Did You Know? The Facts Are Here!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The facts are certainly here.

It’s up to you to choose how valuable and interesting they are.

Apart from anything else I hope you enjoy reading them.

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did you know1

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To save money when you shop, don’t touch anything.

Touching an item makes you more likely to buy it, and willing to pay more.

http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1889081,00.html

did you know touching

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The famous US Pony Express only lasted a single year

before the transcontinental telegraph made the route obsolete.

did you know pony express

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In a 2008 survey,

58% of British teens thought Sherlock Holmes was a real guy,

while 20% thought Winston Churchill was not.

did you know churchill-holmes

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Before his writing career took off, Dan Brown was a singer/songwriter.

His second album was titled Angels & Demons.

did you know angelsdemons

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During a 1956 speech for his campaign of de-Stalinization,

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was asked by an unseen audience member why,

as an advisor to the dictator, he had never stopped Stalin from committing his atrocities.

Khrushchev immediately lashed out, “Who said that?”

The room grew quiet.

Khrushchev repeated his query to more silence, waited a beat,

and then said, “Well, now you understand why.”

did you know Khrushchev

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The first US President to earn a PhD was Woodrow Wilson.

did you know Woodrow Wilson

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The U.K.’s police headquarters, Scotland Yard,

is not (and never was) located in Scotland.

Scotland Yard was originally a palace

where Scottish royalty stayed when visiting London.

did you know New_Scotland_Yard_sign

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Wendy’s founder, Dave Thomas,

used to work for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

did you know Dave Thomas Wendy's

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The first VCR, developed by the Ampex Corporation in 1956,

weighed nearly 1,500 lbs.

It took another 15 years before a commercially viable product hit the scene.

did you know ampex-commercial-vtr-1956

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The Vatican Bank is the world’s only bank

that allows ATM users to perform transactions in Latin.

did you know ATM-Latin

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The municipal government of Paris passed a resolution

to prohibit Tom Cruise from becoming an honorary citizen of the city.

For them it was ‘une mission impossible!’

did you know Tom Cruise Mission_Impossible_II_(MI2)

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Only one U.S. coin

— the zinc-coated steel penny produced during World War II —

can be picked up by a magnet.

did you know WWII steel penny

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During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong hid IEDs in empty soda cans

because they observed that US Soldiers enjoyed kicking empty cans

while marching down the road.

Warning to the politicians perhaps who recently

have done little else but kick the can down the road.

did you know kicking-the-can-down-the-road

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Simon Bolivar is the only person in the world

to have two sovereign nations named after him:

Bolivia

and

Venezuela

(the country’s full name is Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela).

did you know bolivar

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At the 1960 Winter Olympic Games,

Walt Disney was Chairman of the Pageantry Committee

that was responsible for producing both

the opening and closing ceremonies.

did you know walt_olympics

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Butterflies range in size from a tiny 1/8 inch to a huge almost 12 inches.

did you know butterfly

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After racking up a $40 late fee on a VHS copy of Apollo 13,

Reed Hastings was inspired to start Netflix

did you know Netflix-CEO-Reed-Hastings

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Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour.

did you know bang-head-here

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The most Academy Awards (Oscars) won by a woman was eight,

by Edith Head, all for Costume Design

did you know the-much-honored-costume-designer-edith-head-1954

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Black-eyed peas aren’t peas, but beans,

and also a famous American hip hop group.

And coffee beans aren’t beans, but seeds.

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Is Obama Making A Bad Korea Move?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It was either a title with a pun in it or just call today’s post “The Sunday Sermon”, but as you can see the pun got the better of me as usual.

If you hadn’t guessed, this one is my take on the goings on in North Korea.

Here we go….

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Before the sermon starts I should preface it by saying we are in the current mess because politicians faffed about instead of stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons when they had the opportunity. It’s their mess, but unfortunately we are all in it with them.

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JFK had Cuba and now BHO has North Korea, both countries run by dictators and both in their time posing a nuclear threat.

Why do the Democrats always get the best crises? Poor old Dubya and his greedy and power hungry ally in Britain, Tony Blair (often deliberately spelled Bliar for good reason), had to make up an excuse to start a war with Saddam Hussein. Remember the Weapons Of Mass Destruction that never actually existed?

Of course, when JFK was doing his statesman like thing, during his brief breaks between his girlfriends, I was far too young to know or care about nuclear threats or more world wars. I had other more important things to be getting on with like battling invaders from Mars or trying to pluck up the courage to explore that eerie wood just a short distance from the bottom of our garden.

So what I know about the Cuban crisis of the early 1960s is all gleaned from books and reports from that period which are now a matter of history. (We’ll leave the debate about just how accurate and reliable that is for another time.)

The truth seems to be that the Cuban nuclear crisis had very little to do with Cuba or Castro. It was a posturing competition between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, and to a lesser degree a pissing contest between Kennedy and Khrushchev.

Khrushchev-Kennedy
Khrushchev-Kennedy

In both Washington and the Kremlin, although there were the warmongers, there were more people who were sensible enough to realize that devastating each other’s countries would leave them both weaker and achieve very little. They were able to reach that conclusion simply because they were people who were not completely insane or delusional.

It probably seemed difficult at the time, but for JFK it was a relatively easy crisis to manage.

The ‘nuclear crisis’ facing Obama, if indeed it is that, is a different kettle of fish because Kim Jong-un shows all the signs of being both delusional and ever so slightly insane.

He can’t be held entirely to blame for this. He is the son of a long time dictator, who himself suffered from multiple delusions. And he was brought up in a militaristic and jingoistic regime, which is what dictators like to create for themselves simply because it makes their own people easier to control. North Korean propaganda has taught the public that military goals and economic goals are intertwined and therefore that Kim Jong-un’s actions are for the good of his people.

Kim Jong Un, Ri Yong Ho, Kim Yong Chun
Kim Jong Un, flanked by Ri Yong Ho, Kim Yong Chun

In the latest moves to up the ante, the North Koreans have told Britain and Russia that they should consider the evacuation of their embassies in Pyongyang. They have also moved another missile to their east coast as a further threat to US Pacific bases.

This in itself is just the latest response to UN sanctions and South Korea-US military drills, both of which have done nothing to ease tensions and in fact have annoyed the North Koreans immensely.

Now the North Korean army is saying that it has received final approval for military action, possibly involving nuclear weapons, against the threat posed by US B-52 and B-2 stealth bombers taking part in the joint drills. And all this has been accompanied by a series of apocalyptic threats of nuclear war in recent weeks.

The trouble with all this posturing is that Washington, which always gets a ‘F’ for ‘FAIL’ in Foreign Policy, very seldom, if ever, gets it right at the right time.

Washington doesn’t seem to understand that the macho culture in many other countries makes it extremely difficult for them to be seen by their own people as the one who blinked first. Losing face has a terrible stigma for them.

Further military ‘exercises’ and posturing will probably have the result of leaving the Jong-un regime with little alternative (in their eyes) but to act aggressively.

How that aggression will manifest itself is anybody’s guess. Least likely would be an attack on America – it’s too far away for the type of missiles North Korea currently has.

An attack of some kind on the US base at Guam is possible, as is an attack on neighboring South Korea. The latter, depending on the scale and the number of casualties, could spark of retaliatory strikes by the US-backed South Koreans and from there it is a short step into a conventional and probably very bloody war.

And we should remember that the Korean war during the 1950s was a spectacular waste of human lives. Generals sacrificed their men for years and ended back at the 38th parallel, more or less the same place they started.

military-trucks-crossing-38th-parallel
military-trucks-crossing-38th-parallel

Admittedly things might be a lot different this time if China decides that the North Korean regime is too out of control to support militarily. I doubt very much if it is in China’s long term interest to have a whacky dictatorship armed with nuclear weapons on their doorstep. After all it’s only 1,000Km to Beijing and more than 5,000Km to Hawaii, the closest state of the US to North Korea. At the same time would China want an economically united and strong US dominated state on its borders?

The jury is still out on that one.

Another thing that Washington gets badly wrong is that it thinks that because it is the most powerful military nation on earth – and it is by a long way – that therefore other countries will be afraid to take it on.

Rather than a comparison with the Cuban Crisis that everyone is concentrating on, I see parallels between North Korea today and Imperial Japan in the 1930s. Both are/were jingoistic regimes with an ’emperor’ having complete control, and both created a military style regime more as a way to suppress and control their own people, and therefore to cling to power, than to attack another nation.

But things being what they are, and people being so bloody stupid it’s unbelievable at times, there comes a time when those in power in such regimes lose their sense of reality and get carried away believing their own propaganda.

Hence Pearl Harbor when Imperial Japan forgot that when something big and powerful is asleep you should never poke it with a sharp stick, coz when it wakens up it will kick the crap right out of you! Pearl Harbor attack WWII

And hence, the North Koreans are not afraid of taking on America. They should be, but they aren’t, which again makes some kind of attack more possible the more they are backed into a corner.

Thankfully there are some signs that Washington might be getting the message and preparing to step back from the rapidly approaching brink. American officials have reportedly decided to “pause” the recent show of US force in Korea because

– wait for it, it’s a good one –

they are surprised at the intensity of the North’s response.

I mean who could have seen that coming? Well the answer is just about everyone except for the cretins in Washington!

What is surprising, however, is that the most sense talked about the whole affair recently has been from the world’s number one cigar salesman, Fidel Castro. In fact, make that doubly surprising, in that he has said some things that I am in agreement with and that he is still around to say it!

Fidel Castro and cigar
Fidel Castro and cigar

He said “If a war breaks out there, there would be a terrible slaughter of people” in both North and South Korea “with no benefit for either of them.” And also that the “duty” to avoid the conflict is in the hands of Washington “and of the people of the United States.”

Castro hasn’t quite figured out that once elected US Presidents do whatever THEY want, not whatever the PEOPLE want.

But what he must have figured out is that politicians like to be liked because he also warns President Obama that his second term, “would be buried in a deluge of images that would portray him as the most sinister personality in the history of the United States.”

Ouch!

Equally, he cautions the North Koreans that now they have, demonstrated their “technical and scientific advances, we remind them of their duties with those countries that have been their great friends.” And he urged them to remember that “such a war would affect … more than 70 per cent of the planet’s population,” and decried “the gravity of such an incredible and absurd event” in such a densely populated region.

Do you think he is hankering after one of those Nobel Peace Prizes, like the one Obama got for not being George W Bush?

Who knows.

And who knows what is going to happen in the Koreas?

Certainly not the mob in Washington I think!

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US Politics & Foreign Policy for Dummies

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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A bit of a change from numbers this Friday.

I found this piece which purports to explain and enlighten us about US politics.

It is in the form of a conversation between a father and his child and as children do, some very telling questions are asked to which the answers are to say the least confusing.

Some of it is a little bit dated, but the basic principles hold good today. It highlights yet again the deeply flawed thinking that is still behind the decisions that affect us all.

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foreign policy for dummies

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Q: Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq?

A: Because they had weapons of mass destruction honey.

 

Q: But the inspectors didn’t find any weapons of mass destruction.

A: That’s because the Iraqis were hiding them.

 

Q: And that’s why we invaded Iraq?

A: Yep. Invasions always work better than inspections.

 

Q: But after we invaded them, we STILL didn’t find any weapons of mass destruction, did we?

A: That’s because the weapons are so well hidden. Don’t worry, we’ll find something eventually.

 

Q: Why did Iraq want all those weapons of mass destruction?

A: To use them in a war, silly.

 

Q: I’m confused. If they had all those weapons that they planned to use in a war, then why didn’t they use any of those weapons when we went to war with them?

A: Well, obviously they didn’t want anyone to know they had those weapons, so they chose to die by the thousands rather than defend themselves.

 

Q: That doesn’t make sense Daddy. Why would they choose to die if they had all those big weapons to fight us back with?

A: It’s a different culture. It’s not supposed to make sense.

 

Q: I don’t know about you, but I don’t think they had any of those weapons our government said they did.

A: Well, you know, it doesn’t matter whether or not they had those weapons. We had another good reason to invade them anyway.

 

Q: And what was that?

A: Even if Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator, which is another good reason to invade another country.

 

Q: Why? What does a cruel dictator do that makes it OK to invade his country?

A: Well, for one thing, he tortured his own people.

 

Q: Kind of like what they do in China?

A: Don’t go comparing China to Iraq. China is a good economic competitor, where millions of people work for slave wages in sweatshops to make U.S. corporations richer.

 

Q: So if a country lets its people be exploited for American corporate gain, it’s a good country, even if that country tortures people?

A: Right.

 

Q: Why were people in Iraq being tortured?

A: For political crimes, mostly, like criticizing the government. People who criticized the government in Iraq were sent to prison and tortured.

 

Q: Isn’t that exactly what happens in China?

A: I told you, China is different.

 

Q: What’s the difference between China and Iraq?

A: Well, for one thing, Iraq was ruled by the Ba’ath party, while China is Communist.

 

Q: Didn’t you once tell me Communists were bad?

A: No, just Cuban Communists are bad.

 

Q: How are the Cuban Communists bad?

A: Well, for one thing, people who criticize the government in Cuba are sent to prison and tortured.

 

Q: Like in Iraq?

A: Exactly.

 

Q: And like in China, too?

A: I told you, China’s a good economic competitor. Cuba, on the other hand, is not.

 

Q: How come Cuba isn’t a good economic competitor?

A: Well, you see, back in the early 1960s, our government passed some laws that made it illegal for Americans to trade or do any business with Cuba until they stopped being Communists and started being capitalists like us.

 

Q: But if we got rid of those laws, opened up trade with Cuba, and started doing business with them, wouldn’t that help the Cubans become capitalists?

A: Don’t be a smart-ass.

 

Q: I didn’t think I was being one.

A: Well, anyway, they also don’t have freedom of religion in Cuba.

 

Q: Kind of like China and the Falun Gong movement?

A: I told you, stop saying bad things about China. Anyway, Saddam Hussein came to power through a military coup, so he’s not really a legitimate leader anyway.

 

Q: What’s a military coup?

A: That’s when a military general takes over the government of a country by force, instead of holding free elections like we do in the United States.

 

Q: Didn’t the ruler of Pakistan come to power by a military coup?

A: You mean General Pervez Musharraf? Uh, yeah, he did, but Pakistan is our friend.

 

Q: Why is Pakistan our friend if their leader is illegitimate?

A: I never said Pervez Musharraf was illegitimate.

 

Q: Didn’t you just say a military general who comes to power by forcibly overthrowing the legitimate government of a nation is an illegitimate leader?

A: Only Saddam Hussein. Pervez Musharraf is our friend, because he helped us invade Afghanistan.

 

Q: Why did we invade Afghanistan?

A: Because of what they did to us on September 11th.

 

Q: What did Afghanistan do to us on September 11th?

A: Well, on September 11th, nineteen men, fifteen of them Saudi Arabians, hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into buildings, killing over 3,000 Americans.

 

Q: So how did Afghanistan figure into all that?

A: Afghanistan was where those bad men trained, under the oppressive rule of the Taliban.

 

Q: Aren’t the Taliban those bad radical Islamics who chopped off people’s heads and hands?

A: Yes, that’s exactly who they were. Not only did they chop off people’s heads and hands, but they oppressed women, too.

 

Q: Didn’t the Bush administration give the Taliban $43 million dollars back in May of 2001?

A: Yes, but that money was a reward because they did such a good job fighting drugs.

 

Q: Fighting drugs?

A: Yes, the Taliban were very helpful in stopping people from growing opium poppies.

 

Q: How did they do such a good job?

A: Simple. If people were caught growing opium poppies, the Taliban would have their hands and heads cut off.

 

Q: So, when the Taliban cut off people’s heads and hands for growing flowers, that was OK, but not if they cut people’s heads and hands off for other reasons?

A: Yes. It’s OK with us if radical Islamic fundamentalists cut off people’s hands for growing flowers, but it’s cruel if they cut off people’s hands for stealing bread.

 

Q: Don’t they also cut off people’s hands and heads in Saudi Arabia?

A: That’s different. Afghanistan was ruled by a tyrannical patriarchy that oppressed women and forced them to wear burqas whenever they were in public, with death by stoning as the penalty for women who did not comply.

 

Q: Don’t Saudi women have to wear burqas in public, too?

A: No, Saudi women merely wear a traditional Islamic body covering.

 

Q: What’s the difference?

A: The traditional Islamic covering worn by Saudi women is a modest yet fashionable garment that covers all of a woman’s body except for her eyes and fingers. The burqa, on the other hand, is an evil tool of patriarchal oppression that covers all of a woman’s body except for her eyes and fingers.

 

Q: It sounds like the same thing with a different name.

A: Now, don’t go comparing Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are our friends.

 

Q: But I thought you said 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia.

A: Yes, but they trained in Afghanistan.

 

Q: Who trained them?

A: A very bad man named Osama bin Laden.

 

Q: Was he from Afghanistan?

A: Uh, no, he was from Saudi Arabia too. But he was a bad man, a very bad man.

 

Q: I seem to recall he was our friend once.

A: Only when we helped him and the mujahadeen repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan back in the 1980s.

 

Q: Who are the Soviets? Was that the Evil Communist Empire Ronald Reagan talked about?

A: There are no more Soviets. The Soviet Union broke up in 1990 or thereabouts, and now they have elections and capitalism like us. We call them Russians now.

 

Q: So the Soviets – I mean, the Russians – are now our friends?

A: Well, not really. You see, they were our friends for many years after they stopped being Soviets, but then they decided not to support our invasion of Iraq, so we’re mad at them now. We’re also mad at the French and the Germans because they didn’t help us invade Iraq either.

 

Q: So the French and Germans are evil, too?

A: Not exactly evil, but just bad enough that we had to rename French fries and French toast to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast.

 

Q: Do we always rename foods whenever another country doesn’t do what we want them to do?

A: No, we just do that to our friends. Our enemies, we invade.

 

Q: But wasn’t Iraq one of our friends back in the 1980s?

A: Well, yeah. For a while.

 

Q: Was Saddam Hussein ruler of Iraq back then?

A: Yes, but at the time he was fighting against Iran, which made him our friend, temporarily.

 

Q: Why did that make him our friend?

A: Because at that time, Iran was our enemy.

 

Q: Isn’t that when he gassed the Kurds?

A: Yeah, but since he was fighting against Iran at the time, we looked the other way, to show him we were his friend.

 

Q: So anyone who fights against one of our enemies automatically becomes our friend?

A: Most of the time, yes.

 

Q: And anyone who fights against one of our friends is automatically an enemy?

A: Sometimes that’s true, too. However, if American corporations can profit by selling weapons to both sides at the same time, all the better.

 

Q: Why?

A: Because war is good for the economy, which means war is good for America. Also, since God is on America’s side, anyone who opposes war is a godless un-American Communist. Do you understand now why we attacked Iraq?

 

Q: I think so. We attacked them because God wanted us to, right?

A: Yes.

 

Q: But how did we know God wanted us to attack Iraq?

A: Well, you see, God personally speaks to George W. Bush and tells him what to do.

 

Q: So basically, what you’re saying is that we attacked Iraq because George W. Bush hears voices in his head?

A: Yes! You finally understand how the world works. Now close your eyes, make yourself comfortable, and go to sleep. Good night.

 

Q: Good night, Daddy.

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politics for dummies

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