In the past, maps were drawn with the East on top, leading to the creation of the word orientation!
In the past, maps were drawn with the East on top, leading to the creation of the word orientation!

Maps haven’t always looked like how they do today.

In addition to featuring a distinct lack of Americas, maps from the Middle Ages were not laid out the same way.

Unlike modern maps, older navigation charts didn’t have North on the top, South on the bottom, and East and West on the right and left respectively. Rather, they put East on the map’s highest point, meaning Asia was on the top of the map while Europe was on the bottom.

In order to use the chart correctly, individuals would have to hold the map so that Asia was on the top. Asia was known by Europeans as the Orient, which derives from a Latin word meaning East. As such, when you moved the map so it was facing the correct direction, you were “orienting” it.

Not all modern maps place North at the top of the map. For example, maps of the Arctic and Antarctic generally orient themselves around the poles, while maps of cities bordering a sea generally orient the sea on top.

Some maps explicitly reverse the common “North on top” orientation, placing South on top and North on bottom. These maps are known as reversed maps.

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This man was unjustly committed to an asylum for 15 years! When released, he sued the place and won!
This man was unjustly committed to an asylum for 15 years! When released, he sued the place and won!

In 1956, Philadelphia citizen Kenneth Donaldson traveled to Florida. His mission: to visit his elderly parents.

While with his parents, Donaldson commented that he believed one of his neighbors may be poisoning his food. In response, his father, knowing his son had a mental episode 13 years prior, petitioned a local court for a sanity hearing.

During the trial, despite receiving no legal counsel or representation, Donaldson was diagnosed by the state as a paranoid schizophrenic. He was escorted to a hospital in the Florida State mental health system, where he was kept with dangerous criminals.

During his time in the asylum, Donaldson refused any treatment, continually proclaimed his sanity, and worked toward being released.

After 15 years, Donaldson finally escaped the asylum’s clutches and filed a lawsuit against the hospital. His case eventually made it to the Supreme Court, where Donaldson won by unanimous vote.

The case, O’Connor v. Donaldson, led to further deinstitutionalization of mental asylums in the United States.

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A 400 year-old Bonsai tree survived the Hiroshima bombing!
A 400 year-old Bonsai tree survived the Hiroshima bombing!

During the Second World War, a B-29 bomber dropped the first atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima, Japan, killing thousands of people there and then. However, a small Bonsai tree survived. At the time it was over 300 years old, having been planted in the 1600’s.

Japan actually gifted the tree to the United States for it’s bi-centennial, along with 53 other bonsai trees. All of these trees now resides in the U.S. Capital, and are considered one of the most striking collections there. The Bonsai is now 400 years old and probably has tons of stories to tell.

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Hip Hop had some pretty dark and violent moments. Dr. Dre was the cause of this one!
Hip Hop had some pretty dark and violent moments. Dr. Dre was the cause of this one!

The rap and hip hop world has had some pretty dark times in the 1990s with plenty of feuds that came to blows in very violent outbursts.

One such case occurred between Dr. Dre and female rapper Denise “Dee” Barnes, also known as D Zire. When an interview went very south.

Barnes interviewed Dr. Dre in 1990 regarding his leaving the rap group N.W.A. At the height of a feud between the members and negatively portrayed them. Later, in 1991,

Dr. Dre encountered Barnes again at a record release party where he physically assaulted her by picking her up by the hair, slamming her head and body against a brick wall, tried to throw her down the stairs, kicked her and punched the back of her head. Dr. Dre’s body guard held the crowd at bay by gunpoint.

Assault charges were filed and she brought a $22.75 million lawsuit against Dr. Dre, who pleaded no contest. He ended up being fined $2,500, put on two year’s probation, performed 240 hours of community service and produce an anti-violence PSA. The lawsuit was filed out of court.

The incident made Spin magazine’s “100 Sleaziest Moments in Rock” at number 37.

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No translation needed: people in Columbus, Ohio speak the clearest form of American English!
No translation needed: people in Columbus, Ohio speak the clearest form of American English!

Throughout America, there are a number of different English dialects and accents. Some well-known examples of region-specific dialects include the Boston, New York, New Orleans, and Texas accents.

These dialects, though very unique and distinct, are often hard for others to understand. Even fellow English-speakers may have trouble figuring out what someone from New Jersey means when they ask for a “tail” (hint: they probably just got out of the shower).

This is why many radio hosts, commentators, actors, and other media personalities develop a “professional voice” that is different from their real, natural accent. The aim is to speak the clearest form of English possible.

However, it seems people in the Columbus, Ohio area do that naturally.

By many accounts, the Midland English dialect, spoken by individuals in and around Columbus, Ohio, among other areas, is the clearest form of American English. According to Shippensburg University professor Dr. C. George Boeree, it is the version of American English most easily understood by fellow English speakers.

The Midland American English dialect was first recognized by Hans Kurath in ‘A World Geography of the Eastern United States’.

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This operating room was boarded up in the 1800s. It laid undisturbed for nearly 100 years!
This operating room was boarded up in the 1800s. It laid undisturbed for nearly 100 years!

In 1957, an old operating theater was discovered at the original site of St. Thomas’ Hospital in Southwark, London. Completely boarded up, the theater rested undisturbed since the hospital changed locations in 1862.

Patients at St. Thomas’ were generally poor, though the hospital expected them to pay for what they could. Rich patients generally received house calls for treatments instead of being hospitalized.

Unlike today, surgeons did not have access to numbing agents like anaesthetics, which made surgeries much quicker by necessity. This also meant that more invasive surgeries were simply not an option.

Students would often watch surgeries being performed. Though patients did not particularly enjoy this, many put up with it in exchange for receiving high-quality medical care they normally couldn’t afford.

In 1859, Florence Nightingale opened her nursing school on the same site as St. Thomas’ Hospital. It was on her recommendation that the hospital moved elsewhere. Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing and brought a number of important reforms to the practice.

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During its war with Iraq, Iran used school-aged children to clear the ground for its troops by running over minefields!
During its war with Iraq, Iran used school-aged children to clear the ground for its troops by running over minefields!

Go to Iran if you want to witness severe human rights abuses. Iran is notorious for using “human waves” to clear minefields or draw enemy fire during war. It cost many lives, but the tactic worked sometimes. Volunteers were swept away by patriotism and martyrdom war propaganda presented by the government during the revolution. 

Children were encouraged through visits to the schools as an invasive media campaign. Boys aged nine to sixteen proudly and excitedly lined up to become martyrs. They wore white headbands to signify their embracing of death. An estimated 95,000 Iranian child soldiers were killed during the war. 

The Iraq-Iran War was intense and brutal for all citizens. Poison gas was released on citizens during stalemates. Neither side had enough artillery to keep progressing in the war. They turned to dirty tactics that took the lives of countless innocent people. Poison gas was even let loose inside schools, needlessly killing children. The war took a major toll on the nation.

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Google intends to scan the more than 130 million published books in the world, but they are making enemies along the way
Google intends to scan the more than 130 million published books in the world, but they are making enemies along the way

By 2010 there were almost 130 million published books in the world! In an effort to actively promote the democratization of knowledge, Google announced that it intended to scan all of the books which would total 4 billion digital pages and 2 trillion words!

Google plans to complete the project by the end of the decade, but the project is not without controversy.

Books are scanned at a rate of 1,000 pages per hour with an Elphel 323 camera and errors do sneak in. Some pages are unreadable or upside down or in the wrong order. The book information such as publishing dates, authors and publishers may even be incorrect or wrongly abbreviated.

Google has therefore been widely criticized for the lack of editing to correct the thousands of mistakes.

There have also been numerous lawsuits against the company for copyright infringement. Google has a very unorthodox policy of freely copying any work until the copyright holder actually instructs them to stop!

The China Written Works Copyright Society has accused Google of scanning 18,000 books by 570 Chinese writers without the writer or the publisher’s authorization. The company refused to admit to having “infringed” copyright laws.

Although the project has the potential of becoming the largest body of human knowledge, there seem to be a few things that need ironing out first.

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New Zealand’s indigenous Maori make up 50% of the prison population but only 15% of the country’s entire population! Why?
New Zealand’s indigenous Maori make up 50% of the prison population but only 15% of the country’s entire population! Why?

Going to prison has become normal in the Maori society of New Zealand, and it seems every Maori child has a relative in jail.

One in every two prisoners in that country is an indigenous Maori even though they only account for 15 percent of the entire population!

Why are they so over-represented in the criminal justice system?

Many believe it’s due to soaring rates of child poverty, school dropout, unemployment and family breakdown within indigenous communities. There have been claims that the government is failing the children of indigenous prisoners and that leaves them vulnerable to become prisoners themselves.

Gangs look after the kids who have been left destitute while their parents serve time and young Maori have joined biker gangs like the Mongrel Mob and Black Power since the 1960’s, but some of the youths have been forming their own street gangs as well.

The New Zealand criminal justice system is trying to correct this problem now by introducing cultural units in prisons to encourage Maori prisoners to get in touch with their culture again. They’ve also introduced programs to connect youths with their families rather than with gangs.

Reestablishing the family bond is not as easy as it sounds, and only half of the Maori men in prison have contact with their families.

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The voice of Looney Tunes woke up from a coma, responding as everyone’s favorite characters!
The voice of Looney Tunes woke up from a coma, responding as everyone’s favorite characters!

Looney Tunes is a lot of things for a lot of people.

For some it’s a faint childhood memory filled with characters they’d probably be able to pick out. For others it’s the basis of nostalgia, dominating their Saturday mornings for years.

For the voice of nearly every character, Mel Blanc, it may have saved his life.

Mel Blanc suffered a horrible car accident in 1961 on Dead Man’s Curve in San Francisco and was almost killed. Instead, he slipped into a coma, going weeks without any sign of recovery or response.

14 days after the accident, the neurologist tried something new: he asked Blanc “Bugs Bunny, how are you doing today?”

A weak voice responded after a few tense moments,”Myeeeeh, What’s up doc?”

The doctor continued asking if other Looney Tunes characters were present, including Tweety, as Blanc responded in the iconic voices. He made a full recovery after many months of rehabilitation.

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