Crazy, Fascinating & Horrifying:  Latest Edition

tags: Crazy, Fascinating & Horrifying

Each week we come across stuff that's weird.  Sometimes it's horrifying.  This is where we're sharing what we find. Make of it what you will! The text comes directly from the websites we’re hyperlinking.

The proposal took place at Blaenavon ironworks, South Wales, during a Second World War commemoration.

Mr Sweet, 21, got down on one knee to propose to his 19-year-old girlfriend Marcela Montoya while the two were dressed in authentic 1940s German uniforms.

“In his final days [as Defense Department inspector general a decade ago, Joseph Schmitz] allegedly lectured Mr. Crane on the details of concentration camps and how the ovens were too small to kill 6 million Jews.”

In the summer of 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the general who led American forces to victory during World War II, met with advertising hotshot Rosser Reeves to discuss how to translate his military fame into political gain. The slick salesman sold the candidate on a dramatically new approach to television: a 30-second advertising spot campaign. Though television ownership was skyrocketing, Ike initially resisted. Could he really articulate his qualifications and policy stances in 30 seconds?

Eventually he said yes, and advertising executives and motion picture producers joined together to launch “Eisenhower Answers America!” Led by showmen from Hollywood and Madison Avenue, the spot campaign showcased the potential of advertising, entertainment and political consulting in presidential politics. His team’s media innovation nationalized a celebrity political culture and ushered in the modern candidate-centered campaign.

Property tax—one of the most criticized taxes on U.S. residents—stems from a system put in place by William the Conqueror.

Property tax, surveys find, is the most hated of all taxes. Why is it, detractors say, that you have to keep paying the government on something that you own—forever? Or, in the words of one protester on YouTube, property tax is “oxymoronic, unjust, and un-American!”

On that last point, he’s onto something, at least on a literal level: The origins of the property tax aren’t American at all. It, instead, has roots that date back to Europe’s feudal system. First instituted in England by William the Conqueror in 1066, the early tax system worked this way: A king (or conqueror) took over all the land in a given territory. He would then divide it among his lieutenants and supporters, who would pay him (with money or services) in order to keep that land. In return, landholders enjoyed the king’s protection and were able to rent the property out to others—who would live and work the land—for a fee. The punishment for nonpayment was forfeiture of the land, which could result in a considerable loss of money and status.

The Incas were rumored to have hidden their treasure in a secret, remote city deep in the Peruvian jungle. But no amount of searching has ever uncovered its location.

In the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors reached the town in the majestic Andes mountains that served as the political seat of the sprawling Incan Empire. For over three centuries, the Incas had developed a complex and thriving civilization. They built stunning strongholds in the mountains (if you need convincing, just take one look at Machu Picchu); they carved out a mind-boggling series of trails that extended over 14,000 mountainous miles and across what are now six different countries; and they collected gold, silver, and other opulent symbols of wealth…and lots of it.

It was stories of these riches that captured the explorer Francisco Pizarro’s attention. So, in 1524, he set sail from Spain, leading a crew of conquistadors headed for the New World with the gleam of gold in their eyes.

In 18th-century America, colonial society and Native American society sat side by side. The former was buddingly commercial; the latter was communal and tribal. As time went by, the settlers from Europe noticed something: No Indians were defecting to join colonial society, but many whites were defecting to live in the Native American one.

This struck them as strange. Colonial society was richer and more advanced. And yet people were voting with their feet the other way.

The colonials occasionally tried to welcome Native American children into their midst, but they couldn’t persuade them to stay. Benjamin Franklin observed the phenomenon in 1753, writing, “When an Indian child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian ramble with them, there is no persuading him ever to return.”

Dummying, or “Greeking” text—creating jabberwocky or unreadable words to demonstrate the look of typeset columns or headlines—has had a long and significant role in printing in the years since Gutenberg changed the world. The standard usage, created by an anonymous printer in the 16th century, goes like this:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui offi cia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

The nonsense words Lorem ipsum, the most frequently used Latin words in dummy text, have roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 B.C. According to lipsum.com, a Virginia Latin professor, Richard McClintock, researched one of the obscure Latin dummy text words—consectetur—and discovered it comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of De finibus bonorum et malorum (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, a treatise on the theory of ethics that was very popular during the Renaissance. The essential line “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet …” comes from section 1.10.32.

The Eighteenth Amendment went into effect on January 16, 1920, turning the once wet nation into a land of temperance. Although speakeasies and organized crime provided opportunities for the populace to continue their drinking habits, the per capita consumption of alcohol drastically dropped during the 13 years of Prohibition. Breweries and bars, forced out of alcohol production, turned to different industries that could help them outlast the ban. Coors expanded its pottery business, Pabst Blue Ribbon made cheese, and Yuengling and Anheuser-Busch made ice cream.

Frank D. Yuengling’s creation of the Yuengling’s Ice Cream Corporation was not just a method to keep his business afloat during Prohibition—it was a smart business move. Ice cream had been gaining widespread popularity in the United States since the late 19th century with the introduction of the ice cream soda, sundae, and cone. Advancements in refrigeration techniques also allowed for more businesses to sell ice cream. After the Volstead Act went into effect, the Brewers’ Board of Trade routinely received inquiries from ice cream parlors to buy the equipment and facilities from now-prohibited liquor businesses.[i]With the absence of alcohol, converting bars to soda fountains and ice cream parlors satisfied Americans’ need for a luxury treat.

Native American team names mean honor and respect. That’s what executives of pro sports clubs often say. History tells a different story.

Kevin Gover punctuates this point with a rueful smile. He is director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and a citizen of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. The Capitol dome looms outside the windows of his fifth-floor office as he talks about the historical context of an era when Native American mascots proliferated like wildflowers.

Baseball’s Boston Braves adopted their team name in 1912. The Cleveland Indians took theirs in 1915. Scores of high schools and colleges across the country assumed these and other Indian team names in the 1920s and 1930s, even as so-called civilization regulations forbade Native Americans to speak their languages, practice their religions or leave their reservations.

This meant real American Indians could not openly perform ceremonial dance at a time when painted-up pretend ones could prance on sidelines, mocking the religious rituals of what a dominant white culture viewed as a vanishing red one.

Here’s a familiar-but-unfamiliar story. It was a hot summer night. An incident in a black section of town led to a confrontation between white policemen and an African-American. Shots were fired, and the African-American suspect was taken to jail. When word of the incident reached the larger community, rumors circulated that the police had killed a black man who tried to intervene. In response, a crowd of over 100 African-Americans marched on the local police station, and the march turned into a riot. By the time it was over, 20 people had died, including 15 whites — four of whom were policemen.

These days, we see similar but smaller-scale stories in the news all too often. Each new incident lingers in the news for days or weeks.

But this incident isn’t new. It could have been the Watts section of Los Angeles in 1965. It could have been Newark or Detroit in 1967, or Washington D.C. in 1968. It could have been these or many other cities that suffered race riots during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s — but it was none of these.

This incident occurred in Houston, Texas, in 1917.

What? You never heard of the Camp Logan Riot? It is a compelling story in its own right — and the reason most Houstonians have never heard it is even more compelling.

The Chancellor’s Task Force on UNC-Chapel Hill History is designing an indoor exhibit to explain the history of Carolina Hall.

Three panels will comprise the exhibit, which the task force plans to introduce sometime in November.

“The first section of the exhibit is about William Saunders and his era in North Carolina, which is broadly talking about post-Civil War Reconstruction and how he came to be associated with being a part of the (Ku Klux Klan) and those issues,” said Cecelia Moore, University historian and project manager for the task force.

“Then the second section, or panel, is the early 1920s when the building was named after him, and what was happening here at UNC and the issues at the state at that time.”

The third panel will discuss students’ involvement in the decision to change the name of Saunders Hall.

Ludwig II was hell-bent on creating the most beautiful palaces in Europe—including a replica of Versailles on an island. It was an obsession that would cost this mad gay king his crown.

It’s a question I think we all should ask ourselves from time to time: What would you do if you were a mentally unstable, sexually repressed king infatuated with Louis XIV?

If you’re Ludwig II, King of Bavaria from 1864 to 1886, the answer is to deplete nearly nine centuries of accumulated family wealth trying to build a replica of Versailles on an island in a lake in eastern Bavaria.

Ludwig II, also known as the Swan King, was one of the most famous royals of 19th-century Europe.

The rumbling started on the afternoon of May 22, 1960. Sergio Barrientos, then about 8 years old, was walking down a street in his hometown in southern Chile when the ground started to shake. He remembers electrical wires swinging from the telephone poles — so violently that they slapped each other from opposite sides of the street.

"At the same time, I saw some of the chimneys falling down through the roofs of the houses," says Barrientos.

The ground shook so hard that he was knocked off his feet — unable to stand for about 10 minutes as the earth heaved….

"The whole country stretched during this earthquake," explains Barrientos. "The coast moved toward the west. That increased the area of the country itself."

The quake expanded the country of Chile by an area equal to about 1,500 football fields. It also caused a lot of destruction. Twelve hours after the shaking stopped, a tsunami smashed into Hawaii. Twelve hours later, another tsunami smashed into Japan.

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