20140831

Jesus wasn't necessarily a carpenter

Jesus wasn't necessarily a carpenter. The word Tekton (root of technology, technical) was translated to carpenter, but means more generally a skilled maker or builder in various mediums.

Elephants

Adult elephants can't jump.

Karaoke

Karaoke means "empty orchestra" in Japanese.

Mosquito Repellents

Mosquito repellents don't repel. They hide you. The spray blocks the mosquito's sensors so they don't know you're there.

Flatulence

According to doctors, humans have an average of 14 episodes of flatulence per day.

America's National Symbol

The bald eagle became America's national symbol when it was placed on the great seal in 1782. 

One member of Congress who did not support the bald eagle selection was Benjamin Franklin. He thought the Continental Congress should have selected a more uniquely American bird. 

His choice was the turkey.

Alaska

Alaska is so big that you could fit 75 New Jerseys in it.

Harry Houdini

Straightjackets, jail cells, coffins, and all sorts of chains, locks and shackles couldn't confine Harry Houdini. A master illusionist whose daring stunts remain legend eight decades after his death, Houdini was the first superstar of magic. But how much do we really know about him? The new History Channel movie "Houdini," airing over two nights Sept. 1 and 2 with Adrien Brody in the title role, explores his life and his psyche — and reveals how he accomplished some of his greatest tricks. We see Houdini hiding a key inside a false finger and making the long-silent Kremlin carillon ring for Czar Nicholas and his family by having an associate fire a rifle at the bell on cue.

But even more startling is the revelation that he worked undercover for many years, spying on royalty and political leaders of Europe for the American and British governments.

The book "The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero" by William Kalush and Larry Sloman goes deeper into Houdini's espionage adventures and divulges more "how he did it" secrets about his magic too. The book paints a comprehensive picture of the magician's colorful life. Some highlights:


Project Washtub in Alaska

Fearing a Russian invasion and occupation of Alaska, the U.S. government in the early Cold War years recruited and trained fishermen, bush pilots, trappers and other private citizens across Alaska for a covert network to feed wartime intelligence to the military, newly declassified Air Force and FBI documents show.

Invasion of Alaska? Yes. It seemed like a real possibility in 1950.

"The military believes that it would be an airborne invasion involving bombing and the dropping of paratroopers," one FBI memo said. The most likely targets were thought to be Nome, Fairbanks, Anchorage and Seward.

So FBI director J. Edgar Hoover teamed up on a highly classified project, code-named "Washtub," with the newly created Air Force Office of Special Investigations, headed by Hoover protege and former FBI official Joseph F. Carroll.

The secret plan was to have citizen-agents in key locations in Alaska ready to hide from the invaders of what was then only a U.S. territory. The citizen-agents would find their way to survival caches of food, cold-weather gear, message-coding material and radios. In hiding they would transmit word of enemy movements.

This was not civil defense of the sort that became common later in the Cold War as Americans built their own bomb shelters. This was an extraordinary enlistment of civilians as intelligence operatives on U.S. soil. More

20140830

Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Robert LeRoy Ripley (December 25, 1890 – May 27, 1949) was an American cartoonist, entrepreneur and amateur anthropologist, who created the Ripley's Believe It or Not! newspaper panel series, radio show, and television show which feature odd facts from around the world.

Subjects covered in Ripley's cartoons and text ranged from sports feats to little known facts about unusual and exotic sites; but what ensured the concept's popularity may have been that Ripley also included items submitted by readers, who supplied photographs of a wide variety of small town American trivia, ranging from unusually shaped vegetables to oddly marked domestic animals, all documented by photographs and then depicted by Ripley's drawings.

Ripley's cartoon series was estimated to have 80 million readers worldwide, and it was said that he received more mail than the President of the United States.

He became a wealthy man, with homes in New York and Florida, but he always retained close ties to his home town of Santa Rosa, California.

Ripley's ideas and legacy live on in Ripley Entertainment, a company bearing his name and owned since 1985 by the Jim Pattison Group, Canada's 3rd-largest privately held company. Ripley Entertainment airs national television shows, features publications of oddities, and has holdings in a variety of public attractions, including Ripley's Aquarium, Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museums, Ripley's Haunted Adventure, Ripley's Mini-Golf and Arcade, Ripley's Moving Theater, Ripley's Sightseeing Trains, Great Wolf Lodge overlooking Niagara Falls, Guinness World Records Attractions, and Louis Tussaud's wax Museums.

The View-Master

The View-Master was originally for adults. The device was used to help soldiers recognize ships, planes, and artillery from afar.

The movie 'Poltergeist' used real skeletons

Poltergeist was released in 1982 and was the most successful of the Poltergeist film trilogy.

The film itself is considered cursed, because some of the people associated with the film have died very prematurely. The production used real human skeletons when filming the swimming pool scene.

Many of the people on the set were alarmed by this and led others to believe the "curse" on the film series was because of using real skeletons.

Craig Reardon, a special effects artist who worked on the film, said at the time that it was cheaper to purchase real skeletons than plastic ones, as the plastic ones involved labor in making them.

Williams was not afraid of the prop skeletons, but she was nervous working in water around so many electrically powered lights.

Producer Spielberg comforted her by being in the water during her scenes, claiming that if a light fell into the pool, they would both be killed.


20140829

Go West, young man

New York Tribune founder Horace Greeley is best known for saying, “Go West, young man.” 

Problem is, he didn’t say it. The quote actually came from Indiana newspaper editor John B.L. Soule. 

In fact, Greeley’s own comments regarding the West were less than encouraging. In 1859, while traveling across Utah, he wrote, “The desolation seems irredeemable.” Twelve years later, he proclaimed, “This Daniel Boone business is about played out.”

20140828

Navy Seal Dogs

Cairo, like most canine members of the elite U.S. Navy SEALs, is a Belgian Malinois. The Malinois breed is similar to German shepherds but smaller and more compact.

German shepherds are still used as war dogs by the American military put the lighter, stubbier Malinois is considered better for the tandem parachute jumping and rappelling operations often undertaken by SEAL teams. Labrador retrievers are also favored by various military organizations around the world.

Like their human counterparts, the dog SEALs are highly trained, highly skilled, highly motivated special ops experts, able to perform extraordinary military missions by Sea, Air and Land (thus the acronym SEAL).

The dogs carry out a wide range of specialized duties for the military teams to which they are attached: With a sense of smell 40 times greater than a human's, the dogs are trained to detect and identify both explosive material and hostile or hiding humans.

The dogs are twice as fast as a fit human, so anyone trying to escape is not likely to outrun Cairo or his buddies.

The dogs, equipped with video cameras, also enter certain danger zones first, allowing their handlers to see what's ahead before humans follow.

As well, the dogs are faithful, fearless and ferocious “incredibly frightening" and efficient attackers.

When the SEAL DevGru team (usually known by its old designation, Team 6) hit bin Laden's Pakistan compound, Cairo's feet would have been four of the first on the ground.

And like the human SEALs, Cairo was wearing super-strong, flexible body Armor and outfitted with high-tech equipment that included "doggles" - specially designed and fitted dog goggles with night-vision and infrared capability that would even allow Cairo to see human heat forms through concrete walls.

In World II Japan developed a suicide torpedo (Kaiten)

The very first model was nothing much more than a Type 93 torpedo engine compartment attached to a cylinder that would become the pilot's compartment with trimming ballast in place of the warhead and other electronics and hydraulics. The torpedo's pneumatic gyroscope was replaced by an electric model and controls were linked up to give the pilot full control of the weapon.

The original designers and testers of this new weapon were Lieutenant Hiroshi Kuroki and Lieutenant Sekio Nishina. They were both to die at the controls of Kaitens, Lieutenant Kuroki in a very early training prototype.

In total six models of Kaiten were designed, Types 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 being based on the Type 93 torpedo. The Type 10 was the only model based on the Type 92 torpedo.

Early designs allowed the pilot to escape after the final acceleration toward the target. There is no record of any pilot attempting to escape or intending to do so, and this provision was dropped from later Kaitens, so that, once inside, the pilot could not unlock the hatches. The Kaiten was fitted with a self-destruct control, intended for use if an attack failed or the impact fuse failed.

Toy Story

Before Pixar settled on Toy Story, other names suggested include: Made in Taiwan, Moving Buddies, and Toyz in the Hood.