Whose scorpion is that? I think I know.
Its owner is quite sad though.
It really is a tale of woe,
I watch him frown. I cry hello.
He gives his scorpion a shake,
And sobs until the tears make.
The only other sound’s the break,
Of distant waves and birds awake.
The scorpion is sarcastic, mad and deep,
But he has promises to keep,
Until then he shall not sleep.
He lies in bed with ducts that weep.
He rises from his bitter bed,
With thoughts of sadness in his head,
He idolises being dead.
Facing the day with never ending dread.
With thanks to the poet, Robert Frost, for the underlying structure.
Please note: This poem was created with our quick poem generator, so results are fairly basic. Our other generators use robots who take your input then trawl the dictionary for rhymes, synonymns and alliteration, creating a more unique experience.
Most of the differences between mentoring, coaching and training can be credited to the over-fertile imaginations of people’s minds. Indeed, experts say that there are no clearlydrawn differences between these three when it comes to the method of delivery. However, when we come to the objectives, there are subtle differences among mentoring, coaching and training.
Training is completely work-related, and its objectives are determined by the job responsibility of the trainees. The goal of training is to enable trainees get expertise on a set of professional skills.
Training depends substantially on the phenomenon of social learning. Trainers generally demonstrate the right procedure of getting a task done, along with explaining the desired outcome to the trainees. The learning pedagogy is more often mimicking the actions and instructions of the trainer, and repeating them until a successful imitation has been achieved.
Coaching has a specific, time-bound, and specific goal. There is more emphasis on achieving a tough goal through dedication, focus and constant efforts, with constant feedback, suggestions and motivation delivered by the coach. Depending on the way in which they are implemented, there are four kinds of coaching −
Query-based Coaching − The coach doesn’t give out answers when he gets a wrong answer but keeps asking questions to his pupil, and lets the pupil find the answer on his own.
Hands-on Coaching − The coach demonstrates what he feels is the best way to tackle a situation, and then leaves it to the pupil to either try the said method, or find a new one himself.
Intervention Coaching − The coach keeps himself limited to observing and allowing the pupil to try and find out a solution, and only intervening when he feels like the attempt is going to lead to a sure failure with serious consequences.
Guidance Coaching − The coach lets the pupil operate mostly on auto-pilot. This mode of coaching is generally adopted by coaches who have dedicated, focused and hardworking pupils. All they have to do is to maintain the levels of ambition high by giving reminders and pep-talks when necessary.
Mentoring goes beyond the boundaries of professional advice or guidance, and may touch upon any aspect of the mentee’s life. The mentor’s job is to oversee and chart out the proper path for career path of the mentee. This includes the mentor giving coaching and training to the mentee as and when required, and also referring him to seek professional help from other experts.
In short, coaching and training are more directed towards career development, whereas mentoring targets both career and personal development of the employees. Although all of these methods of teaching educate people on how to create a vision and how to set goals, none of them guarantee optimum results.
And that’s because all these three activities rely heavily on the dedication and self-belief of the person who is enrolled into this. A lot of effort and motivation is needed to rise above yourself and be someone you always aspired to be.
More often than not, we get influenced in our lives by the people we come in contact with. Our actions, behavior, ambitions, and dreams are motivated after coming in contact with them, or after interacting with them.
This activity is designed to make the reader understand the different influences he has had over his life. The reader is supposed to divide his age in three equal parts, and mention them left to right in the table, starting with the lowest age bracket.
Below that are mentioned three types of people. In the row that has “Influencers” mentioned at the left, you need to mention at least three people who have influenced you at different stages of your life.
1st − the people who have influenced you in the first stage of your life.
2nd − the people who have influenced you in the first stage of your life.
3rd − the people who have influenced you in the first stage of your life.
In the same row, keep mentioning their good qualities and bad qualities. Mention as many people as you can who have influenced you over your early life till date.
In the row with the heading Teachers, state the names of at least three teachers who have taught you the skills that led to your success today. Also mention their positives and negatives.
Finally, the third row with the heading Correctional Facilitators refers to those people who have provided correctional guidance to you when you were struggling with some aspect in your life. Mention them, along with their positives and negatives.
The purpose behind this exercise is to de-mystify people and accept them as common human beings. The idea is to understand that these people whom you hold as your idols are also not god, but erring human beings who have their ups and downs as well.
In other words, you can also be someone’s idol despite the shortcomings that you think are in you. All you need is to be self-motivated and inclined towards growth and learning in your life.
Your NameFirst QuarterSecond QuarterThird QuarterFourth QuarterGoodBadGoodBadGoodBadGoodBad
In our efforts to HyperScale the business in the formative stage of the business, an Entrepreneur – willy-nilly, beegins Cold Calling upon advice. In the old cold calling mindset, we are taught to focus on the sale and be completely confident that what we are offering is something the other person should/must buy.
As the Startup business begins to gain scale and there builds a pressure on the SMEs to HyperScale due to pressure on Breakeven, Investor push etc. they begin to use some of the oft-repeated menthods to bring the Sales volumes up. One of them is Cold Calling. Here are 3 common cold calling techniques that we should avoid:
Mistake #1: Center the conversation around us and what we have to offer
In this old approach, we introduce ourself, explain what we do, and suggest a benefit or feature of our product. And then we close our eyes and pray that the other person will be interested
Unfortunately, the moment you stop talking you usually hear,
“Sorry, I’m busy,” or “Sorry, I’m not interested.”
We’ve started your cold call by talking about your world and what you have to offer. But realistically, most people aren’t all that interested in you. When you talk about your company and your product, it’s just another advertisement to them. We haven’t engaged them, so they often just “turn the page.”
Prospects are much more interested in themselves and whatís important to them. So if you start the conversation by focusing on their world, theyíre more likely to interact with you.
So instead, talk about an issue or problem they may need solving. Focus on them rather than on what you have to offer. And see where it takes you.
Mistake #2: Be confident they should buy your product or service
In the old cold calling mindset, you’re taught to focus on the sale and be completely confident that what youíre offering is something the other person should buy.
The problem with this approach is that you havenít asked them to determine this along with you. So think about it ñ in the old mindset, youíre really deciding for someone else whatís good for them. I know this isnít intended, but thatís exactly what comes across to your prospects.
So rather than being full of confidence and enthusiasm, stop for a minute and think about the other individual. Relax into a real conversation instead of moving into a persuasive strategy or sales pitch. Put yourself in their shoes and invite them to explore along with you whether what you have to offer is a match for them.
Others really can distinguish the difference. Youíre inviting them to see if you might be able to help them solve a problem. This makes for a much better connection right at the beginning, and youíll get that immediate rejection reaction much less.
Mistake #3:When someone brings up an objection, try to overcome it
You know, one of the reasons cold calling is so difficult is that sometimes you may not be very familiar with the other person and their business. When you make that first call, you donít know very much about their issues, problems, budget, and time constraints.
Chances are, not everyone is going to benefit by your product or service.
So realistically, your company or product isnít going to be a match for everyone. And yet, when someone brings up an objection (“we donít have the budget for that,” etc.), the old cold calling mindset trains you to “overcome,” “bypass,” or “override.”
But when you do that, you put the other person on the defensive. Something theyíve said is being dismissed. And hereís where rejection can happen very suddenly.
So it ís much better to listen to their concerns and continue to explore whether what youíre offering makes sense for them. There are some wonderful phrases you can use that validate their viewpoint without closing the conversation.
So now youíve discovered the 3 major cold calling mistakes people often make. See if you can shift away from those old self-sabotaging mindsets. When you do, youíll notice that people will engage you much more, and the immediate rejection youíve grown so accustomed to will happen much less.
1. “We are each responsible for our own life – no other person is or even can be.”
2. “When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.” 3. “What material success does is provide you with the ability to concentrate on other things that really matter. And that is being able to make a difference, not only in your own life, but in other people’s lives.” 4. “The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.” 5. “What I know is that if you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come.” 6. “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job, and not be paid for it.” 7. “I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become.” 8. “Use what you have to run toward your best – that’s how I now live my life.” 9. “Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.” 10. “The choice to be excellent begins with aligning your thoughts and words with the intention to require more from yourself.” 11. “What I know for sure is that what you give comes back to you.” 12. “I don’t believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.” 13. “So go ahead. Fall down. The world looks different from the ground.” 14. “You can take from every experience what it has to offer you. And you cannot be defeated if you just keep taking one breath followed by another.” 15. “If you want your life to be more rewarding, you have to change the way you think.” 16. “Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” 17. “You don’t become what you want, you become what you believe.” 18. “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment” 19. “I trust that everything happens for a reason, even when we’re not wise enough to see it.” 20. “Everybody has a calling. And your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you were meant to be, and to begin to honor that in the best way possible for yourself.” 21. “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” 22. “The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” 23. “Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” 24. “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” 25. “Surround yourself only with people who are going to take you higher.” 26. “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” 27. “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” 28. “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”
29. “True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.” 30. “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” 31. “You can have it all. Just not all at once.” 32. “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” 33. “One of the hardest things in life to learn are which bridges to cross and which bridges to burn.”
Some very interesting Generated Idioms for the day:
Every Fight Is An Awful Sight.
Glue Doesn’t Stick To Everything.
To Be In Need Is Bitter-sweet
Once The Sun Turns Green.
Couple of incidents in the week and the day made me laugh out loud.
On a serious note, Every Mentor and mentee face these situations. The Startpreneurs preparing for bigger competitions ahead need to take inspiration from such random thoughts and using lateral thinking – attribute listing as problem solving triggers to new and innovative ideas
#1 — Stop Doubting Yourself
“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” ~Suzy Kassem
Doubt is like a plague, and excessively doubting yourself is deadly.
Doubting if you can do this or that. Doubting whether you can do well. Doubting whether you’re smart enough. Doubting everything under the sun! It’s like trying to win a bicycle race while repeatedly throwing a stick into your spokes. It just doesn’t work.
Photo by Brunel Johnson on Unsplash
A doubter sees a once in a lifetime opportunity — and doesn’t take it. Why? Because it’s too risky. Or maybe it won’t work. Or the weather is bad. Or people might think you’re crazy. Or it’s never worked for you in the first place so why will it now? Or your friend says it’s a bad idea. Or you’ve never tried it before . . .
OR! OR!! OR!!!
You can think of a hundred reasons why something won’t work. Anyone can if they let that voice of doubt speak.
“I don’t think you can do it,” says doubt. “Maybe you should stay the way you are.”
A tempting voice that plays on your comfort zones.
Stay a chronic doubter and you will destroy your future. It will cost you everything. So if you want to remain mediocrity’s beer koozie, fine, by all means keep doubting yourself. But you don’t have to. You can flip that coin over and choose to believe in yourself instead. No conditions. An unconditional faith in your potential.
“There’s many things to believe in. One of the majors is yourself. The understanding of self-worth is the beginning of progress.” ~Jim Rohn
To doubt yourself is to discount your own worth, to undersell, to think yourself LESS capable than you are. But when you reject that idea, when you throw off that cloud of doubt, it’s like opening a door out of a cage.
You set yourself free.
#2 — Stop Giving In To Fear
“The key to success is for you to make a habit throughout your life of doing the things you fear.” ~Vincent Van Gogh
Fear is like skin — we all have it. It’s a universal emotion that, in itself, is not bad. Fear is not the problem. It’s the bowing to fear, letting it control your choices, that puts holes in your boat and sinks you.
Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash
Fear keeps you from taking chances. Fear whispers in your ear, trying to discourage any boldness in your life. Fear unchecked makes you weak. It snuffs out the fire that burns inside of you — the fire of unmet potential.
“Don’t do it!” cries fear. “It’ll hurt! You’ll lose! Think of the pain!”
We’re all programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. But that programming is not as useful in today’s society as it was for our ancestors. Sure, fear is trying to help you, but it’s not always right. It’s good to give in to fear and run when you see a tsunami coming your way. It’s not good to give in to fear and make an excuse when presented with a unique opportunity.
To meet that special someone and tell them how you feel . . .
To stand on that podium and face that audience . . .
To start that promising venture that others say will fail . . .
To take that idea and make it into an innovative product . . .
Fear wants to keep you safe and secure, but success is beyond what’s safe, beyond your comfort zone. Fear makes you less than you can be, but only if you let it. Otherwise, fear is merely another emotion in your human tapestry — one that you can use to your advantage if you learn to conquer it.
“The fears we don’t face become our limits.” ~Robin Sharma
Declaw fear by taking control, by facing it, because only by acknowledging your fear and facing it head on can you put it behind you. Otherwise, for each time you let that fear stop you, that fear will grow taller and taller until it becomes a wall.
Bottom line: it’s how you handle fear that matters. It’s how you handle difficulty and risk. It’s how you handle failure. It’s not what happens that counts. It all comes down to what you do about it.
So be deliberate in your dealings with fear. Recognize it when you hear its whisper in your ear, its prickle down your spine, its echo in your thoughts.
#3 — Stop Being Cynical
“Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” George S. Patton Jr.
One of the most common places I see this is with regards to money. All the time I hear people call the rich “crooks” or “corrupt” which, though some certainly are, is not true. It stems from bitterness, perhaps the false belief that one cannot be wealthy also — a sort of negative, fixed mindset that, in its negativity, breeds a cynical outlook on life.
Photo by Emil Kip on Unsplash
Cynicism is a twisted sort of defense mechanism that never fails to find fertile ground. I catch those thoughts so often: to look at some misfortune or at someone else’s success and hear that little voice start to bicker in the back of my mind.
“Oh, that person’s got connections, that’s why he made it.”
“They’re all a bunch of criminals.”
Or the all-time favorite:
“This is stupid!”
Cynicism is defined as an “inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest” or “an inclination to question whether something will happen or whether it is worthwhile.”
In short, cynicism is pessimism, doubt, distrust, disbelief, skepticism and outright negativity all rolled into one. Imagine pouring that into your subconscious mind day after day. Image what damage that sort of mindset would do. It will destroy all the good things you start. It’ll sure as hell make sure you don’t give your full measure.
Cynicism, deep down, breeds on fear. It thrives in bitterness and takes root in the wounds that haven’t healed. It’s a way of defending yourself from past hurts, a sort of armor, but in the end it becomes a prison.
“Cynicism is ultimately fear. Cynicism makes contact with your skin and a thick black carapace begins to grow — like insect armor. This armor will protect your heart from disappointment — but it leaves you almost unable to walk. You cannot dance in this armor. Cynicism keeps you pinned to the spot, in the same posture, forever.” ~Caitlin Moran
Do you want to be in the same place forever? Do you want to have the same mind, the same thoughts, the same habits, the same results as you’ve always had? Of course not.
Here’s the cure: optimism. To put it a less platitudinous way, adopting an outlook that does not discount things, that does not automatically assume the worst, that is positive, enabling, energizing: to believe things are worth doing, that life is worth living, and that you are worth all the effort it takes to make your dreams come true.
That you are worthy.
Cynics make fun of that very concept, and as for why, I’ll leave it to George Edgar Vincent to explain:
“The cynic makes fun of all earnestness; he makes fun of everything and everyone who feels that something can be done. . . . But in his heart of hearts he knows that he is a defeated man and that his cynicism is merely an expression of the fact that he has lost courage and is beaten.”
Cynicism is the attitudinal expression of defeat. Are you defeated? No. You have a fighting chance. You can still win. So be brave. Being a cynic is easy. It’s being an optimist that takes bravery.
And it is the brave who become winners.
“My teacher Jim Rohn taught me a simple principle: every day, stand guard at the door of your mind, and you alone decide what thoughts and beliefs you let into your life. For they will shape whether you feel rich or poor, cursed or blessed.” ~Tony Robbins
According to Dr. Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association, there are several differences between optimists and pessimists.
Pessimists explain negative events as a permanent fixture of their identity (something they can’t change). They view themselves (or life in general) as the problem, and there is nothing that can really be done.
Optimists explain negative events as situation and short-lived. When something goes wrong, they focus on situational factors that can be altered and improved.
In my Mentor Column on Wednesdays Jay Mentor discusses with readers the Slogans. Do you have a Slogan? Have a look at the ones I chose for you below. Any of them make sense to you? Relevant to you? Appealing to you.
Do you think, you can expand, modify, change a wee bit and make these slogans look and work Great for you. Slogans are not merely for shouting from the hooters or rooftops – people like leaders who walk the talk.
Do you have it in you? Please go ahead and create and share your creation in the comments. I shall respond ASAP.
… that today is Christopher Robin’s Birthday? The model for the human hero of the Winnie-the-Pooh books, Christopher Robin Milne, was born in London, England, on this day in 1920. His father, A.A. Milne, wrote the Winnie-the-Pooh books. Read a classic today!
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.”
Summary:Anything’s tough to do, if you don’t have the right materials to help you. These three winning Sales strategies are the right materials to an extremely successful buisness.
Keywords:sales strategies, personal, word pictures, ads
Attention-Getting Ads Get Results
Think about it…how many advertisements do you hear every day…how about every hour? Let’s face it, we’re bombarded with magazine ads, newspaper ads, TV ads, radio ads, and the Internet is plastered with banner ads, ticker ads, video ads on every site. Not many of the astronomical number of advertisments stick with us, and make an impact. How can you make your ad STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD?
” Make a dramatic statement:
“Even my dog knows ….”
” Surprise them with the unexpected:
“Use for 30 days totally free…”
” Ask a thought provoking question: “Is your current insurance costing you hundreds of extra dollars every year?”
” Use high impact headlines – it’s important to snag their attention right away.
2. Get Personal
How many times have you been caught in the cycle of IVR services?
Yes, you push 15 numbers and end up back at the main menu and never get to talk to a sales rep. People are hungry for personal interaction in the marketplace.
Look for ways to make your business a personal experience that your customers will appreciate.
Get to know something about the people who walk through your doors.
Let the people who visit your website know something about you.
Yes, it’s easier to trust an individual than a huge impersonal company…and trust is crucial to building a pool of loyal customers.
Paint a Picture
Yes, the end of a hectic week has finally arrived!
As I lock the doors on a still cluttered office, my mind wanders to the many things that will demand my attention this weekend.
I long to just escape the demanding voices…escape to the waters of the lake across town.
It would be like heaven to plop myself across the back seat of a boat, and watch the sea gulls dip and dive as the waves rock me peacefull to sleep.
Yes, I can almost hear the sound of their splashing when the clang of metal alerts me to the fact that I’ve dropped my keys.
Put your customers on the boat.
Yes, painting word pictures that capture their emotions will be more effective that the raw facts of the benefit your product offers.
Describe what the benefits will do for them, vividly and in great detail…get them panting for the end result.
Paint your way to a sale!
Think about it…the 3 strategies we’ve talked about deal with human emotions or behaviors, rather than your product itself.
Yes, when we affect the inner part of the customer, our sales are likely to see great results… and hey, they’ll feel good while they’re writing out the check!
Studies have shown; successful entrepreneurs possess three characteristics:
entrepreneur,franchise,jobs,careers,mentoring,coaching,marketing,small business,at home business
Studies have shown that successful entrepreneurs possess three characteristics:
It is that magical power of having confidence in oneself and in Entrepreneur’s powers and abilities.
Results are gained by focused and sustained effort. Entrepreneurs concentrate on achieving a specific goal, not just accomplishing a string of unrelated tasks.
Entrepreneurs realize that there is a chance of loss inherent in achieving their goals, yet they have the confidence necessary to take calculated risks to achieve their goals.
Entrepreneurs are people who will make decisions, take action, and think that they can control their own destinies. They are often motivated by a spirit of independence which leads them to believe that their success depends on raw effort and hard work, not luck.
So which of these three main characteristics is the most important? Believe it or not, it has to be self-confidence. Without self-confidence, nothing else is possible. If you don’t believe in your abilities, then the first challenge that arises may knock you off the path to achieving your goals.
Here are a few things to keep in mind for maintaining a higher level of self-confidence.
A. Positive Thinking
It all starts with a positive attitude, doesn’t it? Believing that something good will happen is the first step. Negative thinking simply is not allowed. You must truly believe that there are no circumstances strong enough to deter you from reaching your goals. Remember too, that positive thinking can be contagious. When positive thinking spreads, it can open doors to new ideas, customers, friends, etc.
B. Persistent Action
Now all of the positive thinking and believing in the world is useless if it is not applied towards a goal. You have to take action, no excuses are allowed. This action must also be persistent. Trying once and then giving up is not going to be enough. Keep at it one step at a time. If you can’t get by a certain step, then find a creative way to try again or just go around it.
In the beginning, we identified a few traits which are common among successful entrepreneurs. You should be able to look ahead and see yourself where you want to be. Now just maintain a strong belief in yourself and your skills, stick with it, and don’t give up. If you can do that, you’re already half way there!
Itís a great time to be startpreneurs in the last decade, technology has leveled the playing field and propelled an entrepreneurial revolution. As an startpreneur, you now have more access to information that enables you to make more intelligent choices more quickly. You have an advantage over big businesses in that youíre lighter, more flexible, and faster on your feet. You can target new markets more quickly, and you can turn on a dime.
It ís a great time to be an entrepreneur in the last decade, technology has leveled the playing field and propelled an entrepreneurial revolution. As an entrepreneur, you now have more access to information that enables you to make more intelligent choices more quickly. You have an advantage over big businesses in that youíre lighter, more flexible, and faster on your feet. You can target new markets more quickly, and you can turn on a dime.
But being a successful entrepreneur requires that you look at the big picture and follow a plan through from beginning to end. Rieva Lesonsky, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Magazine gives some practical guidelines that can help you when beginning your own enterprise:
1.Don’t Quit Your Day Job.
Consider starting your business part-time, especially if it’s online, while youíre working and have a steady income. It usually takes six months to a year to get a business going and you donít want your ability to make your house payment to hinge upon your company being an overnight success. Start with what you can manage, financially and time-wise, and scale up as your business grows.
2.Find Your Niche.
The days of general stores are over. Particularly online, consumers are looking for stores that specialize. You have to find a needósomething a specific group of people want, but canít get at the big chain storesóand fill it. Advises Lesonsky, ìYou canít compete with the big guys, so you have to find where the big guys arenít and go into your niches.î
3.Have an Online Presence.
Even if youíre not planning to start an online retail business, consider that the internet can still play a valuable role in your company. Having an online presence eliminates the limitations of physical location and broadens your customer base by, literally, millions. Itís also a great tool for promoting yourself and letting people, even in your own area, know that youíre there, and what youíre doing.
4.Refuse to Quit.
Successful entrepreneurship requires creativity, energy, and a drive to keep going when you fail. Few people realize that before Bill Gates created the extremely successful Microsoft 3.0, he created a Microsoft 1.0 and 2.0, both of which floppedóbut he kept at it. And that determination and refusal to give up is what will separate successful entrepreneurs from unsuccessful ones. Arm yourself with optimism to get beyond the #No1 or the trouble. There’s nothing wrong in failure just don’t repeat the same mistake!
… that today is Wild Hair Day? Boxing promoter Don King was born on August 20, 1931, in Cleveland, Ohio. On the birthday of Don King, who has some of the wildest hair on earth, it’s okay to go to work today no matter how your hair looks. 😉
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“Humor is the great thing, the saving thing after all. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations, and resentments flit away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.”
Take a Random Pick of the Motto. Think about it. Relate it to your life stage.
See meaning into it. Compare your life state and Facts with the words. Do they resonate? Is there a message there for you? Can you choose one of these Random lines as your Motto for the Rest of your life?
Spirits guide us, spirits watch over us.
Sword or pen, we conquer all.
Actions bring results
Peace, prosperity, progress.
Hope, homeland, honor.
Haven of peace.
Pride and prosperity.
In spirit and truth.
Honor, duty, valor.
We will persevere.
I shall bring these to you every Monday, so you can mull over and adapt if you like .
It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot, and rarely understood. What is purpose? What does it mean to have a life purpose? First of all purpose means that we are devoted to something GREATER than ourselves.
GREATER than surviving and making money.
GREATER than looking good to other people.
Having a purpose means we are connected to something that will last beyond our death.
Purpose is a force of nature for a worthy cause that makes a real difference in the world – and only we can decide what that is.
The funny thing is – power of purpose becomes most obvious when we LOSE our PURPOSE.
We become like ships adrift at sea, unsure of where we are going.
Without clear purpose, we become susceptible to falling off the path.
Without a purpose, things seem to stop mattering.
Nihilism takes hold.
We begin to make bad choices.
Who cares if we eat burgers and stop meditating? Nothing matters anyway!
Who cares if we show up 100% for our family? It’s not a big deal!
Feel like giving up on the things we are working on? Oh well!
These are the kind of things that we begin doing when we have lost sight of our purpose.
And still, when we HAVE PURPOSE, we become much more resilient.
In fact, it’s been shown that people who have a purpose can sustain much more pain.
Purpose acts as an analgesic that helps us persevere in the face of difficulty. That’s a complex of way of saying that purpose is a pain killer.
If we are connected to our purpose – we won’t mind putting in the extra hours of work needed to get things handled.
If we have a purpose, we won’t be thrown off by a little argument or someone being rude to us – because we are connected to that higher purpose and the small stuff doesn’t matter.
Knowing our purpose – and letting it inspire usf to the greatest heights of your potential.
When we talk of border walls, the first ones that come to mind are the Berlin Wall, the North and South Korea Wall, and the wall that President Donald Trump wants to build along the US border with Mexico.
Although Trump’s proposed wall has generated arguments and counterarguments, no one seems to notice the other walls popping up elsewhere. Or the ones that have been in existence for decades. There are more walls dividing countries than we think.
The Moroccan Wall (or the “Berm”) is a 2,600-kilometer-long (1,600 mi) wall running through Western Sahara. The wall is made of 3-meter-high (10 ft) desert sand and is protected by electric fences, radar, barbed wire, Moroccan soldiers, and about seven million land mines. This makes it the world’s longest minefield and one of the world’s most guarded borders.
This is because Western Sahara is disputed territory. While most of us consider it southern Morocco, the people there say that they are part of the largely unrecognized Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The Polisario Front, which is fighting for the independence and recognition of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, controls the other half of Western Sahara just outside the wall.
The wall has not deterred the Polisario Front from launching attacks on Moroccan troops across the border. Polisario Front fighters will readily dig underneath the border to bypass the wall. The greatest losers of the Morocco–Polisario Front conflict are the inhabitants of Western Sahara, who are caught on both sides of the wall. Many of them have been killed by the land mines.
The Baghdad Wall is a 4-kilometer-long (2.5 mi) concrete barrier separating the Sunni side of Baghdad from the Shiite side. Before the wall, Sunni militia regularly launched attacks on Shiite civilians, the Iraqi military (which has a Shiite majority), and US troops. Shiite militia also launched attacks on Sunni civilians in the area.
US troops built the wall around southern Ghazaliya where the Sunni militiahad a stronghold. While the wall reduced the number of murders and attacks, it has created unease among Sunnis, who fear that they are being cut off from Baghdad. Others think that the wall is not for their protection but to keep them at bay and allow the Shiite militias to deal with other Sunnis outside the wall.
Some businesses and facilities that serve the Sunni community are also outside the wall, complicating the unease. Sunni insurgents tried to destroy the wall with bombs soon after it was erected. They failed and only managed to damage a small portion that was later repaired.
Zimbabwe and Botswana are separated by a 500-kilometer-long (310 mi) and 2-meter-high (6 ft) electric fence built by Botswana. Botswana says the fence is necessary to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth disease brought by cattle smuggled from Zimbabwe.
If this is true, it is clear why Botswana was concerned about the disease. At the time the wall was proposed in 2003, Botswana was facing a foot-and-mouth disease epidemic that left farmers killing thousands of cattle. This posed a threat to its economy, in which cattle rearing was the second major source of income.
Zimbabwe says the fence has nothing to do with the disease. Instead, it is an attempt by Botswana to keep Zimbabweans out. Zimbabwe was experiencing inflation and severe unemployment at the time that the fence was proposed, leaving many to illegally cross the border to neighboring Botswana.
Curiously, Botswana never turned on the electric fence and did not patrol it to stop people or animals from crossing illegally.
South Africa has an electric fence erected along its borders with Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In 1990, the Mozambique portion of the fence, which locals called the “Snake of Fire,” was fingered for the death of hundreds of civilians fleeing the Mozambican Civil War. The electric fence delivered a deadly 3,500-volt shock to anyone who touched it.
Electric fences are usually available in lethal and nonlethal variants. The nonlethal ones could deliver shocks up to 10,000 volts in milliseconds. This is enough to stop people from attempting to breach the fence. But considering the short period of contact, it is not enough to kill.
The lethal variant, the type used in South Africa, delivers continuous shocks that will kill a person. Lucky survivors usually suffered serious burns or lost body parts.
The South African Catholic Bureau for Refugees claimed that the fence killed over 200 civilians every year. Meanwhile, the South African Defense Force claimed that only 89 people died in three years. Whichever is true, the fence killed more people than the Berlin Wall did in 28 years. An entire industry even crept up around evading the fence with Mozambique civilians paying guides to show them routes.
An alternative was to walk through the fenceless area that leads straight into the South African Kruger National Park, which is renowned for its pride of lions. A typical journey through the park into mainland South Africa took 24 hours, enough time to get hunted and eaten by hungry lions. Soldiers guarding the park often reported seeing the remains of people eaten by lions.
Some lions even turned into man-eaters, abandoning their normal game for human flesh. They became so bold that they started attacking and killing reserve wardens for food. The fence still exists today, but it is no longer electrified or guarded. It has been cut in several places and has mostly fallen into disrepair.
Peace Walls are not a single barrier but a series of over 60 different walls that divide Belfast, Northern Ireland. In some places, the walls are nothing but short wooden fences, and in others, they are high concrete walls. The barriers were erected during the Troubles to keep the religiously and politically different unionists and nationalists apart.
Before the walls, people from both sides launched attacks. The walls slowly started creeping up around neighborhoods prone to this violence. At the time, the walls made residents feel safer.
Weirdly, most of the walls were erected after the end of the Troubles. They are slowly being demolished and are projected to be entirely destroyed by 2023.
Project Wall is a planned 2,000-kilometer-long (1,200 mi) border fence and trench system separating Ukraine from Russia. It is funded by Ukraine and intended to prevent another Russian invasion. Ukraine started erecting the fence after Russia successfully annexed Crimea. The fence is still under construction and might never be completed considering current events.
Ukraine does not have enough money to complete the fence, and the little it has expended is being stolen by corrupt contractors and border guards. Most of the fenced part of the border is also compromised and not built up to standards. So far, Ukraine has only managed to dig 273 kilometers (169 mi) of trenches and to fence 83 kilometers (52 mi) of the border.
Some defense analysts are skeptical about the effectiveness of the fence and trench. The fence is unguarded, and the trench is unlikely to slow down Russian tanks. Ukraine has shifted the planned date of completion from 2018 to 2021. Its government says that it cannot fund the fence alone and will find other European nations to help it with the cost. Russia is also erecting a fence to separate Crimea from Ukraine.
The Great Wall is a 966-kilometer-long (600 mi) fence and trench system that separates Saudi Arabia from Iraq. The Saudis first considered erecting the fence in 2006 over fears that belligerents of the Iraqi Civil War could launch cross-border strikes into Saudi territory.
In 2014, Saudi Arabia began construction after watching ISIS grab a huge chunk of Iraq’s territory just at its border. The Saudis feared that ISIS was preparing to launch an invasion into its territory.
The wall is protected by five parallel fences, watchtowers, surveillance equipment, and over 30,000 soldiers. While the fence was still under construction in 2015, ISIS attacked a border post to stop the Saudis from completing the project. Three border guards were killed in the attack. One was General Oudah al-Belawi, who commanded border operations in Saudi Arabia’s north.
Besides the Iraqi border, Saudi Arabia is also building a 1,600-kilometer-long (1,000 mi) wall along its border with Yemen.
Ceuta and Melilla are two Spanish cities in North Africa. Both are considered a part of Spain even though they share borders with Morocco. There is regular ferry service between the cities and mainland Spain.
This has resulted in African migrants fleeing to both cities by sneaking in on ferries going to Spain. As a result, Spain erected fences along the borders which both cities share with Morocco to stop the migrants from coming in.
The European Union also doles out millions of euros to Spain and Morocco to stop the migrants from sneaking into these cities and, consequently, into Europe through mainland Spain. The fence in Melilla is 11 kilometers (7 mi) long. It consists of three parallel fences, complete with blades, alarms, and pepper gas. The pepper gas have been deactivated for now.
Unlike the other walls we have mentioned, the Egypt-Gaza wall is an underground wall. It was constructed to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza through underground tunnels from Egypt. Israel has a tight blockade on Gaza and strictly controls what can and cannot be imported. This has created problems for people importing items like food.
To bypass the borders, people have taken to smuggling items through tunnels dug from Egypt. Hamas controls these tunnels. It provides lighting and collects taxes on the smuggled products. Hamas also has its own secret tunnels that it uses to transport weapons. Although the wall was built to target these secret tunnels, it will also affect the regular tunnels used to transport food and similar crucial items.
Egypt says the underground wall is 10 kilometers (6 mi) long and cannot be cut or melted. It was built with the aid of the US. Israel itself is building an underground wall above and beneath its 64-kilometer-long (40 mi) border with Gaza.
The underground wall is intended to counter the tunnels used by Hamas to launch attacks into Israel. Israel has not revealed the depth of the wall but says that it will be completed in 2019.
Seventy percent of India’s 4,100-kilometer-long (2,500 mi) border with Bangladesh is fenced. The 2.4-meter-high (8 ft) fence has barbed wire and, in some places, electric fence. The structure was erected in the 1980s after violence broke out in the Indian state of Assam over illegal Bangladeshi migrants in the state. Nevertheless, the fence has failed to achieve its purpose because Bangladeshi immigrants and even terrorists still get through.
Corrupt border guards collect bribes from illegal Bangladeshi immigrants to allow them into the country. Some illegal immigrants also use fake papers to beat the system. Others just pass through the rivers at the border, areas which are obviously unfenced and account for 1,116 kilometers (693 mi) of the border.
India has also been criticized for the heavy-handed manner with which it keeps out illegal Bangladeshi migrants. Indian border guards killed 900 Bangladeshis between 2001 and 2010.
Some were not even illegal immigrants. They only happened to be Bangladeshi farmers with farms close to the border. Others were killed while returning to Bangladesh after illegally crossing the border to visit relatives on the Indian side.
Serial killers are known to be lethal with weapons in their hands, but they can also incite fear with their pens as the following creepy letters have proved. They were written by some of the most notorious and twisted killers in history.
The letters became tools to taunt the police, make demands, hurt the victims’ families, or make chilling confessions. Each one was likely written with the same hand that the killer used to slay his victims.
Creepy serial killer Albert Fish was known as “The Boogeyman” as he preyed on small children and was a suspect in at least five brutal child murders. In 1928, he kidnapped 10-year-old Grace Budd. Then he murdered her and cannibalized her remains at an abandoned house in Westchester County, New York.
Afterward, Fish sent a letter to Budd’s mother describing in horrifying detail how he murdered the young girl. He wrote:
When all was ready, I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked, she began to cry and tried to run downstairs. I grabbed her, and she said she would tell her mama. How she did kick, bite, and scratch. I (then) cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms, cook and eat it.
The letter became the downfall of Fish as police were able to trace the killer from the unique branding on the envelope he had sent.
Donald Harvey was a former orderly in hospitals in Ohio and Kentucky during the 1970s and 1980s. During this time, he killed an estimated 37 patients. However, the real victim count is believed to be much higher as Harvey claimed the figure is closer to 70. His killing spree “began by accident” after hooking up a patient to an empty oxygen tank, and then he just couldn’t stop.
The cold-blooded killer never showed any remorse for his crimes. In one interview, he said, “Some of those (patients) might have lasted a few more hours or a few more days, but they were all going to die. I know you think I played God, and I did.”
In a chilling letter that he wrote behind bars, the serial killer joked, “Lord, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill because they pissed me off.”
Dr. H.H. Holmes was a twisted serial killer who built a “Murder Castle” in Chicago with the intention to kill as many victims as possible. The 100-room building had long, winding corridors that would disorient victims. It also had trapdoors, false walls, and gas chambers. Holmes then sold the cadavers to medical research institutions, and the organs were traded on the black market.
On April 11, 1896, he wrote a full letter of confession to the Philadelphia North American newspaper:
I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing. I was born with the “Evil One” standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since.
One month later, he was hanged at Moyamensing Prison for his crimes.
Gary Ridgway became known as the “Green River Killer” after he confessedto murdering 48 sex workers and runaways in the state of Washington during the 1980s and 1990s. Ridgway said, “I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.”
In 1984, he wrote a letter about the murders titled “what you need to know about the green river man” and sent it to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In disturbing detail, the killer wrote about necrophilia and cutting off the fingernails of victims before signing off as “callmefred.”
Police claimed that it was a “brazen attempt to throw off investigators.” At the time, they did not follow up on this key evidence. Ridgway’s game of playing cat and mouse with the police finally came to an end in 2001 when DNA evidence connected him to the murders. He was spared the death penalty as part of a plea bargain where he disclosed the locations of the missing bodies. His plea bargain raised his murder convictions to 49.
The “Moors Murderers,” Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, killed five childrenbetween 10 and 17 years old in the early 1960s. Three graves were discovered on Saddleworth Moor in Manchester, England, but the killers never revealed the final resting place of their other victims. Hindley claimed that she was under Brady’s spell and that she took part in the crimes against her will. However, he tells a different story.
In one letter that he wrote from prison to a journalist, Brady explained:
Hindley has crafted a Victorian melodrama in which she portrays herself as being forced to murder serially. We both habitually carried revolvers and went for target practice on the moors. If I were mistreating her, she could have shot me dead at any time. For 30 years, she said she was acting out of love for me; now she maintains she killed because she hated me—a completely irrational hypothesis. In character, she is essentially a chameleon, adopting whatever camouflage will suit and voicing whatever she believes the individual wishes to hear. She can kill, both in cold blood or in a rage.
The Axeman of New Orleans is an unidentified serial killer who butchered six victims and injured 12 others in 1918 and 1919. A letter believed to be from the killer was published in newspapers and claimed that he would spare anyone who was playing jazz music.
I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have just mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it out on that specific Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.
Then the murders suddenly stopped as quickly as they had started. The crimes remain unsolved to this day.
Over a three-week span in 2002, the “Beltway snipers” killed 10 people in the states of Maryland and Virginia. (Another seven individuals were murdered elsewhere.) John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo shot each victim with a single bullet fired from a distance. Then the killers vanished.
They wrote down their demands in a three-page letter with a cover note that read, “For you, Mr. Police. Call Me God.” They demanded $10 million in “unlimited withdrawals” or the lives of children in the area would be threatened. The letter was left pinned to a tree outside a restaurant where the snipers had shot and wounded a man who was out to dinner with his wife.
They were eventually caught when one of the snipers mentioned an unsolved murder in Montgomery, Alabama, in a traced phone call. Authorities were able to link both of the murders with fingerprints and make an arrest. Muhammad was put to death by lethal injection, and Malvo received a life sentence.
Dennis Rader gave himself the title “BTK” after his chilling murder method of “Bind, Torture, Kill.” Between 1974 and 1991, Rader killed 10 people in Sedgwick County, Kansas, with gaps in between to dedicate more of his time to being a family man. Rader believed that he could outwit the police, so he sent them taunting letters.
One of his poorly written letters read:
When this monster enter my brain, I will never know. But, it here to stay. Society can be thankfull (sic) that there are ways for people like me to relieve myself at time by daydreams of some victim being torture and being mine. It a big compicated (sic) game my friend of the monster play putting victims number down, follow them, checking up on them waiting in the dark, waiting, waiting. Maybe you can stop him. I can’t. He has areadly (sic) chosen his next victim.
He signed it, “Yours, Truly Guiltily, BTK.”
He was caught after he upgraded his technology and sent his letters on a floppy disc, which was immediately traced to him.
The terrifying case of Jack the Ripper still haunts London today. In 1888, the chilling serial killer targeted impoverished areas around Whitechapel. The bodies of his victims were discovered with their throats cut open and with abdominal mutilations.
On September 27, 1888, the Central News Agency received this letter (which they believed was a hoax):
The next job I do, I shall clip the lady’s ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly, wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck. Yours truly, Jack the Ripper.
Three days later, a double murder took place. True to his word, the ripper cut a portion of the earlobe off his victims. The case has never been solved.
In the late 1960s, the Zodiac Killer targeted four men and three women between the ages of 16 and 29 in Benicia, Vallejo, Lake Berryessa, and San Francisco. Five victims were killed during his reign of terror. He sent several letters, including four cryptograms, to the local Bay Area press. It’s believed that his true identity will be revealed if the ciphers can be decoded.
Only one of the ciphers has ever been solved. Schoolteacher Donald Harden and his wife, Bettye, cracked the code which reads:
I LIKE KILLING PEOPLE BECAUSE IT IS SO MUCH FUN IT IS MORE FUN THAN KILLING WILD GAME IN THE FORREST BECAUSE MAN IS THE MOST DANGEROUE ANAMAL OF ALL TO KILL SOMETHING GIVES ME THE MOST THRILLING EXPERENCE IT IS EVEN BETTER THAN GETTING YOUR ROCKS OFF WITH A GIRL THE BEST PART OF IT IS THAE WHEN I DIE I WILL BE REBORN IN PARADICE AND ALL THEI HAVE KILLED WILL BECOME MY SLAVES I WILL NOT GIVE YOU MY NAME BECAUSE YOU WILL TRY TO SLOI DOWN OR ATOP MY COLLECTIOG OF SLAVES FOR MY AFTERLIFE. EBEORIETEMETHHPITI.
Great Sunday. 5th meeting of Toastmasters in 3rd Club of Bangalore. Young, vibrant crowd mixed with some bearded oldies and middle aged Techies.
Love Birds Meaning: A pair of people who have a shared love for each other. No. did not happen. Day of course, began different.
Jaws of Death Meaning: Being in a dangerous or very deadly situation. No. Not really. Saw a Premier movie for a while but did not experience it 🙂
Two Down, One to Go Meaning: Two things have been completed, but there is one more that has yet to be finished. Yes. Today’s short walk left the Udemy course study unfinished for the day .
No Ifs, Ands, or Buts Meaning: Finishing a task without making any excuses. Experienced this later in the day with two Excuse Masters cleverly negotiating with each other.
Right Off the Bat Meaning: Immediately, done in a hurry; without delay. Yes. without any inhibition responded emails and gave guidance to even a mail marked FYI 🙂 🙂 . Lessons repeated in Communications.
Break The Ice Meaning: Breaking down a social stiffness. Great speeches by two youngsters and one International Humorist champs at Toastmasters. The breaking the ice speech was literally great.
A Chip on Your Shoulder Meaning: Being angry about something that happened in the past. Yes. I still carry one anger chip on my shoulder.
Shot In the Dark Meaning: An attempt that has little chance for success. no like hope taking shot in the dark is not part of my strategy.
Let Her Rip Meaning: Permission to start, or it could mean ‘go faster!’ If the brainfog is gone and wiser sense prevails – you don’t need any permission.
Wake Up Call Meaning: An occurance of sorts that brings a problem to somebody’s attention and they realize it needs fixing. Hmmm… will wait and watch though.
Keep Your Shirt On Meaning: Keeping calm. Usually said by someone who is trying to avoid making others upset. Yes. even while in an angry tone, try not to rant. 🙂
… that today is Black Diamond Beetle Day? In 1999, WakuWaku Land, a Japanese insect specialty store, sold a rare Black Diamond Beetle for a record 10 million yen ($90,000). So, think about that the next time you feel the urge to squish a bug. 😉
Today’s Inspirational Quote:
“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
THE WHOLE HUMAN
A psychotherapist explains the 5 stages of changing your behavior
By Katherine Schafler
Aug 17, 2018
Wait, just thinking about changing is a stage of change? That’s how you start to change — by thinking about it without doing anything?
The idea that just thinking about what you want to change is an actual stage of change is so rational and obvious after the fact (of course you need to think about what you want to change and how you want to change it before you actually do it), but in the midst of contemplating change most people encounter this sentiment:
All I do is think about changing X and talk about changing X but I don’t actually do it.
This creates stuckness and a negative self-fulfilling prophecy.
You tell yourself over and over again that you’re not someone who does anything to change, you just think about it a ton, and then you become someone who doesn’t do anything to change and who just thinks about it a ton.
Breaking that cycle starts with a deeper understanding of what the process of change actually looks like.
Deliberate change comes in 5 stages:
You’re not even thinking about changing. An example of this is a woman who’s dating a man who isn’t great for her, but she’s having fun dating him anyway. She doesn’t think he’s not great for her, she doesn’t think he’s a bad or incompatible choice. She’s just enjoying being around him.
In this stage, it’s likely that a few things have happened which have catalyzed some thoughts around whether you should change something. Using the prior example, the woman might have noticed a few things about the man she’s dating that she doesn’t like. She might be starting to ask herself questions like, Where is this going? … What am I doing? … Well he’s really great at X but not so great at Y … Why am I putting up with this? … Is he enough for me? … Am I really happy with this situation?
You don’t actually change anything in the second stage.
You basically just think about what your life would be like if you continued doing the exact same things, what your life would be like if you decided to change and the ways by which that potential change might occur.
This is when you’ve decided you want to change and you go into preparation mode.
You might ask around about how other people have successfully changed and announce to others that you’ve decided to change in order to hold yourself accountable to it. You might read books or blog posts on change, you might make purchases for yourself that make it easier to enable and stick to the change you want (cough, lululemon, cough).
The action stage is marked by actual behavioral changes.
This is the stage that most people associate with change because it’s the stage that’s most visible.
In our example, this is the stage where you have the tough conversation and you break up.
A crucial and often overlooked stage.
It can take so long to realize you need to change ‘for real’ as well as to take the actionable steps to change, that by the time you get to the maintenance stage it’s easier to think the tough work is behind you.
Ironically, this is the stage that often requires the most support.
Relapsing (i.e. going back on your decision to change) is usually a natural part of this stage that is misinterpreted as failure.
When you have support through the maintenance stage, you learn to prevent, examine and explore your relapses, mining for the loopholes that you then begin to tie off.
With the exception of pre-contemplation, all the stages of change require a great deal of work, attention, time and energy. Thinking is included in this work. It’s hard to encounter conflicting thoughts about what you want and then reconcile the dissension.
Figuring out what you really, truly want can be challenging enough — implementing and maintaining the changes you’ve decided upon can be even more so. #5 of my ten tenets especially applies here, and if it applies to you, recruit support.
Katherine Schafler is an NYC-based psychotherapist, writer, and speaker. For more of her work, join her newsletter community, read her blog, or follow her on Instagram.
How Relationships Refine Our Truths: Adrienne Rich on the Dignity of Love
“We can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.”
BY MARIA POPOVA
From her stirring poetry to her timeless wisdom on love, loss, and creativity, beloved poet and feminist Adrienne Rich (May 16, 1929–March 27, 2012) endures as one of the most celebrated poets of the twentieth century, a remarkable woman of equal parts literary flair and political conviction. In a monumental manifestation of both, when Rich was awarded prestigious National Medal of Arts in 1997, the highest honor bestowed upon an individual artist on behalf of the people of the United States, she famously became the first and only person yet to decline the honor in a protest against the monopoly of power and the government’s proposed plan to end funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
But Rich was also a masterful writer of prose at the intersection of the philosophical, the political, and the deeply personal. In her essay titled “Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying,” originally read at the Hartwick Women Writers’ Workshop in June of 1975 and eventually included in the altogether fantastic anthology On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978 (public library), Rich adds to history’s finest definitions of love with eloquence that resonates with particularly poignant beauty in these days of historic change for the freedom and dignity of love:
An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.
How beautifully this lends itself to paraphrasing Rich’s memorable words from two decades later — “I don’t think we can separate art from overall human dignity and hope.” — to “I don’t think we can separate love from overall human dignity and hope.”
On Lies, Secrets, and Silence is indispensable in its entirety. Complement it with Rich on what “truth” really means and her spectacular commencement address on claiming an education.
Serial killers don’t just come out of nowhere. They often have a history of antisocial behavior throughout infancy and early adolescence. Psychiatrist Dorothy Lewis of New York University concluded that a murderer is made through a lethal combination of childhood abuse, neurological disturbances, and psychiatric illness.
As FBI profiler Jim Clemente explained, “Genetics loads the gun, their personality and psychology aim it, and their experiences pull the trigger.”
The following early warning signs are all attributed to some of the most cold-blooded and heartless serial killers ever known. If only someone would have seen it coming.
The Macdonald triad was first suggested by psychiatrist J.M. Macdonald in his 1963 paper, “The Threat to Kill.” Macdonald had compared 48 psychotic patients with 52 nonpsychotic patients who all displayed violent tendencies. The research suggested that three particular behaviors in early childhood “figure prominently in the ranks of serial murderers.”
One of those behaviors was enuresis (bed-wetting). Although this is common in childhood, it would become a concern if the bed-wetting continued twice a week for at least three consecutive months after age 5. The child might become humiliated or frustrated by his constant bed-wetting as many parents would ridicule a child for this behavior.
Serial killer Albert Fish, who was responsible for three child murders in the early 1900s, was a known bed-wetter until age 11. Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins Jr., who claims to have killed more than 100 people although he was only convicted of nine murders, also was a persistent bed-wetter throughout his childhood.
Macdonald also theorized that arson, or fire-setting, was another early behavioral trait that could be linked to violent tendencies later in life. Fire-setting is a potential warning sign that you have a murderer in the making on your hands as he is looking to destroy anything he can.
Serial killer Ottis Toole, who was convicted of six counts of murder, was also a serial arsonist from a young age and admitted to being sexually aroused by fire. The sinister American drifter claimed that he drew a sense of excitement from seeing the flames—the bigger the flames, the bigger the thrill.
Toole had a troubled childhood. He has often spoken about suffering sexual abuse at a young age. His Satanist grandmother also exposed him to many dark rituals, including self-mutilation.
The setting of fires is linked to a mixture of emotions, including power, excitement, and revenge. Toole might have enjoyed experiencing all three when he was a helpless child.
8Harming Small Animals
The third behavior in the Macdonald triad is harming small animals. Young children who pull on a dog’s tail or yank at a cat’s whiskers are not necessarily out to harm the animal. They are more likely acting out of curiosity.
Mistreatment of animals, including repeated violence without remorse, is linked to troubled children who later become serious offenders in their adult lives. Sixty percent of children who have suffered previous abuse themselves have turned to mistreating animals.
Serial killer Edmund Kemper—who butchered his own mother, his mother’s best friend, six female students, and his own paternal grandparents—started torturing animals from a young age. At 10 years old, he buried his catalive. Then he dug it up and displayed the head on a spike as a “trophy.” At age 13, he used a machete to chop off the head of his replacement cat.
Writer Harold Schechter noted, “Animal torture isn’t a stage. It’s a rehearsal.”
A study found that the majority of notorious serial killers had suffered headinjuries in childhood. Elaine Whitfield Sharp, defense attorney and expert in head trauma cases, said that these early injuries are connected to a lack of empathy in later life. She explained, “It doesn’t matter whether the frontal lobe damage is psychiatric or traumatic. The result is the same. Gross lack of empathy.”
Richard Ramirez (aka the “Night Stalker”) had a dresser fall on his head, and he needed 30 stitches when he was just five. John Wayne Gacy Jr. (aka the “Killer Clown”) suffered from blackouts when his head was struck by a swing at age 11.
When David Berkowitz (aka “Son of Sam”) was eight, he was hit on the head with a pipe, causing a 10-centimeter (4 in) gash. Albert Fish (aka the “Boogeyman”) suffered a severe head trauma when he fell from a tree at age seven. Dennis Rader (aka the “BTK Killer”) also stated that his mother had accidentally dropped him on his head as an infant.
One of the first signs of psychopathy in adolescence is extreme antisocial behavior such as persistent aggression. The Institute of Psychiatry stated that about 5 percent of children have a severe level of antisocial behavior which later develops into psychopathy. For 30 percent of children displaying this behavior, it can be attributed to genetics. For others, it’s due to a difficult, traumatic, or neglectful upbringing.
One example of early psychopathy occurred when Ted Bundy was three years old. He had already begun to show an interest in knives. His “aunt” recalled a young Bundy pulling back her bedsheets as she slept and slipping three butchers knives beside her. (His “aunt” was really his biological mother. Bundy was an illegitimate child, so he was raised by his grandparents.)
Serial killer Carroll Cole committed his first murder when he drowned a school friend in a lake. He later confessed to the killing, which was believed to have been an accident until then.
5Witnessing Extreme Violence
Children who witness violence, either as victims or as observers, can become desensitized in the long term. Those who are affected can adopt the perception that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems.
Criminologist Dr. Adrian Raine explained that both biological and social factors surrounding violence in childhood contribute to antisocial behavior in adolescence. In his book, The Anatomy of Violence, he explained, “Genetics and environment work together to encourage violent behavior.”
Most notable was the severe violence witnessed in childhood by serial killer Richard Ramirez. His older cousin, Miguel Ramirez, had returned from the Vietnam War and told a young Richard details of the torture and mutilation of Vietnamese women. Miguel even showed him photographic evidence of what the victims endured.
When Richard was 13 years old, he witnessed Miguel murder his wife. Before Richard Ramirez was captured in 1985, he murdered at least 13 people and tortured dozens more, earning him the name “The Night Stalker.”
4History Of Family Psychiatric Disorders
Five psychiatric disorders are believed to have genetic links—autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Looking at the DNA of more than 30,000 people who had been diagnosed with one of these mental or behavioral conditions, researchers found specific variations in the genetic code that were significantly associated with these conditions.
Many notorious serial killers have a history of mental illness within the family. Aileen Wuornos’s father, who was behind bars for sexually molesting a minor, was diagnosed as schizophrenic and hanged himself when Wuornos was 13 years old.
Albert Fish also came from a family with severe mental illness. His uncle suffered from mania, his two siblings were incarcerated in mental institutions, and his mother suffered from visual hallucinations.
The mother of child torturer and murderer Rose West underwent electroconvulsive therapy following a struggle with depression while she was pregnant with West. Rose’s father was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, which made him prone to violent attacks.
3Early Promiscuity And Voyeurism
Childhood voyeurism and early promiscuity are common traits among notorious serial killers. Engaging intimately with others, behavior that included undressing in public or being a “Peeping Tom,” are also traits connected to antisocial behavior.
Criminologist Eric Hickey stated in Serial Killers and their Victims, “The fact [that] certain serial murderers have insisted that pornography was a major factor in their killing young women and children cannot be ignored.” He explained that the four steps are addiction to the images, an increased appetite for those images, desensitization to the violence, and acting out the images.
Ted Bundy confessed that he would look through the windows of neighborswho might be caught undressing when he was a young boy. In his final interviews, he admitted that pornography had an impact on his violent tendencies: “Pornography can reach in and snatch the kid out of any house today. It snatched me out of my home.”
2Manipulation And Callousness
Parents who are manipulated by their children are often locked in a powerstruggle, much like a tug-of-war. The more the parents attempt to control the child, the more the child will act up.
Behavior such as compulsive lying, destruction of toys, emotional blackmail, or violent tantrums are tactics an antisocial child might apply as a means to control his parents. Psychologist Robert D. Hare, who created the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, notes that cunning and manipulative behavior are one of the signs of psychopathy.
In another study, researchers focused on callous-unemotional (CU) pre-psychopathic behavior and asked parents questions about their child’s deceitful-callous (DC) behavior. The five items considered DC behavior are: The child doesn’t seem guilty after misbehaving, punishment doesn’t change behavior, the child is selfish/won’t share, the child lies, and the child is sneaky and tries to get around his parents.
The study found that toddlers who rated high on the DC scale developed significant behavior problems later in life.
When a child is told that he “always has his head in the clouds,” it’s often just a harmless jibe. Yet what might go unnoticed is just how far the child is willing to delve into his fictional world.
Fantasy can relieve fear and anxiety. But other compulsive forms of escapism are often seen among children who have suffered abuse, neglect, or trauma. The fantasy will play like a loop—which the child will happily return to for his own satisfaction—much like a serial killer’s desire to claim victim after victim.
Serial killer Edmund Kemper confessed, “I knew long before I started killing that I was going to be killing; that it was going to end up like that. The fantasies were too strong. They were going on for too long and were too elaborate.”
Jeffrey Dahmer and David Berkowitz also revealed that they had periods of intense fantasies throughout their youth. Most serial killers have already imagined their first murder in great detail long before they’ve fully committed to the idea.
It is time, yet again, to look at some of the more unusual or unique stories that made their way through the news cycle this week. Click here to read about all the serious stuff that happened over the last few days. Otherwise, read on for the weird side of the headlines.
Animals were pretty active this week, and we look at some clever birds, a herd of crime-fighting cows, and one vicious squirrel. Scientists were busy unraveling the mysteries of cheese and spaghetti, and we also examine a really weird planet where titanium exists in vapor form.
Researchers at MIT cracked a decades-old mystery by finally finding a way to break a spaghetti stick in two.
This is a challenge which, over the years, has flummoxed both physicists and laymen. Even Richard Feynman explored the phenomenon in 1939 and failed to find an adequate explanation for it. And the best part is that anyone can try it at home. Just take a single spaghetti stick, hold it at both ends, and start bending it. The challenge is to break it in two halves. While this can happen from time to time, the vast majority of sticks will break into three or more pieces.
It wasn’t until 2005 that a group of physicists from France developed a new theory to describe the forces at work when bending a long, thin rod like a spaghetti stick. They said that the initial break happens in the center, where the curvature is the greatest, and it causes a “snap-back” effect which creates further fracture to the rod. They won the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize for this but were unable to devise a way of nullifying the effect.
A new MIT study had the answer. The secret is to twist the spaghetti. Researchers built a machine specifically for this task to ensure uniformity. They found that the stick must first be twisted to a critical degree and then bent slowly, and it will break in two.
A theme park in France has put rooks to work by teaching the birds to collect and deposit trash.
Rooks, as well as other members of the Corvidae family, have frequently been hailed as some of the smartest animals on the planet. The people at Puy du Fou theme park in Les Epesses found a practical and useful application for that intelligence. The corvids have been trained to pick up cigarette butts and other small pieces of garbage. Afterward, they deliver their cargo to specially designed bins which dispense nuggets of bird food as reward for their diligent work.
Six feathery cleaners were deployed during the successful trial run, and more have been put to work this week. It remains to be seen if the technique catches on in other places.
More and more Europeans living in touristy cities are protesting against cruise ships that bring tens of thousands of passengers at once, claiming they are causing environmental and cultural damage and pricing locals out of their homes. One Norwegian politician decided to mount his own protest and greeted thousands of passengers aboard one cruise ship in the nude.
Svein Ingvald Opdal is a 71-year-old member of Norway’s Green Party who was vacationing with his wife in the village of Olden. He became annoyed after seeing three cruise liners bring 11,000 passengers in just one day to a small community with a population of 500. He decided to give the next ship a memorable welcome, stripped down, and flashed the incoming tourists.
Opdal described the protest as a “spontaneous act that [he] did mostly for fun.” His wife took a photograph but was too embarrassed to post it online. Instead, the septuagenarian shared it with his 460 Instagram followers. The stunt proved popular enough to gain traction and make worldwide news.
NASA scientists announced that the New Horizons spacecraft has reached a barrier they describe as a “hydrogen wall.” The phenomenon was detected by the onboard instrument “Alice,” an ultraviolet imaging telescope and spectrometer used to gather information about Pluto’s atmosphere.
As New Horizons is heading toward the boundaries of the solar system, Alice has discerned a source of ultraviolet light in the distance. Scientists believe the light is being scattered by a wall of hydrogen, which includes “substantial contribution from a distant source” along with hydrogen atoms from our system. If this turns out to be the case, then the hydrogen wall could have been formed at the point where our solar wind encounters interstellar winds. The New Horizons team plans on studying the region with Alice about twice a year and, hopefully, gaining more answers.
Launched in 2006, New Horizons is a space probe whose main objective was to perform a close-up flyby study of Pluto, something it accomplished in 2015. Now, it is headed for the Kuiper Belt to get a closer look at some curious objects. Eventually, it will leave the solar system in around 2040.
There are plenty of animals out there that look harmless, even friendly, but still have the potential to be deadly. Of course, we know that of the creatures of the world, none is more fearsome than the baby squirrel. A man in the German town of Karlsruhe found that out the hard way when he had to call the police to come save him from one of these menacing creatures.
Officers responded to a call from a person who was being chased relentlessly by a baby squirrel. They managed to lure it away with a box of leaves, and it promptly fell asleep once in custody. They posted a few pictures of the tiny rodent online, wanting to turn it into their new mascot. They even named it Karl-Friedrich. Subsequently, they realized the squirrel was, in fact, a girl, so they changed the name to Pippilotta, the full first name of Pippi Longstocking.
According to animal experts, the animal was displaying behavior typical of a young squirrel that had lost its mother and was looking for a substitute. She is doing well and has a new playmate in the form of a male squirrel named Bjorn. Pippilotta will be released back to the outside world in September.
5Archaeologists Find The Oldest Cheese In The World, Maybe
The American Chemical Society (ACS) announced the discovery of a piece of dairy in an ancient Egyptian tomb which might be the oldest cheese in the world.
The tomb belongs to Ptahmes, a powerful official under Seti I. It is located in the Saqqara necropolis in the ancient ruins of Memphis. It was first discovered in 1885 but lost again after it was buried under desert sands. Archaeologists from Cairo University rediscovered the tomb in 2010 and have been busy examining all the artifacts inside.
Among the items found was a jar that contained a solidified whitish mass, plus a piece of canvas fabric likely used to cover it up. The contents were analyzed using mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography at the University of Catania in Italy. They detected peptides which identified the sample as a dairy product made from cow milk and sheep or goat milk. Furthermore, the characteristics of the canvas covering suggest it was intended to preserve something solid, not liquid. This led scientists to conclude that the white mass was once cheese.
The sample showed signs of contamination with Brucella, bacteria that causes brucellosis. It is a disease that can spread from animals to humans, commonly transmitted by consuming unpasteurized dairy products.
One of the oldest rivalries in the food industry was renewed recently when Hydrox revealed that it filed an official complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that Oreo representatives engage in sabotage to get customers to buy their cookies over their competitor.
Hydrox made its debut in 1908. Four years later, the similar Oreo came onto the scene, and the feud started. However, it turned out to be a one-sided affair. Oreo was owned by Nabisco, which had the “muscle” to overshadow its competitor. It became the best-selling cookie in the United States, while Hydrox was a distant second and was even discontinued for almost two decades.
Hydrox started selling again in 2015, owned by Leaf Brands, but is now accusing its competitor of taking direct action to hide its products. According to them, Oreo, owned by food giant Mondelez International (of which Nabisco is a subsidiary), has its own sales reps who stock their biscuits directly in stores. While doing this, however, they also hide or move Hydrox products to make them harder for people to find.
In a Facebook post, Hydrox presented some anecdotal evidence in the form of pictures and testimonies from customers and store employees who claim to be aware of the practice. A spokesperson for Oreo said they are sure the complaint “has no merit.”
A herd of cows brought a fugitive to justice after chasing the suspect through their pasture right into the waiting arms of the law.
A woman identified as Jamie Young stole an SUV in Florida and took it for a ride. She was being pursued by police when she crashed into a stop sign in a rural area of Seminole County. She got out of the vehicle and fled the scene on foot, trying to lose the cops in a nearby pasture.
About 20 or so cows were grazing there and didn’t take too kindly to Young invading their personal space. They started chasing her all over the pasture and even launched a few mock attacks on her. Eventually, the woman forgot all about evading the police and jumped over a fence to escape the bovine horde.
As far as the authorities were concerned, the stampeding herd of cows made for a great visual indicator of where their suspect was. They were there to arrest her shortly after she jumped the fence. Of course, none of Young’s efforts would have made any difference. A helicopter from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office was watching from above and caught her whole ordeal on camera.
Extensive tests carried out for the first time on an intact ancient mummy revealed the recipe for Egyptian embalming that had been developed 1,000 years before the complete mummification process, which became a cornerstone of ancient Egyptian culture.
The mummy in question came from the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy. It was dated to 3700–3500 BC, but that’s not what makes it special. Unlike most other mummies in museums, this one never underwent any conservation treatments and, thus, had its chemical composition intact as it was thousands of years ago.
An international team of scientists led by Dr. Stephen Buckley from the University of York first started work on the project in 2014. Back then, they analyzed textiles that were used as mummy wrappings. Even though they were dated to 4000 BC, these linen fabrics contained embalming agents. From there, the team performed a chemical analysis of the Turin mummyand identified the ingredients used during the process.
The basic recipe calls for a plant oil, a plant-based gum, a “balsam-type” plant or root extract that could have come from bulrushes, and a conifer tree resin, most likely pine. This mixture would have had antibacterial properties that protected the body from decay.
1What’s It Like On The Hottest Planet Ever Discovered?
Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) announced that a certain planet gets so hot that it has iron and titanium vapors in its atmosphere.
The planet in question is called KELT-9b, and it is located 650 light-years away in the Cygnus constellation. It was discovered last year as it orbited its host star, KELT-9, 30 times closer than we orbit the Sun. This has heated the planet to a temperature over 4,000 degrees Kelvin. While this isn’t as hot as the surface of our Sun, it’s decently close, and it still is hotter than other types of stars.
We don’t know what an atmosphere would be like under these conditions, but scientists from the University of Bern speculated that most molecules would be in atomic form and that we would also be able to observe gaseous atomic iron with our telescopes.
Fast-forward a few months, and the FOUR ACES1 astronomy team from UNIGE did just that. While the planet was in front of KELT-9, light from the star filtered through its atmosphere. Using a spectrograph, they could spread the light into its component colors and analyze the chemical composition of the atmosphere. Scientists found iron vapor, as predicted, but were also able to detect the signature of titanium, also in vapor form.
Hot Jupiters are a class of exoplanets which are gas giants like our Jovian neighbor but are much closer to their respective stars and, therefore, have short orbital periods and much higher surface temperatures. Scientists have been lobbying for the creation of a distinct “ultra-hot Jupiter” class for planets like KELT-9b. They are faced with a unique problem, as they believe that most exoplanets, under these circumstances, would completely evaporate.
Keeping up with the news is hard. So hard, in fact, that we’ve decided to save you the hassle by rounding up the most significant, unusual, or just plain old mind-blowing stories each week.
The big story this week happened in Italy, where a culmination of human errors led to tragedy when a bridge collapsed, killing scores. Awful as this was, the rest of the week was largely less awful—with one glaring exception we’ll come to later. LGBT rights made strides, US politics got interesting again, and an attempted terrorist attack in London happily turned into a gigantic flop. Here’s what the world’s been up to these last seven days.
Until this week, the Morandi Bridge in Genoa was one of the most important in the whole of Italy. It was a main artery for traffic, linking a busy port with northern Italy and southern France. On Tuesday, it collapsed. Vehicles plummeted hundreds of feet. Workers on the ground below were buried beneath tons of concrete. At the time of this writing, 39 people are confirmed dead.
The cause of the collapse is not currently known. However, the Italian government is already pointing the finger of blame at the highways department. Italy suffers from chronic underinvestment in infrastructure, and spending on roads has almost dried up since the financial crisis. The maintenance of the bridge’s steel support arms, in particular, seems to have been below standard, with rust clearly visible in photographs.
Locals had been warning about the bridge for years. In 2012, an official warned that the bridge could collapse “within 10 years.” In 2016, an engineering professor at the University of Genoa warned that the bridge would need to be replaced to avoid a catastrophe.
Their warnings went unheeded—in part by one of Italy’s now-governing parties. In 2013, an M5S spokesperson dismissed warnings about the Morandi Bridge as “a fairy tale.”
9Puerto Rico Revised Maria’s Death Toll Sharply Upward
Hurricane Maria may have been the most catastrophic storm to ever hit Puerto Rico. When it made landfall in September 2017, it caused billions of dollars of damage. Power was only restored to the entire island this week—meaning Maria was also responsible for the longest blackout in US history.
Despite all this, the official death toll remained stubbornly low. So low, in fact, that many began to question whether the island’s government was underestimating the true extent of Maria.
Last Friday, the local administration finally bowed to pressure and all but officially recognized a larger number. The draft official death toll of Maria now stands at 1,427—only a couple of hundred less than Hurricane Katrina.
Bear in mind that this is a draft number and it may yet change. Still, even this represents a significant shift in how Puerto Rico’s leaders are talking about Maria. It seems the scale of the disaster is finally being recognized.
Just one year ago, the city of Charlottesville became a war zone. The “Unite the Right” rally devolved into a gathering of neo-Nazi thugs. At the height of the tension, a white supremacist scumbag known as James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a group of counterprotesters, killing one. As this column’s own roundup from that week makes clear, it was a bleak time.
So when the rally’s original organizer, Jason Kessler, began promoting his Unite the Right 2 (UTR2) rally, due to take place in DC a year after the original, there were legitimate fears that this could lead to more violence. We needn’t have worried. On Sunday, UTR2 flopped. Hard. It’s estimated that only 20 people turned up.
Part of this was due to terrible logistics planning. Kessler was so disorganized that he actually finished the rally before it was due to start, leaving at least a couple of attendees standing alone at the starting point. But it was likely also due to a sea change in American culture. The violence in Charlottesville disgusted the world. Rather than boost the profile of white supremacists, it made people see them for what they really are: thugs.
7An Incompetent Terrorist Attack Totally Failed In London
In March 2017, a lone Islamist radical killed five people by plowing his car into crowds outside Westminster Parliament in London. On Tuesday, Salih Khater attempted to emulate this tragedy. During rush hour, he smashed his car through a crowd before speeding toward the Houses of Parliament. It looked like another terrorist horror had come to London.
Luckily, “incompetence” is apparently Khater’s middle name. Although he hit three people, two were only slightly injured and the other was discharged from the hospital within 12 hours. His car then hit a concrete crash barrier outside parliament and came to a halt. Khater was arrested without incident. His “attack” was a total flop.
One of the greatest weapons we have against terrorists is their own stupidity. The Parsons Green tube bombing in September 2017 could have been a tragedy for London if the perpetrator had not messed up his ignition device. The Barcelona attackers had also originally planned to bomb multiple sites before an explosion destroyed their safe house and forced them to improvise.
The terrorism threat to Europe may not be over, but thankfully, those behind it seem to be getting stupider.
6Costa Rica’s Supreme Court Struck Down A Gay Marriage Ban
Technically, this story happened last Thursday, but the news didn’t break on English language outlets until Friday. In Costa Rica, the Supreme Court finally issued its long-awaited ruling on the constitutionality of the state’s gay marriage ban. In a huge win for LGBT rights campaigners, the justices found the ban to be unlawful.
The government now has 18 months to amend the relevant legislation. If they fail to act, the court’s ruling specifically states that the ban will automatically expire and gay marriage will become legal. This is important as Costa Rica’s lawmakers are so divided on the issue that any compromise seems impossible. Barring a major upset, gay marriage will be legal in the Central American nation by early 2020.
The ruling comes as the Americas are overtaking Europe as the most LGBT-friendly continents on Earth. A ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights seven months ago has set the stage for virtually every nation in South and Central America to follow Costa Rica’s path.
Beji Caid Essebsi is the 91-year-old president of Tunisia, a North African nation that prides itself on its Islamic identity and laws based in Sharia. On paper, he’s absolutely not the sort of person you’d expect to be championing a progressive upheaval in society.
But in reality?
Essebsi is desperate to rock the Arab boat. This week, he declared that he intended to make sweeping changes to Tunisian society, including decriminalizing homosexuality, making women equal citizens, and outlawing domestic violence.
For Tunisia, this is a huge shake-up that could change its very identity. Right now, Tunisian women are legally forbidden from marrying non-Muslims. Inheritance laws stop women from getting as high a share as male relatives. Gay sex is illegal. While Tunisia is relatively tolerant compared to some Islamic states, it is still a very conservative society.
Now Essebsi could be about to consign all this to the dustbin of history. He’s already signed laws on the inheritance issue and the rights of Tunisian women to marry non-Muslims. Despite large-scale protests, he appears ready to go even further. If he really does strike down laws against homosexuality, it could spur change in Morocco and other neighboring states, too.
Ahh, primary season! If you’re a habitual watcher of politics, it’s the perfect time to get your geek on. After the super-close special election and gubernatorial races last week, this Tuesday served up a fresh dose of surprises for us all.
The biggest upset of the night was GOP insider Tim Pawlenty crashing out in the race to stand for Minnesota governor. A two-termer whom the polls had given a comfortable lead, Pawlenty was trounced by pro-Trump unknown Jeff Johnson by 10 points. Johnson will now face Democrat Tim Walz in a race that’s currently shaping up to be very close indeed.
On the Democratic side, the headline news was Christine Hallquist of Vermont becoming the first transgender candidate to ever be picked to run for governor. While Hallquist is facing an uphill battle in a red race, her win is still newsworthy. As is that of teacher Jahana Hayes in Connecticut, who now looks likely to be the party’s first black Congresswoman from her state.
Meanwhile, fans of “The Bern” will be pleased to hear that Sanders handily won the Vermont Senate Democratic primary. If he does as expected and rejects the Democratic nomination, his likely reelection in November will make him the longest-serving independent in Congressional history by a country mile.
It feels like the moment when what started out as an important movement finally devoured itself. This week, mainstream reports finally surfaced of a sexual harassment case that played out at New York University over the last few months. The allegations focused on a professor abusing their position to stalk, harass, and make a student’s life miserable.
Only there was a twist. The professor was Avital Ronell, the renowned feminist. Her victim was Nimrod Reitman, a male nobody. When the university found Ronell guilty and suspended her, a cascade of shining hypocrisy ensued.
Feminist professors at other institutions penned an angry open letterdefending Ronell while allegedly defaming her accuser. They used many of the exact same arguments and ad hominem attacks they (rightly) complained about when they were used against female accusers by powerful males. But now that it was another feminist who was guilty, apparently all the lessons of #MeToo went out the window.
It was a supremely unedifying spectacle. #MeToo was a necessary movement that brought down monsters like Harvey Weinstein. But now that its academic adherents have seemingly redefined it as a tool that cannot be used against women under any circumstances, you know its time is up.
Last week, Turkey’s refusal to release an American pastor who was held on likely trumped-up terrorism charges triggered retaliatory tariffs from the US. But it wasn’t until the weekend that the impact was really felt.
Combined with other problems facing the Turkish economy, the new tariffs triggered a collapse in Turkey’s currency. The lira shed value at an alarming rate to hit record lows against the dollar. Before we knew it, Turkey was in the midst of a full-blown currency crisis.
The lira has already had a bad year, having lost 45 percent of its value since January. The Trump tariffs merely accelerated the fall, causing the lira to plunge 8 percent in a single day. With inflation over 15 percent, there’s a very real worry that the Turkish economy could be on the verge of tanking.
This is significant because Turkey is an important emerging market and a currency collapse there can affect others. The South African rand and Argentine peso have already been affected. While emergency investment from Qatar stopped the lira’s slide completely, things could yet get worse. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is showing no sign of backing down over the detained pastor, and the White House may yet turn the screws even tighter.
1We Learned The Horrifying Extent Of Child Abuse In Pennsylvania’s Churches
Over 300 abusers. Over 1,000 victims. Those were the shocking takeaway figures from Tuesday’s official report into child abuse in Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic churches.
Across 70 years, priests repeatedly raped children with impunity, leaving shattered young lives and scarred families in their wake. Of Pennsylvania’s eight dioceses, six actively failed to keep kids safe from pedophile priests. It’s one of the worst abuse scandals the US has ever seen.
The report was the culmination of an inquiry launched by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in 2016. That inquiry was called in the wake of news reports from 2002 onward about historic sexual abuse by local priests. Still, the scale of it all was horrifying, as were the details. One priest was found to have raped a seven-year-old girl in the hospital. Another forced a nine-year-old boy to perform oral sex on him.
The worst part is that, of the 301 abusers named in the report, only two have been arrested. Many of the priests are now dead, but many more have simply escaped the statute of limitations. When many of the rapes took place, prosecutors had a scant five years to file charges (which obviously didn’t happen).
As a result of this, men who raped dozens of children will never have to face any form of justice. When that happens in the Third World, we demand that something be done. When it happens in the West, we apparently don’t do anything. Yet.
In Pennsylvania, there is a new push to change the statute of limitations law that outrageously shielded so many priests from criminal prosecution. We “pray” that there is no next time for this type of child abuse. But if there is, any priest guilty of such heinous crimes should end up in handcuffs (as in the image above) and then prison.
We often think of ghost towns as forgotten, desolate burgs located in remote areas with little human population. That’s what makes them ghost towns, at least. As we are about to find out, however, that is not always so.
There are ghost towns around and sometimes even inside famous, bustling cities. In some cases, people in these major cities don’t know about the existence of the ghost towns right in their own backyard, so to speak. Here are ten such abandoned locales.
The deserted town of Goussainville-Vieux Pays shares its borders with the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. It is so close to the airport that it is considered a part of the runway approach. The town is deserted and lies in ruin today because of the airport, which was supposed to have turned it into a major urban area.
A huge chunk of the townspeople left when the airport was still under construction in 1973, after a Soviet Tupolev Tu-144 supersonic airplane participating in the Paris Air Show crashed into the town. The airplane destroyed 15 homes and a school. Eight villagers were also killed, along with six crew members.
More residents left when the airport opened a year later. This time, the problem was the noise. Many townspeople were so distraught with the noise of low-flying airplanes that they just vacated Goussainville-Vieux Pays without bothering to sell their homes. Most are overgrown with bushes today.
North Brother Island is just off the Bronx in New York City. It has a neighboring island, which is called South Brother Island. Both are unoccupied, although North Brother Island used to be more developed. It opened as a quarantine island in the 1880s. This was where New York kept people with deadly and transmissible diseases like measles and tuberculosis. Its most famous patient was Typhoid Mary, who lived on the island off and on for 28 years. She died there in 1938.
North Brother Island was converted into living quarters for World War II veterans after the war. Thereafter, it became a rehabilitation center for teens addicted to heroin. The rehab center failed and closed down in 1963. New York City considered selling the island, converting it into housing for the homeless, and turning it into an extension of the nearby Rikers Island prison, but it could not decide.
Meanwhile, nature slowly began reclaiming the island, starting with the roads, which are now overgrown with weeds. The buildings also fell into disrepair and are collapsing brick by brick. The New York Parks Department took control of the island in 2001 and has declared it a “harbor herons region,” where herons are allowed to nest without human interference.
The Olympic village lies in Wustermark, on the edge of Berlin, and was built by the Nazis for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Hitler had the place built for propaganda purposes. He wanted to show off the might of Nazi Germany.
No Olympic Games had been televised prior to the 1936 Olympics. Hitler chose this as the perfect moment to show the world the superiority and beauty of Germany. Hitler famously tried stopping blacks and Jews from competing in the games but backed down after several countries threatened to withdraw from the event. The village hosted about 4,000 athletes.
The village was converted into a military hospital during World War II and a Soviet Army barracks after the war. The Soviet Army left when Germany was reunified, and the village has remained abandoned ever since. Germany has considered turning it into a housing estate or a museum, but it is yet to reach a decision.
The abandoned town of Matildaville lies along the Potomac River in Virginia, very close to Washington, DC. The town was founded in the 1790s when Harry Lee, the father of future Confederate general Robert E. Lee, leased the land for 900 years. There, he created the town of Matildaville, which he named after his late wife.
Harry Lee hoped to industrialize the land using the currents and water of the nearby Potomac Canal. The canal itself was the brainchild of President Washington, who lobbied the governments of Virginia and Maryland to create the Patowmack Company, which dredged the canal to allow cargo boats through. Most of Matildaville’s townsmen worked with the cargo boats. Others worked in the forge, sawmill, markets, and other businesses that had sprung up.
The Patowmack Company was dissolved in 1823, after it was unable to finance its debts. While it collected tolls from boats using the canal, it did not earn enough to pay off its debts or cover the cost of dredging the canal. The canal itself was unusable for a good part of the year. It froze in winter and flooded when it rained.
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Company took control of the Potomac Canal in 1828. It built a new canal, bypassing the original. This destroyed the economy of Matildaville, forcing many of the residents to leave. Solace came in 1838, when some investors opened a textile factory that was powered by the water. The people returned again, and the town was renamed South Lowell. In 1853, the federal government sued the factory for using the canal current to operate its machines. The government won the lawsuit 40 years later, and the town finally went under.
Thames Town, Songjiang District, is just 40 minutes from downtown Shanghai. It is a planned city and a failed attempt by the Shanghai government to push people away from the busy and heavily populated city center to underpopulated parts of the metropolis.
In 2001, the Shanghai Planning Commission decided to build the town, along with eight others, under its One City, Nine Towns plan. The new towns were supposed to be miniature replicas of famous locations across the world. Thames Town is a replica of Britain. It is even named after the River Thames. The government of Shanghai spent over two billion yuan to build the city.
The town failed to achieve its purpose after a property bubble made the houses too expensive for the middle class. Most of the houses are owned by rich people, who either keep them as vacation homes or so that they can sell or rent them out in the future if the homes increase in value.
The fact that Gary, Indiana, is just 64 kilometers (40 mi) from Chicago, one of the largest cities in the US, isn’t stopping it from becoming a ghost town. Gary isn’t there just yet. It still has a population of around 77,000 people, but that’s not enough to fill the town, leaving parts of it deserted. Weeds have overtaken several areas, and many buildings have fallen into disrepair.
Gary used to be a major manufacturing base and was known to have a crimeproblem. Murder and drug use were common. But most of the industries have closed down, taking the people with them. The criminals followed since there was no one to steal from. The drug dealers also followed since no one was buying their drugs. Today, Gary is a shadow of its former self. It is one of the several American cites that have lost a huge chunk of their population due to the shuttering of industries.
To win the bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro agreed to construct a full-size sports village for the games. The result was a 300-acre village that cost 2.5 billion Brazilian real. That monetary expenditure could not save it from becoming a ghost town. It fell into disrepair just six months after the Olympics.
Electricity, water, and sanitary facilities that were all present during the Olympics are no more. Even the high-rise Marriott hotel that was built for the games is abandoned. Olympic Park caused some controversies during its construction. The site used to be occupied by a poor neighborhood called a favela. The government forcefully ejected the residents to create the village but allowed some to stay after the forced ejections became international news.
One reason why Olympic Park failed to develop after the Olympics is its distance from Rio. It is too far from the city center. Getting to Rio de Janeiro’s busier areas from the village by public transit takes over two hours and requires switching buses several times.
Drawbridge, California, is a ghost town with a population of zero. This is despite its proximity to heavily populated cities like Fremont, San Jose, and San Francisco. The abandoned settlement is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay. Drawbridge was founded in the 1800s when “Slippery” Jim Fair and Alfred “Hog” Davis formed the South Pacific Coast Railroad to transport San Francisco residents to Santa Cruz.
Instead of laying their track along the longer route used by stagecoaches, they laid it across the water, through a small island. The area around the island was a major waterway, forcing the company to construct swing bridges in 1876, which they erroneously called drawbridges. This was where the island got its name. George Mundershietz was employed to control the bridges, making him the island’s first resident.
Train passengers soon realized that Drawbridge was filled with wildlife and would often stop to hunt. Hunting cabins and hotels soon sprung up to create a small town. Lawlessness was rife, since there was no government in the town. Prostitution and gambling were normal, and alcohol was openly sold during Prohibition.
Drawbridge started to decline when nearby cities started dumping human and industrial waste into the water. This made the island stink. Nearby salt ponds also forced the birds to leave for less salty areas. The island also began to sink and would often flood during high tide. The last resident left in 1979. Today, it is classified as a wildlife refuge for birds. Trains still use the tracks, but they do not stop.
Valdeluz is just 61 kilometers (38 mi), or less than a hour’s drive, from Spain’s capital, Madrid. Yet it is a ghost town. The city was built by Spanish construction company Reyal Urbis along the high-traffic Madrid-Barcelona train route. It was supposed to have 30,000 people when completed. Reyal Urbis touted it as a green city with peace and quiet that could not be found in Madrid. It came with its own facilities and golf course. 9,000 homes were planned.
Reyal Urbis only managed to build 2,200 homes before Spain experienced an economic crisis in 2008. Only 200 people were living in Valdeluz at that time. Homes have fallen between 50 and 60 percent in value. Undeveloped tracts are 80 percent cheaper than they originally were. A home that sold for $325,000 in 2007 was worth only $135,000 in 2014. More people have moved into Valdeluz after the housing price drop, but the population is still a fraction of what was intended.
Tianducheng in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, is another of China’s copycat cities. This time, it is modeled after Paris. It is also relatively near Shanghai. Hangzhou itself is not a small city. It has a population of nearly ten million people, although this is no match for Shanghai’s 24 million.
Tianducheng was built for 10,000 Chinese who want to have their own Eiffel Tower copycat and pretend they are in France. But the people never came. The city is more of a destination for tourists and newlyweds who need good locations for their wedding photo shoot. Only about 2,000 people have actually moved in.
Tianducheng is unpopular because it is too far from Hangzhou and Shanghai’s city centers, and there is no public transport. However, it may not be a ghost town forever. If Shanghai or any of the neighboring cities expand in size, people will be forced to live in Tianducheng.
Next to eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise, getting adequate sleep is a staple cornerstone to a healthy life. But did you know that sleeping can also be dangerous?
There are actually a number of things that can go wrong when you close your eyes and slip into unconsciousness—and for some people, the danger is real enough that they never wake up again. In fact, according to an ancient Greek proverb, death and sleep are brothers . . . death being the perfect fulfillment of sleep and sleep being the imperfect embodiment of death.
Sleep has, for the most part, always been seen as a “passive” activity that our body performs on its own. But the truth is that our brain is actually quite active while we slumber. It is also true that there are many unanswered mysteries about sleep that modern scientists have yet to unravel.
As it turns out, there are still some surprising (and somewhat scary) things going on when our conscious brains turn off and our bodies begin the sleeping state. And sometimes, the results can be completely terrifying.
Sudden cardiac arrest, also known as SCA, can occur when the sinoatrial node, which is the node in the heart that is essentially your body’s natural pacemaker, becomes impaired. In other words, this condition occurs when the electrical systems of the heart malfunction. And in some cases, it is deadly within the first few minutes.
How does it kill? Well, it basically reduces blood flow to the brain. And the scariest part? Not only can it happen during sleep, but half of cases show no symptoms before the cardiac arrest occurs.
9Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless, odorless gas that can be lethal if too much of it is breathed into the lungs. It can be found in the fumes that come from running cars, stoves, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, furnaces, and so on, and it can be almost impossible to detect unless a carbon monoxide detector is in use.
How does it kill? Basically, if enough of it builds up in a small enough space, breathing it in can become toxic. And if you inhale enough of it, just having it in your lungs can be enough to “seal the deal” in a very final way. If awake, the victim may experience symptoms like dizziness, weakness, a headache, or an upset stomach.
But what if it catches you while you’re asleep? Well, people who are sleeping often experience no symptoms, and they can die in their sleep before they even realize that it’s happening.
A myocardial infarction, more commonly known as a heart attack, can happen during sleep, though thankfully, the odds are pretty good that this specific type of cardiac event will wake its victim up before it kills them.
Heart attacks happen when blood flow to part of the heart gets blocked. This blockage can destroy part of the heart muscle.
How does it kill? If enough heart tissue gets damaged, the heart may not be strong enough to pump any blood out to the rest of the body. This can result in heart failure, which could be lethal if medical treatment isn’t obtained immediately.
Unfortunately, it isn’t usually possible for a heart attack victim to seek medical attention if they are asleep—and that is the part that’s terrifying.
7Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea is basically a disorder that causes the sufferer’s breathing to stop and start repeatedly while they are unconscious. It happens when the brain doesn’t send the proper electrical signals to the muscles that control the breathing mechanisms during sleep and is believed to originate from a problem in the brain stem.
How does it kill? Basically, if the case of apnea is bad enough, hypoxemia may set in—which happens when oxygen levels in the body fall below those required for normal life function. This basically leads to oxygen deprivation.
If the brain is not able to rouse the body in enough time to take a breath, the prognosis can be fatal!
6Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome
This is undoubtedly one of the more “mysterious” inclusions in our list.
Unexplained nocturnal death syndrome (SUNDS) was first reported in 1917. Since then, it has gained a pretty scary reputation in both textbooks and on the dark corners of the Internet. In the Philippines, they call it Bangungut, and in Hawaii, they call it Dream Disease.
The exact cause of death among those who die of SUNDS is actually still unclear, but the presentation always seems to be similar. It basically causes otherwise young, healthy individuals to die in their sleep for seemingly no reason.
How does it kill? Scientists still aren’t sure . . . but it tends to occur frequently in Southeast Asia, and researchers suspect a range of possible explanations, from malfunctions of the ion channel to ventricular fibrillation.
A cerebral aneurysm, also known as a brain aneurysm, is basically a weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel in the brain. It is kind of like a thin balloonthat fills with blood. But over time, as the blood pumps through the artery, it continues to weaken and swell—and if the pressure increases too much, a rupture can occur.
How does it kill? When an aneurysm ruptures, the bleeding usually only lasts for a few seconds. But the blood causes damage to the surrounding brain cells and can increase the pressure inside the skull. If the pressure elevates too much, the condition can quickly turn fatal.
This is one of the more obscure entries on our list, but that makes it no less terrifying.
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is a type of non-polio enterovirus that was first identified back in 1962. But back in 2014, there was a huge increase in the number of reported cases, leaving researchers to wonder if the virus was going to become more predominant in coming years than they had expected.
The scary thing about EV-D68 is that while it usually causes mild to severe respiratory illness symptoms, it sometimes produces no symptoms at all. And yet, physicians are saying that the disease has the potential to be more dangerous than Ebola in the US.
How does it kill? It can cause particularly severe respiratory problems, characterized by a high-pitched wheezing sound that has become a dreaded earmark of infection. It has also been associated with muscle weakness and spinal cord inflammation, which is perhaps even more terrifying than the wheezing.
Dying of an infection is not necessarily common, but sometimes, the symptoms are dangerous enough to kill—even if the victim is asleep.
Most of us are aware that you can drown in the water. This seems like a no-brainer. But a lot of people are not familiar at all with the term “dry drowning” and what it means.
And as it turns out, it is a pretty horrific way to die!
Basically, the idea behind this danger is that it is a type of drowning that can occur even after the victim has left the water. It is technically still drowning, but “dry drowning” is the term that has come to be used to describe it, though some doctors have argued for the dropping of said term.
It can occur when inhaled water, even just a drop or two, makes it past the throat and into the lungs. This usually causes symptoms, but they are sometimes mild and easy to miss.
The scary thing is that this water can cause breathing problems that get worse over time. And in some cases, these breathing problems don’t strike until hours, or even days later—after the victim has fallen asleep. So-called “dry drowning” is actually pretty rare when you look at total deaths attributed to drowning, but this makes it no less disturbing.
How does it kill? It basically asphyxiates the victim—depriving them of oxygen until they suffocate.
2The Widow Maker Heart Attack
While most heart attacks have a decent chance of waking their victims up before death occurs, the “widow maker” tends to be an exception. We have already mentioned heart attacks in general once on this list, but this particular type of infarction deserves its own spot.
Why? Because it is among the deadliest types of heart attacks that can occur. It happens when the left main artery, also known as the left anterior descending artery, gets blocked. A 100-percent blockage in this artery is almost always fatal without immediate emergency care—hence the nickname.
How does it kill? Heart attacks with severe enough blockages result in damaged heart muscle. And if the muscle becomes too damaged to pump blood, the result can be fatal.
1Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder in which the victim repeatedly stops and starts their breathing process during sleep. OSA is by far the most common type of sleep apnea, and as it turns out, it is also probably the most likely reason that a person may die in their sleep.
This type of sleep apnea is literally caused by an obstruction that blocks the airway. This obstruction is usually caused by sagging throat muscles, though the muscles and tissues of the tongue, uvula, tonsils, and soft palate can all play a part. It is estimated that as many as 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea but that 80 percent of cases go undiagnosed—making it a true “silent killer” that many people remain unaware of.
How does it kill? People with OSA experience sudden drops in blood oxygen levels when they stop breathing . . . and if they are already at risk for a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure, then OSA can be the trigger that sets a sudden cardiac event into motion.
In such cases, death may occur before the victim even has a chance to wake up.