Author, Speaker, Educator, Poet, Business Advisor to Social Entrepreneurs, Global Goodwill Ambassador and Humanitarian. DhAnAnJay ParKhe .Chooses Mentees to help them learn Strategies and Execution of the Art, Craft and Science of Doing Better, Still Better to be Able to Beat in business. Mentoring isn't Sweetener, it is Brutally Honest, Bitter Truth Pill and KickAss is . Many Crack. Few WIN!
When people think of wartime nurses, names like Florence Nightingale spring to mind. But countless lesser-known nurses also made valuable contributions. Unfortunately, history’s memory bank is a lot like a financial bank: when making a large withdrawal, requesting large units of currency often makes the most sense. If asking a teller for $1,000, we would rather request ten $100 bills than 100,000 pennies.
Similarly, when learning about an enormous conflict, we prefer not to study every individual involved in it. Rather, we focus on bigger figures like Florence Nightingale, the $100 bills of history. But sometimes, the pennies of history are actually priceless gems. The following lesser-known nurses saved lives while showing otherworldly courage and toughness.
On Christmas Eve 1944, volunteer nurse Augusta Chiwy nearly became a human Yule log. A bomb decimated her aid station in Bastogne, Belgium, killing 30 people. Remarking on her brush with oblivion, Chiwy reportedly quipped, “A black face in all that white snow was a pretty easy target. Those Germans must be terrible marksmen.”
Chiwy was just that tough. Born to an African mother and Belgian father, she was visiting her father for the holidays when the Battle of the Bulge began. Chiwy was a trained nurse and offered her services to an American physician whose assistants had been killed. Of her own volition, Chiwy withstood a blizzard of bombs and subfreezing cold. She was undernourished, overworked, and sometimes the subject of racism from the soldiers she treated.
Chiwy helped hundreds of American soldiers, even bathing them with boiled snow. But for roughly 70 years, she went unacknowledged. In 2011, the king of Belgium awarded Chiwy the Order of the Crown, and the US government honored her with the Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service.
People called them “the mad Englishwomen,” but one of them was Scottish, and both were just insanely brave. Elizabeth “Elsie” Knocker and Mairi Chisholm (the Scot) traveled to Belgium at the outset of World War I to work as ambulance drivers. The women shared a love of motorcycles and soon shared an idea that made them legends.
While transporting troops, Knocker noticed a serious problem. Because of the distance she had to travel, soldiers often died of shock before reaching the hospital. She proposed treating wounded soldiers near the front lines but was roundly rejected. Women weren’t allowed within 5 kilometers (3 mi) of all that bloodshed. Ignoring orders, she and Chisholm established a makeshift medical facility 4.6 meters (15 ft) from a trench.
Working from the cellar of a dilapidated house, the duo dispensed aid to an estimated 23,000 casualties over four years. They also attracted attention from prominent people like Marie Curie (who discovered radium) and the king of Belgium. Their efforts earned them medals in 1915 from the king himself. The women soldiered on until 1918, when a gas attack incapacitated them.
During World War II, Vivian Bullwinkel (who later went by her married name Vivian Statham) wanted to join the Australian Air Force, but her flat feet disqualified her. Undeterred from serving, she became an Australian Army Nurse in 1941. The following year, she served in Singapore but was forced to flee alongside 64 other nurses. Unfortunately, Japanese torpedoes intercepted their ship.
Only 22 nurses made it off the ship alive. Bullwinkel latched onto a lifeboat and floated for hours until she and the remaining nurses reached the island of Bangka. One day later, Japanese forces rounded up all the women, marched them to the sea, and shot them. Only Bullwinkel survived. A bullet pierced her abdomen but missed all her vital organs. Bullwinkel feigned death until the coast was clear and then spent 12 days treating injured British soldiers on the island.
Soon, they surrendered to the Japanese. To avoid being shot again, Bullwinkel hid her nurse’s uniform. She lived as a POW for three years, secretly documenting the torture she endured on Bible pages. Her weight dropped to a skeletal 25 kilograms (56 lb), but all the while, she continued caring for the sick and wounded. After the war, Bullwinkel became Australia’s most decorated nurse.
During the last month of the Vietnam War, President Gerald Ford launched Operation Babylift, a program that transported South Vietnamese orphans to the Philippines and the United States. The first flight literally crashed and burned. An explosion caused the plane to slide across a rice paddy, go airborne for 0.8 kilometers (0.5 mi), and then slam into an irrigation ditch, where it split into four sections.
Aboard the aircraft were 250 orphans, dozens of crew members, and Nurse Regina Aune. The crash sent Aune flying across the plane’s upper deck. The accident fractured one of her feet, one of her legs, and one of her vertebrae.But it didn’t break her will to save lives. Aune carried 80 children to safety. Once she exhausted all of her strength, she asked to be relieved from her duties and then lost consciousness.
Because of her heroism, Aune became to first woman to receive the Cheney Award for valor by an airman.
6Eleanor Thompson And Meta Hodge
Generally speaking, hospitals are where people are cured, not killed. But warsometimes blurs that distinction. In World War I, hospitals turned into targets thanks to the advent of air raids. In 1918, the Germans attacked a series of medical facilities in France. Among them was Canadian Stationary Hospital Number 3, located in Doullens. A bomb hit in the middle of an operation, instantly killing three people.
The blast also buried nurses Eleanor Thompson and Meta Hodge under rubble. Rather than running for their lives once they resurfaced, the die-hard duo started putting out fires and turning over coal heaters to prevent patients’ beds from bursting into flames. They then oversaw the evacuation of the patients, ignoring their own injuries until everyone else was safe.They were among the first Canadian women ever to be awarded for valor.
Before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, many American nurses traveled to the Philippines in search of sunshine and adventure. But in December 1941, the sky was darkened by incoming fighter pilots. After wreaking havoc in Hawaii, the Japanese took aim at Manila.
The nurses sought refuge in the muggy jungles of Bataan, where they looked after 6,000 patients and battled malaria, diminishing food supplies, and constant bombing by the Japanese. As conditions worsened, American forces escaped to the island of Corregidor. There, nurses operated in an underground hospital. Eventually, the GIs reached their breaking point, and the nurses reached a crossroads.
The nurses could either retreat or remain with the POWs. Many chose to stay, forsaking freedom for the sake of helping sick and wounded troops. When the Japanese restricted the prisoners’ daily nourishment to 700 calories, the nurses supposedly fed the men roots, flowers, and even weeds cooked in cream. After more than two years of brutal captivity, they were freed. The nurses were hailed not only as heroes but as angels.
Mary Fleming and Aileen Turner were Irish nurses assigned to the tuberculosis ward at Grove Park Hospital in London. Unfortunately, patients weren’t the sickest thing they saw. In 1940, Germany rained bombs on London, striking the hospital in the process. Seventeen TB patients were trapped until Fleming and Turner guided them to safety.
Even reaching the patients required a heroic effort. Tuner and Fleming had to climb through a window and crawl along a floor on the verge of collapsing. Then they had to shepherd a procession of sick people past burst pipes that spewed burning steam. They succeeded just in the nick of time. Moments after the evacuation, the floor of the TB ward gave way. Afterward, they were awarded the George Medal.
Singing with a fractured jaw sounds extremely difficult. Sister Ellen Savage managed to sing with a broken jaw, broken ribs, and broken people who needed her help. An Australian Army nurse during World War II, Savage sustained severe injuries when the Japanese destroyed her hospital ship, the Centaur. But as the only surviving nurse, she took it upon herself to help the other survivors.
Savage hid her injuries and tended to other hurt passengers. When everyone’s mood sank like a ship, she tried to keep their spirits afloat by leading a sing-along. The group must have sung a long time. Trapped on a raft, they watched helplessly as ships and planes passed without noticing them. And while Savage had to deal with a broken jaw, all the survivors worried about the jaws of the sharks that circled them.
Savage steered the group through those discouraging moments without hinting at the agony she must have felt. She was later honored with the George Medal for her courageous conduct.
In 2012, helicopter flight nurse James Gennari was stationed in Afghanistan when he was as told a three-year-old who’d been shot was headed his way. But when the patient’s flight arrived, there was no child in sight. Instead, Gennari was greeted by a grown man with an explosive lodged in his left thigh.
A 20-year-old Marine had been shot with a 36-centimeter-long (14 in) rocket-propelled grenade intended for tanks. Luckily, the grenade did not detonate; unluckily, a wrong move could have easily changed that fact. Clearly, a scalpel wouldn’t cut it in this situation. However, there was a bombexpert on hand. Gennari was given the option to vacate the area, but he stayed and helped the expert dislodge the grenade.
The ordeal did not end there. Blood came rushing from the Marine’s leg, and Gennari had to stem the hemorrhaging while keeping his patient’s airways open. He then had to help the Marine breathe manually because the ventilator malfunctioned. Gennari’s noble efforts earned him a Bronze Star.
World War I nurses commonly faced finger infections, pathogens, and physical exhaustion from assisting patients nonstop. Those who worked near the front line also confronted enemy fire. Beatrice MacDonald witnessed that danger firsthand in 1917. While working at a casualty cleaning station, she became a casualty of an air raid. Shrapnel slashed one of her eyes, which had to be removed.
Despite losing an eye, MacDonald insisted on seeing the war through to the end. When ordered to return home, she replied, “I have just started doing my bit.” She continued aiding soldiers until the armistice. For the incredible bit of work she did, MacDonald earned the Distinguished Service Cross.
Christianity thrives around the world. People devote their entire lives to a being they cannot see, touch, or feel. They run purely on faith. There are some faithful servants, however, who endure the ultimate mark of their religion. Seen as blessed, these people bear the wounds of Christ’s crucifixion—the stigmata.
Many believe stigmata to be a blessing to the holiest of servants, those saints among men who’ve been touched by Christ. Skeptics, on the other hand, believe that it is merely a medical problem, self-harm, or other explainable malady. The world may never truly know how stigmata appears on the bodies of those chosen, but each case is a parable of interest.
St. Catherine de Ricci (baptized as Alexandrina) was born in Florence, Italy, in 1522. Long before her time as a saint, Catherine showed great dedication to the Catholic religion. As a small child, she showed a great interest in prayer, and at a mere six years of age, her father placed Catherine in a convent with her aunt, Louisa De Ricci. At 14, she was chosen as mistress of novices and then as perpetual prioress at 25.
That all seems pretty normal for the life of a saint, but things took a turn when St. Catherine started up with her ecstasies of passion. From 1542 to 1554, every Thursday and Friday, Catherine would go into a trance in which she would experience the events of Christ’s passion and would “act out” those events. During this time, St. Catherine also experienced the stigmata. She would show bloody wounds on her hands, feet, and head, depicting the crucifixion. With the power of the stigmata and the intensity of St. Catherine’s passions of Christ, she passed into a mystical marriage with Jesus, and in 1542, she was given a ring to symbolize that she was a bride of Christ.
As her “mystical marriage” and stigmata continued, revelers would come from far and wide to see St. Catherine during her passionate moments, but people were so disturbed by her stigmatic wounds and her behaviors during her flights of ecstatic passion that they finally quit coming to see her.Wouldn’t you know it, when the crowds stopped coming, so did the stigmata and the passions. Apparently being blessed with the stigmata only comes when the crowds are big and devout!
There have only been three known stigmatic priests in the 20th century, and Father James Bruse is one of them. Bruse’s journey into the world of stigmatics began in November 1991, when while at his parents’ home, he realized that their religious statues would weep water from their eyes when he entered the room. It began with just one statue, Our Lady of Grace, and then any religious statue he was around would begin to weep; it is thought by Bruse and his followers that thousands of statues wept in his presence.
The day after Christmas of the same year, however, Bruse knew something was changing in his spiritual life. He began to complain of sharp pains in his wrists. Shortly after he experienced this pain, blood began to seep from the unbroken skin on his wrists, feet, and his right side. Bruse had been “blessed” with the stigmata, the wounds of Christ. Along with his newfound stigmatic marks, Bruse also claimed to be able to heal, both spiritual and physically. The stigmata brought him the power to patch up the people in his congregation, but more importantly to Bruse, the influence of the stigmata brought him the power to bring more people back to the church.
Though the stigmata, for Bruse, had great power and allowed him to be on a higher level spiritually, the Diocesan Chancery in Virginia did not make any claims about the authenticity of the stigmata, and because there wasn’t an obvious religious message attached to Bruse receiving the stigmata, they were not willing to put out any ecclesiastical declarations about the situation. Was it an elaborate hoax to bring in believers, or was it a real case of stigmata? If the Diocese can’t make a claim to its authenticity, neither can the average Joe.
Natuzza Evolo was born in Calabria on August 23, 1924. Born into a fatherless family wrought with poverty, Evolo and her siblings were known locally as bastard children. Poverty kept Evolo from school, and she was illiterate her entire life. Often described as a “serene child,” Evolo began praying to the Virgin Mary at an early age for relief from her strife. At six years old, she was given the “gift” of being able to see Jesus, the Virgin Mary, angels, and saints. Her pastor at the time, though impressed by the gift the child had received, told her to keep all this information to herself for her own safety. In 1934, Natuzza’s mother was arrested, and she and her siblings were cast out by the landlady. With nowhere to sleep or stay safe, Evolo prayed to the Madonna to keep her safe and find her shelter. Apparently, while praying, Evolo heard a voice say, “Courage! I will find you a place to live.” A few days later, she was safe and sound in a communal dwelling.
Things in Evolo’s life got a bit more spiritual in the years to come. Throughout her life, she still spoke with Jesus and the Virgin Mary, but she was also afflicted with the markings of Christ; the stigmata ravaged her body and made her painful and bloody every Friday and through the entirety of Lent. During those times, she would lock herself away because the pain from the stigmata was too much for her to bear. Her stigamatic wounds were very profound in that they had the ability to produce hemography, or writing produced by blood. Starting at age 16, Evolo would experience writing and symbols being produced from the blood which wept from her stigmata wounds. Any linen, garment, or other material that touched her weeping skin would come away with markings that were always Christian in nature. Many wanted their own pieces of hemography from Evolo, but they could never be produced on the spot. This “miraculous” writing ability took place on and off during her entire life until her death in 2009.
The power of her blessing of stigmata, as well as her talks with Jesus and His mother, were compounded by the fact that they gave Evolo the power to heal. She could apparently look directly at a person and thoroughly diagnose what was causing their ailments, using correct medical terminology. Evolo would then tell them how to cure themselves. If healing wasn’t good enough, Evolo could also tell the future and spoke languages she had never heard before. Remember that Evolo was illiterate; how could someone with no formal training know multiple languages but not be able to read or write? She never accepted money for her work and had many devout followers. Today, she still has devotees who worship her via her Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Souls Foundation, which she established during her life. Miracle worker or fantastic hoaxer? Her devotees believe in her powers, while doubters are unsure. The secret died with Evolo.
Marie Rose Ferron, known lovingly in history as “Little Rose,” was born on May 24, 1902, in Quebec, Canada. At age three, her family moved to the United States, taking up residence in Massachusetts. She is the first documented person in the United States to bear the markings of the stigmata. Rose, along with her other 14 siblings, were all dedicated to one of the mysteries of the rosary by their mother. Prophetically, Rose was dedicated to the crucifixion of Christ. By six years of age, Rose was already very pious and was seeing visions of the Child Jesus. At seven, Rose was taught, by Jesus himself, a French prayer that she said every day until her death. At 13, Rose became ill, and her hand and foot became paralyzed. The Holy Spirit pulled through again for Marie, as she took holy water one morning after mass, and her hand instantly worked perfectly. Sadly, the holy water only helped with her hand, and she had to remain on crutches for nearly 12 years.
Beginning at age 24, Rose began experiencing Christ’s pain as well as stigmata. In 1926, the stigmata of flagellation appeared as lashings on her back. In 1927, the stigmatic odds were raised, as Rose began to show the crucifixion marks of Christ, weeping marks on her hands and feet. In January 1928, Christ’s crown of thorns was starting to make its mark on Rose’s head. August 1929 marked the first time that Rose cried tears of blood from her eyes. Rose stopped displaying signs of the stigmata on August 1, 1930, but the pain she felt rose to its highest intensity. She suffered crippling agony, and her stigmata wounds would turn purple and ooze an unidentified serum.
It was around this time that rumors began to circulate that all her wounds were faked and that her pain was a hoax. Even many family members turned against Rose. Her spiritual advisor at the time, Father Joseph Baril, even told Rose that her spiritual life was built on “false foundations,” and she began to believe that she was possibly deceived by some illusion. Through her stigmatic time and then afterward while being considered a fraud, Rose was constantly in contact with Christ. She asked Him once, during one of her ecstasies, how much longer it would be until she met Him in Heaven. He told her she would die at age 33.
In April 1936, just a month before her 34th birthday, Rose began to show increasingly intense symptoms: first fainting, followed by the inability to eat or drink and a headache so intense that she was unconscious frequently. Lastly, Rose went deaf and blind. She died on May 11. She almost missed the 33-year mark set by Jesus. Was this girl a true stigmatic plagued with ecstasies of the strife of Christ, or was she the fraud that everyone thought she was at the end of her life? Illusion or fact, Rose’s life was one for the religious books.
Zlatko Sudac was born in 1971 in Vrbnik on Krk island, Croatia. He served in the Yugoslav army in his younger years, and in 1993, he began studying for Roman Catholic priesthood. Within five years, Sudac was ordained a diocesan priest and started serving the community in Krk. After being instated as a priest, Sudac found himself busy with parish life, and nothing seemed amiss until the next year, when things took an unexpected turn.
On April 7, 1999, Sudac received the first mark of the stigmata. It took the form of a cross “imprinted” deeply on his forehead. Concerned for Sudac, his bishop sent him to a clinic in Rome. He remained here for 40 days, and he was tested and investigated intensely. Though it was not concluded that the mark was of divine origin, the hospital and doctors explained that there was no medical reason behind the marking of the cross on Sudac’s forehead. Nearly a year after the cross imprinted on his forehead, Sudac was marked again, this time by true stigmata markings. On October 4, 2000, Sudac received the wounds of Christ on his feet, wrists, and side. Coincidentally, this is the same day of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi—the first known stigmatist.
Along with his stigmata, the power of mysticism flows in the body of Sudac. It is claimed that Sudac has the gift of illumination, the reading of souls, the odor of sanctity, and bilocation, which is the act of being in two places simultaneously. Being young and bearing the stigmata, Sudac has followers all over the world. People line up for days to attend his masses. Church officials are quoted as saying, “No church is big enough for Sudac now.” People are intrigued and mystified by Sudac’s stigmata, and they clamor to churches to view him. Ironically, Sudac doesn’t show his stigmata marks during his masses . . . which seems to be the reason devotees are showing up in the first place.
Until 2010, Sudac was a retreat leader at Beathany Retreat House on the Island of Losinj. Along with being a priest and stigmata bearer, he also has an affinity for art and creates pieces for churches and private homes. Stigmata and art; devotees and money. These are apparently matches made in Heaven.
Francis Forgione, later known as Padre Pio and then Saint Pio, was born May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy. His parents entrusted his life to St. Francis of Assisi, which is why he was baptized as Francis the day after his birth. Apparently a disruptive baby, Francis would cry endlessly. His father, frustrated by the continuous crying, is quoted as saying, “It seems like the Devil has been born in my house.” From that point on, Francis never cried like that ever again.
A member of a deeply religious family, Francis spent much time at the Church of Saint Mary of the Angels; he was baptized, received his first communion, and was confirmed there. A young, pious child, he saw an apparition of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at a mere five years of age. He told Francis then that he would be His follower for life. Dedicating his life at that age marked him forever, and Francis began having visions of the Virgin Mary, which would continue his entire life. A busy five-year-old, Francis also made a deal with his guardian angel, with whom he could communicate to follow all the missions of God.
At the age of 16, Francis entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars, and he took the Franciscan habit and the name Brother Pio. He took his vows on January 27, 1907, and became an ordained priest on August 10, 1910. In September of the same year, he was sent to the friary of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he remained until his death in 1968.
In 1910, Padre Pio first started receiving the marks of the stigmata. He wrote a letter to his spiritual director at the time discussing the “red stains” in the middle of his hands accompanied by “intense pain.” These wounds and pains came and went, leaving Padre Pio with only the memory of the marks. The stigmata was not through with Padre Pio, however. After having his heart experience transverberation, or the lance of love, the stigmata made its appearance again—and this time for good. A month after experiencing the transverberation, Padre Pio received his first visual markings of Christ’s passion. Padre Pio described the occurrence of the stigmata in great detail in a letter to his director. He recounted a great light blinding him and Christ bleeding from him internally. Rays of light came out of his feet, hand, and side. After the vision had ended, he found himself upon the floor with the bleeding wounds. Through the pain, he prayed hymns of gratitude to God.
His fellow Capuchins, marveled by the appearance of Christ’s passion, had religious medical professionals examine Padre Pio. They decided that the marks were definitely of divine origin. People became obsessed with Padre Pio and his stigmata. They flocked from all over the world to gaze upon him and his newly acquired abilities. After receiving the stigmata, Padre Pio could perform miracles. He was an avid healer of the masses and, in many instances, was claimed to be able to levitate. However, his popularity became a concern for the church, and they limited access to Padre Pio for a time. More investigations were done to confirm the authenticity of the stigmata. In 1934, years after the church came to terms with his stigmata and his fame, it let Padre Pio assume his duties again.
Though canonized and revered as a saint, Padre Pio is still touted as a fraud. Historian Sergio Luzzatto released a book entitled Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age, which has information from the Vatican archives which supposedly proves Padre Pio had acquired and maimed himself with carbolic acid to produced his stigmata wounds. These allegations are nothing new where Padre Pio is concerned, as two successive popes thought he was a religious fraud and the stigmata a hoax. A real spiritual marvel or a well-prepared hoaxer? The texts of the religious say one thing, those of historians another. Padre Pio is a saint with a suspicious history.
St. Gemma Galgani was born on March 12, 1878, near Lucca, Italy. Inspired greatly by her devoutly religious mother, Galgani developed an intense love for Jesus at an early age. At a mere eight years old, she lost her mother, and her father sent her to a Catholic boarding school, which Galgani described as paradise. She received her first communion at nine, which was earlier than most. She spoke of her meeting with Jesus at the time and said that no one could understand the impact He made on her soul.
On June 8, 1899, after receiving communion, Galgani experienced her first religious ecstasy in which the Virgin Mary appeared, opened her dress, and wrapped Galgani in it. This was the beginning of her religious experience with spiritual beings. That same day, Galgani received the stigmata. Galgani claims that Jesus came to her with all His wounds open, but instead of blood, she saw flames. The flames then reached from Jesus and touched her, marking her hands, feet, and heart with the passion wounds. Blood poured from the wounds, and the pain was intense. But luckily, Galgani was apparently assisted to bed that night by her guardian angel and the Virgin Mary.
Though the stigmata is a blessed thing to many, Galgani was of poor health and said that she couldn’t deal with it. Her priest told her to pray the wounds away, and it apparently worked, leaving only the scars that would remain with her until her death. Galgani died of tuberculosis at age 25. Known for her patience and gentility, along with her blessed markings, Galgani was made a saint. Of the many cases of stigmata, Galgani’s account, though still very supernatural, was one of humility. She wanted it to go away; she didn’t flaunt it as so many others had. Does this add to the credibility of her account?
Therese Neumann was born in 1898 in Konnersreuth, Bavaria, and was the oldest of ten children. Being the eldest child, she was often put in charge of taking care of her siblings, especially after her father was called to serve in World War I. But taking care of children wasn’t her first calling; Therese’s true ambition was to become a missionary sister in Africa. Sadly, in 1918, she was injured during a fire, causing her to suffer partial paralysis of the spine and later blindness. The formerly hearty girl was left bedridden and unable to work. Since she couldn’t work, she took up the next best thing: intense religious devotion. Therese was especially enamored with St. Therese of Lisieux.
While lying in her bed on May 17, 1925, Therese heard the voice of the newly canonized St. Therese of Lisieux. She asked her if she wanted to be better, and Therese, of course, answered, “Yes!” The saint told her she could now stand and see, but she’d still suffer. And suffer she did—because Therese was about to get the shock of her life and receive the stigmata. On the first day of Lent in 1926, while ill with the flu, she was alone in her room when she experienced a divine ecstasy. As the day went on, she discovered bloody marks on her nightgown on her side and above her heart. The stigmata had chosen her. The side wound continually wept blood, and on the third day of Lent, the hand wounds appeared, followed by tears of blood the next day. St. Therese of Lisieux said she’d suffer, and it did not stop. Later in the year Neumann finally received her bloody crown of thorns.
The wounds never healed, and they stayed on Therese’s body until her death. Dealing with the stigmata is bad enough, but St. Therese of Lisieux came to Neumann during her suffering time and told her, “No more earthly food, you’ll survive on the Eucharist.” It is claimed that after this, Therese didn’t eat anything other than the Holy Eucharist every day and drank no water from 1926 onward. Given that Therese lived until 1962, being a stigmatic is apparently a very thirsty job.
Teresa Musco was born in Caserta, Italy, on June 7, 1943. Growing up with an abusive father and during the chaotic time of World War II, Musco and her family were often left without food, necessities, and moral guidance. However, Teresa proved stronger than the rest; she was often called mature for her age and was extremely devoted to Jesus and prayer. At age five, Teresa had her first vision of the Virgin Mary. After having been struck by her father, Teresa saw the Virgin Mary come to her and explain that her father meant no harm from the beating. The Virgin Mary apparently condones child abuse.
The Virgin Mary continued to visit Teresa regularly, but then another player came in—Jesus. Jesus asked her if she loved Him, and Teresa answered yes. Jesus then said, to Teresa personally, that “He loved her so much that He would be willing to be crucified again just for her.” Apparently, holy figures really loved Teresa, for in 1950, Teresa was visited by Padre Pio, and he told her she’d one day look like him and then proceeded to show Teresa his stigmatic wounds.
Years of hardship and pain continued to plague Teresa, but she maintained her devout lifestyle and her love of Jesus. In October 1968, however, Teresa wept because of pain in her hands and feet. Alone in her room, a tall man entered unexpectedly and said, “I shall leave you my wounds. Do you want to follow me?” Teresa again exclaimed “yes,” and that when she was spiritually crucified. On Holy Thursday 1969, the Virgin Mary came to her all in black and told Teresa, “My beloved son desired to give you His wounds.” At that point, Teresa had a full-blown stigmata episode, complete with bloody hands and feet and a deep pain in her heart. She then went into an ecstatic state and awoke from it bearing the marks of the crown of thorns, which she supposedly took from Jesus firsthand during her ecstatic episode.
Bearing the stigmata for years, Teresa was also prone to causing statues and holy pictures to weep blood. Teresa claimed that the sin of humanitywas too much to bear and caused her great sadness, which was reflected in the weeping effigies. Teresa suffered her whole life, in both the natural and supernatural realm. Apparently, since Jesus was her super-affectionate friend, He came to her and told her that she would suffer no more and that He was taking her away from this world. Teresa and Jesus decided she would leave the world at 33 years of age. August 19, 1976, Teresa succumbed to her illnesses at the time and did die at the prophesied age. Was Teresa actually visited by various holy entities, or was her troubled, hardship-riddled life to blame for her visions?
St. Francis is the poster child for the stigmata. He was the first ever to receive this “blessing,” and people have been following in his bloody footsteps for eons. Though a saint now, Francis was a wild sinner in his early life. Born in Italy in 1181, St. Francis was well-known for his extreme drinkingand his penchant for partying.
After fighting in a battle between Assisi and Perugia, St. Francis was imprisoned for ransom for a year. During this time of imprisonment, you guessed it: He started receiving visions from God. According to legend, after he was released, Christ told St. Francis to devout himself to Him, repair the Christian church, and live a life of poverty. St. Francis then abandoned his frivolous life and became a devotee of the faith, preaching and teaching all over the Christian world. He remained a pious devotee for as long as he lived, maintaining his poverty and living the life of an ultra-Christian.
In 1224, he made the ultimate sacrifice to devotion by undertaking a journey and fasting. He left to climb Mt. La Verna for a 40-day fast. One day during his fast, near the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, a six-winged angel allegedly appeared to St. Francis while he prayed. The angel, as observed by St. Francis, bore the wounds of crucifixion. On September 14, St. Francis received the first marks of stigmata, having the sacred wounds appear on his hands, feet, and sides. These wounds stayed on and bled continually for two years, up until his death.
It is a simple tale, but some believe that this first case of stigmata can actually be traced back to disease. St. Francis suffered from many ailments during his lifetime. Historian Dr. Edward Frederick Hartung even diagnosed St. Francis with a debilitating eye disease known trachoma. Besides the eye infection, it is also believed that St. Francis’s stigmata was due to a severe case of malignant malaria, which causes hemorrhaging of blood through the skin in a medical condition known as purpura. Strangely enough, purpura is usually distributed symmetrically on the hands and feet. Sounds a lot like the stigmata, right?
We will never know what St. Francis was actually suffering from during his life. Whatever it was, it was painful and eventually led to his death two years later. He set the bar for stigmata, and people have been joining the stigmatic legions for years. Do they all have malaria, or are they all divine? The mystery remains.
Death can be devastating, both to the dying person and his loved ones. But how about someone actually documenting his death? Believe it or not, a number of people have done this throughout history.
Some knew they were dying and documented their deaths, taking notes, or sometimes photos and videos, of their slow end. Others didn’t realize they were dying, even though the possibility was there. Some of these people’s notes have valuable medical uses and give us a glimpse into death.
Between September 25 and 26, 1957, Karl Patterson Schmidt, a herpetologist (a person who studies reptiles and amphibians) wrote notes explaining how he felt as he slowly died of a snakebite. The snake that bit him was a boomslang, which is extremely venomous.
The snake had been delivered to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, where Schmidt worked, from the Lincoln Park Zoo. Schmidt was trying to pick the snake up for identification when he was bitten. He started documenting everything that happened thereafter. He even refused medical attention over fears of disrupting the experiment, which he never believed would kill him. (He had no real experience with boomslangs.)
Schmidt listed the foods he ate after the snakebite and the bite’s effects on him. On the day of the bite, he reported bleeding with a chilly and shaky feeling. The next morning, he reported heavier bleeding. He bled from his bowels, nose, and mouth. He also passed blood instead of urine. He became ill that morning and died in a hospital. An autopsy revealed that he died of severe internal bleeding caused by the deadly venom.
In 2006, scientists got an idea of what cyanide tastes like, thanks to a note written by a 32-year-old Indian man only identified as “Prasad,” who committed suicide by drinking a cup of potassium cyanide. Before Prasad’s note, scientists could only guess the taste of cyanide by examining its chemical composition. Most agreed it would have a very unpleasant taste. They were right. Prasad wrote that it was acrid:
Doctors, [this is] potassium cyanide. I have tasted it. It comes through slowly at the beginning, and then it burns, the whole tongue burns and feels hard. The taste is very acrid . . . I had read in some novel about killing a man discreetly with cyanide. It was smeared on the pages of a book that he was reading, and when he touched his tongue with his finger to turn the book’s pages, he died and no one suspected . . . I am now convinced how easily someone can kill another using this . . .
Cyanide is very deadly, even in minute quantities. A mere 300 micrograms is enough to kill a man. Prasad had been defrauded in a gold deal that made him bankrupt. Unable to come to terms with the incident, he mixed potassium cyanide in water and drank it before writing about its effects. He could not even complete the note before the poison took its toll.
8Unnamed German Man
In February 2008, two hunters found the remains of an unnamed 58-year-old man lying on a mattress in the forest in the Solling hill region of Germany. The man had starved himself to death. Beside him was a diary he updated as he died. The German police did not release the diary, so we do not have specific details about its contents, but we know that the man wrote about his deteriorating health and certain problems that were bothering him.
For 24 days, the man wrote about everything that was happening to his body. He drank some water but did not eat any food. He was pained over his joblessness, the strained relationship he had with his daughter, and the loss of his marriage. The diary was last updated on December 13, 2007, which would have been around the time he died. He added that the diary should be given to his daughter.
Like today, drug abuse was a problem in the 1800s. It was even scarier then because doctors were the ones prescribing these drugs to people. We’re talking things like opium, morphine, heroin, and laudanum.
Laudanum is among the least known of these drugs, although it is equally dangerous and very addictive. It was used to treat all sort of ailments, from coughing to epilepsy. Parents purchased it over the counter and administered it to their babies without prescription, sometimes with fatal consequences. Between 1863 and 1867, 236 infants died of laudanum overdoses in England.
In another notable incident, the British Journal of Psychiatry published a letter that a lady addicted to laudanum wrote to her doctor. The unnamed woman rebuked her doctor for giving her a laudanum prescription. She complained that it made her sluggish, addicted, and uninterested in housework, which was abnormal for the ladies of the day.
John Fawcett also put his experience with laudanum in writing. As reported by the April 24, 1897, edition of the New York Journal and Advertiser, Fawcett took an overdose of laudanum and documented its effects on his body as he slowly died. He wrote on how the drug made him drowsy. He also added comments regarding his feelings and thoughts. He said he was committing suicide because he was tired of living.
Fawcett’s note ended with the words, “Died twenty-four hours after taking one ounce of laudanum.” Thereafter, he rolled into a nearby pond to drown. It is believed that Fawcett wrote most of the sentence earlier but left the number of hours blank so that he could fill it just before dying.
On September 12, 1996, 21-year-old Ricardo Lopez committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth. His suicide would have caused little remark if he hadn’t sent a parcel bomb to Icelandic singer Bjork. The existence of the bomb was revealed in the suicide video he made just before his death. The suicide video was part of 22 hours’ worth of video Lopez had started shooting in January.
One person Lopez kept mentioning in his videos was Bjork, who he appeared to be obsessed with. He got jealous when he learned she had a boyfriend, prompting his decision to kill her. He made a bomb with sulfuric acid and mailed it to her London home. He took a pistol with him to the post office on the day he mailed the package so that he could quickly kill himself if he was caught.
An angry Lopez returned home to make the last video. He undressed, painted his face, and sat on a chair, where he shot himself through his mouth while one of Bjork’s songs played in the background. His body was found four days later, after it had started to decay. Officers from Hollywood Police Department recovered the videos, including the last one in which Lopez revealed he’d sent a bomb to Bjork. They informed police in England, and the bomb was recovered before it could be delivered to Bjork.
Cocaine was the first local anesthetic that was widely adopted by doctors. Earlier anesthetics were not reliable and were sometimes dangerous to the patients. Cocaine was reliable. It numbed the parts being operated on and did not knock the patients out. However, it was not as safe as the doctors thought, since it was addictive and could kill in large doses.
At the time, there was no general consensus on the approved dosage, and doctors injected cocaine into their patients as they deemed fit. In 1936, Edwin Katskee decided to inject himself with cocaine to determine its effects on the body. He unintentionally injected himself with an overdose and proceeded to write his observations on notes attached to the walls of his office.
His first entry was “Eyes mildly dilated. Vision excellent.” This was followed by “Now able to stand up,” “Partial recovery. Smoked cigarette,” and “Results will be recorded in Rx books! Have a university and college [illegible] any findings. They better be good because I am not going to repeat the experiment.” His last entry was “paralysis.”
It is assumed that Katskee died immediately after writing this “paralysis.” Unfortunately for him, his notes were not very useful. He did not add the time to them and did not write them in any chronological order, leaving scientists to guess which came first. His writing was also very illegible and sometimes unreadable.
Like Edwin Katskee, Daniel Alcides Carrion experimented on himself and kept notes documenting his death. His notes were very useful, though. Carrion was a medical student in Peru. In 1873, three years before he went to medical school, he witnessed a deadly plague-like disease that killed thousands of people in the towns of Callao and La Oroya. Doctors had never seen anything like it before, and it was fatal to almost anyone who contracted it.
When Carrion was in medical school, Peru recorded a rise in verruga peruanadisease, which was already well-known. Carrion took interest in verruga peruana and researched it extensively. Part of his research involved using himself as a guinea pig to determine how the disease affected the body.
On August 27, 1885, Carrion had his friends pass the disease into his body after he was unable to do it himself. He recorded its first symptoms on September 17. By September 26, he was too weak to continue his notes and had a friend write for him until he died on October 5.
Carrion’s notes gave Peruvian doctors an insight into how verruga peruanaworked. It also proved that the plague Carrion witnessed three years before going to medical school was another form of the same disease. Today, Peruvians consider Carrion a hero and even named a university after him. Verruga peruana was also renamed in his honor. It is now called Carrion’s disease. (It is also sometimes referred to as Oroya fever.)
Dr. Timothy Leary was a famous comedian, actor, and prankster. He lived a fulfilled life, having served in the US Army before venturing into showbiz. He also ran for governor and got jailed for drugs before escaping to Europe and Africa. He was recaptured and sent to prison again. In 1963, he was fired from Harvard for experimenting with a mind-altering drug on undergraduate students.
Leary often made jokes about his impending death after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He set up a website where he informed his fans about his health. A stranger once met him at a party and greeted him with, “Good luck on your death.”
On a later date, Leary said that statement was among the “most powerful things” he had ever been told. This made him promise to “give death a better name, or die trying.” Leary never gave death a better name, but when he finally died trying in 1996, he had his death filmed so that it could be broadcast sometime in the future. His last words were “Why not?”
Nara Almeida was a 24-year-old Brazilian blogger who died of stomach cancer in May 2018. After being diagnosed with stomach cancer in August 2017, Almeida started posting pictures of her treatment to her 4.5 million social media followers. The pictures often included captions about her feelings, sleepless nights, and the pains and trauma she was going through.
A month before her death, she posted a picture of herself in the hospital bed with an arm in the air, just before she underwent an immunotherapy treatment. She captioned it, “I believe that in the end everything will work out and I will come out of it very strengthened and ready to help other people.” That never happened.
In the early hours of August 15, 2013, sports journalist Martin Manley dialed 911 to report a suicide. After he hung up, he killed himself. Manley’s suicide surprised many. For a start, he did not approve of suicide.
Manley had been working on his own suicide for years. On the day of his death, he published a blog in which he revealed the reason he committed suicide and his personal opinions. Manley wrote that he killed himself because he wanted to control when, where, and how he died. He also explained why he chose the date, the location, and the gun he used. The day he shot himself was his 60th birthday.
Manley had been writing the blog posts for years and had paid for the blog a year before he shot himself. He only put the blog online on the morning of the day he shot himself. He paid for five years of hosting, but Yahoo removed the blog because it was against their terms and conditions. From the blog, it was clear that Manley was a perfectionist who wanted to be in control of whatever happened to him. He revealed that he had edited the blog posts several times over to ensure they were error-free.
Manley also made elaborate arrangements for his burial. Before his death, he had sent some trinkets and letters to several relatives, informing them of his death. The relatives only received the letters after he was dead. He also left specific information on how he should be buried and had already paid for several death expenses, including his cremation. As we mentioned earlier, Yahoo has taken the original site down, but here is a clone.
Talent Quarterly Extras
01 JULY 2018Three Reasons HR Transformations Fail (and how to make sure yours doesn’t)
Our experience shows that it’s not the usual suspects – troublesome technology implementations, challenging budgets, etc. – that undermine the success of HR transformations. The real culprits are both softer and far more controllable. That’s good news because it means that you can overcome these obstacles and ensure a faster, more effective transformation.
You’ll move faster and more successfully through your HR transformation if you execute these three steps:
Clarify the Vison: We describe how Kurt Lewin’s basic change model shows HR leaders where to focus more effort.
Increase Talent Quality: To adapt a Marshall Goldsmith quote, those who got you here won’t get you there.
Move Faster: While haste makes waste, needless delays make HR leaders seem replaceable.
Read the article here.
Roadside attractions have been a staple of American culture since the first mile of Route 66 was laid down. Fodder for postcards, novelty-seekers, and Instagram shots, these various noteworthy stopping points are often quite unique and bizarre.
While classics such as the World’s Largest Ball of Twine seem weird enough, an in-depth look reveals much stranger sights. Here are ten of the strangest US roadside attractions. (For those curious, the ball of twine is in Cawker City, Kansas.)
Born from the mind of a man named Doyle Owens in 1970, Unclaimed Baggage Center (UCB) is a secondhand store with a unique supply chain: US airline companies. As of today, it is the only store in the country which sells lost luggage. The size of a city block, UCB has forged alliances with most major airlines, not only selling lost luggage but also random carry-on items which get left behind.
Originally sold on card tables in a rented house in Washington, DC, the nearly 7,000 new daily items were moved to their current home of Scottsboro, Alabama, by Bryan Owens in 1995. Thanks to the exclusive contracts signed with the major airlines of the US, UCB boasts more than a million visitors per year. In addition to their storefront, they also have a museum of oddities and curios, items which are not for sale. (An African djembe is one of the more unique exhibits.)
Located just a short distance south of Atlantic City, a 20-meter (65 ft) building rises from the Margate sands. This isn’t your ordinary building, though; it’s in the shape of a large elephant, and its name is Lucy. Since its construction in 1881, news of a giant elephant appearing to sailors began to trickle into various parts of the East Coast. Determined to uncover the truth, visitors began to flock to Absecon Island, shocked when they realized it was no mirage.
The brainchild of a man named James V. Lafferty, Jr., Lucy was eventually patented in 1882, with Lafferty receiving one for the invention of a “building in the form of an animal.” Later owners of the building eventually began guided tours, with such visiting luminaries as President Woodrow Wilson. At various times through its history, Lucy has been a summer home for an English doctor and his family, a tavern (which nearly resulted in it burning to the ground), and a tourist attraction, which it remains to this day.
Perhaps the most famous tourist trap in the entire country, Wall Drug got its start in 1931 on the edge of the South Dakota Badlands. Using his last $3,000, Ted Hustead brought his wife and child to the small town of Wall and purchased a small pharmacy. Business was tough, and they struggled to make ends meet for years while the Great Depression rolled on.
However, to this day, their biggest draw might still be one of their first: free water. Hustead’s wife, Dorothy, had the idea come to her while she tried to sleep one hot July afternoon. Due to her idea, and a number of ingeniously placed billboards, people flocked to the store, filling up on ice water as well as the occasional ice cream cone. Today, more than two million people visit each year, bringing more than $10 million with them.
In a move which seems to solidify his eccentric reputation, Nicolas Cage purchased a tomb in an infamous New Orleans graveyard in 2010. Thanks to its below-sea-level elevation and numerous outbreaks of disease throughout its history, the city has strict rules about where cemeteries can be located, unless they’re aboveground. Those rules are what led Cage to purchase a 2.7-meter-tall (9 ft) stone pyramid in the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.
However, the exact reasoning behind the tomb’s purchase has been kept secret, though some locals are angry he was able to even get into the cemetery in the first place, going so far as to accuse the actor of knocking down much older burials in order to make room for the pyramid tomb. The first New Orleans graveyard with aboveground burials, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is also the final resting place of Marie Laveau, the infamous voodooqueen of New Orleans.
An homage to Cadillac Ranch, an art installation using junked Cadillac automobiles, Airstream Ranch was located not far from Tampa, Florida, and used old RVs as its medium. It was the pet project of Frank Bates, a man who, coincidentally, happens to run an RV dealership nearby. Controversial for much of its existence (such is the life of modern art), state courts reversed local orders to tear it down after Bates fought for nearly two years.
Created in 2007 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Airstream company, the ranch was originally intended to be built using brand-new RVs, but Bates ended up deciding to get one from every decade of the company’s existence (though he only managed five decades’ worth). Bates had hoped to add to the ranch, envisioning a future where his installation would have become a park, as well as a home for weddings. In the end, however, Airstream Ranch was torn down to make room for a new Airstream dealership in 2017.
Another roadside attraction reminiscent of Airstream Ranch is Carhenge, located in Alliance, Nebraska. It’s exactly what it sounds like: Stonehenge, made of cars.
Otherwise known as The World’s Smallest Church, the Cross Island Chapel was built in 1989 in the small town of Oneida, New York. In addition to having been certified by Guinness World Records, it also sits on a small dock in the middle of a pond. Only big enough for three standing people (or two seated), the church has nevertheless served as the location for a number of weddings. On one such occasion, wedding guests had to anchor their boats nearby.
Though it lost its title of World’s Smallest Church only a few months after its certification (a Swiss church holds the record), the Cross Island Chapel still attracts its fair share of visitors, most of whom come to pray or just take a look. Built to honor God, the building no longer sits on “Cross Island,” as the water level has risen, forcing a dock to be built to house the 2.7-square-meter (28.7 ft2) chapel.
Located in Britt, Iowa, the home of the National Hobo Convention, an annual event which began in 1900, is the Hobo Museum, a building dedicated to the memory of hobos and their history. Housed in an old theater, the museumbegan its life with nothing more than a single box of random items. Today, the building is full, and exhibits extolling the origins and virtues of the hobo lifestyle are abundant. (To be clear, a hobo is a traveling migrant worker, whereas a tramp is a traveler who avoids work. A bum neither works nor travels.)
In 2008, students of various classes at nearby Iowa State University began work on getting the building onto the National Registry of Historic Places, as well as plans to remodel/restore the former glory of the theater. Other sites throughout the city honor hobos, such as the Hobo Jungle and the Hobo Cemetery, a section of a larger graveyard reserved specifically for hobos.
Have you ever wondered what happens to discontinued ice creams, such as Festivus or Dublin Mudslide? Fear not, for they have gone to a better place: the Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard. A tongue-in-cheek place for a tongue-in-cheek company, the graveyard is not only a page on their website but a physical place, located at their factory in Waterbury, Vermont.
Originally opened in 1997, the graveyard only consisted of four flavors, with many more added over the years (35 at last count). Most of the graves are empty, with the exception being What A Cluster, for which they held an actual funeral. (Whether or not the pint of ice cream actually made it underground is anybody’s guess.) While it isn’t the most popular attraction on this list, Sean Greenwood, Ben & Jerry’s head of publicity, says people do come to pay their respects to their favorite discontinued flavors, going so far as to leave flowers near the elaborate granite headstones erected there.
Bearing no relation to the mythical Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, the Octopus Tree of Oregon is an enormous spruce tree, notable for its branches, which resemble the tentacles of an octopus. Believed to be the largest Sitka spruce in the state, debate continues on the story of its origins, with Native American activity being the most likely. Coastal tribes, such as the Tillamook tribe, were said to shape the trees as part of their ceremonial rites.
The idea behind the Native American theory is that the tree was used to hold cedar canoes, as well as other objects of ritual importance. As far as the Octopus Tree goes, it has been estimated to be hundreds of years old and has often gone by the name “The Council Tree,” as it was said that elders also congregated at it in order to make decisions.
1World’s Largest Collection Of World’s Smallest Versions Of World’s Largest Things
This one is going to take a little explaining. Intrigued by the great American pastime of creating the largest versions of things, artist Erika Nelson decided to riff on that idea. What sprung from her thought was a traveling attraction containing miniature replicas of said things. Extensive research on each and every exhibit is performed before construction, with precise measurements done on the originals.
Appropriate materials are used whenever possible; for example, the World’s Smallest Version of the World’s Largest Ball of Rubber Bands was made using miniature rubber bands. In addition, a photo is taken of each exhibit sat in front of its original. While it is normally on the road, and best seen there, when the attraction is not traveling, it calls Lucas, Kansas, its home.
Dowries and bride prices have long been a feature of human civilization, utilized in virtually every culture. Dowries often served as protection for the wife, as she would be right to leave her husband and take the dowry back if he or his family treated her badly, an all too common occurrence.
Dowries are now uncommon in Western cultures, and they are becoming increasingly outlawed in others. While dowries and bride prices (which is where the bride’s family is paid) are usually just a simple gift of money, history has a long list of more unusual examples. Here are ten of them.
David, famous for slaying Goliath as well as being king of Israel, had to work pretty hard to get his first wife’s hand in marriage. A woman named Michal fell in love with the former shepherd and he with her; however, her father was Saul, king of Israel. Her father, jealous of David’s growing fame, sought to have him die in battle and demanded the foreskins of 100 Philistines, the hated enemies of Israel.
David, ever the show-off, decided to bring back double that amount, just to show how much he really wanted Saul’s daughter. Nonsexual in nature, the bringing back of foreskins was to show David’s strength, as no man would part with that piece of himself without dying first. In addition, taking parts of a man’s body after battle as a sign of victory or a trophy has a long history in war. True to his word, Saul begrudgingly allowed David to marry his daughter.
9The Bride’s Weight In Shillings
Bride: John Hull’s Daughter, Hannah
Born in the 17th century, John Hull was the originator of the first Massachusetts mint and was the first man in charge of running it. Hull created the silver pine tree shilling, and coins meant a lot to him, so much so that they were integrated into the bride price for his daughter when a man named Samuel Sewall asked for her hand in marriage.
After much negotiation, it was decided that the amount would be the equivalent of Hull’s daughter’s weight in pine tree shillings. When the day came, Hannah was placed on a scale, and the displayed weight became her bride price. Though her weight was never listed, about 45 kilograms (100 lb) of silver in Hull’s day was the equivalent of roughly $1,600, and it can be assumed that her weight was relatively unremarkable, so the bride price was probably a relatively modest amount.
8A Magical Pear
Bride: Margaret Giffard
An old Scottish legend dating back to the 13th century, the Colstoun Pear was said to have been originally picked by a local wizard named Sir Hugo de Giffard. His daughter was marrying into the de Broun family and wanted to present them with a special gift. Giffard told his daughter’s future family that, as long as she kept the pear from harm, it would ensure their safekeeping and the safekeeping of their descendants.
The legend continued in 1692, when one of Giffard’s descendants, Lady Elizabeth Mackenzie, had a dream that she took a bite of the pear. The servants rushed to the silver casket where the family kept it and found it untouched. However, shortly after this event, Mackenzie’s husband fell deep into debt and sold the pear to his brother Robert, who subsequently drowned, along with his two young sons.
Here’s a relatively recent story: Gigi Chao is a lesbian and the daughter of Cecil Chao, a Chinese billionaire. Unable to come to terms with his daughter’s lifestyle, as well as the embarrassment he felt from it, Cecil put out an offer: If a man could convince Gigi to marry him, thereby renouncing her lesbianism, he would give them a dowry of $65 million. He later offered to double the amount.
However, Gigi remained steadfast, proclaiming her marriage to her partner Sean Eav to be real and urging her father to treat Eav like “a normal, dignified human being.” Though a flood of proposals came Gigi’s way, Cecil eventually retracted his offer, saying if being a lesbian was his daughter’s choice, there was nothing he could do. He stated that the money was going to stay “in his pocket.”
6The Bride’s Weight In Soap
Bride: M. Le Blanc’s Wife
Early in the 20th century, a Frenchman named M. Le Blanc married an unnamed daughter of a Parisian man. The bride’s father was a hairdresser, and a well-to-do one at that, as he provided his daughter with two dowries. The first was traditional, a large sum of money, but the second was quite unique.
Wishing to shower his future son-in-law with the promise of cleanliness, the bride’s father gave him his daughter’s weight in soap as the second dowry.Seeing as her weight was given as a healthy 64 kilograms (140 lb), it can be assumed that the newlyweds were never left wanting for soap.
5A Million Facebook Likes
Bride: Salem Ayash’s Daughter
In 2013, Salem Ayash, a Yemeni poet by trade and a popular Internet figure in his home country, decided to have his prospective son-in-law prove his worth as a future husband, rather than simply pay him a bride price. To show that he was hardworking and capable of providing for his wife, the man, identified only as Osama, was given a month to accumulate one million likes on a Facebook page set up for the engagement.
Ayash had become fed up with bride prices spiraling out of control, especially concerning young people who are often ill-equipped to afford them, and intended the like requirement as a critique on modern bride prices. Oftentimes, entire neighborhoods might join together to raise the needed money to meet the bride price; to combat this, various attempts have been made over the last few years to set a maximum legal amount.Unfortunately, there is no longer an active Facebook page, leaving the outcome a mystery, though Ayash said he would consider lowering the request.
4Much Of Southwestern France
Bride: Eleanor Of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the most powerful women in Europe during the 12th century, eventually becoming not only the queen consort of France but of England as well. Her father died when she was 15, making her the duchess of Aquitaine, and Louis VI (“the Fat”) was made her guardian. He immediately commanded her to marry his own son, who took the throne just a few months later, as Louis VI died of dysentery. As a dowry, Eleanor brought with her the duchy of Aquitaine.
After 15 years of marriage, and a lot of bitterness (she claimed he was like a monk), King Louis VII and Eleanor had their marriage annulled. Thanks to some shrewd maneuvering on her part, the queen managed to retain all her land, in exchange for allowing the king to keep the children. She married Henry Plantagenet a short eight weeks later, bringing the land to him as a dowry. (He was crowned King of England less than two years later.)
3The Greatest Qing Dynasty Sculpture
Bride: Guangxu Emperor’s Consort Jin
An extremely well-crafted piece of art, the Jadeite Cabbage is exactly what its name implies: a piece of Chinese cabbage carved from jadeite, one of two minerals recognized as the gemstone jade. Most likely created sometime in the 19th century by an unknown artist, the piece is believed to have been a dowry gift for Consort Jin, as a symbol of her purity. The association with purity is said to come from the white body of the cabbage.
In addition, the two insects, one a katydid and the other a locust, are said to be good luck charms designed to represent “the blessing of giving numerous children.” This stems from the fact that the female insects lay many eggs at once, with the locust laying as many as 1,500 eggs. Now housed in Taiwan’s National Palace Museum, it has become the most popular artifact there, drawing huge crowds whenever it is loaned out.
Wu Ruibiao is an extremely wealthy Chinese kitchen and tile magnate and has a daughter who got married at the end of 2012. In a move that some cynics have called nothing but “self-publicity,” Wu decided to gift his daughter with a rather large dowry: more than one billion yuan ($156.37 million). Made up of a number of different gifts, including four boxes of gold as well as a Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, the dowry’s most valuable piece was five million shares in Wu’s company, Wanli, estimated to be worth as much as $15 million.
The bride, who has remained unnamed, was married to her childhood sweetheart after an eight-day wedding banquet. A newspaper in Hong Kong was quoted as saying that marrying a girl from Jinjiang, an entrepreneurial city on China’s southern coast, is “better than robbing a bank,” as the billionaires of the city have been in a metaphorical arms race over who can provide the largest dowries.
1The Cities Of Bombay And Tangier
Bride: Princess Catherine Of Braganza
Catherine of Braganza was a 17th-century Portuguese princess who ended up marrying Charles II of England and becoming the queen. Often mistakenly credited with introducing tea to Britain, she nevertheless had much to do with making her homeland’s custom fashionable. While that can be seen as her greatest gift to the country, she also brought with her two cities when she married Charles II: Bombay (now called Mumbai) and Tangier.
Tensions soon arose in Tangier, with the Portuguese residents accusing the British troops of looting and rape and abandoning the city en masse. The city was eventually abandoned by the British as well after years of siege at the hands of Ismail Ibn Sharif. Bombay lasted under British rule quite a bit longer, only changing hands when India gained its independence in 1947.
Dr. Tali Sharot — The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others
In her new book, The Influential Mind, neuroscientist Tali Sharot takes readers on a thrilling exploration of the nature of influence, so she and Shermer start the conversation by discussing how we can influence, for example, climate deniers to accept climate science, anti-vaxxers to accept vaccines, and creationists to accept evolution. As Sharot shows in her research, merely presenting people with the facts will not change their minds. There are other forces at work, which she reveals in this conversation and in more depth in her book. It turns out, for example, that many of our instincts—from relying on facts and figures to shape opinions, to insisting others are wrong or attempting to exert control—are ineffective, because they are incompatible with how people’s minds operate. Sharot shows us how to avoid these pitfalls, and how an attempt to change beliefs and actions is successful when it is well-matched with the core elements that govern the human brain. Sharot reveals the critical role of emotion in influence, the weakness of data and the power of curiosity. Relying on the latest research in neuroscience, behavioral economics and psychology, she provides fascinating insight into the complex power of influence, good and bad. Since she grew up in Israel, she and Shermer discuss the role of religion in terrorism and politics along with health and happiness.
Tali Sharot is a Professor of cognitive Neuroscience at University College London where she directs the Affective Brain Lab. She combines research in psychology, behavioural economics and neuroscience to reveal the forces that shape our decisions and beliefs. Dr. Sharot is the author of The Influential Mind and The Optimism Bias. Her papers have been published in top scientific journals including Nature, Science and Nature Neuroscience. This work has been the subject of features in many outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, the BBC and others. She has also written essays for Time (cover story), the New York Times, the Guardian among others. She was a speaker at TED’s annual conference 2012 and a British Academy and Wellcome Trust fellow. She received her Ph.D from New York University.
Venezuela recently introduced a new currency to replace its already battered money. For some years now, the nation has been experiencing serious hyperinflation that has totally rubbished the value of its currency, the bolivar. The government introduced the new currency, the sovereign bolivar, hoping it will curb the effects of the inflation.
Judging from what you will find out from this list, this is unlikely. The sovereign bolivar is just the removal of five zeros from the old bolivar, and it will most likely go the route of its predecessor if the economic factors responsible for the inflation are not addressed. That said, Venezuela is hardly the only country to have suffered hyperinflation. Several other governments, including ancient Rome, have suffered even more disastrous cases of inflation and hyperinflation.
The Yugoslav dinar suffered an inflation of five quadrillion percent (five with 15 zeros) between October 1993 and January 1995. Years before the inflation, the cash-strapped Yugoslavia had been printing more money to maintain its budget. The government was also borrowing money from its citizens. The government did not beg citizens for their money outright. Rather, it made it difficult for them to make withdrawals from government banks.
As the inflation worsened, the government responded by fixing prices and running businesses that sold below the fixed prices. The government-owned businesses failed, while the private businesses could not sell at the fixed prices. Citizens could not afford to fuel their cars and opted for public buses. The Belgrade Transit Authority (GSP) could not fuel its buses, either. The limited buses in service were so crowded that ticket collectors could not collect fares, causing the cash-strapped agency to lose more money.
In October 1993, the government introduced the new dinar, which was equal to one million old dinars. It quickly became a victim of the inflation. The government responded by introducing the new new dinar that was equal to one billion old dinars. It, too, went the way of the new dinar, leading to the introduction of the super dinar in January 1994. One super dinar was equal to ten million new new dinars. In the meantime, businesses and later the government had switched to using the German Deutsche Mark.
The fact that serious inflation has been fingered as one of the causes of Rome’s collapse is enough evidence that inflation is not a modern phenomena. The inflation started around AD 200, when the Antonine Plague wiped out a huge chunk of the Roman population, leading to scarcity of workers and rapid increase in wages. This, in turn, led to an increase in the price of goods.
At the same time, the Roman military was rapidly expanding, and Rome was investing money to build infrastructure in its new territories. The government decided to debase its silver coins by mixing them with impurities. This allowed it to mint more coins it normally could have. Citizens later discovered the silver coins were not pure and increased the prices of their goods to cover for the loss.
Debasing continued with the change of emperors, worsening the inflation. Between 200 and 300, Roman coins inflated at 15,000 percent. At one point, the inflation was so severe that Emperor Diocletian (284–306) responded by fixing prices, which only succeeded in sending merchants to the black market.
Other emperors continued with the price fixing, sending more merchants into the black market. At the time of the empire’s collapse, the inflation was so severe that the government could not pay the army, even though taxes were at a record high. The rebellious army turned against the empire, leading to its collapse.
Between 1919 and 1923, Germany faced the worst hyperinflation in history. Its currency, the Papiermark, lost so much value that workers rushed to markets to buy the items they needed immediately after they received their pay. The government itself did not even bother adding anti-counterfeiting measures to its new super-high denominated notes since the cost of counterfeiting exceeded their face value.
At the height of the inflation, Germans dealt with so many zeros that they started suffering from a unique mental disorder called zero stroke. They dreamed of zeroes and counted everything, including their ages and children, in zeros. It was normal for someone to say he had three million children or that he was 40 billion years old.
The hyperinflation was the result of Germany printing money to finance World War I and the consequent reparations it needed to pay to the Allies after losing the war. The government responded by printing more money until the inflation became hyperinflation. By November 1923, one US dollar was worth 4.2 trillion Papiermarks. The hyperinflation ended after a new government negotiated a repayment deal with the Allies. The government also introduced the Rentermark to replace the already useless Papiermark.
The 13 colonies that would later form the United States introduced the Continental to fund the Revolutionary War against Britain. The money was backed by nothing other than the promise to pay. This caused inflation, since many citizens were not confident in the government’s ability to repay. The inflation was so terrible that American citizens preferred selling supplies to the British, who paid in gold and silver, than to Congress, who paid with what they considered worthless money.
The effects of the inflation were worsened by the British government, which had taken to printing counterfeit Continentals and sending them into the colonies. The colonies-issued Continentals were of exceptionally low quality. The signatures and serial numbers were handwritten, and the currency had little or no anti-counterfeiting measures. The British counterfeits were more original than the colonies-issued Continentals. Most of the time, people recognized the fake because it was exceptionally better than the original.
The British sometimes gave the counterfeits to captured or deserted American soldiers before sending them back into areas controlled by the colonies. The British also took out adverts in newspapers, requesting for people interested in taking counterfeit notes into the colonies. Meanwhile, Congress continued printing more money to fund the war. The inflation was so severe that it left many deep in debt long after the war was over. The debts later led to Shay’s Rebellion and the creation of the US Constitution.
Hungary has experienced two terrible instances of inflation in its history. The first followed the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I, while the other started toward the end of World War II. Following World War I, the new government started printing money to finance its budget. The ensuing inflation ended with the country abandoning the kronen (aka korona) for the pengo in 1926.
A second inflation started in 1944, when most of Hungary’s infrastructure was destroyed by Germany and Russia. Russia also made Hungary pay reparations. The cash-strapped Hungary responded by printing more money. Hungary printed so much money that inflation rose 150,000 percent a day.
The government even introduced the milpengo (one million pengos) and the bilpengo (one billion pengos) notes to handle the excess zeros, but they were almost useless, since they, too, quickly gathered zeros. By July 1946, a US dollar was worth 460 trillion trillion pengos, versus five pengos in 1941. On August 1, 1946, the government abandoned the pengo altogether and replaced it with the forint.
Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation in 2008 is the one of the worst ever recorded. At its height, prices of goods doubled every day, and unemployment was at a world record of 80 percent. Money lost value so much that the government introduced the Z$100 trillion note.
In the 1990s, President Robert Mugabe seized lands from experienced white farmers and redistributed them to inexperienced black farmers. This led to a loss of production, causing farms and later factories to default on their loans and shut down. The government itself was in debt and in need of more money. With the economy in a downturn and with no viable source of income, the government responded by printing more money.
Excess money in circulation, failed debts, closed factories, unemployment, and low exports are the perfect recipe for inflation. Instead of tackling the root problem, the government responded to the inflation by printing more money and fixing the prices of goods, which only worsened the situation. The cost of producing goods increased so fast that companies were selling their products at a loss.
Inflation rose steadily, reaching 1,281.1 percent in 2006, 66,212.3 percent in 2007, 2.3 million percent in July 2008, and a record high of 79.6 billion percent in July 2009. By this time, basic necessities like bread were sold for billions. Merchants even refused to accept Zimbabwean notes, opting for currencies like the US dollar. The government itself soon caught on the fad and abandoned its own dollars for the US dollar, which remains the official currency of the country to this day.
Austria became independent again following the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its neighbors, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, which were also part of the empire, imposed anti-trade policies on it soon after its creation. Inside Austria, different regions also introduced anti-trade policies against other regions.
Austria soon went to war against Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia over its borders. Austria’s government started printing money to finance the war, increasing the notes in circulation by 14,250 percent between 1919 and 1923. Inflation followed. In 1919, a US dollar was worth 16.1 crowns. By 1923, it was worth 70,800 crowns.
Government presses worked at full capacity throughout the inflation, churning out new notes day and night, even though most industries had shut down. The inflation came to an end in the late 1922 and early 1923, when the League of Nations gave Austria a loan. The crown itself was replaced with the schilling. Austria never fully recovered from the inflation before it was occupied by Germany during World War II.
The Greek inflation of 1941 to 1944 was the result of the German and Italian occupation of the nation during World War II. The Greek drachma started depreciating when Germany attacked in April 1941. Traders, fearing a defeat and occupation by Germany, started hoarding goods. The ones who sold demanded payment in gold. Their fears became true when Germany won and occupied Greece, leading to further depreciation of the drachma.
Germany and Italy used Greece’s money to buy products from Greek merchants and finance the North Africa campaign. When they exhausted the money, they just ordered the Bank of Greece to print more. The drachma soon became useless, as there were too much of it in circulation, leading to inflation. Germany and Italy remained unbothered. They just ordered the Bank of Greece to print more money.
China’s hyperinflation from 1937 to 1949 was the result of the government printing money to fund wars. The first was the Second Sino-Japanese war and the other was the Chinese Civil War that followed. In 1937, one US dollar was worth 3.41 yuan. In 1945, it was worth 1,222 yuan, and in 1949, it was worth 23.3 million yuan.
Before the inflation, individual banks were responsible for issuing their own money. In 1927, the Chinese Nationalist Party came into power and started funding its budget by borrowing money from these banks. The banks later refused to loan the government more money over fears it could not repay. The government responded by creating the Central Bank of China to issue bonds to the banks in exchange for money.
In 1931, the bonds lost half of their value after Japan annexed Manchuria. When the banks refused to buy more bonds, the government passed a law demanding that banks buy bonds with 25 percent of their deposits. The banks still refused to buy the bonds. The Bank of China even sold the bonds in its possession at a loss. This culminated in the government takeover of the Bank of China and the Bank of Communications, which were the two biggest banks at that time, and every other bank thereafter.
More problems followed for China when the US Treasury started buying silver. A huge chunk of China’s silver was smuggled out of China and sold to the US, leading to a fall in the yuan. This culminated with the government taking China off the silver standard in 1935. With the country off the silver standard and the government in total control of the banks, the government started printing money. It printed so much money that its presses could not keep up, and some printing was contracted to England.
The severe hyperinflation was the reason Chairman Mao Tse-tung of the Chinese Communist Party won lots of supporters during the Chinese Civil War. The war ended with the Nationalists fleeing to Taiwan, while the Communists took control of the country. The Communists replaced the old yuan with the new yuan at the rate of three million to one.
Poland became independent again in 1918 and was still unstable when it went to war with Russia. With no other viable source of income, the government started printing money to finance the war. The government printed so much money that its currency became unstable and crashed in 1923. At the end of May 31, 1923, a dollar was worth 52,875 Polish marks. By the end of December, it was worth 6.4 million marks, and on January 10, 1924, it was worth 10.3 million marks.
Industries shut down, as most people could not afford their goods. The few that did not shut down reduced the number of times a worker could come to work in a week. At the height of the inflation, the government issued a 50-million-mark note. The 100-million-mark note was planned but not issued.
This is the Brain Pickings midweek newsletter: Every Wednesday, I plunge into my twelve-year archive and choose something worth resurfacing and resavoring as a timeless pick-me-up for heart, mind, and spirit. (If you don’t yet subscribe to the standard Sunday newsletter of new pieces published each week, you can sign up here – it’s free.) If you missed last week’s archival piece – the great Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh on how to love and mastering the art of “interbeing” – you can read it here. And if you find any value and joy in my labor of love, please consider supporting it with a donation – over these twelve years, I have spent tens of thousands of hours and tremendous resources on Brain Pickings, and every little bit of support helps keep it going. If you already donate: THANK YOU.
Portrait of Fyodor Dostoyevsky by Vasily Perov, 1871
The story begins with the narrator wandering the streets of St. Petersburg on “a gloomy night, the gloomiest night you can conceive,” dwelling on how others have ridiculed him all his life and slipping into nihilism with the “terrible anguish” of believing that nothing matters. He peers into the glum sky, gazes at a lone little star, and contemplates suicide; two months earlier, despite his destitution, he had bought an “excellent revolver” with the same intention, but the gun had remained in his drawer since. Suddenly, as he is staring at the star, a little girl of about eight, wearing ragged clothes and clearly in distress, grabs him by the arm and inarticulately begs his help. But the protagonist, disenchanted with life, shoos her away and returns to the squalid room he shares with a drunken old captain, furnished with “a sofa covered in American cloth, a table with some books, two chairs and an easy-chair, old, incredibly old, but still an easy-chair.”
As he sinks into the easy-chair to think about ending his life, he finds himself haunted by the image of the little girl, leading him to question his nihilistic disposition. Dostoyevsky writes:
I knew for certain that I would shoot myself that night, but how long I would sit by the table — that I did not know. I should certainly have shot myself, but for that little girl.
You see: though it was all the same to me, I felt pain, for instance. If any one were to strike me, I should feel pain. Exactly the same in the moral sense: if anything very pitiful happened, I would feel pity, just as I did before everything in life became all the same to me. I had felt pity just before: surely, I would have helped a child without fail. Why did I not help the little girl, then? It was because of an idea that came into my mind then. When she was pulling at me and calling to me, suddenly a question arose before me, which I could not answer. The question was an idle one; but it made me angry. I was angry because of my conclusion, that if I had already made up my mind that I would put an end to myself to-night, then now more than ever before everything in the world should be all the same to me. Why was it that I felt it was not all the same to me, and pitied the little girl? I remember I pitied her very much: so much that I felt a pain that was even strange and incredible in my situation…
It seemed clear that if I was a man and not a cipher yet, and until I was changed into a cipher, then I was alive and therefore could suffer, be angry and feel shame for my actions. Very well. But if I were to kill myself, for instance, in two hours from now, what is the girl to me, and what have I to do with shame or with anything on earth? I am going to be a cipher, an absolute zero. Could my consciousness that I would soon absolutely cease to exist, and that therefore nothing would exist, have not the least influence on my feeling of pity for the girl or on my sense of shame for the vileness I had committed?
From the moral, he veers into the existential:
It became clear to me that life and the world, as it were, depended upon me. I might even say that the world had existed for me alone. I should shoot myself, and then there would be no world at all, for me at least. Not to mention that perhaps there will really be nothing for any one after me, and the whole world, as soon as my consciousness is extinguished, will also be extinguished like a phantom, as part of my consciousness only, and be utterly abolished, since perhaps all this world and all these men are myself alone.
Beholding “these new, thronging questions,” he plunges into a contemplation of what free will really means. In a passage that calls to mind John Cage’s famous aphorism on the meaning of life — “No why. Just here.” — and George Lucas’s assertion that “life is beyond reason,” Dostoyevsky suggests through his protagonist that what gives meaning to life is life itself:
One strange consideration suddenly presented itself to me. If I had previously lived on the moon or in Mars, and I had there been dishonored and disgraced so utterly that one can only imagine it sometimes in a dream or a nightmare, and if I afterwards found myself on earth and still preserved a consciousness of what I had done on the other planet, and if I knew besides that I would never by any chance return, then, if I were to look at the moon from the earth — would it be all the same to me or not? Would I feel any shame for my action or not? The questions were idle and useless, for the revolver was already lying before me, and I knew with all my being that this thing would happen for certain: but the questions excited me to rage. I could not die now, without having solved this first. In a word, that little girl saved me, for my questions made me postpone pulling the trigger.
Just as he ponders this, the protagonist slips into sleep in the easy-chair, but it’s a sleep that has the quality of wakeful dreaming. In one of many wonderful semi-asides, Dostoyevsky peers at the eternal question of why we have dreams:
Dreams are extraordinarily strange. One thing appears with terrifying clarity, with the details finely set like jewels, while you leap over another, as though you did not notice it at all — space and time, for instance. It seems that dreams are the work not of mind but of desire, not of the head but of the heart… In a dream things quite incomprehensible come to pass. For instance, my brother died five years ago. Sometimes I see him in a dream: he takes part in my affairs, and we are very excited, while I, all the time my dream goes on, know and remember perfectly that my brother is dead and buried. Why am I not surprised that he, though dead, is still near me and busied about me? Why does my mind allow all that?
In this strange state, the protagonist dreams that he takes his revolver and points it at his heart — not his head, where he had originally intended to shoot himself. After waiting a second or two, his dream-self pulls the trigger quickly. Then something remarkable happens:
I felt no pain, but it seemed to me that with the report, everything in me was convulsed, and everything suddenly extinguished. It was terribly black all about me. I became as though blind and numb, and I lay on my back on something hard. I could see nothing, neither could I make any sound. People were walking and making a noise about me: the captain’s bass voice, the landlady’s screams… Suddenly there was a break. I am being carried in a closed coffin. I feel the coffin swinging and I think about that, and suddenly for the first time the idea strikes me that I am dead, quite dead. I know it and do not doubt it; I cannot see nor move, yet at the same time I feel and think. But I am soon reconciled to that, and as usual in a dream I accept the reality without a question.
Now I am being buried in the earth. Every one leaves me and I am alone, quite alone. I do not stir… I lay there and — strange to say — I expected nothing, accepting without question that a dead man has nothing to expect. But it was damp. I do not know how long passed — an hour, a few days, or many days. Suddenly, on my left eye which was closed, a drop of water fell, which had leaked through the top of the grave. In a minute fell another, then a third, and so on, every minute. Suddenly, deep indignation kindled in my heart and suddenly in my heart I felt physical pain. ‘It’s my wound,’ I thought. ‘It’s where I shot myself. The bullet is there.’ And all the while the water dripped straight on to my closed eye. Suddenly, I cried out, not with a voice, for I was motionless, but with all my being, to the arbiter of all that was being done to me.
“Whosoever thou art, if thou art, and if there exists a purpose more intelligent than the things which are now taking place, let it be present here also. But if thou dost take vengeance upon me for my foolish suicide, then know, by the indecency and absurdity of further existence, that no torture whatever that may befall me, can ever be compared to the contempt which I will silently feel, even through millions of years of martyrdom.”
I cried out and was silent. Deep silence lasted a whole minute. One more drop even fell. But I knew and believed, infinitely and steadfastly, that in a moment everything would infallibly change. Suddenly, my grave opened. I do not know whether it had been uncovered and opened, but I was taken by some dark being unknown to me, and we found ourselves in space. Suddenly, I saw. It was deep night; never, never had such darkness been! We were borne through space and were already far from the earth. I asked nothing of him who led me. I was proud and waited. I assured myself that I was not afraid, and my heart melted with rapture at the thought that I was not afraid. I do not remember how long we rushed through space, and I cannot imagine it. It happened as always in a dream when you leap over space and time and the laws of life and mind, and you stop only there where your heart delights.
Through the thick darkness, he sees a star — the same little star he had seen before shooing the girl away. As the dream continues, the protagonist describes a sort of transcendence akin to what is experienced during psychedelic drug trips or in deep meditation states:
Suddenly a familiar yet most overwhelming emotion shook me through. I saw our sun. I knew that it could not be our sun, which had begotten our earth, and that we were an infinite distance away, but somehow all through me I recognized that it was exactly the same sun as ours, its copy and double. A sweet and moving delight echoed rapturously through my soul. The dear power of light, of that same light which had given me birth, touched my heart and revived it, and I felt life, the old life, for the first time since my death.
He finds himself in another world, Earthlike in every respect, except “everything seemed to be bright with holiday, with a great and sacred triumph, finally achieved” — a world populated by “children of the sun,” happy people whose eyes “shone with a bright radiance” and whose faces “gleamed with wisdom, and with a certain consciousness, consummated in tranquility.” The protagonist exclaims:
Oh, instantly, at the first glimpse of their faces I understood everything, everything!
Conceding that “it was only a dream,” he nonetheless asserts that “the sensation of the love of those beautiful and innocent people” was very much real and something he carried into wakeful life on Earth. Awaking in his easy-chair at dawn, he exclaims anew with rekindled gratitude for life:
Oh, now — life, life! I lifted my hands and called upon the eternal truth, not called, but wept. Rapture, ineffable rapture exalted all my being. Yes, to live…
Dostoyevsky concludes with his protagonist’s reflection on the shared essence of life, our common conquest of happiness and kindness:
All are tending to one and the same goal, at least all aspire to the same goal, from the wise man to the lowest murderer, but only by different ways. It is an old truth, but there is this new in it: I cannot go far astray. I saw the truth. I saw and know that men could be beautiful and happy, without losing the capacity to live upon the earth. I will not, I cannot believe that evil is the normal condition of men… I saw the truth, I did not invent it with my mind. I saw, saw, and her living image filled my soul for ever. I saw her in such consummate perfection that I cannot possibly believe that she was not among men. How can I then go astray? … The living image of what I saw will be with me always, and will correct and guide me always. Oh, I am strong and fresh, I can go on, go on, even for a thousand years.
And it is so simple… The one thing is — love thy neighbor as thyself — that is the one thing. That is all, nothing else is needed. You will instantly find how to live.
In early 2015, Leland Ayala-Doliente and Holland Sward were driving from California to Montana with about 9 kilograms (20 lb) of marijuana in their car. As they crossed the Nevada-Idaho border, the pair became convinced that they were being followed by policemen in civilian cars. The duo grew paranoid, and they decided to pull over and call the police.
When the 911 dispatcher answered, Doliente told her, “Hi, uh, we’re the two dumbasses that got caught trying to bring some stuff through your border, and all your cops are just driving around us like a bunch of jack wagons, and I’d just like for you guys to end it.”
The dispatcher was bewildered as no police were following the young men. However, she noted their location and sent a police car to get them. The officers arrived to find the two men with their hands on their heads and the marijuana tied up in a garbage bag on the side of the road.
The pair was arrested, and both tested positive for marijuana. They were charged with felony drug trafficking. Sward was sentenced to 30 days in jail. However, Doliente—who tested positive for marijuana, cocaine, and oxycodone on his sentencing day—received one-and-a-half to eight years in prison.
In mid-2018 in Vancouver, Washington, Rye Wardlaw broke into an escaperoom and grabbed a remote control, a smartphone, and a beer. Then Wardlaw sat down, drank the beer, and ate a burrito that he had brought with him. After he finished his breakfast, he tried to leave the room through the same door he had entered. However, he had broken the doorknob when he busted into the room, and the door would not open.
Wardlaw tried to get out of the escape room’s front door, but he couldn’t figure out how to open the lock. Fearing he was trapped, he started to panic. Wardlaw grabbed the business’s phone and dialed 911. He told the operator that he was calling from the escape room because his home was being burglarized.
While he was waiting for the police, Wardlaw managed to open the damaged door. He ran outside—right into the police officers. He was arrested and charged with second-degree burglary.
In 2011, Timothy Chapek broke into a Portland woman’s home, went into her bathroom, and jumped in the shower. While he was bathing, he heard the homeowner return. Chapek feared that she owned guns, so he locked the bathroom door, grabbed his phone, and called the police. He confessed to breaking into the home and begged them to help him.
Hilary Mackenzie, the homeowner, heard Chapek’s voice, and she told her daughter to leave the house. Mackenzie called her two German shepherds to her, and the trio went to confront Chapek. She asked him, “Why are you in my house taking a shower?” He responded, “I broke in. I was kidnapped.”
Mackenzie went outside and called the police. They arrived and arrested Chapek. Repeating his story, he claimed that a group of men had kidnappedhim and put him in the bathroom. Police did not believe Chapek’s story, and he was charged with a misdemeanor for criminal trespassing.
Having spent New Year’s Eve 2018 drinking and driving in Florida, Michael Lester decided to call 911 and turn himself in. He told the dispatcher that he had been driving drunk all night “trying to get pulled over.” He added that he was driving on the wrong side of the road and had no idea where he was.
The dispatcher urged him to pull over. So Lester decided to stop and find something to eat. He hung up on the dispatcher and parked his car in the middle of the road.
Officers quickly tracked Lester down and gave him a sobriety test, which he promptly failed. He told the policemen that he had drunk three or four beers, swallowed meth, and only slept four hours in the past four days. Lester was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, driving on the wrong side of the road, and driving without wearing a seat belt.
A couple of weeks before Christmas 2017, Jesse Berube decided to rob Loree’s Little Shack, a California bar where he was a regular customer. Inspired by St. Nick, Berube choose to enter the business through the chimney. He sneaked onto the roof, slipped into the chimney’s opening—which was less than 46 centimeters (18 in) wide—and slowly slid down the flue.
Around halfway down, Berube hit a dead end. The pipe took a 90-degree corner, and it was impossible for Berube to follow it. He tried to climb out of the chimney, but he could barely move. Berube managed to wiggle just enough to reach his cell phone and call for help.
Firefighters arrived and used specialized equipment to free Berube. He emerged from the chimney covered in soot but physically uninjured. Police arrested him, and he was charged with one count of burglary.
In early 2016, an El Dorado County, California, police officer spotted Triston Crossland and Derrick Dionno’s car swerving on the road and he attempted to pull the pair over. However, Crossland, a parolee, and Dionno, who had four active warrants, had meth, heroin, marijuana, and a gun in the car. They knew they would go to jail if they were caught.
The men parked and jumped out of their car. They ran down a canyon, crossed an icy river, ran across the snow-covered ground, and disappeared into the woods. Several hours later, Crossland and Dionno ran into a Forest Service officer, who warned them that they might freeze to death, but the duo just ran and hid.
Hours passed, and the pair started to worry that they actually would freeze to death. They called 911 and begged to be rescued. A SWAT team found the men the next morning. They were suffering from hypothermia and probable frostbite. A policeman said of the pair, “I have never seen two people happier to go to jail.”
They were charged with felons in possession, evasion of a peace officer, obstruction, and numerous narcotics charges.
In late 2012, Christopher Moore broke into the Gerows’ Springtown, Texas, home in the middle of the night and began to burglarize it. He sneaked into the master bedroom, grabbed a few things, and accidentally woke up James Gerow. Moore left the room while Gerow got out of bed. Gerow initially believed that the intruder was his son, but he noticed that his son was still asleep. He spotted Moore’s truck in his driveway, grabbed a handgun, and ran to confront the thief.
Gerow managed to chase Moore down and take his car keys. Moore dove inside his truck and hid while Gerow and his son held him at gunpoint. Moore frantically called the police and told them, “I’m out in the country somewhere. Some guy’s got a gun on me. He’s going to come shoot me.”
Police came and arrested Moore. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven years of probation and 200 hours of community service.
Cody Bragg was driving through a Walmart parking lot in Canton, Ohio, in 2011 when he spotted a purse in a shopping cart. He pulled his hood over his head and slowly rolled forward. Bragg reached his hand out of the car window and snatched the handbag. The owner grabbed her purse, and Bragg dragged her several feet before she let go.
John Shuman had been watching Bragg and thought he looked suspicious. After Bragg stole the purse, Shuman decided to follow him. Shuman hopped in his snowplow, called 911, and chased Bragg for 30 minutes.
Bragg eventually noticed what the snowplow driver was doing, so Bragg called 911 to report that he was being followed. He told the dispatcher that he must have been mistaken for the purse snatcher. The dispatcher told Bragg to go back to the parking lot, where he was arrested and charged with robbery and theft. Bragg was sentenced to nine years in prison.
In early 2011, John Finch decided to break into a Delaware house that had been unoccupied since it was damaged in a storm. Finch had broken into the home once before, and he was certain that he could easily do so again.
He entered through a window in the house and headed straight for the liquorcabinet. Finch spent the next three days in a booze-filled stupor as he downed three bottles of gin and two bottles of whiskey.
After he had cleaned out the liquor cabinet, Finch decided to leave the house. He discovered that the homeowner had changed the locks since his last burglary. A key was now required to open the door—even from the inside. Finch was too drunk to deal with the locks or to climb out the window he had broken to get in.
So he called 911 for help. Officers arrived and spoke with him through a cracked window. They quickly realized that he was not the homeowner. Finch was taken to a hospital to sober up and then was charged with burglary.
In 2006, Michigan police officer Edward Sanchez took marijuana from a criminal suspect and hid it in his vehicle. After retrieving the pot from his car later that evening, he and his wife baked it into brownies. They ate the entire batch.
Sanchez, who had smoked pot before, had never eaten a pot brownie. He began to feel strange. He started to worry that the pot was laced with something, and he called 911. Sanchez told an emergency dispatcher that he thought he and his wife were overdosing on marijuana.
“I think we’re dying,” he said. “We made brownies and I think we’re dead, I really do.” He gave the dispatcher his address and repeatedly asked if the ambulance was coming. He told the dispatcher, “Time is going by really, really slow.”
Later, Sanchez admitted that he had stolen drugs before, including cocaine that his wife had used for a three-week binge. Neither Sanchez nor his wife was charged with any crime. However, he did resign from the police department.
… that today is the anniversary of the Beatles’ Last Public Concert? On this day in 1966, the Beatles held their last public concert as they ended their fourth American tour at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Want to Hyperscale and boost profits and gain market share? Here are some things you can do to gain a bigger piece of the pie.
The competition is fierce and advertising budgets are tighter than ever whether you are a Startupper, Startpreneur, Solopreneur, Woman Entrepreneur or SME. We are HyperCurious to boost our profits, HyperScale turnover and gain market share. I recommend following things that we can do to gain a bigger piece of Market Pie and Profits.
Give your product a distinct personality.
Staples is an instantly identifiable, highly memorable name that boosted sales and brand recognition. It personifies the brand while selling the message that whatever customers need they can get at Staples.
Give them an interesting history lesson.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, left historical records of a powder made from the bark and leaves of the willow tree to help heal headaches, breads and fevers. By 1829, scientists discovered that salicin in willow plants was the key ingredient in aspirin, which was later repackaged and marketed by Bayer.
Sing your productís praises.
Create a memorable catchy song, poem or jingle that hooks in peopleís minds. Gillette sold millions of razor blades using the Best Man Can Get, which continues to stick in consumers’ heads, leaving a positive impression about the product’s unbeatable performance.
Re-package your product for the customer.
Create new convenience packaging that makes your product easier to buy, use or refill. Motor oil used to be sold in cans that required a punch-in can opener or separate punch-through spout. These were messy and troublesome to use.
Let consumables take the lead.
Computer printers can be bought for as little as $ 20 , yet the ink cartridges sell for $ 29 apiece . Do not worry about making a big profit on devices , let your consumables take the lead .
Use viral marketing.
Viral marketing is any word-of-mouth or ìtell a friendî mechanism that induces users to re-convey a marketing message to other sites or users. Leveraged by the power of the web and email, viral techniques can create exponential growth in your products.
Customize your product.
Try to give customers exactly what they want by creating apparently customized versions of your product. Consider the success of Cycle 1, 2, 3, 4 Pet Foods, or Burger Have it Your Way.î
Go high tech.
Exploit the latest technological advancements in media to underscore your message. For example, explore the use of audio chips in magazines, brochures or mailers. The novelty of these devices gets people talking, and thereís that ìVî word again (viral marketing).
Promote product sharing.
This can be done by showing how your product brings friends and family together. An emotional appeal like this can be very memorable. For example you can share half and still have a whole.î Another is the ubiquitous Friends-and-Family discount, which abounds in everything from cell phones to vacation packages.
Show your product being used by experts.
If possible, establish your product as the one used by recognized experts in the field. A case in point is Canon ís use of photo journalists to endorse its 35mm cameras.
Make your product sui generis.
Establish the fact that your product is generically in a class by itself. Consider Porscheís use of the line ìthere is no substitute.î Or products that have become household words: ìblow your nose with a Kleenex,î or ìmake me a Xerox copy.î
Think outside the demographic box.
Attract a new category of customers by thinking outside the box. Consider gaining younger or older buyers by expanding the utility and style of your product, e.g., cell phones for ëtweens, or health bars for seniors.
Walt’s ability to deal with the harsh reality that separated two gruesome world wars with the support of fantasy, could now comfortably be described as escapism.
Across the Atlantic and a century earlier, Emily Bronté, a young author, housebound in adversity, learned to escape her own reality, to create a simulacrum of the real world, a world full of ‘real people’, living ‘real lives’, both in love and in tragedy.
Her father strictly managed her environment, yet those dull Yorkshire walls bore no bounds to her imagination of a life that she could not possibly have understood or experienced.
A world that ordinary people enjoyed and endured day in and day out.
Powerful novels like Wuthering Heights, belied her youth and life experience.
In the latter part of the 20th Century, psychologists described such phenomena as Paracosm.
The rather scary sounding term used to refer for example, to a child’s ability to create an imaginary friend for their own enjoyment.
Rather interestingly, an author that Walt greatly admired; J M Barrie, is attributed to have an ability to use paracosm to astonishing effect.
His most famous work is one of Walt’s much treasured novels.
Peter Pan of course, was possibly the most imaginative character of the 1900’s and later became one of Walt Disney’s greatest on screen creations.
Fantasy and reality – a tough balance!
If we believe Walt, being able to dream and fantasise is crucially important.
Who are we to disagree?
Well, to be honest us!
We are parents, spouses, workers, breadwinners and more. We have responsibilities!
As a result we are unfortunately bound by our regular lives and the appropriate pressures that day to day life burdens us with.
The same of course, applied to Walt.
Forgive the pun, but the art of fantasy, in Walt’s case for sure, was to ensure that the dreams influenced reality, exercised carefully without destroying the essential practicalities of his life.
No doubt Walt sat with his kids, doing homework, washing dishes, fixing the car.
My money is on the fact that we saw a glimmer of those practical experiences in much of his work. Walt didn’t just use fantasy to influence his life, he used his life to influence his fantasies.
I just wish one of my Toastmaster friends is reading this and chooses these as the Table Topics rather than the Horror TERROR TOPICs they choose which horrify me each time I pick one of them. 🙂
On a serious note, These Slogans can sometimes show us the much needed solution to a Top of the mind problem. Dr. Edward de Bono in his famous Random Input/ Random Object example shows us how Attribute listing can be used as an effective tool/ remedial measure by brainstorming about our Top of the mind problems.
I have used this technique over 100 times in Corporate and personal life and it works every time. For e.g. You may chose at random any of these statements which closely or distantly relates to your problem.
Write 3-6 attributes if you have chosen upto 5 of the 10 listed below and 1-3 if you have chosen more than 5 slogans.
List attributes on one side of the paper. On the other side Write down the problem and the elements/ breakdown or attributes of the problem in simple language.
Use Dr. DeBono’s technique and find your answers.
Change a life.
Everybody needs a break.
Comfort in our hands.
We’re here for you.
The next generation.
Now’s the time.
Fit for a king.
… that today is the birthday of United Parcel Service (UPS)? UPS was started in 1907 by teenagers Jim Casey and Claude Ryan in Seattle, Washington. The company, originally named American Messenger Company, now delivers more than 5 billion packages every year.
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.”
Mentoring has been widely credited with being an effective tool for human resource development. Its application can be found in many diverse sectors such as −
Tourism and Hospitality
Mentoring is used in organizations at different stages of employee engagement. It is a constant process in which an employee is involved with, right from the time of his joining the company to every step he takes up towards progress. Right from their induction, employees are assigned role models whom they can imbibe as much expertise and experience as possible from.
Potential candidates are groomed for higher positions in a timely and job-related manner so that he is ready to shoulder the desired responsibilities when they are handed over to him. This is done through providing job-related training, and sharing relevant knowledge so that the desired levels of expertise in the skill-sets can be observed in these people.
Mentoring also includes providing proper integration into a new process and assistance in major transitions in their professional life to new stages, enhance job-related knowledge and skills for the present so that the employees can easily adapt to the changing environments of the workplace.
Case Study: Significance of Mentoring at Zappos.com
Many organizations define their company’s working process as set of values. Their employees are expected to own these values as a part of their daily life at work. A good example of one such company will be Zappos, an online shoe and footwear apparel shopping site.
There are cases of people who used to work with Zappos.com, and were fired even when they were doing their jobs perfectly, if it was found that they were not leading their professional lives in the spirit of the company’s culture.
Zappos has ten core values to clearly define the Zappos Family culture, and these core values can be observed in everything the company does −
Deliver WOW! Service
Create fun and a little weirdness
Build positive team and family spirit
Pursue growth and learning
Be passionate and determined
Embrace and drive change
Be adventurous, creative, open-minded
Build open and honest relationships
Do more with less
These values at Zappos are written into their organizational strategy. Values are often written down as part of the organization’s strategy. As their CEO, Tony Hsieh says, these values help them to delight the customers by providing them the right suggestion and information at the right time.
These values also help them to accept and respect people’s opinions, which helps them adapt to the changing demands accordingly, and improve their customer service.
They manage this through a constant mentoring of their supporting and developing staff, who are encouraged to maintain transparency at every stage of their business proceedings so that a blame-free working environment can be created.
Zappos invests a lot of time and effort in making new inductees understand what exactly the reasons behind these ten values of their company being so important to the functioning and growth of their company are. This mentoring makes the new employees understand the significance of these values in contributing to the company’s mission and strategy.
Mentoring is the process of guiding those employees who are excellent performers. The idea behind mentoring is not so much to extract the best performance out of the employees, as to keep them focused and dedicated to their standards of performance.
The idea behind mentoring is to engage a person with more experience in a specific job responsibility in sharing his work experience with younger and newer employees who are doing great, so that they understand the further responsibilities and expectations they will be facing in the future.
Mentoring helps employees make a smooth transition from their current working responsibilities to the ones that they earn with their good performances. They are groomed and nurtured in an organization under the guidance of another senior manager with proven credentials.
This differs from counselling, or coaching, where the objective is to provide corrective assistance to those performers who deliver average to poor output. The desired course of action in coaching is more supportive that guidance-oriented, as compared to mentoring in which a person with better skills, expertise and experience becomes a role model to good performers with the objective of enhancing the employees’ career development and personal development.
Coaching, or counseling, is a supportive process to define and correct personal problems or skills that affect performance. The counselor rectifies behaviors and provides direction and discipline as needed for as long as necessary.
The person providing mentoring is referred to as a ‘mentor’, and the ones he guides are known as ‘mentees’. Mentees are also referred as ‘protégé’s’.