahara & Mauritania, Mine Field

Ukraine & Russia

Israel & Syria, Golan Heights

Syria & Turkey

Kenya & Somalia

Sudan & South Sudan

Gaza & Israel

Mexico & US

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 13:42:09 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/international-borders-pictures/rylee_en
<![CDATA[Libertarian Party Accomplishments in 2016]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/libertarian-party-accomplishments-in-2016/datrlykewlfreekinguymandood

Following the nomination of the two most hated figures in politics, the Libertarian Party made historic accomplishments during the 2016 election cycle.

Libertarian Party Accomplishments in 2016,

Gary Johnson's Performance

Though he had previously polled as high as 13%, Gary Johnson managed 3.2% nationally in the presidential election, taking over four million votes, the highest ever in the Party's history.

Joe Miller in Alaska

Libertarian candidate for Senate Joe Miller came in 2nd place in the 2016 Alaska Senate election. He got 29.1% of the vote, the highest ever won by a Libertarian candidate.

Over 500,000 Registered Members

After the election, it was announced that the Libertarian Party had become the third party in the United States (after the Republican & Democratic parties) to achieve 500,000 registered members. 

Two Governor Presidential Ticket

Gary Johnson, being the former Governor of New Mexico and Bill Weld the former Governor of Massachusetts together made the first presidential ticket to feature two Governors since 1948. As well as the only ticket to feature a former Governor in the 2016 election.

Ballot Access in All 50 States.

Though it wasn't the first time, the Libertarian Party was able to secure ballot access in all 50 states for the 2016 presidential election.

The First Nationally-Televised Libertarian Presidential Debate.

On April 1, 2016 the Libertarian Party held a presidential forum on 'Stossel', hosted by the  libertarian Fox Business presenter John Stossel. 

Unseen Press Coverage.

After Gary Johnson became the party's presidential nominee at the Libertarian National Convention, him and his running mate Bill Weld appeared on every major news network for interviews. The two were featured in presidential polls, and a general interest in the Libertarian Party grew immensely.


This eventually led to the two participating in a Libertarian Presidential Forum on CNN, twice.

Sun, 13 Nov 2016 19:00:10 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/libertarian-party-accomplishments-in-2016/datrlykewlfreekinguymandood
<![CDATA[10 Fierce Fighting Forces Throughout History That Were Insanely High on Drugs]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/armies-that-did-drugs/justin-andress

If there’s one thing synonymous with war, it’s drug use. The impact of narcotics on war doesn't get a ton of publicity, but history is littered with armies that did drugs. From ancient warriors tripping balls to modern soldiers buzzed on dangerous combinations of steroids and speed, drugs have been handed to soldiers to improve their performance in battle since the dawn of large scale combat.

In some respect, drugs are almost necessary for the most vicious aspects of war. Since science suggests people are basically good, it’s no small stretch to suggest the average person isn’t adequately equipped to go out and kill a bunch of strangers simply because a superior told them to. That’s where the drugs come in.

In some cases, historians argue several ancient cultures made their fierce reputations on the back of mind-altering substances. Hell, drugs have fueled pretty much every army ever, and there’s no sign the trend is set to change any time soon. So read on to learn about drugs that fueled armies, and how drugs won wars. 

10 Fierce Fighting Forces Throughout History That Were Insanely High on Drugs,

In the Vietnam War, US Soldiers Were Fed a Cocktail of Drugs

A litany of movies and books have popularized the fact that opium use (and addiction) was all too common among enlisted American troops in Vietnam. However, heroin wasn’t the only drug on offer to soldiers in Vietnam. In order to increase the stamina, aggression, and longevity of soldiers fighting in terrifying conditions, military brass in Vietnam dispensed pep pills (speed), steroids, and painkillers

Speed and sedatives like codeine were on offer to common troops, and special units were administered steroids before heading into the field. At the time, the American military congratulated itself for drastically reducing the number of breakdowns in the field. Of course, it all came to naught, as the Americans were chased out of their psychedelic slaughter fest in the jungles of Southeast Asia with their tails between their legs. 

On the Road to Oust Napoleon, Most British Sailors Were Totally Soused

Around the turn of the nineteenth century, a little French fellow named Napoleon was conquering his way across Europe. In an attempt to curb the would-be emperor’s ambition, the armies of the continent descended on France. With them came the much-feared British navy, a group of salty dogs known the world over for their sailing skill.

As it turns out, the British exuberance came from a healthy dose of booze. The British government actually handed out liquor to the troops as a means to boost morale (duh) and combat disease. As per one estimate by the British government, an army of 36,000 soldiers required 550,000 gallons of rum per years, or about 15.3 gallons per soldier, so 1.3 gallons per man each month. Extra rations were given when battles were fought. Rum given to soldiers was 100 proof, or 50% alcohol. They were also given IPA and wine.

The British navy’s drinking was so endemic it was woven into the culture. People who didn’t drink were disdainfully called methodists, and commanding officers were encouraged to avoid enlisted men after hours because the grunts had a tendency to start throwing punches at the boss in their off hours. Of course, the officers drank, too. The Royal Navy had a special 100 proof gin for them. 

In World War I, American Soldiers Were Given Cigarettes to Calm Their Nerves

Prior to 1917, when American entered the First World War, smoking was considered something of an upper crust activity. In fact, tobacco was primarily smoked through pipes. As American soldiers were shipped off to the European front, however, they were issued hand-rolled cigarettes. The prevailing theory was, smoking a cigarette would calm a soldier’s nerves before heading into battle. During the war, doctors gave cigarettes to wounded soldiers, telling them it would help with pain management. 

Cigarettes became standard issue for several national armies, ushering in a love affair with tobacco that lasted the next 50 years. In both Canada and England, nation-wide fund raisers were held just to buy and send cigarettes to the troops during WWI. By the end of the war, Phillip Morris had headquarters in New York City and England. During this period, cigarette advertising exploded, as soldiers found cigarettes much less costly than pipes and much easier to smoke on the battlefield, and carried their habit home with them after the war. Plus, they came with trading cards. Cool!

Soldiers hooked on tobacco during the First World War carried their habit into World War II, and governments followed suit, providing cigarettes in rations. 

The Morphine Industry Was the Unofficial Sponsor of the American Civil War

The American Civil War was a nasty affair. Most are aware it was the costliest military event in the country’s history, thanks to the ingenuity of the modern age and its technology bashing headlong into the tactics of a bygone era. It was foolish to walk in formation, for example, when the enemy was rocking a fully operational Gatling gun. 

Doctors were also behind the times. Field medics struggled to keep their charges comfortable, regularly administering morphine to the troops. Beyond battlefield ailments, morphine was given to troops to treat more or less everything, including diarrhea. In the Union Army, doctors issued more than 10 million doses of morphine during the war. To put that in context, two million soldiers fought for the Union in the war. Historians estimate 200,000 to 500,000 Civil War veterans became morphine addicts. 

Roman Soldiers Were Rationed Wine Every Day

In Ancient Rome, everybody was trashed pretty much all the time. From the ground up, there was basically no stigma associated with even severe addiction to drugs like opium. And everybody drank. What’s more, ancient Roman wine (which was essentially just fermented grapes) had crazy high alcohol content.

Since science was in its infancy, the popular belief was that Roman wine was medicinal. As such, Roman soldiers were rationed wine every day; it was used to boost morale and help keep the soldiers energy up in time of duress and near exhaustion. Who cares if you can’t see straight if you’re awake and moving forward, right?

Viking Beserkers Supposedly Dosed Themselves on Bog Myrtle to Reach an Animal Frenzy

Centuries before the Nazis invented the word “blitzkrieg,” a small group of Viking warriors were crafting a legend of ferocity unparalleled in the ages since. They even got their own word to describe the rage in their attacks: “berserk.”

Icelandic poet Snorri Sturlson once wrote of beserkers, “(Odin's) men rushed forwards without armour, were as mad as dogs or wolves, bit their shields, and were strong as bears or wild oxen, and killed people at a blow, but neither fire nor iron told upon them.”

While the theory is debated, some historians believe that one of the primary ingredients in Scandinavian alcohol, bog myrtle, may have caused the berserker behavior. They may also have taken magic mushrooms, or had mental problems or special genetic qualities that helped induce a state of psychotic frenzy

Zulu Warriors Snorted a Local Marijuana Derivative Before Battle

In the 1870s, the British army was considered the most elite fighting force in the world. As the tide of imperialism swept the globe, the Brits became a seasoned squad feared by all enemies. All except the Zulu people of Southern Africa, who responded to a request for submission from the British government by telling the Brits to take a hike. 

This seemingly low tech band of soldiers became immensely feared by the British army because they fought with an intensity that seemed otherworldly. Zulu warriors prepared for battle by sharing a communal meal and ingesting, at the behest of shamans, ceremonial alcohol and intelezi, an herb. They were then given a local form of marijuana called dagga. While most weed puts you in a happy haze and on the couch for several hours, dagga delivers all of the intoxicating effects of marijunana with none of the sedative effects. 

Dagga emboldened Zulu warriors, and made their attacks during hand-to-hand combat hard to predict. The Zulu army was highly and efficiently organized, and their communal rituals and drug taking helped reinforce their fraternal bonds, which in turn contributed to their success in battle. 

Ancient Mayans May Have Carried Out Wars in the Name of Tlaloc, the Mushroom God

Archaeologist Dr. Stephan F. de Borhegyi found evidence suggesting mushroom rituals were a focal point of Mayan religion. According to de Borhegyi, around the year 1000 BCE, a cult arose that appeared to worship mushrooms. The cult associated mushrooms with ritual sacrifice, and some historians believe they carried out full scale wars in the name Tlaloc, the god most commonly associated with mushrooms.

Tlaloc was most often depicted with googly eyes, a handlebar mustache, and jaguar fangs (pretty much assuring he was invented by someone tripping on 'shrooms). Borhegyi believed ancient Mayans kept narcotic mushroom powder in jars, and smoked it in cigars. Historical precedent for the theory of Mayan mushroom warriors is found in the work of Fray Bernardino Sahagun, a Spanish writer who described Aztecs using mushrooms in a similar way. 

The Wehrmacht Were Given Assault Pills That Were Basically Crystal Meth

When the might of the Nazi army was unleashed on the world a new term was coined to describe the speed and savagery of the attack: blitzkrieg, or “lightning war.” At the time of Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland, the Wehrmacht was viewed with such fear they were considered to have superhuman stamina and strength, and willingness to kill without hesitation. 

The basis for that reputation was a pill called Pervitin, which Hitler dispensed to every member of Nazi society in order to improve their mood. On the battlefield, the drug helped soldiers go abnormally long periods of time without eating or sleeping, while also keeping their spirits up in spite of the horrible conditions around them. Of course, it’s easy to keep smiling when all you crave is a little pill that’s handed out by your superiors. And the pill is a methamphetamine. 

Child Soldiers in West Africa Are Hooked on Brown-Brown

If you close your eyes and imagine the worst existence possible, you’re probably still about a mile north of child soldier. Throughout the world, small squads of young boys — mostly orphans whose parents were killed in whichever conflict drew them in — are handed machine guns and told to fight for their country.

In the 11-year-long civil war in Sierra Leone that began in 1991, child soldiers were given a substance called brown-brown to increase the intensity of their fighting (and keep them loyal to whichever warlord had them in his thrall). Brown-brown is a potent mix of cocaine and gunpowder. Said former child soldier Ishmael Beah:

You mix cocaine with gun powder. When you sniff it at first it hurts inside of our nose but as time goes on you get used to it. But the potency is greater than just cocaine itself. And these things altogether numb you to everything. You have no have no sympathy. You actually begin to enjoy what was happening once you are in.

Somewhat confusingly, brown-brown may also refer to a type of heroin smoked in Sierra Leone. According to a study of drug and alcohol use in post-war Sierra Leone, heroin was smoked by boys and young men, though was a relatively marginal phenomenon, on account of it being a cost prohibitive habit. 

Tue, 08 Nov 2016 13:21:02 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/armies-that-did-drugs/justin-andress
<![CDATA[25 Gruesome Historical Depictions of Torture]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/torture-in-art/kellen-perry

Are you an up-and-coming black metal band looking for free album art? Are you ready to take the next big promotional step after your photoshoot in the woods? Or are you maybe just a curious art aficionado testing the waters of human depravity and historical violence? Either way, you've come to the right place, as a healthy dose of gruesome historical depictions of torture lie ahead. 

For those art aficionados, you'll find all the familiar touchstones to appreciate, with the added bonus of eye gouging, flaying, and heretics burned at the cross. For the metal heads, get a lof of this - the list is full of grotesque torture art that just so happens to be in the public domain. That basically means these nauseating depictions of torture are 100% cool for you to drag into your pirated version of Photoshop and lay a wicked looking free font on top of (perhaps Metal Lord Regular?).

Not only are these disturbing paintings of torture, they’re historical depictions of torture, which adds a much-needed layer of sophistication to your Bandcamp page. Or, if you're just here for the art, you'll have some thoroughly scandalous things to talk about over olives and wine at your next cocktail hour. Interrupt that sanctimonious associate professor rambling on about Jonathan Franzen with your newfound knowledge of the myriad ways people have been sliced and diced throughout history. 

25 Gruesome Historical Depictions of Torture,

The Judgment of Cambyses - Gerard David, 1498, Netherlands

Folter mit Hunden - Artist Unknown, 1548, Germany

The Image of the True Catholicke Church of Chris - John Foxe, 1563, England

A Torture Chamber of the Spanish Inquisition - Bernard Picart, 1722, France

Apollo Flaying Marsyas - Luca Giordano, 1678, Italy

The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew - Mattia Preti, 1660, Italy

Historische Darstellung der Torturen - Artist Unknown, 1572, German

Codex Balduini Trevirensis - Artist Unknown, 14th Century, Germany

Tityos - José de Ribera, 1632, Spain

H Porni O Filargyros - David Selinitziotis, 1727, Greece

Wed, 02 Nov 2016 17:12:18 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/torture-in-art/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[Loving Movie Quotes]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/loving-movie-quotes/movie-and-tv-quotes

Loving movie quotes provide the dialogue to the drama film about Richard and Mildred Loving, whose Supreme Court Case invalidated laws against interracial marriage. Jeff Nichols wrote and directed the film based on the true events of from 1958 to 1967. Loving opened in theaters in the United States on November 4, 2016.

In Loving, it's 1958 in Virginia and, despite being in love, Mildred Jeter (Ruth Negga) and Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) are unable to legally marry due to state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. To get around the law, the two travel to Washington, DC, where they legally become man and wife. But back in their Virginia home, the Lovings are arrested, charged and sentenced to prison for violating state law.

Feeling they've done nothing wrong and not hurt anyone, the Lovings hire attorney Bernie Cohen (Nick Kroll) to fight the charges and sue the state of Virginia. The case makes its way all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, where justices unanimously decide that anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional, effectively rendering the Lovings' marriage and all other interracial marriages legal.

These Loving movie quotes show a glimpse of the film, just as quotes from other fall 2016 films do, including for Trolls, Doctor Strange, Inferno, and Keeping Up with the Joneses.  

Loving Movie Quotes,

Do You Think You'll Lose?

Grey Villet: Do you think you'll lose? 
Mildred Jeter Loving: We may lose the small battles but win the big war.

Mildred shows her strength when Grey asks her if she thinks they will lose. She knows that this isn't only one small battle, but a larger war that she's confident they will win.

What's the Danger?

Bernie Cohen: Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the court. What is the danger to the state of Virginia of interracial marriage? What is the state of danger to the people of interracial marriage? Marriage is a fundamental right.

Attorney Bernie Cohen addresses the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of the Lovings in this Loving movie quote. He argues who is being harmed by interracial marriage and why those in interracial relationships should be excluded from the fundamental right to marry.

Tell the Judge I Love My Wife

Bernie Cohen: Is there anything you'd like me to say to the Supreme Court Justices of the United States? 
Richard Loving: Yeah, tell the judge I love my wife. 

Prior to meeting with the Supreme Court, attorney Bernie Cohen asks Richard if he's like to add anything to his speech. Richard only wants the judge to know one thing, that he loves his wife.

All the Way to the Supreme Court

Bernie Cohen: I believe this is a battle that could go all the way to the Supreme Court. 
Richard Loving: We ain't hurting anybody.
Bernie Cohen: The state of Virginia will argue that it is unfair to bring children of mixed race into the world. 

Richard and Mildred Loving meeting with attorney Bernie Cohen about their case against the state of Virginia over the ban on interracial marriage. Cohen has their back, and is willing to take the case to the US Supreme Court if needed, but also prepares them for why Virginia will argue that interracial marriage should not be permitted.

Take Mildred to DC to Get Married

Richard Loving: I'm going to build you a house right here, our house. 
Richard Loving: I'm going to take Mildred up to DC to get married. 
Raymond Green: You sure about that?
Justice of the Peace: By the power vested in me by the District of Columbia, I now pronounce you husband and wife. 

Though interracial marriage is illegal in Virginia, Richard tells love Mildred and friend Raymond that he plans to marry. That's exactly what happens next in these Loving movie quotes as Richard and Mildred go to Washington DC, where they can legally marry.

We Have Some Enemies

Mildred Jeter Loving: I know we have some enemies, but we have some friends too.

Mildred Loving remarks about their supporters and detractors in this Loving movie quote. She knows many are opposed to interracial marriage, but also many support it as well.

I'm His Wife

Deputy Cole: In here! What you doing in bed with that woman?
Mildred Jeter Loving: I'm his wife.
Deputy Cole: That's no good here. 
Court Secretary: Richard Perry Loving, being a white person, and Mildred Jeter, being a colored person, did unlawfully cohabitate as man and wife.

The overzealous Deputy Cole intrudes on Richard and Mildred Loving as they're sleeping in their bed. As explained by the court secretary in these Loving movie quotes, they're under arrest for violation of interracial marriage laws.

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 20:21:34 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/loving-movie-quotes/movie-and-tv-quotes
<![CDATA[10 American Politicians You've Never Heard of Who Basically Changed History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/influential-unknown-politicians/ben-geier

A list of the most influential politicians is bound to have plenty of names we all know. John F. Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton. The usual suspects. Notable losers like Barry Goldwater and William Jennings Bryan have also gone down in history for their impact on society. In the convoluted tapestry of the American past, though, there are countless politicians most of us never learned about in school, who never show up in History Channel documentaries. Some of these men and women had a profound impact on American history, impact that is in some cases still felt today.

Here, then, are a few generally unknown politicians, whose stories shouldn't be lost to the foggy ruins of time. Some of them ran for president, others for local office. Some won, most lost. Some never ran for at all, yet still managed to make a mark, though political action like petitioning. Regardless of races run and offices held, each of these people made a positive difference. 

10 American Politicians You've Never Heard of Who Basically Changed History,

Andrew Haswell Green

The iconic five boroughs of New York City weren't always the single entity we know them as today. Before 1898, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island weren't part of the big Apple. Andrew Haswell Green, who was instrumental in the building of Central Park, helped push for the creation of the Imperial City, creating the modern metropolis. He also had a hand in creating the Bronx Zoo, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Washington Bridge, and the New York City Public Library. If you're ever in NYC, chances are you're seeing something Green shepherded into existence.

Eugene V. Debs

Contrary to what you may think, Bernie Sanders isn't the first politician to bring socialism to the masses in the United States. In the early 20th century, Eugene V. Debs was a fiery socialist who ran for president — from his prison cell.

Debs ran for president five times as a socialist, receiving around 900,000 votes in 1912, or 6% of the total vote. His most notable election, though, probably came in 1920. He had been imprisoned for his opposition to the United States entering the First World War. Still, he was on the ballot for the Socialist Party and got almost a million votes.

Debs is a historically important figure for his role in promoting radical workers's movements of the first half of the 20th century. Though largely forgotten today, these movements were critical in the fight for employment rights many take for granted, like weekends and the eight-hour day. He also fought against corporate consolidation (aka monopolies) and refused to abandon the socialist cause after many American politicians dropped it like a hot potato in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution. 

Frances Willard

In the 1880s, Frances Willard transformed the Women's Christian Temperance Union from a conservative religious organization to an international powerhouse that advocated for women's rights. She, and her organization, were instrumental in pushing for women's suffrage and, more broadly, for women to expand their horizons beyond domestic roles and actively engage in political and social issues. 

Yet none of that is why Willard makes this list. In 1884, she authored the Polyglot Petition, advocating for the prohibition of alcohol, opium, and other addictive substances. Willard's tireless efforts to promote Prohibition resulted in 7.5 million people signing the petition, which was publicly unveiled in 1891. She passed away in 1898, but her efforts eventually led to the US Senate proposing the Eighteenth Amendment, in 1917. It was adopted in 1919, and was in effect from 1920 until 1933. 

Josiah Bailey

The modern conservative mantra of "lower taxes, lower spending" wasn't always so obvious. The governing philosophy of conservatives for much of the past 75 years was largely created by North Carolina Democratic Senator Josiah Bailey.

Bailey wrote the Conservative Manifesto in 1937, proposing market-based, small government solutions to the Great Depression. The manifesto was written as a direct response to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal politics, and would go on to define conservative politics.

If you like Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, or any of today's small government politicians, their philosophies go right back to Bailey.

Robert Smalls

In the aftermath of the Civil War, politics in the South were a complete mess; newly enfranchised slaves found themselves with voting power, and powerful politicians who rose to prominence before the war were struggling with the new order.

In this milieu, Robert Smalls, a former slave, was elected to serve in both houses of the South Carolina state legislature, and spent five terms in the US House of Representatives. He helped fight for rights for blacks in the state, which were rolled back after Reconstruction, as the Jim Crow period started.

Perhaps even more amazing is how Smalls got his freedom. Before the end of the Civil War, while he was working as a slave aboard a Confederate war ship, he and his fellow slaves commandeered the boat, sailed it to the sea, and surrendered to the Union Navy.

Of the fate of African Americans in the United States, Smalls once famous said: “My race needs no special defense for the past history of them and this country. It proves them to be equal of any people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life.”

Susanna M. Salter

Susanna Salter wasn't just the first woman elected to be a mayor in the United States, but the first woman elected to any political office in the country, when she became the mayor of Argonia, KS on the Prohibition Party ticket in 1887. Salter was elected just weeks after women in Kansas were given the right to vote, and was originally nominated as a joke by a group of men.

As it turns out, Salter knew a lot more about politics than those who jokingly nominated her realized. Her father had been the town's very first mayor, while her father-in-law was a former Kansas lieutenant governor. She won the election, and apparently did her job like a boss. She didn't run for re-election after her term expired, though she lived to 100.

William H. Seward

William Seward was the Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, and his service as the nation's chief diplomat during and after the Civil War could be enough to write him into the history books. But the reason you should know about him is his indirect role in a conflict that happened long after he was dead, the Cold War.

You see, Seward led the charge for the United States to purchase the Alaska territory. From Russia. Can you imagine if, after the Russian Revolution and during the Cold War, the USSR had access to land in North America? Seward's purchase, regarded in his day as a bad idea and called "Seward's Folly," may have helped prevent armed conflict between the US and the Soviet Union.

With its vast supply of natural resources and tremendous landmass, Alaska has contributed significantly to America's prosperity. The enormous state has provided fisheries, copper, gold, oil, gas, and hundreds of thousands of jobs. Between 1959 and 2016, the state earned $157 billion from oil. Good one, Seward. 

Perhaps worth noting, Seward was generally obsessed with snatching up land for the United States, and looked into buying parts of the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, and various other small Caribbean islands. Why would you buy just part of the Dominican Republic? It's already only half an island. 

William King

Even some of you Northeasterners may not know Maine wasn't always its own state. Until 1820, it was part of Massachusetts. William King was a leading proponent of statehood for Maine, and became its first governor, though left the office just over a year after being elected, to take a job in the federal government.

This may not seem like a much, but remember that, before the Civil War, adding states was a very big deal. The country needed to balance the number of free states and slave states, and adding Maine as a free state changed that balance, necessitating the Missouri compromise, which added Missouri as a slave state.

Plus, where would all the Stephen King novels take place if Maine weren't a state? Northern Massachusetts? 

Shirley Chisholm, the First Black Congresswoman

Shirley Chisholm became the first African American to run for President of the United States in a major party when, in 1972, she ran in the Democratic primary. Four years before that, she became America's first black congresswoman, a position in which she served seven terms. She made a name for herself straight away, as a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and for demanding reassignment after placed on the House Forestry Committee. 

Chisholm was also one of the major forces for the Equal Right's Amendment. Though the ERA didn't pass, it was one of the biggest causes for second wave radical feminists of the 1970s. Many causes feminists are fighting for today were first fought for by Chisholm.

A. Philip Randolph, Who Founded the First African American Labor Union

Most students learn about just a few major leaders of the Civil Rights Movement: Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and maybe John Lewis, if you've got a really good teacher.

If you want to get to the heart of the movement, look no further than A. Phillip Randolph. Randolph was one of the Big Six of the movement. He helped organized, and spoke at, the March on Washington; was one of the few Civil Rights leaders to meet with President Kennedy; and received a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Lyndon Johnson. 

Before the March on Washington, Randolph was a leader in the fight for worker's rights, founding the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first official African American labor union in the United States. In the early 1920s, he ran for office in New York City as a Socialist Party candidate, but lost. 

The Civil Rights Movement's commitment to economic issues is often forgotten, written out of history by capitalists who prefer a focus on the nonviolent push for a sanitized, generalized vision of human rights. For this reason, and his socialist tendencies, Randolph has been marginalized in the annals of history. He was, however, an extremely important political figure in his movement and time. 

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 16:56:57 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/influential-unknown-politicians/ben-geier
<![CDATA[All Presidential Candidates Ever]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/all-presidential-candidates-ever/jimmyfinkelsteine1

All candidates if I missed some add it

All Presidential Candidates Ever,

Abraham Lincoln

Al Gore

Bobby Jindal

Chris Christie

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Joe Lieberman

John McCain

Ross Perot

Theodore Roosevelt

Ben Carson

Sat, 03 Dec 2016 13:51:37 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/all-presidential-candidates-ever/jimmyfinkelsteine1
<![CDATA[12 Surprising Facts About Emiliano Zapata, Mexico's Reluctant Revolutionary]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/surprising-emiliano-zapata-facts/philgibbons

Chances are you've heard the name Emiliano Zapata but don't know that much about him. But the man, a staunch idealist who became a reluctant revolutionary, had a massive impact on Mexican history. He was a freedom fighter who, in no uncertain terms, changed the course of history. So maybe now you're interested in learning some badass Emiliano Zapata stories and surprising Emiliano Zapata facts? 

Admittedly, "badass" is a relative term for Zapata. He wasn't kicking down doors with a six shooter in each hand, or rolling into town pumping out rounds from his shotgun while smoking a giant Cuban cigar. Rather, Zapata was a compassionate idealist who fought for the rights of the common people. Despite his lasting national importance, Zapata saw himself as little more than a local leader. But also, come on, raising an army and taking the fight to wealthy and oppressive forces is totally badass. 

Read on to learn all about the life and exploits of this legendary Mexican revolutionary. Amidst the chaos and corruption of early 20th century Mexico, Zapata stuck to a fundamental vision and simple concepts concerning freedom and economic justice. He is a remarkable historical figure, revered Mexican symbol of national pride.   

12 Surprising Facts About Emiliano Zapata, Mexico's Reluctant Revolutionary,

Women Were Heavily Involved in Zapata's Army (Though Weren't Treated Very Well)

Known as Soldaderas and/or Adelitas, women served many functions during the Mexican Revolution, ranging from camp followers who provided companionship and domestic help to combatants (although female combatants were rare). Zapatistas were not known for their sensitivity in acquiring female followers.  If a village filled with women resisted joining the movement, they used threats and intimidation. Even soldaderas who joined with their husbands led a difficult life. It's said horses were treated better than women in Zapatista camps, because they were worth more. 

His Manifesto on Land Reform Cemented the Zapatista Revolutionary Movement

During the early years of his uprising, Zapata allied himself with Francisco Madero, an opponent of Porfirio Diaz, hoping to push for the enactment of land reform through political channels. Madero didn't follow through on promises, so Zapata broke with him, regrouped in the mountains of southern Mexico, and announced the Plan de Ayala, in 1911. The plan, basically a political platform, called for all stolen land to be returned to the people, and for one third of large haciendas to be nationalized. Those landowners who refused to comply would have all their land seized and nationalized. 

Zapata intended to impose his plan on Madero by force. However, as fate would have it, Madero was deposed and executed by another strongman, Victoriano Huerta. Huerta was so despised, he united the revolutionary armies of Mexico against him.  

Previous to the drafting of Plan de Ayala, Zapata had no written mission statement. Thus, the plan served as something of a manifesto, concretely declaring the beliefs at the heart of the Zapatista movement, which continue to affect Mexican politics and social life into the 21st century. 

Despite Revolutionary Tendencies, Zapata Wasn't a Marxist

Some associate Zapata with Marxist intellectuals and revolutionaries like Vladimir Lenin or even Che Guevara, though in reality, he was was a farmer and entrepreneur. He took up arms to right the perceived mistreatment of his neighbors and the unfair confiscation of land, not to herald the dawn of a political revolution.   

Zapata disliked the tyranny of a brutal central government that favored the wealthy over the peasantry; an anarchist, possibly, but Zapata was no Marxist. One famous attributed quote: "One of the happiest days of my life was when I made five or six hundred pesos from a crop of watermelons I raised all on my own."

Zapata was, at his heart, a socialist, who believed in fair access for all to the means of production, which he believed would lead to prosperity for the community.   

He's Responsible for One of the Most Famous and Misattributed Quotes Ever

The quote "I'd rather die on my feet, than live on my knees"  has been attributed to several high profile 20th century revolutionaries, including Ernesto "Che" Guevara and Spain's La Pasonaria (Dolores Ibarruri). Aeschylus wrote something sort of similar in Prometheus Bound ("For it would be better to die once and for all than to suffer pain for all one's life.") and French socialist François-Noël Babeuf famously said "Ne vaut-il pas mieux emporter la gloire de n'avoir pas survecu a la servitude?" (roughly: "Would it not be better to take the glory of not having survived a bondage?"), which have similar sentiments to the famous quote, despite the different wording. 

So where does this quote really come from? Look no further than Emiliano Zapata, who said "Prefiero morir de pie que vivir de rodillas," which translates quite literally to "I prefer to die on my feet than live on my knees." A nice summation on Zapata's views of his revolutionary activity, and staunch refusal to live a life of servitude to wealthy landowners. 

His Guerrilla Army Took Land Back from Wealthy Thieves and Redistributed It to the People

Land reform was the main component of Zapata's political beliefs, as exemplified by his movement's slogan, Tierra y Libertad (Land and Liberty). His followers were known as Zapatistas, peasants who were determined to redistribute land taken over by wealthy landowners who ran huge tracts known as haciendas. 

As Zapata himself famously said, "The land belongs to those who work it with their hands." These words have been evoked as recently as the 1990s by Mexican writers and radicals seeking rights for workers and indigenous people throughout the country. The fight for land ownership expanded from Zapata's village to consume all of Mexico; the cause of ownership and guerilla practice of seizing land was one of the main catalysts for the Revolution in 1910. 

He Was a Bit of Dandy, Because He Believed His Position Called for It

Zapata dressed like a traditional Mexican charro, or horseman, with tight black pants, silver buttons, a large brimmed circular sombrero, a linen shirt and jacket, a colorful scarf around his neck, polished boots and spurs, and, most importantly of all, a pistol tucked into his belt. He did so, he said, because he wanted to wear his best clothes, like the chief of any village. With a long handlebar mustache, Zapata had the appearance of the quintessential Mexican Revolutionary. 

Like Most Mexican Revolutionaries, Zapata Was a Stubborn Bastard

When Victoriano Huerta, who seized control of Mexico in a counter-revolutionary coup, was defeated and fled in June 1914, the country was in the position to create a new constitution and government. At first, Zapata, Villa, Venustiano Carranza, and others revolutionary leaders worked toegether.

However, as Carranza maneuvered his way toward the presidency, and Zapata suspected his Plan de Ayala would become a matter of little importance to the central government, things began to fall apart. Both Zapata and Villa broke away from the new government, which was supported by the United States. Zapata's rationale was his steadfast refusal to accept anything other than the complete implementation of his plan, and his belief that the new government had little concern for agrarian issues. 

Villa and Zapata were wary of one another, yet suspected they would need one another's support to stand up to Carranza. They met at the Presidential Palace in Mexico City on December 7, 1914, forming tentative agreement to unite that never amounted to anything. In the wake of the agreement, Zapata returned to Morelos, which he had been granted control of after Huerta fled, and focused on implementing land reform. Meanwhile, Villa suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Carranza at the Battle of Celaya in April 1915, ending his aura of invincibility.

The defeat placed pressure on Zapata; with Villa neutralized, Carranza turned attention to Zapata, sending troops into Morelos, attempting to capture or kill Zapata and his rebels.

He Was Assassinated by the Federal Government, Cementing His Folkloric Outlaw Status

In 1916, Carranza sent General Pablo Garza to Morelos in an attempt to destroy the Zapatista movement. Supporters of Zapata were to be massacred or shipped out of the state to serve elsewhere as slave labor. Zapata lost control of the state, but the brutality of the occupying Federal troops allowed for a gradual counterattack and a reestablishment of the Zapatistas by the end of 1916.  

Outside Morelos, the revolution was dissipating, as many grew tired of constant violence, chaos and death. For two years, Zapata survived, fighting the Carrancistas to a stalemate. In early 1919, as a harsh winter and influenza epidemic wiped 25% of the population of Morelos, Zapata's situation grew tenuous. He began to negotiate with a potential Federal turncoat, Colonel Jesus Guajardo, in response to Guajardo's offer to defect with men and weapons.  

Zapata put Guajardo through an elaborate test to determine whether was sincere, then decided to meet him. Zapata was greeted with a hail of bullets. 

He Was a Relatively Humble Guy in a Time of Chaotic Political Hubris

From May of 1911 until May 1920, Mexico had nine presidents, most of whom served for very brief periods. Zapata's lifetime was an era rife with generals raising their own armies, military coups, fleeing dictators, foreign intervention, multiple fronts of sectarian violence, and political chaos. However, unlike most power players of the time, Zapata had no political ambitions. His army was relatively disorganized, and he saw himself as nothing more than a local village leader trying to create a dialogue that might lead to political reform. He was a reluctant national figure in an era of ridiculous political hubris. 

That said, as you'll learn as you read on, Zapata was also stubborn as a goddamn mule, and refused to budge on land reform. 

His Honest Attempts to Protect His Village's Way of Life Turned Into a Revolution

Emiliano Zapata was born August 8, 1879 in Morelos, a state just south of Mexico City in south-central Mexico. His family lived for several generations in the tiny pueblo of Anenecuilco, where they raised and trained horses. The Zapatas weren't wealthy, but neither were they peons, the indentured peasant farmers who were virtually slaves.  

Zapata's father died when Emiliano was 17, making him the breadwinner of the family. At age thirty, he was named leader of the town council of his village, and resolved to do something about his townspeople's economic oppression. When his discussions with governmental officials went nowhere, he and 80 fellow townspeople armed themselves and began to take back expropriated property, or land taken from the people.  

Under the leadership of dictator Porfirio Diaz, large landowners known as Hacendados frequently expropriated land from the peasant community, ignoring laws and property rights.  Zapata's peasant army, which grew exponentially as he continued reclaiming stolen land, was one of the many factors prompting Diaz to flee the country, setting off the Mexican Revolution.  

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 11:28:15 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/surprising-emiliano-zapata-facts/philgibbons
<![CDATA[10 Brutal Revolutions, Rebellions, and Uprisings of the 21st Century]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/brutal-21st-century-rebellions-and-uprisings/peterdugre

The 21st Century started with a host of revolutions and popular uprisings. As the 1990s ended, so did the tenuous period of post-cold war peace (which, who are we kidding, with the Balkans conflict and Rwandan genocide, didn't even really exist).

The events of September 11, 2001 plunged the world into a state of chaotic sectarian violence and constantly shifting alliances. Meanwhile, long-simmering social, political, and cultural tension the world over exploded as social media allowed people to empower and educate themselves, giving rise to a spate of 21st century revolutions. The emergence of new hegemonies like Putin's Russia, Bush's USA, and an emboldened China only served to exacerbate problems. 

Protestors took to the streets in a series of uprisings in the Arab Spring of 2011, conflicts met with brutal violence by regimes, the after effects of which still incite violence, oppression, disappearances, and chaos in 2016. Syria exists in a state of perpetual melee, hence the rise of ISIS and countless other rebel groups, making a nation previously unknown to many Westerners short-hand for dangerous brutality. And this is but one of the most brutal 21st century rebellions. 

The globe has proven to be a volatile home for humans this century. Strap on your riot gear for a look at these rebellions and uprisings of the 21st century.

10 Brutal Revolutions, Rebellions, and Uprisings of the 21st Century,

Kyrgyz Revolution of 2010

A protest against leadership in Kyrgyzstan fomented underlying ethnic suspicions against minority Uzbeks, and led to 400,000 Uzbek people internally displaced.

In April 2010, protests turned to riots, which threatened the country's central government building, known as the White House (seriously). Police used rubber bullets and tear gas on the crowd, trucks rammed the gates of the White House, and pandemonium broke out. Dozens died, and President Kurmanbek Saliyevich Bakiyev fled the capital, Bishkek. His term in office, which began after the peaceful Tulip Revolution of 2005, disappointed reformists and was hampered by rolling blackouts and skyrocketing energy costs, leading him to seek help from China and Russia. Bakiyev ended up in exile in Belarus.

In June of that year, general unrest turned to violence against the Uzbeks ethnic minority. Many fled into neighboring Uzbekistan, while hundreds of thousands more were forced out of their homes and relocated with in Kyrgyzstan. Speaking to CNN, an Uzbek man shot during the ethnic violence said, "They shouted that Kyrgyzstan is for the Kyrgyz, and that there is no place for Uzbeks here."

Women reported to being gang raped in cafes, while their mothers watched and men laughed and filmed with their phones. Others were tortured and murdered. The violence eventually subsided, and by October 2010, the country held elections, and instituted and new parliamentary system. 

The Egyptian Revolution

Sometimes a 30-year presidency is a few decades too long, or so thought the Egyptian people when gathering in the streets of Cairo, demanding President Hosni Mubarak step down. He did so after 18 days, and was later convicted of corruption and sent to trial for murdering hundreds of protesters. The power vacuum left in his wake led to the assumption of power by the armed forces, suspension of the constitution, and dissolution of parliament, all in the spring of 2011.

The Egyptian government symbolically forfeited its ironclad grip on the people when the 31-year-old state of emergency was lifted. Still, it's hard to assign winners and losers in the outcome of the Egyptian Revolution. Hundreds of demonstrators were killed in the 18-day sit in at Tahrir Square, and more was to come.

Following the ouster of Mubarak and the military takeover, hundreds of demonstrators were captured and held at the Egyptian Museum and subjected to torture, including virginity tests for females. The Muslim Brotherhood, intent upon imposing Sharia Law (and considered a terrorist organization by some), gained the most political clout in the aftermath of the successful effort to overthrow of Mubarak's government.

FARC-EP Wages a Half-Century Old Revolution in the 21st Century

Understanding what's happening in Colombia with FARC, an agrarian, anti-imperialist Marxist-Leninist paramilitary organization that made headlines worldwide in 2016 for entering into peace negations with the country's government, requires looking at about 50 years of history. 

Colombia has been in a state of conflict since 1964.The conflict has involved radical left and right wing groups and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. FARC, or FARC-EP (which stands for Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army), is the largest of the left-wing groups, the longest standing guerilla organization in the conflict, and, according to BBC, one of the most well-funded guerilla armies in the world. 

Between 1970 and 2010, as FARC and the Colombian government carried the decades-old conflict into the new millennium, 27,003 people were kidnapped. Between 1985 and 2010, 11,751 people were killed in 1,982 massacres and 25,007 were vanished in forced disappearances. From 1996 to 2012, 4.7 million people were displaced

In 2008, Colombian government, in an effort to destabilize FARC, went after the group's leadership, which had fled to Ecuador. Ivan Rios, head of the Central Bloc of FARC, had a $5 million bounty on his head, enough to convince a security officer to execute him and cut off his hand as proof. The fingerprints of the hand matched. Although the Colombian government sought approval from its people to end the war against FARC with a cease fire in 2016, the vote failed, so the 50-year war wages on against the Marxist rebels. 

Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution

The first domino to topple in the Arab Spring was Tunisia, after fruit vendor Mohamed Bouaziz lit himself on fire in December 2010, sparking the Jasmine Revolution. Only 26 years old, Bouazizi set himself ablaze to protest overbearing, abusive police and poor economic conditions. The sacrifice inspired frustrated masses throughout Tunisia to rise up in a series of protests

After police killed a number of protestors, attracting international criticism, Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali agreed to not seek re-election, lowered food prices, and reduced Internet restrictions. But this didn't to the trick, given Ben Ali's long history of torture, forced disappearnces, and other oppressive tactics. By January 2011, Ben Ali and his family fled to Saudi Arab, his regime was toppled, and peaceful elections were held a few months later. 

Despite the success of the Tunisian revolution, and the speed with which it happened, more than 300 protestors died at the hands of the government, and as many as 700 more were injured. The people of Tunisia likely prevented dangerous chaos by setting up neighborhood watch patrols and road blocks to prevent looters and other criminals from taking advantage of the situation. 

The Nepalese Civil War

The Nepalese Civil War began at the tail end of the 20th century, and lasted until 2006. The decade-long conflict kicked off in 1996, when the Maoist United People's Front began a campaign of violence. Their methods included torture, murder, kidnapping, bombing, extortion, and intimidation, and no one was spared from the terror. The group entered negotiations with the Nepalese government in 2001, but talks fell apart, and a new wave of violence began for a new millennium. 

The war ended in 2006, with the toppling of the country's centuries-old monarchy, and the formation of a new constitutional government. The new Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction estimates 17,800 people died during the war, and 100,000 were displaced. The roots of the conflict lay in generations of extreme poverty and lack of opportunity. 

Despite the formation of a new government, myriad political tensions remain. Maoists routinely clash with other parties. A devastating earthquake in 2015 displaced millions and exacerbated political tensions, which in 2016 resulted in the Maoists pulling out of a coalition government deal. 

The Lybian Crisis

Political revolutions swept the Arab world in 2011, including a surge of popular unrest against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Not one to take dissent lying down, Gaddafi promised to soak the streets in blood and “cleanse Libya house by house." His regime murdered protestors in Tripoli and Benghazi, and the UN deemed his actions a threat to human rights, sent in troops, and bombed Gadaffi's strongholds and military positions. He was diposed and killed, and the UN patted itself on the back and went home.

In the wake of the UN's departure, Libya descended into chaos. Rebel factions vied for control as a hastily erected transition government watched on. The US became involved, as did NATO, and ISIS-affiliated groups gained traction in the wake of elections in 2014, which created more problems than solutions. In 2015, one ISIS-aligned group released a video of Egyptian Christians being beheaded.

The term "The Libyan Crisis" is used to refer to two civil wars and a period of interwar violence that began in 2011. In April 2011, Al Jazeera reported the death toll of the first civil war at 10,000. Accounts of torture arose from the chaotic milieu, and, as of June 2016, 4,715 have been killed in the the second civil war. 

In December 2015, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Ali Al-Za’tari spoke out on the humanitarian crisis in Libya created by the civil wars.

The recently launched Libya Humanitarian Response Plan identified 2.44 million people in need of protection and some form of humanitarian assistance – including 435,000 internally displaced persons – those are acute basic needs in the health, food, protection, shelter and water and sanitation sectors. Of the 2.44 million, 1.3 million Libyans are food insecure.

The Ukrainian Revolution

The tug-of-war in Ukraine between pro-Russia and pro-Europe/EUfactions came to a head in 2014, during the Ukrainian Revolution. A major facet of the revolution was Euromaidan, a series of pro-EU demonstrations in Kiev in winter 2013-14.  Organizers of the protests tendened to disappear or turn up in hospitals, concussed, with broken noses and lacerations. The protests arose from popular demands for change after from the government stalled on joining the EU, whilst tightening its relationship with Russia.

In February 2014, Ukraine's pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, ordered his police to open fire on protestors in Kiev’s Independence Square. Snipers did so from buildings surrounding the square, killing 50 people within a week. Yanukovych's killed hundreds of protesting civilians. 

Yanukovych's government also used water cannons in subzero-degree nights over to disperse protestors. The protestors fought water with fire, throwing petrol bombs at government forces. Accounts of protesters being roughed up invariably claimed the perpetrators of their beatings had Russian accents. Eventually, protesters occupied government buildings, forcing Yanukovych out. 

The protests in Kiev coincided with a period of unrest throughout Ukraine known as the Ukrainian crisis. During this period, Russia annexed Crimea, protests in Odessa resulted in a number of deaths, a series of bombs went off in the south and west of the country, and a war broke out in the Donbass region between pro-Russian and pro-EU factions, which came to involve the armies of both countries, and resulted in thousands of deaths, injuries, and disappearances. 

The Paraguayan People's Army and its Marxist Revolution

In August 2016, the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP), a Marxist guerilla organization, killed eight soldiers in an ambush in the remote village of Arroyito. The small band of rebels, thought to number between 50 and 150 members, roams impoverished northern Paraguay, committing acts of terrorism against the government and wealthy landowners.

Formally founded in 2008, the EPP has been operating in some form for more than 20 years, is known for its aptitude with explosives, and has associations with rebel guerilla groups like Colombia's FARC. EPP secures funding by kidnapping wealthy landowners and holding them for ransom. They have also kidnapped police officers and demanded the release of political prisoners, and killed some Germans in a kidnapping-gone-wrong. 

As radical Marxists, the EPP isn't opposed to killing members of the proletariat it sees as colluding with the forces of capitalism and oppression. Among the 85 acts of violence attributed to the organization is the murder of farm hands, at the scene of which were found pamphlets forbidding the cultivation of soya, corn, and other crops requiring the use of pesticides. 

The Paraguayan government permanently deployed troops to the area in which the EPP operates, it has had almost no success in apprehending the group's members. The EPP's primary aim in its campaign of terror is to prevent what it sees as the nation's oligarchy, a group of 400 wealthy families, from continuing its 60+ year exploitation of farmers and other workers. 

The Tuareg Rebellion

Nomadic Tuareg people have roamed desolate regions of the Sahara Desert for centuries, living from the land and asking for nothing from governments. Their relationship with nation-states changed in the 2000s, when Niger aggressively expanded Uranium mining operations into areas the Tuareg have called home for centuries. The mining operations cut into sacred places, which the Tuareg saw as an act of desecration. 

In 2007, Taureg rebels, organized under the banner Movement of Nigeriens for Justice (MNJ), with the aim of putting a stop to what they saw as the exploitative practices of the Niger government. MNJ captured 72 soldiers and demanded shares of profits from Uranium in exchange for their lives. Eventually, as a gesture of goodwill, MNJ released all but one of their hostages. The ony the kept was declared a prisoner of war. 

MNJ has engaged government forces in Niger, Malia, Algeria and Libya, and kidnapped a Chinese nuclear engineer and employees of the French government. In 2009, with the help of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, a ceasefire was reached between the Tuareg and Niger government. 

The Syrian Civil War

Estimates for death tolls in the Syrian Civil War as of March 2016 range from 370,000, put forth by the the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SoHR) to 470,000, a number suggested by Syrian Center for Policy Research. According to SoHR, a least 122,997 Syrian civilians have died in the conflict. 

The war, which is a mess of revolutionary factions and rebel militias vying to seize control from the Assad regime, began in March 2011, when protesters marched in Damascus, demanding democratic reform and the release of political prisoners. Security forces fired back with bullets, and the language of the demonstrations changed from general calls for rights and reform to a desire to topple Bashar Al-Assad, who has yet to cede power five years later.

The war has since spun out of control and into what many describe as a proxy war waged by nations and groups with interests not immediately related to the conflict between Assad and the Free Syrian Army. Islamic State fighters entered as a third player seeking control in Syria by battling both rebels and Assad. Russia is an ally of Assad, and the United States has poured money into supporting rebel groups

In 2015, Amnesty International called the situation in Syria "the worst humanitarian crisis of our time." According to the organization's report, 11.6 million Syrians were forced to flee their homes, of whom 7.6 million live, displaced, in Syria, many in refugee camps. The other 4 million have sought new homes abroad. 

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 14:18:33 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/brutal-21st-century-rebellions-and-uprisings/peterdugre
<![CDATA[The Strangest Facial Hair Trends in History, from Mustache Bags to Glitter]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/strange-facial-hair-history/machk

Ugly facial hair happens. Weird facial hair happens. We get it. But history has been extremely creative with facial hair in some pretty shocking ways. Dumb mustaches have been coming in and out of style since humanity began, and gross beards that need to be washed way more than they are have been popular and will be again. This is a fact of life.

But sometimes, seeing all of these beards can be difficult. Even painful. However, this is an important lesson in the folly of mankind. Vote up the weirdest facial hair trends ever.

The Strangest Facial Hair Trends in History, from Mustache Bags to Glitter,

The Beardstache

One of the problems with not having a beard is that your chin can get pretty cold. The Gauls, Franks, Goths, and Saxons all came up with the same fashionable solution: grow your mustache so long that it is basically a beard. This style was incredibly prevalent and persisted for centuries, so it must have worked.

The Forked Beard

During the Middle Ages, beards were strictly for the nobility. However, if you were noble, you could really get kooky with it. One of the most popular styles of the time was the forked beard, and no, it doesn't look better than it sounds. Similar to the tongue of a snake or a hairy continuation of a cleft chin, this look has been attempted by recent hipsters, but it's not looking like it's poised for a big comeback.

The Braided Goatee

A staple of late '90s rock and metal, the braided goatee takes the worst qualities of the goatee and the rat tail in order to create one of the most unsettling styles of all time. We probably have at least a few decades before this style attempts a comeback, so that's something to be grateful for.

The Mutton Chops

The 19th century popularity of the massive and honestly frightening sideburns known as mutton chops is difficult to understand, since it's not a look that has come back in a big way since. However, it is forever a part of American history, as not one, not two, but three presidents sported the look. John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, and Chester Allen Arthur all confidently rocked mutton chops and seemed to have no regrets.

The Goatee

The origin of the goatee is, etymologically speaking, not surprising. Its inspiration is the beard of the goat, and as such, it appeared pretty early in history as the facial hair choice of Pan, the part-goat Greek god. Like all powerful trends, the goatee has come back again and again in history. It was popularized in the 18th century as the known style of the French bohemians. It was then appropriated during the American Civil War and the Wild West, and reappeared again in the 1950s as a beatnik look. Despite the fact that it's literally the facial hair of the devil, the goatee seems to be here to stay.

The Stiletto Beard

During the 15th and 16th centuries, the flamboyantly named "Stiletto Beard" was quite popular. No, unfortunately, it is not facial hair groomed to look like a shoe. It is a beard groomed to be pointed at the end and looks very wizard-y.

The Vandyke

Named after the famous Baroque artist Anthony Van Dyke, the vandyke beard follows his style: a groomed mustache accompanied by a goatee. Basically, the kind of beard that you see on Shakespearean actors.

The Sinister Beard

Before facial hair came back into style in the 19th century, it was considered genuinely offensive. By the 18th century, beards were considered a sign of criminal behavior and sinister intent. You did not want to be caught walking around with a beard.

The Health Beard

Victorians took beard-love to the next level. They not only believed that beards were natural, but that they were gifts from God that were important for your physical health. They feared that shaving off your facial hair would result in throat and mouth diseases, and even bronchitis.

The Presidential Beard

America hasn't had a bearded president since Taft, but for a while, it was the distinguished thing to do. In fact, in 1860, Lincoln believed that his chances of winning the upcoming presidential election would be improved by growing a beard. Hey, it seems like it worked!

Sun, 06 Nov 2016 08:41:26 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/strange-facial-hair-history/machk
<![CDATA[13 of the Most Brazen and Ostentatious Things Pablo Escobar Ever Did]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/most-brazen-things-pablo-escobar-did/aaron-edwards

With Narcos one of the most popular shows on Netflix in 2016, the world is crazy for Pablo Escobar once more. But the most ostentatious things Pablo Escobar did don't just make for good television, they helped define an era. During the 1980s, Colombia and the United States were deeply intertwined in Escobar's cocaine trade. During the height of his business, as news of brazen Pablo Escobar crimes made headiness worldwide, many tons of drugs were shipped to US soil every day. American authorities wanted Escobar gone, but the Colombian government was scared to make it happen, lest they become victims of the many brutal things Pablo Escobar did. 

Despite the drug smuggling, murders, and bribery, some saw Escobar as a man of the people. He used his vast wealth to provide essential buildings and services to the community, which made many, especially the poor, extremely loyal to him until the end. So, if you wanted to know about the most dangerous drug lord of all time, check out the list below, and get ready for some crazy Pablo Escobar stories. 

13 of the Most Brazen and Ostentatious Things Pablo Escobar Ever Did,

He Was Responsible for More Than 4,000 Deaths

You can't make a drug empire without breaking a few people. Or, in Escobar's case, about 4,000, a number some report as being closer to 5,000. One of Escobar's top assassins, John Jairo Velasquez, nicknamed Popeye, claims to have participated in more than 3,000 murders, 300 of which were done personally. As Popeye tells it, even Escobar's murderous wrath played into his image as a man of the people: 

I had to kill a bus driver. The mother of a friend of Pablo Escobar was on his bus and he accelerated as she was getting off and she fell. He left her lying on the [ground], he didn't help and she died. The [son] asked Pablo Escobar to help him get his revenge. I found the [driver] and killed him. I didn't feel anything. I haven't lost any sleep over the acts I've committed.  

He Smuggled Drugs in Airplane Tires and Paid Off Cops, Airport Managers, and the Military

Pablo Escobar shipped cocaine all over the world, but the golden goose was America. The DEA watched for his shipments like a gold-gilded hawk, so Pablito had to get creative. His solution lay in airplanes. Or, more specifically, part of them. Escobar's people filled plane tires with of cocaine. Pilots got as much as $800k a flight for looking the other way. Airport managers, police, and military personnel also got payoffs as part of the scheme. 

After first devising this method, Escobar sent one flight with coke-stuffed tires per week. As demand increased, so did the supply. 

He Poured Money Into Poor Neighborhoods as a Brazen F*ck You to the Government

Escobar killed a lot of people and smuggled hundreds of tons of drugs, but in many people's eyes, he was a hero. Why? He used his money to invest in some of the poorest areas in Colombia. He built schools, soccer fields, hospitals, and even churches, in neighborhoods often neglected by the government, for which he earned a great deal of goodwill and loyalty from the Colombian people. So fervent was their love for him, it's said there were fireworks in Medellin when one of Escobar's cocaine shipments made it to the United States. 

He Offered to Pay Colombia's National Debt (Because He Had F*ck You Money)

Escobar was so terrified of extradition to the US and spending time in the American prison system, he did basically everything he could to make friends with the Colombian government. One of his more desperate attempts to curry favor when the sh*t really hit the fan in the early '90s was an offer a payoff to the Colombia's debt lock, stock, and barrel. The debt amounted to $20 billion, and he was good for it. The offer was declined. 

He Smuggled Hippos for His Personal Zoo and They've Been Breeding for 20+ Years

When you make as much money as Escobar did, it's only natural to build the most insane house you can think of. For Pablo Escobar in the '80s, that house was Hacienda Napoles, and it had a zoo. He smuggled exotic animals into the country, including elephants, giraffes, and hippos. Pause. Think about that. He smuggled elephants. The very definition of brazen. 

Although the zoo was for Escobar's family, the public was allowed to visit. Napoles was confiscated in the early '90s, and the zoo is abandoned and in disrepair. In the years since Pablo's fall, however, his hippos have been busy having a lot of sex. They now populate the area and are starting to cause problems, due to their violent nature. 

He Blew Up an Airplane to Assassinate One Man, Who Wasn't on Board

Escobar really wanted to kill Colombian presidential candidate Cesar Gaviria, the country's former interior minister, an anti-drug idealist. When Escobar learned Gaviria would be traveling on a commercial flight, he ordered it bombed. Gavira, however, changed his travel plans at the last minute. The plane, Avianca Flight 203 out of  Bogota, was destroyed anyway. Debris and mangled bodies could be found in the Colombia countryside. All 107 people on board died. Gavira won the 1990 presidential election and launched an anti-drug campaign. 

While on the Run, He Burned $2 Million to Keep His Kids Warm

After Escobar was forced to flee from authorities, he and his family were constantly on the run. According to interview with Escobar's son, Juan Pablo, they didn't stay in one place longer than 48 hours. One of their hideouts was in the mountains of Medellin, and wasn't particularly warm. One night, Escobar's daughter became extremely cold, so he burned $2 million in cash to keep her warm. 

Adjusted for Inflation, He Spent More a Year on Rubber Bands Than Your Salary

Escobar kept all his money in cash, which was a bit of a logistical nightmare, given how much of it there was. Like any respectable businessman, he tried to be as organized as possible, which mean stacking cash in easily counted bundles. This required rubber bands. Just how many, you ask? Well, there's no exact count, but Escobar spent $2,500 on rubber bands every month. Adjusted for inflation from, say, 1989, that's around $5600 in 2016, or about $67,200 a year. 

He Lost $2.1 Billion Dollars Anually to Rats and Didn't Care

To say Pablo Escobar was incredibly successful is a bit of an understatement. At the height of his success, he made an estimated $420 million dollars a week ($21.8 billion a year). He was making so much money he couldn't store it in banks. Instead, he put it in warehouses. These storage facilities, however, weren't particularly well kept, and were infested by vermin. Rats ate around $2.1 billion a year. But Escobar was making so much money, he didn't really care. 

He Laundered Money Into a Soccer Team That Won an International Championship

The most important things a drug lord needs to do with his money are invest and launder it. A passionate soccer fan, Escobar fulfilled a dream by investing heavily in Atlético Nacional. He used his money to recruit the best players, and his team went on to win the South American championship. 

Things went south when an Escobar rival paid a referee to ensure Atlético Nacional lost a match. Escobar ordered the referee killed. The team fell apart after Escobar's death, without his financial backing.

Tangentially related, Andrés Escobar, who once played for Atlético Nacional and was the captain of a Colombian national team that did tremendous things in qualifying for the World Cup in 1994, was murdered in the violent chaos following Pablo's death, perhaps in retaliation for scoring a disastrous own goal that eliminated Colombia from the World Cup. The two Escobars were not related. 

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 16:56:13 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/most-brazen-things-pablo-escobar-did/aaron-edwards
<![CDATA[The Truth About Freemasons: History, Conspiracy, and Secret Symbols]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/facts-about-freemasonry/morgan-deane

You've seen their mysterious buildings, seen men coming and going, seen the strange symbols etched above the doorways. You've always associated Freemasonry with a sense of foreboding; Masons feel vaguely sinister in a way you can't quite explain, probably because you can't even explain what their organization is. "What do Freemasons do?" you've thought. "Who are the Freemasons?" Let's put it this way: when it comes to stories of conspiracies and secret organizations, don't believe the hype.

This list breaks down the essential facts about Freemasons: what they do, why they exist, what goes on in their meetings. Even the Freemasons' "secret" symbols are broken down. And in the end, unless you're afraid of gatherings of old white dudes, Masons are really nothing to fear. Keep reading these Freemason facts to find out what goes on behind closed doors.

The Truth About Freemasons: History, Conspiracy, and Secret Symbols,

What Happens at Modern Masonic Meetings

Contrary to what you see on The Simpsons, Freemasons do not have large drunken parties where they sing about their secret, far-reaching power to control the British crown and the metric system.

Today, there is a great deal of independence between lodges, but like most civic and religious meetings, they have some basic ceremonies that include a prayer and flag ceremony. They usually have a bible, compass, and square to remind them of their moral duties. But they also have various other holy books as well. There are some aspects that seem religious, but they are more spiritual ceremonies to help the members progress in their faith journey.  

Meetings begin by covering mundane action items like voting on or approving bills to be paid. The main part of the meeting is the degree work, or ceremonies that advance new members in rank (there are three ranks in Regular Freemasonry - 1st degree, 2nd degree, and 3rd degree). But since Freemasonry is so loosely organized, each collection of lodges tends to perform rituals slightly differently. In general, though, the ceremonies are a symbolic journey designed to grant a person greater knowledge. One Masonic text describes them as a "system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." Basically, they use symbols and history to teach lessons and remind themselves to be moral, upstanding citizens. Kinda cool, right?

Lodges and Grand Lodges Aren't as Sinister as They Seem

Just like the symbols they use, Freemason Lodges and Grand Lodges have a historical basis. The medieval trade guild operated their own lodges. It was common for stonemasons to travel for work, and the lodges were locations that acted as way stations, hotels, and hospitals for members of the guild during their travels.

Today, the lodges basically act as a clubhouse. They usually hold small administrative offices to maintain rosters and pay bills, a main room where meetings are conducted, and a lounge for socialization. Some of the more famous lodges contain memorabilia from famous members; the House of the Temple for the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite of the Southern Jurisdiction in Washington houses the flag that Buzz Aldrin took to the moon. 

The grand lodges, sometimes called grand orients, are larger structures that govern a geographic collection of lodges. They have a loose amount of authority over the lodges in their area, and there is a great deal of local variation in rituals, meeting format, and in some cases, even ranks.  

But What About Women?

Many discussions of Freemasonry tend to skirt the issue of women Masons, because, well, it's complicated. Technically, Regular Freemasonry does not allow women to be Masons. But the loose collection of Lodges and lack of structure within the organization has led to several different kinds of Masonry being practiced around the world, and in Continental Masonry, women are usually welcomed. There are no hard and fast rules within Masonry, which means that being a Freemason is what you make of it. You can join a traditional lodge, a progressive lodge, a lodge with three degrees or thirty-three. But rest assured, the only thing you'll learn is how to be a more moral person - not any international secrets.

Freemasonry Is Basically Just a Social Club

Sorry to burst your bubble, but magicians and political leaders were definitely not conspiring to... well, do anything at all, really. 

Freemasonry as we know it now got its start in London in the early 1700s. Since medieval times, Freemasonry had been a guild for stonemasons, but eventually, other men began joining too. In 1717, the first Grand Lodge for "gentlemen Masons" was built. And that's when the conspiracies started to swirl. 

Townspeople saw men from all different walks of life coming and going from the Lodge and began speculating about what they were up to. Rumors swirled; they were up to something, they just had to be. What could all those men possibly have in common?

Let's look at this from another angle: you're a dude in 1717. You have a job, but outside of that, you've got literally nothing to do. Doesn't a social club where you can relax and talk to your fellow dudes sound appealing? Yep, that's how Freemasonry got started: it was just a bunch of guys who wanted to chill and blow off steam.

Freemason Secrecy, Condemnation, and Power in America

By the 18th century, most members of the Freemasons were upper-class bankers and businessman. The secret aspects of it, along with its mythology built along Christian symbols, aroused the ire of religious leaders and gave way to more conspiracy theories.  In 1738, Pope Clement XII issued a decree against the Masons, but Freemasonry continued to grow, especially in the US.

Thirteen of the 39 founding fathers were Masons, and the paranoia about the organization spawned the Anti-Masonic party. Eight congressmen running as Anti-Masons were elected, but when the election of 1828 came around, Andrew Jackson (who was a Mason) proved too formidable a foe for the Anti-Mason nominee, William Wirt. After that, the party pretty much died off. 

It was the prominence of people like Andrew Jackson combined with some elements of secrecy in their ceremonies that attracted a great deal of fear and suspicion. Because the powerful men of so many communities were all Masons, a good deal of business was conducted in the Masonic Lodges and lent to the perception that the Freemasons controlled many aspects of government and life behind the scenes. 

You've heard the conspiracy theory about the Eye of Providence on the $1 bill, right? That it's a Masonic symbol and that somehow proves that the Masons were doing something sinister with the American government? Yeah, well, the Eye of Providence isn’t strictly a Mason symbol; it was actually a pretty common emblem in the 17th century.

The Meaning Behind the Symbols

The square and compasses is the most recognizable symbol of the Freemasons. The most likely explanation for the meaning behind these symbols is simple: back when Masons were actually stoneworkers, those tools were very important in their work. Carefully crafted arches in churches and round towers in castles required precise calculations to cut and fit them together. The compass was used to draw perfect geometric circles and the square used to judge the angles of stones. 

Just like the Regius Poem explains, the everyday conduct of Freemasons was tied to their craft. The square represents how their lives should always be morally upright. Ever wondered why we use the word "square" to fair and equal? Yep, we can thank the masons for that particular idiom. The compasses remind members that all truth is part of the same eternal circle, and that their behavior should be within acceptable boundaries.  

A Lot of Famous Dudes Were Masons

George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, Mozart, Davy Crockett, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Houdini, Gerald Ford, Henry Ford, John Wayne, and even Colonel Sanders were all Freemasons. Bringing together such diverse people from a variety of industries and backgrounds does beg the question: what are they doing in there? It's easy to let your imagination run wild when world leaders are rubbing elbows with magicians in secret meetings.

But What About the Religious Aspects of Masonry?

Okay, wait. They're a social club? But you could've sworn there was some religious aspect to it, right? Well, you're not entirely wrong.

Remember how Freemasonry got its start in medieval times as a guild for stone workers? While their exact origins are unclear, Masonic guilds in Medieval England were made up of trade craftsmen that undertook a variety of building projects using stone. A document called the Regius Poem sheds some light on early Masonic activities. Historians date it somewhere between 1390 and 1450. 

The first part of the poem describes how the English King Athelstan (924-939) brought masonry techniques to England and gave stonemasons instructions on how to behave and how the nobles should treat them. They were given moral directions that included going to church, not employing thieves, and refusing to take bribes. The second part of the poem lays out employment codes, including not making the masons work by night and treating apprentices properly. The poem ends with warnings for those that do not follow these articles and rules.

So when Masonry moved from a stoneworker's guild to a social club, they kept a lot of the traditions outlined in the poem, including the guidelines for living a moral life. Today, Masons are required to believe in some type of higher being, but each member is allowed to choose which religion they follow.

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 16:46:54 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/facts-about-freemasonry/morgan-deane
<![CDATA[8 Exceedingly Strange, WTF Torture Methods from History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/weird-torture-methods/justin-andress

It’s a wonder the kinds of brutality man visits on those viewed as dangerous or different. Perhaps even more startling, the tremendous creativity and ingenuity many have put into devising methods and means of torture. History is littered with examples of genuinely WTF torture methods. The kind of thing you look at at wonder, "Who the hell came up with this?" Yes, these torture devices are odd. 

Such strange torture methods, some of them nefarious machines, others creepily ornate rituals involving honey and hungry insects, are designed not only to harm or kill victims, but whittle them to an emotional nub while doing so. More than one of these torture methods involves animals, which makes you wonder whether the people who devised them were hanging out on a farm thinking, "What weird torture methods can I make using this goat?" 

Get ready to squirm, because here are history’s oddest (and most horrible) instruments of torture. Bizarre torture, ahoy!

8 Exceedingly Strange, WTF Torture Methods from History,


Scaphism, also known as the boats, is a torture method devised by the ancient Persians. Victims were force fed honey and milk, stripped naked, tied in a boat or hollow tree trunk, smeared in more honey and/or milk, and pushed into stagnant water. Insects, attracted to the honey and milk, ate the victim's body, slowly. As the victim shat, insects bred in the excrement, creating more bugs, which bred and lived in the victim's wounds, turning them gangrenous. In some permutations, wasps were used. 

Visitors to Persia witnessed scaphism, and were appalled. Byzantine writer Zonaras noted, in the 12th century, "The Persians outvie all other barbarians in the horrid cruelty of their punishments, employing tortures that are peculiarly terrible and long-drawn, namely the ‘boats’... "

White Torture Inflicts the Pain of Sensory Deprivation on Its Victims

There’s solitary confinement, and there’s white torture. This weird practice is still in use in some places, such as Iran, which was accused of it in 2004. White torture involves putting someone in extreme isolation, with complete sensory deprivation. Victims say they’ve been put in stark, white rooms, dressed in white clothes, and given meals of white rice on white plates. Guards reportedly wore sound-muffling clothes, so prisoners couldn't hear anything.

White torture can last several weeks. Prisoners have been known to experience, among other things, intense depression and hallucinations. Is it as bad as being flayed? Probably not. Is it really f*cking weird, like something from a art house movie? Definitely. 

The German Chair, Not Really a Chair and Revived by ISIS

The German chair is a sadistic form of torture that’s been revived by ISIS and, rumor has it, the Assad regime in Syria. The method is complex enough there are numerous ways to set up the apparatus involved. All of these set ups involve tormenting the spine.

Historically, victims were tied to a table, hands bound above their heads. The middle of the table was slowly elevated, compliments of a nifty crank, until victims snapped in two (or gave up the goods). Other than the snapping in two, it sounds kinda like something you'd find in a yoga studio.

With the vast array of quick, easy tortures available in the world, from sticking bamboo shoots under fingernails to thumb screws, you have to wonder why someone would go to such lengths to build what's basically a broke ass version of the rack.  

These days, ISIS is apparently using an augmented form of the German Chair, in which the victim is placed in an actual chair with an adjustable back. The premise is essentially the same, though. Snap goes the victim. 

Rat Torture, in Which Hungry Rats Do What They Do Best

Say what you will about rats (they carry disease, contaminate food, are generally cantankerous), they know how to survive. If you’re ever in a tight spot looking for escape, follow the rats. The furry little suckers are almost as tenacious as cockroaches.

Perhaps that’s what inspired rat torture, a gruesome practice adopted during the Middle Ages. Victims were placed on their backs. A bucket of live rats was placed, rim down, on the victim’s stomach. A flame was pressed against the overturned bucket, forcing the rats to make a no-brainer decision: stick around and get roasted, or claw through the victim's flesh at the other end of the bucket.

Victims of rat torture found out pretty quickly just how much a rat would do to survive.

Chinese Water Torture, a Classic Headf*ck

These days, most people are familiar with water boarding, the act of simulating drowning in a victim. but it's far form an OG H20 torture method. Invented as a means of driving a victim insane, Chinese water torture is a rare means of abuse focused on psychological torment, not physical.

During Chinese water torture, victims are strapped down so securely they can’t move. A water spout is placed just above them. Victims see water collect on the spout and drip, little by little, onto their forehead. The incessant drops are maddening to most, as their minds turn to anticipating the next drop. Some victims have stated the water dropping on their forehead felt like it’s slowly boring a hole in their head.

The victims of water torture are also deprived of food and drink, so the slowly dripping water becomes a tantalizing form of unreachable nourishment, yet another sanity-draining effect of Chinese water torture. It's an effective method of torture, but you also kinda have to wonder how anyone came up with it.

"Hey, you know what's really annoying? Water dripping on your head! Am I right?"

Republican Marriage: Nudity, Stabbing, Drowning, Possible Pedophilia, & Contaminated Water

During the most murder-happy part of the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror, revolutionary Jean-Baptiste Carrier was sent to the town of Nantes to squash a rebellion. As a result, Carrier, a card-carrying sadist, invented Republican Marriage. In the subtly named History of Europe from the Commencement of the French Revolution in 1798 to the Restoration of the Bourbons in 1815, historian Sir Archibald Alison writes:

Carrier, known in all nations as the inventor of that last of barbarous atrocities, the Republican Marriage, in which two persons of different genders, generally an old man and an old woman, or a young man and a young woman, bereft of every kind of clothing, were bound together before the multitude, exposed in a boat in that situation for half an hour or more, and then thrown into the river.

Often inflicted on clergy and young women, including teens and adolescents, Republican Marriage involved stripping two victims naked, tying them together back-to-back, and leaving them, exposed in public, for hours, with anyone who happened to pass by free to spit on, grope, or otherwise abuse the pair. They were then thrown into a river, sometimes after being stabbed with a sword. 

Alison writes that so many bodies were thrown into the Loire, the fetid waters created a public health scare, and a public ordinance was issued forbidding any use of water from the river. In addition to all the adults who died via Republican Marriage, as many as 600 children were killed. 

But here's the thing - why not just throw them in the river? Why strip them and tie them together? So they could be abused and humiliated? Okay, sure, but if you're gonna kill them, what's the point in humiliating them? Then they don't have to live with their shame. Is it to scare the public? Surely there are easier methods of doing so. And why in pairs? The whole nature of this is just really f*cking strange. 

Brazen Bull, Roasting Criminals Since the 6th Century BCE

The inventor of the Brazen Bull, Perilaus (or, Perillos), sought to devise a method of torture so cruel it would prevent crime. He came up with a hollow bronze bull with a door in the side. Victims were placed in the bull, which was then put over a fire. The victim slowly cooked, and his or her screams were converted, via an acoustic device, into the sounds of a bull. 

Quite proud of himself, Perilaus presented his device, also known as the Sicilian Bull, to Phalaris, the tyrannical leader of Akragas in the mid-6th century BCE, a city in what is now Sicily. As the story goes, cruel though he was, Phalaris was appalled by the device, and used it to kill its maker. Whoops. 

Tickle Torture: Goats, Salt, and Voracious Licking

Tickle torture is a genre of abuse, defined as "non-consensual use of tickling to abuse, dominate, harass, humiliate, or interrogate an individual." Within this genre exist a number of methods, one of which employs sugar or salt, goats, and the victim's feet. The feet are smeared in salt or sugar, and a goat is brought in to lick it off. 

That doesn't sound so bad, does it? Well, actually, once the sugar or salt is gone and you've gotten a few laughs, the goat keeps licking, blistering your feet and, eventually, ripping skin off. Tickle torture can also induce such shortness of breath victims become dizzy, vomit, or pass out. Cases of tickle torture have been documented everywhere from medieval England to ancient Japan and Nazi concentration camps. 

Tickle torture is also used by some as a sexual practice, because rule 36. 

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 17:13:48 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/weird-torture-methods/justin-andress
<![CDATA[10 Fascinating Relics from WWI and the Stories Behind Them]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/world-war-i-relics-and-the-stories-behind-them/daveesons

Anyone can open a history book and become superficially familiar with names, dates, places, and events, but the greater drama of a historical event is often lost in the text of overly simplified or poorly conceived accounts. Thankfully, myriad relics survive from many of the most important and fascinating periods of history, and these objects tell many stories. World War I relics, for instance, relay a great deal about the social and cultural context of the war, and the day-to-day lives of those who lived through it.  

The Great War, which lasted from 1914 to 1918, left the world with an abundance of original artifacts with fascinating origins and enduring stories. The stories behind WWI relics speak volumes, often giving voice to forgotten histories of those who passed away during the war. From these original WWI relics, which still exist today, it's possible to maintain a direct relationship with the past, even a dialogue. 

All of these fascinating relics from WWI come straight from the collection of the author, who has taken great care to help preserve history. Read on to learn about crazy WWI relics and the fascinating history behind them. 

10 Fascinating Relics from WWI and the Stories Behind Them,

Identified American Eating Kit

“An army moves on its stomach,” a quote attributed to both Napoleon Bonaparte and Frederick The Great. While the quote’s origin may never be known, its meaning speaks volumes about the success or failures an army can experience based on how well it's fed

Beginning in the mid-1870s, the United States army began a process of modernizing its uniforms and equipment, including cookware. If soldiers were fortunate enough, they were issued the M1872 "meat can," a combination cup, container, and cooking device. A few years later, the army issued the M1874, a flat, ovular mess kit. 

This style of mess kit remained essentially unchanged through the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion, and World War One, in a slightly larger size, known as the model 1910. The kit, made of steel, was for cooking and eating. Issued with the kit itself was a drinking cup, canteen, knife, fork, spoon, and rations like dried meat, condiments and hardtack crackers in a tin.

The original 1918-dated example above is a wonderful specimen owned and carried by Sergeant H. W. Hardy. By hand, with a tool of some kind, Hardy recorded key bits of information about his time serving in the army during World War One. He recorded dates of service, his service number, unit, branch of service (artillery), and locations in France where he served.

Below the mess kit is a photo of an American artillery crew firing their cannon. The soldier with one arm up has just ejected a spent shell casing and below, sitting on sandbags is an open mess kit with a cup sitting on top.

100-Year-Old Identified British Soldier's Dog Tags

World War One was the first major conflict that saw the widespread use of identification tags for military personnel worn on the soldier's person. 

In 1907, the British army began issuing single circular ID tags made of aluminum, but once the war began, the demand for metal increased, so vulcanized asbestos fiber tags were issued, first with a singular red circular tag, then, in 1916, green and red paired tags were issued. 

The tags pictured are made from pressed fiber, and belonged to British soldier R. Sheppard, who served in the Buffs East Kent Regiment. The fighting unit traces its history to 1572, and was originally named Thomas Morgan's Company of Foot. Around the middle of the 17th century. it was given its nickname, 'The Buffs,' because its soldiers wore buckskin coats to distinguish themselves. Finally, in 1881, it was renamed the Buffs East Kent Regiment. 

Also marked on these original tags are R. Sheppard's service number, 6481, and his religious identification, 'CE,' which means Church of England. 

The most obvious feature of these identification tags is each tags is a different color and shape. The reason for this was grim, but practical. If a soldier was killed and the body recovered, the circular red tag was removed and added to those to be buried, while the green tag was left on the body in case it was discovered again. R. Sheppard survived WWI; the tags are still together, on the original lanyard.

American Gas Mask Bag

Some remember it as odorless, others described it as having the scent of freshly cut hay. Mustard gas, as well as phosgene, chlorine, and diphosgene, were the main chemical agents deployed, and responsible for gassed deaths, during World War One. 

Of the first gas attack of the war, German soldier Willi Siebert wrote, "What we saw was total death. Nothing was alive. All of the animals had come out of their holes to die. You could see where men had clawed at their faces and throats trying to get breath. Some had shot themselves" 

Weaponized gas during World War One was just as much a psychological weapon as it was a physical one. The fear of no escape stopped armies in their tracks, and observation of the casualties struck induced terror. Chemicals attacked mucus membranes, burned the eyes, caused fluid-filled blisters to form on the skin, and killed by asphyxiation by causing lungs to fill with fluid. Agonizing death could take hours.

When the United States entered the war in 1917, the army adopted a modified version of the British Small Box Respirator gas mask. In the image above is the canvas satchel that it was carried in. Identical to the British version, the American version differed only by the type of metal snaps on the closure flap. 

The bag was worn, with the mask and filter inside, around the neck. A small rope cord attached to the bag was tied around the wearer's torso to secure the bag in place. In the field, it was found the mask was better protected if the bag was worn backwards, so that when the flap was open, there was smaller chance of mud and dirt getting into the bag and on the mask. 

This example above retains its manufacturing stamp, mask size number 4 and even the name and service number of the American soldier who used it a hundred years ago. This version of bag (and respirator) was carried into the early 1920s. 

British Army Wool Puttees

The change in military uniform style and fit is often determined by changes in geographic location, style of combat, military budget and weapon technology. 

The odd-looking leg wraps shown above at left and in the period photo at right are called puttees, coming from the Hindi root word "patti," meaning bandage. From the last quarter of the 19th century to the early days of World War Two they were worn as an integral component of the British army serving in India. By 1918, most armies across the world had adopted puttees as an affordable, easy-to-make alternative to more expensive long boots. 

Puttees were worn to serve the same purpose long boots or gaiters provided, preventing rocks and dirt from getting into a soldier's shoes and causing foot injuries. Once low cut lace-up boots were put on, a pair of puttees would be wrapped from the top of the boot to just below the knee. They provided the soldier's legs and trouser bottoms with extra protection against brush, cold, and rain (made of wool, they were naturally water repellent). When not worn, puttees could be rolled up, like a bandage, and easily stored away without taking up much space. 

The most well-known manufacturer of puttees during World War One was the wool company Fox Brothers Limited of Somerset, England, which has been in business since the 18th century. The original pair above were also manufactured by Fox Bros. in 1906. 

French Model 1915 Adrian Helmet

When the French army adopted the 1915 uniform, it became the first to design and issue a modern combat helmet, the 1915 Le Casque Adrian. The Adrian helmet, a piece of equipment that in time was one of the most recognizable symbols of France and World War One. 

Quick-firing artillery and hand grenades were new horrors soldiers experienced in WWI, and result of which counted for numerable fatalities and gruesome head wounds. As early as December, 1914, Louis Adrian, the French army quartermaster general, saw war was drastically different from what it was in the 19th century, and emphasized the need for soldiers to be given protective head wear. By spring of 1915, several manufacturers in France began producing Adrian's helmet, which was issued to soldiers on the front soon thereafter.

The helmet offered a revolutionary design to deflect shrapnel, protecting the face with a visor and the back of the neck with a rear brim. The round top of the helmet guided flying debris and occasionally bullets along the curved surface, sending them cascading off in various directions, rather than into a soldier's head. The inside of the helmet had a lightweight sheepskin liner for fit and comfort, as well as an adjustable leather chinstrap. 

The top of the helmet had a long metal comb. While it's not entirely clear why, the most widely accepted explanation is, it was meant to deflect saber blows from soldiers on horseback. Military branch insignia was attached to the front of the helmet for identification. The infantry, for example, had a flaming bomb/grenade insignia. 

After observing the success of the Adrian helmet, Belgium, Russia, Italy, Imperial Japan and even the United States purchased millions. Its design was favored so much, it was kept in service until the 1950s. The Soviet Red Army purchased Adrian  helmets and then, based on the design, produced their own versions, which saw service into the 1930s.

Pre-War Model 1884 French Army Kepi

More than any other nation involved in World War One, France and her tragic, reckless, romantic, vengeful approach to meeting Imperial Germany on the field of battle spoke volumes about how she outfitted her soldiers in 1914. 

The loss of Alsace-Lorraine and the chaos of the Paris Commune added to the bitterness felt by France following defeat by Prussia in 1870. Pride and the desire for vengeance motivated France to eagerly rush to war in 1914, the lessons of the Franco-Prussian War were ignored. France sent land forces clad in crimson trousers, royal blue coats, and model 1884 scarlet kepi, a type of cap, shown above. This type of cap was only a slightly updated version of the type worn during the Franco-Prussian War and, sadly, served as a bulls-eye for German soldiers. 

Within months, the French command came to its senses and phased out not only the red kepi, but the matching red trousers, dark blue coat, and various other pieces of outdated equipment. Towards the end of 1914, measures to provide the army with a practical uniform were underway, and culminated in the adoption of the model 1915 horizon blue uniform, which included a wool kepi cap, breeches (short trousers), tunic and greatcoat. 

Imperial Russian Army Glass Canteen

Between 1914 and 1918, the Russian army, first under the Romanov Dynasty, then the Provisional Revolutionary Government, lost around 9,150,000 soldiers (76% of its total fighting force), who were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. More shocking is the incompetence and corruption of the Romanov Empire, which could have prevented such losses with a bit more effort and organization. It's symbolic of Russia's unpreparedness to enter the war that even finding and providing reliable information about uniforms and equipment is a monumental task. 

The Russian army glass canteen shown above is a survivor of the Great War, and retains its original wicker cover, cork, and leather carrying sling. Most likely, it's an emergency issue item to replace the 1907 aluminum canteen was normally supplied. 

Starting in 1907, when Russia formally joined the Triple Entente with France and Great Britain, new uniforms and personal equipment were issued to soldiers. This included a new model tunic and trousers, service cap, boots, cartridge pouches, knapsack, belt and various other items. While the military was being modernized, the government neglected to update its roads and railways, which led to problems transporting troops and supplies. 

The worst offense, however, was that, while at the Eastern Front, many Russian soldiers were sent into battle without ammunition or a weapon. The idea was, weapons and bullets could be picked up off of soldiers already killed and used to continue fighting. 

The basic design of the canteen proved useful, because its flat sides allowed it to be comfortably carried with a considerable amount of water inside. The design was carried over into the Soviet era and lasted into the Cold War. 

Imperial Russian Romanov Dynasty Cap Insignia

The Russian Empire entered World War One dangerously unprepared for the drawn out war of attrition that would unfold. Prior to 1914, Tsar Nicholas II began a campaign to expand and modernize the military after the disastrous defeat of Russia by Imperial Japan in 1905. 

Two years later, in 1907, the entire army was issued new olive and khaki uniforms that offered better concealment. In addition to tunics and trousers, soldiers were issued a model 1907 furazhka peaked wool cap with a simple metal badge bearing the Romanov Dynasty's black and orange colors. The example above, at left, is an original example. The woman on the right, a member of the emergency Women's Battalion of Death, wears the same insignia on her standard issue cap.

By the time of the Russian Revolution, in 1917, basic needs of the army weren't being met because of poor logistical handling by the government. Ultimately, the cap insignia above would be swept away as a hated symbol of the incompetent Romanov Dyansty. Despite this, the style of cap it was worn with would survive World War One, the Revolution, and would be used in various forms through the fall of the Soviet Union.

American Model-1917 Marching Boots

While World War One escalated in Europe, the US was pulled out of isolationism by the pursuit of Pancho Villa, the Zimmerman Telegram, and the sinking of of the Lusitania. When Congress declared war on Germany, the US army was in a phase of near constant uniform-and-equipment change, including footwear. 

After 1898, the army phased out the 1892 campaign shoe, then the 1898 service shoe, and the 1904 service shoe. Subsequent models of marching shoes were found unsatisfactory, until America sent forces to France in 1917. 

Known as the 1917 Trench Boot, the original American army shoes above were modeled, with the influence of General John J. Pershing, on the French army's shoe. Built rugged, sturdy, and with heavier leather than earlier models, the 1917 shoe proved more than satisfactory for the miserable conditions of trench warfare, from which it gets its name.

A key factor in the shoe's success was the addition of hobnails and heel irons on the soles and heels of each shoe. Made of steel, hobnails and irons were added to give strength and traction to the boots. Many soldiers found their boots to be durable and comfortable enough that once they returned home after the war they brought their boots with them and had the hobnails removed for indoor and outdoor use could be continued.

The British Army SRD Rum Jar

In 1914, the industrialized nature of World War One forced the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to dig into trenches while keeping the Imperial German Army from advancing to Paris. As a result, munitions, supplies, and rations for soldiers had to be delivered to the front lines quickly and efficiently. 

As part of a soldier's rations, a serving of rum was issued from the SRD jar. There are many anecdotes claiming the official meaning of SRD, though most historians agree it either stands for "Service, Ration, Depot" or "Service, Rum, Diluted." The jars were commercially manufactured by several companies before the Great War and purchased by the British War Department. Three sizes, and possibly a fourth, existed, and they were produced with a variety of ink stamps or impressed markings. 

The infantry cherished the rum ration as a special treat to alleviate the horrifying conditions of trench warfare and monotony of soldiering in the harsh winters of Northern Europe. Officers recognized its value in calming the nerves of the soldiers before battle. Decades after the war ended, British and commonwealth soldiers have expressed jovial memories of these jars, which they came to call "Seldom Reaches Destination" and "Soon Runs Dry" because they were often stolen or "lost". 

In addition to storing rum, these glazed ceramic jars were used to hold gasoline, printer's ink, medicine, gun cotton, and more. It's also possible some were even used as last resort explosives by being filled with TNT and shrapnel and fitted with an improvised fuse. To this day, French and Belgian farmers still occasionally find fragments of these jars while plowing fields. 

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 09:30:36 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/world-war-i-relics-and-the-stories-behind-them/daveesons
<![CDATA[35 Famous Lesbian Politicians From Around the World]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-lesbian-politicians/lgbt

They're proudly out and working to change the system from within. These are some of the notable lesbian politicians holding political office around the globe. Some famous lesbian politicians hold national offices while other top lesbian politicians work at the local level of government. Many notable lesbian politicians fight for LGBTQ causes, rights and issues.

Who will you find on this list of famous lesbian politicians? Tammy Baldwin lands in the top spot. In 1998, she became the first openly gay member of the United States Congress. In 2012, she became the first openly gay member elected to the Senate. She has fought for equality, college affordability, veterans support, and many more issues in her career as a politician. Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir advocates for social rights, while British politician Linda Bellos speaks out about intersectionality as well.

Which politician on this list do you think has done the best work for LGBTQ rights? Take a look at this list and get in on the conversation in the comments section.

35 Famous Lesbian Politicians From Around the World,

Angela Davis

Civil rights activist and politician Angela Davis publicly confirmed that she is a lesbian in the 1990s.

Annise Parker

Houston Mayor Annise Parker is the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city. "I was a gay and lesbian activist in my college days, so that’s always been part of my acknowledgment of the world,” said Parker in an interview. “What is different as mayor is I’m not a spokesperson for the community. I am the public face and voice of the citizens of Houston. I just happen to be a lesbian when I’m doing it.”

Barbara Jordan

Civil rights leader Barbara Jordan was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1972-1978. It was reported that Jordan was a lesbian following her death.

Linda Bellos

British politician Linda Bellos said, "I think that some of the mess we’re in, in the LGBT community, exists among the feminist lesbians who are anti-trans. Seems to me, they’re not all, but some women remain disrespectful, hostile particularly to male-female trans people and I find that repugnant. There’s not a milder word I can use."

Paula Aboud

Arizona State Senator Paula Aboud got involved in politics to protect the civil rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

Tammy Baldwin

In 1998, Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay member of the United States Congress. In 2012, she became the first openly gay member elected to the Senate. She has fought for equality, college affordability, veterans support, and many more issues in her career as a politician.

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir

Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is the first openly LGBTQ person to lead a national government in the world. After decades in politics, she was elected as Prime Minister in 2009. LGBTQ rights and social justice were at the heart of her legacy.

Betty Baxter

Betty Baxter was fired as the head coach of the Canadian national volleyball team after the media reported that she was a lesbian in 1982. She went on to become the chair of the NDP Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual caucus in 1997.

Denise Andrews

Massachusetts Representative Denise Andrews is openly gay. She is a Democrat representing the 2nd Franklin district.

Vera Bergkamp

Dutch politician Vera Bergkamp is also involved with COC Netherlands, the oldest LGBTQ advocacy group in the world.

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:29:12 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-lesbian-politicians/lgbt
<![CDATA[The 10 Craziest, Most Ridiculous Riots of the 19th Century]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/crazy-19th-century-riots/kellen-perry

To put it mildly, the 19th century was a time of tremendous social unrest, which means it was chock-full of riots. Some were political riots; many were racially charged. But there were also some insane 19th century riots with shocking and bizarre displays of mob violence that were positively bonkers.

This list gathers instances of ridiculous 19th century riots that went beyond your standard, History 101 civil disturbances. These crazy riots featured cross-dressing, Shakespeare, clowns, fish, beer, and, sadly, a giant hydrogen balloon savagely torn to shreds.

Read on to learn all about the most insane, over-the-top, and downright bizarre riots of the 19th century. 

The 10 Craziest, Most Ridiculous Riots of the 19th Century,

The Astor Place Riot of 1849: A Shakespearean Tragedy

The Astor Place Riot of 1849 is likely the one and only riot in history sparked, in part, by a squabble over who could perform Shakespeare better.

Two famous rival actors, American Edwin Forrest and Englishman William Charles Macready, performed the title role in Macbeth on the same night at different venues in New York. Their rivalry was seen as symbolic of the tensions between working-class Americans/immigrants (Team Forrest) and the "Anglophile" upper class that controlled the police and state militia (Team Macready).

A few days before the riot, on May 7, Forrest supporters hurled rotten eggs, apples, shoes, and "bottles of stinking liquid" at Macready during a performance. On May 10, at least 25 people were killed and more than 120 were injured when the state militia opened fire on angry mobs gathered outside both venues, which were only two blocks away from one another. 

The Newlyn Fish Riots of 1896: Holy Mackerel!

A three-day riot over whether or not it's okay to catch fish on the Sabbath? Holy mackerel!

In 1896, the fishing port of Newlyn in Cornwall, England was a hot spot for fishermen, local and otherwise. The local Methodist fishermen didn't think it was cool to fish on the Sabbath, but the non-Cornish thought it was, quite literally, fair game.

On May 18, 1896, Newlyn fisherman and a mob of 1,000 supporters seized 16 non-Cornish boats and threw approximately 100,000 mackerel overboard. Over the next three days, the rioting escalated so much, the military had to come to town to calm things down. Fortunately, the only serious recorded injury was to a local police inspector who got knocked on the head by a fish box.

The Weathervane Riot of 1844: Yankee Weathervane, Chinese Riot

Thousands of angry Chinese rioted and attacked American soldiers at the American consulate in Canton (now Guangzhou), China in 1844 over a weather vane they deemed unlucky.

The weather vane in question, likely similar to the 1844 United Church of Monmouth one pictured above, featured a large golden arrow. As one American soldier put it in a letter, "with the Chinese the arrow is the sign of war, sickness, famine, etc." The Chinese in the city had been "sickly" and a rice crop was ruined from lack of rain, both of which the locals attributed to the arrow.  

The Americans agreed to take the arrow down, but while they were uninstalling it, a huge mob formed and threw rocks at the soldiers. Both sides exchanged fire and at least three Chinese were killed. After the riot, the Americans agreed to remove the arrow but would not give in to demands to remove the cardinal points, gold ball, and spear that remained:

This will not be afforded to them, and in the event of their attempting to arrange it themselves, their Gods must protect them, as there will be no firing over their heads again–and we muster fifty Yankees, all well armed, and willing to face the whole mob of Canton–and furthermore have the mandarins on our side. Another row will be a very serious affair.

The Portland Rum Riot of 1855: The Mayor's Secret Stash

What happens when a teetotalling mayor stashes almost $2,000 worth of supposedly "medicinal and mechanical alcohol" in the city vaults? A rum riot!

In 1855, it was illegal to manufacture or sell alcohol for drinking in the state of Maine. When word got out that the mayor of Portland, Neal Dow, had a large shipment of spirits stored away, critics of the law saw it as an opportunity to expose him as a hypocrite. They convinced a local judge to issue a search warrant, based on a Maine law (sponsored by Dow) that allowed three voters to apply for one if they thought someone was selling liquor illegally. 

On June 2, 1855, a crowd of at least 1,000 gathered outside city hall (pictured) to try to get the warrant enforced. When it became clear the police weren't going to act, the mob threw rocks and shoved, forcing Dow to call upon the militia the quell the disorder. In the end, one man was killed and seven were wounded. Everyone went home stone cold sober.

The Eggnog Riot of 1826: West Point Gets Sloppy

West Point is now synonymous with order and discipline, but in 1826, the military academy had a full-scale riot on its hands, all thanks to eggnog.

Earlier that same year, West Point banned alcohol, abolishing the annual Christmas Eve tradition of nog and revelry. Several cadets, however, thought it would be a great idea to smuggle whiskey into the barracks (pictured at far left) and throw a big party. Nearly 100 drunken cadets - including Jefferson Davis, future president of the Confederacy - had way too much to drink and began smashing windows, furniture, and crockery.

Violence escalated throughout the barracks, with some cadets threatening their superior officers with swords (one even fired his pistol, but the bullet just hit the door jamb). In the end, 19 cadets were expelled, but not Davis: he passed out too early into the night to cause any real trouble.

The Rebecca Riots of 1839-1843: Mobs of Cross-Dressing Welshmen

Rioting over oppressive taxes isn't necessarily that crazy, but doing it while cross-dressing just to prove a point? That's next-level.

The so-called Rebecca Riots of 1839-1842 took a strange turn in 1842 when mobs of protesting men in Wales started wearing dresses while smashing and burning toll gates and fighting off British soldiers to ransack workhouses. Why the dresses? To symbolize "a world turned upside down," which is how the protesters felt about having to pay to use a road.

The protestors called themselves Rebeccas, which may be a reference to Rebecca and her daughters from Genesis, who were said to possess the "gates of those which hate them." Another legend states one the earliest rioters just borrowed a dress from a woman named Rebecca.

The Balloon Riot of 1864: RIP Brittania

British ballooning pioneer Henry Coxwell was a pretty big deal. About 50,000 people came to check out his latest and largest hydrogen balloon, the Brittania, in Leicester, England, on July 11, 1864. But someone in the crowd spread a rumor the Brittania was not, in fact, his largest balloon. The crowd, feeling duped, pressed in closer to Coxwell and his craft, with several in the mob climbing in the Brittania, "demanding an instantaneous ascent."

Coxwell had enough: to quell the onslaught, he let the gas out of the balloon, which further enraged the crowds. Police helped him escape, but he was forced to watch as rioters tore his balloon to shreds, fought over the pieces, and even set the basket on fire.

The Lager Beer Riot of 1855: Beer as a Weapon

Chicago Mayor Levi Boone and his openly anti-immigrant city council sparked a riot in 1855 when they basically used beer as weapon against the Irish and Germans. Boone hiked liquor license fees from $50 to $300, and started enforcing an old ordinance, by which taverns had to be closed on Sundays, leading to the arrest of several tavern owners and more than 200 beer drinkers trying to unwind in the largely immigrant-filled taverns and saloons on the North Side of town.

A hearing was set for April 21, 1855, at the Cook County Courthouse, which became the backdrop of a clash between protesters and police that ended with one dead, several injured, and 60 arrested. Boone did not run for re-election, and the Sunday prohibition was soon repealed.

The Toronto Circus Riot of 1855: Clowns vs. Firefighters

It's a recipe for disaster: Friday the 13th, a brothel, drunken clowns, and pissed-off firefighters with a history of violence. Mix them together and you get the Toronto Circus Riot of 1855, which ended with the Big Top on fire and a troupe full of clowns beaten to a brightly-colored pulp.

It all started when clowns from SB Howes’s traveling Star Troupe Menagerie & Circus decided to end their night at a "house of ill-fame" on King St. in Toronto. They got into a drunken scuffle with members of the Hook & Ladder Firefighting Company, a local volunteer fire brigade known for inciting an earlier riot with a competing brigade. The clowns seriously injured two firefighters, which they would later learn was a big mistake.

The next day - Friday, July 13, 1885 - the Hook & Ladders, along with an angry mob of stone-throwing supporters, destroyed the circus with pikes and axes, mercilessly walloped the clowns, and almost set the animal cages on fire (the otherwise blind-eyed police, fortunately, thwarted that plan). A local militia swooped in and calmed things down, allowing the terrified carnies to gather what remained of their circus and hightail it out of town.

The Old Price Riots of 1809: You Down With OP?

Sure, modern-day theater tickets can be insanely expensive, but no one's rioting over it the way protesters did for three crazy months in London in 1809.

After the original Covent Garden Theatre burned down in 1808, a new one was built less than a year later, at great cost. The management was forced to increase ticket prices across the board, which sparked riots on the opening night, during a performance of the perennially cursed Macbeth. Manager John Philip Kemble hired a boxer named Daniel Mendoza and a few of his "associates" to help contain the crowd, but that reportedly only made the violence worse.

Over the course of three months, the riots became mild and theatrical, as protesters known as OPs (Old Pricers) brought in props and banners to show displeasure. Kemble eventually apologized and lowered the prices.

Fri, 11 Nov 2016 16:04:25 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/crazy-19th-century-riots/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[22 Famous Transgender Politicians From Around the World]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-transgender-politicians/lgbt

The transgender community has fought for increased visibility and equal treatment around the world. The politicians on this list know that struggle firsthand – and as their nationalities prove, the trans experience isn't geographical. Some famous transgender politicians have held office in the United States, while other notable trans politicians have served in elected positions internationally. Many of the most famous transgender politicians have passionately advocated for LGBTQ rights.

Who will you find on this list of notable transgender politicians? Georgina Beyer lands in the top spot. Beyer is the first openly transgender person in the world to hold a national office, serving as a member of Parliament in New Zealand. In 1984, she had gender reassignment surgery to transition from male to female. She worked tirelessly as a champion for LGBT rights until she retired in 2006. Aya Kamikawa is Japan's only openly transgender politician, and Cambridge mayor Jenny Bailey and her partner, Jennifer Liddle, are both transgender women. Other trans politicians include Jamie Lee Hamilton, Jennifer Gale, and Kim Coco Iwamoto.

Which transgender politician inspires you? Take a look at this list and get in on the conversation in the comments section.

22 Famous Transgender Politicians From Around the World,

Aya Kamikawa

Aya Kamikawa is Japan's only openly transgender politician. "My goal is to send a message to others, to educate them about people like me. Listen, transgender people are never going to be 100 percent accepted in society, but people need to understand that we exist, and I intend to do that by getting to know people in my local community," she said.

Georgina Beyer

Georgina Beyer is the first openly transgender person in the world to hold a national office, serving as a member of the New Zealand Parliament. In 1984, she had gender reassignment surgery to transition from male to female. She worked tirelessly as a champion for LGBTQ rights until she retired in 2006.

Jenny Bailey

Cambridge mayor Jenny Bailey and her partner, Jennifer Liddle, are both transgender women. "I'm proud that I managed to get through something which was quite difficult and managed to come out of it a better person. I certainly do not want it to eclipse being mayor," she said.

Shabnam Mausi

Shabnam Mausi is the first transgender person in India to be elected to public office. She is also a trained classical dancer.

Micheline Montreuil

As a politician and activist, Micheline Montreuil has fought for transgender rights in Canada and beyond. She said, "For a transgender, it is a long path that may never end; she is not in such hurry because she is discovering herself step by step. So, like me, a transgender may change slowly, year after year, as long as she wishes it. I still have not ended my path."

Jennifer Gale

Jennifer Gale ran for public office in Austin on several occasions. Sadly, she was found dead of a heart attack outside a Salvation Army in 2008. She wasn't allowed inside the facility because she was a transgender woman with male genitalia. EMTs on the scene believe that the freezing temperatures outside may have provoked her heart attack.

Jamie Lee Hamilton

Jamie Lee Hamilton is the first trans person to ever run for office in Canada. She also sits on the board of directors for the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society.

Amanda Simpson

Amanda Simpson is the highest-ranking openly transgender appointee in American history. She has served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Operational Energy since 2015.

Kim Coco Iwamoto

Hawaiian Civil Rights Commissioner Kim Coco Iwamoto previously served on the Board of Education. "I wanted to be on the Board of Education because I wanted to advocate for students," she said. "This was never about me as an individual. It's always been about me and how I can serve the community."

Althea Garrison

Althea Garrison has run for several public offices as both a Republican and a Democratic. She has never publicly talked about her trans status, but public records show that she officially changed her name to be "consistent with [her] appearance and medical condition" in 1976.

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:29:13 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-transgender-politicians/lgbt
<![CDATA[Donald Trump Toilet Humour!]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/the-best-donald-trump-satire-/martinaustin

What's The Best Donald Trump Comedy Satire From The Web! So much out there, but what's the funnies, Cartoon or photo? Please add more, and re rank, Thanks as always.

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Sat, 29 Oct 2016 09:31:32 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/the-best-donald-trump-satire-/martinaustin
<![CDATA[Historic US Election Cycles That Might Have Been Crazier Than 2016]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/craziest-us-election-cycles/jacob-shelton

The 2016 Presidential election is like the last 10 minutes of a slasher movie. You know the seemingly unstoppable nightmare slaughtering everything in its path will probably be defeated by the plucky final girl with the bob. It’s been weird. But not as weird as some of the most insane election cycles in US history. It may not seem possible, but there have been much crazier elections than 2016, and at least one of them ended with a candidate being murdered in front of multiple witnesses. Keep reading to find out about the nastiest elections ever.

Most of the craziest US elections happened in the 19th century, before extensive voting reform happened, when it was easy to suppress votes in radical ways. But that doesn’t mean the 20th century didn’t play host to some of the weirdest elections ever. We’re willing to be the phrase “hanging chad” still sends a chill down some our readers’s spines. Continue reading to see if your candidate took part in any of nastiest US elections, and remember – your vote counts (unless you’re voting for the Whig party).

Historic US Election Cycles That Might Have Been Crazier Than 2016,

The 1969 Aspen Colorado Mayoral Election

You know when Hunter S. Thompson is covering a minor event like a mayoral election, it's going to be juicy. In 1969, Joe Edwards, lawyer and non-conformist biker, ran for mayor of Aspen, CO, on the platform of being a straight-up freak. While Thompson was covering the election for Rolling Stone, he became Edwards's de facto campaign manager, and helped mobilize the freak vote. 

Edwards lost by a slim margin, though he inspired Thompson to run for sheriff of Aspen the next year. Thompson ran on a platform of changing the name of Aspen to Fat City and disarming the police. He lost the election, but his dedication to freak power would last for the rest of his life. 

The First Presidential Election Was a Mess

After the Revolutionary War wrapped up, America asserted its freedom in 1789 by choosing a leader. Things didn't go as smoothly as the Founding Fathers hoped. George Washington was unanimously voted in as president, but the race for the vice presidency laid the foundation for trickery and misinformation in American politics.

In the general election, each state cast two votes. The candidate with the most votes won the presidency, the candidate with the second most became vice president. George Washington got at least one vote from every electorate, hence his unanimous election. 

However, during the vote, the Federalists, who wanted to get John Adams elected, spread a rumor about an Anti-Federalist plot to undermine the fabric of the United States by electing Richard Henry Lee or Patrick Henry instead of George Washington. This freaked everyone out, and sent a load of votes Adams's way, as he was well known and liked by most, including southerners Washington and Jefferson, despite being a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee from Massachusetts. Though the strategy, Adams was elected VP. Now that's what we call political chess. 

KKK Member David Duke Tries to Become Elected Governor of Louisiana

In an essay about New York City, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York's boom days." Thanks to the 1991 Louisiana gubernatorial race, we can now say the same thing about noted former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.

After failing to win a Senate seat, Duke set his eyes on Louisiana, where he had a fervent core audience of racists. After a run-off campaign, during which Duke claimed to be a born-again Christian who had renounced racism and anti-Semitism, then President of the United States George HW Bush denounced Duke on behalf of the Republican party:

When someone has a long record, an ugly record, of racism and bigotry, that record simply cannot be erased by the glib rhetoric of a political campaign. So I believe David Duke is an insincere charlatan. I believe he's attempting to hoodwink the voters of Louisiana. I believe he should be rejected for what he is and what he stands for.

During a run-off debate between Duke and opponent Edwin Edwards, African-American reporter Norman Robinson grilled Duke on his past with the KKK, and pressed him for an apology. Duke insisted the reporter wasn't being fair. Many political theorists believe this exchange was responsible for the overwhelming black voter turnout responsible for electing Edwards to the governorship. 

1876: The Presidential Election That Set America Back 100 Years

Leading up to the election of 1876 between Rutherford B. Hayes, a Republican with a long history of civil service, and Samuel Tilden, a Bourbon Democrat who was very pro-slavery, America was at its ugliest. Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated by a southern actor, and federal troops were stationed across the south. Try as they might, the federal troops couldn't stop roving gangs of white supremacists from suppressing votes in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina, which led to Tilden winning the popular vote.

However, as the country went into 1877 without a president, and threats of a second secession became louder, a compromise was reached between Hayes and Tilden; Hayes would receive the 20 electoral votes needed to become president if he withdrew federal troops from the south, effectively leaving black citizens to fend for themselves and ending the short-lived Reconstruction era. 

The Presidential Election in 1860: Dude, Where's My Country?

There was perhaps no more contentious an election in the history the United States than the presidential contest of 1860, when Abraham Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas and some other yahoos. One of the only reasons Lincoln was in the election is incumbent James Buchanan, a Northern Democrat who urged the Supreme Court to vote in favor of slavery in the Dred Scott v. Sanford case, which blew up in his face. Republicans took control of the House and Senate, and Buchanan bowed out of the race because he didn't want to get assassinated.

Buchanan's disastrous decision allowed Lincoln to hoover up votes from the divided Northern Democratic and Southern Democratic parties. He won all northern states except Delaware and Maryland, and also took California and Oregon. Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge won most southern states, Northern Democrat Stephen A. Douglas won a single state (Missouri), and the exceedingly cranky-looking John Bell, of the Constitutional Union party, stole three southern states from the Democrats. Lincoln won 40% of the vote, more than enough to defeat his three opponents. 

Between Election Day and Lincoln's inauguration, seven slave-holding Southern states declared their secession from the Union and formed the Confederacy, precipitating the American Civil War. 

Al Gore and George W. Bush Traumatize the Year 2000

This election still gives those of us who lived through it, with the hanging chad jokes and Florida recounts book-ended by MTV News ads telling us how to vote in a swing state, waking nightmares. Leading up to the 2000 election, no one thought George W. Bush would be president. He was a dum-dum with a super villain as his right hand man, but somewhere along the way, Vice President Al Gore started talking about lock boxes and a little thing called global warming, which wasn't sexy enough to get the country excited about voting for him.

On election day, everything came down to Florida, the trailer park/retirement home/neon coke-soaked-nights capital of America, where George's brother Jeb governor. Major news source reported voting in Florida ended at 7pm, when in reality, half the state could vote for another hour, causing mass confusion. There were also claims of voter suppression in Democrat-heavy counties, and some of the ballots allegedly had a confusing layout. All of this ended in President Bush winning Florida by a margin of 537 votes and taking the election, despite Gore winning the popular vote.  

Almost Everyone Wanted to Run in 1948

The 1948 presidential election was a free for all, with candidates coming out of every nook and cranny of American politics to take on Harry Truman, who had taken over in the White House after FDR passed away. The most popular Republican nominee, Dwight D. Eisenhower, didn't even want to run, but was entered into every state holding a Republican primary, and polls gave him a significant lead against all other contenders (including General MacArthur). Eisenhower finally refused to run, disappointing the conservative base, and leaving the field wide open. 

On the other side of the ticket, Truman was performing so poorly in the polls Democrats were trying to find a way to oust him from the ticket and nominate someone more electable. When that didn't work, candidates threw support behind independent candidates like the Progressive Party, and the States' Rights Democratic Party. All of this margin walking about the various candidates ended in a election between Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey, with pollsters and political theorists basically handing the election to Dewey. Some of Truman's staff even accepted new jobs before the election was over, and Dewey all but had the presidency sewn up

Until election day, when Truman beat Dewey by nearly 2 million votes, that is. 

The New York Gubernatorial Race of 1804 Ends in a Duel

After a decade of arguing with each other in a variety of political circles, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr finally just decided to shoot at each other until one of them was dead. Their rivalry might not have come to such a deadly end if Burr hadn't published Hamilton's private essay, "The Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq., President of the United States," a document that was highly critical of the then-president, and helped widen rifts in the Federalist Party.

Four years later, when Burr was running for Governor of New York as an Independent, Hamilton convinced the state's Federalists not to vote for him. Burr lost. In order to exact revenge, Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel that ended with Hamilton bleeding out on the ground and Burr charged with two counts of murder. Thus ended the life of the man on the ten dollar bill. 

The Presidental Election of 1800: A Godless Jacobin vs. The Wannabe Monarch

By the time 1800 rolled around, Thomas Jefferson really wanted to be president. He spent the four years previous stewing about his loss to John Adams as vice president, and used the country's growing resentment of Adams's federal tax policies as a tool to paint himself as a voice for change.

While Jefferson was doing his best to distinguish himself from Adams, the Federalists took every chance they could get to call Jefferson a godless Jacobin. One paper even promised that if Jefferson were elected President, "Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes." 

An opposing paper spread a rumor that John Adams was planning to create a new dynastic monarchy by marrying one of his sons to a daughter of King George III. According to this unsubstantiated story, only the intervention of George Washington, dressed in his Revolutionary military uniform, and the threat by Washington to use his sword against his former vice president, stopped Adams's scheme.

When the votes came in at what was essentially a tie, the election was turned over to the Federalist-controlled Congress which, after some convincing by Hamilton, named Thomas Jefferson the President of the United States of America. 

1836: The Year of the Whigs

What do you do when one of the most contentious presidents in the history of America, Andrew Jackson, is leaving office and it looks like his right hand man, Martin Van Buren, is going to win the election? If you're in the Whig party, you run four consecutive campaigns with four different nominees, in hopes of garnering enough electoral votes to send election to the House of Representatives. In that case, a formal vote would be taken on who should be president, and the Whigs felt they could curry enough favor to keep Van Buren from winning.

This very complicated (and incredibly short-sighted) plan almost worked. The four Whig candidates received 738,000 votes, but Van Buren, possibly because he was one man, and not four people running on different platforms, received 762,678 popular votes and 170 electoral votes, and became our 8th President. 

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 13:57:35 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/craziest-us-election-cycles/jacob-shelton
<![CDATA[How All the Departed US Presidents Have Died]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/how-the-presidents-died/mel-judson

The death of a president is always a big deal, whether it is unexpected - such as John F. Kennedy's assassination - or predictable, like Ronald Reagan's death after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for ten years. While former presidents always get the full memorial Monty, the death of a sitting president can cause political upheaval as the successor takes the reigns. But just how many US presidents have died? Sure, you probably have a rough idea, but do you know the circumstances of their deaths and the legacy they left behind? 

Looking to the past is crucial to understanding the present. And knowing how all the US presidents died - especially the ones that died in office - can shed some light on our current political situation. In total, 38 US presidents have passed on. Keep reading to learn about all the US president deaths that have happened since the inception of our country.

How All the Departed US Presidents Have Died,

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson died at the age of 78 on June 8, 1845, of tuberculosis in Nashville, TN. He was never the picture of good health; a musket ball that was never removed from his lung wreaked havoc on his body, causing a near-constant and severe cough, debilitating headaches, and abdominal pains. It's a wonder he even made it to 78.

George Washington

George Washington died at the age of 67 on December 14, 1799, in Mount Vernon, VA. His exact cause of death is still a mystery, but it was likely epiglottitis. Shortly before his death, Washington presented his wife with two wills, instructing her to burn one and execute the other.

James Madison

James Madison died at the age of 85 on June 28, 1836, from heart failure in Orange, VA. After his death, a statement he had written two years previously was made public, saying “the advice nearest to my heart and deepest in my convictions is that the Union of the States be cherished and perpetuated.”

James Monroe

James Monroe died at age 73 on July 4, 1831, of tuberculosis in New York City, the third president to die on Independence Day. Initially buried in a family plot in New York City, his body was moved 27 years later to the President's Circle at the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA.  Abraham Lincoln, then a first-term congressman, assisted in the funeral arrangements. 

John Adams

John Adams died at the age of 90 on July 4, 1826, of heart failure in Quincy, MA. It was the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. His last words were “Thomas Jefferson still survives,” a reference to his successor, a former adversary who had become a close friend. At that time, he was not aware of the fact that Jefferson had died a few hours earlier.

John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams died at age 80 on February 23, 1848, of a stroke in Washington, D.C. After his defeat in the 1828 presidential election, Adams served in the US House of Representatives. He suffered a stroke in the Capitol Building immediately after casting a vote against honoring US soldiers who served in the Mexican-American War.  

John Tyler

John Tyler died of a stroke in Richmond, VA, at age 71 on January 18, 1862. After finishing out William Henry Harrison's presidential term, Tyler tried to secure the Democratic nomination for president in 1844, but the party chose James K. Polk instead. At the time of his death, he opposed efforts to outlaw slavery and became the only president to have a Confederate flag draped on his coffin. Because of his allegiance to the Confederacy, he remains the only former president whose death was not recognized by Washington. To this day, the most memorable thing about him is the nickname he earned after assuming the presidency in the wake of Harrison's death: "His Accidency."

Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren died at the age of 79 on July 24, 1862, of heart failure in Kinderhook, NY. His health had been declining for a year. Shortly before his death, he discussed a plan for all the then-living ex-presidents to negotiate a solution that would prevent the Civil War, but the committee was never formed. 

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson died at the age of 83 on July 4, 1826, in Charlottesville, VA. Jefferson was suffering greatly at the end, though we only know for sure about his collection of symptoms, not his exact diagnosis. He was having trouble urinating, had severe diarrhea, kidney damage, and a kidney infection. It's possible that all these things simply overwhelmed his body's ability to fight off disease, but some speculate that it was actually prostate cancer that caused his death. He died with $100,000 in debt.

William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison died at the age of 68 on April 4, 1841, from a fever in Washington, D.C., after serving as president for just one month. It was long believed that he died of pneumonia, but an analysis in 2014 suggested he actually died of typhoid fever. Harrison's was the first president to die in office, and his passing raised many questions about succession. Harrison's cabinet didn't want John Tyler, Harrison's VP, to be sworn in as president. Instead, they wanted to consider him the "acting president" until a new person could be elected. Congress put the kibosh on that, though, and made Tyler the tenth President of the United States.

Fri, 11 Nov 2016 15:34:21 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/how-the-presidents-died/mel-judson
<![CDATA[All the Periods in History When Homosexuality Was Celebrated & Embraced]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/homosexuality-in-history/david-sharp

With all the progress that the LGBTQ civil rights movement has made in recent years, it's easy to see acceptance as the way of the future and homophobia as a marker of the past. The problem with this is that it paints all historical people with the same intolerant brush, when, in fact, homophobia is really more of a temporary fad - a violent, oppressive, and surprisingly tenacious fad, but a passing one none the less - and one not shared by all ancient societies. While it's true that queer people through the course of history have been marginalized and oppressed in many cultures, there were many places and times in history when being gay was celebrated - or at least understood as a normal part of life.

The history of homosexuality is actually rather short; the binary of "straight" and "gay" is a relatively new concept, globally speaking, and before the introduction of intolerant religious moral codes, most pre-colonial societies had more fluid concepts of gender and sex roles. As long as there have been humans, there have been same-sex relationships; some societies have just been better about embracing that fact than others. Here's a quick lesson on homosexuality in history.

All the Periods in History When Homosexuality Was Celebrated & Embraced,

Spain, 2010s - Setting the Standard in the Modern World

Attitudes toward LGBTQ people globally are the most progressive that they've ever been, but nowhere is this truer than in contemporary Spain. In 2013, Spain came in first in a Pew Research Center study measuring attitudes toward same-sex relationships, with 87 percent of participants responding yes to the question, "Should society accept homosexuality?" Gay marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005, same-sex adoption since 2006, and anti-discrimination laws have been on the books since way back in 1996 - you know, the same time Bill Clinton was instituting "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in America.

Spain is consistently rated as one of the top destinations for queer travelers, and was named as a "model nation" in the latest Rainbow Europe Report, an index of the human rights granted to LGBTQ people across Europe. It's possible that Spain in the 2010s might be the best place and time to be queer in all of human history - so far.

The Isle of Lesbos, 600 BCE - Home of the Lesbians

Female-female relationships are largely undocumented in ancient Greece, with one significant exception.

Lesbos is a small island in the Aegean Sea (whose residents are indeed called "Lesbians") and is known as the home of Sappho, the great lyric poet who wrote a number of passionate odes to female-female relationships. While the vast majority of Sappho's work has been lost to history, her one complete surviving poem is "Ode to Aphrodite," a prayer to the goddess of love from an unnamed speaker who desperately seeks the affections of a young woman. While there has been much debate about whether Sappho herself was actually attracted women, there is no doubt that she has become an international symbol for LGBTQ individuals - after all, where do you think the "L" in "LGBTQ" comes from? 

The history of a female-friendly Lesbos pre-dates even Sappho, though; there is evidence that before the Greeks settled Lesbos in the 1100s BCE there was a matriarchal society in place that worshiped the female deity Cybele, a precursor to Dionysus who was also known for ecstatic revelry and dance. During Sappho's time, women also held a significant place in the society, and she herself was a teacher of young women (and possibly a mentor, in the Grecian sense). 

All of this history has turned Lesbos into a popular tourist destination for queer travelers over the years, which has, in turn, had the effect of turning Lesbos back into a Lesbian haven. While there has been some minimal pushback from the locals, LGBTQ tourism has been booming since the 1970s, and let's face it, the Greek economy isn't in a position to turn down tourist dollars these days.

Pharaonic Egypt, 330 BCE-30 CE - Where Even the Gods Were Having Sex with Each Other

"Horus has penetrated Seth's anus with his seed. Seth has penetrated Horus' anus with his seed."
The Pyramid Texts

The ancient Egyptians were anything but uptight about same-sex relationships. In a society that was known for their sacred prostitutes, condoning incest, and believing in a sex life after death, homosexuality was seen as nothing to get worked up about. The Egyptians didn't view sexuality in binary terms and male-male relationships were accepted under a number of circumstances; there are even stories about the Egyptian gods Horus and Set having sex with each other, as referenced in the above quotation. While there is little recorded evidence of lesbian relationships in pharaonic Egypt (not to say they didn't happen, just that it isn't mentioned in the limited surviving texts) one god, Hapi, had wives but was also depicted with both male and female sex characteristics.

Safavid Empire, 1501-1723 - Gender Fluidity and Early Islam

Before the British came in during the 1700s and instituted strict anti-sodomy laws (notice a pattern?), the Safavid Empire, which occupied the territory that is currently Iran and Iraq, had an open attitude toward homosexuality. Gender fluidity was just a fact of life for the post-Islamic conquest Mesopotamians who recognized a caste of cross-dressing performers called köçek and had legal male brothels that paid taxes to the kings - kings who themselves were also known to engage in same-sex activities with their servants, soldiers, or courtesans. 

The Sufi Muslim culture of the time interpreted many verses of the Qur'an as promoting tolerant attitudes toward same-sex relationships. The prophet Muhammad is said to have had gay friends and servants including the loyal Tuways and Al Dalal, with whom he entrusted the guardianship of his tomb to after he died. The literature at the time was rife with queer content, including a text that survived from the 10th century called the The Encyclopedia of Pleasure, written by Abul Hasan Ali, which details - amongst other acts of same-sex desire - a legendarily passionate relationship between a Christian princess and an Arabic noblewoman

The Safavid poet Hafez was beloved at the time and is still renowned today for his theological, philosophical, and politically-charged poetry, but he also wrote a number of overtly homoerotic verses, such as "Ghazl No. 10 from the Divan of Hafiz," which concludes with the highly suggestive lines, "The cup's smile and the wine boy's knotted curl have broken many a vow of chastity, like that of Hafez."

Tribal Africa, Pre-Colonialization - Boys Will Be Boys and Women Will Be Motsoalle

Many present-day African nations have strict anti-homosexuality laws in place, but contrary to assertions by current President of Zimbabwe and internationally renowned insane person Robert Mugabe, homosexuality is not "anti-African" - and far from it. Before Christian ideas of morality were introduced to tribal African cultures in the late 1800's there was little to no stigma attached to homosexuality. Most tribes had unique words for different LGBTQ individuals and practices, and many tribes shared the belief that homosexuality was just something that adolescents engaged in, like a kind of horseplay (but not that kind of horseplay).

Additionally, there are records of long-term erotic relationships between women in Lesotho called motsoalle that were celebrated alongside heterosexual pairings - up until the missionaries came in, that is. It turns out that colonialism brings with it not just slavery, disease, and environmental exploitation, but also homophobia as well. That seems like a fair trade: we'll take your people and natural resources, and in exchange, we'll teach you to hate the gays. Very Christian.

Cherry Grove/The Pines, 1950-Present - A Queer Utopia Just Off the New York Coast

New York's Fire Island has been a quiet place for queer people to get loud since New York artists, actors, designers, and bohemians of all types started taking the ferry there in the early '40s. By the 1950s, elite Manhattanites had taken over the small enclave of houses and vacationers included luminaries like Greta Garbo, W. H. Auden, and Xavier Cugat - and an increasing quantity of LGBTQ New Yorkers that wanted somewhere where they could go to be themselves. When former male model John B. Whyte bought a hotel in The Pines in 1959 and began openly courting gay clientele, Fire Island's reputation as a queer paradise became the stuff of legend.

In 1965, Playboy magazine sent Shel Silverstein to do an expose on the culture and his piece, while not PC by any standards, painted - or rather line-drew - a pretty clear picture of the lifestyle on the island at that time. Even when the specter of AIDS muted the party for a time, people didn't stop going to the island. Instead it became a place of refuge for the devastated community, and eventually, the party spirit returned. In spades.  Calvin Klein, David Geffen, Michael Musto, and Wanda Sykes have all at times called Fire Island home, and today The Pines and Cherry Grove remain one of the most celebratory places in America for the LGBTQ population.

Indigenous Americans, Pre-Colonialization - Respect for the Two-Spirits

The term "two-spirit" was introduced by indigenous Americans in 1990 as an umbrella term used to describe a long-existing caste of individuals that do not fit within traditional gender binaries. Many native tribes have recognized gender as fluid and have held specialized and even sacred roles in their cultures for two-spirit people, such as potters, matchmakers, storytellers, or oral historians. 

When the Spanish first came to California in the late 1700s, they did not know what to make of these gender-fluid natives and called them "joyas" or "jewels" because of the female clothing they wore, with one explorer observing:

"I have submitted substantial evidence that those Indian men who, both here and farther inland, are observed in the dress, clothing and character of women - there being two or three such in each village - pass as sodomites by profession.... They are called joyas, and are held in great esteem."

While prostitution was something that some two-spirits engaged in, it was not stigmatized by the native populations the same way that it was by the European explorers, and they were often afforded sexual rights and privileges that other tribe members were not.

Ancient Greece, 500-400 BCE - Not All It's Cracked Up to Be

Of course you've heard all the legends about ancient Greece - the ancestral homeland of homosexuality, right? Some queer Eden where rosy-cheeked lads cavort together unafraid of societal recrimination, right? After all, this is the home of the great Plato, who once wrote of those that practice same-sex love, "I know they sometimes get called immoral, but that's wrong: their actions aren't prompted by immorality, but by courage, manliness, and masculinity," right? Right? Well... the truth of the matter may be much, how do you say, stickier... 

Yes, there is considerable documentation surrounding homosexuality in ancient Greece, however, it isn't the pan-sexual idyll that some like to imagine it as. Though this is hotly debated - as is basically everything about these ancient societies - the Greeks seemed to have a highly codified social system regarding what was and what was not deemed acceptable practice.

The most documentation and debate revolves around the practice of paiderastia, or, as we know it today, pederasty. In modern connotations, that word refers to sexual relations between a grown man and an underage boy and carries with it about as heavy a negative stigma as any word in the English language; the Greeks, however, attached no such moral judgements to the word and used it instead as a descriptor of the wide-spread, legal, and socially-sanctioned practice of mentorship. Mentorship that involved the mentor (or erastes) getting to take liberties with the mentee (the eromenos), which the mentee may or may not have consented to. Adult, consensual sex between two male partners on the other hand, was frowned upon. The aforementioned Plato contradictorily wrote of homosexual sex that it was "utterly unholy" and "the ugliest of things." He may have also been gay himself, so clearly he had a lot going on inside.

Ancient Greece itself was similarly divided especially when you consider that there was no unified "Ancient Greece," but rather a loose collection of city-states in a similar geographic region that shared some similarities but also had some cavernous differences. In Sparta, for example, male-male sex was strongly condemned. Yes, that Sparta. Also, the same Sparta that got their ass kicked in the battle of Leuctra, despite the fact that they had their Greek opposition outnumbered. And despite the fact that their opposition was totally gay.

Instrumental in the victory for Greece was a group of soldiers known as the Sacred Band of Thebes; a legion of soldiers composed entirely of men that were partnered with each other. The legend is that their deep love for their fellow soldiers led them to fight tenaciously and unselfishly, fiercely protecting their mates in battle. After he finally defeated the Legion at the battle of Chaeronea, Philip II of Macedon even erected a monument to the brave Thebans and put on it the proud inscription, "Perish miserably they who think that these men did or suffered aught disgraceful." Of course one of the reasons that Philip may not have judged the Sacred Band: his father was the legendarily bisexual Alexander the Great.

After the Romans conquered the Greeks in 146 BCE, the acceptance of homosexual lifestyles in society began to erode. Despite the prevalence of male prostitutes and sex slaves among the Roman rulers and nobles, laws prohibiting passive anal sex between men were put in place. And then the empire converted to Christianity - and we know by now how that turned out.

Mykonos, 1990s - Reestablishing Greece's Gay History

As complicated as classical Greek and Roman views on homosexuality were, things were certainly better for LGBTQ people before our old friends the Christians came in and started spreading their ideas about sexual morality using the gentle tactics of torture, execution, and the desecration of ancient temples, art, and writing. Greece became a strict Eastern Orthodox Christian nation and male homosexual activity was criminalized until fairly recently, historically speaking. In 1951, same-sex sexual relations were decriminalized, and with that ruling, queer tourists started to return to the temperate, gorgeous, historically significant locations the country has to offer, like the beyond-beautiful seaside town of Mykonos.

Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis first popularized the destination in the 1970s, and she was followed by a host of other LGBTQ icons such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Brigitte Bardot, and Grace Kelly. With the stars came the party, and by the 1990s, Mykonos was one of the most important destinations for queer tourists on the planet. Pilgrims came from across the globe to bask on its gorgeous beaches and experience the epic nightlife, including the now-legendary drag shows at Icaros. 

While Mykonos is still considered an attractive destination for LGBTQ tourism, it is no longer the raging party Mecca that it is said to have been in the 1990s. New fad destinations pulled the culture away some in the 2000s, but Mykonos has remained a queer-friendly oasis on the coast of the sometimes surprisingly Orthodox Greece. 

Mon, 07 Nov 2016 13:00:34 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/homosexuality-in-history/david-sharp
<![CDATA[Genius Ways Army Commanders Have Ended Sieges Throughout History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/innovate-ways-end-sieges/morgan-deane

Historical sieges can last a vary long time. Both the defender and the attacker adopt various siege tactics trying to find the best way to end the siege.  As long as an army defending a castle or position has supplies, they can last for a very long time. This leads many armies holding a siege to come up with clever ways to get inside. 

Some of the longest sieges in history were ended pretty quickly thanks to fast thinking. Others dragged on for years and only ended after thousands of people died. Keep reading below to see some of the crazy ways to end sieges armies and commanders have used in the past. 

Genius Ways Army Commanders Have Ended Sieges Throughout History,

No Way out, No Way in, No Problem! Smedly Butler Says "Charge"

The Marines in Haiti had to fight rather dirty and inglorious small wars for years on end. As part of the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe doctrine, they were employed in various Latin America and Caribbean countries to put down rebellions that might invite the intervention of European powers. 

Smedly Butler and the marines were a force deployed in Haiti for almost 15 years, who often faced incredibly stiff fighting. In 1915, while pursuing a group called the Caco, the Marines suddenly found themselves surrounded: 44 Marines on patrol were suddenly surrounding by 700 of the Caco. During the night, the Marines maintained a perimeter while under siege, and in the morning, instead of remaining in place and being overrun, they charged from three different directions. After a great deal of fighting they had chased the bandits back to one old French fortress. Smedly had turned the tables, and now the castle and Caco were under siege.  

Taking their knives, and supposedly carrying them in their mouths like pirates, Smedly led Marines into the fortress. After 20 minutes of hand-to-hand combat, they had killed over 50 Caco while suffering only one casualty. Smedly was such a crazy genius that he not only won the fight, but was awarded his second Medal of Honor for his leadership.  

Break in Via the Toilets

Even toilets had a role in the end of sieges. The Medieval castle had many strengths that made them natural political, military, and administrative centers. They were usually on high ground, built with stone - and on stone - to prevent fire attacks and underground sapping. And moats prevented siege engines from getting close enough to break down doors or breach walls. With all that protection, castles still had to get rid of a lot of human waste. Outside of the small, private chamber for the castle lord and his family, the common toilet was a small room on the edge of the battlements. It jutted out from the castle, and had a hole that let the fecal matter drop into a moat or cesspool. 

This gave the attacking army a small hole (pun intended) through which they could infiltrate a castle. In some sieges, an enemy commander might choose an intrepid climber to try and squeeze through the opening. And in some cases, the plan worked - a small group could infiltrate a castle in the dead of night and open the gates for their fellow soldiers. 

A Mound of Bones and a Butchered Brother

The Mongols and their horseback-riding warriors swept across the steppes of Asia and Europe and conquered more of the ancient world than any other civilization. But they were also capable of holding long sieges against their enemies. For example, when invading South China, they relied heavily upon siege warfare. The siege of the Xiangyang and Fanchang were an epic contest that lasted years during the late 13th century. And the eventual fall of these cities would seal the fate of the Southern Song Empire. These were pivotal cities with a strong defensive position in the Han River valley - Xiangyang was surrounded by mountains on three sides, and a river on the fourth. Fanchang connected to its sister city with a bridge and also used the river for natural defense.

During the siege, the Mongols employed Muslim engineers to create massive trebuchets. They used the trebuchets to launch large stones at Chinese forces, but the Chinese had set up large nets to prevent the boulders from causing too much damage. The Mongols then employed their large fleet to prevent the Chinese from getting supplies via the river. Through many battles, the Mongols managed to destroy the bridge that linked Xiangyang to Fanchang. Their cavalry force and navy defeated multiple relief efforts sent by the Song Dynasty. Finally, after much bloodshed, the Mongols conquered the more exposed city of Fanchang. The Mongols piled the corpses of the defeated - almost 10,000 people - way up high and left them in full view of the remaining defenders in Xiangyang. The Mongols most prominently displayed the body of Fanchang's garrison commander.

Like much of Chinese history, a small number of military families supplied much of the senior Chinese leadership, which meant the dead commander’s brother was left defending the city of Xiangyang. While the strong leaders were inured to many hardships, the military families had many disagreements and had become alienated from the court. Moreover, the Mongols had effectively destroyed almost every relief force, so by 1273, no reinforcements had arrived. The prominent display of dead bodies combined with the alienation from the court, took the air out of the defenses and the final land assault by Mongol troops broke through Xiangyang's defenses. 

Blowing It, or Blowing It? The Battle of the Crater

By 1864, Civil War Southern General Robert E. Lee had won a string of victories, but several important defeats had left him in a besieged position south of Richmond, VA. Much like their medieval counterparts, the Union soldiers tried to end the siege by blowing a hole in the confederate line. They lobbed cannon fire at the enemy and the resulting explosion crippled the confederate line. The Confederates were so stunned it took them 15 minutes to even react. 

But, the Union failed to properly act on their new-found advantage. They had careful plans, but the presence of black soldiers leading the exploitation force led to some behind-the-scenes posturing that undermined the attack. General Meade ordered the assault commander, Gen. Burnside, not to use black soldiers. This was explained as a way to avoid undue casualties that would make it seem like they put the expendable soldiers in front, or the racist belief that black soldiers weren’t up to the task. The soldiers sent in to replace the vanguard ended up going into the blast crater instead of around it and were easily contained by enemy fire. This was nearly a siege done right, but the Union generals blew it big time. 

Death from Above: German Paratroopers

The Germans in World War II are known for their ruthless Panzer attacks - fast and coming from nowhere, these tanks won many a battle for the Nazis. They also employed paratroopers with often stunning results. When attacking Holland, the Germans landed paratroopers at the pivotal Fort Emael. This was considered the biggest and strongest fortress in the world at the time. They landed on the roof of what otherwise seemed like a formidable defensive position. They disabled the armaments and quickly captured the fort. This removed an important avenue for a flank attack against German Panzers.  

They also landed on the pivotal Maas bridge, Moordijk bridges, at the Rotterdam airport, and at the Dutch capital of The Hague and its airfields. The surprise attack led the enemy to believe that German troops were everywhere at once and the resistance fighters soon surrendered. The paratroopers caused an extreme panic and historians consider this tactic a masterpiece of military maneuvering and siege warfare to this day.

Someone Forgot the Keys - Makes for an Easy Siege

The first major Chinese battle of World War II occurred in Shanghai. Chinese leader Chiang Kai Shek wanted to open up a second front against the Japanese and take the pressure off their Northern advances. Shanghai seemed like an ideal location and Chiang committed his best troops to the fight. 

After months of heavy fighting and trench warfare that often resembled that of World War I, the Japanese landed two naval invasions that flanked the city. In headlong retreat, the Chinese soldiers looked forward to the defenses and relative rest behind what is called the Chinese Hindenberg Line. These were a series of fortifications designed to provide a defense in depth. Yet the speed of the Japanese advance was so swift, Chinese officials with the keys to these fortifications had also fled. 

The resulting chaos meant that Chinese units couldn't establish a strong positions and Japanese troops quickly flanked Chinese units, forcing them to retreat. The series of forts designed to produce a stalemate with the Japanese was breached in less than two weeks. A combination of Japanese skill and Chinese ineptitude led to the premature end of this siege. 

Empty Threats Lead to a Clever and Ruthless Trap

Empress Matilda and King Stephen lived in 12th century England and were both related to Henry I. When Henry died, Matilda and Stephen dragged the country into a civil war as they vied for the crown. Some local noblemen, like John Marshal, found it difficult to stay on the right and winning side of the conflict. This is how Marshal found one of his castles under siege. King Stephen had captured Marshal's son and threatened to kill him if Marshal didn't give up the castle. The King threatened at various times to launch his son into the castle using a catapult, but reportedly couldn't follow through with the plan because of the sweet precociousness of the child, William Marshal.

At a later siege, John Marshal invited these enemies to peace discussions under a sacred flag of truth. The gate through which they entered had both an outer gate and inner gate leading to the courtyard. After his enemies cleared the first gate, Marshal closed it behind them. His men suddenly flooded the room and killed the trapped men. Killing under a sacred banner didn't exactly help Marshal's reputation, but the necessities of military warfare justified just about any maneuver. Or maybe John Marshal was just crazy enough to win a siege. 

Thu, 06 Oct 2016 14:46:42 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/innovate-ways-end-sieges/morgan-deane
<![CDATA[Crazy Punishments, Rituals, and Violent Practices in Native American Culture]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/native-american-capital-punishment-practices/morgan-deane

Scholars have spent plenty of time debating the rituals of Native Americans. Some tribes were peaceful, some were war-faring, and many fell in between. Many of the customs and traditions of tribes have been studied and researchers have good ideas about how the Aztecs, Mayans, Iroquois, and others lived day to day. 

Some documents help us understand interesting evidence of violent Native American rituals. These were painful Native American practices and capital punishments that often defy the imagination. Keep reading to learn about some of the ways these historical people doled out punishments, celebrated victories, and mourned their dead. 

Crazy Punishments, Rituals, and Violent Practices in Native American Culture,

Aztec Heart Removal

Once the Aztecs captured enemy soldiers, they began the heart ceremony with at least four days of fasting. The captured soldiers were ritually cleansed and Aztec priests led their people in dances, songs, and rhythmic music as the captives were escorted to the top of the giant temples. The captive would either have their hearts removed on the altar of the great pyramid or fight to the death in mock combat. These terror-inducing ceremonies sustained the aura of leadership surrounding the emperor and his elite soldiers.

Conquistador Bernal Diaz wrote: "When Alvarado came to these villages he found that they had been deserted on that very day, and he saw in the cues (temples or pyramids) the bodies of men and boys who had been sacrificed, the walls and altars all splashed with blood, and the victims' hearts laid out before the idols. He also found the stones on which their breasts had been opened to tear out their hearts."

The skulls and other bones of the victims were piled in huge stacks that could sometimes number almost 100,000. Since these were prisoners of war this enhanced the power of the state and convinced the population of the Aztecs spiritual and martial supremacy. 

Mayan Pre Battle Insults and Ritual Blood Letting

Much of Mayan battle practice is still shrouded in mystery. There are very few written accounts, and Mesoamerican scholars largely rely on very laconic glyphs on monuments that have only recently been deciphered. 

These monuments record an honorable precedent where two opposing armies would stand apart on the battlefield. The leading warriors, decked out in their head gear, chest armor made of shells or bone, and obsidian weapons, would proclaim what house they come from, challenge the opponent to single combat, and then insult their martial prowess. This was done ostentatiously with great ritualistic flair. 

The Bonampak murals also depicts ritual bloodletting. The blood of person represented life, and thus was a vital part of Mayan ceremonies. The king would slash himself in the tongue, ear, or foreskin with small obsidian blades or a stingray spine. Then the kind performed an ascension ritual that included bloodletting to appease the gods, while the priests performed human sacrifices for the same purpose. Another relief shows the king’s wife pushing a barbed rope through her tongue in order to see their ancestor emerge from the mouth of a giant vision serpent. At other times the blood fell on small strips of paper that were then burned by the priests. These ceremonies were very painful but designed to access supernatural power. 

Huron Feast of the Dead

The Hurons (they actually called themselves Wendat) would begin the Feast of the Dead by digging up their dead relatives and ancestors (some of the bodies were recently deceased and were seething with maggots). Then they would put them in beaver-skin clothes and clean and scrape the bones of those that had died. They re-wrapped them in the beaver skins, and the families of the dead held a feast.

After several days of feasts and at the command of the village leader, the family carried the body to a pre-dug hole. With loud chants and cries they placed the bones in a pit. With more chants and cries they threw in items such as clothing and food, as well. The preparation and elaborate rituals were designed to ensure the safe transit of the dead souls to the afterlife. After several days of this ceremony they would finally cover the pit and consider their relatives interred. At a famous feast of the dead in 1636, the bones from almost 700 people were thrown into the pit.  

Miami Sacred Bundles and War Dance

When a chief of the Miami tribe wanted to go to war, he would take a red wampum belt to the other war chiefs and invite them to a council. After explaining his plan and reasoning they would each discuss the prospects of war. If they agreed to launch a war party, each member of the war party brought their sacred war bundles to the meeting.  The Shaman would put them into one bundle that he would carry as he led them in the march to the battle.

This was followed by a night-long war dance. One such dance was the Calumet dance. (Fun fact: the Calumet inspired the term peace pipe.) The warriors would take turns striking a post and then told of an act of past bravery. They would then smoke the Calumet and interweave their bodies with the rising smoke. In the morning they would put out the fire and embark on their journey.  

Iroquois Mourning War and Cannibalism

The Five Nations of the Iroquois spread through the Great Lakes region and dominated much of the Northeast. Upon the death of a family member they felt they needed a powerful ceremony to help overcome the sadness. They practiced in what was called “mourning wars." Their captives were either accepted into the tribe or tortured to death. If the latter, they first had their fingers cut off. Then they were forced to sing and dance upon a scaffold. The Iroquois burned the victim with a branding torch throughout the night. By the morning they finally ripped open the captive’s head and poured sand in it. Jesuit missionaries recorded what they saw, writing that the soldiers carved up and ate the body when their captive finally died. 

Smoke and Flames: The Cree Raiding Parties

These are not the Kree from the Marvel Universe. They lived in the North and Western parts of what is now Canada. When the Hudson Bay Company started exploring the region, they set up several trading outposts. Even though the Europeans didn’t want to foster Native American warfare, they ended up supplying guns to the Cree in exchange for furs and other specialty items.

As a result, the Cree became more belligerent. They blamed their enemies for their natural and [perceived] supernatural misfortunes. With their new guns they pushed farther and farther northward and their warriors and war parties received more prestige. Warfare tapered off in the late 1700s as the Inuit also gained guns, but before that happened, the Cree would regularly send devastating raids that depopulated entire regions and left many women and children as slaves. This often led to a lifetime of suffering and misery, if they weren't killed right away. 

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:39:19 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/native-american-capital-punishment-practices/morgan-deane
<![CDATA[The Funniest Twitter Reactions to the First 2016 Presidential Debate]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/2016-presidential-debate-twitter-reactions-v1/kellen-perry

The first 2016 presidential debate, held on September 26, was not only the most watched in American history - it was also the most tweeted. It was also arguably the funniest night (and early morning!) that Twitter has seen in a long time. People brought their "A" game.

If you were one of the 81 million who tuned in to see Trump and Clinton go toe-to-toe, these 2016 debate tweets should require little explanation. If not, do yourself a favor and watch the whole surreal thing, then come back and read the list. The fog of insanity will clear - we promise.

If Twitter's not your thing, the list below serves up all the funny tweets about the first 2016 presidential debate in one convenient place. Vote up the funniest of them all, and let them bring your heart rate back down to normal after the wild back and forth between the candidates.

The Funniest Twitter Reactions to the First 2016 Presidential Debate,

We've Reached a Verdict!


But There's So Much Buzz!


Jimmy Fallon Is Never Going to Hear the End of It


Lady in Red




Doesn't It Count as a National Emergency, Though?




It's an Historic Night!


Alienating the Base?


It's Science


Sun, 27 Nov 2016 20:51:31 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/2016-presidential-debate-twitter-reactions-v1/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[Everything Lester Holt Thought but Kept to Himself in the Debate]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/lester-holt-debate-thoughts-v3/jacob-shelton

During the first Presidential debate of 2016 Lester Holt had the unenviable job of trying to corral Donald Trump in the heat of rehotrical battle with Hillary Clinton. From the beginning of the debate, Holt drew took heat on social media for mostly staying quiet and letting the candidates go at it like an angry daddy and an upset mommy. You can only imagine that there were a lot of things Lester Holt didn't say out loud during the first 2016 Presidential debate, and this list will help you figure out what they were. Read on to find a run down of thoughts that debate moderator Lester Holt probably had over the course of 90 minutes in the spotlight.

The human mind is a weird thing. It’s recalling facts about your day, taking in information about your current surroundings, and reminding you of embarrassing stuff you did when you were 9 years old all at the same time. If you take that concept and apply it to the moderator of the first 2016 Presidential debate, you’ll have a basic rundown of Lester Holt's debate thoughts.

Vote up the things you think were running through Lester Holt’s head during the first 2016 debate.

Everything Lester Holt Thought but Kept to Himself in the Debate,

"I've Made a Huge Mistake."

"Should I Ask Her About Benghazi or Would That Make the Internet Explode?"

"Suck It, Matt Lauer!!"

"I Hope My Kids Aren't Watching This."

"I Wish I Had a Buzzer."

"This Is Worse Than That Year I Spent Substitute Teaching."

"How Long Has Trump Been Talking? Oh My God Where's My Stop Watch?"

"What Gives with the Sniffling?"

"Why Ask Hillary a Follow up When Trump's Going to Do It for Me?"

"Actually, Sir, Stop and Frisk Is Super Racist."

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 06:01:31 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/lester-holt-debate-thoughts-v3/jacob-shelton
<![CDATA[The 17 Craziest, Most Tragic Blimp Disasters in History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/blimp-disasters/jacobybancroft

It's not hard to look at all the blimp disasters throughout history and realize why we don't use them anymore. What's that thing in the sky? Oh, it's a giant balloon filled with flammable gas, on which people are traveling. Some of the biggest aviation accidents throughout history involve some type of blimp or airship. No matter how much work was put into design or safety features, blimp accidents were common enough to prevent the vehicles from becoming a routine part of air travel or military activity.

Archer had it right, airplanes are superior in every way. From the outside, blimps and airships look like gigantic deathtraps filled with explosive gas. Which is exactly what they were. Below is a list of the worst blimp disasters throughout history. Looking at the list, it's easy to see why we no longer value blimps as modes of transportation. Or at all, really. From the well-known Hindenburg explosion to the USS Akron tragedy and a mysterious Ghost Blimp, read on to discover the craziest blimp disasters of all time. 

The 17 Craziest, Most Tragic Blimp Disasters in History,

R38-class airship

Th crash of the British R38 had the honor of being the first post-WWI airship disaster. The original goal of the British airship program was to produce better, faster vehicles than German Zeppelins, and maybe it was such determination that led to tragedy. On August 23, 1921, the R38 was en route to Norfolk from its home base of Howden. Bad weather resulted in an early landing, and, the next day, bad weather persisting, the R38 was directed back to Howden. 

So as to not totally waste the trip, it was decided the R38 should perform some trials and maneuvers. This would test the capabilities of the airship, and proved to be fatal. During a maneuver, the ship broke in half. The front half exploded, the back half plummeted into a river below. Of the 49 people on board, 44 died in the accident. 

The Hindenburg Disaster

You can't have an article about blimp disasters and not mention the Holy Grail of airship accidents, the crash of the Hindenburg. It's not the deadliest blimp disaster in history, but it is perhaps the most well-known, thanks to the live radio broadcast of the Hindenburg's final moments in the air on May 6, 1937. On that fateful day, electrostatic discharge ignited leaking hydrogen, and the blimp went up in flames. All told, 35 people lost their lives, and though there were 62 survivors, the accident put an end to passenger airships. As the reporter who horrifically recounted the events live said, "oh the humanity" indeed. 

The ZPG-3W Reliance Crashes Into the Ocean

ZPG-3W airships were among the largest ever built. It was a massive vehicle, longer than 400 feet, and the last airship ever delivered to the US Navy. The blimps were equipped with radar equipment, and were designed as part of an early warning system for Soviet attacks on America. The first of these ships to ever head out over the ocean, the Reliance, suffered a tragic fate. On July 6, 1960, the Reliance collapsed not long into its flight from Long Beach Island, NJ. Of the 21 people on board, 18 were killed. Fishing boats and other craft in the area rescued the three survivors. 

The Schutte-Lanz SL6 Mysteriously Explodes

The biggest name in airship construction was Ferdinand von Zeppelin. In the early 1900s, his biggest competitor was the Luftschiffbau Schütte-Lanz company, which distinguished itself by making its ships from wood, rather than metal alloys (which seems like a terrible idea). Because of their construction, the Schutte-Lanz airships were highly susceptible to moisture, though what brought down the SL6 on November 10, 1915, remains a mystery. The airship took off at Seddin, outside Berlin, and something malfunctioned, causing a deadly explosion that killed 20. 

The LZ 104 Blows Up Near Malta After a Wasted Trip to Africa

German Navy Zeppelin LZ 104 (nicknamed The Africa Ship) was famous or attempting a long-distance resupply mission across the Mediterranean, over Allied-held African, and into German East Africa (what is now Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania). Because there was no hydrogen in German East Africa to refuel the airship, it would be dismantled and reused in various ways upon landing. The LZ 104 (military designation L 59) made it as far as Sudan before it was ordered to turn around, because Germans could find no suitable landing site for it in their African territory. 

After traveling more than 4,000 miles in almost 100 hours, the airship started having problems, so it was set down in Yambol, Bulgaria. Because the Germans never planned on the ship returning from Africa, they had no use for it, so it hung around Bulgaria for months, until it was decided it should be used to attack the British naval base on Malta, which didn't go well: on April 7, 1918 the blimp exploded midair, and all 21 people aboard were killed. Neither the British nor Italians claimed to have attacked the LZ 104, so it's destruction was officially declared an accident. 

The Helgoland Island Air Disaster

On September 9, 1913, tragedy struck the first airship owned by the Imperial German Navy. Originally the LZ 14, the airship's name was changed to L-1 when transferred to the Navy. On that fateful day in September, the airship confidently flew into a storm with 20 people on board, and didn't make it very far. The L-1 crashed into the North Sea near Helgoland, off the coast of Germany and broke in two. Of its passengers, 14 passengers drowned. The incident became known as the Helgoland Island Air Disaster. 

The Johannisthal Air Disaster

A little over a month after the Helgoland Island Air Disaster, another accident befell the German Navy, the Johannisthal Air Disaster. Rather than rethink its strategy or maybe look at birds and consider whether wings would be a good idea, the German Navy forged full steam ahead with its exploding-balloons-of-gas air program. 

A new blimp, designated the L 2, was the second Zeppelin bought by the German Navy (not a great track record so far). On October 17, 1913, a test flight went horribly wrong when escaped hydrogen was sucked into an engine department and caused a massive explosion. All 28 people aboard the ship were killed. This disaster came so soon after the Helgoland accident it caused the Navy suspend their planned expansion program.

The LZ 40, Struck by Lightning

Although the LZ 40 was a pivotal component in German raids against Britain in the First World War, nothing could protect the airship from the forces of nature. In September 1915, lightning struck an airship over the North Sea. It was forced to crash land. All 19 people on board died. Though the German Navy clearly had a terrible track record with its airships, the psychological effect of being able to quickly traverse the distance between Germany to England and bomb the British homeland was integral to the German war effort. 

The Experimental Zeppelin LZ 4 Explodes in Front of Thousands

What's the saying? If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Were it not for stubborn, dangerous perseverance, we may not have had airships or blimps at all, given the fate of the first few prototypes. One of the first experimental airships, the Zeppelin LZ 4, first launched on June 20, 1908. It was famous for making a successful 12-hour flight over Switzerland, after which the overseers wanted to test it more.

During a 24-hour endurance test, which turned out to be something of a disaster for many reasons, the blimp landed to refuel, and so mechanics could make engine repairs. On its way down, it brushed some trees, which ripped open the gasbag, generated a static charge, and blew the whole thing to hell before an audience of somewhere between 40 and 50 thousand. That could have been the end of airship development, but, somewhat improbably, the German people, having witnesses an exploding behemoth in the sky, wanted more, and their support raised enough donations to make sure the air program maintained its funding. 

The USS Akron

The Hindenburg is the most recognizable name in the annals of airship disasters, though the worst such tragedy of all time befell the USS Akron. The crash of the Akron on April 4, 1933 resulted in the deaths of 73 of the 76 men on board. Perhaps the ultimate tragedy is that almost all the deaths could have been easily prevented. 

The Akron crashed off the coast of New Jersey. It's unknown exactly what happened, though the airship was flying far too low for the terrible weather conditions of the day, and it's possible navigators simply drove it into the ocean. The crash, however, was the least of the crew's worries. Despite being a Navy vessel, the Akron had no life jacket and only one raft. Most of the men who lost their lives drowned or died of hypothermia. To make matters even worse, one of the airships that went looking for survivors crashed, claiming the lives of two more men. 

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 13:58:58 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/blimp-disasters/jacobybancroft
<![CDATA[8 Shocking Historical Events That Have Been Blamed on the Mafia]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/historical-events-that-have-been-blamed-on-the-mafia/carly-silver

Classic films like Scarface and The Godfather showed audiences the less-than-savory side of the all-too-often glamorized Mafia in America, but this organized crime group has gotten involved in far more misdeeds (and the occasionally helpful act) than you could ever imagine. The historical events attributed to the Mafia, both in America and back in Italy, range from assassinating a President of the United States to fixing the World Series to helping the American government keep Nazi spies out of New York's waterfronts during World War II.

Sure, some of these might be nothing more than mafia conspiracy theories, but other historical events that have been blamed on the mob actually have merit in their accusations. Some have even been definitively proved. The range of secret activities performed by the Mafia, from despicable to useful, is very surprising.

8 Shocking Historical Events That Have Been Blamed on the Mafia,

1919 World Series

Nearly 100 years ago, the Chicago White Sox beat the Cincinnati Reds in a true World Series upset. But something was fishy: gamblers affiliated with the Mafia had bribed a bunch of the White Sox players to lose games, including the Series itself. Several players were charged, but all were eventually acquitted. The incident became known as the "Black Sox" debacle because of the shadow it cast upon baseball.

The man reputed to be behind it was gambling whiz Arnold Rothstein, although research now indicates he only loaned money to the people fixing the games. Rothstein, dubbed "The Great Brain," was well-known for organizing such affairs, but not getting his own hands dirty, organizing gambling rings involving everyone from low-level mobsters to high-end socialites. He also befriended and mentored up-and-coming mobsters like Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, investing in their illegal operations that ranged from prostitution to bootlegging. In all of his ventures, Rothstein was a polished, business-like criminal, creating a prototype for the modern American gangster.

But Rothstein's schemes came to an end in November 1928, when he was shot to death in a hotel. Rumor had it he had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in a poker game a few months earlier and refused to pay up. Given until November 1 to make good on his debt, which he didn't do, Rothstein was killed in revenge.

John F. Kennedy assassination

Ideas abound about who exactly killed President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, but one of the most popular conspiracy theories assigns blame to the American Mafia. JFK and his family were rumored to have deep ties to the mob: his father, Joseph Kennedy, allegedly made some of his fortune by violating Prohibition laws with Sam Giancana of the Chicago Outfit. Kennedy and Giancana both had an affair with the same woman. Giancana and his wise guys also supposedly helped JFK win the 1960 presidential election, but many mobsters got angry when John's brother, Attorney General Bobby Kennedy (RFK), started persecuting them.

Much anecdotal evidence points to important mafiosi taking out a hit on Kennedy. A governmental committee reasoned that there was probably a conspiracy to take out the president. New Orleans boss Carlos Marcello reportedly said that the only way to get Bobby off their backs was to cut the head (JFK) off the dog, then the tail (RFK) would stop wagging. When asked how he'd kill the president, Marcello quipped that he'd get a "nut" (like Lee Harvey Oswald) to do it. Moreover, Jack Ruby, the man who offed Oswald before he could testify, boasted numerous mob ties.

But lots of people argue against this theory. American mafiosi don't often kill high-profile American public officials, and contrary to what Oliver Stone preached in his film JFK, a lone gunman actually could have shot both the president and Governor John Connally with one bullet. And former organized crime expert Ralph Salerno, who investigated the mob's connection to JFK for decades, concluded the Mafia didn't do it.

St. Valentine's Day massacre

Most everyone knows the name of Al Capone, the charismatic yet absolutely ruthless leader of the Chicago Mafia in the 1920s. Known equally for his high-flying lifestyle and his violent ways, Capone most infamously displayed his vengeful side by killing seven of his rival gangsters in one fell swoop on February 14, 1929. That day, called the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, was broadcast across newspapers nationwide and helped bring a lot of unwanted attention to the Mafia.

For a long time, the Italian Mafia, in charge of the South Side, had feuded with the Irish mob over control over Chicago as a whole as well as individual bootlegging rackets. One of Capone's biggest rivals was George "Bugs" Moran, who controlled the North Side and had tried to off Capone on multiple occasions. Fed up with Moran and his men and the way they'd stolen his business, Capone took action. He ordered his soldiers to dress up as cops and fake a raid, forcing Moran's men to line up against a wall; then the mafiosi brutally executed seven of Moran's guys in eight minutes. Ironically, Moran himself wasn't there.

The image of seven dead bodies made national headlines and centered attention on Capone, who was never actually charged with the deaths of Moran's men. Other reports indicate that real-life cops were the ones to pull the trigger, but when "Bugs" heard of it, he said, "Only Capone kills like that." 

The Murders of Anti-Mob Attorneys Giuseppe Falcone and Paolo Borsellino

The names of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino aren't very familiar to Americans, but will ring a whole cathedral's worth of bells for Italians. Two of the most important Italian crusaders against organized crime, both attorneys were murdered by the Sicilian Mafia, AKA Cosa Nostra, in the early 1990s.

Falcone rose to prominence when investigating bankruptcies, which dovetailed into political corruption galore. Cosa Nostra had always bought politicians, but by the 1980s they were openly assassinating cops and public officials, including Mafia investigators. In the late '80s, Falcone convicted 342 mafiosi in the infamous "maxi trial," which ultimately signed his death warrant. He protected himself with a bombproof bunker, but wound up dead in a roadside blast. Less than two months after Falcone's death, his friend and fellow prosecutor Paolo Borsellino was blown up in a similar fashion.

The men behind these murders? Salvatore "Toto" Riina, the capo dei capi (boss of all bosses) of the Corleonese faction of Cosa Nostra. His brutality earned him the moniker of "the Beast," and he never hesitated to take his revenge against those opposing him, as Falcone and Borsellino sadly learned. Now in jail for life, Riina still remains a feared name.

Locating the Bodies of Murdered Civil Rights Volunteers

The Mafia didn't just cooperate with the American government during World War II; they also helped solve the mystery of who murdered several Civil Rights volunteers in 1964.

According to the ex-girlfriend of mobster Gregory Scarpa, Sr., the FBI recruited mafiosi to find the bodies of the Civil Rights volunteers who had gone missing in Mississippi; their bodies were found in a dam with evidence they had been tortured and shot. Seven men were found guilty of these brutal murders, marking the first conviction in Mississippi's history for harming a Civil Rights volunteer.

Information came out that the FBI brought Scarpa in to get a confession and help them find the bodies of the slain. He stuck a gun in the mouth of a Ku Klux Klan member and demanded he be told where the deceased could be found. Some have suggested, though, that Scarpa didn't help with this case, but instead helped solve the fire-bombing of Vernon Dahmer in 1966. 

The Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa

Meet James Riddle "Jimmy" Hoffa, a sinister figure who, despite his middle name, bears no relation to Tom Marvolo Riddle (AKA Lord Voldemort). Hoffa was the longtime leader of what became America's biggest union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (that is, truckers). But Hoffa wasn't the most stand-up guy, misusing millions of dollars from pension funds, bribing, and extorting drivers. He wound up going to prison before being pardoned in 1971 by President Nixon, but then mysteriously vanished on June 30, 1975. Whodunnit

On the day of his disappearance, Hoffa was headed to a meeting with two mob bosses, but he was the only one who made an appearance. His car was found, but not his body. Perhaps those he went to meet decided to off him instead? Famed mafioso Santo Trafficante reportedly said that Hoffa was threatening to expose Teamster and Mafia secrets. The mob also didn't liked Hoffa's Teamster successor and didn't want him getting back in. And a memoir by Mafia-affiliated labor union official Frank Sheeran admits that he was the one to pull the trigger on Hoffa. One mobster claims that Hoffa's body, which has never been discovered, was chopped up and stuffed in a drum.

No substantial evidence arguing against the Mafia killing Hoffa has recently been presented, but historians debate just who pulled the trigger. Sheeran is an option, as is Richard Kuklinski, a contract killer called "the Iceman." An eighty-something named Anthony Zerilli is another candidate (he might have hit Hoffa with a shovel and buried him underneath concrete), as is Charles Allen, who, on the orders of the mob and a Teamster leader, supposedly had Hoffa's body ground up and dumped in a Florida swamp.

The Creation of Las Vegas

The Mafia helped turn Las Vegas from a spot in the middle of the Nevada desert to a flourishing mecca of entertainment, gambling, and sex. They ran hotels and clubs with millions of dollars in money stolen from teamsters' unions and organized rackets galore.

Although technically founded in 1905, Las Vegas began flourishing about 40 years later, when the Mafia began investing in luxury hotel-casinos in the city. The most famous of these was the Flamingo, which got $6 million in backing from Meyer Lansky and his pals back east. Although the man behind the Flamingo, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, didn't invent the idea of the lavish Vegas hotel, he popularized it and, with his dramatic death, made the Flamingo a place to remember.

Siegel opened the door to Mafia investors, who saw hotels, as well as legal gambling and prostitution, as ways to make a ton of legal money (they also skimmed funds from casino intake, which wasn't exactly licit). Siegel himself brought the glamor, palling around with Frank Sinatra and building a giant mansion where he hosted movie stars at lavish parties. Other major Mafia figures who invested in Vegas from farther east included Chicago's Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli, both of whom may have had ties to the Kennedy assassination. Ironically, JFK once visited the Sands Hotel, one of the glitziest resorts in Vegas, where Sinatra introduced him to Judith Campbell, his future mistress; Giancana and Kennedy both shared Campbell's favors at one time or another.

Operation Underworld: Patrolling the NY Waterfront

World War II brought about a rare collaboration between the American government and the Mafia. During the early 1940s, stateside authorities feared Nazi interference on the American waterfront, particularly in New York. On February 9, 1942, a giant fire broke out on a luxury liner called SS Normandie that docked in NYC. It appeared that the flame was an accident... but Americans were worried that Nazis - or discontented Italian and Italian-American workers - had somehow sabotaged the ship. 

The government reached out to the Mafia, which controlled New York's waterfront and had an influence on the city's Italian population. The intelligence community got Meyer Lansky and his New York mafiosi to help them keep control of the waterfront. At the time, Lansky and his longtime BFF and the head of the NYC mob, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, was in jail.

Lucky and Lansky negotiated with the government to make the waterfront workers cooperate, though one of Luciano's deputies, Joseph "Socks" Lanza, did most of the heavy lifting. Lanza controlled the Fulton Fish Market and arranged for Navy intelligence to get fake union cards so they could patrol the docks undisturbed.

In exchange for his help, Luciano, then serving a 30- to 50-year sentence, received a commuted sentence in 1945. Although he wasn't stuck in prison anymore, he did have to return to Italy and was ordered never to return to America.

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 15:28:34 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/historical-events-that-have-been-blamed-on-the-mafia/carly-silver
<![CDATA[US Presidents with the Strangest Hobbies]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/us-presidents-with-weird-hobbies/aaron-edwards

Let’s face it, it takes a pretty uncommon person to become president. That probably means that there are going to be more than a few US presidents with weird hobbies. Given that a good number of presidents didn’t have television or even radio, they had to find something to do with all their time. Some of the hobbies of US presidents were more ordinary, like playing piano or collecting stamps. But some great men just can’t have regular hobbies. No, those men have to do things to the extreme. Some take up recreational violence (sports like boxing and wrestling) on the side, or eccentric rituals, or even creative pursuits. Sometimes, great men need great hobbies to occupy their time.

So, if you’re curious check out the list of weird hobbies of US presidents below and vote up your favorite presidential hobby. Just keep one thing in mind: no one, president or otherwise, will ever be able to match the pastimes of Teddy Roosevelt. 

US Presidents with the Strangest Hobbies,

John Quincy Adams Regularly Skinny Dipped

John Quincy Adams had a lot of history attached to his name. He was the son of a founding father, he died on the floor of congress, and he was the sixth president of the United States. He also loved to swim around naked. It’s been reported that he would wake early every day and swim nude in the Potomac River at 5 a.m. The first female journalist ever to interview a president, Anne Royall, accomplished this historic feat by withholding Adams’ clothing until he agreed to a discourse. 

Abraham Lincoln Wrestled

Not only did Lincoln lead America through the Civil War and help end slavery, he also knew his way around a wrestling mat. When he was a kid in New Salem, Illinois, Lincoln learned to grapple and got quite a reputation after beating a local bully. Even more impressive was that his ability to kick butt was mentioned during an election in 1858. His opponent, Stephen Douglas, used his knowledge of Lincoln's wrestling tales to prove that he knew him well. When Lincoln ran for the presidency in 1860, the mentions of his wrestling skill came up again... only this time he won the election. In the end, it's become part of the Lincoln legend portraying just how strong and righteous he was. 

Richard Nixon Was a Card Shark

You would think Nixon’s paranoid personality would make him lousy at cards, but that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. During his time in the Navy during World War II, Nixon got an infamous reputation for being the best bluffer in the service - Tricky Dick, indeed. He won so much money during his time in the service, he used it to fund his campaign for the US House of Representatives in 1946. He continued to play with other Congressmen, and some would later say he wasn’t as good as his reputation suggested. 

Calvin Coolidge Rode a Mechanical Horse

President Coolidge really loved riding horses, but developed an allergy that meant he was unable to ride them. So, when someone gave him a mechanical horse as a joke gift… he didn’t really see the joke. He put it in a dressing room right next to his bedroom so he could always keep it close. He rode the apparatus regularly while wearing his hat, which amused his wife and their guests to no end. At the end of the day, no one had a problem with the practice because it let the president get some exercise. 

George Washington Enjoyed Mule Breeding

When a person breeds a male donkey and a female horse, they get a mule. People frequently use mules as pack animals because of their hardy and obedient natures (and also because they eat less). They also weren’t native to America before George Washington. After seeing how effective they were in Spain, our first president spent a pretty big chunk of his time breeding mules. The towns people and local farmers of Mount Vernon joined Washington in his crusade, using George’s animals to breed their own.

Teddy Roosevelt Loved to Throw Down in the Ring

Back when Roosevelt was governor of New York, he started taking wrestling lessons from the middleweight boxing champion of the time. Roosevelt’s financial advisor was horrified and tried to suggest he take up billiards, instead. But Roosevelt had already fallen in love with boxing. In fact, Roosevelt boxed well into his presidency, but had to stop after an artillery captain permanently damaged his eye. Still, you have to respect a leader of the free world who’s willing to step into the ring with any opponent. 

Lyndon B. Johnson Liked to Scare His Guests During Joyrides

Remember that scene in the A Spy Who Loved Me with Bond’s submarine car? Well, LBJ beat him to it by about ten years. The president had an amphibious car he often used to drive his guests around his ranch. As he drove, he’d pretend to lose control of the car (and its brakes) as it sped into a lake. This, of course, scared the hell out of his guests - who were reportedly delighted to learn the car was amphibious shortly after. It was as much a morbid pastime as it was a way to test the character of those he drove around. 

Theodore Roosevelt Killed Animals by the Thousands

In addition to fighting just about anyone he could in the ring, Teddy Roosevelt tested his constitution by hunting every type of animal he could find on God’s Earth. His true test as a hunter really came after his presidency when he took an 11-month safari through Africa. On that trip he trapped or shot over 11,000 animals which includes just about everything you can think of from insects to elephants. He then had the corpses stuffed as pieces of taxidermy and donated them to the Smithsonian Institution. 

George W. Bush Loves to Paint

Our 43rd President wore many hats in his time. He was in the Texas Air National Guard, he was an entrepreneur, he managed the Texas Rangers, and he was a politician. But after his two terms as President, Bush has taken up painting as a hobby. His subjects mostly include landscapes and dogs, but he also does portraits of world leaders. But more than anything he really seems to love painting those dogs

Thomas Jefferson Invented Spy Gadgets

When he wasn’t leading a revolution, Thomas Jefferson loved to invent gadgets. He helped advance the science of agriculture by inventing a plow that was easier to pull. He also created an updated sundial in the form of a sphere. But his coolest work was to help out American spies during the Revolutionary War. He invented the “wheel cipher,” which was an iron pin containing 26 spinning wooden disks that could be used to decipher coded messages. That way, The British couldn't read intercepted messages. 

Wed, 09 Nov 2016 17:21:32 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/us-presidents-with-weird-hobbies/aaron-edwards
<![CDATA[The Most Brutal Military Training Exercises Throughout History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/hardest-military-training-exercises/morgan-deane

The hardest military training often produces some of the best fighters. The following are some of the most difficult training exercises and hardest military training camps from throughout history. Most cultures begin training soldiers when they are just children. Some even have ceremonies at birth, but all had rather disciplined and advanced fighters by the time they were in their late teens. Many faced tests of endurance, and learned how to fight in packs. And it was their brutal training that created some of the most disciplined soldiers in history.  

Read about cultures that trained their soldiers to conquer any conceivable enemy - like the Spartans who began training when children were still toddlers, and the Aztecs who more or less armed children from birth. Read all about these fearsome warriors below. 

The Most Brutal Military Training Exercises Throughout History,

Spartan Training

Ancient Greek warfare consisted of lines of heavily armored infantry men in a phalanx, a formation they could use for attack and defense. The ancient Spartans were the best of the ancient Greeks and were widely feared for their martial prowess. Part of the reputation stemmed from the fact that nobody trained like Spartans. 

According to the Roman historian Plutarch, if a Spartan newborn didn’t look healthy or was deformed the parents would cast the baby aside. At the age of 7 Spartan children were taken from their parents and put into packs. Their heads were shaved, they were given little clothing, little food to eat, and they walked barefoot. The children slept, ate, and trained together. By age 12 they were given the famous Spartan cloaks and they learned how to “obey commands well, endure hardships, and conquer in battle.” They engaged in mock combat, and formed an elite spirit de corps that were feared on the battlefield.   

The Prussian Gauntlet

The Prussians were famous for their military discipline. As a small nation in Eastern Europe with few natural boundaries or resources, they often had to fight multiple enemies across different fronts at the same time. As a result, they developed an army that excelled at strategic maneuvers between fronts and quick maneuvers on the battlefield.

The Prussian army had to perform at peak efficiency, and to help this happen they doled out Draconian punishments to soldiers who disobeyed orders. Soldiers who deserted were hanged. Rule breakers had to run between two lines of soldiers, called the gauntlet, and were beaten as they did so. Officers could lose their commission for misbehavior. Even by the standards of the time the Prussians were considered rather extreme. Their defeat by Napoleon helped lead to reforms, with corporal punishment being abandoned.

Zulu Speed Training

The Zulus developed a sophisticated war machine by incorporating their defeated enemies and forming a national army of fearsome Impi warriors. They were eventually outgunned (literally) by the British, but they achieved some spectacular successes before that happened, such as massacring the British army at Isandlwanda

Boys started military training at a young age. By their early teens they were expected to run 50 miles a day without shoes. The marched an average of 70 miles a day on a campaign. Soldiers were forbidden from marrying until their late 30s and still needed permission then. This preserved unity and established rewards for veteran soldiers. Zulu warriors also had unique battle formations. Two wings of younger soldiers would envelop the enemy force at the same time as the “chest” or main body of soldiers advanced, and the loins, or old aged veterans would act as a reserve.  They sought to advance quickly, surprise, and surrounded their enemies to spear them to death. 

Iroquois Cannibalism

The five nations of the Iroquois League spread through the Great Lakes region and dominated much of the North East, in part thanks to their fearsome soldiers. Upon the death of a family member the tribes practiced in what was called “mourning wars." An Iroquois soldier would choose whether a captive would become part of the tribe or die. If the soldier chose to kill the captive, they first made that person sing and dance upon a scaffold. After that, they burned the victim with a branding torch until he died. Jesuit missionaries recorded that when they finished torturing their victims, Iroquois soldiers carved up and ate the body. 

Aztec Ceremonial Sacrifice

Aztecs started military training early: at birth, babies were symolically armed with a shield in one hand an arrow in the other. Elite soldiers began their training at age 10 with everyone else joining them at age 15. By age 20, warriors joined military campaigns and fought for the Aztecs against regional enemies, gaining ranks by capturing and sacrificing opposing warriors. The captive would either have their hearts removed on the altar of the great pyramid, or fight to the death in mock combat. These terror-inducing ceremonies sustained the aura of leadership surrounding the emperor and his elite soldiers. 

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 16:05:51 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/hardest-military-training-exercises/morgan-deane
<![CDATA[8 Crazy and Fascinating Facts About Historical Spies and Espionage]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/historical-intelligence-agencies/kellen-perry

Espionage is sometimes known as the world's second oldest profession (after prostitution, of course). An account of spies hiding on a prostitute's roof can be found in the Book of Joshua, and Sun Tzu's The Art of War, from 500 BCE, explored advanced methods of espionage at a time when there were only 100,000,000 people to spy on worldwide (for reference, about the population of Ethiopia in 2016). Famous and notable spies from history aren't limited to black-suited secret agents sprung from paranoia in the Cold War.

There were, in fact, sophisticated spies sneaking letters across enemy lines in the Roman Empire and cryptographic pioneers employing invisible ink during the Revolutionary War. The historical spies on this list run a wide gamut, from Ancient Chinese spies to English spies, American spies, and even spies in the Bible. Read on for fascinating espionage facts from throughout history.

8 Crazy and Fascinating Facts About Historical Spies and Espionage,

Spies Helped Keep Deadly Greek Fire a Secret

RM Sheldon writes in Espionage in the Ancient World that “no secret was better kept than the recipe for Greek Fire.” Greek Fire was essentially proto-napalm: a mysterious incendiary weapon that produced almost inextinguishable flames, even on the surface of water, making it a devastating naval weapon. The exact recipe and method Greek fire has been lost, but history tells us Byzantine armies, around 678 CE, managed to keep the secret from their enemies using counterintelligence methods, including compartmentalization. Military leaders spread the secret among an elite group of spies and produced the necessary components independently at remote sites.

Roman Spies Used Carrier Pigeons

Roman spies used carrier pigeons as one of their many methods for disseminating intelligence and counter-intelligence. As Rose Mary Sheldon writes in Intelligence Activities in Ancient Rome: Trust in the Gods But Verify, military leader Hirtius trained pigeons to carry letters by starving them and keeping them in the dark near the city walls of Mutina, where fellow soldier Decimus Brutus was besieged.

The idea was to force the pigeons to crave food and light, so when they were released, they would carry letters, tied to their necks with human hair, to the highest nearby spot. Brutus, unable to leave the city but free to walk within it, would receive letters, placing food in the same spot to train the pigeons to seek that location as a trusted source of nourishment.

George Washington and His Spies Used Invisible Ink

Considered a great spymaster, George Washington was at first reluctant to use espionage during the Revolutionary War, because he thought it was uncivilized. Once convinced of its merits, Washington employed innovative, surprisingly modern methods of espionage. His famous spy network, the Culper Ring, used code books (pictured), dead drops, codes hidden in clotheslines, propaganda, and even invisible ink. Washington asked James Jay, brother of  Founding Father John Jay, to make ink readable only through a certain chemical reaction. It was, of course, top secret. Surprisingly it's still unknown what methods Jay and Washington used to hide their messages.

A Self-Taught Codebreaker Turned the Tide of the Napoleonic Wars

Communications officer George Scovell helped the British defeat the French in 1813 using an obscure book called Cryptographia, or The Art of Decyphering by David Arnold Conradus. Considered a beginner’s guide to cryptography, it’s a work shrouded in mystery: it was never published, but was instead copied by hand and passed from codebreaker-to-codebreaker. It may have been 100 years old when Scovell encountered it; the exact date it was written is unclear. With no prior experience in codebreaking, Scovell used the book decipher sensitive French documents, changing the course of the Napoleonic Wars.

Spies in the Bible May Have Invented the Red-Light District

According to Jeffrey Burd of Northeastern University, the oldest known reference to espionage is in the Old Testament. Rahab, a prostitute in Canaanite town Jericho, was forced to hide two Jewish spies on her roof, under bundles of flax. The spies, pictured flanking Rahab in the painting above, were on a mission for Israelite commander Joshua, who was following God’s orders to murder all Canaanites. Which sounds a bit extreme, but it is the Old Testament.

When Canaanite soldiers found out about the spies, Rahab refused to give them up. The spies agreed to spare her and her family’s life for her kindness: all she had to do was mark the window of her house with a red cord, signaling the troops to skip her house when it came time to cleanse the area. Some scholars think the red cord might have gone on to function as the red light does in Amsterdam, marking the location of a bordello (but others say “the parallel is almost too good to be true”).

The Greatest Spy in the Civil War Spied in Plain Sight

Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew, called the greatest spy of the Civil War by Professor Jeffrey Burds of Northeastern University, gathered intelligence for the North in just about the most brazen way imaginable: along with her elderly mother, she approached captured Union soldiers in Confederate prison camps and asked them what they knew. She would then encode information and send it along a series of courier networks to Union leaders.

How did she get away with it? Confederate soldiers thought she was a “madwoman whose service [providing food, water, and medical care] was deemed to be socially inappropriate,” but they didn’t suspect her of being a spy. Her almost entirely transparent espionage is credited with directly aiding the Union victory.

Spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham Hid Messages in Beer Barrels

Famous English spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham was able to thwart the assassination of Elizabeth I by employing a double agent named Gilbert Gifford and a method of hiding messages he may have devised after one too many tankards of ale at the local pub. Walsingham had Gifford bribe a brewer so he could access barrels of ale intended for Chartley Hall, where Mary, Queen of Scots, whose people wanted Elizabeth dead, was held prisoner.

Gifford promised Mary the barrels would be a safe means of passing coded letters, hidden in watertight containers, between her and various conspirators. Mary didn’t know Walsingham and his codebreakers intercepted the letters, deciphered them, and placed them back in the barrels unnoticed. In this way they learned of the assassination plot, called the Babbington Plot, and were able to thwart it.

Sun Tzu Is Arguably Why We Love Spy Stories

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (500 BCE) has a chapter called “Employing Spies,” which has been called “a seminal work in the world history of espionage.” In his treatsie, Sun Tzu argued foreknowledge is power: espionage can prevent “commotion at home and abroad” caused by warfare’s “heavy burdens on the people.” Sun Tzu dismissed traditional, superstitious methods of foreknowledge, emphasizing human intelligence. At the core of his principles of espionage was the concept of compartmentalization.

Compartmentalization is, arguably, why people love spy stories. It’s the engine driving the drama: Who knows what, and how? Compartmentalization ensures no single spy knows everything, meaning if they're captured, spies won’t know enough to compromise a mission. Sun Tzu advised military leaders to employ several different classes of spies, including now-classics such as double agents, moles, and keep them compartmentalized, a process he called the "divine manipulation of the threads.”

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 16:52:56 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/historical-intelligence-agencies/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[Your Favorite Presidential Middle Names]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/your-favorite-presidential-middle-names/roblein

Not every U.S. president had a middle name. But many of the presidents who did have middle names had some really iconic ones. It's not Franklin Roosevelt -- it's Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It's not William Taft -- It's William Howard Taft. So let's vote on those presidential middle names we like best. Vote yes or no, for whatever reason you wish.

Your Favorite Presidential Middle Names,

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Named for his father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr.

Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford

Was originally named Leslie Lynch King Jr. after his biological father, but was renamed Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. by his adoptive father, Gerald Rudolff Ford.

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman

He didn't have a real middle name, just the letter S., but the S. stood for his paternal grandfather, Anderson Shippe Truman, and his maternal grandfather, Solomon Young.

Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover

Clark was his father's middle name.

James A. Garfield

James A. Garfield

Abram comes from his father, Abram Garfield

James K. Polk

James K. Polk

Knox was his mother's maiden name.

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter

Named for his father, James Earl Carter Sr.

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

Fitzgerald was his mother's maiden name.

Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson

Baines was his mother's maiden name.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

Wilson was his mother's maiden name.

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 16:41:35 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/your-favorite-presidential-middle-names/roblein
<![CDATA[How Should Americans Protest if They Actually Want to Make a Difference?]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/accepted-forms-of-protest/jacob-shelton

Protesting has never been about being liked. Whether peaceful protests were being led by Dr. King, or furious protests were descending into leaderless, lawless riot, they’ve always been about sending a message. But in an age where everyone so desperately wants to be liked, acceptable forms of protest are now something that people are discussing. Running parallel to this is the need to appeal to everyone. How is that possible when the entire point of a protest is to air a grievance in the hope of creating a systemic change?

These days in particular, seemingly every time someone protests - whether it's over racial bias in policing or the right to bear arms - whole swaths of America are offended by the very act of protesting.  So how are Americans protest in order to avoid being immediately written off by the very people they're hoping will rally to their cause?

Vote on the forms of political self-expression that are most likely to have a real impact on policy in America today.

How Should Americans Protest if They Actually Want to Make a Difference?,

Boycotting Businesses

Waving Signs

Contacting Representatives in Congress

Holding Round Table Discussions


Arranging Sit-Ins

Filing Lawsuits

All Night Vigils

Marching Through Populated Areas

Signing a Mass Petition

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 16:45:27 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/accepted-forms-of-protest/jacob-shelton
<![CDATA[20 Unbelievable Aftermath Pictures of the Worst Floods Throughout History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/historical-pictures-of-floods/jordan-love

There's just something about natural disasters that people find tragically fascinating. From Vietnam to New Orleans, pictures from around the world capture the majesty and destructive force of floodwaters.

Hurricanes or tsunamis cause some floods, others simply occur after copious amount of rainfall. Whatever the reason, certain parts of the world have to deal with severe flooding on a yearly basis. Places like southern Asia and the American South are highly represented when it comes to historical pictures of floods because they see significant flooding almost every year. 

On rare occasions, there are floods of things other than water. Take the Great Molasses Flood of 1919 for example. It covered the streets of Boston in sticky molasses, killing several people in the process.

Some of these historical photos of floods are quite old, others are from more recent history. Either way, they are fascinating for the floods they depict. Vote up your favorite crazy flood pictures below. 

20 Unbelievable Aftermath Pictures of the Worst Floods Throughout History,

Flooding From Hurrican Carol in 1954

The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927

A Flood of Dust and Dirt Buried Everything in Its Path During the Dust Bowl in 1936

Debris Flow From Caraballeda Flooding in 1999

A Town Near Sumatra Devastated by Flooding in 2004

1936 Potomac River Flood

With the Capitol Building visible in the top right of the image.

Beach Homes Destroyed by Flooding From Hurricane Sandy in 2012

Rowing Through City Streets After the 1910 Paris Flood

Nepalese Flooding in 2013 Eroded Away The Hillside

Square Trousseau During the 1910 Flooding of Paris

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 17:11:33 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/historical-pictures-of-floods/jordan-love
<![CDATA[16 Horrible Crimes People Got Away with Because of Diplomatic Immunity]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/crime-and-diplomatic-immunity/jacobybancroft

In a perfect world, the people chosen as diplomats - people who represent their home country - would be relatively good people. But, that's not always the case, as this list of crimes committed under diplomatic immunity shows. Diplomats have committed some serious crimes over the years, including rape, child molestation, assault, and even murder. And in many cases, authorities haven't done a thing thanks to diplomatic immunity.

Movie fans reading this list will obviously think of Lethal Weapon 2. At the movie's conclusion, the bad guy gets away thanks to - you guessed it - diplomatic immunity. Of course, Danny Glover wouldn't let that happen, as he spouts off his famous remark: "It's just been revoked" and shot him on the spot. But that was just a movie. We live in the real world, and sadly not all diplomats can have their immunity revoked. 

Check out the list of crimes people weren't charged for, then take a moment to shake your head in disgust because sometimes the world just isn't fair.

16 Horrible Crimes People Got Away with Because of Diplomatic Immunity,

Diplomat Refuses to Pay Rent and Gets Away With It

Thanks to the United Nations, New York City has the largest diplomatic community in the world, and they all need places to live. And some landlords may find that getting these tenants to pay their rent on time - or at all - isn't so easy.  Landlords can evict their diplomatic tenants, but that can take months, and diplomats will likely ignore eviction notices. All the while, the rent just accumulates. And getting all that money back may never happen. In one instance, a landlord employed a collection agency to try and recoup more than $21,000 from a West African country that rented two luxury apartments in Manhattan for their diplomats.

The Pipe Smoking "Terrorist"

Back in 2010, a Qatari Embassy worker named Mohammed Al-Madadi was getting a little antsy on his flight to Denver. He went to the bathroom, disabled the smoke detector, and started smoking his pipe. Flight attendants noticed the smoky atmosphere and when they confronted him, they noticed the lighter in his hand. They asked him to hand it over, but he said, "no." They asked what he was doing and he said he was lighting his shoes on fire, a direct reference to the shoe bomber in 2001. 

Air Marshals got involved, fighter jets were scrambled, and the pilot notified the ground of possible terrorist activity. Of course, the guy just wanted to have a smoke, but there was no reason to lie to the marshals about it. The real kicker is that Al-Madadi was flying to Colorado to meet with an incarcerated al-Qaeda operative. After all that, no charges were ever filed because of his diplomatic immunity.  

Burmese Ambassador Burns His Wife's Body In Front of Everyone

One of the worst examples of abuse of diplomatic immunity happened in 1979 when the Burmese ambassador to Sri Lanka allegedly murdered his wife. She was allegedly having an affair and when he found out, he killed her. The next morning, the neighbors told police that the ambassador had built a funeral pyre in his back yard, where he placed his wife's body. The police arrived at the scene, but couldn't enter his land because his diplomatic immunity effectively made it Burmese territory. They could do nothing but watch the man burn his wife's body. The Ambassador was eventually recalled to his country - key word eventually. He actually remained the ambassador for some time before being recalled. 

Child Predator Gets Off Scot-Free

Back in 2005, Virginia police did their best imitation of Chris Hansen and set out to catch a predator. They set up a sting operation where they discovered a man in his 40s allegedly looking to have sex with a 13-year-old girl. The man drove for hours to meet her, promising to teach her about sex, but of course it was a trap and cops arrested the man. Yay! Victory for the good guys, right?

Wrong. Turns out the man, Salem Al-Mazrooei, was a diplomat from United Arab Emirates. The cops were forced to let the him go and a few days later, Al-Mazrooei returned to his country like nothing had happened. 

Diplomats Slaughter a Sheep in the Middle of the Street

Every country has its own set of customs and traditions that seem a little wacky and misguided to foreigners. For example, other countries don't worship reality television stars quite like we do in America, and many Americans can't wrap their head around something like ritual slaughter. In 1984, an Iranian diplomat, along with five other Iranians, took a sheep from a house in London, and then proceeded to slit its throat in the middle of the street. Normally authorities would punish the accused under Britain's animal cruelty laws, but since the man had diplomatic immunity, charges were never filed. It's unclear which unfortunate soul had to clean up the mess.  

Shots Fired - From the Embassy

In April of 1984, anti-Gaddafi demonstrators were protesting outside the Libyan embassy in the UK, when suddenly shots rang out. Someone from within the embassy opened fire on the crowd, injuring 10 people, and killing a person named Yvonne Fletcher. What happened next was a giant game of "what can we do here?" Police surrounded the embassy, but couldn't go inside, leading to days of waiting. Eventually, the Powers that Be allowed the diplomats to leave the embassy and return to Libya without any major repercussions and Fletcher's murder remained unsolved for close to 30 years. 

An Attempted Assassination Ruins US Pakistan Relations

It sounds like something straight out of a Matt Damon movie: two men on a motorcycle attempted to assassinate a US diplomat named Raymond Davis in Pakistan in 2011. The men came at him in a crowded intersection with their guns drawn, but Davis acted fast and shot both of them. An American consulate vehicle tried to aid Davis, but it accidently hit and killed an innocent civilian. Tensions grew even higher when the US embassy demanded that Pakistani authorities free Davis on grounds of diplomatic immunity. The entire ordeal effectively ended good relations between the US and Pakistan. 

Indian Government Recalls Diplomat After Allegations of Spousal Abuse

You might expect decency from a person with a fancy title like Economic Minister, but apparently it's just a fancy term for wife beater. In January 2011, the British government requested to waive diplomatic immunity for Anil Verma, the Economic Minister at the Indian High Commission in London. Why? He allegedly assaulted and attacked his wife after an argument in 2010. In this case, the Indian government complied and justice was served. Just kidding! The Indian government denied the request and instead recalled Verma to New Delhi. 

Saudi Arabia Diplomat Accused of Raping Two Women for Months

Majed Hassan Ashoor, the First Secretary at the Saudi Arabian embassy in New Delhi, was accused in 2015 of raping two Nepalese maids under his employment for over three months. Indian Police eventually rescued the women, who said the man would constantly bring over guests, seven or eight at a time, and they would all take turns raping the women. Doctors examined the women after police rescued them and found infections, bruises, and other damage to sensitive areas, corroborating their accounts.

No arrests have been made, with the Saudi Embassy claiming the reports are false and condemning the Indian government for raiding the diplomatic property to rescue the women. Amid all these events, the diplomat quickly fled to the safety of home. 

Diplomats Attempt to Kidnap and Extradite a Man Using an Immunity Sticker

Just in case diplomatic immunity didn't already give a diplomat too much privilege, they also have special diplomat bags and pouches meant for legal documents. These things can't be searched - no matter what. What if you hear someone screaming in the box or bag? You still can't search it. This actually happened back in 1984 when Nigerians and Israelis attempted to kidnap a man in London so they could bring him back to Nigeria. They planned to put him in a box and slap it with a diplomatic immunity sticker. But fortunately they didn't get away with it. And that was only because the paperwork was filed incorrectly. 

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 10:08:38 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/crime-and-diplomatic-immunity/jacobybancroft
<![CDATA[How Firing Squads Have Worked Throughout History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/shooting-squads-throughout-history/aaron-edwards

As soon as mankind learned to shoot, it figured out how to use that power to kill. The history of shooting squads is very long, though the practice is quickly becoming a relic of the past. If you're wondering "when did shooting squads start?" or "how did shooting squads start?", hold your horses, that information is coming, along with a number of other fascinating facts and anecdotes about the history of firing squads.  

The invention of gunpowder (and the firearms that use it) was the catalyst for firing squads becoming the standard method of execution for militaries across centuries. Many traitors, spies, and war criminals met their end to men with rifles, and are memorialized in the annals of shooting squads in history.

Even though guns are more lethal than ever in the 21st century, firing squads are out of fashion. Many countries have banned them, and the countries where firing squads are still legal are slowly becoming disinterested in them as a form of execution. However, you can always count on one aggressive or militant nation to carry on the tradition (in the event you want the tradition carried on). If you’re curious what firing squads have been like across history, check out the list below.

How Firing Squads Have Worked Throughout History,

How Traditional Firing Squads Work

A traditional firing squad is a basic set up, one you've surely seen in movies, paintings, or historical photographs. The condemned stands before a surface from which bullets won't ricochet ( a wall, a hill, a mound, sandbags), is sometimes tied to a post or restrained in another way, is more often than not blindfolded, and faces a line of armed men or women who mow the condemned down in a fusillade of lead. If the condemned doesn't die in the initial hail of bullets, the commanding officer of the squad may shoot him or her in the head with a pistol. 

Firing squads typically use rifles, though in some cases pistols have been used. All members of a firing squad are ordered to fire simultaneously, to avoid singling out a shooter as the one who fired the fatal shot. The firing squad generally targets the chest, both to avoid unnecessary damage to the head and face (for burial purposes), and because the chest is a larger, easier target than the head. In some places, there's a tradition of carrying out execution by firing squad at dawn, hence the phrase "shot at dawn."

The Blindfold Serves Two Primary Purposes

The hood worn by prisoners during execution by firing squad serves two primary purposes. It dehumanizes the condemned, making it easier for the firing squad to perform its function without an emotional response. The target on the chest further reinforces the notion that the firing squad isn't killing a human being, but merely aiming at a target and firing. Secondly, it prevents the condemned from witnessing his or her own death, saving the individual, in his or her final moments, from looking into the faces and down the barrels of the guns that will bring about imminent demise. However, it's not unheard of for a prisoner to request to go without a hood or blindfold; to look death in the face. 

In 21st Century America, Firing Squads Follow a Very Specific Procedure

Formal firing squads typically follow a step-by-step process. In Utah, the only state to use firing squads in 2016, the condemned is sat in a chair in front of a wooden panel flanked by sandbags. The sandbags are designed to stop bullets from ricocheting. A target is placed on the condemned's heart, because the chest is a large, easy target. The condemned is given two minutes for final words, which in the past have ranged from feelings of remorse to one final clever comment. The firing squad is then instructed to aim, then fire. 

The First Firing Squads Used Archers

Firing squads went mainstream as firearms became widely available, but were around for more than 1,000 years before guns were invented. Typically, the accused was tied to a tree or post then shot full of arrows from a contingent of archers. It’s depicted that Roman archers executed enemies of the state

Vikings also used arrow firing squads, notably when they executed King Edmund in 780 CE. In that particular case, however, it's said that they had to finish him off with an old fashioned beheading. 

Death by Firing Squad Is Typically a Military Execution

Sure, there are hangings and beheadings in the annals of military executions, but firing squads have been the go-to method of dispatching soldiers for a few centuries, chiefly for symbolic and disciplinary reasons. Using a firing squad makes punishment a communal event. The offender is killed by his or her peers, using weapons the soldiers all use in combat. It also reinforces the idea of the community (the firing squad) over and against the individual (the offender). 

The Transition from Military to Civilian Executions

It's unknown when, in the United States, firing squads transitioned from military to civilian executions. According to Louis J. Palmer, Jr, author of An American Citizen's Guide to Understand Federal and State Laws, death by firing squad was part of civilian law by the 1850s. In making its transition from a military to civilian punishment, firing squads attracted criticism, some going so far as the argue they're unconstitutional, as per the Eight Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment). 

The Case of Saint Sebastian: The Horrors of Archer Firing Squads

Before Christianity became the primary religion of Rome, Christians faced persecution. One of the more famous Christians to feel the wrath of Rome was Sebastian, one of the earliest Christian saints. Throughout his life, Sebastian tried to conceal his faith, but was eventually discovered by Romans, and sentenced to death by Emperor Diocletian.

Legend has it Sebastian was tied to a stake in the middle of a field and shot so full of arrows he looked like a porcupine. The Romans left him to die, but he didn't, and a Christian woman found him and nursed him back to health. Sebastian confronted the emperor on his treatment of Christians, and Diocletian ordered him beaten to death and thrown in a sewer. Dag. Bad call, Sebastian. 

Executioners Sometimes Get Guns Filled with Blanks

Even if executing a soldier for desertion or treason, you might get a little emotional when pulling the trigger. After all, you might be killing someone with whom you served, whose family you know well. Or maybe you don’t want to live with the guilt of killing an unarmed man. Hence the custom of at least one member of a firing squad receiving a gun loaded with blanks. No one on the squad knows which gun is loaded with blanks, so it's impossible to know who fired the shot that killed the condemned. 

Civilian Firing Squads Are Typically Made of Volunteers

In the 21st century, firing squads are easier to assemble than finding someone to administer lethal injection. In 2006, 298 anesthesiologists turned down the job of giving a lethal injection which goes against the Hippocratic Oath. There are plenty of people in the world, on the other hand, eager to volunteer to blow someone away. Despite the potential psychological damage of murdering someone, Utah State Representative Paul Ray (the only state using firing squads for the death penalty in 2016) has said, "There are always more volunteers than spots on the squad."

In the instance of a military death by firing squad, members are conscripted from ranks. 

The Size of a Firing Squad Varies

While it may take only one bullet to kill a man, firing squads use several to get the job done. Aside from the symbolic nature of the act (a lone dissenter against the orderly group), using a group of executioners ensures there will be enough hits to finish the job. But how many is enough?

Well, it depends. In the past, firing squads have had as many as a dozen members, but a 2004 execution in Utah employed only five. The reason for this may come down to the accuracy of modern weapons. The Utah executioners used .30 Winchester rifles, bound to hit their mark more easily than a musket. In the picture above, there are seven men (plus an officer) in the squad that executed Emperor Don Maximiliano I in Mexico.

Mon, 31 Oct 2016 08:59:24 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/shooting-squads-throughout-history/aaron-edwards
<![CDATA[What Is Donald Trump Hiding in His Tax Returns?]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/donald-trump-tax-returns/jacob-shelton

Like a circus performer holding onto a tight rope for dear life, Donald Trump has found one more non-issue to hold onto during the 2016 presidential election. Donald Trump's taxes have become a sticking point for people across the political spectrum: Hillary’s people and classic conservatives want them released, alt-righters are cheering on Trump for refusing to release his tax returns, and regular Americans are trying to figure out what all of this means, and more importantly, what's in Donald Trump's tax returns? Wild theories abound, and while it’s likely that the craziest ideas probably aren’t true, there’s still a possibility that Trump is hiding a few damning tax practices in his IRS returns.

Why won't Donald Trump releases his tax returns? The real answer is probably closer to “he’s a smug, rich bully who doesn’t think rules apply to him,” but it would be a lot more fun (and less depressing) if his tax returns were full of donations from Russia and North Korea. For Donald Trump, tax returns present the problem of exposing him for the huckster that he truly is. If he’s really as wealthy as he says, he would have released his returns months ago and not thought twice about the issue. Or maybe he’s worried that the American people will feel inadequate when we see how much money he really makes.

Vote up the things in Trump’s tax returns that you think he wants to keep quiet, and if you think there’s something nefarious hiding in The Donald’s tax returns not covered here – tell everyone in the comments.

What Is Donald Trump Hiding in His Tax Returns?,

The Actual Cost of the Make America Great Again Hats

A Near-Total Lack of Charitable Donations

Something Called "The Donald's Big Bizness Plan"

Millions of Dollars in Black Lives Matter Donations

A Bevy of Offshore Accounts

That He Uses the 1040 EZ When Filing His Returns

No Actual Assets

His Many Attempts to Write Off His Real Doll Collection as a Business Expense

That's He's Making Campaign Contributions to Himself from Shell Corporations

That He's a Stakeholder in Fox News and Breitbart

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 05:21:28 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/donald-trump-tax-returns/jacob-shelton
<![CDATA[TV Show Military Theory and Epic Battles That Were Actually Pretty Accurate]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/accurate-tv-military-theory-battles/morgan-deane

Everybody loves a good action scene, but they're especially difficult to pull off on television. Smaller budgets combined with sometimes restrictive network censoring can make it hard for action sequences to seem realistic. But there are some TV military battles that execute that balance of real-world inspiration and fantastical imagery perfectly. These scenes are usually the culmination of a season (or seasons) of drama and character development, and examining military history and theory helps us understand and appreciate accurate battles in TV even more.

From historically accurate battles in Game of Thrones to military theory in Battlestar Galactica, this list examines moments when TV action scenes were influenced by real military strategies. And, of course, here's your obligatory spoiler alert: this list discusses major plot points on Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica, The 100, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Walking Dead.

TV Show Military Theory and Epic Battles That Were Actually Pretty Accurate,

The Battle of the Bastards from Game of Thrones Has Some Serious History Cred

Sun-Tzu, one of ancient China's most influential and famous military strategists, wrote in The Art of War, to gain the upper hand over an opposing army, "...a commander-in-chief may be robbed of his presence of mind." And on Game of Thrones, that's exactly what Ramsay Bolton did to Jon Snow by killing Jon's brother, Rickon, right in front of him during the show's sixth season. The anger over his brother’s death clouded Jon’s judgment and he engaged in a foolish battle even after his sister, Sansa, warned him not to. 

Ramsay's forces greatly outnumbered Jon's, but fueled by anger, he and his troops unwisely charged across a muddy battlefield. Their attack stalled; they kept getting struck by arrows, and the bodies piled up quickly.

At the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years' War, the English and French armies faced off across a narrow field. The land had recently been ploughed and the loose soil combined with recent rain meant the French quickly got stuck in the mud. They were shot by English archers and soon they started trampling each other and dying despite outnumbering their English opponents. 


During the Battle of Cannae in 216 BCE, Carthaginian general Hannibal led his comparatively few troops in battle against the Romans. But the number of troops he had made no difference, because Hannibal had something more important: a brilliant strategy. The Carthaginian army enveloped the Romans in a semi-circle, surrounding them from three sides. The Romans were trapped, and with no quick way to retreat, were hacked to death.

Hannibal and his army had fewer troops than the Romans and still managed to come out on top, so it's not much of a surprise that when Ramsay - who, again, had a lot more men than Jon - pulled a nearly identical stunt, it seemed like all hope was lost. Luckily for Jon, his sister had contacted Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vale, who released them from the trap. Their real-life counterparts at the Battles of Agincourt and Cannae were not as fortunate.

Gifts and Bribes in Game of Thrones

Littlefinger didn’t grow up in a great house with a large army. He had to amass power slowly and surely. But through the clever use of spies, information gained from brothels, gifts to the child of Lady Arryn, and manipulation of those around him, he gained a house, an army, and turned himself into a leading contender for the Iron Throne.

Not all of Chinese military theory is based on armies and fighting. The Six Secret Teachings of T’ai Kung provide instructions on how to wage revolutionary warfare. It suggests that a ruler or future ruler from a position of weakness can undermine his enemies through seducing women, bribes, and whisper campaigns. These items would undermine the moral power of the ruler and give the powerless a chance to manipulate those in power.  Littlefinger executed this plan perfectly to gain power.

Focalism in Battlestar Galactica

In the premiere episode of Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica (the 2004 series), the New Caprica colony has been overrun by Cylons, Starbuck is trapped in a Lost-type nightmare, others are in prison, Colonel Tigh is missing an eye, and the Battlestar is forced to retreat. Things are, to put it mildly, not looking good.

But a group of resistance fighters plants a bomb in a Cylon dock, and when Tigh is freed, he enlists suicide bombers to blow up police graduation ceremonies and other places where Cylons will be. This is rightfully a controversial episode, with the morality of suicide bombers and the line between insurgency and terrorism debated by the leaders.

Leaving that argument aside for a second, the use of violence against government forces is a key part of Che Guevara’s idea called focalism. A small group of people can focus the people’s attention by attacking government forces and targets with impunity. It undermines the perception that the government is in charge and, combined with the lack of law and order it induces, the people side with the rebels. Not bad for an old man with one eye.

The Orthodox and Unorthodox in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Chinese military theorist Sun Tzu wrote about orthodox and unorthodox attacks in The Art of War. The orthodox was a normal attack meant to hold the enemy in place. This was designed to expose the enemy to an unexpected, and unorthodox, flank attack. But if an enemy is expecting a flank attack, the unorthodox attack can be orthodox. 

These are fluid terms that can change meaning several times in the course of even a single battle depending on the relative surprise of a maneuver. This turned warfare into a battle of wits, where the attacker trying to launch a surprise attack might, in turn, be ambushed, or an attacker that expects a surprise assault could be shocked by a “normal” frontal strike.

All of this comes into play in Buffy the Vampire Slayer's two-part Season 3 finale, where the evil mayor of Sunnydale allied with the vampires. At Buffy's graduation, the vampires appeared under the cover of a solar eclipse. They held the victims (the graduating students) in the kill zone, which would have allowed a giant snake to swoop in and destroy them. Buffy had other plans. She secretly armed her classmates, and using the weapons under their robes, they fought back and pulled off a surprise attack, countering the vampires' initial surprise attack against the students.

Diamond Formation in The Walking Dead

Early in the third season of The Walking Dead, the members of Rick’s group find a prison and decide to make it their new home. There's only one problem: it's overrun with walkers. As they move forward against hordes of walkers on every side, they assume a diamond formation and Rick growls at them to maintain formation. Through their disciplined effort and teamwork, they managed to clear what the Governor’s group had concluded was impossible. 

Historian Victor David Hanson and others describe a "Western way of war" largely based on the discipline formations of heavy infantry. Starting with part-time farmers in ancient Greece that would don their armor, assume their formations on the battlefield, and then charge the enemy with their long spears, this would form the basis of Western dominance over much larger groups of seasoned warriors. 

Groups like the Aztecs, Zulus, and Iroquois had wildly ferocious warriors and often larger numbers than Western settlers and armies, but using discipline to maintain formation, average people without any martial skills or even hunting experience could defeat larger numbers of scary warriors to the point that 100 second-rate British soldiers and supply cooks defeated thousands Zulus at the Battle of Rorke’s Drift. Father Gabriel doesn’t seem quite as useless now, huh?

Dividing the Alliance in The 100

In the two-part Season 2 finale of The 100, Clarke cobbles together an army of Sky People and Grounders to storm Mount Weather. Forty-seven of the 100, along with many Grounders, are being held inside the mountain and are about to be killed. With time running out until the captured 100 and Grounders are drained of their bone marrow, Clarke and her coalition army charge Mount Weather. When they reach the gate, the Grounders stop in almost comical Monty Python style. The leader of the Grounders made a deal with the Mountain Men behind Clarke's back: all the Grounders would retreat if the Grounder prisoners were released. The prisoners are handed over, the Grounders stand down, and Clark is left without a large portion of her army. 

The strategy used by the Mountain Men actually dates all the way back to the 6th century. The Byzantine Empire occupied a rather central position in Eastern Europe, which meant they were often beset by enemies. They didn’t have the manpower and transportation to have large armies on every front from the North coast of the Black sea, to what is now Syria in the Middle East and what is now central Europe. Instead of always trying to fight enemies on every side, they relied on very subtle diplomacy to ease their military obligations. Like the Mountain Men, the military theory in the Strategikon (a sort of training manual for the Byzantine Army) suggested dividing their enemies by offering concessions to one member of the alliance. This would break up the coalition against them and stall many offensives.

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 15:48:08 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/accurate-tv-military-theory-battles/morgan-deane
<![CDATA[25 Famous Black Female Politicians Who Are Great Role Models]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/black-female-politicians/celebrity-lists

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, it's undeniable that these black female politicians are impressive individuals. Many famous black female politicians have served in the U.S. House of Representatives while other black women politicians have served as mayors. Many top black female politicians got their start in the civil rights movement.

Who will you find on this list of notable black female politicians? Condoleezza Rice made history when she became the first female African-American Secretary of State in 2005. She held the office – serving under George W. Bush – until 2009. First Lady Michelle Obama is also an incredibly popular black female politician, thanks to her stance on issues including children's health and poverty awareness. Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress. She served in the U.S. House of Representatives for New York from 1969-1983. Other women featured on this roundup of top black female politicians include Kamala Harris, Carol Moseley Braun, and Fannie Lou Hamer.

Which black female politician do you think has had the biggest impact on history? Take a look at this list and get in on the conversation in the comments section.

25 Famous Black Female Politicians Who Are Great Role Models,

Angela Davis

Angela Davis was involved in the civil rights movement and was associated with the Black Panther Party. In the 1980s, Davis ran for Vice President twice on the Communist Party USA ticket.

Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan was a politician from Texas who served in the U.S. Senate and in the House of Representatives in the late 1960s and 1970s. Among her many accomplishments, she was the first African-American woman to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.

Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice has held many offices, most notably as Secretary of State from 2005-2009.

Constance Baker Motley

Constance Baker Motley blazed many political trails in New York. She was the first black woman to serve in the state's senate, the first female borough president of Manhattan, and the first black woman to serve as a federal judge.

Dorothy Height

Dorothy Height was the president of the National Council of Negro Women. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights leader who held the vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris has been the Attorney General of California since 2011.

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama worked as a lawyer before her husband, Barack Obama, began his political career. She served as First Lady of the United States from 2009-2017, championing issues including children's health and support for military families.

Patricia Roberts Harris

Patricia Roberts Harris held many offices in the Carter Administration, including that of United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress. She served in the U.S. House of Representatives for New York from 1969-1983. Chisholm was also the first black candidate – and woman – to run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:29:12 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/black-female-politicians/celebrity-lists
<![CDATA[The 14 Most Gruesome Ways Pirates Have Killed People Throughout History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/ways-pirates-killed-people/nathan-gibson

Pirates have often been seen as bloodthirsty and vicious criminals who would commit evil acts of violence without a second thought in order to secure treasure or evade justice. This perception can make people wonder about the grisly ways pirates killed people. However, just like with many portrayals of them on screen and in books, the truth is actually something quite different. In the same way that they didn’t walk around with parrots or speak in that infamous accent, the vast majority of pirates tried to avoid violence whenever possible.

This makes sense when you think about it. After all, if every pirate engagement ended with the crew being tortured and executed, it would cause sailors to make life as difficult as possible for the invaders. They would likely fight to the death rather than submit easily, something pirates wanted to happen so they could make a quick getaway.

That did not stop some of the swashbucklers from committing some terrible deeds. How did pirates kill people? Sometimes they had to torture a person to find out information, kill prisoners to keep them from escaping, or even make an example of a fellow pirate who had turned against his crew. Whatever the case, pirates had some fairly ingenious and gruesome ways of murdering their enemies that will make your skin crawl.

The 14 Most Gruesome Ways Pirates Have Killed People Throughout History,

A Dutch Pirate Roasted Farmers Alive

Roche Braziliano was a Dutch pirate who lived between 1630 and 1671. He operated mainly near the Caribbean island of Jamaica, where he would come into constant conflict with Spanish farmers and sailors. He was particularly cruel and was described by people at the time as a barbarian, thanks to the violent rampages he would routinely go on. But he saved the worst punishment for two farmers who refused to tell him where their pigs were located: he cut off their limbs and roasted them alive on a spit over a fire.

Some Pirates Really Did Make People Walk the Plank

Media often depicts "walking the plank" as the standard means of killing people for pirates. While it was used very occasionally, it was often considered too theatrical for common use. The actual method of making someone walk the plank was also much more horrific than films generally make it out to be. Pirates would bind their prisoners with rope so that they could not swim and weigh them down with cannonballs to ensure they would sink. Finally, they would often drop the unfortunate captives into shark-infested waters as a way of guaranteeing they would die.

A French Pirate Pulled Out a Victim’s Heart and Ate It

François l'Olonnais was a French pirate who became well-known throughout the Caribbean for his ruthlessness. He was willing to go to extreme lengths in order to get what he wanted, including torturing prisoners to extract information. This culminated in 1668 when he set sail for Honduras. There, he captured several Spanish soldiers and interrogated them to find the safest route to pass through to Central America. Finding that his methods were not working, he cut open the chest of one of the men before pulling out his heart and eating it in front of him.

One Pirate Cut Off His Victims' Lips, Ears, and Noses

It was not uncommon for pirates to mutilate their enemies and prisoners during interrogations. In fact, it was one of the standard punishments for those who had disobeyed the rules set down by the captain and his crew. Standard mutilations often involved cutting off the lips, ears, and noses of the victim before they were simply left to die. Edward Low was known to be particularly fond of this type of punishment and it is rumored that he once cut off the lips of a captain, boiled them, and then slaughtered his entire crew in the 1740s.

Black Bart Burned People Alive on Their Own Ships

Bartholomew Roberts, otherwise known as Black Bart, was another pirate who developed a reputation for his horrific methods. The extreme violence and lack of morals certainly seemed to help him, as he is arguably the most successful pirate of all time. He is estimated to have captured up to 400 ships during his career, which spanned from the late 17th century into the early 18th century. One of his favorite ways of dealing with ships he had plundered was to simply set them on fire and sail away. Unfortunately, he often did not bother to get passengers or crew off the ships before he set them alight. In one instance, Black Bart burned 80 slaves alive when he didn’t want to waste time unshackling them.

Ching Shih Would Nail Her Enemies' Feet to The Decks of Their Own Ships

Ching Shih is one of the most famous pirates who ever lived. Having begun her life as a prostitute, she was able to rise through the ranks of important Chinese pirate factions and eventually take command of hundreds of ships when her husband died in the early 19th century. Her favorite method of dealing with rival crews and enemies was to nail their feet to the deck of their own ship and proceed to beat them to death. The only way out of this horrendous torture was to agree to join her ranks and become part the Red Flag Fleet. This not only sent a message to anyone who would stand against her but also made sure she had plenty of replacement pirates to bolster her crews.

Montbars the Exterminator Nailed His Victims' Intestines to Posts

Daniel Montbars, who was also known as Montbars the Exterminator for his violent and cruel nature, was a 17th-century pirate. He became one of the biggest enemies of the Spanish Empire during his career and thus developed an intense hatred of any Spaniards he met. While he did not like to murder anyone without reason, he was merciless to any enemies that fought against him and would brutally torture any surviving soldiers. His favorite method was to cut open the stomach of a prisoner, pull out his intestines, and nail them to a post while hitting the man with a burning log.

Captain Morgan Popped Out Prisoners' Eyes Using a Metal Bar

The Welsh pirate Captain Henry Morgan was never afraid of getting violent when he needed to find out valuable information. This is exactly what he did when he sacked Portobelo in 1668, a valuable port that saw all kinds of precious commodities pass through, including a vast amount of gold. After taking over the city, he and his crew were unable to find all the treasure and so began to torture officials. The main method was something called woodling. It involved strapping a leather cord around a person’s forehead and then tightening it with a metal bar. Those who didn’t reveal information quickly enough would die when the pressure caused their eyeballs to pop out of their skulls.

Edward Low Liked Burning Prisoners' Hands Down to the Bone

Often called the most vicious pirate to have ever lived, Edward Low has become infamous for the maniacal violence he liked to inflict on his victims in the early 18th century. Though he had a rather short career, he quickly acquired an enjoyment from carrying out extreme torture. One of the cruelest acts he developed saw him tie up the hands of his prisoners with rope. He would then insert lit matches between the fingers so that the rope would burn. The flames would strip away the flesh and eventually burn down to the bone, killing the person from blood loss and shock.

Keelhauling Was a Common Practice

One of the worst ways to die at the hands of a pirate was through an act known as keelhauling. However, pirates were not the only group to use this method, as several navies also saw fit to punish people using it. The victim would be tied to a rope that looped around the entire length of the boat. The crew would then drag the victim under the ship and keel several times, leading to loss of limbs and even decapitation as they were torn to pieces by the hard wood and barnacles. Those who were not killed by the impact would undoubtedly drown.

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 12:15:46 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/ways-pirates-killed-people/nathan-gibson
<![CDATA[What Are the Seattle Seahawks Going to Do on 9/11?]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/what-are-the-seahawks-going-to-do-on-9-11/jacob-shelton

Predicting what the Seahawks will do during the National Anthem before their first regular season game is like predicting which way the wind is going to blow - you only know that it’s going to happen. When 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat during the National Anthem, his protest inspired athletes from diverse backgrounds to either follow suit in solidarity or publicly criticize his political statement. And now the Seattle Seahawks are planning something that will take place before their game on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil.

What are the Seattle Seahawks going to do during the National Anthem on 9/11? A protest? An act of overt patriotism? It's anyone's guess, as the team has been frustratingly vague. "It’s going to be a team thing," said linebacker Bobby Wagner. "That’s what the world needs to see. The world needs to see people coming together versus being individuals.”

Predictably, this has led to speculation, hyperbole, misleading headlines, and preemptive outrage. The fact is, however, that the world doesn't know what the NFL team is planning. Whether it's some form of protest or a new, politicized version of the Super Bowl Shuffle, the Seattle Seahawks September 11 move isn’t just a potentially important moment for sports, it’s an event that could cause people from all walks of life to think about what it means to be an American, as well as the implications of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Vote up the actions you think the Seahawks will undertake during the National Anthem at the 2016-2017 season opener.

What Are the Seattle Seahawks Going to Do on 9/11?,

Sit on the Sideline


Nothing, They're Bluffing

Introduce New Black Lives Matter-Inspired Uniforms

Take a Knee

A Group Hug

Wrap Themselves in American Flags

Eat a Piece of Apple Pie

Invite Members of Black Lives Matter onto the Field

Bust Out Their New Black Lives Matter Armbands

Sun, 11 Sep 2016 19:11:35 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/what-are-the-seahawks-going-to-do-on-9-11/jacob-shelton
<![CDATA[15 Secret WWII Operations So Crazy They Might Have Been Genius]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/wwii-secret-missions/philgibbons

Covert operations carried out by Allied and Axis powers during World War II included some truly astonishing enterprises. Not all of these WWII secret missions were successful (in fact, several were abject failures), but they all involved remarkable ingenuity and/or extraordinary bravery. Some WWII covert operations required the focused activities of a few highly skilled individuals, others involved entire armies intent on changing the course of the war. However you slice it, though, they were all pretty nuts.  

The World War 2 secret operations on this list cover all major players, and the European and Pacific theaters, of the war. Some of these operations shifted the course of the war, others were desperate attempts to do just that as the conflict neared its conclusion. Read on to learn about some lesser known secret operations from the Second World War. 

15 Secret WWII Operations So Crazy They Might Have Been Genius,

Operation Jubilee Was Anything but Jubilant

Almost two years before D-Day, the Allies launched an attack on the northern French coastline, at the port town of Dieppe. While this was meant as a raid and not an invasion, the mission was a disaster and an embarrassment. More than 6,000 British and Canadian soldiers attempted to seize and hold Dieppe, destroy German military positions, and practice a large scale amphibious invasion in what was known as Operation Jubliee.

Unfortunately, German troops were prepared for the assault, and deployed extensive defensive positions in anticipation. None of the Allied objectives were met and, 10 hours after the initial landing, Operation Jubilee was aborted. More than 1,000 Allied troops were killed or wounded, almost 2,000 men were captured, and it wasn't until June 1944 that a similar attack was attempted. Still, many lessons learned at Dieppe were incorporated into the successful implementation of Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. 

Operation Cherry Blossoms at Night and Japanese Biological Warfare

The Imperial Japanese Military routinely experimented with, and utilized, biological warfare during World War II. Its infamous Unit 731, commanded by Major Shiro Ishii, conducted ghastly experiments involving hypothermia, induced heart attacks, and infectious disease on Chinese civilians and even American POWs. As a result, the Japanese developed biological weapons such as bombs that could spread plague, cholera, and anthrax. These weapons were used repeatedly against Chinese cities and killed thousands of non-combatants.

Japan was hesitant to use biological weapons against the US, but as defeat loomed and the Japanese war effort became increasingly desperate, Ishii planned a massive biological attack on Southern California. Operation Cherry Blossoms at Night would direct five long distance submarines to the vicinity of San Diego. The subs would launch specially designed dive bombers carrying plague-infected fleas. The pilots of these planes would crash at the earliest opportunity, hoping to induce a plague pandemic.  

Although the plan was approved in March of 1945, logistics prevented it from being implemented before Japan's surrender. Ishii used his extensive knowledge of biological warfare to avoid war crimes prosecution, and died in 1959.   

Operation Mincemeat: The Man Who Never Was

In early 1943, British intelligence was asked to help conceal Allied intentions of invading Sicily that summer. Germany and the Allies were involved in a high stakes deception/ guessing game to determine just exactly where the first European attack would occur. Two British intelligence officers came up with the idea of Operation Mincemeat, a plan to disseminate false information by allowing the Germans to "accidentally" discover faked top secret documents.  

To carry out Operation Mincemeat, the British acquired the cadaver of homeless man Glyndwr Michael, transforming him into "Captain William Martin, Royal Marines."  By the time a submarine crew pushed Michael/Martin's body gently into the water off the coast of Spain, he was handcuffed to a briefcase stuffed with falsified military documents and mundane items like keys, theater tickets, and a photograph of a nonexistent girlfriend.

Information concerning a supposed upcoming invasion of Greece was included in an official letter between two British generals. The British hoped Spanish authorities would turn this material over to German intelligence, and it would make its way up the chain of command, which is exactly what happened. Hitler had already decided Greece would be the next Allied objective. Based on info recovered from the British corpse, he diverted men, equipment, and even Erwin Rommel to Greece. When the Allies invaded Sicily on July 9, they were met with minimal resistance.  

Heroic Czech Resistance Executed Operation Anthropoid

In September 1941, Reinhard Heydrich, high-ranking Nazi official and a primary architect of the holocaust, was named Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia (formerly Czechoslovakia).  He immediately declared martial law, began executing political prisoners and intelligentsia, and deported the sizable Czech Jewish community.  The Czech government, exiled in London, decided to assassinate Heydrich.  

On December 29, 1941, after extensive training by British intelligence, two Czech agents, Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik  as part of Operation Anthropoid, were successfully parachuted into Czechoslovakia. They spent six months perfecting a plan with local resistance fighters. On May 27, 1942, Kubis and Gabcik waited along Heydrich's usual morning route to the Nazi's Prague headquarters. The Reich Protector arrogantly rode in an open Mercedes convertible, thinking an attack by local citizens was inconceivable.

As Heydrich's vehicle slowed at an L-shaped curve, Gabcik pointed a machine gun at Heydrich, but it misfired. Heydrich ordered his driver to stop so he could shoot Gabcik when Kubis tossed a grenade, which detonated near the car's right fender. Both agents escaped and Heydrich, initially thinking he was uninjured, died on June 4.

Kubis and Gabcik were betrayed by a resistance member and died heroically, on June 18, after a gunfight with the Gestapo at a Prague church. The pair were played by Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy in the 2016 film Anthropoid

Operation Frankton, Beyond Heroism

The French port of Bordeaux, a major shipping center, was crucial in supplying the German occupation in France. In 1942, an elite Royal Marine commando squad was ordered to penetrate the 50-mile-long Gironde River estuary, proceed to the port, and destroy as many cargo ships as possible with timed explosive devices. Because the estuary was heavily protected, the mission would have to be carried out by six canoes, with two man crews paddling all the way to Bordeaux. The mission was named Operation Frankton

After launching from a submarine at the mouth of the estuary on the night of December 7, one canoe was damaged immediately, one capsized in five foot swells, and two crews were captured before they made it to the port, leaving the last two canoes to carry out the mission. They hid by day, on December 8, and continued on with their plan that night. 

Each of the surviving teams attached mines to four cargo ships, then left the port. The plan called for them to destroy their canoes and attempt to reach the Spanish border. Only two of the four remaining crew members made it. Of the 10 saboteurs, two drowned, six were captured and executed under Hitler's Commando Order, and two made it to Spain, from where they returned to to Great Britain.    

Operation Chastise, aka The Dam Busters

The strategic value of Germany's Ruhr River dams was well known to Allied intelligence. The torpedo netting and anti-aircraft defense systems at the dams made traditional bombing an unlikely and costly prospect. Under the supervision of the British Admiralty, a special drum-shaped bomb was devised. When released with a rapid backspin, the bomb would skip along the river surface, strike a dam, then sink. Water pressure then activated a special hydrostatic fuse to detonate the bomb.  

On May 17 and 18, 1943, 19 British Lancaster planes bombed four different Ruhr Valley dams in a mission known as Operation Chastise. The bombers successfully breached two dams, causing tremendous destruction. Two hydroelectric plants were disabled, 1,600 civilians (mostly foreign slave laborers) were killed, and massive flooding ensued. While the effectiveness of the operation, which had a more-than 40% British casualty rate, has been debated, the emotional impact of Operation Chastise at the time was undeniable.     

The Nazis, the World's Oldest Profession, and Operation Kitty

Kitty Schmidt ran the most luxurious brothel in Berlin, Salon Kitty, when Hitler came to power. Uncomfortable with the Nazi regime, Schmidt transported cash to British banks via Jewish refugees she helped escape Germany, with plans to leave herself. In June of 1939, she fled, but got no further than the Dutch border, where she was detained by the SD, the Nazi central security agency.  

From there, Kitty was taken to Gestapo headquarters, where she was interrogated by Walter Schellenberg, chief of the SD.  Schellenberg presented her with a choice: she could go to a concentration camp or keep her brothel open so the Gestapo could spy on its prestigious clientele. Kitty agreed to the latter. The brothel was quickly bugged and reopened. Nazi agents throughout Berlin sent unwitting foreign diplomats and military personnel to the salon and told them to use the code words "I come from Rothenburg."  

Marks sent to Kitty by the Gestapo, identified by the above code words, were handed a book containing photos of 20 specially trained women, whose job it was to debrief the subject, in more ways than one. This scheme operated until 1943, when Allied bombs damaged the building  housing the brothel beyond repair.  Kitty survived the war and lived with her secret until her death in 1954. Schellenberg was tried as a war criminal but, because of his extensive knowledge and cooperation (and poor health), only spent two years in prison.

Operation Oak, the Mission to Free Benito Mussolini

In July of 1943, after the successful Allied invasion of Sicily, facing the inevitable attack on the Italian mainland, Italian government officials deposed dictator Benito Mussolini. Mussolini was arrested and transported throughout Italy, eventually ending up at the Gran Sasso, an old hotel in the rugged Apennine mountains.  Hitler believed the Italians planned to surrender to, then join, the Allies, which would jeopardize Germany's southern defenses. He personally ordered Otto Skorzeny, a skilled commando and paratrooper, to locate and rescue Mussolini.

After tracking Mussolini around Italy - Italian authorities moved their prisoner regularly, to keep his location secret - Skorenzy intercepted a radio communication about Benito's movements. On September 12, 1943, Skorzeny directed 100 German paratroopers to the mountaintop hotel, where the Italian dictator was confined, and captured him without firing a shot. Amid great German propaganda fanfare, Mussolini was reinstalled as the head of the Italian Social Republic, the area controlled by Germany. Skorzeny received a promotion, medals, and the acclaim that would lead Winston Churchill to dub him "the most dangerous man in Europe."

Operation Gunnerside, the Most Crucial Mission of World War II

In February of 1942, nine men parachuted into the vicinity of Vemork, Norway.  They were Norwegians specially trained by British Special Operations, with plans of blowing up a Nazi-controlled heavy water plant in Vemork. Heavy water was a crucial element in the production of plutonium, an ingredient for the nuclear bomb Hitler's scientists were feverishly attempting to build. It was the only such facility in the world. 

The heavily fortified, remote plant was impervious to bombing; it could only be destroyed on site, which required scaling a 500-foot-high cliff in the dead of winter and infiltrating a heavily guarded basement laboratory. The nine Norwegians, led by 23-year-old Joachim Ronneborg, did just that, successfully detonating explosives that shut down the facility. The destruction of the Vemork plan was crucial in Albert Speer's decision to halt attempts to produce a Nazi atomic weapon.    

Operation Vengeance Literally Avenged Pearl Harbor

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, brilliant commander of the Imperial Japanese Navy, masterminded the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. In April of 1943, Yamamoto was conducting a morale building tour of Japanese positions in the Solomon Islands when American intelligence, having broken Japanese code, figured out his itinerary.  Presented with an opportunity to get the man responsible for Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt personally ordered the subtly-named Operation Vengeance.  

The mission required a 1,000-mile round trip, perfect timing, and the element of surprise, all of which Americans were able to pull off. On the morning of April 18, 1943, 18 American P-38 Lightning planes were in position to intercept the Japanese admiral. Over Bouganville Island, the Americans attacked Yamamoto's bomber and fighter escort.  In the ensuing dogfight, Yamamoto's plane was sent crashing into the jungle. His demoralizing death was kept secret from the Japanese people for more than a month.        

Sat, 10 Sep 2016 10:31:36 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/wwii-secret-missions/philgibbons
<![CDATA[9 Ruthless Black Widow Killers Whose Crimes Made History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/notorious-black-widows/robert-f-mason

Women were once considered the "fairer sex," and though almost nobody uses that term anymore, the lingering attitude still makes it a matter of great fanfare when women commit murder.  The most ruthless or prolific female murderers become famous black widows, ladies assumed to have used their feminine nature in some way to lure their victims.

Deadly black widows hold a particular fascination for crime buffs, horror fans, and internet man-babies alike, so it's only fitting that we examine some of them in a historical context. This list looks at high-profile cases of female murderers from times past, giving a run down of their alleged crimes, body counts, and ultimate fates.

9 Ruthless Black Widow Killers Whose Crimes Made History,

Aileen Wuornos

Aileen was the first woman to fit the FBI's official definition of a serial killer.

Between 1989 and 1990, Aileen killed seven men along Florida highways whom she later claimed had been trying to rape her (she was a sex worker at the time, supporting herself and her girlfriend, Tyria Moore, with the money she earned). But the fact that she robbed her victims' bodies and went out of her way to hide them helped convince a jury that the killings were more sinister.

Aileen's killing career came to an end when investigators were able to track her and Moore down using fingerprints and palm prints left behind in one of Aileen's victim's cars.

Moore cut a deal with police, and eventually got Aileen to confess over the phone to all seven murders, taking sole responsibility for them.

She was convicted of first-degree murder in one of the victim's cases, and sentenced to death in 1992.  During the next 10 years on death row, she eventually confessed to all of the murders she'd been accused of, and was put to death in 2002.

Body Count: 7

Fate: Death by lethal injection. Her story was the subject of the 2003 film Monster, starring Charlize Theron (who won an Oscar for her performance) in the role of Aileen.

Amy Archer-Gilligan

Amy ran a nursing home in Connecticut from 1907 to 1917, where a lot of people died. That, by itself, probably wouldn't have raised suspicions at the time, since medical science wasn't very advanced at the time.

It was the deaths of Amy's two husbands that first rose suspicions. Her first, James Archer, died in 1910, making Amy the beneficiary of his recently-purchased life insurance policy.  Her second husband, Michael Gilligan, died after only three months of marriage, also leaving Amy a substantial life insurance policy. Some people close to Amy began to have doubts about her.

Then, a complaint from a relative of one of the patients who'd died under Amy's care led to a police investigation, and several exhumations.  Both of her husband's bodies and those of all the patients who were exhumed tested positive for arsenic (are we seeing a pattern here?).

Nonetheless, she was tried on only one count of murder, and sentenced to death. But a new trial was granted to Amy, and her death sentence was commuted to life in prison.

Body Count: Possibly as high as 48.

Fate: Died in a mental hospital in 1962. Her story inspired Joseph Kesselring's classic play, Arsenic and Old Lace.

Belle Gunness

The one who (probably) got away with it.

Born Brynhild Paulsdatter Storseth in Norway, Belle Gunness emigrated to the U.S. with her sister and eventually married another Norwegian immigrant, Mads Sorenson, in 1884.  The marriage produced four children, two of whom died in infancy, and the couple ran a candy shop in Chicago. That business burned down a year later, paying out an insurance policy, and in 1900, Mads conveniently died on a day when his two life insurance policies overlapped.

Belle remarried Peter Gunness in 1902, and it wasn't long before mysterious deaths and disappearances surrounded her again. First to go was one of Peter's children from a previous marriage. Soon after came Peter himself, and then his adopted daughter, Jennie Olsen, vanished after raising questions about Belle's role in her father's death. Then, Belle started writing to men through a lonely hearts' club, and several of them disappeared after visiting with her, as well.

In 1908, her house burned to the ground. In its ruins were discovered: four bodies under the piano, including Gunness's three children and a decapitated woman whose measurements did not fit Belle's; the bodies of six of her suitors; and the bodies of two other children unrelated to Belle.  Her hired hand, Ray Lamphere, was arrested and convicted of arson. Before dying in prison, he told a minister that he had buried bodies for Belle after she murdered victims with strychnine or a meat cleaver and dismembered them.

Body Count: At least 15 people.

Fate: Unknown. None of the bodies in her burned-down house were identified as Belle, but she was never heard from again.

Lucrezia Borgia

Reviled through the ages as a Renaissance femme fatale who carried poison in her ring and used it to kill husbands and political rivals, Lucrezia Borgia's image has recently undergone a revision.  Historians now largely consider her a scapegoat who was actually quite pleasant, especially compared to her kinfolk, Spanish nobles who emigrated to Italy in the 15th Century and swiftly gained control of the Vatican.

Married three times (scandalous!), Lucrezia was often a pawn in the schemes of her father and brothers, and she is likely the only woman on this list who never actually killed anyone (though she has been accused of doing so for centuries).

Body Count: Unknown; likely zero.

Fate: Died after delivering her eighth child on June 14, 1519.

Mary Ann Cotton

England's first documented serial killer isn't Jack the Ripper.

Mary Ann Cotton likely killed 21 people, including three husbands, 12 of her 13 children, a lover, and her mother.  And her weapon of choice was - you guessed it - arsenic poisoning.

Three of her total four husbands and 12 of her children died of strangely similar gastric illnesses between 1852 and 1872. She avoided suspicion for years by moving constantly between towns throughout England.

Her killing spree ended when she predicted to a government official that her stepson, Charles Edward, would soon die.  Since Charles didn't look sick, the official reported his conversation to the police... and since he also happened to be the coroner, they listened.

Sure enough, Charles turned up dead a few days later, and the family doctor turned her in because he'd been warned by the coroner.  An examination of Charles's body found traces of arsenic poisoning, and this led to the exhumation of two other bodies of Mary's dead family members. They, too, showed signs of arsenic poisoning.

Mary was arrested, tried, and convicted of  murdering Charles, and was hanged for her trouble.

Body Count: 21

Fate: Death by hanging, 1873.

Tillie Klimek

Tillie had probably the most inventive alibi of all: she claimed to be a psychic, so when people whose deaths she predicted actually began dying off, she had built-in deniability.

Among her predictions were: her first, second, third, and fourth husbands; three children from a family that had given her some trouble; several dogs in the neighborhood; and her fifth husband, Anton, who was saved only because family members found him sick and had his stomach pumped.

Sure enough, his food had been poisoned with arsenic, and Tillie was arrested. She confessed to trying to kill him, and was given a life sentence.

She was not allowed to cook for any fellow inmates in prison, either, and suddenly, her psychic powers went away.

Body Count: 7

Fate: Died in prison in 1936.

Marie Manning

A Swiss immigrant to England, Manning is on our list not so much for the span of her crimes (she had only one victim) as for the sensation her crime spawned.

Marie had two suitors - a young man close to her age named Frederick Manning, and an older gentleman named Patrick O'Connor - who both proposed marriage. She chose Manning, who had promised he had an inheritance coming, but she maintained a "friendship" with O'Connor than many believe to have been sexual.

When it became clear that Frederick's inheritance was not forthcoming (he may have lied about that part), Marie hatched a plan with him to murder O'Connor and rob his house of everything they could find.  She invited O'Connor to dinner one night, where Marie shot him in the back of the head, and Frederick finished him off with a crowbar.  They then stashed his body in a hole they'd dug under the floorboards ahead of time, and packed it with quicklime to speed up the body's decomposition.

Over the next two days, Marie gathered whatever valuables and stock certificates she could find at O'Connor's residence.  But Frederick had squealed to friends, so they both had to flee London.  Marie went to Edinburgh, where she was arrested after trying to sell some of O'Connor's stock certificates.

The couple blamed one another at trial, and both were found guilty and publicly executed in 1849. Their case was such a sensation that 40,000 people showed up to witness their deaths. One of those people was Charles Dickens, whose letter of disgust to the Times of London helped pave the way for the abolition of public executions in Britain.

Body Count: 1

Fate: Publicly hanged alongside her husband and accomplice. They were the first married couple to be executed together in England since 1700. Marie became the inspiration for one of Dickens's characters, Madamoiselle Hortense, the maid in his novel Bleak House.

Marie Besnard

Dubbed "the Queen of Poisoners" by the French press, Marie Besnard was ultimately charged with 12 counts of murder, including both her husbands, her father, her mother, a father-in-law, a mother-in-law, two friends, and a handful of relatives who left her their estate. Her second husband, Leon, confided to his mistress (both he and Marie had lovers on the side) that he was certain Marie was planning to kill him.  When he finally died, Marie became a suspect. Leon's body tested positive for arsenic poisoning, and several other bodies associated with Marie were exhumed and also tested positive for arsenic.

Marie was tried three times over 10 years in French courts. Her first two trials were declared mistrials, and her third got her an acquittal, even though few people doubted her guilt.

Body Count: Possibly 12.

Fate: Died a free woman in 1980.

Leonarda Cianciulli

Because sometimes, the only way to protect your drafted son from the terrors of war is a little human sacrifice and cannibalism.

When Leonarda learned that her favorite son, Giuseppe, was being drafted into the Italian Army to fight in World War II, something in her mind snapped.  She became convinced that protecting him required an offering of human blood, and hatched a plan to lure three neighbor women to their deaths.

She only had three victims, so it's not her body count that shocked people. It's the fact that she turned her victims' bodies into soap and teacakes, the latter of which she actually served to neighbors and her beloved Giuseppe.

Leonarda was caught because the sister of her last victim became suspicious of the woman's disappearance, and when police arrived at Leonarda's as part of their investigation, she calmly confessed to the killings and offered no protest when she was arrested. At her trial, she tried to put a patriotic spin on the grisly affair by pointing out that she had donated the copper ladles she'd used to skim victims' fat from her soap concoctions to Italy's war effort, because the country needed the metal.

Leonarda was sentenced to 30 years in prison and 3 years in a mental asylum.

Body Count: 3

Fate: Died of cerebral hemorrhage in 1970.

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 11:17:06 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/notorious-black-widows/robert-f-mason
<![CDATA[Spooky Mass Disappearances That Have Never Been Solved]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/creepy-mass-disappearances/noah-henry

We've all heard of people who have seemingly vanished into thin air. DB Cooper, Jimmy Hoffa, Amelia Earhart. But it's especially weird when entire groups of people are just... gone. Unsolved mass disappearances are unsettling because they just shouldn't happen - it shouldn't be possible for whole colonies to vanish and leave behind no evidence of what happened to them. 

We may never know the truth about what happened to Malaysian Flight 370 or the Roanoke settlement. The best we can do is hope it never happens to us. Here are some of the spookiest mass disappearances in history.

Spooky Mass Disappearances That Have Never Been Solved,

Easter Island

Off the coast of Chile, 1,100 miles from the nearest island, lies Rapa Nui, which to Westerners is known as Easter Island. In 800 CE, Polynesian explorers arrived on this lush, 63-square-mile paradise. They began building. When the Europeans came in 1722, they discovered 400 statues, many 13 feet tall and as heavy as 14 tons, but almost no inhabitants. Easter Island was barren and empty.

There are two prominent theories: Jared Diamond, author of Collapse and Guns, Germs, and Steel, contends that the Polynesians committed ecocide. There were too many of them, and they caused deforestation, cutting down palm trees and even setting fire to grass, resulting in a lack of nutrient-rich soil. Another theory points to the Polynesian rat, which arrived at Easter Island via canoe, multiplying to such an extent it wiped out the seeds needed to grow vegetation.

Flannan Isles Lighthouse Keepers

On the night of December 15, 1900, the crew of a ship called the Archtor noticed when there was no light beaming from the lighthouse on the Flannan Isles. An investigative crew was sent, but they didn't arrive until December 26. The investigators found the three lighthouse keepers - Thomas Marshall, James Ducat, and Donald McArthur - missing. Their disappearance remains unsolved, but at the time, the captain of the rescue crew sent out a telegram saying the "poor fellows must have blown over the cliffs or drowned trying to rescue a crane or something like that."

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Headlines in 2014 blared in repetition: "What happened to Flight 370?" An hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, a Malaysian Airlines jet vanished from air traffic radar screens. Its 12 crewmembers and 227 passengers went missing on March 8 somewhere over the southern Indian Ocean. The best piece of evidence was found in July 2015 - marine debris confirmed to be a flaperon (part of the wing) belonging to the plane. Since then, five other pieces of the wreckage have been found that investigators say are likely from Flight 370.

The USS Cyclops

Over the past century, the Bermuda Triangle has earned its reputation as a wellspring for hair-raising disappearances of ships and planes. Take, for instance, the USS Cyclops, which was en route to Baltimore from Brazil in 1918. It was a carrier ship that boasted 10,800 tons of manganese used to produce weaponry, until its inexplicable disappearance somewhere north of Barbados.

The 542-foot ship carried 306 crewmembers and passengers. It remains the single greatest loss of life in US Naval history not involving combat. In what is perhaps the most anticlimactic explanation conceivable, the Naval History & Heritage Command say it "probably sank in an unexpected storm." Others have said it was the Germans. According to President Woodrow Wilson, "Only God and the sea know what happened to the great ship."

Ancestral Puebloans

The Anasazi Indians arose in southern Utah around 1500 BCE. Seven centuries ago, they began living in cliff dwellings high atop canyon walls. These cliff dwellings are still there today, but the people left long ago. Researchers believe that some cataclysmic event drove them away. In the late 1200s, something threatened them. Was it nomadic raiders? Was it a terrible drought that seized the Southwest from 1276 to 1299? Was it war from within—violence, bloodshed, and even cannibalism? No one knows. 

Though the Ancestral Puebloans were once called Anasazi Indians, their descendants, modern Puebloans, have argued that the name "Anasazi" is offensive. It means "ancient enemies." 

Roanoke Colony

Founded in August 1585, the Roanoke Colony was located in what is now present-day North Carolina. It was one of America's first colonies and the first English child born on American soil was delivered there. It is also the location of one of the world's most horrific mass disappearances.

Governor John White and a cadre of 100 men shipped off to Europe from Roanoke on a supply trip. When they returned three years later, the Roanoke Colony was abandoned. The only clue as to what happened was an etching of the word "CROATOAN" into a tree. Many suspect that the neighbor Croatoan Indians either massacred the settlers or subsumed them.

The Mary Celeste

The Mary Celeste was a cargo ship that set sail from New York City to Genoa, Italy in the winter of 1872. On December 5, it was discovered adrift and deserted 400 miles east of The Azores. Her last log entry was 10 days earlier. The ship still had 1,701 barrels of industrial alcohol aboard, crewmen's belongings, and a six-month supply of food and water. Not one of the 10 people who boarded in New York City were ever found.

A flurry of explanations materialized after the ship's mesmerizing disappearance. Its ragged sails, rigging, and puddles of water suggest to some a murderous waterspout. Others believe it was piracy or a mutiny - but nothing really explains why the ship's wares were left untouched.

Mon, 07 Nov 2016 18:00:27 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/creepy-mass-disappearances/noah-henry
<![CDATA[10 Unbelievably Brutal Ways Saints Were Tortured and Killed]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/gruesome-deaths-of-saints/kellen-perry

Both historical accounts and unverified legends regarding the deaths of Christian martyrs in the religion’s early days are surprisingly gory. This makes a certain kind of sick sense, regardless of the veracity of the stories: even the story of the death of the archetypal martyr, Jesus Christ, is awfully brutal. So it’s easy to believe that either (1) the Romans really did get this, um, pre-medieval on these early Christians, or (2) some of the stories about the ways saints died were exaggerated to “mark out a spiritual height to be admired but not necessarily emulated,” to quote Paula Fredrickson of Boston University. Both explanations hold water.

Not all of the circulating stories associated with the men, women, and children who later became saints, after all, are considered to be 100% true by the Catholic Church. (There’s a reason "hagiography" took on a second, pejorative, meaning.) Some of the ways saints were martyred or things they were venerated for are obviously just legends (St. George slaying a dragon, for example). Other torture methods and imaginative means of execution, however, are right in line with historical accounts. Read on for some of the gnarliest ways that the saints may - or may not - have been killed.

10 Unbelievably Brutal Ways Saints Were Tortured and Killed,

St. Lucy Had Her Eyes Gouged Out

St. Lucy wanted to give all of her money away to the poor, but her sick mother, unaware of her desire and worried about Lucy’s future, arranged for her to marry a pagan man, not knowing of her daughter's Christian faith. St. Agatha came to Lucy one night in a dream, promising her that her mother would be cured because of her faith.

Legend says that Lucy’s mother was indeed cured. Lucy famously convinced her mother to give away the family’s money to the poor by telling her that "whatever you give away at death for the Lord's sake you give because you cannot take it with you. Give now to the true Savior, while you are healthy, whatever you intended to give away at your death." When Lucy’s betrothed learned about her plans to give away the patrimony, he denounced her.

The news of Lucy’s Christian charity spread to Paschasius, the Governor of Syracuse, who ordered Lucy to burn a sacrifice for the emperor. Lucy refused, so Paschasius forced her to be defiled in a brothel before trying unsuccessfully to light her on fire (the wood would not burn). She was finally felled by a sword, but not before getting her eyes gouged out. Some accounts say she cut her own eyes out to disgust a suitor that wouldn’t stop admiring them.

St. Euphemia Was Fed First to Lions, Then to a Bear

Christian legend says that St. Euphemia refused to take part in pagan sacrifices in Chalcedon (near modern-day Istanbul), choosing instead to hide, with dozens of other Christians, in a house and worship God. The governor, Priscus, was not happy at all with this plan.

Euphemia, the youngest of the group, was tortured for days in an effort to break her spirit. The locals tried it first, to no avail. She was then handed over to the Emperor Diocletian, who had his people try more brutal tactics, including a breaking wheel.

Since nothing could break her, Euphemia was fed to lions in the arena. Or at least she was supposed to be fed to them: legend says the big cats just licked her wounds instead. The emperor had to turn an unsympathetic bear loose on her to finally get the job done.

St. Aphian Was Beaten, Roasted, Then Thrown Into the Sea

St. Aphian was only 18, according to his legend, when he was killed for reproaching a pagan magistrate that was offering up a sacrifice. He had recently become a Christian while away at school, against his parent’s wishes, who resisted Aphian’s efforts at conversion.

The guards in the city of Caesarea Maritima quickly arrested Aphian for disturbing the sacrifice. They tortured him and threw him in a dungeon. The next day, the magistrate beat him with clubs, tore his skin with iron claws, and slowly burned him over a fire - but kept him alive.

After suffering for three days, Aphian was finally killed when he was thrown into the sea with stones tied to his feet. Legend has it that the city was simultaneously struck by an earthquake that spit his body back onto the shore.

St. Eulalia Rolled Down a Hill in a Barrel Filled with Knives

No much is known about the life of 13-year-old St. Eulalia, but the legend of her death is pretty brutal. The story goes that the Romans put her through thirteen tortures, one for each year of her life, for refusing to recant her Christianity.

Of the 13, we know about three. In what became known as “St. Eulalia’s Descent,” Eulalia was placed into a barrel full of either knives or broken glass and then rolled down the street. Her breasts were also sliced off either before or after being crucified on an X-shaped cross.

What actually killed Eulalia, according to her legend, is decapitation. After her head rolled to the ground, a dove supposedly flew out of her neck hole.

St. Antipas Was Baked in a Bronze Bull

Antipas, the Bishop of Pergamum, was roasted alive in a brazen bull, a method of torture devised in ancient Sicily. Prisoners were placed inside a large, hollow, bronze statue of a bull set over a fire, roasting the person inside. A system of tubes and pipes converted the sound of the person's screams into the bellows of a bull.

The same fate also befell several other Christian martyrs, including Saint Eustace and his wife and children, and later, Pelagia of Tarsus (though the Catholic Church disputes the story of Saint Eustace).

According to the historian Diodorus Siculus, the inventor of the brazen bull, Perillos of Athens, was the first person to be roasted inside it. Perillos presented the bull to Phalaris, a Sicilian tyrant, boasting of its elegant design. About the sound system, he said, "[The prisoner's] screams will come to you through the pipes as the tenderest, most pathetic, most melodious of bellowings."

Phalaris then commanded Perillos be put into the bull so he could hear the sounds he made. Perillos did not die inside the bull, however; instead, he was taken out and then thrown off a hill.

In 554 BC, a group of revolutionaries killed Phalaris himself in the same brazen bull.

St. Castulus Was Buried Alive

St. Castulus, according to tradition, converted a lot of people to Christianity, which surely didn’t sit well with his boss, Emperor Diocletian. Castulus worked as the Emperor’s valet and used his access to conduct religious services inside the palace for Christian converts.

Castulus brought his converts to Pope Saint Caius to be baptized and even sheltered Christians in his home. He was betrayed by an apostate named Torquatus, who turned him in to an official in Rome.

Castulus was executed – after a round or two of torture – by being buried alive in a sand pit outside of the city.

St. Romanus Had His Tongue Cut Out

St. Romanus was almost burned to death, but Emperor Galerius decided it would be better to cut his tongue out and strangle him to death. Romanus was known as a fervent preacher, so cutting his tongue out was likely a symbolic gesture on the part of the emperor.

Another account says that Romanus couldn’t get burned at the stake because rain kept putting out the fire. The governor, in this account, cut out his tongue because he wouldn’t stop glorifying Christ and dissing pagan deities.

Romanus’s faith was supposedly so strong that he continued to preach even without his tongue. Since the rain kept extinguishing any attempt to burn him alive, the frustrated governor decided just to hang him instead.

St. Sebastian Was Shot Full of Arrows, Then Beaten with Clubs

Legend has it that St. Sebastian survived being tied to a tree and shot full of arrows only to later be clubbed to death. The Roman emperor Diocletian ordered the hit after he discovered that Sebastian was a Christian. The brutal execution method was surprisingly unsuccessful, considering Sebastian was “as full of arrows as an urchin.”

After he was nursed back to health, Sebastian got to stick it to Diocletian one final time, surprising him in a staircase. The emperor was astonished that the future saint was still alive, so he ordered that Sebastian be beaten to death with cudgels, to make sure he was really, really dead.

Sebastian’s body was tossed into a sewer, but a lady named Lucina, legend has it, recovered it and gave it a proper burial after Sebastian appeared to her in a vision. Sebastian is now considered to be the patron saint of soldiers, the plague-stricken, archers (!), and athletes.

St. Philomena Was Whipped, Nearly Drowned, Shot Full of Arrows, Then Decapitated

In 1833, Neapolitan nun Sister Maria Luisa di Gesù claimed she learned about the life of St. Philomena in a vision. Gesù says Philomena was a Greek princess who, along with her parents the king and queen, had converted to Christianity. Emperor Diocletian threatened war on the family and their subjects, but fell in love with Philomena and asked her to be his wife.

When Philomena refused, the emperor went nuts: first he whipped her, but ceased when angels cured her. He tried to drown her by attaching an anchor to her, but the angels cut the rope. He tried to fill her full of arrows, St. Sebastian-style, but (you guessed it) the angels healed her wounds and sent some of the arrows flying back at the archers.

Fed up with Philomena and her guardian angels, Emperor Diocletian just had her decapitated. No word on why the angels didn’t keep that from happening.

St. Lawrence Was Roasted Alive Over Hot Coals

Lawrence was a deacon charged with accounting for the Church's material wealth, all of which he distributed to the poor. According to Saint Ambrose of Milan, when the Roman government demanded Lawrence produce "the treasures of the Church," he showed them the poor he had supported instead.

In retaliation, the Roman prefect seized Lawrence and put his body on a giant gridiron (a metal grate used for cooking), roasting him alive over hot coals. After suffering calmly and gracefully, Ambrose claims, Lawrence joked to his persecutors, "I'm well done. Turn me over!"

Modern historians dispute this story, saying it was more likely Lawrence was beheaded - but nonetheless, St. Lawrence remains the patron saint of cooks to this day.

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 16:39:14 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/gruesome-deaths-of-saints/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[14 Harsh Realities of Life in Germany After WWII]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/germany-after-world-war-2/david-sharp

When Hitler was defeated by the Allies in World War II, he left behind almost no post-war plans. It had been tantamount to treason under the Nazi regime to even mention the possibility of defeat, and by the end, practically every single resource available had been poured into the war effort. What remained after Germany's surrender was a grieving populace mourning the loss of millions of their people and a countryside that had been shelled, bombed, and trampled by tanks and troops for years. 

In a speech on May 8th, 1945, British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery described the situation that Germany faced like this:

"'Displaced Persons’ were roaming about the country, often looting as they went. Transportation and communication services had ceased to function. Agriculture and industry were largely at a standstill. Food was scarce and there was a serious risk of famine and disease during the coming months. And to crown it all there was no central government in being, and the machinery whereby a central government could function no longer existed."

Life in post-war Germany was very, very difficult for a very long time, and the country's rise out of that brutal era has its own word in the German language. They call it the "Wirtschaftswunder," which translates to the "Economic Miracle." Their situation after the defeat of the Nazis was so dire that nothing short of a miracle - and the back-breaking efforts of the Allies and the hardy Berliners themselves - could have saved the country. It was also one of the most unprecedented situations in world history; no cities have been through anything quite like Germany after World War 2. Here are some of the unique, harsh, and ultimately triumphant realities of what life in Germany after WWII was like.

14 Harsh Realities of Life in Germany After WWII,

Fraternization Between Allied Troops and German Citizens Was Illegal

When the US first took Berlin, there were strict non-fraternization rules in place. American soldiers were prohibited from engaging in private correspondence, receiving gifts, and even from speaking to German citizens. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a large number of soldiers violated these orders. There were hundreds of arrests made, and even the Army acknowledges that this was just a small percentage of the fraternization that they knew was happening, with as much as 80 percent of enlisted men estimated to have broken the rules at some point.

Despite the risk of court martial, imprisonment, loss of pay, or dishonorable discharge, contact between soldiers and citizens - particularly women - was seen as almost unavoidable. According to Maj. William Hill, "Soldiers are going to have their fling regardless of rules or orders. If they are caught they know what the punishment will be. However, that is not stopping them and nothing is going to stop them."

The Reichsmark Was Worthless

One major problem with the German economy was that by the end of the war the Reichsmark had been so devalued that trading with it had become nearly impossible. Inflation caused by desperate overprinting, coupled with the influx of new Allied-printed Marks, had rendered the notes almost worthless and reduced Berlin to what was practically a barter economy. When the Allied occupation introduced the new Deutsche Mark as part of the Marshall Plan it had a profoundly stabilizing effect on the German economy. With an established, usable currency, businesses could pay their employees again and people began returning to work. Commerce was actually able to function again, and slowly the machine of the German economy began cranking back to life.

An Underground Resistance Formed

Although its reputation is trumped up due to the work of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, Operation Werwolf was supposedly the code name for the German underground resistance. During the war, they were really just a uniformed paramilitary group, but after the war ended the name Werwolf was sometimes used by the sparse pockets of Nazi loyalists that fought back.

The destruction of an ammunition dump in Usti nad Labem and an MP station in Bremen were claimed as Werwolf operations, as was the death of Colonel-General Nikolai Berzarin, a Soviet commandant in the Soviet sector of Berlin. There is little actual proof that these were official acts of organized resistance, and Berzarin's death was almost certainly due to a motorcycle accident. There were no reported Werwolf actions after July of 1945, only two months after the German surrender.

Children Ran Wild

As the Denazified school system - not to mention the rest of the German government - was reassembled, the children of Berlin had little to no structure in their lives. Many had been orphaned by the war or had lost at least one parent, leading to an overall lack of adult supervisors. Children, and especially teens and pre-teens, roamed the streets in packs and juvenile crime saw a significant increase. When schools did reopen, often in half-destroyed facilities, they were underbudgeted and understaffed, with some schools reporting student-to-faculty ratios of 89-1.

Children of Allied Servicemen and German Women Were Ostracized

Sexually transmitted diseases soon became a major concern for the military, and it is estimated that over 65,000 children of Allied soldiers were born to German women in the ten years following the war. These children (and their mothers) were ostracized by both sides, with their German communities shunning them and the US going so far as to prohibit soldiers from paying child support for their own children as it was seen as "aiding the enemy." While those laws were eventually relaxed, German children of Allied servicemen still faced a number of challenges, especially children of mixed race. Interracial marriages were prohibited by the US Army until 1948 and the "Negermischlinge" as they were called were subjected to particularly cruel treatment within Germany.

People Lived Amid the Destruction

Berlin was devastated by bombing from the war (estimates say up to 80 percent of Berlin's historic buildings were lost), and reconstruction efforts were slow to get underway. Much of the city was unsafe and uninhabitable, with certain swaths falling entirely into disuse. 

People were forced to simply make due, continuing their lives as best they could amid the destruction. Businesses got back underway in buildings that were missing walls and roofs, people moved in with family members whose homes were still standing, and patchwork fixes were implemented until real construction work could be done.

Disease Was Rampant

As refugees returned to the city they brought with them a host of maladies that the undernourished population had a hard time fighting off. Dysentery, typhoid fever, and diphtheria epidemics all swept through Berlin, brought on in part by the city's destroyed water and sewage systems. Hospital space, medicine, and medical equipment were all in short supply due to the war, and difficulties in production and distribution made replacing lost materials nearly impossible. Hospital staff was also in short supply, and doctors and nurses were quickly overstretched by the exceeding demand.

Berlin Was Divided

After Germany's defeat, Berlin was divided into four zones, one for each Allied power. As the Allies' relationship with Russia began to deteriorate, it was the Berliners that bore the brunt of that tension. Russia set up what was known as the Berlin Blockade, cutting off all access to the eastern side of Berlin and forcing the other Allies to airlift relief supplies to the needy residents. The early seeds of the Cold War were sewn in the post-war tension over Germany; both sides were unwilling to fire any shots, but Berlin and Germany became cards to be played by the larger world powers. This would eventually lead to the 1961 erection of the Berlin Wall, which would stand as both a physical barrier and a metaphorical symbol for the bifurcation of Berlin for almost thirty years.

Everyone Was Hungry All the Time

The constant shelling and air strikes had also taken their toll on the German countryside, devastating the country's crops and livestock reserves. The infrastructure in and around Berlin was in ruins, making it difficult to bring food in from outside. Rationing had started during the war and slowly increased as time went on; by 1946, the British zone had reduced the average German citizen's food allotment to a meager 1,000 calories per day. The winter of 1947-1948 was known as the "Hunger Winter" and some estimates put the average caloric intake as low as 700 calories per day - well below starvation levels. It is believed that hundreds of thousands of Germans perished from famine and famine-related conditions between 1945 and 1949.

There Was a Thriving Black Market

With strict rationing laws in place, a bustling underground market for food products, as well as medicine, cigarettes, alcohol, foreign products, and contraband items. Soldiers brought with them their rations, items purchased from the PX, care packages from home (and equipment and supplies stolen from the military), and sold them to a desperate German clientele - with a healthy mark-up, of course.

Prostitution thrived, as the male occupying force created a huge demand, and many destitute German women lacked any other options for feeding themselves and their families. Many of these illicit transactions happened privately, however, there were also several large outdoor markets such as the one in Tiergarten in the British sector, where soldiers of all nationalities mixed with the Berlin natives and products of all sorts were available for trade.

Mon, 07 Nov 2016 17:56:58 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/germany-after-world-war-2/david-sharp
<![CDATA[The 10 Most Questionable Choices for TIME'S Person of the Year]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/controversial-time-person-of-year/t-l-perez

Time has been selecting a Person of the Year since 1929, and the title is generally considered honorable and prestigious. Usually, the magazine makes smart (or at least understandable) choices. The title has gone to important people like Martin Luther King Jr., Pope John XXIII, Gandhi, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama. With that being said, Time has made quite a few questionable choices throughout the years as well. This list of past recipients includes truly evil people like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. The magazine also made lightheartedly questionable choices like The Inheritors (1966) and You (2006). 

Time defends these decisions by stating that the magazine’s main criteria are importance and influence. They select people (or things) that change the world, not necessarily people who are morally good. Nevertheless, it is disturbing that Time has given the title to genocidal dictators, war criminals, and scandalous liars. So who were the most controversial Time people of the year? Read on to see some who got the most backlash and leave a comment with who you think the worst Time person of the year was.

The 10 Most Questionable Choices for TIME'S Person of the Year,

Adolf Hitler

The most questionable choice for Time's Person of the Year was undoubtedly Adolf Hitler. For some reason, the magazine chose to award this coveted title to a genocidal warmonger in 1938. Just one year later, Hitler invaded Poland and started World War II. This Man of the Year was responsible for the death of over 11 million innocent people

Wallis Simpson

In 1936, Wallis Simpson was named the first ever Woman of the Year; however, she was nothing more than a relatively useless socialite who openly associated with Nazis. Simpson's claim to fame was her marriage to Prince Edward (formerly King Edward VIII) who abdicated his throne to marry her.

During World War II, the couple met with Hitler and other high-ranking Nazi officials regularly. According to many sources, she and her husband had secretly agreed to rule Britain if Hitler managed to win the war and claim it.  

Joseph Stalin (Twice)

Just one year after naming Hitler their Man of the Year, Time decided to give the honor to Joseph Stalin in 1939. This brutal man was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1922-1952. He killed his political enemies, imprisoned and murdered thousands of people deemed "enemies of the working class," and forced millions of people into Gulag labor camps. According to many experts, Stalin was responsible for more deaths than Hitler. Oh, and Time named him Man of the Year again in 1942! 

The Inheritor

Time gave "The Inheritor" the prestigious title in 1966. The cover story specifically mentioned a few notable young adults including an artist, actress, athlete, and chess player. However, the award technically went to everyone under 25 (at the time), or the Baby Boomer Generation. This choice was questionable because it was overly general and non-unique. Sure, many individuals under 25 in 1966 were fairly progressive, but isn't every generation more progressive than the last? Aren't there notable young adults in every generation?

Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger

After giving him the title the year before, Time named Richard Nixon the person of the year in 1972 along with Henry Kissinger. Just two years later, Nixon became the first-ever president to resign from office due to the infamous Watergate Scandal. As an American national security advisor, Kissinger was responsible for violent rebellions and coup d'états in other nations. Many consider him a war criminal. 

Vladimir Putin

In 2007, Time named Vladimir Putin Man of the Year for some reason. Sure, he advanced Russia's economy, but his immoral actions certainly outweigh his accomplishments. Although Russia calls itself a democracy, Putin has managed to sidestep constitutional term limits to remain in power since 1999 by switching his title from President to Prime Minister (over and over again). After he was named Person of the Year, his list of shocking actions grew to include jailing activists and journalists, annexing Crimea, and passing homophobic laws. 

Ruhollah Khomeini

Rudollah Khomeini (also known as Ayatollah Khomeini) was the Supreme Leader of Iran from 1979-1989 who once equated democracy to prostitution. This harsh leader was named Time's Man of the Year in 1979 shortly after establishing a theocratic government based strictly on religious writings from thousands of years ago.

He killed thousands of his political opponents and he once said, "Americans are the great Satan, the wounded snake."

Nikita Khrushchev

One of Stalin's closest advisors and future successors, Nikita Khrushchev, was given the prestigious title in 1957. He was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1953-1964. Essentially, he was the main enemy of the United States throughout the peak of the Cold War. Before this, he supported Stalin's labor camps and political purges.

Khrushchev was also responsible for the Cuban Missile Crisis (which almost started World War III). Although he was generally less oppressive and deadly than Stalin, he was certainly a questionable choice for Man of the Year.


Time named "You" the Person of the Year in 2006. That's right, you. This was meant to refer to everyone who uploads information to user-generated content sites like Wikipedia, YouTube, and Facebook. Critics found this choice trite and gimmicky. One writer even claimed that this decision was a self-promotional marketing ploy. 

The Middle Americans

In 1969, Time deemed "Middle Americans" the People of the Year, a choice that included (as they defined it) pretty much everyone in America.

“The Middle Americans tend to be grouped in the nation's heartland more than on its coasts. But they live in Queens, N.Y., and Van Nuys, Calif., as well as in Skokie and Chillicothe. They tend toward the middle-aged and the middlebrow. They are defined as much by what they are not as by what they are. As a rule, they are not the poor or the rich. Still, many wealthy business executives are Middle Americans. H. Ross Perot, the Texas millionaire who organized a group called 'United We Stand Inc.' to support the President on the war, is an example.” 

To many, this vast and vague choice was the same as not choosing anyone at all.

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 13:59:46 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/controversial-time-person-of-year/t-l-perez
<![CDATA[15 Brutal Military Punishments from History to the Modern Age]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/military-punishments-in-history/aaron-edwards

The militaries of the world are founded on principles of discipline, so it's no surprise military punishments in history have been quite harsh over the centuries. The Romans controlled their legions with good pay and an iron will, and knew how to punish those who wouldn't stay in line. In the centuries since, militaries have punished rebels, traitors, rabble rousers, and other troublemakers. Developing such punishments was at various points throughout history something of a major preoccupation for military forces. 

What worked for a land-based army in Rome wouldn't necessarily work for a ship in the British Navy, so what began as beatings turned into keelhauling and firing squads. Even basic training has its fair share of punishments, and it's not just a drill sergeant screaming in a recruit's face. Curious which military had the worst punishments? Interested in learning how the military punished people in history? Check out this list of historical and modern examples of military punishments to see for yourself.

Some contemporary military punishments are on the list for comparison's sake, not because they're especially brutal; you can marvel at the contrast between the likes of old school brutality found in keelhauling and the relatively low key psychological brutality of... yelling. 

15 Brutal Military Punishments from History to the Modern Age,


No established power likes a rebellion, and it's practically a pastime for tyrannical kings to figure out ways to punish rebels. Ancient Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II was particularly fond of concocting horrific ways to discourage rebellion or failure. Under his reign, those who displeased the king were flayed, which means their skin was cut off and their bodies were displayed for all to see. There was also some genital mutilation for those who were especially naughty. Others were burned alive, left to die of thirst in the desert, decapitated, or had their noses, ears, and fingers cut off and eyes gouged out. 


Along with firing squads, death by hanging is the great mainstay of military punishments throughout history. It typically involves the condemned having a noose tied around his or her neck, then suddenly dropped from a platform. If the condemned's neck doesn't snap during the fall, he or she will be strangled to death while they hang. Before the advent of neck-snapping hanging, those hanged were strangled with ropes while dangling above the ground. Hanging isn't typically employed in the modern age, with a few notable exceptions, such as with the hanging of Saddam Hussein. 


The Romans had one of the most powerful military forces in the history of the world. Part of that was because they didn't tolerate shenanigans. The most famous of Roman military punishments was the "decimation," employed in the event of mutiny, fleeing, or general under performance. During a decimation, all the men in a unit drew lots, ten percent of which were "bad" (the short straw, basically). Those who drew the bad lots were fed bad rations, beaten brutally, forced to camp in unsafe areas, and basically sentenced to a horrible death by murder, starvation, or some other awful circumstance. 

The Firing Squad

A favorite of militaries everywhere since the invention of the gun, you have to have done something very bad to earn a spot in front of a firing squad. Offenses that earned you this punishment included treason and desertion. The way this usually worked is the offender would be marched to an open grave, then shot by a hand-picked firing line. 

Penal Battalions in the Red Army

When you fought in Russia's Red Army, you followed orders or faced some of the harshest punishment in all of the Second World War. One infamous Red Army punishment involved placing condemned soldiers in shtrafbats, or penal battalions, which stood at the vanguard of a suicide charge. If you refused to attack, an officer in the rear would shoot you. If you tried to retreat, you'd also be eating a bullet. The sentence was certain death. Stalin got the idea of penal battalions from the Nazis, who called them strafbattalion. 


Beatings weren't restricted to any single culture of method of whopping. They have a long history in militaries from around the world. The Byzantine Empire, for instance, didn't have the luxury of letting armies slack off. During training drills, officers would hit anyone who acted up, using long staffs as their beating stick of choice. This strategy, along with various others, was recorded in a military manual called Strategikon.The Byzantines got this idea from their predecessors, the Romans, whose Centurions carried canes called vitis, which they used to lash soldiers

The Snake Sack

Treason is considered by many to be the ultimate offense and the Romans, known for harsh discipline, didn't take the crime lightly. According to Volume 5 of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, those guilty of treason had bags put over their heads, were whipped mercilessly, then suspended or crucified publicly from a cross or tree.

Another Roman punishment, poena cullei, involved sewing the offender into a sack with live snakes or other animals, then throwing the sack into water. Poena cullei was typically reserved for those guilty of parricide, or the killing of a close relative, usually parents or siblings. The punishment might also be used on those guilty of a treasonous crime of similar nature, such as killing a metaphorical father figure (a higher-ranking military official, for instance) or symbolic brother (comrade in arms). 


Flogging was most popular on 18th and 19th century naval vessels, and used on crew members who were insubordinate; they were lashed in full view of the rest of the crew. While several implements could be used for lashing, the cat 'o nine tails was the favorite: a whip-like device of nine waxed cords of rope knotted at the end. It tore flesh easily, but the wounds were mostly superficial, allowing offenders to continue with their duties while causing excruciating pain and bloody spectacle.

Bucking and Gagging

By the time the Civil War rolled around, lashing had been done way with in the army. But there were still soldiers who broke rules, so there needed to be a way to punish them. One of the methods was bucking and gagging,  in which the punished sits in the dirt, bent forward, hands tied to his or her legs, knees bent. A large stick went over the arms and under the knees, creating an unnatural and uncomfortable position, and another stick was secured in the mouth like a bit. 

Riding the Wooden Mule

While some Civil War punishments were benign, the worst offenders were subjected to painful reprimands. One of them was known as "riding the wooden mule," which involved sitting on a very narrow rail that was high enough your feet couldn't touch the ground. Those punished had to sit on the rail all day, which got very uncomfortable. 

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 10:49:14 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/military-punishments-in-history/aaron-edwards
<![CDATA[10 Eerie Ghost Towns and the Disasters That Made Them]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/disasters-that-caused-towns-to-be-abandoned/kellen-perry

It’s always fun in a post-apocalyptic story when the survivors return to ghost towns to rummage for supplies, right? Exploring the ruins of a once-thriving place always makes for a great scene. But sometimes, as the saying goes, the truth is stranger than fiction. Take away the zombies and the nuclear fallout and you still have plenty of creepy, real-life stories made all-the-more creepy because they actually happened.

There are plenty of real cities that were abandoned by their residents available for you to explore... as long as you don’t mind some mild radiation exposure, possible lead poisoning, sinkholes, crumbling ruins, and sandstorms. The list below features towns that were abandoned due to disasters both natural and man-made, but unlike some cities that were abandoned on purpose (to make way for a dam, for example), all of these places were turned into ghost towns against the will of the people that lived there. Happy exploring!

10 Eerie Ghost Towns and the Disasters That Made Them,

Wittenoom, Australia: Asbestos Poisoning

The town of Wittenoom in western Australia was founded in the 1930s just to house the workforce responsible for mining crocidolite, an extremely carcinogenic and extremely Australian-sounding type of asbestos. The mines were shut down in 1966 after one of the miners was diagnosed with mesothelioma, the first case in Australia. This effectively killed the town, but the state government didn’t adopt an official “phase down” policy until 1978 (meaning it started to purchase homes and business and pay residents to relocate).

Despite the now-obvious dangers of asbestos exposure - one 2012 study, for example, showed that “adults who had lived in Wittenoom as children when the mine was active were between 20% and 83% more likely to die from cancer than the rest of the population” - there were still a couple of people living in the area in December of 2015, according to the Guardian.

Hashima, Japan: Abandoned After All the Coal Was Mined

The abandoned island city of Hashima, Japan, is nicknamed Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island, because it looks like a hulking battleship from the air. The 18-acre island is now home to the fragile, dangerous ruins of a some of the earliest concrete high-rises in the world, built in 1916 for workers at a coal mining facility owned by Mitsubishi and their families.

In 1959, Hashima was packed: 5,259 people called it home, making it one of the most densely populated places on earth at the time, according to CNN. With gas quickly becoming the primary fuel source in Japan and the coal reserves running out, Mitsubishi closed the mines in 1974, quickly turning the island into a ghost town. Tourists looking to tour the ruins today need “permission from the Nagasaki City Council and a compelling reason for going inside.”

Picher, Oklahoma: Poisoned by Lead and Destroyed by a Tornado

What could make a town’s population drop from 1640 to 20 in just one decade? Toxic waste exposure? An F4 tornado? Yep. Picher, Oklahoma, suffered from both. The Picher lead-zinc mines were some of the most productive of the early 20th century, cranking out more than $20 billion worth of ore between 1917 and 1947. When operations ceased in 1967, contaminated water from the 14,000 abandoned mines began to seep, and “millions of tons” (!) of chat (lead-contaminated dust, essentially) began to pile up. In 1980, the government declared the town a Superfund site, which isn’t as fun as it sounds: “Superfund” refers to the loads of money necessary to clean up a hazardous waste site.

In 1996, a study revealed that more than a quarter of the town’s kids (34%) had lead poisoning. In 2006, the government declared that most of the town’s building weren’t fit for habitation, a side effect of all the mining. In 2008, a F4 tornado added injury to injury and destroyed 150 homes. A year later, Oklahoma officially dis-incorporated the city. The last resident standing, a pharmacist named Gary Linderman, died in 2015.

Oradour-sur-Glane, France: Razed by Nazis, Left as a Memorial

Oradour-sur-Glane, France, didn’t have to be abandoned after the Nazis almost entirely razed it in 1944, killing 642 of its residents. But French president Charles de Gaulle decided to leave the city in ruins as a testament to the Nazi atrocities, and it still serves the same function today, complete with a memorial museum, the Centre de la mémoire d'Oradour. Survivors were relocated to a new village of the same name northwest of the ruins after the war. The massacre is considered by historians to be an act of retribution against the people of Oradour-su-Glane for their alleged assistance to the French Resistance and the American forces and it’s particularly brutal: it’s the only known instance of the Nazis literally crucifying a baby.

Pripyat, Ukraine: Chernobyl

No list of abandoned towns would be complete without Pripyat, Ukraine, the town of almost 50,000 that had to be evacuated following the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. You’ve likely seen a lot of the haunting pictures and maybe read some of the horror stories, and if you’re a gamer, you probably explored Pripyat playing games such as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Pripyat wasn’t evacuated until 36 hours after the disaster, and when the mad rush finally happened - 50,000 people shuttled off in 1,200 buses in under four hours - it was under false pretenses. The residents were told they would only be gone for two or three days, but in reality, no human could live there safely again for at least another 24,000 years. A new city, Slavutych, was built 30 miles to the northeast to replace Pripyat, but not before being covered in two meters of uncontaminated soil.

Kolmanskop, Namibia: Swallowed by Sand

The town of Kolmanskop, Namibia, was born because someone found a diamond in the sand, died because it became too hard to find diamonds in the sand, and is now almost entirely buried by that same sand.

In 1908, a railway worker found some bling in the area and showed it to his German boss. Soon after, a ton of Germans descended on the area to settle and exploit it (not necessarily in that order). In the next few decades, Kolmanskop had a hospital (complete with a newfangled x-ray machine), a ballroom, a school, a casino (naturally), a theater, and even the first streetcar in Africa.

In the 1920s, the town was home to about 1200 people: 340 Europeans and 800 African workers. By 1956, the place was abandoned, thanks in part to less extreme diamond-mining conditions discovered to the south. Visitors today mainly come to take pictures of all the buildings being swallowed by sand (which are pretty cool).

Times Beach, Missouri: Accidentally Poisoned by City Officials

In 1972, the town of Times Beach, Missouri (pop. 2,000) paid Russell Bliss $2,400 to spray 160,000 gallons of waste oil on the town’s dirt roads to keep the dust down. Little did they know that Bliss was using waste oil contaminated with dioxin, a toxic chemical by-product of the manufacture of hexachlorophene, an antibacterial agent that was formerly used for soap and toothpaste. Bliss didn’t know it, either: he was just doing his job as a contractor for a chemical company. (Bliss wouldn’t have cared either way, as the above clip shows. The dude dipped his finger in dioxin and ate it at a hearing about the incident.)

In 1982, after the release of a leaked EPA document revealing the chemical company’s shady dealings, the CDC tested the town and found it essentially unlivable. The state and federal government eventually bought out the town for $36.7 million, paying the owners of 800 residential properties and 30 businesses to leave. The area was quarantined for a long time: the EPA didn’t totally clean it up until 1997, at the cost of $200 million. Today, it’s home to Route 66 State Park.

Plymouth, Montserrat: Smothered by Volcanic Ash

The ghost town of Plymouth on the Caribbean island and British Overseas Territory of Montserrat is the only ghost town in the world that is still, technically, the capital of a political territory. The Soufrière Hills volcano smothered the city in nearly five feet of ash back in 1997, after firing a few warning shots in 1995. Nineteen people were killed and the entire town was displaced, with many forced to live in a “state of involuntary exile in Britain, the US and elsewhere in the Caribbean.” The aftermath has been compared to “the horrific damage left by the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima at the end of World War II” and has earned Plymouth the title “Pompeii in the Caribbean.” With the capital destroyed, the island’s population plummeted from 12,000 to 5,000.

Pyramiden, Norway: An Economic Crash and a Plane Crash

With a peak of roughly 1,000 residents in the 1980s, the coal-mining community of Pyramiden, Norway, was once known as “an exhibition of the best of the Soviet Union.” Despite being part of the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, Norway, the settlement has been owned by the Soviet Union/Russia since 1927, and by the state-owned Soviet Union/Russian mining company Arktikugol Trust since 1931. In its heyday, the community was almost entirely self-sufficient, raising its own food and supplying its own power. It also had plenty of amenities for its residents in its dozens of new buildings, including a top-notch heated swimming pool, library, gym, cafeteria, pub, and theater.

Two crashes effectively put an end to Pyramiden. The first was the crash of the Russian economy after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, leading to low salaries and poor standards of living. The second was an actual plane crash: in 1996, Arktikugol chartered a plane from Moscow to nearby Longyearbyen full of Pyramiden workers and their families that crashed outside of Longyearbyen, killing all 141 passengers.

In 1998, the Russians decided to shut Pyramiden down. The roughly 300 workers still living there left everything behind, leaving all their supplies and mining equipment sitting untouched for more than a decade. In 2007, Arktikugol began renovating some of the old buildings to help accommodate tourists to the site. You can stay in one of the Tulpan Hotel’s newly refurbished rooms for about $144 as of 2016.

Centralia, Pennsylvania: Constantly on Fire

Fans of post-apocalyptic entertainment such as The Walking Dead and Fallout would probably enjoy a jaunt through the smoldering ruins of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Why smoldering? Well, a coal mine fire has been roaring under the town like a Hellmouth since 1962, “burning at depths of up to 300 feet, baking surface layers, venting poisonous gases and opening holes large enough to swallow people or cars.”

A low point in the whole saga - and when the nation really began to take notice - was when 12-year-old Todd Domboski fell into a sinkhole in his own backyard in 1981. His cousin pulled him out of the hole, saving his life (the steam coming from the hole was later found to have lethal levels of carbon monoxide). Four years earlier, his father jinxed poor Todd by telling a reporter, "I guess some kid will have to get killed by the gas or by falling in one of these steamy holes before anyone will call it an emergency."

The 2010 census list 10 residents in Centralia, down from more than 1,000 in 1981. In 2013, officials decided to let the remaining residents live out the rest of their lives there, like they’re Silent Hill cosplayers or something. Experts say the fire can’t stop/won’t stop for at least another 200 years.

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 12:59:52 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/disasters-that-caused-towns-to-be-abandoned/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[8 Times the CIA and the Mob Worked Together to Influence World Events]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/cia-working-with-the-mafia/brit-haines

Many Americans feel little trust in their government, and with so many corrupt politicians and scandals, who can blame them? People can't help but wonder what other secrets the government might hold. It’s no wonder people are drawn to conspiracy theories about the CIA and the mafia working together, from involvement with the 9/11 attacks to the assassination of JFK.

While these conspiracies can’t be proven, CIA-mafia collusion is real. Does the mafia work for the CIA, or vice versa? Or do the two opposite sides of the law simply work together when they have a common interest, mutually beneficial for both parties? Is there sometimes a lesser of two evils? Conspiracies are hard to prove, but there are a few times the CIA worked with the mob and got caught...

8 Times the CIA and the Mob Worked Together to Influence World Events,

Mob Boss Lucky Luciano Helped the Government Invade Sicily During WWII

Known as the father of organized crime in America, Charles "Lucky" Luciano (born Salvatore Lucania) dominated the illegal liquor market during Prohibition before landing a 30- to 50-year prison sentence

While in prison, Luciano offered to help the United State's World War II effort by using his criminal connections in Italy to advance the Allies' cause. The operation, known as Operation Husky, took place on the night of July 9, 1943, when 160,000 Allied troops landed on the extreme southwestern shore of Sicily. 

As a part of the deal, Luciano received parole and was deported back to Italy. He eventually made his way back to Cuba to meet up with crime cohorts Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel before he was once again deported to Italy in 1947.

Could it be a coincidence that Luciano aided the CIA in the invasion of Sicily, only to wind up in Cuba just before the CIA and the mafia plotted to assassinate Castro?

The CIA and the Mob Caused the 1980s Cocaine Epidemic in America

The CIA has been accused of drug trafficking for years, from running drugs into the country to be placed in the hands of the mafia to opening the drug trade in Panama. While these rumors can't be proven, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that links the CIA to the introduction of crack cocaine into Black neighborhoods in the 1980s, causing the 80's cocaine epidemic in America

In 1996, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb wrote "Dark Alliance,'' the Mercury News series about how the CIA sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles. Although he has been criticized for being biased as the mainstream media poked holes in his story, the Associated Press also reported on these connections in 1985, a decade before Webb. 

Still not convinced? In 1993, the Justice Department investigated reports of the CIA moving over 2,000 lbs of cocaine into the United States. 

Veteran and Former FBI agent Richard Taus Jailed After Exposing CIA-Mob Link

After exposing details outlining political corruption in the CIA and White House during the 1980s, Richard Taus, a decorated veteran and FBI agent, was charged with sexual assault charges and given a 90-year sentence back in 1991.

An FBI Special Agent, Taus investigated many high-profile cases, including organized crime, the US Savings and Loans scandal, the 9/11 attacks, and Irangate. That's where he discovered unlawful CIA operations, which he reported to his supervisors to no avail before becoming a source for Rodney Stich's America's Corrupt War on Drugs-and the People.

After Taus's imprisonment, his son wrote a book, To Be a Hero, Stolen Honor: Inside the FBI, CIA, and the Mob, that further details CIA-mafia collusion.

Basically, Taus claims the CIA has long been involved in drug trafficking, even moving products directly to New York crime figures. And it doesn't stop there! He even claims the CIA infiltrated FBI investigations that could expose their criminal misdoings and cracked down on the Sicilian mafia to eliminate competition for the American mafia.

Was his arrest a ploy to shut him up?

Corrupt CIA Teams with the Mafia to Steal Billions in Savings and Loans Scandal

Back in the 1980s, the United States financial sector suffered through a period of distress focused on the savings and loans industry, the greatest bank collapse since the Great Depression

According to former reporter for the Houston Chronicle Pete Brewton, the CIA teamed up with the mafia under George Bush Senior's reign to steal billions of dollars in the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s that crippled America's economy

His book The Mafia, CIA and George Bush chronicles the findings of his investigation, which began as an investigative journalism series he wrote for the Houston Post. It suggests then-president George H. W. Bush was a member of a small circle of powerful Texas businessmen who conducted business with the mafia, with the assistance of the CIA to scam money from savings and loans.

CIA Technician Arrested for Bugging Mob Boss's Girlfriend as a Favor

When it comes to the mob, there's no such thing as a favor. Especially when it comes to an overly jealous mobster. 

After the CIA-mafia collusion to assassinate Castro, Chicago crime boss Sam Giancana asked operatives to return the favor by bugging his then-girlfriend, singer Phyllis McGuire's, room to discover if she was cheating on him with Laugh-In comedian Dan Rowan, according to CIA-released records.

However, before he could get the job done, the technician was caught in the act and arrested

The CIA Enlisted the Mob to Assassinate Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro

In 2007, a CIA dossier was released under the Freedom of Information act that outlined CIA-mafia collusion in an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro, who at the time was attempting to overthrow current Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in favor of a communist revolution. American officials claimed Castro was a threat to national security. During the 1960s, the CIA roped in John Roselli, an influential mobster in Chicago, Hollywood, and the Vegas Strip; Chicago mobster Sam Giancana; and New Orleans boss Santo Trafficante to have Castro poisoned. Obviously, their attempt failed.

Even Before His Dictatorship, the CIA Worked with the Mob to Undermine Castro

Even before Castro was sworn in on February 16, 1959, the CIA began working with the mob to undermine him. Why? Well, the Cuban dictator Castro overthrew also happened to have some pretty serious mob connections, creating a corrupt state full of drugs and gambling, where "Havana would be a party that never ended." 

Naturally, when Castro's revolution prevailed, mobsters became outcasts. It's no wonder the mafia wanted Batista to stay in power so they could continue to thrive, rake in a ton of cash together, and take advantage of Cuba's close proximity to the United States.

But what was in it for the CIA? Fear of a communist nation so close to the US and the Cuban missile crisis

There are even some rumors Nixon (VP at the time) was in on the action. 

The CIA Recruited Mafia Hitman Enrique "Ricky" Prado

Enrique "Ricky" Prado - a high-level CIA spy, veteran of the Central American wars,  CIA operation manager in Korea, and top spy in America’s espionage programs against China - allegedly began his career as a hitman for the mob

Evan Wright's novel, How to Get Away With Murder in America, details Prado's relationship with mob boss and lifetime friend, Alberto San Pedro. Although it remains unproven, Wright's investigation suggests that as Prado rose up in the CIA ranks, he helped San Pedro with numerous illegal deeds

While the relationship between Pedro and Prado is strong, it's hard to believe the CIA would recruit a mafia hitman without prior knowledge of his dealings. 

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 13:25:56 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/cia-working-with-the-mafia/brit-haines
<![CDATA[8 Facts About Prehistoric Sex That Show the Ways We Have - and Haven't - Evolved]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/prehistoric-sex-facts/kellen-perry

What was prehistoric sex like? How can we even know? Researchers use several methods to make educated guesses about the sex lives of prehistoric folk, including examining closely related primates, studying what human evolution has wrought, and finding clues in the existing fossil records of early man. From these examinations, a rough picture of primitive sexuality emerges... and it's more than just skimpy loincloths and cave rape.

There's also prehistoric art, which, much like art in the 21st century, reveals a lot about the culture that made it. Some prehistoric art is even (arguably) pornographic. Examining all of these factors reveals that caveman sex was probably a lot more like modern sex than you might imagine. Early hunting-and-gathering Homo sapiens probably engaged in bestiality and inbreeding a bit more than we do (hopefully!), and some experts think they weren't as keen on monogamy, but on the whole, their sex lives weren't totally alien. Read on for some fascinating prehistoric sex facts.

8 Facts About Prehistoric Sex That Show the Ways We Have - and Haven't - Evolved,

Homo Sapiens Totally Did It with Neanderthals

Modern humans - AKA homo sapiens - totally had sex with Neanderthals (as well as other subspecies) in prehistoric times. Nature reported in 2011 that “an analysis comparing the Neanderthal genome sequence to that of modern H. sapiens showed that some interbreeding did take place between the two species in Europe sometime between 80,000 and 30,000 years ago.”

This means  “to a certain extent, Neanderthals 'live on' in the genes of modern humans.”

Human-Neanderthal hybrid babies were a thing, but they were rare: one study suggests that “only male Neanderthals and female humans were able to produce fertile offspring” and not the other way around.

There's "No Doubt" Prehistoric People Engaged in Bestiality

Anthony L. Podberscek and Andrea M Beetz’s Bestiality and Zoophilia: Sexual Relations with Animals cite about a half-dozen studies chronicling examples of bestiality in prehistoric art, including one from 1968 that concludes there’s “no doubt that our prehistoric ancestors enjoyed frequent and pleasurable sexual relations with animals.”

An “engraved bone rod” from 25,000 years ago found in a cave in France, for example, depicts “a lioness licking the opening of either a gigantic human penis or a vulva.” An Iron Age cave painting in Italy “portrays a man inserting his penis into the vagina or anus of a donkey.” Some of these drawings even had “an integral part in a clan’s family history.”

Prehistoric Art Depicts Both Male and Female Masturbation

There’s a Neolithic clay figurine from Hagar Qim, Malta with “upraised legs and hand at swollen vulva” that archeologist Timothy Taylor says depicts female masturbation. Some people think it’s meant to display childbirth, saying the nine lines on the figurine’s back represent “the nine months of gestation,” but Taylor makes a great case against that interpretation:

Traditional societies generally calculate the duration of pregnancy by the moon, by which it lasts about ten, not nine months. The figure's belly is only slightly swollen, and the posture can only be seen as birth-giving by a society accustomed to hospital delivery. The Hagar Qim woman is not giving birth at all. She is masturbating, with one hand languidly supporting her head.

(Here’s a picture so you can judge for yourself.)

Prehistoric depictions of male masturbation, naturally, are easier to come by. Taylor points to “a masturbating [male] figurine of the Greek Neolithic” and the fact that male masturbation was a “central theme” in ancient creation myths and is thus commonly depicted.

Prehistoric Statues May Have Been Caveman Pornography

Historians argue about whether the so-called “Venus statuettes” carved by prehistoric man were meant as proto-pornography or were used for spiritual purposes. Team Porn - represented here by historian Rudolf Feustel - thinks the busty statues were an expression of “raw animal lust.”

Team Spirituality, including Jill Cook of the British Museum in London, says they had nothing to do with lust but were instead used as fertility idols for a culture that worshiped pregnancy. Cook says men in the Gravettian culture of 30,000 years ago, for example, "did not comprehend the biological function of sex" and thus thought pregnancy was a miraculous act to be revered. Some of the statuettes even feature “opened vulvas” and bulging bellies.


There Were "High Levels of Inbreeding"

In 2013, findings published in PLOS ONE revealed that our prehistoric ancestors likely engaged in “high levels of inbreeding,” which was “inevitable” for most of our evolution. Researchers discovered that one fractured 100,000-year-old Homo sapiens skull, when joined together using CT scanning and 3D modeling, had an “unusual genetic mutation” that was probably caused by a whole lot of inbreeding. The mutation caused a hole in the crown of the skull, a defect known as “an enlarged parietal foramen.”

The owner of this particular skull, despite the mutation, likely lived into their 30s.

Cavemen Carved Dual-Purpose Dildos

Even as far back as 30,000 years ago, people were making dildos. Yes, we can’t say for sure that these lovingly-carved phallic objects - which were polished smooth and “notched” to resemble the look and feel of erect human penises - were used for masturbation, but as archaeologist Timothy Taylor says, considering the “size, shape, and - in some cases - explicit symbolism” of them, “it seems disingenuous to avoid the most obvious and straightforward interpretation.”

The phallus pictured above was discovered in the Hohle Fels Cave in southwestern Germany and dates back 29,000 years. Unlike most modern dildos, it did double duty: Chris Wild of Mashable says “it appears to have been also used as a hammerstone.”

Prehistoric Women Were "Extraordinarily Promiscuous"

Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá’s Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origin of Modern Sexuality argues that agriculture “introduced the notion of property into sexuality,” causing men to start to worry about leaving land and domesticated animals to their biological children. Prior to that, sex for prehistoric men and women was basically a free-for-all, and “paternity wasn’t an issue.”

Women, especially, were “hard-wired to behave like chimps in the bedroom,” to quote Daniel Honan over at Big Think. These “extraordinarily promiscuous” pre-agricultural cavewomen, motivated in part by their ability to have multiple orgasms, had multiple sexual partners in order to up their chances of reproducing. Sexuality in these small groups of foraging cavefolk was shared, just like “food, childcare, shelter and defense.”

Prehistoric men, meanwhile, were not “dragging a dazed woman by her hair with one hand, a club in the other” as in the popular imagination, but were instead more likely forced to wait for their turn.

See how they dominated their partners here.

Primitive "Birth Control" Was Brutal but Necessary

Despite engaging in an instinctively promiscuous life, prehistoric people still needed ways of restricting fertility. Historian Svend Hansen explains that “in a society of hunters and gatherers, high birth rates were unwelcome.”

Why? Weren’t they all just hanging out in the cave, eating berries, and taking turns humping each other? Not at all. Hansen says that traveling through the countryside in groups of 15 to 30 was common, and each new baby meant extra weight and one more mouth to feed.

How did they keep from multiplying like rabbits? "Plant-based birth control agents and the use of taboos” but also "abortion and infanticide." These primitive, often brutal practices kept population levels stable for centuries.

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 09:48:26 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/prehistoric-sex-facts/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[12 Symbols and Codes Hidden in Renaissance Art That You Never Would Have Noticed]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/renaissance-art-symbols-and-codes/kellen-perry

Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code has been thoroughly debunked as being nothing but a “beach book” with no basis in reality (despite Brown's claims of a scholarly pedigree). Brown’s become something of a joke to actual art history scholars, mainly because he made the general public start thinking there were mysterious codes and symbols in Renaissance art—and hidden meaning in art in general—when there largely isn’t. There’s no doubt, of course, that artists use symbolism in their work and have for centuries, but it’s not the coded biblical messages and prophesies that a lot of people think.

There are, however, other examples of hidden meanings, messages, and “Easter eggs” in Renaissance art that are pretty damn cool, even if they don’t tell us when the world will end or where the treasure is buried. Read on for some of the coolest—and totally legit—examples of secrets hidden in Renaissance art.

12 Symbols and Codes Hidden in Renaissance Art That You Never Would Have Noticed,

Arnolfini Portrait

If you look closely at the background of The Arnolfini Portrait, you’ll notice some writing on the wall (top right) and a small mirror (bottom right).

The writing means “Jan van Eyck was here 1434,” which means it’s the artist “tagging” the wall of his own painting. Beyond that, if you look in the mirror, you’ll notice—and this is only noticeable using a magnifying glass with a physical copy—that van Eyck managed to paint a pretty accurate reflection of the scene in the mirror, including what appears to be a tiny self-portrait.

One controversial theory for van Eyck's “tagging” is that the painting was meant as a legal record of the marriage of the couple depicted, Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife, and van Eyck signed his name as a witness to the marriage, which is a pretty cool thought.

The Creation of Adam

Everyone’s familiar with Michelangelo’s famous image, The Creation of Adam, on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, featuring God in his nightgown reaching out to touch the finger of Adam. But have you ever wondered what’s going on behind God? Why such a weird cluster of cherubs? What does it mean? Art experts think the likeliest answer is that Michelangelo, who had dissected human bodies in the past, meant for the shape to a be a giant brain. It’s a pretty compelling argument, especially when you see diagrams detailing the similarities.

The Ambassadors

It sounds like something you’d find in a cheesy haunted house: an old painting with a hidden skull, visible only as you ascend the stairs. But that’s exactly what’s going on in The Ambassadors. It’s called anamorphosis, a piece of visual trickery where an artist intentionally creates a distorted image that is “reconstituted” if looked at from the right perspective. See that strange smear of white and black at the feet of the titular ambassadors? The image on the right is what it looks like when viewed "correctly."

Spooky! Scholars are torn about why, exactly, Holbein would include this little illusion. Some say he might have just been showing off.


Caravaggio’s painting Bacchus features pretty much what you’d expect in a portrait of the Greek god of wine: a big goblet of vino, a bowl of fruit, a chilled-out Dionysus in a toga, and a tiny artist drowning in a carafe. Wait—what?

Do you see him? It’s hard to photograph clearly, but it’s Caravaggio at age 25, according to art restoration experts. Tiny little Caravaggio was first spotted by a restorer cleaning the painting in 1922, but “poor restoration efforts” in the years that followed made him practically invisible. In 2009, researchers used a technique called reflectography to catch a glimpse of the diminutive self-portrait as Caravaggio  intended. He appears, actually, to be not inside the carafe, but a reflection on the carafe, ”with an arm held out towards a canvas on an easel.”

Netherlandish Proverbs

The Netherlandish Proverbs is essentially a giant game of Where’s Waldo? with literal illustrations of Danish proverbs and idioms instead of... whatever Waldo was supposed to be. It’s chock full of little scenes of peasants being absolutely ridiculous, but if you look closely, each scene actually illustrates a proverb.

Some are still in use today (in slightly modified forms) such as “Killing two flies with one stroke" (top right). But some are pretty obscure, like “They both crap through the same hole” (bottom right), meaning they’re “inseparable comrades.” The Wikipedia page for The Netherlandish Proverbs has an excellent breakdown of the 112 proverbs found in the painting. Scholars think Bruegel may have hidden even more that have yet to be found.

Benvenuto Cellini: Perseus with the Head of Medusa (1545)

At first glance, Perseus with the Head of Medusa, as the name implies, features two faces: mythological Greek hero Perseus and hideous snake-haired Gorgon Medusa, recently beheaded. But if you take a peek at the back of Perseus’s helmet, sculptor Benvenuto Cellini left a little surprise...

Hello! It’s Cellini’s bearded self-portrait. Cellini also signed his name on Perseus’s belt, just in case anyone forgot who made this bronze masterpiece.

Angolo Bronzino: An Allegory with Venus and Cupid (1545)

Christopher Cook claims in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine that An Allegory with Venus and Cupid is actually all about syphilis. Nearly every detail, he argues, suggests that the real “lesson” of the piece is that “with unchaste love comes not only joy and pleasure, but also painful consequence.” There is plenty of creepy evidence to back this up, including the thorn that is piercing the small child’s foot next to Venus. The kid is “foolishly indifferent to the damage,” perhaps as a symbol for “syphilitic myelopathy and nerve damage.” Regardless of Bronzino’s intentions with the painting, there’s one hidden element that is spooky as hell when you see it:

The little girl is actually a monster.

Albrecht Durer: Young Couple Threatened By Death (Promenade) (1498)

If you look closely at Young Couple Threatened by Death (Promenade), you’ll notice some writing on the lady’s dress.

The seemingly gibberish phrase “O NORICA 9” can be seen, along with a brooch and a few symbols, across her shoulder and left breast. What does that mean? The meaning of “O” and “9” is unclear, but NORICA is Latin for “from Hungary,” which is a nod to the artist’s homeland. It’s also a clue that the woman, despite her telltale “Nuremberg hat,” is not actually from Nuremberg. So it’s doubly scandalous, because the headgear on display here also indicates that the dude is a bachelor and the lady is married. Uh oh!

Michelangelo: Zechariah (1508-1512)

Author and Vatican scholar Roy Dolinger spent six years investigating Michelangelo’s work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for his book The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican and made some pretty neat discoveries. Among them was a putti (small angel) “making the fig”—sticking your thumb between your index and middle fingers, the Renaissance equivalent of flipping someone off—behind the back of the prophet Zechariah.

Why? Michelangelo modeled Zechariah on the then-current Pope, Pope Julius II, also known as Il Papa Terribile, the Fearsome Pope. It was Michelangelo’s way, Dolinger argues, of insulting the Pope in a subtle way. The gesture is so small that’s it’s difficult to see from the ground, which would be the only way Il Papa Terribile would have ever seen it.

The Voynich Manuscript (1404–1438)

Everything about the so-called Voynich manuscript is cryptic and mysterious, earning its reputation as “the ultimate work of outsider art.” It’s written in an unknown language—still not deciphered—by an unknown author. The illustrations and diagrams appear to be scientific in nature, but no one knows for sure what they’re meant to display, or who actually drew them. Carbon dating tells us that it’s from the early 15th century, but no one knows where, exactly, it originally came from. Some experts—such as William F. Friedman, “chief cryptologist for the American military in both world wars”—think it’s an attempt at creating an artificial language.

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 14:24:08 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/renaissance-art-symbols-and-codes/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[Weird Personal Quirks of Historical Artists]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/quirks-of-famous-artists/machk

It's no secret that the art world attracts a lot of unusual people, but the quirks of artists always manage to surprise us. Some of our most revered artists had some pretty weird hobbies: stealing pens, carrying around guns, making time capsules. Others just really needed a bath.

Some of these artists, like Salvador Dalí, have famous quirks and are known for being unusual. However, even those who weren't known as quirky artists have their own strange habits, influences, or traits. Check out this list for some seriously weird facts, and vote up the strangest quirks!

Weird Personal Quirks of Historical Artists,

Andy Warhol

The famed painter of the Campbell's soup can unsurprisingly had a thing for objects. At the end of every month, he would put together dated time capsules that included many memory-filled tokens, such as a mummified foot or Clark Gable's boots. You know, just the charming stuff.

Claude Monet

While Monet achieved renown for his beautiful paintings of water lilies and other idyllic natural scenes, he started out drawing the classics: offensive doodles. Monet was a rebellious student who often slacked on his work while drawing caricatures of teachers and peers.

Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe preferred a very specific, very cramped space as her studio: a Model-A Ford. In order to shield herself from the harsh sun present in the desert landscapes she painted, she would take out the drivers seat and reverse the passenger seat so that it faced the back. Then, she would place the canvas on the back seat and paint from the passenger seat. This also kept her safe from bees.

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt is perhaps most famous for his painting "The Kiss," which portrays an intimate moment between lovers. However, Klimt himself never married; this may have had something to do with the fact that he never moved out of his mother's home. In fact, she died only three years before him, meaning he never really left the nest at all. Major dating red flag.

Leonardo da Vinci

Although his art and mechanical designs are his most well-known achievements, PETA is one of da Vinci's greatest admirers. He was an avid vegetarian and would buy caged birds just to let them go. Turns out that Leonardo was also Italy's sweetheart.


Michelangelo, the painter of the Sistine Chapel, was one of the lucky artists who became famous during his lifetime. However, despite his wealth, Michelangelo was pretty lackluster in the hygiene department. He apparently never bathed and rarely changed his clothes. In fact, on his deathbed, it is believed that his clothing had to be peeled off of him. It may have been 500 years ago, but FYI, this was still considered very disgusting.

Pablo Picasso

Whatever career path you choose, it seems you get asked the same questions over and over again. Most people just grin and bear it, but Picasso had other ideas. When people would ask about the meaning of his paintings, question the almighty Cézanne (who was a close friend), or just rub him the wrong way in general, he would point his revolver at them. Don't worry, he's not a mass murderer: the gun was filled with blanks, but it still sends a message.

Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin, who later went on to influence Matisse and Picasso, had a rocky friendship with Vincent Van Gogh. Some speculate that this may be because it was Gauguin, not Van Gogh himself, who cut off his earlobe during a sparring match. Gauguin was an expert fencer, and while this explanation of the ear-lopping cannot be confirmed, it is certainly true that he was a scary dude with a sword.

Roy Lichtenstein

Lichtenstein is famous for his poppy, comic-style art. Turns out, he didn't even like comic books as a kid. It was his son who asked him if he could paint anything that looked like his Mickey Mouse comic book. Comics later became one of his greatest inspirations for his work, but apparently not until his son teased him over Mickey Mouse.

Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí made a point throughout his life of being as weird as possible. These efforts included owning an ocelot that he would walk throughout the city, having a very weird mustache, and speaking in the third person. He did not miss an opportunity to surprise, no matter how unnecessary it was. This is exemplified by his habit of stealing pens from fans who asked him for autographs. It's pretty harmless, but it's doubtful that he needed all of those pens.

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 04:01:21 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/quirks-of-famous-artists/machk
<![CDATA[15 Weird, Unexpected Realities of Life in Japan Right After WWII]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/japan-after-world-war-2/christopher-myers

The end of World War 2 marked a massive transition in the culture, government, and society of Japan. Life in post-war Japan was difficult. The country was ravaged, and physical hardship was rampant. Furthermore, for years, citizens had been indoctrinated to fanatically support a divine emperor and believe in the invulnerability of Japan's military empire. With the empire defeated and the emperor now obviously human, society faced necessary, very painful restructuring.

The changes that took place in Japan over the course of the 20 years following the end of WWII are drastic and staggering. Starvation and devastation dominated life in Japan after World War 2, though were gradually replaced by economic growth and liberalism. Some philosophically liberal Japanese who had been suppressed by the militaristic government came to see the United States as liberators. The billions of dollars the US poured into Japan's reconstruction, coupled with close economic ties and trade agreements, helped mortal enemies become staunch allies.

Read on to find out what life was like in Japan in the immediate aftermath of World War 2, and how it changed as the hardships of the post-war years (1945-1952) rapidly mutated into an economic miracle

15 Weird, Unexpected Realities of Life in Japan Right After WWII,

Many Japanese Refused to Surrender

Some soldiers, referred to as Japanese holdouts, either ignored or refused to believe the Japanese surrender. For years they fought guerilla wars in remote jungles on islands across the Pacific. Or just lived in isolation, doing not much of anything. The most famous of the holdouts, Hiroo Onoda, fought on for three decades after the war ended. It wasn't until his former commanding officer flew to his hideout in the Philippines and ordered him to stand down that he finally surrendered. This was in 1974, 29 years after Japan surrendered, and 15 years after Onoda was declared dead. 

Many Japanese Soldiers Never Returned Home from Manchurian China

Unlike POWs captured by American troops in the Pacific theater, many Japanese POWs captured in China by Soviet troops never returned to Japan. Conservative estimates place the number of Japanese POWs captured by the Soviets during the closing days of the war at 600,000. Most of them were interned in forced labor camps in Siberia and other parts of Russia. It wasn't until 1956, a full 11 years after Japan's surrender, that the last shipment of POWs from the Soviet Union arrived in Japan. At least 60,000 Japanese are known to have died in the labor camps.

The New Japanese Constitution Forever Changed the Japanese Government

As part of the terms of surrender, the Japanese government had to draft a new constitution. This required that the Emperor relinquish official authority, though he was allowed to retain his position as a figurehead. It also established a Diet (congress), which was given power over lawmaking. The document was written with American input, as it required approval from SCAP. It went into effect May 3, 1947.

The constitution also provided many basic rights for citizens, including gender equality, the right to peacefully protest, free and equal public education, and more. 

All Non-Defensive Military Forces Were Disbanded

Article 9 of the new Japanese constitution required the country to disband all military forces except for a small defense force. This came in conjunction with a bilateral mutual defense agreement with the United States, effectively putting Japan under US military protection. The move caused many of the country's remaining industrial capabilities, developed during wartime, to be repurposed for civilian use. The article has become deeply ingrained in Japan's culture of pacifism, though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for changes to Article 9 in 2016. 

The Japanese Government Established Brothels

Believing occupying American troops would wantonly rape civilians in the immediate aftermath of the war, Japanese authorities created brothels and solicited patriotic ladies to volunteer as comfort women. Occupying forces instituted a ban on prostitution, but it was only partially enforced. An estimated 55,000 women served in these brothels, though not all were prostitutes. 

Tatsugoro Suzuki, who was a prostitute, recalls, "We were told that our mission was to be a sexual dike to protect the chastity of Japanese women." Tsunenori Ono, an official appointed to oversee the creation of the brothels, said of the operation, "This really was necessary at the time, because we didn't know what kind of soldiers would come. It really seemed crucial to build this sexual dike."

Most Americans who patronized the brothels never knew the Japanese government started and ran them. 

Japan Became a Democracy

As part of the government reforms imposed by the United States occupiers, democratic elections were introduced for the first time in Japan. The authoritarianism that defined Japan since the 1930s was viewed not only as a threat to international peace but as an immoral and illegitimate form of government. The constitution expanded enfranchisement to all men and women.

America Helped Rebuild the Japanese Economy

One of the first tasks of the Supreme Command of Allied Powers (SCAP) under General MacArthur was to rebuild Japan's economy. Fearing a struggling economy would provide fertile ground for communist expansion, the United States invested heavily in rebuilding Japan. Between 1946 and 1949, the United States spent $500 million dollars annually to support the Japanese economy.

After that, loose government loan policies allowed Japanese companies access to the capital necessary to transition to an export driven economy. Free trade agreements further helped. MacArthur had dismantled the Japanese monopolies (zaibatsu) during the initial reconstruction, but these restrictions were later backtracked during the 1950s due to the threat of the Cold War. Once these restrictions were eased, the Japanese government took steps to protect monopolies and business cartels.

A Food Shortage Caused Severe Rationing

A devastating combination of war and bad weather caused rice production to fall 27% in 1945. Fishing was also 40% below normal levels at this time. To top this off, for obvious reasons, Japan was unable to procure food from China or Korea as the war entered its final act, leading to supply shortages. These conditions combined to create a food shortage so bad official rations were only 1,050 calories per person per day in the immediate aftermath of the war. The famine was exacerbated by millions of Japanese returning to the home islands from abroad.

A Ramen Black Market Existed

Immediately after the war, MacArthur imposed a ban on outdoor food vending and instituted severe food rationing. This created a black market for ramen noodles. Food shortages and malnutrition made the dish extremely popular and helped propel it to become a national icon. The popularity of ramen in the post-war years and the foot shortage are the reason instant ramen exists.

The idea for mass producing cheap, good food that could be prepared with nothing more than hot water first occurred to Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen, in the late 1940s. Ando explained in his autobiography

I happened to pass this area and saw a line 20, 30 meters long in front of a dimly lit stall from which clouds of steam were steadily rising. People dressed in shabby clothes shivered in the cold while waiting for their turn. The person who was with me said they were lined up for a bowl of ramen. I realized that people were willing to wait patiently just for a bowl of ramen.

Beyond ramen, the black market culture of Japan exploded in the wake of Word War Two, and helped give rise to the modern yakuza. 

Most Cities Were Flattened

Hiroshima and Nagasaki aren't major cities, but they were destroyed by atomic bombs. Why? Because all the bigger, more important cities in Japan had already been obliterated. The strategic bombing campaign conducted by the US against Japan left most cities, such as Tokyo, virtually leveled. The systematic fire-bombing of Japan destroyed an estimated 1,439,115 buildings.

By way of example, the fire-bombing of Tokyo incinerated more than 16 square miles of the city, an area about 70% the size of Manhattan. Major cities in Japan were filled with millions of homeless civilians and psychologically damaged war veterans, who slept in bomb craters, ruined buildings, tents, shanty towns, or on the street.

Sat, 03 Dec 2016 18:05:59 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/japan-after-world-war-2/christopher-myers
<![CDATA[10 Sad Facts about the Hindu Custom Sati, in Which Women Burned Themselves Alive]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/sati-hindu-custom-widows-women-burning-themselves-alive/richard-rowe

Every culture has its own way of dealing with death, and exactly how they do it often comes down to that culture's views on the afterlife. Or in some cultures' cases, "before-life." Here in the West, we might see other cultures' funerary practices as morbid or unthinkable. But they might well say the same of us. That sort of cultural relativism does apply to most practices. Except for that one we always have a problem wrapping our minds around: human sacrifice

The custom of sati, a widow killing herself following a husband's death, seems fairly barbaric in some ways. Prehistoric, almost. And it is, on both counts. But is this really so different from what we see in something like Romeo and Juliet? Two people deeply in love, entering the hereafter together? 

Depending on your age and views of the afterlife (or in India's case, reincarnation), the idea of Sati may be either very easy or very difficult to understand. But there is some beauty to be found in the notion. Just ask Juliet.

10 Sad Facts about the Hindu Custom Sati, in Which Women Burned Themselves Alive,

At Its Peak, Several Thousand Widows a Year Burned Themselves to Death

Sati has long been associated with India, primarily on the basis that it was the last place commonly or visibly practiced. But India was hardly the first or only culture to engage in this sort of ritual. You can find instances of widow sacrifice all the way from Korea through Norse Viking country, down to Mesoamerican Aztecs and Incans. Some say it's still practiced quietly in China and Vietnam — though in truth, you won't find many corners of the world where widow suicide doesn't happen on a somewhat regular basis.

Still, not quite as regular as public burnings were in India at one point. It's estimated that at the peak of sati's popularity in the 15th-18th centuries, several thousand widows a year burned themselves on their husbands funeral pyres. 

Rich People Weren't Supposed to Do It

Vijñāneśvara, an early Dharmaśāstric scholar writing about 1100 B.C.E., references Vedic injunctions against sati in terms of social class. He writes that a Brahmin woman (one of the highest social caste) shouldn't follow her husband into death. This might have something to do with the fact that Brahmins were leaders of the community, major landholders, and the death of two such people at the same time would throw things into disarray. It might also be a safeguard against children murdering their fathers for the inheritance. Then again, it may just be a case of the upper class saying to the lower class, "Yeah... that's not for us."

Some Women Intentionally Poisoned or Otherwise Knocked Themselves out Beforehand

The iconic image of sati is that of a woman climbing onto her husband's funeral pyre or being set afire with it. Certainly, this did happen, at least as recently as the 18th century. However, a woman could also choose a less painful method, and be placed on the pyre or buried with her husband afterward. Poison or drug overdose was often the first choice, though in some cases they would administer just enough to make the woman comatose. She would be "burned alive," but not while awake. Other times, she might opt for a snakebite or a blade to the wrists or throat before burning.  

A Widow Had the Option of Changing Her Mind (Even Though She'd Take a Hit in Karma Points)

At no point, all the way up until death itself, was a woman absolutely committed to sati. Women who did commit it were said to have died virtuous and chaste, which is big deal in Hindu culture. A woman who dies chaste dies has much better karma and has a better chance of being re-born into a better life in the next cycle. Perhaps, even with her husband.

This might be another part of the justification for Brahmin women—women of a higher caste—not committing sati. As Brahmin, they were already of the highest caste possible and stood to benefit nothing karmically from sati. In any case, any woman could opt out of sati at any point. Custom demanded that a male relative remain near her funeral pyre to pull her out, should she change her mind at the last possible moment.

It's Named for the Goddess Sati, Who Burned Herself Alive

Sati was the wife of Shiva the Destroyer. She was herself a powerful goddess, having power over all heat and energy, including lighting and thunder. Sati agreed to be born to Earth when a king and queen who couldn't have children came to her, and begged her to be born through them. Sati agreed on the condition that if she were ever to be insulted, she would assume her terrifying celestial form of Adishakti and destroy them all. 

When Sati met Shiva the Destroyer in his Earthly form, her father the King disapproved. She married Shiva anyway, leading to an argument between herself and her father. In her rage, Sati assumed her celestial form (Adishakti). All the gods and Earth trembled as Adishakti rained down fire and destruction. Unfortunately, her own Earthly body of Sati was consumed and burned by Adishakti's radiance. Adishakti, seeing she had no way to return to Shiva, turned her power on herself, and burned herself alive in devotion to him. 

But at least the story has a happy ending. Because then, Shiva the Destroyer went out and killed lots and lots of people. Including his in-laws. Then he brought everyone back to life, but replaced the King's head with that of a goat. Sati went on to become the goddess of marital fidelity and longevity, was later reincarnated as Parvati, and found Shiva on Earth again. They remain together to this day. And the King is still a goat. 

You Were Probably Alive When India Made Sati Illegal

...As long as you were born before 1989. In 1988, the Indian Parliament finally adopted the Sati (Prevention) Act, which once and for all put out the embers of burning widows on the subcontinent. This act not only prohibited sati itself, but severely criminalized any type of aiding, abetting or glorifying of the act. It may seem strange that India took so long to finally outlaw sati, especially considering the fact that it had already been outlawed 120 years before. But that was under British colonial rule, and India only gained its independence in 1947. True, 41 years is a good bit of time to wait to outlaw the burning of wives. But then again, it took America more than 200 years to outlaw the beating of wives and burning of witches. Always good to keep things in perspective.  

It Was Practiced Before Recorded History

Our best records date the concept of sati at least as far back as the Vedic Age (1500 B.C.E.). Even then, sati is spoken of largely in the past tense. Estimates say it had been practiced for at least 500 years prior — about 2000 B.C.E. That would make the practice of sati at least as old as the earliest recorded history in Asia, and probably at least as old as Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. Nobody knows exactly how old the practice of sati is, because even our oldest texts mention it in the past tense.  

Pregnant Women Weren't Allowed to Do It

There have always been rules surrounding sati and who could commit it. Women with young children to care for, or who were pregnant or menstruating, couldn't commit ritual suicide. This was seen as sacrificing the life of the child along with her own. Though again, there are some practical considerations here — not least of which being that a woman capable of bearing children may wish to re-marry at some point.  

Sati May Have Influenced the Vikings and Inspired Catholic Witch Burnings

This connection has been made by many, but remains unproven in terms of documentation. Around the time that witch burnings became a thing in Medieval Europe, Christian culture was already well-aware of the practices of heathen Vikings and Hindus. The practice of burning witches descends directly from Viking funerary rituals, in which a king's widow or female thrall would be burned alive with her lord. No one knows precisely where this custom came from, but it is known that Vikings traded heavily throughout Central Asia with Persians and Hindus. It is fairly likely that the Vikings adopted the custom of sati from their trading partners, as it fit nicely with their own social structure and mythology. When the Church began to execute "brides of the Devil," it seemed only natural they should burn them as those brides of pagan kings burned.  

It's Been Controversial for a Very Long Time

It's probably fair to say that the vast majority of Hindus now are less than supportive of sati. But Hindus have never completely supported it. First, because suicide is prohibited by the Hindu religion, instantly gaining one bad karma and sentencing one to become a unappealing in the next life. It was also previously banned by the Vedic tradition Hindus draw from, but saw a sort of revival around the 10th Century. The 12th Century Virashaiva movement sought to outlaw it completely. When the British finally did outlaw sati in India in 1861, it was largely by request of the locals. It was long in coming, as well. According to one census taken in 1829, approximately 600 acts of sati were still performed every year.   

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 09:38:46 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/sati-hindu-custom-widows-women-burning-themselves-alive/richard-rowe
<![CDATA[20 Completely Disgusting Recipes from Vintage Cookbooks]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/disgusting-food-from-vintage-cookbooks/kellen-perry

Vintage mid-century cookbooks aren't just full of comfort food classics like Grandma's Apple Pie and Auntie Nora's Beef Stew. They're also full of disgusting dishes made with gelatin and mayonnaise. Seriously: find any American cookbook from 1940 to 1985. Check the index for "aspic," "Jell-O," "gelatin," or "mayonnaise." Things were out of control!

Vintage cookbooks and retro recipe cards are full of this objectively unappetizing stuff. Why? One explanation is that since gelatin required refrigeration, creating these dishes was a show of status: We have a refrigerator and you don't. It's an interesting theory, but it doesn't change the fact that these flavor combinations are just plain gross: vanilla and salmon, mayonnaise and bananas, carrots and liver... and that's before you add the Jell-O! Grab a barf bucket and read on to learn about some of the grossest recipes from vintage cookbooks.

20 Completely Disgusting Recipes from Vintage Cookbooks,

Cottage Cheese Ring

So, this looks like a bowl of dog food, right? Dog food in a bowl made of cottage cheese. But instead of kibble, your guests get "Vegetable Salad Medley" and "Marinated Mushrooms," all on a bed of lettuce that no one is eating. It probably wasn't even washed. For the brave, the 1958 recipe from the "Tested Recipe Institute" (what a relief!) can be found here.

Liver Sausage Pineapple

From 1953's Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, this is liver sausage covered in Jell-O and mayo, molded into a pineapple shape and "studded" with olives.

As Craig Payst notes over at Owls On the Table, if you want to complete the look and dress up your new BFF with a little pineapple wig, you have to buy an entire pineapple and chop that part off. That's ridiculous and wasteful. You should obviously make a fake pineapple top out of modeling clay so you always have have one on hand. After all, you're going to be serving this a lot. That's the responsible thing to do.

(Recipe here.)

Ham Loaf Superb

This meat-packed monstrosity is from the Betty Crocker Holiday Cookbook (1983). It's ground ham, beef, and lean pork baked into a superb loaf using tomato juice (!), eggs (okay), and quick-cooking oats (sure!). The white stuff on top is sliced cheese, like normal people would put on a sandwich. It's served on a bed of a million peas.

(Recipe here.)

Californian Jello Ring

Seriously? This nightmare from Marguerite Patten's Recipe Cards (1967) requires some explanation: the white blob is vanilla ice cream. So far, so good. On top of the white blob are boiled prunes "for decoration." Ugh. Could it get worse? Yep: the bottom is prune-filled Jell-O surrounded by orange slices. Good God.

Believe it or not, Patten included an alternate recipe that is actually worse: she suggests using tea instead of water when you make the Jell-O. Seriously.

(Recipe here.)

Glace Fish Mold

From 1943's 300 Timely Fish Recipes, this abomination is somehow even grosser than it looks. Yes, it's flaked fish served inside of plain Jell-O, molded into the shape of a fish. That's pretty nasty. But it's the veggies that really send this one over the edge. There are raw cucumbers, green peppers, and onions inside this thing. Raw onions and Jell-O! So it's really like the saddest, weirdest tuna salad you've ever had. 

(Recipe here.)

Molded Beef Ring

From Farm Journal's Country Cookbook (1959), this eldritch horror is beef set in gelatin with fun ketchup stripes and a crown of pimento olives. The cookbook says it will bring "peace of mind when company's coming," but don't listen to that nonsense. This thing is a culinary hellmouth.

(No recipe available. Wing it!) 

Shrimp-Salmon Mold

So many questions about this recipe. This is from the Weight Watchers International Recipe Cards series from 1974. So why is it asking you to use buttermilk? If you're using real buttermilk, why bother with "imitation butter flavoring"? Why do you need 3 drops of yellow food coloring? Why would you add vanilla extract to shrimp and/or salmon? Is the phrase "unmold on a bed of salad greens" the least sexy thing you could ever say? 

Christmas Candle Salad

Let's get it out of the way: yep, these things looks like little penises. The "wicks" are almonds, too, so guys in 1958 got to imagine what that feels like. Plus, there's mayonnaise on the tip "to look like melted wax"! Beyond their obviously phallic nature, you know they turned mushy and brown about halfway through the Christmas party. 

(Recipe here.)

Cranberry "Candle" Salad

Let's not mince words: this is a mold of cranberry sauce, mayonnaise, and Jell-O with a birthday candle sticking out of it. It also looks disturbingly like roasted flesh, considering the ingredients. Just when you think things can't get any grosser, the recipe recommends garnishing it with even more mayo, which makes sense, because this is from a 1960 Hellmann's advertisement (this also explains the "family style" bowl of mayonnaise on the table!).

Tuna and Pear Pizza

Wow. The black globs on this so-called "pizza" are pickled walnuts.The spokes on the little wagon wheel design are anchovies, which, okay, sure, anchovies are a legit pizza topping. But the insanity continues with the sauce, which has pears and tuna mixed into it. The recipe card (from Marguerite Patten's Recipe Cards of 1972) credits the "Fruit Producers Council" for the photograph, which is baffling. This didn't help sell any pears, guys. Also: how do you slice this thing? Do you cut the anchovies in half? There's no other way to do it fairly.

(Recipe here.)

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:38:47 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/disgusting-food-from-vintage-cookbooks/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[Surprising and Revealing Photos of World Leaders as Kids]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/childhood-photos-of-famous-world-leaders/ashley-reign

Though you've doubtless seen photos of politicians and other world leaders in news articles and history books, have you ever considered that the imagery we have of such figures tends to be limited to specific times in their lives? Ever wonder, for example, what Bill Clinton might have looked like as a kid riding horses in Arkansas, or if a photo of Hitler as a baby might contain any hints of the evil monster he was to become? Well, if so, then you've come to the right place, because here we've put together a collection of childhood pictures of historical figures before they became the famous figures you're familiar with.

Here you'll find everything from pictures of current world leaders as kids to photos of some of the most famous cultural and religious leaders of recent history. Whether the folks in the following pictures ended up affecting the world for better or worse, these photos of them growing up will remind you that neither happened overnight.

So come on in and get a look at a group of leaders you're probably already familiar with, in a light that you've never seen them in before...

Surprising and Revealing Photos of World Leaders as Kids,

Adolf Hitler

Barack Obama

Bill Clinton

Fidel Castro

George W. Bush

Pope Francis

Joseph Stalin

Justin Trudeau

Vladimir Putin


Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:32:06 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/childhood-photos-of-famous-world-leaders/ashley-reign
<![CDATA[Terrifying Historical Prisons That Make Supermax Seem Tame]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/scariest-prisons-in-history/danielle-ownbey

Prisons have held lawbreakers for as long as there have been laws to break. Facilities come and go as centuries pass but the most notoriously scary historical prisons tend to haunt the pages of our history books with tales of unspeakable suffering, violence, and crime. They contributed to war efforts, impacted revolutions, and affected the history of the cities and countries that surrounded them.

The concept of prisons as we know them today is relatively modern. In antiquity, jails served less as places of penitence and more as a purgatory before the final judgment of guilt, which was often punished either by enslavement or execution. Before the mega jails and super-maxes of today, historical prisons took on many forms, from isolated islands to underground dungeons. Excluding any prison that is currently open and also the horrifically depressing sub-genre of concentration camps, this list reveals some of the scariest prisons in history.

Terrifying Historical Prisons That Make Supermax Seem Tame,

Robben Island

Most famous for its most famous resident, Nelson Mandela, Robben Island’s history is as broad as it is scary. The Dutch originally founded the prison in the 17th century during their colonization of South Africa. Since that time, the island changed hands multiple times and served many different purposes: political prison, whaling station, military outpost during World War II, and insane asylum.

According to Mandela’s autobiography, he and other prisoners worked in a lime quarry, where the constant glare of the sun on the rock caused permanent eye damage. They received little food and clothing and were subjected to racism on a daily basis. Upon Mandela’s arrival, prison guards greeted him with some insight into the island: "This is the Island! Here you will die!" He spent the next 18 years, from 1964 to 1982, fighting the oppression of Apartheid from a six-square-foot cell.

Pitești Prison

Pitesti was a Communist prison built in Romania, most famous for its intense and brutal brainwashing experiments. Operating from 1949-1951, the Pitesti Experiment attempted to "re-educate" wealthy intellectuals, bourgeois landowners, religious rebels, and political dissidents through psychological torture. Guards forced prisoners' heads into buckets of urine and feces in a "baptism" ritual. They also made religious prisoners eat a "holy communion" of feces on Easter. In an effort to get prisoners to turn on one another, guards made prisoners torture each other by spitting and urinating in each other's mouths, among other even more disgusting things

Carandiru Penitentiary

Despite its nearly century-long infamous history, Carandiru Penitentiary in São Paulo, Brazil, is most notorious for the events of a single day. During the Carandiru Massacre on October 2, 1992, police took the lives of 111 inmates in about 30 minutes. The events unfolded when an argument about a football match between two inmates devolved into a fight between rival gangs, which in turn sparked a prison riot.

In the overcrowded prison that held more than twice its inmate capacity, the riot raged on for three hours until police entered the complex and began to fire. According to witnesses, police shot inmates at close range behind locked cell doors and unleashed dogs on the wounded. It took 20 years for any of the police involved to be punished for their brutality against the prisoners. 

Hỏa Lò Prison

Originally opened by French colonists in 1896 to house Vietnamese rebels, the Hỏa Lò Prison ultimately became famous by a different name: the Hanoi Hilton. During the Vietnam War, Hỏa Lò Prison imprisoned American POWs like Congressman Sam Johnson and Senator John McCain, who tried to commit suicide twice during his stay. The length of the Vietnam War led to long periods of imprisonment for many POWs, some staying at the Hanoi Hilton for 8 years or more. While there, POWs were beaten, tied up by their wrists and hung from meat hooks, forced into extended solitary confinement, and used in propaganda films. They finally made it home after the Paris Peace Accords set them free and the war ended.

Prison at Urga, Mongolia

When explorer Roy Chapman Andrews, future director of the American Museum of Natural History, arrived at the prison in Urga, Mongolia in 1918, he couldn't believe his eyes. Taken on a tour of the town's jail, he saw that the accommodations for prisoners in Urga were worse than any he had ever seen or studied before - because the prisoners essentially lived in coffins. Housed in four-foot by three-foot boxes, prisoners could reach through a single six-inch hole to receive their food rations or blankets in the winter, when they got any, which was rare. Guards only cleaned the boxes every few weeks and as such, a prisoner very rarely saw the outside of their "cell." Prisoners' limbs atrophied from lack of movement, although many didn't live long enough to see this happen. 

Tadmor Prison

Built in the 1930s in Syria by the French, Tadmor's notoriety began 40 years later, during the rule of Hafez al-Assad. During Assad's reign as President of Syria, Tadmor became a dumping ground for political dissidents, summarily subjected to torture and execution. Here are some of the scariest atrocities reported at Tadmor:

  • Soldiers killed between 500 and 1,000 prisoners in one day.
  • Medical treatment was scarce, with guards telling inmates, "Only call us to collect bodies."
  • Guards held a "reception party" for incoming inmates that involved hitting them up to 400 times. 
  • Guards forced two inmates at a time to hold a third by his arms and legs and throw him across the room. When a man refused, he was beaten so severely that he died soon after. 
  • An inmate described being ordered by guards to remove every pair of slippers, roughly 100, from the dormitory using only his mouth.
  • Inmates couldn't lift their eyes from the ground and would distinguish nice guards from sadistic ones by the color of their boots.

Despite the prison's closure in 2001, Tadmor made an appearance in the news recently, when ISIS took control of the building and demolished it in 2015. 

HMS Jersey

When talking about terror on the high seas, few things could be more terror-inducing than the HMS "Hell." The HMS Jersey, nicknamed "Hell", was the most notorious of a number of warships that the British used to hold prisoners during the American Revolution. Docked in the New York Harbor (now the Brooklyn Navy Yard), the HMS Jersey and other ships like it held prisoners from 1776 to 1783 in appalling conditions. Packed below deck, prisoners fought diseased rats, inhumane guards, lack of food, and extreme weather. By the time the British burned the ship at the end of the war, the HMS Jersey racked up a death toll of 11,000. Hellacious, indeed.

Camp Sumter

The distinction of being the "deadliest landscape of the Civil War. " is quite a notorious achievement. That reward doesn't go to the battlegrounds of Antietam in Maryland or Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, but to Andersonville, GA. At Camp Sumter Military Prison in Andersonville, the Confederate army imprisoned more than 45,000 Union troops during the last year of the Civil War. Almost 13,000 of those troops lost their lives; most of the deaths were caused by disease and severe overcrowding. After the war ended, conditions at Andersonville so appalled the US government that officials sentenced the head of the prison, Captain Henry Wirz, to death. 

Morbid fact of the day: The term "deadline" may have originated at Andersonville. It was used to describe the line around the prison that inmates could not cross, lest they be shot. 

The Mamertine

In Ancient Rome, the Mamertine's violence wasn't just brutal - it was biblical. A dank underground jailhouse, the Mamertine played host to two of Christianity's most famous characters. St. Peter and St. Paul, Jesus's two most influential apostles (aside from Judas...), both spent time locked up in the dungeonous Mamertine, imprisoned there by Roman Emperor Nero. 

In use since the 8th century BCE, the prison contained two floors of underground cells, one on top of the other, with the lower levels only accessible through holes in the upper levels. After torturous treatment and lack of food led to the deaths of many of the prisoners, guards disposed of their bodies in the Cloaca Maxima, aka the Roman sewer.

Devil's Island

Potentially the most feared penal colony in history (with the most on-the-nose name), Devil's Island saw 60,000 prisoners sail in its direction and only 2,000 make it out alive. An isolated island off the coast of French Army Guiana in the Atlantic ocean, Napoleon III and the French chose the island in 1852 because it was nearly impossible to escape. Guards worked prisoners nearly to death during the day, building unending roads to nowhere and clearing trees. At night, they were shackled and left in the dark to be bitten by vampire bats that waited in the rafters.

Some prisoners were kept in "bear pits" - holes dug into the ground and covered at the top by iron bars. The island's two most well-known residents were Alfred Dreyfus, a French Captain falsely convicted of treason, and Henri Charrière, an inmate who escaped the island and wrote a memoir about his time there. The book, Papillon, was adapted into a movie starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. 

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 16:04:08 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/scariest-prisons-in-history/danielle-ownbey
<![CDATA[Terrifying Haunted Historical Sites from Around the World]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/haunted-historical-sites/jeffrichard

We've all met someone who claims to have had a bizarre, unexplainable experience at some point in their lives. Some have seen spectral apparitions moving around their homes. Some claim to hear strange noises in the middle of the night. Others believe the spirits of their loved ones are silently watching over them, showing them otherworldly signs.

Often, it's hard to believe these claims are anything more than simple pareidolia and the desire to believe.

Then, there are some stories - some places - which have so many different sources attributed to them, that it seems they must have an air of truth. After all, when a place becomes as notorious as those listed below, it's hard to deny that there must be something strange going on. 

Whether you're a believer in the supernatural or not, these supposedly haunted places are, at the very least, unsettling. Some are the sites of grisly, violent deaths. Others are where countless poor souls were once imprisoned and tortured, now doomed to roam the halls of their institutions.

In any case, dim the lights, say your prayers, and read on to learn about the most haunted historical sites in the world.

Terrifying Haunted Historical Sites from Around the World,

Chichen Itza

When most of us think of haunted houses, it's typical to think of creepy Victorian-era homes, or at least ones built within the last few centuries. 

But the thing about ghosts is that they're supposedly doomed to wander the Earth forever and, in this case, some of them have been around for thousands of years.

This brings us to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. Here, the Mayan people believe that death wasn't so much a tragedy, but more of a process to bring us to the other side when our time on Earth is up. Thus, the ruins here were once the site of mass sacrifices.

In fact, several tourists who have ventured into the more contained parts of the ruins have claimed to have seen strange specters walking the halls, in addition to hearing strange tribal chants throughout various sections. 

The Island of the Dolls

If there's one common fear right up there with clowns, flying, spiders, and maybe spontaneous human combustion, it's dolls

With their soulless eyes, marionette-like gait, and constant desire to be given free will to murder us in our sleep, any location that features a doll certainly deserves a spot on this list.  

But instead of one doll, let's ratchet things up... how about thousands of them? Oh, and they're not simply lying around a house, or stuffed into an attic, or calmly plotting your demise from the corner of a room, either - they're strung up on various trees on an entire island.

Well, that's what you're in for if you ever feel like escaping the relaxing, doll-less safety of life and moving to Xochimilco, Mexico, where you'll be met by the dead-eyed gazes of countless plastic baby-people.

Thankfully, these are not naturally-occurring dolls, but the real reason they exist on this island is perhaps even more frightening. Legend has it that a man named Julian Santana Barrera moved to the island, and soon after, found the body of a girl floating in a nearby canal. He also found a doll floating near her, which he hung from a tree as a memorial. But once he hung the doll, he claimed to hear footsteps, whispers, and screams. He hung more dolls to try and appease her but had no luck; she haunted him until the day he died in those woods.

Unsurprisingly, Julian had zero luck with contacting the spirit of the young girl. Now, the island is a tourist attraction, and visitors claim the dolls' eyes will follow them wherever they go. 

The Tower of London

Built over 900 years ago by William the Conqueror, the Tower of London stands as one of the most haunted buildings in the UK - perhaps because of how many famous individuals are said to still inhabit its walls. Among these several notable ghosts is Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, whose ghost has supposedly been seen multiple times near the castle's inner wall. 

In addition, Lady Arbella Stuart, Queen Elizabeth's one-time-successor-turned-prisoner of the Tower (all because she went and got married without King James's permission), has also been said to haunt The Queen's House structure on the Tower Green, a space inside the Tower of London. 

But perhaps the most well-known royal specter inside the great tower is none other than Queen Anne Boleyn herself, who was executed by beheading in 1535. Her headless spirit is said to inhabit Tower Green as well. 

While the Tower of London seems to be a veritable who's who of boos and ghouls (sorry), there have been several other instances of paranormal activity which don't involve any royal figures stuck in a limbo state between life and death. Among them, the so-called "White Lady," who is often seen waving from a window, and a pair of children wandering the halls, holding hands. 

The Haunted Vicarage (Borgvattnet)

Let's face it: old ladies can be scary. They're not necessarily doll-scary or spider-scary, but as many a horror film has proven, the sudden appearance of an old woman can be downright shocking, especially if you're staying in an isolated home in Jämtland County, Northern Sweden. Specifically, "The Haunted Vicarage."

Originally built in 1876, it wasn't until nearly forty years later that anyone experienced any paranormal activity in this former priest's home. And how did that activity manifest itself? You guessed it: old ladies.

On several occasions, visitors at the home claim to have seen the image of an old woman, dressed in grey, sitting in the corner of a bedroom late at night. On other occasions, different guests have reported seeing three women sitting together. 

There have been reports of screams in the night. Shadows on the wall. A rocking chair that won't cease moving. 

Rumors have swirled as to why the old vicar house has been haunted, with some saying the spirits are those of abused maids, while others say that babies have been buried in the backyard, and their mothers are wailing for their return. 

Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Located in Southern Jefferson County in Kentucky, the Waverly Hills Sanatorium was originally a simple two-story hospital when it was first constructed for tuberculosis patients.

However, since Kentucky had one of the highest death rates for the disease in the entire country, the county decided to expand the original building and transform Waverly Hills into a five-story haven for those stricken with what was called the "white death" at the time. 

Why did tuberculosis earn such a frightening nickname? Mainly due to the fact that when patients contracted TB, their skin turned a ghastly white. 

It's been said that as many as 63,000 patients died at Waverly Hills before it closed - and not all of them have found a way to move on. Supposedly, visitors occasionally hear strange voices muttering down the hallways and feel strange cold spots in the air. Some even claim to have seen apparitions and shadows in multiple parts of the building. 

Perhaps the most frightening is the supposed ghost of a woman who died in room 502. A tuberculosis patient, who, upon learning she was pregnant, hung herself with the light bulb wire in her own room.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Originally built in 1864, this asylum in Weston, WV was later called the Weston State Hospital, and was designed to hold a mere 250 patients. But as time went on, and the hospital began admitting additional alcoholics, drug addicts, and "mental defectives," the structure's capacity ballooned to nearly 2,600 patients. 

Because of this immense level of overcrowding, resources of the hospital were stretched extremely thin. This resulted in poor sanitation, failing light fixtures, and poor heat circulation throughout the building. Basically, everyone inside was suffering in more ways than one.

And although those who resided and worked in Trans-Allegheny experienced physical horrors, it was said they also reported seeing the spirits of confederate soldiers passing through the hallways from when the site was originally a Civil War outpost.

The Sultan's Palace

Located in New Orleans' French Quarter, rumor has it that this now-infamous mansion was originally built in 1836 by a Turkish man who claimed to be a sultan, though no one at the time could actually find out the truth. 

As time went on, neighbors began to grow suspicious of the Turkish man, who would throw wild, opium-fueled parties that went on for hours. Some said the man had multiple wives and even more children. What's worse, is he was said to be torturing them nightly.

Then, one morning, a neighbor noticed a horrifying sight: blood was dripping down the side of the home. And when authorities were called, nothing could prepare them for the nightmare they saw upon entering 716 Dauphine Street: 

Body parts were littered throughout the home.

There were dismembered arms. Legs. Heads. Blood had been spilled in seemingly every corner of the house.

And as officers investigated the crime scene, they discovered the body of the sultan himself, buried alive in the home's courtyard, with his hand sticking up from the soil, as if in a last-ditch attempt to free himself. 

It's been said that even today, one can hear the screams of the sultan - as well as countless others - echoing throughout the massive home.

Eastern State Penitentiary

If you know anything at all about prison, you're probably well aware of what solitary confinement entails. When a particular inmate has "misbehaved," they're sent to a windowless room and cut off from all human contact. It's said to be a particularly cruel form of punishment due to the harsh psychological effects that occur over time.

And the folks at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia? They actually came up with the idea

Built in 1829, this prison is home to numerous paranormal sightings, due in part to the stories of solitary confinement punishments that were once doled out here. It's said that several of the inmates were driven insane as a result of being locked away for so long and, eventually, if they passed away within the pen's walls - they would haunt it forever. 

Between the ghastly cackling, shadowy figures, disembodied footsteps, and clanging cell doors still heard to this day, Eastern State Penitentiary is certainly a place you wouldn't want to find yourself locked in alone.

Bhangarh Fort

While many have been reduced to ruins over time, there are still countless castles and fortresses still standing today. Among them, the Bhangarh Fort, located in Rajasthan, India. 

Built by King Sawai Madho Singh roughly 400 years ago, Bhangarh is said to not only be one of the most haunted places in India but also the entire world. During its heyday, the fort housed some 10,000 residents and even included a residential palace for the king himself. 

Legend has it that a sorcerer, once under the employ of the king, fell in love with Princess Ratnavati. But once she dismissed him, the sorcerer put a curse on the entire town, and only days later, an invading army arrived, slaughtering everyone within the fort's walls.

It is believed that once night falls in Rajasthan, the spirits of Bhangarh manifest themselves as dangerous entities, bent on attacking anyone who may be foolish enough to remain inside the fort. 

Monte Cristo Homestead

Representing Australia on this list is none other than the Monte Cristo Mansion, located in June, New South Wales. While most of the other entries have been larger historical sites with hundreds of tortured souls lost within, the Monte Cristo falls under the category of "classic haunted house." 

So, in that case, it must be pretty haunted to be in the same league as the others, right? 

Just ask the Ryan family, who still live there to this day. The Ryans say there have been power outages. Cold spots. Visions of shadow people, lurking around the mansion's corners.

Going back to the time it was built in 1885, there have been a series of bizarre and tragic events that occurred at Monte Cristo: a young boy died when he was dropped from the top of the stairs. A maid committed suicide. The former caretaker was murdered on the property in 1961. A young stable boy burned to death in his straw bed. And the Monte Cristo's housekeeper was said to have kept his mentally unstable son tied to an outhouse for decades. 

With this much paranormal activity going on, it's easy to see why the Monte Cristo stands among the other entries as one place you wouldn't want to spend the night.  

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 16:17:29 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/haunted-historical-sites/jeffrichard
<![CDATA[14 Notably Awesome Cats from History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/cats-in-history/julie-ershadi

Cats are wonderful creatures capable of a great many feats, from nearly always landing on their feet to providing some of the best cuddles known to man. But you may not realize there are all sorts of historically important cats as well. Just like dogs, cats are unique animals in that they have been domesticated - albeit only partially - to live alongside humans and cooperate in accomplishing common goals.

Though chief among these is rodent control, in modern history there have been individual cats here and there who have made names for themselves in other ways. Some have survived shipwrecks, careers in government, and even space travel. Some famous cats in history have been spooky, while others have just been downright lucky.

Take a moment to imagine what it must be like to be not only cute, cuddly, and fuzzy, but also daring, cunning, and adventurous? These cats don't have to imagine - they've lived the furry and fabulous life of one of the many awesome cats who made history.

14 Notably Awesome Cats from History,

Morris the Cat, 9Lives Mascot and Hero to Stray Cats

Voiced by John Erwin, Morris the Cat is the mascot for the 9Lives brand of cat food. He's known as "the world's most finicky cat," but he comes from very humble origins. The original Morris was a male orange tabby rescued from an animal shelter in Chicago in 1978. He's been succeeded over the years by lookalikes who share with him, besides adorable orange stripes and picky eating habits, the common experience of having been saved from a life on the streets.

Humphrey, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office at 10 Downing Street

Humphrey was a longhaired black and white cat, gainfully employed as Chief Mouser of 10 Downing Street (the British Prime Minister's official residence), from 1989 to 1997. Humphrey shares this distinction with a long line of other cats who have received the official title of Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. While one can infer what his duties entailed, Humphrey is special among his colleagues for being the subject of catnapping and murder rumors in the Parliament during Tony Blair's term.

Humphrey enjoyed a peaceful retirement until his 2006 passing, while under the care of a former Cabinet Officer, as well as a delightful video memorial, as seen above. 

Room 8, the Best Class Pet Ever

Easily one of the most beloved cats of all time, Room 8 was a stray tabby who wandered into an elementary school in Elysian Heights, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, in 1952. The kitty adopted the students, and they adopted him back, naming him Room 8 after their classroom. He became so famous for his sweetness, charm, and loyalty that when he passed on at the ripe old age of 22, his obituary was published as far away as Connecticut. His headstone in the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park remains one of the most visited gravesites there.

Tommaso, the Richest Cat in All the Land

This little black panther is a millionaire. No, really. In 2011, Tommaso's owner, Maria Assunta, died and left her $13 million fortune entirely to her cat. What makes his inheritance even more striking is that Tommaso started out as a stray cat on the streets of Rome. Maybe this is where Drake got his inspiration for "Started from the Bottom."

Tabby and Dixie, Abraham Lincoln's Cats

Abraham Lincoln is not just one of the most well-known presidents in American history, he was also the loving owner of Tabby and Dixie, two cats given to him as kittens by Secretary of State William Seward. These cats enjoyed plush lifestyles in the presidential suite. It's said that Lincoln fed Tabby from the table during a formal White House dinner and claimed that Dixie was smarter than his whole cabinet.

Orangey, a Showbiz Cat as Professional as His Name Was Efficient

Orangey is probably not the most creative name ever for a big, fluffy, orange tabby cat who enjoyed supporting roles - and even a few starring ones - in a plethora of films and television shows in the 1950s. Owned by Los Angeles animal handler Frank Inn, Orangey is best known for playing the also creatively named "Cat" in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Orangey also occasionally went by "Rhubarb and "Minerva," but come on, Orangey is just too perfect.

Stubbs, King in the North and Mayor of Talkeetna, AK

Stubbs the cat has been mayor of Talkeetna, AK since July 1997. He was elected as a write-in candidate when voters decided that the human candidates simply were not good enough. The local press reports that he takes the edge off his mayoral duties with a daily dose of catnip-infused water. Politicians have it so easy. 

Unsinkable Sam, Survivor of Shipwrecks

Also known as Oscar or Oskar, Unsinkable Sam lived during the World War II era and supposedly survived three separate shipwrecks, one in the German Kriegsmarine and two in the British Royal Navy. On all three occasions, Sam was found clinging to a floating plank. Veering from astounding to unbelievable, Sam's story is one of the numerous enduring tales of survival from that tragic period of history.

Félicette, Explorer of the Final Frontier

When you've got nine lives, you might as well spend one of them exploring the cosmos! Félicette was sent into space by CNES (the French government space agency) on October 18, 1963; they studied her neural responses via electrodes implanted in her brain. She earned her literal 15 minutes of fame, spending just a quarter of an hour up there before retrieval by parachute descent.

Alas, her astronomical success was rewarded with an abrupt end: she was thereafter put to sleep so scientists could study the neural impulses stored by the electrodes in her brain. Au revoir, Félicette.

Demon Cat, Omen of the Capitol

The Demon Cat, also known as D.C. in reference to both its name and where it is found, is a ghost cat that haunts the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. The tale of its origin varies by who you ask. Some say the cat is the mother of a litter that was disturbed during construction of the Capitol. Others say it is the last, undead survivor of a colony of cats brought in to clear the rat population in a bygone era. Most sightings have taken place prior to national disasters, such as assassinations of public figures or stock market crashes, though skeptics claim the guards and groundskeepers who've spotted Demon Cat must've been drinking.

Fri, 26 Aug 2016 16:45:02 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/cats-in-history/julie-ershadi
<![CDATA[13 Things You Didn't Know About Al Capone]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/al-capone-trivia-facts/jeffrichard

Who was Al Capone? For some, his name stirs up images of a cigar-chomping folk-hero-mobster involved in everything from racketeering to murder and drug-running (and what would ultimately put him behind bars, tax evasion). For others, maybe there's a desire to know the truth about the man who inspired Scarface. It's also possible you're just curious as his syphilitic dementia.

In any case, Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone is more than the sum of the above, an enigmatic, ruthless, and highly-respected individual who was one the 20th century's most infamous cultural figures before he was even thirty years-old. Have you ever asked yourself, "what did Al Capone do?" Are you interested in the realities of the prohibition gangster's life? Below are some things you may not know about the man who once earned the title Public Enemy Number One. 

13 Things You Didn't Know About Al Capone,

He Owned More Than Half Chicago's Police

During Capone's reign in Chicago, the Big Fellow had one golden rule to ensure there was zero competition and no dissent: kill anyone who got in his way. From rival bootleggers to his own customers, Al was very clear on this point. Of course, this created a bit of problem, since murder is a big time no no. To solve any problems that might arise from his gang's murderous activities, Capone kept countless police officers, public officials, lawyers, and judges in his pocket, spending millions per year to make sure he always had plenty of the right people on his side.

Supporters Considered Him a Modern-Day Robin Hood

With the kind of money Capone was making, he could certainly afford to spread a bit of it around, and buy himself some good publicity in the process.When not running illegal booze or ordering the systematic execution of seven North Side Irish gang members, Capone, a true man of the people, practiced philanthropy. 

Known to tip generously, Capone went to extremes in helping out the needy. Among other things, Al opened and funded some of Chicago's first soup kitchens during the Great Depression, and was known to go in and help out himself.

He Rode in a Custom-Built Cadillac

Capone had a thing for custom suits once he got a little change in his pocked. But what good is a tailored outfit if you're riddled with bullet holes and covered in blood? When you're shelling out $500 a pop just for fabric (about $6,500 in 2016), you gotta protect your investment. 

His solution? Outfit his ride, a 1928 Cadillac V-8 Town Sedan, with enough armor plating to laugh off anyone who might try to ruin his pin-stripes. Loaded with 3,000 lbs of steel plating and bulletproof glass windows, Capone's ride also came with some nifty extras, such as holes built into the sides and rear of the chassis so henchmen could return machine gun fire from would-be attackers.

He Accidentally Shot Himself While Playing Drunk Golf

On September of 1928, Capone teed off with buddies "Machine-Gun" Jack McGurn, Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik, and Fred "The Killer" Burke at Burnham Woods golf course. Capone was an avid golfer, and took to the course to raise hell as much as play the game. According to author John Binder, "His rounds were devoted to having fun with his gangster friends who drank plenty each hole, gambled recklessly on the stroke of a ball and carried loaded weapons in their golf bags for use in emergences."

On that fateful day in September, Capone accidentally discharging a revolver while rummaging through his bag for a club (why not put a revolver in with your clubs?). He was taken to St. Margaret's hospital under the name Geary, to keep a low-profile. 

His Friends Had Their Own Nickname For Him

It's one thing to earn the nickname Scarface, but Snorky? That conjures up an entirely different set of images. As it turns out, snorky was Chicago gamg slang for a snazzy dresser, making it a totally apt nickname for the man with the imported Italian silk suits. Capone's friends also called him "The Big Fellow," for obvious reasons. 

He Would Be Worth More Than $1 Billion in 2016

Even with all the big spending on expensive suits, fancy jewels, and a tricked-out '28 Cadillac, Capone never had to worry about pinching any pennies. His net worth was staggering. By the end of the roaring '20s, the Chicago mob boss had a hand in bootlegging, prostitution, gambling, racketeering, and various vices in between, all of which earned him about $100 million per year. Adjusted for inflation, Capone would be worth about $1.3 billion in 2016. 

His Mental State Deteriorated

Al Capone contracted syphilis at 18 and never received treatment. If you know anything about the disease, you'll know what comes next; the syphilis slowly eroded his mind, leaving him little more than a shell of his former self. By the early 1940's, a few years before his death, Capone was said to have the intelligence of a seven-year old due to the severity of his neurosyphilis. On multiple occasions, Capone lashed out at nurses. He was also often seen mumbling to himself. 

Capone Came from Nothing (Sort Of)

Everyone loves a success story. It's the American dream come to fruition. Capone certainly fits the criteria for the classic American rags-to-riches narrative, albeit his hard work came in the form of racketeering and the occasional kidnapping. 

Still, despite his eventual infamy, Capone started out small. Born in 1899 to Italian immigrant parents in Brooklyn, Al was the youngest of nine children. The family lived in a rundown tenement near the Navy yard, their neighborhood overrun with sailors looking for booze and prostitutes. Unlike many other immigrants at the time, Capone's father was well-educated and cosmopolitan (from Naples). The Capone family was respectable and professional.

Although straight-and-narrow for much of his early years, Capone developed a wild streak in school that culminated in him hitting a female teacher at age 14. He was expelled, and eventually found his way into organized crime by way of boss Johnny Torrio who, like Capone's father, was from Naples. 

He Got His Scars from the Brother of a Woman He Harassed

After getting booted out of school, Capone found work as a bouncer at a local club called the Harvard Inn. It was in this position that, with one random insult, Capone earned the nickname of a lifetime.  

Supposedly, it went down like this: one night, while Capone worked the door at the Harvard Inn, Frank Galluccio strolled into the joint with his sister, Lena, who caught Al's eye. Capone offered to take her for a walk on the beach, to which she refused. Later that evening, Al called out to her, "I'll tell you one thing, you got a nice ass honey, and I mean that as a compliment."

Needless to say, Frank didn't take this so well. Outsized by Capone, Galluccio busted out a knife, slashing Al across his face three times. This left Capone with 80 stitches and his legendary nickname. 

His Brother Enforced Prohibition

There's sibling rivalry in every family, and the Capones were no exception. While Al was involved with nearly every crime under the sun, notably bootlegging, his brother was part of the prohibition task force designed to take down bootleggers.   

James Vincenzo Capone, born seven years prior to Al, eventually lost contact with his family following time spent fighting in World War I. Upon returning home, James changed his name to Richard Hart and moved to the Midwest, where he became the town marshal of Homer, NE. During Prohibition, Hart/Capone led several raids in his town using a unique method: he would don disguises, and catch suspects in the act. 

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 14:23:42 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/al-capone-trivia-facts/jeffrichard
<![CDATA[The Craziest Romans Who Helped Kill Julius Caesar]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/julius-caesar-conspirators/carly-silver

What does the saying "Beware the Ides of March!" mean? It refers to the day - March 15, 44 BCE - on which Gaius Julius Caesar, one-time dictator of ancient Rome, was murdered. His grisly assassination was legendary. But just as infamous were the conspirators behind one of the most well-known deaths in history. So just who had Julius Caesar killed?

The assassins who killed Julius Caesar (Roman senators, in large part) were an aristocratic bunch that was infuriated with the dictator's seizure of power. From his very, very close pals - like his mentees Brutus and Decimus - to his former brother-in-law and just generally discontented senators, everybody had a reason to want Caesar six feet under. And they got their wish, although they segmented an already fractured Republic into a gazillion more pieces, brought about another civil war, and ultimately helped create the Roman Empire.

Learn all about Brutus, Cassius, Decimus, and their cohorts here, and vote up the nuttiest of the Romans who killed Julius Caesar.

The Craziest Romans Who Helped Kill Julius Caesar,

Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus

This Brutus was definitely the less famous of the two of that name (see number three on this list, his cousin), but was one of the masterminds behind the plot to kill Caesar. Julius's protégé, Decimus was like Caesar's little brother, his right hand while conquering Gaul.

But he turned against Caesar when his mentor didn't reward him aptly and took on the role of dictator, especially after Caesar indicated he might not name young Decimus his heir. During the run-up to the assassination, Decimus was by Julius's side 24/7, providing insight into his state of mind. And it was Decimus who convinced Caesar to go to the Senate house the day of the assassination after he received ill omens.

After the assassination, Decimus's career went downhill; he wound up disguising himself as a Gaul. Eventually, Marc Antony convinced a Gallic chieftain to decapitate Decimus and send him the head, which he eventually buried. An ignominious end for a brilliant statesman.

Gaius Cassius Longinus

Although he once supported Pompey, Cassius eventually became a supporter of Caesar. Classicist Barry Strauss wrote in The Death of Caesar, "Like many other Romans, Cassius was appalled by Caesar’s monarchical behavior." 

Cassius also longed for the highest offices in the land, but it seemed he figured Caesar stood in his way. Not to mention that Caesar didn’t give him a command against the Parthians, may have had an affair with Cassius’s wife, Tertia, and, when Cassius was going to bring some lions to Rome for his sponsored games, Caesar took the felines for his own. During the assassination, Cassius stabbed Caesar in the face.

Eventually, Cassius and Brutus met Antony and Octavian at Philippi, where they were defeated. When he thought he saw Brutus’s forces routed from the field, he “had a freedman decapitate him,” wrote Strauss. Brutus was very depressed over his pal’s death, said Plutarch: “He mourned over the body, and called Cassius ‘the last of the Romans,’ implying that such an exalted spirit could no longer arise in the city.” He buried Cassius on the island of Thasos and continued the battle… until his own suicide.

Marcus Junius Brutus

By far the most famous of the assassins, Brutus is best known for Caesar’s last words to him: “Et tu, Brute?” or “And you, too, Brutus?” That’s actually false - William Shakespeare adapted an ancient account of Caesar’s final words, “Kai su, teknon?” or “You, too, my child?” in Greek. Some have taken that to indicate that Brutus was Caesar’s illegitimate son - after all, his mother, Servilia, was Caesar’s mistress - but teknon was actually just a term of endearment.

But who was Brutus to Caesar? Besides being his mistress’s son, Brutus was one of Caesar’s protégés. Brutus also might have resented Caesar for consolidating too much power in his own hands and making his great-nephew, Octavian, his adopted son and heir. Besides, Brutus’s family was strongly anti-tyrant, and Cassius encouraged him to get involved.

After Caesar’s assassination, times were dangerous. It was Brutus and Cassius vs. Antony and Octavian. To save his skin, Brutus went to Greece; he loved hanging out in Athens, where he enjoyed lots of philosophical lectures. Brutus stocked up on soldiers in Macedonia and even minted his own coins. He and Cassius consolidated their forces and the conflict finally came to a head at Philippi in 42 BCE. After losing the battle, Brutus killed himself, although Plutarch admits one of his friends might have held the sword upon which Brutus impaled himself.

Tillius Cimber

Cimber must have been high in Caesar’s esteem, since he gave Cimber the governorship of Pontus and Bithynia in 44 BCE. But that wasn’t enough for Cimber, who probably resented Caesar for refusing to pardon his exiled brother, who'd been a supporter of Pompey.

On the day of the assassination, according to Suetonius, Cimber grabbed Caesar by the toga to get him in prime stabbing position. Caesar shouted, “Why, this is violence!” in response. After Caesar’s death, Cimber fled to Bithynia in Asia Minor, the province which Caesar had assigned him, Appian says, adding that Cimber helped Brutus and Cassius in Macedonia. Cimber’s end isn’t recorded, but he probably died at the big blow-out at Philippi.


This former pal of Caesar’s was one of the first the Terrible Trio added to their conspiracy. Although Caesar rewarded Trebonius for his service, it might not have been enough for this ambitious man. On the Ides, notes Appian, “The conspirators had left Trebonius, one of their number, to engage Antony in conversation at the door.” 

After the dirty deed was done, Trebonius, who had won the Siege of Massilia for Caesar, was rewarded handsomely, being named proconsul in Asia. But he didn’t escape unscathed. While in Smyrna in Asia Minor, Trebonius offended Dolabella, another Caesar supporter-turned-traitor, by not letting him into the city. As a result, Dolabella put Trebonius on trial for treason and then had him murdered in his bed. The soldiers didn’t treat his body nicely, says Appian: “They rolled his head from one to another in sport along the city pavements like a ball till it was completely crushed.”

Servius Sulpicius Galba

According to Strauss, Caesar insulted Galba’s military abilities in his The Gallic Wars by saying his subordinate “nearly cost his legion their lives in eastern Gaul…in winter 57-56 B.C.[E.]" The diss concerned Galba’s lack of preparedness before war. Numerous quarrels after this, whether over Galba’s lost consulship in 49 BCE or accrued debts, pushed him over the edge against Caesar. 

Although Galba wasn't himself terribly crazy, he must've been a bit nutty to get involved in such a big conspiracy. And blind ambition ran in the family: His descendant, Emperor Galba, ruled for seven months in 68-69 A.D.

Lucius Cornelius Cinna

Although he didn't participate directly in Caesar's murder, Cinna was once near and dear to Caesar... and helped fan the flames against Julius. Cinna was once close to Caesar; Cinna's sister, Cornelia, was married to Caesar.  He must've been happy with his in-law's loyalty to his sister, whom Caesar refused to abandon despite great encouragement to do so. Caesar even helped recall Cinna Jr. from exile. 

But times changed. The day before Caesar's murder, Cinna gave a vitriolic speech against Julius, and the public remembered. They either figured Cinna might have helped stir up trouble or were just plain pissed. So a mob ran through the city and grabbed a guy named Cinna - but they got the wrong one. Instead of Cornelius Cinna, they killed a poet named Helvius Cinna.

Lucius Minucius Basilus

While serving under Caesar in Gaul, Minucius aimed to quash the rebel Ambiorix. He almost got him, too, until Ambiorix decided to flee and Minucius himself was attacked. As Caesar recounts in The Gallic Wars, it was close, but no cigar - surely an embarrassment for Minucius. Caesar also stinted him for a job as a provincial governor, according to Strauss, which would have been extremely lucrative. Instead, Caesar gave Minucius money; to a man of senatorial rank, that was an insult. During the murder of Caesar, an over-eager Minucius "made a lunge at Caesar but he struck Rubrius on the thigh."

How did Minucius meet his end? According to Appian, he was killed around the same time as Decimus: “About the same time Minucius Basilius, another of Caesar's murderers, was killed by his slaves, some of whom he was mutilating by way of punishment.”

Quintus Antistius Labeo

There isn’t a ton of important information on this guy, also known as Pacuvius... except in Plutarch’s Life of Brutus, where Labeo helps Brutus decide what prominent Romans to include in the conspiracy. After the assassination, Labeo kept the faith with Brutus. Plutarch says bluntly, “Labeo was his legate.”

But it was Labeo’s ending that was his true legacy. He literally dug his own grave, put his affairs in order..."Then, taking his most faithful slave by the right hand and whirling him around, as is the Roman custom in granting freedom, he handed him a sword as he turned, and presented his throat. And so his tent became his tomb,” writes Appian.

Gaius Casca, Who Delivered the Second Blow

Brother of Servilius, who hit Caesar first, Gaius Casca was the second to stab Julius. According to Nicolaus of Damascus, Servilius "called to his brother, speaking in Greek in his excitement," asking him to get in on the "fun." Gaius "obeyed him and drove his sword into Caesar's side," striking another blow. That one, which hit Caesar in the ribs, might've been the one to kill him.


Wed, 16 Nov 2016 09:21:24 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/julius-caesar-conspirators/carly-silver
<![CDATA[12 Ancient Health Practices that Killed People Quicker Than Just Doing Nothing]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/weird-ancient-health-practices/david-sharp

The history of the medical profession is a history of trials and errors - emphasis on the errors. As doctors, researchers, and barbers have searched for cures for various maladies, they've tried some very strange ancient health practices in the name of science, with many of these "cures" leading to a host of health problems of their own.

The reason the Hippocratic Oath exists is, in part, to help protect patients from overzealous doctors who think that their wildly experimental "cure" is the best treatment, regardless of how bad it may be for the patient. But before the words of Hippocrates were widely known, some things ancient people did for their health definitely violated ethical standards, to say the least.

Looking over this list of cruel, misguided, and just plain absurd ancient health customs does make you wonder what procedures we use today that future generations will be totally horrified by... but at least we're not shoving crocodile dung inside of us, right?

12 Ancient Health Practices that Killed People Quicker Than Just Doing Nothing,


Some ancient doctors subscribed to the theory that the body is governed by four "bodily humours:" black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood. When a person fell ill, they believed that this was due to an imbalance of the humours, which could often be corrected by simply getting rid of some of that pesky blood. Leeches were frequently the instrument of choice for this "operation" due to their natural blood-sucking tendencies. However, many surgeons would just cut open a vein and let out a pint or two.

Bloodletting was prescribed by doctors in ancient Greece, Egypt, and Europe (even into the 19th century) for everything from fever, infection, acne, headaches, diabetes, epilepsy, and more. While giving blood can have some health benefits (especially in men at risk of heart attack), most doctors agree that your blood is more effective inside your body rather than out - though modern doctors have successfully used leeches to aid in difficult reattachment surgeries.


"Hemiglossectomy" is a scientific term for a medical procedure wherein you cut off part of someone's tongue. While this can be done for legitimate reasons in certain circumstances (such as removing oral cancers), in Europe during the 1700s and 1800s the procedure was frequently performed to correct stutters and other speech disorders. Not only does cutting out someone's tongue not alleviate those problems, it unsurprisingly creates a host of its own speech and health issues. These days, in the rare cases where it is called for, a prosthetic tongue can be inserted, but in the Middle Ages, no such technology existed. You just had to grin and bear it.

Hard Drugs!

Heroin and cocaine have all been prescribed by doctors as medicinal treatments at points in history. Since its introduction in 1874, heroin has been used as a painkiller, an anti-diuretic, and even as a cough suppressant frequently given to children. Cocaine has also been used as a painkiller and numbing agent, as well as an analgesic, a dandruff cure, and (surprise), a stimulant. While these drugs were introduced with the most altruistic intentions, their recreational (and highly addictive) nature has rendered them far less effective as treatments and relegated them to only occasional legitimate usage.

Animal Dung

A number of ancient cultures have used animal dung of all sorts to treat a wide variety of illnesses. The ancient Egyptians would rub it on wounds - and in their eyes - and even use it as a contraceptive. Crocodile dung was formed into a kind of proto-diaphragm that, not surprisingly, was not only ineffective at preventing pregnancy (actually, it may have increased the odds of conception) it also came with its own set of health complications. Turns out, putting poop inside your body can lead to infections. Huh. 

While fecal transplants are a totally legitimate form of medical treatment, that procedure is a long way away from the practice of using pig dung to stop a nosebleed like the ancient Scots.


Arsenic is an element that is also deadly poison - not that that's ever stopped anyone from using it medically. Arsenic has been used as a tonic to treat psoriasis, syphilis, trypanosomiasis, ulcers, abscesses, fever, and headache, and a number of doctors, both real and quack, have extolled its virtues.

The late 1800s and early 1900s saw a resurgence in medical arsenic treatment with a number of over-the-counter versions popping up across Europe and America. "Fowler's Solution" was a best-selling brand that made its way into pharmacopeias of the time, and women frequently used it as a beauty product for their skin and hair. While the naturally occurring compound has been used recently to fight leukemia and other cancers, the vast majority of its "medical" applications have just been low-grade poisonings.

Mouse Paste

The ancient Egyptians used a paste made up of mashed mouse as a treatment for toothaches, earaches, and other maladies. Simply apply your creme-de-rodent to the afflicted area (or, for extreme cases, a whole dead mouse) and watch that area improve... or more likely become infected due to your application of dead and possibly diseased tissues to open wounds. Due to the hazardous and unhelpful nature of applying dead mice to wounds, the practice died out. Until it was revitalized in Elizabethan England where, for some unknown reason, scientists believed the application of a dead mouse could help alleviate whooping cough, small pox, and - somehow - bed wetting.


Bile, in addition to being another of the bodily humours, is the greenish-brown gunk in the gallbladder that helps break down food. It is, by all accounts, totally nasty and should not be ingested. But if we've learned anything about humans throughout our history, "should not" does not equate to "is not," and the consumption and application of bile-based medicines are no exceptions. And not only human bile - python bile was used to treat genital warts, elephant bile has been used to treat bad breath, and the ancient Chinese had recipes that used dog, ox, and carp biles. The ingestion of bile can lead to nausea and other gastrointestinal issues, and chronic consumption can have even more adverse effects.


If humans have tried using feces for health purposes, one would probably imagine they've tried using urine as well - and one would imagine correctly. Urine has been used by a number of cultures as both a tool for diagnosis and as a treatment for wide spectrum of ailments. Pee has been used as a cleaning agent, as makeup, and no less an authority as Madonna has claimed to use it to cure athlete's foot. The ancient Romans even used it as a tooth whitener, which begs the question: what kind of mouthwash do you use to get the taste of your mouthwash out of your mouth? And yes, Tyler Durden, in some cases it is not necessarily harmful to drink your own pee, but frequently it is - urine can be highly toxic, especially if it isn't your own and it's not fresh. And it's always gross.


"Trepanning" is the medical name for "drilling a hole in your head." While archeologists, anthropologists, and medical professionals are confused as to why people thought this was a good idea, there is a long history of boring into peoples skulls as a treatment for epilepsy, mental disorders, and paradoxically, to relieve headaches. Skulls have been found with holes in them across Europe, Africa, and the Americas - some even showing bone growth, which points to patients actually surviving this brutal treatment. 

While trepanning is still occasionally practiced today, most doctors agree that its best usage is not the release of evil spirits trapped inside the skull.

Cutting Teeth

French surgeon Ambroise Paré  popularized this totally unnecessary practice of cutting open a teething infant's gums to help encourage growth in the 1500s. Paré observed a case where a teething infant died and drew the conclusion that the child's untimely end was due to his incoming teeth being obstructed, and much of the rest of Europe followed along. 

Turns out that not only does cutting not help the teething process, it can come with its own set of complications. Also, children seemed to hate it for some reason. While the practice has thankfully died off, "cutting your teeth" still lives on idiomatically - so at least it was good for something.

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 16:20:40 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/weird-ancient-health-practices/david-sharp
<![CDATA[Hidden Symbols in US Landmarks That You Never Knew Existed]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/hidden-symbols-in-us-landmarks/kellen-perry

Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and Nicolas Cage’s National Treasure have sparked major interest in the secrets of US landmarks. What’s hidden behind Washington’s eyes at Mt. Rushmore? (Nothing!) Which Illuminati symbols are carved into the Golden Gate Bridge? (None!) Which Islamic symbols did Obama sneak into the design of the new White House fence? (He totally didn’t do that!)

All jokes aside, there are some cool symbols in US landmarks that are hidden or relatively obscure. Man-made American landmarks are full of imagery from the Greeks and Romans, who were known for imbuing their art with lots of symbolism. There are also some major landmarks built in the 20th century with sneaky little “Easter eggs” included. Read on for some cool examples of hidden symbols in US landmarks that are totally for real.

Hidden Symbols in US Landmarks That You Never Knew Existed,

The Hoover Dam Features a Cryptic Star Map

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, many visitors to the Hoover Dam are confused by the Art Deco sculptures and architectural details created by Norwegian-born, naturalized American Oskar J.W. Hansen. There are these half-man, half-eagle dudes, for example, that are meant to symbolize “the readiness for defense of our institutions and keeping of our spiritual eagles ever ready to be on the wing." Sure! Another unusual feature is this awesome-looking inlaid star map, labeled with the star Alcyone, that shows nearby stars "as they would appear to the naked eye at a distance of about 190 trillion miles from Earth." 

What does it mean, exactly? It’s a timestamp: “In this celestial map, the bodies of the solar system are placed so exactly that those versed in astronomy could calculate the precession (progressively earlier occurrence) of the Pole Star for approximately the next 14,000 years. Conversely, future generations could look upon this monument and determine, if no other means were available, the exact date on which Hoover Dam was dedicated.” Cool!

The Stone Holds Secrets at the Jefferson Memorial

The stone used to build the Jefferson Memorial has a hidden symbolic meaning, according to the National Park Service. On the FAQ site for the memorial, the NPS—after letting everyone know that the number of steps leading to the chamber is meaningless, okay?—says the real secret of the memorial is in the sourcing of the stone. From the outside in, the stone starts in Vermont (“Vermont Imperial Danby marble”) and heads to Georgia (“white Georgia marble”). This symbolizes “the geographic extremes of the original thirteen states from New England to the Deep South.”

Inside the memorial, the stone comes “from an expanding Union”: the floor is marble from Tennessee, while the “inner dome” comes from Indiana. The statue of Jefferson, finally, stands on stone from two states acquired in his Louisiana Purchase: Minnesota granite with a “gray Missouri marble ring.”

A Young, Skinny President Taft Is 'Hidden' on the Supreme Court Building

Known widely as our widest President, William Howard Taft appears young and svelte—and “reclining”—on the west pediment of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. At a glance, the pediment appears to feature ancient figures, but they are actually relatively modern allegorical figures “influential in the creation of the Court’s new home.” Taft (on the far left) appears as Chief Justice William Howard Taft “portrayed as a student at Yale University” symbolizing the idea of “Research Present.” The SCOTUS website notes that “many people were surprised” at the unveiling in 1933 that the figures weren’t ancient or mythological.

'Kilroy' Is Hidden in Two Places at the World War II Memorial

The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. has two hidden “KILROY WAS HERE” engravings. (Yes, like the Styx album.) In graffiti form, the “KILROY WAS HERE” phrase, accompanied by a big-nosed cartoon guy peeking over a wall, was a popular way for US troops to indicate that they’ve been through an area. Why? That part’s murky: the National Park Service says it “most likely come[s] from a British cartoon and the name of an American shipyard inspector” and that “myths surrounding it are numerous and often center on a German belief that Kilroy was some kind of superspy who could go anywhere he pleased.” Where are the WWII Memorial Kilroys? Behind two golden gates: one next to the Pennsylvania pillar and one next to the Delaware pillar.

Central Park Lampposts Feature Secret Navigational Codes

An unadvertised feature of the lampposts in New York City’s famous Central Park is a code that lets you know, roughly, where you are in relation to rest of the city. They’re cross street indicators, essentially, embossed on metal plaques. Gothamist explains: “If a lamppost is numbered 7304, it is located between 73rd and 74th streets. The ‘4’ designates that the post is the fourth post in from Fifth Avenue. In the upper reaches of the park, where street numbers are 100 and higher, the ‘1’ is omitted; for example, a post numbered 0500 is between 105th and 106th."

There Are Fasces All Over the Lincoln Memorial

A subtle symbolic detail hidden in the Lincoln Memorial is a smattering of fasces, an ancient Roman symbol of power and authority. Look closely at the statue of Lincoln: the Great Emancipator is knuckle-deep in fasces, which are actually the column-like “arms” for his massive stone La-Z-Boy.

Fasces, according to the National Park Service, are a bundle of wooden rods bound by a leather strap that sometimes feature an axe sticking out of them. It’s a Roman symbol of power and authority: the rods “suggest” beating and the axe “suggests” beheading. Lincoln’s statue is axe-less, suggesting more unity and less punishment. (Upon further investigation, you’ll notice that architect Henry Bacon also put fasces—this time with axes—all over a wall at the base of the stairs leading up to the statue.)

The fasces in this context represent strength through unity, which is why Lincoln’s fasces feature thirteen rods for the thirteen original states. The memorial as a whole can also be thought of as a massive fasces, with the 36 columns replacing the rods and representing the 36 states Lincoln fought to preserve. Fasces is also, you might have guessed, the root word of fascism, but as the NPS points out, “the Italian fascists identified with the power and brutality” that’s also inherent in the fasces' meaning, while the Americans identified more with the whole “strength through unity” bit.

(BONUS FASCES-FREE FACT: The initials "EBL" can be found hidden in the north wall. They stand for Evelyn Beatrice Longman, the artist who carved the ornamental border.)

'Praise Be to God' Is Hidden on the Washington Monument

The Latin phrase “LAUS DEO”—"Praise be to God" or "God be praised"—is literally hidden on the Washington Monument’s aluminum tip. It’s not an atheist conspiracy: the engraved phrase was visible (but way too small to see from the ground) on the East face of the pyramidal tip when it was installed in 1885, along with details about the construction and the names of those involved.

But sometime between 1885 and 1934, the monument’s lightning protection system or lightning “collar” damaged and “hid” the engravings, as seen in the picture above. A 1934 restoration kept the phrase—and all other obscured engravings—hidden, but added a new one. So what’s left up there? This mess: “JOINT COMMISSION AT SETTING OF CAPSTONE … JOHN NEWTON. Act of August 2, 1876. CORNER STONE LAID ON … CAPSTONE SET DECEMBER 6, 1884. CHIEF ENGINEER AND ARCHITECT, THOS LINCOLN CASEY, … Repaired, 1934, National Park Service Department of the Interior.” During the 2013-2014 earthquake damage repairs, the obscured engravings were once again left as-is.

The Goddess of Love Is Laying Telegraph Cable Inside the US Capitol Building

There’s an epic painting on the ceiling of the dome of the United States Capitol Building called The Apotheosis of Washington. Painted in 1865 by Greek-Italian artist Constantino Brumidi, it shows George Washington chilling out in heaven, surrounded by goddesses and maidens. It’s quite a scene. There’s also a lot of hidden symbolism. Perhaps the most unusual symbolic element is Venus, the famous goddess of love, schlepping cable like a common engineer. Why? Shouldn’t she be doing something more romantic or sexy? Since she was born from the sea, she’s depicted here helping Neptune, the god of the sea, lay the transatlantic cable of 1858 that connected North America to Europe via telegraph. Who knew that the goddess of love was also the goddess of telegraphs?

The White House Has Roses Hidden in Its Columns

The White House is undoubtedly one of the most famous buildings in the world. But most people don’t realize that the columns on the south portico’s Truman Balcony have large white roses tucked away near the capitals. They blend into the all-white building at a distance, but they’re striking at close range. It’s a neat contrast to the acanthus typically featured on classical columns, plus they pair nicely with the White House Rose Garden on the building’s west side. What do the roses mean? In masonry, roses are often associated with rebirth, a suitable symbol for a home with ever-changing residents.

There's an Axe Head and Broken Chains at the Feet of Lady Liberty

This one is more hard-to-see than hidden, but it’s a subtle symbol, regardless: there are broken shackles and a giant axe head at the feet of Lady Liberty, representing “the throwing off of tyranny and oppression.” Scholars say the broken chains are a substitute for the broken jug—an ancient “symbol of confinement now ended”—that often appears alongside depictions of Libertas, the Roman goddess of liberty. The chains and axe head are tough to see unless you’re looking down at Lady Liberty’s 35-foot-long sandals. A neat little additional detail is that her right foot is lifted, slightly, off the ground, implying that she’s moving away from the chains, fleeing her captors.

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 14:39:14 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/hidden-symbols-in-us-landmarks/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[Super Scary Things You Don't Know About African Cult Leader Credonia Mwerinde]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/who-is-credonia-mwerinde/danielle-ownbey

Who is Credonia Mwerinde? Most people have never even heard her name. There are barely any photos of her to be found on the Internet. She has a very sparse Wikipedia page. Very few in-depth pieces of news journalism have ever been written about her. She usually isn't even attributed as the mastermind of the cult she founded, the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. Her low visibility hides a high-profile life of death and destruction, one that sets her viciousness above the most infamous cult leaders of the modern era.

When you Google “cult leaders by death count,” the search result page fills up with links to articles about Jim Jones. Jones was a much more well-known figure, who orchestrated the deaths of nearly 1,000 of his followers at Jonestown in 1978, making him the most violent cult leader in modern history. But according to Ugandan officials, and the numerous mass graves they uncovered, cult leader Credonia Mwerinde has him beat by as many as 2,000 deaths. Yet she flies under the radar. Here’s a list of facts about her most heinous crimes, her methods of indoctrination, and her path to power, in an effort to shed some light on this dark corner of recent history.

Read on to learn about Credonia Mwerinde crimes, beliefs, teachings, and other strange things she said and did.

Super Scary Things You Don't Know About African Cult Leader Credonia Mwerinde,

She Instituted Hellish Living Conditions to Lull Her Cult Members into Complacency

The daily living arrangements of Mwerinde’s cult were exhausting and demoralizing, to say the least. Members woke up at 3 am on a bare floor for a two hour prayer session. They were barely fed anything and, to add insult to injury, followers were forced to fast twice a week. Mwerinde and her underlings punished starving children for catching and eating bugs. Her followers were banned from talking, especially to anyone in a position of power, and could speak only in a cult-invented form of sign language. Members were not allowed to have sex, even married couples. Scabies ran rampant through the compound and left members with sores all over their bodies. 

She Had a Gang of Toughs to Blindly Do Her Bidding

Leaders of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God modeled their management structure after the 12 apostles, with Mwerinde as one of the 12 heads of the movement. Behind the scenes, other members of the group of leaders served as her subordinates and confidants. Many, like her closest accomplice Joseph Kapurare, were former priests.

Mwerinde's apostles took her orders without question, and would do anything she asked, including murder. She played on her minions’s fear of the Devil to get them to kill for her, claiming the Devil had infiltrated their movement. Six of her henchmen probably did most of the actual killing that took place during her murder spree. Authorities eventually found the bodies of those six men, rotting in sulfuric acid in a toilet next to Mwerinde’s bedroom.

She Teamed Up with a Pastor to Lend Her Cult Credibility

At the beginning of her movement, Mwerinde lived with a pastor and his family. This man, Joseph Kibweteere, was well-known and well-liked, the headmaster of a private school in the area. A religious man fascinated by visionaries, Kibweteere took Mwerinde in, especially after she told him that the Virgin Mary mentioned him by name as someone who could help her.

Kibweteere’s family eventually threw Mwerinde out (she beat up Kibweteere’s wife and lit her clothes on fire). Despite this, Kibweteere followed his visionary to her new compound, where they set up shop as heads of the cult. Mwerinde instated Kibweteere as the nominal leader, believing that as a man and religious figure, he brought credibility a former bar owner and prostitute could not. Their subsequent surge in followers proved she was right.

She Believed She Could Speak to the Virgin Mary

Mwerinde found Catholicism after her bar in Kanungu, Uganda, went bust in 1989. Shortly after the bar's closing, she claimed she had a run in with the Virgin Mary in a cave, as one does. She used her well-cultivated combination of charm and cunning to convince two local priests to help her start a cult founded on her relationship with the virgin. 

Her Cult Was a Bastardized Sect of Roman Catholicism

Named (the not very pithy) “Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God”, Mwerinde's cult took many of its tenets from Catholicism, which makes sense, as Catholicism was a strong and influential force in Uganda at the time (and also, built in brand recognition).

An abundance of Catholic iconography was found at the cult's compound when it was investigated by police, and the group included many former priests and nuns. Mwerinde fostered a fanatical fear of the Devil within the cult, and used her members's devotion to her advantage. She used possession by the Devil as an excuse to torture and murder of people within the cult.

She Orchestrated the Mass Murder of as Many as 3,000 People

The actual number of murders attributed to Mwerinde’s cult is hard to pin down. In the final climax of her horror show, she claimed around 600 victims (in one act). But as police searched, they unearthed more and more bodies from unmarked graves at different locations associated with the cult. In the months leading up to her final act of slaughter, Mwerinde and other cult leaders poisoned the vast majority of the cult, numbering in the thousands, after forcing them to dig their own graves.

Without the proper resources or interest for an investigation, it was hard for authorities to figure out all the atrocities Mwerinde committed and the horrors her cult members endured. So far, authorities have found at least four unmarked mass graves, but they believe there are more out there, waiting to be found.

Mwerinde Literally Exploded the Skulls Cult Members

Although it has never been proven, many believe Joseph Kibweteere died in 1999 (possibly at Mwerinde's hand), and his death may have marked a turning point in the cult. As cult members began to leave, Mwerinde’s vindictive streak surfaced, and she punished her followers in the most brutal ways possible.

The final 600 members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God died after being locked in the ark, a shoddy church in the compound, and torched with a fire so hot their skulls exploded. In the investigation after the fire, officers found mass graves on the compound so tightly packed they couldn’t tell where one set of bones ended and the next began.

She Taught Her Cult the World Would End in the Year 2000

Mwerinde preached that the apocalypse was just around the corner. Conveniently, she used this as an excuse to require incoming members to sell their possessions and hand over the profits. She told her followers they would not see the year 2001, and, as such, needed to shed their worldly possessions and focus on prayer and repentance. However, when the year 2000 arrived and none of her predictions came true, members got restless and suspicious. This helped sparked the anger and paranoia in Mwerinde that provided the catalysts for her subsequent actions (killing everyone, more on that later).

She Had a Long History of Killing the Competition (Never with Kindness)

Credonia Mwerinde’s vindictive streak was well-documented by those who knew her. According to interviews conducted with people from her past, she left a trail of violence and pain in her wake. She set fire to the house of a former flame. During her time as a bar owner, she seduced a man and killed him for his money. She may have even poisoned her own brothers to gain sole control of the plot of land her cult (the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God lived on. Even as her reign of terror came to a close, Mwerinde got on a local bus to search for every last one of her followers, making sure not a single one could escape.

Her Cult Put Out a Manifesto Detailing How the Apocalypse Would Happen

The cult compiled a 163-page book, entitled “A Timely Message from Heaven: The End of the Present Times,” containing the supposed revelations of Mwerinde, Kibweteere, and others. It talks of famine, war, and death, and even goes into detail about the fate that would befall specific countries when the end of the world arrived in the year 2000. Mozambique, for instance, was to be crushed by its own machinery, while Japan would succumb to endless rainfall. Her followers never got to live to see these prophecies proved wrong.

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 14:23:42 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/who-is-credonia-mwerinde/danielle-ownbey
<![CDATA[Gruesome Ways People Were Executed in the Time of Henry VIII]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/gruesome-executions-time-of-henry-viii/jeffrichard

To say that Henry VIII was fond of executing people is putting it lightly. There was a lopped head here, a hanging neck there, and a drawn-and-quartered body almost literally everywhere. And while the gruesomeness of the deaths is one thing, there is something to be said about the sheer number of people killed under his reign. Some estimates put the total of Henry VIII's executions at a staggering 72,000 people. Or, to put it into perspective, roughly 2.8% of England and Wales' population at the time.  

So, it's safe to say Henry VIII loved separating folks from the Earth almost as much as he loved separating the Church of England from the Roman Catholics, his most famous accomplishment.  But when your list of deaths runs into the tens of thousands? Things must certainly start to get boring after a while. 

Below is a list of some of the most gruesome Henry VIII execution methods which cemented him as the most ruthless Tudor to ever reign. 

Gruesome Ways People Were Executed in the Time of Henry VIII,

Death By Hanging

When not boiling people alive, burning them alive, or simply chopping their heads off, Henry VIII opted for something a little simpler: the hanging method. During his reign, if someone was found guilty of treason, theft, rebellion, riot, or murder, they would likely find themselves at the gallows, and not as a spectator. 

Instead, the guilty party would be led to a wooden plank and hung from a variety of methods including suspension hanging, the short drop, the standard drop, and the long drop, all of which resulted in a gruesome death, but some took a little longer than the others. The short drop and the suspension drop were probably the most gruesome, because they frequently failed to break the victim's neck, leaving them to asphyxiate. Both the standard drop and the long drop pretty much guarantee a broken neck, but the standard drop could also cause decapitation. Oops.

Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered

At this point, we're starting to head into the "extremely creative" side of Henry VIII's punishments, specifically with one that easily made the biggest mess out of a human being.

Being burned alive? Your body is going to be cremated into a nice little pile of ashes. Hanged? You're completely intact, so no real mess to clean up there. Boiled alive? Everything is ready to be dumped out from your steaming-hot person-cauldron. 

But being drawn and quartered? Let's hope Henry VIII's clean-up crew was on point, because things are about to get very messy. 

Typically reserved for those found guilty of high treason, the act of being drawn and quartered is very literally what the human body is subjected to. First, the prisoner was dragged behind a cart from where they were held to where they were executed, then they were hung, disemboweled,  and emasculated. Afterward, whether the prisoner was still living at that point or not, they would be chopped up into four pieces, all of which would be displayed in various parts of the country as punishment - and as a warning to others. 

Occasionally, however, the "quartering" part of this punishment was relative, as prisoners were often subjected to various mutilations beforehand, such as having a hand or foot cut off before the rest of their body was diced into pieces. On top of that, often the prisoner's limbs would be tied to four horses, each sent racing off in a different direction, which would swiftly snap the limbs away from the torso in a gruesome fashion, rather than be sliced away by an execution's axe.

Boiled Alive

Boiling is perhaps one of the slowest (and therefore, most painful) methods of execution. 

While most other methods are fairly quick, Henry VIII reserved boiling for the enemies he truly wished to suffer before meeting their fate. In that case, whenever someone was found guilty of poisoning, they would be strung up in a series of pulleys and ropes, hanging precariously above a drum of boiling liquid. 

And the "liquid" part of that description is relative, simply because sometimes Henry VIII didn't want to use just plain old water - he would occasionally use tar, oil, acid, wine, and sometimes molten lead to get the deed done. 

At the other end of this intricate contraption of death is the executioner, who would slowly lower the prisoner down and raise them back up to psychologically torture them before plunging them into the liquid. And as the victim was lowered, their skin would slowly blister and pop before melting away to destroy the muscles, arteries, veins, and anything else that clung to the bone before turning the would-be poisoner into a bloody soup.


What might seem to be a run-of-the-mill type of execution is anything but in the world of Henry VIII, as he could pretty much request heads be taken off for no reason. 

Although beheadings were often done in private, that is, on the Tower green within the Tower of London, Henry nevertheless sought to make an example out of those close to him so stories of their execution would immediately reverberate throughout the land. 

Among those who found themselves on the chopping block were four of Henry's public servants, six attendants and friends, one cardinal, twenty peers, and two of his own wives, one of which was Catherine Howard. 

But out of all of those who lost their heads to Henry VIII, none were more notable than the mother of the great Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn herself, who was executed on the Tower green in 1536 after being accused of treasonous adultery and incest.  


While commonly associated with executions during the Salem Witch Trials, the act of crushing someone to death was nevertheless prevalent during the time of Henry VIII.

Called "pressing," or "peine forte et dure," this method of execution was simple: place a large plank over the body of the prisoner, and steadily add weight until they can no longer breathe. While this was also an extremely effective torture method for gaining information from enemies, it was also one of the longer methods of execution, as the added weights were not brought on all at once, but rather slowly, ensuring the prisoners suffered as much as possible - sometimes as long as several days.

This led to bones breaking and, eventually, asphyxiation.

Burned to Death

Like classic jazz standards played by thousands of bands around the world, the act of being burned at the stake is one of the most familiar methods of execution, incorporated by countless leaders and communities over time. 

And Henry VIII was no exception. There were two main methods for a Henry VIII bonfire, the first of which included piling small sticks of wood around a large stake, which held the prisoner by a length of chain. The second was taking those small sticks of wood and adding a lot more to the pile, effectively creating a wall around the prisoner. In both cases, the small sticks were lit and the victim was slowly roasted to death. 

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 17:53:05 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/gruesome-executions-time-of-henry-viii/jeffrichard
<![CDATA[Sh*t People Aren't Woke Enough About]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/things-people-should-be-more-woke-about/jacob-shelton

Now matter how knowledgeable people think they are about the most serious issues in the world, they sure ain’t woke to what’s really going on. From the overfishing of the ocean to how technology is bumming us all out, there are so many things people aren't woke enough about. This lists exists to wake you up and lead you away from the sheeple. We’ve heard enough about the economy and the second amendment to last a lifetime, but what about the issues even woke people need to take more seriously? Since no one else is talking about them, it’s up to this dank list to remove the scales from your eyes and get you woke the f*ck up.

Are you tired of politicians not talking about real issues? Have you been waiting for someone to step up and start talking about what’s really going on in the world? Let's blow the f*ckin' doors wide open to real-world sh*t and expose what’s actually happening. 

American, and world, politics shouldn’t be about the same issues over and over every two to four years, and the only way to get these woke-ass issues into the mouths of politicians is to start talking about them (or bake them into a nice pastry and feed them to them). Vote on the not chill issues and totes srs topics that even people who are woke AF need to be way more woke about.

Sh*t People Aren't Woke Enough About,

America Has Been at War Since 2001

Global Clean Water Crisis

The Prescription Drug Epidemic

Limited Access to Fresh Produce in Low Income Rural Areas

The Inefficiency of Government Agencies

Human Sex Trafficking

The Prison-Industrial Complex

The Top 1% Control Half of the World's Finances

The Overfishing of Our Oceans

The Militarization of the American Police

Sun, 04 Dec 2016 16:11:24 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/things-people-should-be-more-woke-about/jacob-shelton
<![CDATA[11 Times Currency Was Rendered Almost Worthless (and Why)]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/inflation-making-currency-worthless-in-history/keith-burnside

Some of the worst inflation in history has coincided with war, as several of the worthless (or nearly worthless) currencies on this list illustrate. Wars are massively expensive, and one of the fastest ways for a cash-strapped government to pay for one is to fire up the presses and churn out a pile of paper money. However, history's pretty clear that this tactic will get you stabbed in the back with the dull, rusty blade of inflation, and if that stab wound gets infected and turns into hyperinflation – which usually happens – your economy is toast. Which is doubly bad if you end up on the war's losing side.

But there are other times currency became worthless, simply because of ill-advised financial policy, or because people are crazy and will do crazy things, which is why one of the currencies below is literally a living thing. So, ready to burn through some cash? Great, because here are examples of worthless currency in history – some old, some new, all ultimately useless.

11 Times Currency Was Rendered Almost Worthless (and Why),

Brazilian Cruzeiros

In the '80s and '90s, Brazil's currency suffered ridiculous inflation, surpassing a rate of 500% most years between 1988 and 1994, and spiking to almost 3,000% in 1990. According to NPR, this can be traced to the 1950s, when the government financed its official capital city, Brasília, by printing lots of money and accidentally kicking off the inflation cycle.

Prices consistently rose at least once a week during the inflation years, creating a situation in which shopkeepers would put color-coded price stickers on nonperishables so they wouldn't have to continually update their entire inventory. People got used to buying in bulk and stockpiling. You couldn't keep Brazilian cruzeiros around for too long; they'd just be useless in a few days. 

The solution to inflation  arrived with the introduction of a new currency called the real, and a clever trick by a group of four economists from the Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro. Instead of rolling out the new currency right away, they suggested introducing a fake currency called the Unit of Real Value. Everything from supermarket prices to wages would be expressed in the URV and held constant regardless of fluctuations in cruzeiros. The idea was to gradually trick people into thinking in URVs instead of cruzeiros, and then, once the URV concept was entrenched in people's minds, announce that the URV actually was the real thing, and it was now called the real. It was a brilliant move on Brazil's part, and it got the finance minister – Fernando Henrique Cardoso – elected as president in 1994.

Bank Notes of the Mississippi Bubble

Gold and silver were the money of France in the early 18th century, so when Scottish financier John Law proposed opening a bank and issuing paper currency, it probably sounded like a foolish plan. But the French government was broke and desperate, thanks to the lavish spending and wars of Louis XIV, and Law – who was equal parts smart and charming – managed to get the green light for his idea. In 1716 he opened his bank, but this was only the beginning of his business interests. Law had a whole lot more in mind, including becoming France's finance controller and the head of foreign trade and colonial development. Oh, and also creating a monopoly.

Law's monopoly was the Mississippi Company, a trading conglomerate with interest in gold and silver in France's Louisiana colony, among many other things. Law financed this company by issuing public shares, which investors could purchase with notes from Law's bank. In addition, bank notes were used to pay investors dividends on those shares, which happened to be skyrocketing in value as people leaped at the chance to invest in what appeared to be a ridiculously successful company with unlimited potential. People made millions on the company's stock almost overnight (and the word "millionaire" entered the vocabulary for the first time). Unfortunately, the company ended up failing miserably, also almost overnight.

Law's mistake was printing too many bank notes, as the Mississippi Company grew into a beautiful bubble. Soon enough, the flood of notes far exceeded the value of the bank's reserves, and inflation started doing its thing. The bubble burst, people ran on the bank in droves, and Law fled France to escape the tricky situation he'd created.

Confederate Civil War Dollars

Like the revolutionaries a hundred years before them, the leaders of the Confederate States of America thought it would be great to finance their war by printing truckloads of paper money. It's almost as if history repeats itself or something.

While the North primarily financed its efforts by levying taxes and selling bonds, the South focused on printing cash. The Confederacy pumped out a good $1 billion in cash by 1864, and, predictably enough, prices rose by more than 9,000 percent during this time. By 1865, a pair of shoes would've run you nearly $100 in the South. Prices in the North, however, only rose by about 80 percent, which really isn't too shabby a rate for a time of war. That same pair of shoes went for $1.70 in the Union. 

Yuan Dynasty Paper Currency

The Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), established in China by the Mongol conqueror Kublai Khan, issued a form of paper currency called chao that was not backed by silver or gold. Paper currency itself wasn't new in China, but the way Kublai treated it was. Not only did Kublai make chao a fiat currency, he also decided that it would be the one and only method of exchange, and by this point, you probably know where this is going.

Things weren't too bad in Kublai's time, actually. Marco Polo visited the emperor's court, and was quite impressed with the chao idea, saying of Khan, he "may truly be said to possess the secret of the alchemists." However, toward the dynasty, hyperinflation was all the rage thanks to an incompetent administration printing too much chao. People realized the currency wasn't good for its face value and tried to avoid it, but rulers passed laws making it a crime punishable by death to refuse the paper money. This pattern repeated itself throughout several other Chinese dynasties.

French Assignats

At the dawn of the French Revolution, France was buried in debt and its government was desperate for a solution. A man named Charles Maurice de Talleyrand had one of those up his sleeve, and it was fairly straightforward – seize church lands and auction them off. By the way, Talleyrand was a bishop when he made this suggestion. The pope excommunicated him two years later, and Talleyrand went on to become a shrewd politician and diplomat who Encyclopedia.com calls "an unabashed liar and deceiver" whose "moral corruption is beyond question." Winning!

Anyhow, Talleyrand's idea sounded pretty great to the government, so that's exactly what happened. France nationalized church properties and began issuing notes called assignats, which the public could purchase with actual money and then use to lay claim to a piece of property.

Unfortunately for France, this easy cash grab turned into hyperinflation when the government kept printing assignats and re-circulating any it received back. By 1796, the face value of assignats in circulation was about 20 times the estimated value of the nationalized church properties. It didn't help that England, France's enemy at the time, was complicating the situation by printing counterfeit assignats and injecting them into the French economy.

Newfoundland Dollars and Black Monday

December 10, 1894 – or Black Monday, as it became known – was a dark and stormy day for the people of Newfoundland. That morning, the British colony's only two private banks, Union Bank and Commercial Bank, both closed forever, and the notes they'd been issuing for years lost their value. People throughout Newfoundland did business with these notes, so the crash's impact was huge. Everyone from fishermen to fish merchants to bankers (obviously) watched their savings and livelihoods disappear.

Various factors brought about Black Monday. Major causes boil down to irresponsible banking practices (for example, loaning large sums to merchants who happened to sit on the bank board) and a struggling codfish industry, which made up the bulk of Newfoundland's economy in the 19th century. The government Savings Bank, which did not issue paper currency at the time, survived the crash, mainly because it had first claim on deposits at the Union Bank and withdrew what it needed before it was too late.

Roman Denarii and the Crisis of the Third Century

During the third century, the Roman Empire was in a bit of a pickle, facing widespread civil war and invasion by hostile tribes, with some plague tossed in for fun. The cost of dealing with nonstop uprisings and emergencies put a huge strain on the empire, and one way Rome dealt with the expenses was by debasing its coinage. Like our good friend the printing press, debasement is a tools governments like to use to their financial advantage without regard for consequence. In this case, the tool of debasement reduced the percentage of valuable metal in coins like the denarius to keep more cash in the treasury.

Debasement spawned hyperinflation. And it was a long time coming, too. The denarius had faced debasement for decades – almost pure silver during the reign of Caesar Augustus, it slowly lost value over time as emperor after emperor lowered its silver content in order to mint increasingly worthless coins. By the time Gallienus took power in 253, the denarius was a copper coin with a silver coating, and society was well on its way to ignoring currency and instead relying on the barter system and the kind of self-sufficiency that would later take hold in the Middle Ages.

Zimbabwean Dollars

Zimbabwe was in significant trouble in the early aughts, as you can see by the $100 trillion bill pictured above. President Robert Mugabe's land reforms had murdered the country's economy by destroying its main export, commercial farming crops. This left Zimbabwe with essentially no foreign exchange to speak of and skyrocketing prices on basically everything. The government tried to keep itself afloat by printing more and more paper money, which led to hyperinflation, further complicating the problem.

By 2008, Zimbabwe was almost out of paper to print its wildly inflating money on because the German company that supplied materials to Zimbabwe's printer saw the writing on the wall and halted delivery. At thiat point, basic necessities such as food, clothing, and beer had ridiculous price tags. You could buy the newspaper for a cool $25 billion. Not the newspaper company, the newspaper. One newspaper.

In 2009, the government was forced to admit its currency problem. It rolled out a multicurrency system that included the US dollar and the South African rand, plus its own bills, with the 12 pesky zeros conveniently removed. The Zimbabwe dollar didn't work out, and the country officially took it out of circulation in 2015.

German Marks and the World Wars

Germany had a couple currency snafus in the 20th century. During the Weimar era, after World War I, the country tried to pay its reparations by printing money, and prices went through the roof, to the point that in 1923 they were about a trillion times higher than they should have been. People were paying for loaves of bread with entire wheelbarrows full of cash. Money eventually became so useless German citizens used it to light their pipes and stoves, and gave stacks of it to kids to play with like Legos.

After defeat in World War II, Germany faced a similar scenario; the Allies imposed price controls that left the country financially devastated. The German reichsmark became weaker and weaker, and was finally replaced by the deutschmark – at the crippling rate of about 10 reichsmarks to one deutschmark. This conversion process ruined a lot of people whose lives were tied up in reichsmarks, but in the end, the country was able to recover under the new currency model.

U.S. Revolutionary War Continentals

During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress financed the American rebellion not by taxation, but by issuing fiat bills of credit. These paper bills were known as continentals, and it wasn't long before people were using the phrase "not worth a continental" in reference to anything useless, because that's exactly what the bills were.

Individual states fell in line behind Congress by issuing their own fiat bills, and soon the economy was flooded with paper money that almost immediately began to depreciate. Congress and the states promptly responded by printing even more bills, creating the self-defeating cycle that so many others (including the US, again) have since experienced.  

Nobody wanted anything to do with continentals, so the government made it a crime for businesses to refuse to accept paper money or refuse to sell goods. By law, farmers and merchants had to accept bills that would be totally worthless almost right away, which caused said farmers and merchants to stop growing and producing – which of course ruined the economy. What's the point of business if your client pays you in worthless currency?

By 1778, the army had no choice but to begin seizing whatever it needed. The United States won the Revolutionary War, but the game the government played with money was a disaster for the people.

Wed, 24 Aug 2016 14:32:59 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/inflation-making-currency-worthless-in-history/keith-burnside
<![CDATA[14 Completely Useless & Stupid Inventions by History’s Most Genius Inventors]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/great-inventors-and-their-dumbest-inventions/kellen-perry

There’s a Samuel Beckett quote (from a novel, actually) that’s been “meme-ified” in recent years: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." "Fail better” could be the official inventor’s mantra, because there are a shocking number of stupid inventions by famous inventors throughout history. Even stone-cold geniuses such as Thomas Edison “failed better” over and over, even after inventing game-changing innovations such as the phonograph.

The worst inventions by great inventors are silly, terrifying, disgusting, and wildly impractical. But none of them were the last inventions by great inventors, which says a lot. The great minds behind these ridiculous gadgets kept on learning and kept on failing, leading to some pretty incredible, ground-breaking innovation. Read on to see how even great minds are capable of utter crap from time to time.

14 Completely Useless & Stupid Inventions by History’s Most Genius Inventors,

Thomas Edison Made a Terrifying Talking Doll

Do yourself a favor and just listen to this thing. What a nightmare. Thomas Edison made a lot of wonderful, game-changing inventions and innovations over the years - the longer-lasting light bulb, the phonograph, the motion picture camera - but around 1890, he made this abomination.

The actual doll wasn’t his invention (they were imported from Germany), but the gadgetry required to make it squawk - a tiny phonograph - was all his. The technology just wasn’t there, and the few cursed consumers that actual bought this thing knew it. They complained about how frail the doll was, and how its head would spin independent of its body (kidding!). Edison yanked them from stores after just one month.

Nintendo Made the Awkward, Ridiculous "Virtual Boy"

This one was super-painful for Nintendo fanboys in the 1990s: the Virtual Boy, a 3-D gaming console that caused eye strain, neck aches, and cost $500 in 1995. Everything about the system was disappointing: the red-and-black graphics, the sucky games, the lack of multiplayer options, etc. The games actually had an option to pause automatically every 15-30 minutes so you could rest your eyes. That’s lame.  You had to play it sitting down at a table leaning forward. That’s lame. There’s no doubt about it: the company that revolutionized at-home video games in the mid-‘80s failed big time with the Virtual Boy... but then the massively popular Nintendo 64 made everyone kind of forget about it.

Thomas Edison Made a Loud, Messy Electric Pen

Thomas Edison was a genius. That’s without question. But sometimes, he just got a bit ahead of himself. Take his electric pen of 1875, a device that punched small holes in paper - almost like a tattoo needle - so users could create a stencil of their documents on wax paper... and then roll ink over the stencil. The whole thing was noisy, messy, and required batteries that “had to be maintained using chemical solutions in a jar.” (That doesn’t sound user-friendly at all.) Edison abandoned the project, but the misstep paved the way for the mimeograph.

Dean Kamen Made a Machine That Sucks Food Out of Your Stomach

Dean Kamen is best known for inventing the Segway, that dorky scooter-thing that Will Arnett’s character Gob rides around on in Arrested Development. As silly at that thing is, it’s got nothing on an insane device - now FDA-approved! - that literally sucks food out of your guts before it is digested. It’s called the AspireAssist, “an external pump that dumps part of the stomach contents into the toilet” thanks to a “tube that goes from the inside of the stomach to a port on the outside of the abdomen.”

Doctors that actually like this thing say it’s effective for the extremely obese. Critics say it could cause “dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, vitamin and mineral deficiencies” and it’s “a grotesque weight-loss apparatus that might as well have been lifted straight from the body horror of David Cronenberg’s imagination.”

Apple Made an Uncomfortable Mouse Shaped Like a Hockey Puck

Anyone that actually had to use one of these things knows how ridiculous Apple was for actually letting this out into the wild. In 1998, Apple was still years away from its truly game-changing innovations such as the iPod (2001) and iPhone (2007).

The semi-translucent, hockey-puck shaped trackball mouse - available in colors such as strawberry, grape, lime, and blueberry! - was only available for two years. The “iPuck” was so uncomfortable to use that third-party companies made “shells” that went over the top to make it more like a normal mouse. To make things worse, the cord was also too short. It’s also really, really ugly.

Chrysler Made an In-Car Phonograph That Couldn't Handle Bumpy Roads

Chrysler had the bright idea in 1956 to put a record player (you know, that music-playing device known for skipping when shaken?) inside an automobile (you know, that giant machine that transports people over potholes?).

Normal 33 1/3 rpm records were too big and 45 rpm record were too short, so they had another bright idea: making 7-inch, 16 2/3 rpm records that only played in the car.

They called the whole mess “Highway Hi-Fi” and it was a colossal, expensive failure. It was only offered for two years and it cost consumers about $1700 extra (adjusting for inflation). It retrospect, the system looks pretty cool, in a dystopian, Fallout 3 kind of way.

Leonardo da Vinci Sketched Some Goofy "Walk-On-Water Shoes"

Leonardo da Vinci was only human. Although he was almost universally acclaimed as a genius, the guy still had the occasional goofball idea. Like a device that allows people to walk on water, Jesus-style! To his credit, it was just a sketch, but you have to admit that it looks like something you would drunkenly sketch on a cocktail napkin.

How were you supposed to propel yourself forward? How do you keep your balance on such small shoes? As author Judy Wearing wryly points out in her book Edison’s Concrete Piano, water does not “provide the same resistance” as the ground and it “moves out of the way” when you push on it.

Thomas Edison Invented a Concrete Piano

Everyone knows that Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and greatly improved the light bulb, but did you know that Edison was really into concrete? As owner of the Portland Cement Company, Edison wanted everything to be made with the super-heavy, super-cheap building materials: houses, couches, and even pianos.

The Lauter Piano Company actually created the concrete pianos in 1931, but they apparently didn’t sound good at all. It’s too bad: Edison’s aim - besides, y’know, selling a ton of concrete - was to get affordable pianos into more and more American homes.

Nikola Tesla Made a Useless "Earthquake Machine" with a Disturbing Side Effect

Nikola Tesla, best known for his innovations in electricity, once claimed he made a steam-powered machine that could cause earthquakes. Tesla's electro-mechanical oscillator, legend has it, caused a small earthquake in New York City (!) in 1898. Or at least that’s the story that Tesla told at his 79th birthday party, according to his biographer. In reality, there’s no way the device could have ever done that (the Mythbusters even busted it!), and it was surpassed by technological advancements in steam turbines.

The vibrations it put out did, reportedly, have a laxative effect on people, so there’s that...

Clive Sinclair Made a Tiny, Battery-Draining "Pocket TV"

It’s 1976. Imagine a TV the size of a brick, with a clip-on sunshade, poor reception, and crappy battery life. Got it? Kind of sucks, eh? That’s Sir Clive Sinclair’s  “Pocket TV,” a super expensive, Walkman-like device that just didn’t catch on at all.

Here’s one firsthand account of trying to use it: “Tuning was very difficult. You'd get the picture just right, sit back and the image would collapse and disappear.”

Here’s another: "It was literally too small to watch.”

Fortunately for Sinclair, he had already invented the first slim pocket calculator in 1972, so the Pocket TV didn’t damage his reputation too much (taxi drivers reportedly loved it!). 

Wed, 24 Aug 2016 09:31:10 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/great-inventors-and-their-dumbest-inventions/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[Historical Events You Won't Believe Happened at the Same Time]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/historical-events-happening-at-the-same-time/kellen-perry

In 2014, two separate Reddit users—ShyneBox and mitch3a—posted essentially the same question to AskReddit, several months apart: What are some events in history that you never would’ve guessed happened around the same time? The response was awesome, with almost 15,000 combined comments. Super-popular blogger Jason Kottke linked to both threads and the conversation spread like crazy.

You’ve probably seen lists of historical events that happened at the same time compiled on other sites online. Unfortunately, most of these sites don’t credit the original Reddit users who got the conversation going and don’t check their facts. This list hopes to remedy that. Read on for some of the coolest observations from the original Reddit threads, complete with sources and credit to the original commenters who made these connections (or at least made them widely known).

Historical Events You Won't Believe Happened at the Same Time,

Microsoft Was Founded While Spain Was Still a Fascist Dictatorship (1975)

Reddit user ampellang drew an odd parallel: when Microsoft was founded by Paul Allen and Bill Gates in April 1975, Spain was still ruled by fascist dictator Francisco Franco, who “presided over a regime of state terror and national brainwashing through the controlled media and the state education system,” according to the BBC. Unlike Germany or Italy, Spain did not go through a “denazification process” following WWII, meaning fascist politics reigned right up until the early years of home computing.

You Could Take the London Underground to the Last Public Hanging in the UK (1868)

Two Redditors (TheFairyGuineaPig and Iamreeve) drew our attention to this startling fact: the last public hanging in the UK took place on May 26, 1868, when Michael Barrett was executed in front of a crowd of two thousand people outside the walls of Newgate Prison in London. The Barbican London Underground station was built in 1865 (as Aldersgate Street) and is only a ten-minute walk from Newgate Prison (now the Central Criminal Court), according to Google Maps. This means it was entirely possible that Londoners took the tube to watch a hanging. 

Woolly Mammoths Were Still Alive While Egyptians Were Building the Pyramids (2660 BCE)

Ice Age might get a few more sequels: a small population of woolly mammoths lived on Wrangel Island—a Delaware-sized island about 90 miles off the coast of far eastern Siberia—until about 1650 BCE. The oldest of the so-called “Great Pyramids” in Egypt was constructed between 2667 and 2648 BCE, meaning that yes, as Redditor LastKill stated, there were actually woolly mammoths alive and well when the Great Pyramids were being built. 

The Fax Machine Was Invented the Same Year the First Wagon Crossed the Oregon Trail (1843)

It sounds crazy, but it's true: RedditFed points out that Scottish inventor Alexander Bain received the patent for the “Electric Printing Telegraph”—the granddaddy of the modern fax machine—on May 27, 1843. That same year, in what’s now known as the “Great Migration of 1843,” about 1,000 emigrants headed to Oregon via wagon train on the Oregon Trail.

Prisoners Arrived at Auschwitz Just Days After McDonald's Was Founded (1940)

Most people connect McDonald’s with post-WWII America—and it's true that the chain really took off at that time—but brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald actually opened the first McDonald’s restaurant on May 15, 1940, in San Bernardino, CA. Reddit user Shieee points out that just five days later, the first concentration camp prisoners arrived at Auschwitz.

Swiss Women Got the Right to Vote the Same Year the US Drove a Buggy on the Moon (1971)

Women in Switzerland couldn’t vote until 1971, largely because Switzerland requires national referendums for constitutional change, and the only people that could vote in those referendums at the time were men. That’s 65 years after Finland became the first European country to grant women the right to vote and 51 years after America made it happen. Speaking of America: in 1971, the US was up on the moon driving a “moon buggy” around. Sure, it was men doing the driving, but it’s still a shocking contrast (which was helpfully highlighted by Redditor fasterplastercaster), especially considering Switzerland’s 21st-century status as a progressive wonderland.

The Brooklyn Bridge Was Being Built During the Battle of Little Bighorn (1876)

Construction on the Brooklyn Bridge—the first steel-wire suspension bridge ever—was, surprisingly, contemporaneous with “Custer’s Last Stand” at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, as Redditor LastKill pointed out. The bridge was still six years from completion when George Armstrong Custer and his men were defeated by Crazy Horse and members of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes in eastern Montana territory. 

The Ottoman Empire Existed the Last Time the Chicago Cubs Won the World Series (1908)

Yep: the Chicago Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908. That’s 10 years before the Ottomans were defeated in World War I and 14 years before the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. This means the Cubs’ big win is older than Turkey. The Cubs went on to appear in seven World Series—most recently in 1945—but they’ve lost each time. Redditor SnipeyMcSnipe connected the dots on this strange fact.

Nintendo Was Founded When Jack the Ripper Was Still on the Loose (1889)

Japanese gaming giant Nintendo was founded on September 23, 1889, originally producing handmade playing cards called hanafuda. This means the company behind Mario, Donkey Kong, Samus, Kirby, and that copy of Wii Sports gathering dust in your parent’s basement was actually contemporaneous with the legendary London serial killer Jack the Ripper. Though all the murders we now attribute to the killer were committed in 1888, in September 1889, Londoners still thought Jack was on the loose: he was a suspect in the murder of unidentified woman—called “The Pinchin Street Torso” because all they found was her torso—just a few weeks before Nintendo was founded. The identity of Jack the Ripper is still unknown. Reddit user nliausacmmv made this connection with an assist from thundernewt.

Star Wars Came Out the Same Year as the Last Guillotine Execution in France (1977)

Hamida "Pimp Killer" Djandoubi was beheaded via guillotine in France on September 10, 1977, for the torture and murder of a 21-year-old woman. It was the last time France executed anybody using any method—François Mitterrand abolished the practice in 1981. This means that, as Redditor LastKill highlights, in the same year a man in a First World country was getting his head chopped off by the state, kids across the globe were lining up to see Star Wars, which debuted in the U.S. on May 25, 1977, and in the UK on December 27, 1977.

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 12:29:54 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/historical-events-happening-at-the-same-time/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[12 Crazy Cases of Mass Hysteria Throughout History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/mass-hysteria-in-history/kellen-perry

What is “mass hysteria,” exactly? You may be surprised to learn that it’s not, in fact, large groups of people just “faking” something for attention. That must happen sometimes, sure, but most famous cases of mass hysteria actually stem from people (usually women or girls, unfortunately) being placed in extraordinarily stressful or oppressive situations in tight-knit, homogeneous groups (think schools, convents, prisons, factories, small towns, etc.).  This stress then manifests itself in real, painful symptoms. The Freudian terms hysteria and mass hysteria, while acceptable colloquially, have been replaced in clinical conversations by the terms conversion disorder for individuals and mass psychogenic illness (or MPI) for groups.

The reputation of people involved in cases of mass hysteria in history has been tainted by the sexism inherent in the name. It’s become shorthand for "women acting crazy," basically. But as this list demonstrates, it’s not always women instigating or participating in the mass hysteria. And when it is women, it’s typically for a good reason, because MPI is one way, according to sociologists, for women to express physically and involuntarily what they can’t just freely say. Read on for some of the most bizarre (and tragic) real cases of mass hysteria.

12 Crazy Cases of Mass Hysteria Throughout History,

The Meowing Medieval Nuns

What Happened? A daily “cat concert” performed by nuns at a large convent in France sometime in the Middle Ages. It started, as it always does, with just one nun meowing, but then all the other nuns couldn’t help themselves. It soon became a routine that lasted “several hours” and pissed off the whole neighborhood. Soldiers had to come to the convent and threaten violence to get the nuns to stop.

Why? Sociologists say this case was just one of “dozens of outbreaks of hysterical fits and imitative behaviors” reported among nuns in cloistered convents in the Middle Ages. The combination of celibacy, poverty, hard labor, and the belief that cats “were considered familiar with the Devil” likely triggered the episode. Historian Robert Woolsey calls hysteria “a code used by a patient to communicate a message which, for various reasons, cannot be verbalized.” The meowed "code" in this case was seemingly of the self-flagellating variety, indicating how unworthy the nuns felt. (Or maybe they were just bored?)

The Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic

What Happened? An entire school and a few villages in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) basically shut down over a “laughing fit” in 1962. At least that’s how it allegedly started. Eventually, everyone was also crying, fainting, and falling ill. It wasn’t very funny in the end (it lasted for at least six months).

Why? Despite the light-hearted nature of the video, researchers say that mass hysteria was to blame, or mass psychogenic illness (MPI), as it’s now known clinically.  Here’s how researcher Christian F. Hempelmann explains mass hysteria/MPI (and this is also applicable to just about every case on this list): 

It's psychogenic, meaning it is all in the minds of the people who showed the symptoms. It's not caused by an element in the environment, like food poisoning or a toxin. There is an underlying shared stress factor in the population. It usually occurs in a group of people who don't have a lot of power. MPI is a last resort for people of a low status. It's an easy way for them to express that something is wrong.

The Mad Gasser of Mattoon

What Happened? A series of alleged “gas attacks” in Virginia in the early 1930s and Illinois in the mid-1940s. Sometimes, victims claimed to see a man carrying a gas-expelling flit gun (pictured). Most of the time, however, they simply reported smelling gas-like odors or seeing clouds of “gas” and later feeling ill.

Why? The jury is out. Police and public health officials chalked it up to a combination of fear-driven mass hysteria, industrial pollution (including domestic pesticides), and the occasional actual robber or assailant. It’s since become a classic case study in mass hysteria.

The June Bug Epidemic

What Happened? In what is now considered to be a classic example of mass hysteria, several women and two men working at a textile mill in the 1962 in Ohio all complained of nausea, dizziness, and rashes at the same time. After a few days, 62 out of 900+ workers lodged the same complaints, citing bugs from a fabric shipment from England. The CDC investigated and found that there wasn’t anything close to an infestation. In fact, they only found two biting insects in the whole mill.

Why? Physicians determined that is was mass hysteria, though some researchers are skeptical, saying the CDC likely downplayed a minor infestation. Windows in the factory were frequently open for airflow, and it was June in Ohio. Did they really only find two biting insects in the whole place?

The Hollinwell Incident

What Happened? Almost a dozen juvenile marching bands and several coaches, parents, and community members from the town of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, in Nottinghamshire, England, fainted and/or fell ill on July 13, 1980 during a band competition at the Hollinwell Showground. It was pretty serious: 260 people were taken to four different hospitals.

Why? Officially, a domino effect of mass hysteria, motivated, perhaps, by hundreds of exhausted band kids. Other theories include pesticides, contaminated water, and radio waves.

The Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic

What Happened? Residents of several communities in Washington state reported in April 1954 that their windshields had been “pitted” or “pocked” by... something. BBs?  Cosmic rays? Gremlins? Close to 3,000 reports were filed.

Why? It was “5 percent hoodlum-ism and 95 percent public hysteria,” according to Sergeant Max Allison of the Seattle PD. The media attention made a whole lot of people in the area look closely at their windshields for the first time, basically, and some of them noticed little marks that had likely been there all along.

The "Strawberries With Sugar" Virus

What Happened? Around 300 students at 14 schools in Portugal displayed symptoms including rashes, dizziness, and difficulty breathing in May 2006 following a recent airing of a teen soap opera called Morangos com Açúcar (Strawberries With Sugar). It just so happened that characters on the show were recently infected by a life-threatening virus that led to the same symptoms...

Why? The Portuguese National Institute for Medical Emergency dismissed the illness as mass hysteria with this awesome quote: "I know of no disease which is so selective that it only attacks school children." Watch the clip to see what all the fuss was about... if you dare!

The Dancing Plague of 1518

What Happened? About 400 people “danced” until they were sick (or dead!) over several days in Germany in 1518. Historical documents indicate that the victims were indeed dancing against their will, and not just gesticulating wildly. Musicians were brought in at one point to help keep them going because physicians assumed the only “cure” was to let them go as long as necessary.

Why? Theories include mass hysteria and psychoactive mushrooms growing on grain, or perhaps a combination of the two.

The Halifax Slasher

What Happened? Around ten people (mostly women) reported being attacked by a mysterious man in Halifax, England, in November 1938. The so-called “Halifax Slasher” allegedly wielded a mallet and a knife and wore a dirty mackintosh coat and shoes with “bright buckles.” The town all but shut down out of fear and Scotland Yard even came to investigate. After about a month of panic, one of the victims (a man named Percy Waddington) admitted that he attacked himself. This led to similar admissions from other locals. Scotland Yard concluded there were never any attacks in the first place.

Why? The majority of the victims admitted their wounds were self-inflicted and several people were charged with “public mischief” and/or sent to jail over the whole ordeal. The local paper reported that “there never was, nor is there likely to be, any real danger to the general public.” A local solicitor explained it by claiming that the fakers “were actuated by sheer willfulness, or a perverted desire to gain cheap publicity, or a form of hysteria induced by some neurotic condition, or by a combination of such mentalities."

The Twitching Teens of Le Roy, NY

What Happened? Around a dozen high school girls (and later one boy) started exhibiting Tourette-like symptoms in Le Roy, NY, in 2011. Experts ruled out environmental factors (such as contaminated soil), vaccines, and drug side effects.

Why? The diagnosis from neurologists was "conversion disorder," which is defined as “the brain ‘converting’ severe mental stress into actual physical symptoms." As the New York Times reported, parents (and famous environmental activist Erin Brockovich) were not happy with this diagnosis. Some of the girls later started taking antibiotics, thinking it was related to an immune system disorder. Some got better, but some didn’t.

The outbreak eventually ran its course, leading many experts to believe that conversion disorder was indeed the correct diagnosis. It’s a fascinating case. Most of the victims, as the Times uncovered, came from broken homes, but weren’t (on the surface, at least) suffering from “severe mental stress.” They weren’t “faking it” (although some, of course, might have been) – their physical symptoms were real and painful, they just came from “within” and spread in a “biosocial” way, according to neurologists.

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 15:58:10 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/mass-hysteria-in-history/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[14 Totally F*cked-Up Spectator Events That Drew Huge Crowds Throughout History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/horrible-spectator-events-from-history/kellen-perry

History is full of horrifying spectator events where the public came in droves to witness the brutal killing of animals and even other humans. Think MMA is violent? Check out horse fighting in the Philippines. Still too tame? There are still place in the world where you can watch cockfights, dogfights, and even bear baiting. And let's not forget about bullfighting in Spain and Latin America...

Hands down, the worst public events in history were public executions. There's no getting around it: people showed up by the thousands to watch another person die. That's horrifying. But plenty of blood sports in history are not too far behind. In fact, for sheer number of lives lost (animal or human), it's hard to beat "sports" like ancient Roman venationes or 19th-century rat baiting in England. Read on for some of the worst, most horrifying public events in history.

14 Totally F*cked-Up Spectator Events That Drew Huge Crowds Throughout History,

Cockfighting Is Not Only Cruel - It Spreads Bird Flu, Too

Cockfighting is an ancient “sport” that is just as messed up as it sounds. Roosters (also known as gamecocks), sometimes with blades strapped to their legs, fight to the death for human entertainment and monetary gain (usually via illegal gambling).  It helps spread bird flu, is a favorite pastime of Romanian royalty (even in the 21st century), and was actually legal in Louisiana until freaking 2007.

It’s an insane, brutal event that seems to attract insanity and brutality everywhere it goes. In 2011, for example, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ, drove a tank through the wall of a house to break up a suspected cockfighting ring. As The Atlantic wryly observed, he literally brought a tank to a cockfight.

Bullfighters Taunt a Bull Before Weakening and Then Killing It

Perhaps the most well-known modern blood sport, bullfighting is very much alive and well in Spain, Portugal, France, and throughout Latin America. In case you’re unfamiliar, the gist is this: traditions vary, but most bullfighters basically dance-fight the bull to get the crowd worked up, weaken it with a lance and a barb, then kill it with a sword. There are non-violent variations (including one that uses Velcro!) but they’re not widely known.

Sometimes the bullfighter dies –  such as Victor Barrio, who died on live TV in July of 2016 – but it’s surprisingly rare. The “bloodless” variation is legal in Texas, but as the Houston Chronicle reports, it’s still plenty violent.

Dog Fighting Takes Up Where Bear Baiting Left Off

Thanks to Michael Vick, everyone knows all about dog fighting, right? Well, there’s a long and nauseating history to it, dating back to English Mastiffs fighting lions, bulls, elephants, and even big, tough gladiators in ancient Rome.

Dog vs. dog fighting, however, really flourished in the United States (USA! USA!) around the time of the Civil War. Many European aficionados took up the “sport” in the US when bear and bull baiting became illegal in the 1830s. Today, it’s largely associated with gangs and millionaire professional athletes.

Goose Pulling Involves Tearing the Head Off a Live Goose

This one almost sounds like a sick joke from a Christopher Guest mockumentary or Parks and Recreation mural, but it’s real: goose pulling! Practiced, according to Wikipedia, “in the Netherlands, Belgium, England and North America from the 17th to the 19th centuries,” goose pulling involves tying a live goose to a hanging rope and then galloping a horse toward it as fast as possible, then grabbing the goose by the neck and yanking the its head off. Seriously.

It was still a thing in the US until the 1870s and it’s still done today (with a dead goose - this is the 21st century, after all) in parts of Belgium and the Netherlands.

Here’s one dude’s Bob Costas-like play-by-play from 1855 in Georgia:

The poor gander – seeming quite resigned to his fate, or not comprehending his danger, and not knowing how to "dodge" – had his neck seized by the first rider; but being well oiled, and his head so small, and his strength not yet exhausted, he slipped his head through the puller's hand without suffering much from the twist... After this he kept a sharp look out, and many pullers passed by without being able to grapple his neck. The game went on, and the pullers increased, till the jaded gander could elude their grasp no longer. An old Cracker – with a sandpaper glove on – pulled off his head at last, amid the shouts of a wondering host of intoxicated competitors.

Bear Baiting Pits Vicious Dogs Against a Shackled Bear - And It Still Happens

Theater geeks know this one from Shakespeare: bear baiting, the abhorrent practice of setting dogs loose on a chained bear. It was all the rage in England from roughly the 16th to the 19th century, where so-called “bear gardens” were established for the “sport.” It wasn’t outlawed in England until 1835!

Bear baiting still happens in parts of Pakistan, and, it may sound unbelievable, but the Humane Society of the United States reports that bear baiting still happens in parts of South Carolina today, too.

Thousands Flocked to Insane Asylums to Gawk at the Mentally Ill

The Bethlem Royal Hospital in London (AKA Bedlam) was founded in 1247 as an institution for the mentally ill, but it wasn't until the 17th century that they started charging admission to spectators who would come to observe the disordered actions of the disturbed patients. And if the patients weren't acting "crazy" enough, spectators were even allowed to poke them with sticks to rile them up.

Bedlam was a popular destination with both Londoners and tourists. These outings were particularly popular during holidays like Christmas and Easter. In 1814 alone, there were 96,000 visits.

Bedlam was not the only mental hospital to allow - or even encourage - visitors. Admission fees were a source of revenue for some hospitals, and it was believed that the suffering of the patients might also provide a cautionary tale to viewers about the dangers of sin.

Gladiatorial Combat Was Brutal (But Tamer Than You Might Think)

Hollywood spectacles such as Ridley Scott's Gladiator have led people to believe that gladiatorial combat in ancient Rome was a blood-soaked free-for-all, with a half-dozen fighters hacking away at one another until there's only one left standing.

The reality is a bit more tame. Professor David Potter (editor of Life, Death, and Entertainment in the Roman Empire) told Entertainment Weekly back in 2000 when Gladiator came out that only about 1 in 10 gladiators died in the ring. Gladiators were considered celebrities, and they were "too profitable" to just kill off.  Most fights were one-on-one, and actually ended "with first blood or surrender, not death."

Still, there's no doubt that the public was coming out in droves to watch a couple of guys try to do some serious harm to each other, and criminals and POWs were, in fact, often killed off in the arena (some by tigers!).

Horse Fighting "Encourages" Two Stallions to Fight to the Death Over a Mare in Heat

Perhaps better known as organized horse fighting – since horses duke it out on their own in the wild – the tradition of forcing two stallions to fight is still alive in China and the Philippines. It’s a 500-year-old tradition in China, where it’s used as part of New Year celebrations in the south.

The stallions are literally poked with sticks and “encouraged” to fight over a mare. In the Philippines, at least, the mare is in heat and is tied to one spot in the center of a ring. The stallions are fighting to have sex with the mare and they sometimes do. They also sometimes just, y’know, kill each other with their giant horse teeth.

Public Executions Drew Crowds of Up to 100,000 Spectators

Public executions, as anthropologist Frances Larson notes, used to not only be acceptable, but wildly popular: “The lesson of history is that it is within our capacity as humans to witness decapitations and other forms of execution and, more than that, to enjoy them as popular public events.”

Larson notes that lynching, decapitations, burning-at-the-stake, and whatever you call getting killed via Catherine wheel almost always drew a crowd. Even just run-of-the-mill hangings in 19th century London drew crowds of around 5,000, while “famous felons” getting the rope brought out “crowds of up to 100,000.”

If the idea of a public execution sounds archaic to you, remember: the last public execution in America was a hanging in Kentucky in 1936. The crowd? 20,000 people.

Venatio Battles Killed 5,000 Bears, Elephants, and Lions in Three Months

Venatio sounds like the name of a Shakespearean hero, but it’s actually a bonkers blood sport cooked up by the ancient Romans. "Venatio" means hunting, but so-called venationes, or hunts, were not really hunting excursions in the modern sense, but instead just man vs. beast battles in an amphitheater.

At their most extreme, dozens of animals (including bears, elephants, and lions) were slaughtered for sport daily, such as at the inauguration ceremonies for the Colosseum, which saw 5,000 animals killed in just 100 days. Sometimes the brutality was just too much for the crowd, as Cicero explained

The last day was that of the elephants, on which there was a great deal of astonishment on the part of the vulgar crowd, but no pleasure whatever. Nay, there was even a certain feeling of compassion aroused by it, and a kind of belief created that that animal has something in common with mankind.

Wed, 24 Aug 2016 09:13:01 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/horrible-spectator-events-from-history/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[What Will Happen If Trump Loses the Election?]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/what-happens-if-trump-loses/jacob-shelton

So what happens if and when Donald Trump loses the election? There are plenty of working theories as to what could happen in November, some of them see the GOP splintering into multiple parties and making the midterms even more contentious, while others offer a vision of a dystopian wasteland filled with nothing but “Make America Great Again” hats. Keep reading to take a look at the possibilities of what could happen if Trump loses the election. 

Thanks to the seeds being sewn at convention stops and stump speeches, Trump contesting election results is almost inevitable at this point. While a Donald Trump rebellion seems to be a worst case scenario, the realities of the situation are equally as frightening in their political ramifications. Even though we probably won’t have Trump in the White House, we’ll still probably have to deal with seeing him on television every night, and when he’s less encumbered by the rigors of national politics, he’ll be even more vocal.

So let’s think about those horrible scenarios and figure out what’s going to happen when Trump bails on the campaign. 

What Will Happen If Trump Loses the Election?,

Everyone Forgets the Name Mike Pence

Trump Creates His Own News Network

Accusations of Election Rigging Undercut Clinton's Legitimacy

The GOP Splits Into Two Parties

Tensions Between Russia and the US Will Escalate

A Dramatic Increase in White Secessionist Movements

A Rise in Domestic Terrorism

Donald Trump Sues the US Government

The Most Heated Midterm Election Ever

The Comedy Writers of the World Will Weep In Unison

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 05:41:23 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/what-happens-if-trump-loses/jacob-shelton
<![CDATA[12 Things You Need to Know to Understand the Kurds and Their Fight Against ISIS]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/facts-about-kurds/kellen-perry

If you've watched more than 15 minutes of any cable news channel in the world in the last 20 years, you've likely heard about the Kurds, an indigenous people of the Middle East that have fought for most of the 20th century and all of the 21st century for independence and autonomy. They're the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but thanks to a rejected treaty and a suppressed rebellion following World War I, they have never had a country to call their own. Many Americans are also familiar with the Kurds because of their failed uprising against Saddam Hussein following the Persian Gulf War.

Even if you know the basics about the Kurds, there is still plenty about Kurdish people and their culture that you might not know. Their history is fascinating, tragic, inspiring, controversial, and hopeful. Read on for more interesting facts about the Kurds and Kurdistan.


12 Things You Need to Know to Understand the Kurds and Their Fight Against ISIS,

The Kurds Are Said to Be Among History's Greatest Warriors

The Kurds are thought to be at least partially descended from the Carduchi, a "fierce race of bowmen" who, in the winter of 401 BC, "caused more harm to the Greeks in seven days of hit-and-run raids than had the Persians during the entire Mesopotamian campaign" when the Greeks failed to defeat the Persian king Artaxerxes II.

One of the Greek officers wrote that the Carduchi were not to be messed with: "Indeed, a royal army of a hundred and twenty thousand had once invaded their country, and not a man of them had got back..."

Fast-forward to 1187 for another example of Kurdish military strength: that's the year when the Kurdish general Saladin won back Palestine from the Crusaders. Zoom ahead to the 21st century and the controversial Kurdish army known as the peshmerga (which means "those who are prepared to die") for the latest display of Kurdish might: the peshmerga are considered by some to be "the most effective ground troops battling the Islamic State terror group in Iraq."

The Kurds Do Not Have a Common Ancestry

Scholar David McDowall notes that it is doubtful that the Kurds "form an ethnically coherent whole in the sense that they have a common ancestry."

Instead, McDowall believes that the Kurds come from a mix of ancient Indo-European, Arabic, and Turkomen tribes. The BBC places them as the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East. Despite this, they have never obtained a permanent nation-state and, in McDowall's words, have "only really began to think and act as an ethnic community from 1918 onwards."

Republicans Are Pretty Popular Among Iraqi Kurds

Reporter Jenna Krajeski found one place in the world in 2013 where George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and John McCain were considerably more popular than President Barack Obama, who had just recently won re-election: Iraqi Kurdistan.

Why? The brutality of the Saddam Hussein regime and the Al-Anfal campaign of the late 1980s that killed more than 50,000 Kurds. Krajeski points out that the death of Hussein and the "post-invasion security and nation-building" offered by the Americans in 2003 - and pushed hard by hawkish Republicans - has made Bush, at least, something of a hero in parts of Iraqi Kurdistan. Some local Kurds put up the US flag and photos of Bush, and there are stories (yet to be confirmed) about children being named "Bush" in his honor.

"Kurdistan" Sounds Like a Country, But It Isn't

If you're familiar with the Kurds, than you know that they've never had a proper country to call their own. If this is all new to you, you're forgiven for thinking that Kurdistan is a country. It totally sounds like one. Kurdistan (simply "Land of the Kurds") is, in fact, a roughly defined "geo-cultural region" of the Middle East where there are a lot of Kurds.

Why no "proper" Kurdistan? Historians cite the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I as a turning point. The Allies intended, without a firm commitment, for there to be a Kurdish state in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres, but Turkey refused to honor it, and in 1923 the Treaty of Lausanne set the boundaries of Turkey as we know it today, leaving the Kurds behind. Today, they're a minority group in five other countries instead of living in their own.

The Kurds Have Their Own Calendar

The Kurdish people have their very own calendar that differs from the western Gregorian calendar in several key ways. It starts on the first day of spring, for example, which is a pretty cool and hopeful way to kick off the new year (Kurds celebrate it in a festival known as New Ruz). It also begins in 380 AD, so it seems wildly "off" compared to the Gregorian calendar, especially considering that the Kurds also added an extra seven years for "the reincarnation of the souls of departed leaders," according to Mehrdad R. Izady's The Kurds: A Concise Handbook.

That means 2016 is actually 1629 by the Kurdish calendar. Not all modern Kurds get to use the Kurdish calendar, as Izady points out, because it "clashes ... with official state calendars" in the countries that comprise the geo-cultural region of Kurdistan.

Iraqi Kurdistan Is Practically Independent

The Kurds don't technically have their own independent nation state, but some political analysts argue that the Iraqi Kurdistan region of northern Iraq is pretty dang independent already. Since 1991, Kurds in the region have self-governed, setting up their own relatively progressive government and parliament. They've signed deals with foreign oil companies, issued their own stamps, and they use a unique version of the Iraqi dinar. Travelers to the region's two international airports can even get a visa on the spot, unlike the rest of Iraq, which requires you to obtain them in advance.

ISIS Soldiers Think Being Killed by a Kurdish Woman Is a Ticket to Hell

Female peshmerga forces in Iraqi Kurdistan and Syria fighting the Islamic state say they have at least one huge psychological advantage: ISIS soldiers think they'll go to hell if a Kurdish woman kills them. Kurdish women on the front lines in Syria apparently "take pleasure" at this fact, and one Iraqi Kurd that joined the struggle to protect women's rights says she thinks ISIS is "more afraid of us than of the men."

Women in the peshmerga forces are trained as snipers and even use rocket-propelled grenades, just like the men. It's in stark contrast to how women are treated in the rest of Iraq, where they aren't even allowed to visit the market or leave the house without a headscarf.

The Kurdish Language Has a History of Brutal Suppression

Here's how the Kurdish language has fared over the years throughout Kurdistan: In Armenia, the Kurdish language was alive and well (including an all-Kurdish newspaper and radio station) until the fall of the Soviet Union, when many Kurds lost language rights and were deported. Things were much worse in Turkey, where the language was illegal until 1991 but still suppressed after that (Turkey has especially taken issue, it appears, with the Kurdish letters X, W, and Q, which do not exist in their alphabet). Kurdish is now widely spoken in Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous region in northern Iraq, but Kurdish journalists and authors had their work heavily suppressed in the days of Saddam Hussein. Syria lifted the ban on teaching Kurdish in schools in 2015, but prior to that, publishing in Kurdish had been forbidden since 1958.

The US Considers the Kurds Both Allies and Terrorists

Here's perhaps the most important thing to know about the Kurds, per Steven A. Cook in The Atlantic: "When people say 'the Kurds' they are simplifying to the point of meaninglessness."

The Kurds are not a cohesive group, as Cook puts it, "in terms of worldview, political goals, and relationship to the states in which they live." The Kurds are both allies in the war against ISIS, and, depending on which splinter group you're referring to when you say "the Kurds," considered to be terrorists by the US 

The PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), for example, are one such group that Washington officially considers to be an FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization). There are other groups the US doesn't consider to be terrorists (like the Syrian Kurdistan YPG, or People's Protection Unit), but they work with the PKK to fight ISIS, which makes things pretty damned complicated (not to mention that Turkey does consider YPG to be a terrorist group).

Plus, y'know, there are plenty of Kurds unaffiliated with these groups, just trying to peacefully get through their day. So remember that when you reference "the Kurds" in a political discussion...

The Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament Has to Be 30% Female by Law

Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times calls it "Iraq's best hope" and "an island of decency": Iraqi Kurdistan, a relatively stable, autonomous region in the north of Iraq with a democratically elected legislature that also has to be at least 30% female by law.

In contrast, the US Congress is 19.4% female as of 2015 (a record) ... and there's no law in the US that requires a gender-diverse Congress. The Kurdistan region isn't exactly a progressive wonderland - female genital mutilation wasn't criminalized until 2011, for example - but scholars say the so-called "Other Iraq" enjoys "more stability, economic development, and political pluralism than the rest of the country." It's also the closest thing the Kurds have to an independent homeland.

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 14:23:41 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/facts-about-kurds/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[The Most Overblown Single Issues That Single Issue Voters Vote on]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/overblown-single-issues-in-politics/jacob-shelton

Single issue voting is something that people in the 21st century are far too comfortable with. Single issue politics get us nowhere in terms of a better and more responsible global community, and voting for one thing, or holding out your vote because there isn’t a candidate talking about your pet subject, can actually work against your cause in the long run. To examine the types of single issues voters pay too much attention to, keep reading and think about the issues that you can’t stop focusing on.

Because life is unfair, there are some important social issues that are barely acknowledged in our current political landscape, while there are a few single issue groups with too much sway. In their case, the squeakiest wheels get the grease, but are those squeaky wheels dragging down the democratic system? Or by focusing on those single issues are we ensuring that they’re taken care of and we can move on to the next issue in the following election cycle? Unfortunately it’s more of the former than the latter, and we want to know what single issues you think taking up too much of the focus.

Vote up the single issues in politics that people pay too much attention to. 

The Most Overblown Single Issues That Single Issue Voters Vote on,

Gun Control

GMOS in Food

The National Debt

The War on Drugs

LGTBQ Rights

Protecting Social Security

Campaign Finance Reform

Increasing Military Spending

Illegal Immigration

Federal Funding for Planned Parenthood

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 08:11:33 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/overblown-single-issues-in-politics/jacob-shelton
<![CDATA[21 Extremely Peculiar Personal Quirks that Historic Musicians Had]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/weird-personal-quirks-of-historic-musicians/machk

Just because someone is a musical genius, doesn't mean that they don't deal with their own interesting, um, quirks, right? Hey, who doesn't? This list of strange phobias, hobbies, and habits of the greatest quirky musicians of all time covers everything from mild bug-collecting to a terrible fear of grass. Musical greats throughout history, from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Tupac, have some pretty surprising interests and tendencies. Perhaps these famous quirks can provide some insight into the minds of these talented musicians. Maybe you too should pick up mixed martial arts or start counting your coffee beans if you want to be a successful musician. 

Check out this list of weird musicians and their habits and vote up the quirks that shocked you!

21 Extremely Peculiar Personal Quirks that Historic Musicians Had,

Bob Dylan

Maybe it was the cane, or maybe the mustache or the hat, but something about Charlie Chaplin just really charmed the heck out of Bob Dylan. The musician known for his groundbreaking style and lyrics has said that he is "always conscious of the Chaplin tramp," and early in on his musical career, he would perform with a prop hat in reference to the film star. His love has not faded with time. In 2006, Dylan released the album Modern Times, which shares its name with a classic 1936 Chaplin film.

Eric Clapton

One of the best guitarists in the world, Eric Clapton has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times. Clapton has enjoyed great success as a blues rock musician, both as a solo artist and as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. Oh, also, he can beat you up. One of his hobbies is MMA, so he is really not to be messed with.

Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury had at least ten cats, and it says a lot that no one is sure of the exact number. He also enjoyed talking to his cats. The Queen song "Delilah" and his entire solo album Mr. Bad Guy is dedicated to to his felines.

John Lennon

For someone who was the lead singer of one of the most successful bands of all time, John Lennon was pretty nervous about his singing voice. He liked double-tracking his vocals for this reason, and apparently asked his producer to cover up his voice as much as possible: “Can’t you smother it with tomato ketchup or something?”

Kurt Cobain

When Kurt Cobain was a little kid, he was certain that his parents weren't his real parents. But the Nirvana frontman didn't think he was just adopted; it went a bit weirder than that. In a 1993 interview, he told journalist Michael Azerrad that he was certain he was actually an alien. “I always used to think that I was adopted by my mother because she found me after a spaceship left me from a different time or a different planet. Every night I used to talk to my real parents in the skies. I knew that there were thousands of other alien babies dropped off who were all over the place and I’d met quite a few of them. It’s just something I’d always like to toy with in my mind… it was really fun to pretend that there’s some special reason for me to be here."

Louis Armstrong

In the early fifties, jazz legend Louis Armstrong lost 100 pounds, which he attributed to an herbal laxative called "Swiss Kriss." After his success with the product, he became probably the most loyal customer of all time, and distributed it to friends, family, and acquaintances. Nothing says "I care" like "I'm worried about your bowel movements."

Ludwig van Beethoven

Like any successful person, Beethoven was nothing without his coffee. But unlike most casual drinkers, he insisted upon counting his coffee beans in order to make sure that exactly sixty went into his daily cup. It's unclear what catastrophic scenario would unfold if this number was off, but maybe he knew something that we don't know.


Madonna has conquered pop, dance, acting, and business, but she's never quite lost her fear of thunder. She dreads nature's big music concert so much that she asks for detailed weather reports before every tour.


The lead guitarist of Guns N' Roses has a lot in common with the average 8 year old, because his passion is dinosaurs. When Slash held a charity auction, the most notable items were his dinosaur models. He has a lot of them. This has been a lifelong love, and Slash also owns some real-life reptiles for when he doesn't feel like using his imagination.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

There are enough bizarre facts about Mozart to confirm that he was far from a normal guy, but this one is really one of the strangest: the composer enjoyed pretending to be a cat, especially during the rehearsals of his operas. He would often climb over chairs and meow when bored. Okay, he'd officially be the worst person to have next to you on an airplane.

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 23:41:22 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/weird-personal-quirks-of-historic-musicians/machk
<![CDATA[14 Brutal Human Sacrifice Techniques Throughout History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/brutal-human-sacrifices/t-l-perez

Humans have always had a dark side, and this list of brutal human sacrifice methods explores it in graphic detail. Maybe when you think human sacrifice, you picture grand and graphic Aztec or Mayan ceremonies. While civilizations such as these certainly did their share of brutal sacrificing, they were by no means the only ancient civilizations that participated in death rituals. 

From ancient China to Ireland and Egypt, civilizations throughout history developed quite a few human sacrifice methods. Mostly, these were religious human sacrifices, though sometimes they were carried out as punishment, or on account of local traditions. Those who sacrificed humans used a number of brutal techniques to do so, including decapitation, strangulation, whipping, burning, cannibalism, and burying victims alive. If anything, this list demonstrates the disturbing creativity of human bloodlust. 

14 Brutal Human Sacrifice Techniques Throughout History,

Dismembered: The Chinese

One of the most powerful empires in Chinese history, the Shang Dynasty, lasted for more than 500 years, and is the first recorded period in ancient Chinese history. It was also home to brutal techniques focused on ripping apart the bodies of the those sacrificed. 

Shang human sacrifice victims were disemboweled, split into halves, beheaded, or chopped to death. The most common ceremonies were pit, foundation, and internment sacrifices. For pit sacrifices, young men were ripped apart and buried without their possessions. Foundation sacrifices involved children and infants, while internment sacrifices focused on young women.

At least seven more brutal human sacrifice techniques were practiced during the Shang Dynasty. Some of the people sacrificed were prisoners of war, others criminals. The Shang also made sacrifices to river gods. 

That's intense, but has nothing on this.

Stabbed and Burned Alive: The British

You'd be forgiven for thinking of the infamous desert hippie festival Burning Man when you hear "wicker man" and "burning." When they convene in the desert, attendees of Burning Man build and ignite a large humanoid wicker frame. This practice was taken from the movie Wicker Man, which itself drew inspiration from ancient druidic practices of the British isles. 

As it turns out, the ancient British left no written historical records of their own, so much of what we know about ancient Britain is based on Roman writings. Julius Caesar, for instance, wrote that Druids built massive wicker men, loaded them with human and animal sacrifices, and lit them on fire. Others suggest this is Roman hyperbole designed to make the British out as savages. From a logistical standpoint, how would you cram hundreds of people into something made of wicker and expect (A) the structure not to collapse and (B) the victims not to rip the thing to shreds and escape? 

Whether or not human sacrifices actually happened in wicker effigies, evidence exists of human sacrifice in ancient Britain. Bodies found in bogs show evidence of ritualistic murder, and there may even have been cannibalism involved. 

Burned Infants: The Ancient Israelites

The term "Ancient Israelite" is likely to conjure images of Biblical characters like King Solomon, and fables like Jonah and the Wale and David and Goliath. Or maybe call to mind far more brutal stories, such as when Abraham almost sacrificed his son, or this tasty nugget from the Old Testament: "Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys."

Considering this degree of savagery, it shouldn't be surprising that archeological evidence indicates Ancient Israelites ceremoniously burned infants. Such sacrifices were made by those who worshiped Moloch, a bull-god who some suggest symbolized the terrifying power of nature. The sacrifice of a child showed the lengths to which the power-hungry people will go to rid themselves of powerlessness. 

Moloch, and the practice of child worship in his honor, stem from a Canaanite tradition. Israelites who worshiped Yahweh did not partake in this brutal practice. 

Hanged Upside Down and Beaten: The Hawaiians

Early Tahitian invaders of Hawaii practiced a number of brutal human sacrifice techniques, victimizing descendants of the Polynesians who initially settled the Hawaiian islands. Those sacrificed were mostly prisoners of war, though some were tribe members who broke laws or committed taboo acts. Sacrifice techniques "ranged from strangulation to bone breaking and removal of intestines." Ritualistic offerings to Ka (god of war) and Lono (god of agriculture) were hanged upside down upside down and beaten to death. 

Stabbed in the Head: The Mesopotamians

Like the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, the royals of ancient Mesopotamia were buried with the rest of their household. This included some members of the royal court, such as soldiers, handmaidens, and servants. Human remains found at an archeological site in Ur (now Tell el-Muqayyar, Iraq) attest to more than 2,000 people being sacrificed this way.

In an innocent near-past, experts believed victims of sacrifices in Mesopotamia were poisoned peacefully before burial. Recent discoveries suggest a more brutal practice. According to skeletal remains, victims were stabbed in the head before burial.

Children Raised for Slaughter: The Incas

Like fellow Mesoamericans the Maya and Aztec, the Inca were no strangers to human sacrifice. Not content with garden variety human sacrifice, the Inca kicked it up a notch with child sacrifice. They believed a healthy child was the grandest gift a god could receive. Kids were sacrificed for the sake of increased wealth and good fortune.

Only healthy, strong, and attractive children were suitable sacrifices. The most common forms of sacrifice included, "strangulation, a blow to the head, or being buried alive." Some children were raised solely for the purpose of being sacrificed, and were very well cared for (up until the slaughter), to preserve the integrity and value of the sacrifice. 

Buried Alive: The Ancient Egyptians

In the golden age of Ancient Egypt, pharaohs were buried with effigies of their retainers (servants and other followers), but pharaohs of the first dynasty (about 3218 to 2886 CE) were buried with their actual, living retainers, in a practice known as retainer sacrifice.

These servants (and sometimes high-ranking officials) were sacrificed in accordance with religious beliefs. According to these beliefs, servants were meant to continue serving their rulers after they died. Essentially, rulers were so important they needed an entourage in the afterlife. 

As the first dynasty ended, retainers managed to convince pharaohs they could better serve if left alive, to continue carrying out the will of the pharaoh on earth.

Mass Decapitation of Slaves and POWs: The Dahomey

Xwetanu was an annual celebration in Dahomey, an old west African kingdom located in present-day Benin. The ceremony consisted of many things, including the sacrifice of slaves and prisoners of war to to honor living and dead kings. The preferred method of sacrifice was decapitation. 

So many sacrificial victims were beheaded that the ceremony's name translates to "yearly head business." One source stated that nearly 7,000 people were sacrificed under the leadership of one king. 

Stomachs Ripped Open: The Aztecs

A lot us go right to the Aztecs when we hear "ritualistic human sacrifice," and with good reason. Human sacrifice was widespread in Aztec culture, and sacrificial techniques were brutal. Sometimes, victims had their hearts ripped out and offered to the sun god. Other times, stomachs were ripped open, after which victims were pushed from the top of temples.

Offerings to the rain god, Tlaloc, were made in the first month of every year in the Aztec calendar. Tlaloc required crying children, as it was believed their tears would ensure rain. All told, thousands of humans were brutally sacrificed each year by the Aztecs. 

Strangled Widows: The Fijians

In ancient Fiji, indigenous tribes had the unfortunate habit of brutally strangling widows shortly after a husband's death. This ritual was carried out because Fijians believed all women should accompany their husbands in the afterlife. After a tribal leader died, all his many wives were also strangled. 

These widows were called thotho, or "carpeting of his grave." What a positive view of women. Even more brutal: it was common in most tribes for the widow's brother to strangle her, or at least oversee the strangling. 

Australian anthropologist Lorimer Fison supposedly overheard the following, between a sister and a brother, while studying the tribes in question:

"O Matakimbau," [the wife] cried, "Malani is dead! Take pity upon me and strangle me to-day."

"All right," her brother replied. "Go now and bathe yourself, and put on your ornaments. You shall be strangled by-and-by."

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 17:52:34 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/brutal-human-sacrifices/t-l-perez
<![CDATA[Famous Hoax Photographs and How They Were Faked]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-fake-photographs/danielle-ownbey

Since the dawn of Photoshop, image altering has been a controversial topic among professional photographers, their subjects, and their public audiences alike. Transforming images to blur the line between fact and fiction has become a common occurrence in all realms of entertainment and news around the world, from tweaking a model’s look on a magazine cover to inserting realistic aliens and monsters into blockbuster films to altering photos of missile launches to create threatening propaganda.

However, what many people don’t realize is that the falsification of photographs started long before Photoshop made it as easy as the click of a mouse. Faked photographs have been around almost as long as photography itself. The invention of photography presented a new medium for hoaxers and manipulators to transform images to fit their needs. Whether a hoaxer’s intention was hurtful or humorous, the new technology of photography presented an unprecedented opportunity: a way to create images that looked so real that people had no choice but to trust them.

From its inception, photography and hoaxery went hand-in-hand, like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. Since the 19th century, people have been manipulating images, combining negatives, staging scenes, and building dummies to trick audiences into believing that what they see in the image is real. Here’s a list of some of the sneakiest, scariest, and silliest photographic hoaxes throughout history and how the hoaxers created these famous images.

Famous Hoax Photographs and How They Were Faked,

The Falling Soldier Wasn't Dying, He Was Acting

In 1936, photographer Robert Capa released an image that encapsulated the horror of the Spanish Civil War and went on to become one of the most famous war photographs in history. It also helped kickstart Capa’s career as a famous photographer. The image captures a Spanish soldier, Federico Borrell Garcia, as he takes a fatal shot. 

How They Did It: The story of Capa’s photos started to unravel when other images in the same series were released. Academics studied these photos next to this most famous version and determined that Capa did not snap these images near Cerro Muriano in Andalusia as he claimed. Instead, the photographs were taken near Espejo, a place that the war didn’t reach until after Capa published the photographs.

William Mumler's Ghostly Subjects Included Abraham Lincoln

A jewelry engraver named William Mumler was the first enterprising mind to combine the emerging fields of spiritualism and photography for profit. Mumler’s hobby for photography paid off one day in the early 1860s when he sat for a self-portrait. He discovered a ghostly figure standing behind him as he developed the photo, which he originally believed to be the remnants of a previous image. He showed the photo to his friends on a lark and, based on their credulous responses, went into business as a spirit photographer soon after.

Mumler’s fame grew so large that his photographs appeared on the cover of the national magazine Harper’s Weekly. Although his contemporaries were skeptical, no photographer could find any evidence that Mumler faked his ghostly photo shoots. Despite his detractors, he had at least one very famous fan. In what would be her last photograph, Mary Todd Lincoln sat for a photo with him, Abraham Lincoln’s ghost visible behind her.

How They Did It: Skeptical photographers both then and now ascribe Mumler’s spooky shots to one of two methods. One possibility is double printing, when the subject and the spirit appear in two different negatives that the photographer later combines. The other is double exposure, when the person designated as the ghost leaves the picture mid-exposure to produce a transparent, ghostly effect. Mumler ensured that no one would ever know for sure when he destroyed all his negatives shortly before his death.

"Death in the Air" Utilized Models Built by a Hollywood Prop Designer

In 1933, war widow Gladys Cockburn-Lange contacted publishers with a fascinating document. She gave them the war diary of her dead husband, complete with stunning images of World War I planes in action. The book Death in the Air: The War Diary and Photographs of a Flying Corps Pilot was a hit, especially influential because so few photographs of World War I aerial combat existed.

How They Did It: Gladys Cockburn-Lange couldn’t have had a more British sounding name if she chose it herself. Oh wait, she did. Gladys was actually Betty Archer, the wife of Wesley David Archer, a Hollywood-employed model builder. Wesley Archer built the models in the photograph and superimposed them over aerial photographs to create the hoax. The National Air and Space Museum finally exposed the hoax in the early 1980s.

The Bluff Creek Bigfoot Was Just a Man in a Suit, Obviously

The Big Foot spotted at Bluff Creek in 1967 is the most famous sighting of the infamous creature ever recorded on film. Two men, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin, trekked into the California wilderness in search of the monster, with a rented camera and plans to make a documentary about their experience. Wouldn’t you know it, they spotted a female Big Foot striding through the forest.

Patterson managed to capture footage of the creature before she disappeared back into the trees. Patterson died of cancer a few years later and went to his grave stating that the whole story was true.

How They Did It: The Big Foot in the video looks like a costume purchased straight off a Halloween store rack, and it basically was. After a TV special about the case aired in 1998, a man named Bob Heironimus came forward and admitted that he had been the man in the suit. Patterson hired him to play Big Foot in a short film that he planned to sell. A costume designer named Phillip Morris also stated that he was the one who sold Patterson the suit. His company Morris Costumes is now a massive costume manufacturer that supplies Halloween costumes across America. 

The Loch Ness Monster Was Actually a Much Less Dangerous Sea Creature - A Toy Submarine

The modern fervor over the Loch Ness Monster came to a head with a photo taken in 1934. Known as the Surgeon’s Photo, the most famous image of Nessie was taken by British surgeon Colonel Robert Wilson. It shows a creature with a long neck rising out of the water. For more than 50 years, the picture stirred up a fervor about what swam beneath the surface of the Loch.

How They Did It: The picture stood as a testament to the existence of the marine creature until 1994, when a man named Christian Spurling confessed to his involvement in the hoax. The Daily Mail previously hired Spurling’s step-father, Marmaduke Weatherell, to find the Loch Ness monster and Weatherell felt betrayed when they debunked what he found. So he set out on a plot of revenge straight out of an episode of Scooby Doo: he and Spurling constructed a model out of a toy submarine from Woolworth’s with a sculpted head attachment and photographed it. They sent the photo to Wilson, whose pedigree made him a trustworthy Nessie spotter, and Loch Ness was never the same again. 

Hippolyte Bayard's Anger Drove Him to Create History's First Fake Photograph

Louis Daguerre has historically been credited with the invention of photography. A man named Hyppolite Bayard disagreed, however, in a very dramatic way. In 1840, an image emerged of a lifeless man with the following caption:

The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard, inventor of the process that has just been shown to you. As far as I know this indefatigable experimenter has been occupied for about three years with his discovery. The Government, which has been only too generous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the poor wretch has drowned himself. Oh the vagaries of human life...!

How They Did It: Bayard simply staged the scene and wrote a misleading caption. The photo is influential as the first ever faked photograph, so at least Bayard got into the history books for something…

Two Little Girls Drew the Cottingley Fairies So They Wouldn't Get Punished

One of the most infamous photographic hoaxes in history all started because a little girl didn’t want to get in trouble. In 1917, Frances Griffith returned from a brook with wet feet and wasn’t looking forward to the inevitable punishment. When her mother asked her what happened, Frances told her mother that she went to see the fairies. In a show of familial solidarity, Frances's cousin Elsie backed her up and agreed that fairies played down by the water.

With the adults obviously dubious, the girls took a camera to the brook and came back with proof – pictures of both girls with fairies and gnomes. After both girls’ moms shared the photos around, the pictures sparked a public phenomenon. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and a famous spiritualism supporter, weighed in on the photographs, believing them to be genuine proof of humanity’s ability to commune with the spirit world.

How They Did It: Almost 60 years later, Frances and Elsie finally admitted that their photos were fakes. Elsie had art training and drew the figures on paper. The girls fixed the drawings to hat pins and stuck them in the ground for the photographs. Then, they destroyed the evidence in the brook. A hoax so simple that a child could do it. 

The Famous Faces in Ada Emma Deane's Spirit Photography Led to Her Downfall

At the height of her success, Ada Emma Deane’s spirit photographs incited bidding wars from national newspapers for the rights to publish them. An unassuming cleaning lady before she got her hands on a camera, Deane’s claims to fame were the disembodied heads that appeared in the pictures that she took. She created a famous series of commemorative photos of World War I Armistice day and by the fourth year, newspapers fought for the exclusive rights.

How They Did It: Deane’s first giveaway was her requirement that she receive photographic plates in advance of the photo shoot. In 1924, the same newspaper that bought her Armistice Day picture also debunked her hoax. They revealed that the floating heads in her picture were not dead soldiers but were very much alive, including the faces of some well-known athletes. She maintained her innocence, claiming that she if she were faking it, she wouldn’t be so stupid as to use such recognizable faces. 

A Lamp Shade and Some Ping Pong Balls Created a UFO Phenomenon

In a very fortuitous coincidence, UFO enthusiast George Adamski got the photo of his life when he captured the image of a foreign spacecraft flying over his California home in 1952. He gained a loyal following in the UFO-hunting world and wrote a number of books about his encounters with the third kind.

How They Did It: A lamp shade with some ping pong balls glued to it. That’s it. A friend of Adamski’s even confirmed that he saw the model with his own eyes

What Newspapers Called Nazi Air Markers Were Nothing More Than a Coincidence

At the height of World War II, the U.S. Army Office of Public Relations released a brief that caused panic across America. They shared images taken by airplanes of three “secret markers” that seem innocuous from the ground. But the brief reveals that, in the air, the markers point directly to strategic locations like factories and airfields.  The government wouldn’t reveal specific locations but assured concerned citizens that the markers were destroyed and warned them that this was evidence that the enemy could be anywhere. The pictures made it to the front page of every major newspaper in the country.

How They Did It: The “markers” were nothing more than innocuous shapes on the ground: a bird feeding area, a configuration of fertilizer sacks, and the remnants of a plowed field. The government actually investigated the markers months before and determined that they had no military significance - until they realized their benefit as propaganda, that is. 

Wed, 17 Aug 2016 15:59:35 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-fake-photographs/danielle-ownbey
<![CDATA[The Most Brutal Medieval Monarchs]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/violent-medieval-monarchs/carly-silver

It's no secret that the word "medieval" evokes negative images, but in the case of these Middle Ages monarchs, those connotations are well-deserved. From callous queens to cutthroat kings and savage saints, we're taking a look at the most brutal monarchs from medieval times who played by their own bloody rules

So what caused such murderous monarchical madness? Some slaughtered thousands in pursuit of conversion to Christianity and expulsion of beliefs they disliked; others advertently nudged tensions between sects of Christianity along, resulting in a mob mentality that took the lives of tens of thousands. Other brutal monarchs, like a number of late medieval Italian royals, enjoyed torturing their enemies in new and creative ways, like forcing furriers to eat hares whole or creating a mummy museum, a sort of proto-Madame Tussauds, by pickling their rivals. Some kings didn’t bother disguising their ambitions, just adding to their burgeoning empires by taking city after city and killing opponents and new subjects wholesale.

Whatever their reasons for taking their lovers, friends, and enemies out, read through this list and vote up the most violent medieval monarchs.

The Most Brutal Medieval Monarchs,

  • Royal Title: Charles the Great, Holy Roman Emperor, King of the Franks
  • Most Brutal Moment: Charlemagne was constantly at war, but his most brutal moment came at the Massacre of Verden in 782. The Royal Frankish Annals record Charles slaughtering 4,500 pagan Saxons after their nobles refused to hand over their war leader, Widukind. 

Charlemagne's forces, including some of his best men, had previously lost the Battle of Süntel to Widukind and his men. As the story goes, Charlemagne retaliated by killing thousands of Saxon men, all in one day. It's worth noting that Widukind escaped, though he surrendered and converted to Christianity three years later.

Edward I of England

Edward I of England was also called "Hammer of the Scots" for his decisive victories against his northern neighbors, and he wasn't keen on Scotland getting its independence. So when Robert the Bruce decided he was the rightful king of Scots and struck out on his own, Edward struck back, taking his female relatives and close friends prisoner.

Bruce's sister Mary and close friend Isabel, countess of Buchan, were both imprisoned in cages, which were then placed in castle turrets in England. Bruce's own daughter, twelve-year-old Marjorie, was initially kept in a cage in the Tower of London, but Longshanks eventually relented and let her go to a priory instead. Eventually, these prisoners were freed, but undoubtedly they carried the mental and emotional scars Edward I wrought on them for the rest of their lives.

Æthelred the Unready
  • Royal Title: Aethelred II Unraed ("the Unready," or "bad counsel"), King of England
  • Most Brutal Moment: On November 13, 1002, Aethelred II, tired of centuries of Viking attacks from the north and fearful of their expansion southward, ordered that all the Danes in his kingdom be slaughtered.

This tragedy, called the St. Brice's Day Massacre, survived in popular imagination as an example of tyranny at its worst, but the specifics were forgotten... that is, until recently, when two mass graves of dozens of young men were uncovered. The deaths of these undefended dead can be dated to around the time of Aethelred's reign. Whether or not these individuals were Danes, we do know that the Danes' deaths were avenged in 1013, when King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark invaded England.

Ferdinand I of Naples
  • Royal Title: Ferdinand I, King of Naples
  • Most Brutal Moment: Killing his rivals and building a "museum of mummies" with them in his palace.

Born the illegitimate son of a Spanish monarch, Ferdinand (or "Ferrante" in Italian) enjoyed keeping his deceased enemies around. Once, he invited some French "pals" (a.k.a. agents of his rival to the throne of Naples) to dinner. After they ate, he then decided to feed some to crocodiles and imprisoning others for thirty years, even shoving one guy out a window to his death. Some were propped up in a mock banquet at Castelnuovo; the bodies were pickled and turned into mummies, then re-dressed to look lively.

Galeazzo Maria Sforza
  • Royal Title: Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan
  • Most Brutal Moment: A master torturer and true evil mastermind, Galeazzo Maria once chopped off a rival's hands and killed a poacher by making him swallow an entire hare.

This fifteenth-century duke of Milan came by his brutal personality honestly: The surname of his warlord-turned-noble family, Sforza, means "force" in Italian. One contemporary writer recorded how Galeazzo Maria, upon asking a priest how long he would reign in Milan and being told only eleven years, stuck the good father in jail with just a little bit of food. As the story goes, "the man survived on these things, even getting to eat his own excrement, for twelve days. Then he died." Galeazzo Maria was also accused of organizing gang rapes and of poisoning his own mother.

Genghis Khan
  • Royal Title: Temujin, Great Khan of the Mongol Empire
  • Most Brutal Moment: While carving out a massive empire that stretched across millions of square miles, Genghis Khan and his nomadic Mongolian soldiers killed an estimated 1.2 million people. That's right, million.  In fact, one commentator reported that the Great Khan killed so many that their bones formed mountains and the dirt became oily with human fat.

Some of his bloodier moments include using young men as human shields and organizing mass rapes. The latter crime probably resulted in many children, making Genghis Khan a direct ancestor of 16 million people today. 

Henry VIII of England
  • Royal Title: Henry VIII, King of England and Defender of the Faith
  • Most Brutal Moment: Arguably still a medieval monarch on the edge of the Renaissance, Henry VIII did some pretty awful things. Probably his worst misdeed was engineering the deaths of two of his six wives (Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard).

Henry burned a number of "heretics" at the stake, including his own ex-BFF Sir Thomas More, and organized a few pitiful attempts at becoming a military hero. Although Henry himself didn't lead his forces at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, this conflict was a tragedy for the invading Scots - including Henry's own brother-in-law, James IV, who died there - and ten thousand of their men. By this time, his bloodthirsty ways had truly become a family affair.

William the Conqueror
  • Royal Title: William I, King of England, Duke of Normandy
  • Most Brutal Moment: A fierce warrior and the first Norman king of England, William the Conqueror made his name by taking Albion at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. But he had quite the reputation already as duke of Normandy in France... and as an abuser. When William sought the hand of a particularly high-born woman, Matilda of Flanders, she rebuffed him, saying she was too good for a bastard; legend has it that he dragged her around by her hair until she agreed to marry him.

As the illegitimate son and young heir of Duke Robert I, William faced assassination attempts and coups from an early age, but he turned that into motivation to consolidate his own power. William crushed multiple rebellions in Normandy, then turned to England. Perhaps as many as 10,000 men, both Saxon and Norman, died at the Battle of Hastings, and William kept a tight grip on his conquests from then on.

Doña Isabel de Castilla I, Queen Isabella I
  • Royal Title: Isabella I, Queen of Castile and Aragón
  • Most Brutal Moment: Along with her husband Ferdinand, Isabella brought about the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition, completed the Reconquista (expelling Jews and Moors in the process), and sent out explorers like Christopher Columbus to conquer the "New World." Only officially dispelled in the nineteenth century, the Inquisition force-converted and exiled hundred of thousands of non-Christians, fostering vitriol and racism for centuries. 

Together, Isabella and Ferdinand were known as the "Catholic Monarchs." In forcibly unifying Spain under one religion, this mad marital match made the Church a huge presence in their country for centuries to come. Their descendants would rule two of the largest realms in the world (the Holy Roman and Spanish Empires)... and become one of the most incestuous royal families in history.

John of England
  • Royal Title: John, King of England
  • Most Brutal Moment: Shall we count the ways? The youngest son of the famously energetic King Henry II and his Crusading, duchy-ruling, butt-kicking bride, Eleanor of Aquitaine, John lived up to neither of his parents' legacies. Although the English did get the Magna Carta from him, John wasn't a fan of his subjects: He locked 22 knights in a castle and starved them to death.

John also betrayed his older brother, King Richard the Lionheart, who was on a Crusade, by rebelling against him back home in England. "Lackland," as John was dubbed for his paltry inheritance in his youth, may also have arranged the murder of his nephew Arthur of Brittany. Finally, he made an enemy of one of his French vassals by stealing the man's bride-to-be (and making her his queen)!

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 10:21:30 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/violent-medieval-monarchs/carly-silver
<![CDATA[Top 10 Best Third Baseman of All Time]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/top-10-best-third-baseman-of-all-time/allfive5

Top 10 Best Third Baseman of All Time,

Adrián Beltré

 By the end of his Carrer he will have 3,000 Hits and 450 plus homers along with 4 silver slugger awards and 4 Gold Gloves he came 2nd in MVP VOTTING with the Dogers. ( behind Barry Bones) That year he had a 337 Batting Average and 48 homer AND 100 RBI. he is hitting .286 in his Carrer. He is 4th in Wins Above Replacement. He has made it to the all star game 4 times. ( should be in 6 All star games but he was injured when it came around) To sum it up. 3,000 hits 450 Homers 4 Gold Gloves 4 Silver Slugger awards. Only Two Other Third Baseman have more Silver Slugger Awards. He Consistantly hits above 20 Homers a Season. He has reached 100 RBI's for a season 4 times.Not to mention One of the most CLUCH players of all time. In his 20 year Carrer He has a .317 Batting average and 20 Homers with runners in scoring position. He is by far my favorite Texas Ranger Player. It will be sad to see him go.

Alex Rodriguez

696 Home Runs!! Reason: Steroids

Brooks Robinson

He won 13 Gold Glove Awards!!! Won a MVP and he is a 16 time all star. But he only hit 270 Home Runs along with a .267 batting average in his Carrer. He finished with 2,800 hits in a 23 year Carrer. Had he gotten 3,000 hits and at least 400 homers he probably would have been the best third basemen ever

Chipper Jones

468 Homers and 2,500 Hits he is a 8 time all star and he won MVP in 1999.... He Did not win a Gold Glove. His Carrer On Base Percentage is a Whooping 40%  he once had a 47 on base percentage. This mans talent was sensational!!

Eddie Mathews

512 Home Runs. .271 Carrer batting average. 9 Time all star. He did not win a single Gold Glove. And that's why Adrian Beltre is ahead of him.

Mike Schmidt

548 Homers 12 Gold gloves. A 12 Time All star and 3 Time MVP......That's all I need to say. Just look at the stats.

Ron Santo

 5 Gold Gloves 348 homers and a 9 time all star. 

Wade Boggs

He had a .328 Batting average in his Carrer. And 3,000 plus hits. He won 2 Gold glove awards. 12 time all star! Only bad thing....he only had 61 homers in a 18 year Carrer. Not to mention he Just barley reached 1,000 RBI's in his career. And not being able to get to 100 RBI's in a season,much less could not even get 90. Come on man

Sat, 20 Aug 2016 08:35:37 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/top-10-best-third-baseman-of-all-time/allfive5
<![CDATA[12 Brewing Companies That Couldn’t Be Stopped by Prohibition]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/brewing-companies-active-during-prohibition/keith-burnside

The 18th Amendment didn't do a whole lot in the way of making America sober up. It did, however, do a lot of damage to businesses across the country, mainly breweries and distilleries that were unable to keep going after their main products were made illegal. From 1920 to 1933, the federal government spent outrageous sums of money failing miserably at enforcing a law most people hated, and fighting a war with the criminals and gangsters who stepped up to fill the shoes of thousands of shuttered saloons and breweries nationwide.

Brewers Association has a nifty chart showing the approximate number of breweries in the US from 1873 to 2015. You see a sharp decrease as the Temperance Movement picked up steam in the second half of the 19th century. In 1873, there were more than 4,000 breweries in the US. In 1888, only 15 years later, there were fewer than 2,000. By 1910, there were about 1,500. The number plunges to zero from 1920 to 1933.

Despite this catastrophic decline, there actually were some brewing companies that made it through Prohibition. Not many survived, but a few had the foresight, finances, and good old-fashioned luck to keep the doors open. Here's a list of 11 breweries that worked during Prohibition – plus one distillery, because America needed its bourbon, too. Read on to find out how companies stayed in business during prohibition.

12 Brewing Companies That Couldn’t Be Stopped by Prohibition,

Coors Brewing Company

Adolph Coors, the founding father of the Adolph Coors Brewing and Manufacturing Company, was a savvy businessman who, like other Prohibition survivors, knew the value in diversification. From his earliest days in Golden, CO, Coors had his hands in a variety of business ventures and investments. His involvement with John Herold – who started the Herold Pottery and China Company, which specialized in art pottery and laboratory ceramics – would pay off in a big way for the Coors family.

Herold left Golden in 1915. Adolph Coors Jr. took over the pottery company as manager, and renamed it Coors Porcelain Company. As World War I raged, the demand for ceramic labware kept the Coors empire afloat during Prohibition.

Coors Porcelain kept going strong after repeal and the resurgence of Coors Brewing. It continued to kick out high-quality chemical labware, spark plugs, dinnerware, recyclable aluminum cans, insulators, golf clubs – a little bit of everything, basically. The company exists in the 21st century as CoorsTek.


This little old Pottsville, PA, brewery, built in 1829, is the oldest operating brewery in the United States. It navigated Prohibition in part by switching to near-beer, with three offerings – the Yuengling Special, Yuengling Por-Tor, and Yuengling Juvo. But a more interesting navigational tactic was the decision to produce ice cream.

Yep, ice cream. The company opened the Yuengling Dairy right across the street from its brewery works, and started churning out dairy products, including Yuengling ice cream. Yuengling spun it off after Prohibition to renew its focus on beer, but Yuengling Dairy kept mooing until 1985. In 2014, the ice cream company came back into being.

When Prohibition was finally lifted, Yuengling released a celebration beer called Winner – and sent an entire truck of it to President FDR in thanks.

Lion Brewery, Inc.

Many Prohibition-era breweries and distilleries took advantage of the dye famine created by World War I and transformed themselves into dye manufacturers to stay alive. This might not make much sense at first, but it was actually a pretty logical decision because the infrastructure and equipment involved in producing alcohol, both beer and liquor, are very similar to that required for dye production. 

One brewery to make such a transformation was the Lion Brewery in New York. After completing the appropriate modifications to its brewery works – and reversing the word "Lion" in its name – the company returned to business as the Noil Chemical and Color Works, and started crafting a wide variety of dyes.

After Prohibition, Noil moved the dye-manufacturing operations to a new location, and the Lion Brewery roared back into beer-brewing business. 

Miller Brewing Company

Miller is an interesting case study because although it played the usual Prohibition tricks of changing its name and rolling out a bunch of legal, nonalcoholic products, it still almost died.

In response to Prohibition, the company split itself into two branches – Miller Products Co. and Miller High Life Co. – and started pumping out the likes of Miller Special Brew, Verifine lemon soda, tonic, dry ginger ale, and Heart-o-Barley malt syrup. But by 1925 it was foundering, and nearly sank. The company was put up for sale at one point. Nobody bought it.

Smart investing by the company's law-abiding owners is the only reason it survived. Miller managed to scrape by on investment income from government securities, bonds, property management, mortgage loans, and real estate, and the rest is history.

Pabst Brewing Company

To beat Prohibition, Wisconsin's Pabst Brewing Company struck the word "Brewing" from its name and started producing processed cheese spread called Pabst-ett. The brewery's ice cellars proved useful for aging the spread, which turned out to be highly popular in a state known for being a cheese powerhouse. The spread came in two types of packages – the basic round package, which kind of looked like a tobacco tin, and a two-pound economy loaf.

PBR's history page dryly observes that many customers likely enjoyed Pabst-ett with beer, which was just as plentiful as Prohibition law was unpopular. (That page also has a mouse pad-worthy illustration of the Pabst-ett cheese spread.)

In addition to cheese spread, Pabst Company made soft drinks and sold malt extract. Both of those products were widely manufactured and marketed by Prohibition-era breweries in an attempt to pull in extra cash. When the 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition in 1933, Pabst sold its cheese business to Kraft and went right back to brewing its famous Blue Ribbon beer.

Valentin Blatz Brewing Company

Like other enterprising breweries, Valentin Blatz avoided bankruptcy by simply selling the stuff needed to illegally make beer at home. Specifically, it sold hopped malt extract, to which only yeast and water had to be added to get beer. Anheuser-Busch was already selling yeast, and water came out of the tap, so home brewing during Prohibition wasn't all that hard. Of course, malt extract like that sold by Valentin Blatz wasn't advertised as a home brewing ingredient – rather, it was sold as a health tonic and baking ingredient.

The Metropolitan News-Enterprise ran a 2005 column about malt extract sales during Prohibition, and quoted a few sources of interest. For example, according to a 1929 news article from Lima, OH, the label on one of these malt extract cans read: "For bread making use one half as many tablespoonsful of malt extract as formerly used of sugar. This will make the bread light and perfectly browned."

The article also noted that "enough malt extract is sold each week in Lima to provide the necessary sweetening for 800,000 loaves of bread, or more than 16 loaves for every man, woman, and child."

Clearly, home brewing was happening in Lima, and it's not ridiculous to say it was happening everywhere else in the US, too.

Anheuser-Busch InBev

Like Yuengling, Anheuser-Busch (now Anheuser-Busch InBev) thought the ice-cream business was a cool option for surviving dry times. With its existing fleet of refrigerated beer trucks, Anheuser-Busch had no trouble keeping its new product from melting during transportation.

Anheuser-Busch also experimented with soft drinks and nonalcoholic malt beverages. Thanks to the smart people at the wheel, the company boasted more than 25 totally legal products in its Prohibition portfolio. These included a malt beverage called Bevo, which Anheuser-Busch actually released before Prohibition, in anticipation of the alcohol ban.

But what really delivered Anheuser-Busch was yeast. Quickly realizing people were breaking the law and brewing their own beer at home, the company started selling raw products necessary for such activity. "Yeast profits saved the company," said William Knoedelseder, author of Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer, during an NPR interview. "That was the cash engine that was able to keep the company open."

Wiedemann Brewery

The Wiedemann Brewery in Newport, KY, preferred to do things the illegal way. Like many other breweries across the country, it ignored the law and kept right on brewing (bootleg) beer.

So it's not too surprising that the Wiedemann brewhouse was raided in 1927 by federal agents, who found 3,500 barrels of beer waiting to be shipped. The feds also found the brewery's records, which indicated that Wiedemann's Prohibition production was about 50,000 barrels a year. 

The government seized the brewery and the IRS slapped it with a tax-evasion charge. But the case against Wiedemann Brewery took a big hit when the feds involved in the bust turned out to be corrupt. The brewery was later returned to Wiedemann (for a price, of course), and, after Prohibition, went back into production for another 50 years. It was one of only six post-Prohibition breweries to revive its operations in the Cincinnati area.

Fauerbach Brewery

Fauerbach Brewery was the first brewery to pop up in Madison, WI. It was founded by the Sprecher family in 1848, and renamed by Peter Fauerbach 20 years later. By the time Prohibition was over, it was the only brewery still operating in Madison. It had stayed alive, and also legal, by switching production to malt beverages, soda, and – like its Wisconsin brothers over at Pabst – cheese.

The Fauerbachs had a history of being smart, hardworking folks, and this ultimately meant they had quite a few additional sources of income during Prohibition. While the rest of the Madison brewing scene collapsed, the Fauerbachs lived on the income from two hotels, a couple of Pepsi-Cola franchises, and properties they liquidated. Basically, Fauerbach Brewery survived Prohibition because its owners spread themselves like Pabst-ett across multiple business ventures.

Minhas Craft Brewery

The Minhas Brewery was established as the Monroe Brewery in Monroe, WI, in 1845, making it the oldest operating brewery in the Midwest and the second-oldest in the US after Yuengling. Adam Blumer Sr. changed its name to Blumer Brewing Co. in 1906, and Adam's son Fred took charge in 1918. Unfortunately for Fred, Prohibition took charge two years later.

To make ends meet, the company changed names again – this time to Blumer Products Company – and shifted its focus to everything from ice cream to Case tractors and road machinery. It also started brewing Blumer's Golden Glow Near Beer, which turned out to be quite popular. That brew's name was officially changed to Blumer’s Golden Glow Real Beer upon repeal.

Tue, 15 Nov 2016 15:47:20 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/brewing-companies-active-during-prohibition/keith-burnside
<![CDATA[Crazy Top Secret Information You Won't Believe the Government Declassified]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/crazy-information-the-government-declassified-recently/chris-lindvall

Ever wonder what really goes on behind the government's closed doors? Or what all that blacked-out text you see on top-secret classified documents actually says? Or whether your loony conspiracy-theory-touting uncle might be telling the truth?

Well, wonder no more. Thanks to the United States’ 2013 Freedom of Information Act, the doors have been flung open, the blacked-out text has been revealed, and your uncle has been completely and totally validated. Okay, on second thought, maybe just those first two.

Read on to discover some pieces of government declassified information that are downright bonkers. 

Did you know a U.S. state narrowly avoided nuclear catastrophe in the 60s? Or that one president’s brain was lost during his autopsy and is still missing to this day? Or that a famous author willingly participated in the CIA’s unethical human experimentation?

Put on your tinfoil hat and dive deep into the world of government-declassified info that will make your head spin. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be someone's loony uncle.

Crazy Top Secret Information You Won't Believe the Government Declassified,

The U.S. Considered Developing Psychic Phenomena in the Military

Though the name might suggest otherwise, this was not the government's attempt to create a portal into another dimension, even though its true purpose was equally interesting. In 1978, the U.S. army created a unit known as Stargate that investigated the potential for psychic phenomena in the military. The unit focused on the ability to foresee events and uncover covert pieces of information from great distances. Hollywood took note, and in 2009, Stargate spawned its own film, The Men Who Stare at Goats. Because who doesn't want to watch a psychic George Clooney?

Operation Mockingbird Attempted to Control the American Media

If you've ever felt like a certain news channel tends to skew one-way or the other politically, you may have uncovered a trace of Operation Mockingbird. Started in the 1950s by the CIA, Mockingbird aimed to ensure certain media outlets aligned themselves with the reigning government's views. This top secret operation targeted top American journalists, who were expected to relay only what information the CIA wanted the general public to know. No wonder the CIA won all those Pulitzers.

No One Knows Where JFK's Brain Is

Ask anyone who was alive when President John F. Kennedy was shot and they'll remember exactly where they were when they heard the news. Too bad the physicians who performed his autopsy didn't have as strong of memories. At some point during his post-mortem, the government admitted that JFK's brain was straight up lost. To this day no one knows where it is, though many conspiracy theorists believe this only strengthens the case that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the only shooter. Still others maintain that some Kennedy superfan stole it, keeping the former president's brain as a creepy trophy.



Poop Got Loose and Floated Around During the Apollo 10 Mission

In 1969, thousands of miles above the Earth, the brave souls of the Apollo 10 space mission encountered their most harrowing challenge to date: a floating piece of human excrement inside the rocket's cabin. The astronauts narrowly avoided colliding with this unidentified flying object that glided across the interior of the vessel. In the transcript, the astronauts blame it on one another while trying to grab it with a napkin. Also, apparently astronauts call each other "babe." Space is cool.

Two H-bombs Almost Went off on American Soil

On January 3, 1961, the people of Goldsboro, North Carolina woke up, went about their day, and fell back asleep, unaware that their town had barely avoided utter catastrophe. Around midnight, a B-52 bomber carrying two Mark-39 Hydrogen bombs went into a complete tailspin above the city. The pilots ejected as their plane was on a collision course just outside of the town. The first bomb landed without incident, but the second worked exactly how it was supposed to, set to explode on impact. As the massive nuclear bomb fell, three of the four arming switches activated, but the last one malfunctioned, averting a nuclear disaster on American soil. One measly broken safety switch prevented the name Goldsboro from being forever associated with tragedy.

The CIA Tortured U.S. Citizens with Drugs

From the 1950s to the early 1970s, the CIA was definitely involved in some shady stuff, but none as devious as what came to be known Project MKUltra. MKUltra's goals were simple: master the art of mind control and develop a working truth serum. Easy enough, right? Their means of carrying out the simple tasks of controlling another human's brain and compelling someone to tell the truth were, as one could imagine, extremely unethical. Scientists working with the CIA would administer untested drugs such as LSD to human test subjects and psychologically torture them by locking them in small dark spaces and starving them. A few notable figures of the counterculture movement such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest author Ken Kesey and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter took part of some less extreme MKUltra LSD experiments and went on to popularize the drug in a more friendly environment.

The Government Tried to Build a Giant Laser

This government attempt to build a giant, weaponized laser was named MARAUDER because Magnetically Accelerated Ring to Achieve Ultra-high Directed Energy and Radiation didn't quite roll off the tongue as nicely. MARAUDER, literally a plasma rail gun, was constructed during the 1990s in the depths of Area 51 and never worked exactly as expected. Its development was abandoned before the dawn of the millennium, seriously foiling any of Dr. Evil's plans that involved a "frickin' laser beam."

The Cia Funded the Arts as Part of the Cold War

During the 1950s and 60s, the United States waged a propaganda war with the Soviet Union, as each country not only sought to assert its dominance militarily but also culturally. So, in an effort to demonstrate how intellectually superior and creatively innovative the United States was, the CIA secretly funded the emerging American Modern Art scene. That means emerging artists such as Willem De Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock all partially owe their successes to this government-run Medici family. Turns out artists should be careful when complaining about "the man" holding them down, because the man may have gotten them where they are today.

The U.S. Considered Using a "Gay Bomb"

The 1990's were a pivotal time in the United States, but not everything was awesome cartoons and Capri Suns. In 1994, a three-page proposal from the Pentagon was released that described a list of theoretical, nonlethal chemical weapons. Among these weapons was something called the "gay bomb," which is exactly what it sounds like. When detonated, the bomb would emit female sex pheromones, thereby compelling those in the blast radius to be sexually attracted to one another. The weapon was abandoned when it failed to function properly and now only lives on as a 30 Rock joke.

The U.S. Planned to Go to War with Cuba

At the height of the Cold War, United States would stop at nothing to get ahead. Among their most sinister plans was Operation Northwoods. Through Northwoods, top military leaders concocted various plans to create public support for a war against Cuba with the ultimate goal of overthrowing dictator Fidel Castro. Their plans detailed how they would go about fostering such public support, including but not limited to killing innocent U.S. civilians and sinking boats of Cuban refugees. Northwoods was approved by every level of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but was vetoed at the top level by President John F. Kennedy.

Wed, 24 Aug 2016 10:54:04 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/crazy-information-the-government-declassified-recently/chris-lindvall
<![CDATA[The Most Controversial Elections In U.S History]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/controversial-american-elections/kellen-perry

Presidential elections in the United States have always been crazy. From the first proper presidential campaign in 1800 to whatever the hell is happening in 2016, choosing the Commander-in-Chief has been a controversial and all-around bonkers process, with mudslinging, backstabbing, bizarre characters, lies, conspiracies, and shady deals behind giant, expensive doors. But what were the most controversial elections? What were the closest elections in American history? How about the craziest elections? Or the utter disasters? The worst elections ever?

It’s hard to say which contest was the most controversial. Nearly every election in US history has had its share of odd, controversial moments - many thanks to the much-derided electoral college - and just about all of them have changed history significantly, upsetting wide swaths of people. Many of the closest elections ever - a far more objective topic, for sure - are also, by their very nature, super-controversial and crazy to watch. As far as the worst goes… well, you’ll have to make up your own mind about that. Read on for some of the most unusual, scandalous, rage-inducing, and just plain bizarro US presidential elections of all time.  

The Most Controversial Elections In U.S History,

1948: Truman Defeats Dewey and "Dewey Defeats Truman"

If you think 21st-century discourse about presidential candidates is ugly and childish, well, it’s pretty much always been that way. The Chicago Tribune, for example, called Harry S. Truman a “nincompoop” during the 1948 election. Truman later got his revenge, in a roundabout way, when the Tribune famously published “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” prematurely on its front page. The paper was just relying on the major pollsters of the day, including George Gallup. George’s son George Gallup Jr. told The Los Angeles Times in 1998 that the pollsters simply “stopped polling a few weeks too soon.” The Gallup company lost 30 newspaper clients following the debacle. 

1800: Least Democratic Election Ever

Historians say American democracy’s “distinctive bipartisan character,” for better or for worse, was invented in the election of 1800. It was an election full of religious attacks, especially on alleged atheist Thomas Jefferson. Elections were much different at the time, as CNN points out: “Pre-12th Amendment, Electoral College members each had two votes for president, and there were no official tickets. Whoever garnered the most votes was president, and second place took the vice presidency.”

But Thomas Jefferson tied with Aaron Burr in electoral votes at 73, while John Adams had 65. So who would be President? What about VP? Congress had to decide, eventually choosing Jefferson, with Burr as Veep (Alexander Hamilton campaigned hard for Jefferson, but later famously killed Burr in a duel). Besides forcing the government to change how elections were conducted, it’s also considered to be a wildly undemocratic election: only about 550,000 people voted out of a total US population of 5.3 million.

1960: TV Kills the Radio Star

Televised debates didn’t ruin Richard Nixon’s 1960 campaign, but they sure didn’t help: on radio, audiences chose Nixon as the “winner” of the September 26, 1960 debate, but TV audiences say it was more like a tie.

John F. Kennedy was the youngest president ever, known for his effortless charm and good looks. Before taking office, his campaign prepared him well for televised debates. Historians say Nixon wasn’t ready at all, and his performance was a turning point in his campaign. How bad was it? Nixon appeared “sickly and sweaty” and “pale and underweight” following a recent hospitalization. He also refused to wear make-up and didn’t shave. To be fair to the Nixon campaign, the four debates were not only the first-ever televised presidential debates, they were also the first presidential debates ever (the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates were for a senatorial race).

To make thing worse for Nixon, there were also suspicions of fraud in Texas and evidence of fraud in Illinois. Nixon insisted he was robbed. As Slate reports, at a 1960 Christmas party, he was heard greeting guests by saying, "We won but they stole it from us." A grudge was born that lasted into the Watergate years and beyond.

2016: It's the End of the World as We Know It (And Putin Feels Fine)

Regardless of the outcome of the 2016 race, there’s no denying it’s been unusual.

Exhibit A: Donald Trump has called for Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server. That’s unprecedented. (The consensus is that Russia already hacked the Democratic National Committee.) As Zack Beauchamp argues, Trump is objectively “deeply committed to reorienting American foreign policy in a pro-Russian direction.” That’s unprecedented. There are several lists online compiling, with legitimate sources, all of the unprecedented things Trump is doing and saying.

Exhibit B: Hillary Clinton has a whole host of controversies and scandals dogging her. She’s also the first American woman to accept the presidential nomination of any major political party, which is inherently unusual (and unfortunately controversial). Then there’s Bernie Sanders and his passionate followers that refuse to let things go

1876: Reconstruction Ends and Race Relations Sour

Some historians think 1876 was the “ugliest, most contentious and most controversial presidential election in U.S. history.” That’s saying a lot. Here’s why: Rutherford Hayes (R) lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden (D) by about 250,000 votes. That was for certain. Everything else, however, was a giant, unprecedented mess.

At one point, Tilden was just one electoral vote shy of clinching the presidency (winning 184 out of the 185 he needed) while Hayes was 20 short. There were still exactly 20 electoral votes uncounted, split across four states, meaning that if Hayes swept these states, he’d win it all. But both parties ended up disputing the results and accusing each other of fraud, forcing the government to improvise and form a 15-member committee of Congressmen and Supreme Court justices to decide the election. Only one committee member - Justice David Davis - was independent, with the rest evenly split between the parties. Davis, however, was elected to the Senate before the vote took place and resigned from his position as a Supreme Court justice, leaving only Republican justices left to replace him on the committee. Guess how his Republican replacement voted?

The whole debacle nearly triggered another Civil War, but a behind-closed-doors compromise ultimately handed Hayes the “win.” In exchange, “Southern Democrats could reverse with impunity the gains that blacks had made during Reconstruction,” a move that ultimately led to the infamous Jim Crow laws.

2000: Everybody Hates Chad

The election of 2000 was one of the closest ever and was made even harder to call by hanging, dimpled, and pregnant "chads" and confusing butterfly ballots in Florida. The fate of the whole shebang, ultimately, had to be decided by the Supreme Court, which ruled that George W. Bush (R) was the winner.

Many critics think the election was “stolen” from Al Gore (D), including Hillary Clinton, who told this to a crowd in 2015: “When [George's brother] Jeb Bush was governor, state officials conducted a deeply flawed purge of voters before the presidential election of 2000." This so-called “purge” allegedly removed 12,000 eligible voters from the rolls in Florida (Bush won by only 537). Regardless, the whole mess brought voter's rights into the spotlight in a major way and led to the Help America Vote Act (which has had, unfortunately, mixed results).

1836: One Party, Four Candidates

The now-defunct Whig party had an interesting “strategy” in 1836. Instead of having a convention and choosing one candidate to represent them, why not divide and conquer? The Whigs chose a whopping four nominees to do battle with Larry David’s hair twin Martin Van Buren (pictured). They ran in different parts of the country, hoping to force the House to ultimately decide the Presidency. It didn’t work: Van Buren edged by in the popular vote but won the electoral vote 170 to 124. The Whigs having “no real consensus or policies” and “no political platform” unsurprisingly worked against them.

1992: Ross Perot Happens

The 1992 presidential election could have been relatively tame: sure, Bill Clinton’s character was brought into question (allegations of past marijuana use, draft dodging, Gennifer Flowers) and President George H.W. Bush faced backlash over reneging on his tax pledge, but third-party candidate Ross Perot’s impact on the election was “remarkable and unique” and “legitimately odd” to experts.

If you’re too young to remember, here’s why, in a nutshell: Perot was a billionaire, but he asked people for $5 donations on Larry King Live (and also had legit half-hour infomercials where he would talk about the issues). He quit the race because Republicans were allegedly trying to “disrupt his daughter's wedding,” but then he got back in the race with only a month to go. Despite his zany antics, he got on the ballot in all 50 states and somehow won 19% of the national vote (“the best third force showing since Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose total in 1912”).

1860: A Nation Ripped in Half

No list of controversial elections would be complete without the election of 1860. Why? It basically triggered the Civil War, which is just about the most inflammatory thing you can imagine an election doing (though it is, admittedly, much more complicated than that). But the election of 1860 also split the Democratic Party in half, motivated more Americans than ever before to vote, and forced an American President to elude assassins (via disguises and sneaky train-switching) even before his inauguration.

1824: Jackson Wins Popular and Electoral Vote (But Still Loses the Election)

How could Andrew Jackson win the most popular votes and the most electoral votes in 1824 and still lose the election? Because the Electoral College requires that a president receives the majority of the electoral votes (i.e. more than half), and Jackson simply didn’t because there were four candidates on the ballot. Jackson received 99 electoral votes, John Quincy Adams received 84, William Harris Crawford received 41, and Henry Clay received 37. To have a majority, 131 votes were needed.

Per the Twelfth Amendment, the House of Representatives had to decide the winner, and they chose John Quincy Adams instead, which made Jackson understandably furious. Speaker of the House Henry Clay didn’t like Jackson at all: "I cannot believe that killing 2,500 Englishmen at New Orleans qualifies for the various, difficult, and complicated duties of the Chief Magistracy,” he wrote to journalist Frank Preston Blair, referring to Jackson’s military experience. To make things worse, Adams chose Clay as his Secretary of State just a few days after his inauguration, which Jackson called a “corrupt bargain.”

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 13:58:44 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/controversial-american-elections/kellen-perry
<![CDATA[Brexit and the History of England's Rocky Relationship with Europe]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/history-of-england-and-europe/will-gish

In June 2016, the people of Great Britain voted to leave the European Union. The decision came as a shock to the world, and immediately affected international markets. To anyone not paying attention to the lead-up to the British Exit (Brexit) vote, the decision and resulting furor seemed like it came out of nowhere. What does anyone really know about this tiny agglomeration of island nations at the edge of the Europe, anyway? The Beatles? Shakespeare? World War II?

While the result of the Brexit vote surprised even those with some knowledge of the turbulent, on-again, off-again relationship between England and continental Europe, resentment of the European Union from the English shouldn't surprise anyone. For the vast majority of recorded history, the relationship between England (and Britain, as a whole), and the rest of Europe has been extremely tempestuous, consisting almost entirely of invasions, attempted invasions, more invasions, counter-invasions, economic conflict that nearly resulted in invasions, and, in the first half of the 20th century, all-out industrialized war.

Read on for a concise but informative history of England's on-again, off-again relationship with Europe.

Brexit and the History of England's Rocky Relationship with Europe,


At some point in the 11th century, not long after William was crowned king of England, western Europeans decided they needed to take the holy lands from the "barbarians" who lived there, the Jews and Muslims (you know, the people who had always lived there, for thousands of years. Those people). Of course, the reality is more complicated than this – there were trade agreements at stake, religious hostilities, and an ongoing fight between Christians and Muslims over Spain – but basically, it was a fight for supremacy amongst these major monotheistic religions.

Regardless, the Crusades were essentially the first major, international military venture taken on by the powers of western Europe, and involved some very uneasy truces. France and Germany led the charge in the 11th century. England entered the fray in the the late 12th century, when Richard I took Cyprus from the Byzantine Empire. Richard instantly spatted with Phillip II of France, who abandoned Richard on the battlefield and took his army with him. The English soldiered on and nearly took Jerusalem, but ran out of supplies. So, they screwed off back to England, and Richard focused on domestic affairs, feeling betrayed by the continental powers who abandoned him at the cusp of victory for them all.

England was involved in some heinous failures in subsequent centuries, as the crusades continued, but none of these efforts rivaled Richard's. If anything, the crusades did nothing but reinforce the English notion that they were better off alone, on their island, than dealing with these fickle jerks from France, Germany, and the Vatican.

Hundred Years' War

If you've ever read Shakespeare's history plays, you know there was all kinds of sh*t going on between France and England during the Middle Ages, in a series of conflicts that became known as the Hundred Years' War. This conflict lasted from 1337 until 1453, and had its origins in the cross-pollination of power between England and France, which happened because of continental invaders conquering England. In a sense, French people left France, conquered England, then decided they wanted France, too.

And that's basically it. English monarchs claimed the French crown and invaded France. There was a lot of fighting. England, smaller, less populated, and less wealthy than France, shocked everyone involved by winning major, decisive victories. Treaties were signed, more fighting ensued, Joan of Arc got involved, the English eventually went back to England, France remained French, and not much was gained or lost by either side, other than maybe pride and some money the French paid England to get lost.

The Romans Arrive to Mixed Reviews

Regional cultures began developing as migrants to Britain settled in the wake of the island's separation from continental Europe around 6100 BC. In lowland England – basically, the southern and central parts of England – small communities developed as farming took hold. This gave rise to villages, and a settled way of life. In Wales and Scotland, nomadic, hunter-gather cultures and fierce warrior people such as the Picts claimed wild, mountainous territory.

In this milieu, the Romans arrived in 55 BC, then again in 54 BC, and finally, with intent on conquering the island and settling, in 43 BC. In some areas, the Romans met serious, violent resistance; so much so in Scotland and Wales, they basically gave up any hope of conquering those places, and even built not one, but two walls between England and Scotland.

The arrival of the Romans marked the beginning of political and social relationships between England and Europe, and the results were decidedly mixed. English farmers who lived in settlements didn't offer tremendous resistance, and even sold large portions of their harvest to the Romans who settled in England, while taking advantage of technology and fortifications offered by the Legions.

However, not all relations were so copacetic. Boudica, an English warrior queen, went on a rampage after Romans broke a treaty with her husband, a local king, raping her and her daughters and pillaging their kingdom after the king's death. What did Boudica do? She killed about 70,000 Romans before she was defeated by the Legions. A tempestuous relationship, to say the least. 

The Age of Discovery Turns England Into a Power Player

In the 15th century, around the time England decided to give up trying to conquer France, Europeans developed ships capable of crossing oceans. This led to the opening of new trade routes with India and east Asia, as well as the “discovery” of the Western Hemisphere.

The advent of this new age allowed England, a relatively small island, to even the playing field with its continental rivals by becoming a trading behemoth. The same situation happened with Holland, another small country, and suddenly these two previously marginal nations became economic forces to rival the almighty Spain.

To England's advantage, it did not have a monarch that exacted crippling taxes on traders, and so the wealth of the nation as a whole exploded, creating a massive merchant class hungry for travel and opportunity. This led to more revenue, and even more growth, through tobacco plantations, slavery, and trade in rum and spices.

Spain eventually became so threatened by England that the Spanish Armada, the most feared naval force in the world, sailed to England, intent on teaching the island and its queen, Elizabeth, a lesson. Instead, Francis Drake whopped the Armada’s ass, with the help of flaming ships and a massive storm. Spanish power went into decline, and the English built a massive empire. 

Britain Splits from Europe - Literally

England's long relationship with continental Europe began before the advent of recorded history. Tens of thousands of years ago, the British Isles (Britain and Ireland) were connected to one another, and to mainland Europe, and early humans migrated back and forth freely between England and the continent.

The oldest human remains found in Britain are at least 35,000 years old, and maybe as many as 40,000 years old. Britain remained part of the European landmass until 6100 BC, 30,000 years or so after people first arrived in the region. So, if you back far enough, Britain had a pretty stable, normal relationship with Europe (at least stable by Neanderthal standards), because it was just another part of the continent.

The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire

Thanks to ocean-crossing ships, the English built one of the great empires in the world, at first with little regard to its European neighbors. The phrase “the empire on which the sun never sets” was coined because the English Empire was so large, it was always daytime somewhere in an English territory.

Around the year 1700, after firmly establishing its global empire, England began to adopt a new political outlook on Europe. To quote the Harvard Business Review, “Rather than seeing themselves as the western fringe of Europe, and treating overseas trade as a way to fund wars to strengthen Britain’s position on the continent, [the English] began seeing Britain primarily as the core of a global trade network.”
From this perspective, England kept peace in Europe, ensuring open and free trade for everyone, while preventing any country from becoming powerful, or greedy, enough to want to dominate its neighbors, and thereby impede economic growth. England played this role of peacekeeper successful for almost two hundred years, though the massive growth in the wealth of European nations and the United States in this period, and the industrialization of the western world, allowed countries - like, for instance, Germany - to gain the wealth and weaponry needed to challenge England for supremacy.

The Normans: England's Last Invaders

In January of 1066, King Edward passed away. King Harold replaced him, but a guy named Duke William in Normandy, France, claimed he was supposed to be the next King of England. It's all a bit convoluted, but William really, really wanted that crown, so he sailed to England with an army in October of that year. William, who you may know as William the Conqueror, defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings, marched to London, and, on Christmas Day 1066, was crowned King of England.

The Norman invasion was the last full-on foreign invasion of England. From 1066 on, English culture developed of its own accord, without sea changes in cultural or military dominance. While the Anglo-Saxons may have established many of the basic things considered English today, the Normans gave rise to everything you learned in Shakespeare class about Britain during the Dark Ages, the medieval period, and even through the Renaissance.

The Anglo-Saxons Are Invited to England but Overstay Their Welcome

Once the Romans settled in England, the country began another period of relative isolation. The local people mixed with Roman soldiers from all over Europe. They intermarried, and advanced indigenous English culture by mixing it with that of the Romans. Eventually, the Legions left Britain to go defend the crumbling Roman Empire, but Roman influence remained.

At the end of the 4th century AD, Vortigern, an English rule, invited Germanic people from what is now northern Germany to help him defend his kingdom against marauders from Scotland. These German people, the Anglo-Saxons, accepted the invitation, showed up in droves, and decided to conquer England and Wales themselves rather than help some other person rule. They also tried conquering Scotland, but got their asses handed to them by the Picts.
Having decided to keep England for themselves, the Anglo-Saxons conquered more area than any other previous local ruler, and established the first English monarchy (though kingdoms were regional, not centralized, at this point). The languages spoken by the Anglo-Saxons merged into one, Old English, and their culture gave rise to the tradition of myth-making that created Beowulf. They also Christianized Britain.

So, in short, the Anglo-Saxons basically started the culture and country we now know as England. And they came from Germany. However, it should be noted that many aspects of Roman-Britain and pre-Roman Britain contributed greatly to the culture of Anglo-Saxon England. They didn't show up and erase everything that came before them, but rather built upon and expanded it.

Henry VIII Invents Protestantism

The advent of Protestantism, or non-Catholic Christianity, owes as much to England's isolationism and defiant attitude toward continental control as it does to any genuinely religious desire to return to the roots of Christianity by stripping away the rituals and codification of worship. If you want the long version of the story, you can check out the first season HBO's The Tudors.

In a nutshell, Henry VIII was already married when he met Anne Boleyn, and he really wanted to shag her, but she refused to be his mistress – if he wanted to sleep with her, he had to marry her. Henry's wife, Catherine of Aragon, was the daughter of Spanish royalty and had strong connections to the Papacy. Under the pretense of Catherine not bearing him a male heir, and the desire to avoid another War of the Roses situation, Henry requested the Pope grant him a divorce from Catherine. The Pope said no. All kinds of craziness ensued, and there was nearly a massive war.

In the end, Henry basically said eff you, divorced Catherine anyway, married Anne, and had Parliament declare him head of the Church of England. The Church of England renounced Papal authority and became an independent, Protestant organization. All this happened around the same time Martin Luther was protesting Papal authority, and it was in keeping with the rise in popularity of a uniquely English form of Christianity called Anglicanism. The island nation once again said screw you, continent, we're doing it our way. 

The Vikings Do What Vikings Do Best

Given that Denmark is only about 350 miles from the eastern coast of England, and Norway only 400 miles, it's inevitable Vikings would show up eventually. After the arrival and settlement of the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings were England's next major contact with Europe. At first, the Vikings had no interest in conquering England (or Scotland). They just wanted to raid and pillage, and that they did. In 793, the Vikings destroyed a monastery. Vikings raided again in 802, and killed 68 monks in 806.
In the middle of the 9th century, the Vikings decided they wanted England, and so they invaded, conquering the kingdoms of Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia. The sole remaining Anglo-Saxon kingdom was Wessex, whose prince and future king, Alfred the Great, led an English army to a vital victory against the Vikings in the Battle of Ashdown, in 871.

After that decisive victory, the Vikings were pushed ever westward, and exerted increasingly little influence on British life. They hung around, however, for nearly 200 years, until King Harold crushed them at Stamford Bridge, in 1066, an important year for other reasons.

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 10:40:36 PDT http://www.ranker.com/list/history-of-england-and-europe/will-gish
<![CDATA[What Sex Was Like in the Wild West]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/wild-west-sex-facts/jacobybancroft

Society has a certain image of the Old West. Though we look back and picture cowboys wandering the wild frontier, guns on both hips, we tend not to wonder what sex was like in the American West. There appears to be good reason for that, as Wild West sex facts are more scarce than you would imagine. Even in a time when prostitution was a staple in almost every town and city, people still didn't talk openly about what they liked to do in the bedroom. This surely owes, in part, to the puritanical nature of American settlers. 

Even though it was a taboo topic, there are a few fascinating tidbits relating to stripping down and doing the naughty naked tango in the Old West. Whether it be how men liked to dress up like women or that oral sex was a little too French for most (Francophiles raise your hands), this list below highlights all the interesting facts about sex in the Wild West. Check out the list and see what American west sex facts titillate you the most. 

What Sex Was Like in the Wild West,

Gender Roles Were Fluid and Homosexuality Was No Big Thing

When you think of the Old West, your mind might conjure images of tough, macho men who embody stereotypically masculine traits. A cowboy riding valiantly on his horse to rescue a poor damsel that's tied to the railroad tracks, for instance. Spitting dip, loading guns, drinking hard, and wailing on whores. 

If that's how you view the Old West, you might be shocked to know how cowboys really viewed homosexuality. Wild West society didn't necessarily label people homosexual or heterosexual, but rather allowed each person to be who they need to be in any given moment. In an interview ("Homos on the Range: How gay was the West?"), University of Colorado at Boulder History Department Chairman Peter Boag, who wrote the book Same Sex Affairs, said, "people engaged in same sex activities weren't seen as homosexual."

When women weren't present in large communities, say a mining camp full of men for example, some men would fill the role of women sexually and domestically, and normal gender roles were challenged. In effect, men in the Old West got it where they could.  

Prostitution Was as American as Apple Pie

One thing is very clear about the Old West: prostitution was a staple to any town or city. What's surprising is the range of prostitution throughout the West. Some places were much how you would expect, dirty and cheap, women walking the streets with a sheet to lay on the ground for f*ck time. Other towns had a more esteemed opinion of prostitution, and were home to grand and eloquent brothels run by bigwig Madams. 

Prostitution was also indicative of socioeconomic classes in Old West society. Most prostitutes were young (30 or younger), largely uneducated and, in many cases, illiterate. Some were immigrants, and pricing was based not only on looks but also nationality and ethnicity. Like the anonymous, easily replaced miners and railroad workers of the American frontier, prostitutes filled a social and economic function necessitated by capitalism, but, as individuals, were largely irrelevant and forgotten. 

Birth Control Involved Ingesting Poison

In an era of rampant prostitution, you might wonder why people weren't popping out kids left and right. It's not like serious protection was used. Condoms were around, but very expensive, so most prostitutes used abortifacients, a generic term for any substance that induces a miscarriage (literally, from the Latin, "that which will cause a miscarriage"). 

Abortifacients contained poisonous ingredients, often from plant sources, that would kill unwanted pregnancy upon arrival. For prostitutes, pregnancy was a major hazard - not only could it kill your career, it might kill you; many women on the frontier died during childbirth. Women were often left with the choice of either dying during childbirth or poisoning themselves to kill an unwanted fetus. 

Oral Sex Was Too French for Cowboys

Oral sex. Something everyone enjoys, yes? Well, actually, as it turns out, no. In his book Slumming: Sexual and Racial Encounters in American Nightlife, 1885-1940, Chad Heap, Associate Professor of American Studies and Undergraduate Advisor of the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at George Washington University and regular contributor to Reddit subsection Ask Historians, explains that fellatio was considered a little too foreign for Americans during the time period (it was a too "French," if you will), and therefore wasn't readily performed. There's evidence that even prostitutes were against it, and would shun other working women who didn't mind giving dome. 

The Slang Was Vastly Different Than Today's Vernacular

Bumping fuzzies, screwing, fooling around, going to pound town, knocking boots, etc. These are all modern-day slang for describing the birds and the bees. Back in the Old West, there was an entirely different vernacular when it came to getting down and dirty. You can read a list of Wild West slang right here; one of the oddest terms on the list, pirooting, means intercourse. Try in out some time. "Hey bae, you down for some pirooting tonight?" 

Some other terms on the list include "g'hal" (a rowdy woman), "get the wrong pig by the tail" (pick the wrong person for some purpose - "When she asked to peg me, I knew I got the wrong pig by the tail."), and "rat trap" (the frame on a woman's dress or skirts).

Sex Education Didn't Do Much Educating

If you wanted a proper education about how humping parts worked or what an STD was, the Old West was not the place to be. Packets called "marriage manuals" were available for such purposes in the late 1800s. On top of being inaccurate, these packets stressed the importance of only having sex within marriage. They also highlighted how masturbation was unhealthy because the use of a man's seed for anything other than procreation was frowned upon in the eyes of the Lord. If you wanted to know anything beyond that, you'd have to learn by doing. 

Sexual Assault Was Rampant

A very sad, very real fact of the Old West was that women didn't have a lot of options in life or work. Most became teachers, nurses, or prostitutes. Women were emphatically considered secondary to men in social standing, which created a culture of endemic sexual assault and rape. There were few, if any, avenues of recourse for those who were raped or assaulted. Women knew that their attackers wouldn't be hunted down by police, so most kept quiet.

This horrifying article makes the case that, although rape culture is more widely discussed in the 21st century than it was in the Wild West, the culture of silence that effected raped and assaulted women in the 19th century is still alive and well.

According to author and women's crisis worker Nancy Williams, "In the last 150 years, we’ve gone from the steam engine to the jet engine, from horses to Lear jets and from outhouses to gold-plated indoor plumbing, yet the progress women have made in defending against sexual assault really hasn’t matched the pace of technology.” 

Cross Dressing Went Both Ways

In his research of the Old West, historian Peter Boag was shocked to discover how common cross dressing was. It's easy to understand why women would feel the need to dress as men to get ahead, but Boag found plenty of instances of men dressing as women, which seems counter intuitive to the modern image of cowboys strutting about like John Wayne. 

During a talk on sexuality and gender issues of the American West at the University of Wyoming, Boag stated, "what I was unprepared for when I started uncovering all these female to male cross dressers, I also started to uncover hundreds of stories of men who dressed as women." 

Privacy During Sex? Think Again

It was common in the Wild West for families to live in small houses, usually made up of one large room. So, naturally, when it came down every member of a family sharing one space, privacy went out the window. In which case, it's fair to question how you'd have sex when sleeping in a bed with your children or other relatives. 

Writing on the development of privacy, and sex as a private practice, in Europe, author Brian M. Watson explains that, during the Reformation, figures such as Martin Luther created a sanctity of privacy surrounding the act of sex, something previously nonexistent. In the United States, sexual privacy - and privacy in general - was afforded by class. Money meant privacy, and most in the Wild West didn't have any money. 

So then what happened in those one room houses? You did what they had to do to get off.

Mon, 07 Nov 2016 11:57:04 PST http://www.ranker.com/list/wild-west-sex-facts/jacobybancroft
<![CDATA[When Was America Greatest?]]> http://www.ranker.com/list/greatest-american-eras/jacob-shelton

Donald Trump’s campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again,” but what does that even mean? Depending on who you are, when you were born, and which socio-economic class you lucked into, the time period when America was great could be anywhere from the Revolutionary era to the dot-com bubble of the early 2000s. Even the greatest eras in American history were marred by ugliness and misfortune. Booming economic times shared space with terrorist attacks and the displacement of indigenous people. Put on your thinking cap and vote up the times when was America great.

From the Civil Rights movement to the waves of feminism that date back to the first great awakening, every era has had something going for it. But when was America last great? What era can you look back on and place a demarcation saying there’s been a steady decline in greatness ever since? Have we hit that moment in history yet? According to Donald Trump, the answer is yes, but what era do you think we should return to? What era do you think we should try to emulate?

Vote up the periods of U.S history to which you think “Make America Great Again” refers.

When Was America Greatest?,

The Civil War

What made it great: Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, America developing the modern Navy

What made it not so great: Slavery, the rampant bloodshed brought on by a mixture of economic policy and the desire to make people work for free, all of that fife music


What made it great: Slavery officially being not cool, the beginning of the public school system, railroad subsidies

What made it not so great: Things were still awful for African Americans, the Panic of 1873, the much-disputed 1876 Presidential election

The Space Race

What made it great: Neo-futurism, we went to the moon, a massive jump in technology.

What made it not so great: Sending animals into space to die, rocket development, finding exactly zero space aliens

The Revolutionary Era

What made it great: America winning its independence, no cell phones, people still loved poetry.

What made it not so great: All that fife music, slavery, no indoor plumbing

The Post-WWII Boom

What made it great: Massive economic prosperity, malte shoppes, The Catcher in the Rye

What made it not so great: Racism, the threat of atomic annihilation, Atlas Shrugged