Celebrity : The Atheist, The Agnostic and The Ambigous

I have found this great list of celebrityes and their beliefs. I will post here only a few of them that i found to be more interesting. For the rest of them check the link(its a big list).

The Atheist and the Materialist

Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992) was a science-fiction writer and science popularizer who wrote an enormous number of books about a wide variety of subjects, including history, Shakespeare, and the Bible.
[I]f I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul. — Isaac Asimov, I. Asimov: A Memoir
I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. Ive been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didnt have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that Im a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally I am an atheist. I dont have the evidence to prove that God doesnt exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesnt that I dont want to waste my time. — Isaac Asimov, in “Free Inquiry”, Spring 1982, vol.2 no.2, p. 9
Although the time of death is approaching me, I am not afraid of dying and going to Hell or (what would be considerably worse) going to the popularized version of Heaven. I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism. –Isaac Asimov, “On Religiosity,” Free Inquiry ††
When I die I wont go to heaven or hell, there will just be nothingness. — Isaac Asimov, interviewed in Bill Moyers television series “A World of Ideas”

David Cronenberg: Director
In a February 1992 interview in Esquire magazine Cronenberg is said to describe himself as “not just an atheist, but a total nonbeliever.”
From an interview in Film Threat, February 1997, p. 11:
Q: Most of your films deal with various characters personal spirituality, yet you have never dealt directly with religion.
A: The reason why is that Im not interested. Youre absolutely right. For me, its not even worth discussion. It doesnt interest me. It interests me only to be discarded. If I start there, Im mired in a discussion that is very unfruitful to me. Im simply a non-believer and have been forever. To discuss religion is to put me in a debate with myself. Im interested in saying, “Let us discuss the existential question. We are all going to die, that is the end of all consciousness. There is no afterlife. There is no God. Now what do we do.” Thats the point where it starts getting interesting to me. If I have to go back and say, “What if there is a God?” then Im doing a debate that is not very interesting. You have to create one character who believes and another that doesnt. Its not an issue.
and on pp. 11-12:
Q. How were you raised?
A. Im an atheist and my parents were both atheists so it was never a big issue, and if I wanted to become an Orthodox Jew, it was never, “You must not do that.” And I certainly went through all those things as a kid wondering about the existence of God or not, but at a very early age, I decided we made it up because we were afraid and it was one way to make things palatable.

Fidel Castro: Cuban Leader
A wire service story writes of his audience with the pope: “Castro was educated by Jesuit priests as a young man, but later shed his religion for revolution, Marxism and atheism. Nonetheless, he bowed slightly when he met the pope and told him it was a great honor to be in the Vatican.”
Bill Gates
Gates was interviewed November 1995 on PBS by David Frost. Below is the transcript with minor edits.
Frost: Do you believe in the Sermon on the Mount?
Gates: I dont. Im not somebody who goes to church on a regular basis. The specific elements of Christianity are not something Im a huge believer in. Theres a lot of merit in the moral aspects of religion. I think it can have a very very positive impact.
Frost: I sometimes say to people, do you believe there is a god, or do you know there is a god? And, youd say you dont know?
Gates: In terms of doing things I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I dont know if theres a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid.
Gates was profiled in a January 13, 1996 TIME magazine cover story. Here are some excerpts compiled by the Drudge Report:
“Isnt there something special, perhaps even divine, about the human soul?” interviewer Walter Isaacson asks Gates “His face suddenly becomes expressionless,” writes Isaacson, “his squeaky voice turns toneless, and he folds his arms across his belly and vigorously rocks back and forth in a mannerism that has become so mimicked at MICROSOFT that a meeting there can resemble a round table of ecstatic rabbis.”
“I dont have any evidence on that,” answers Gates. “I dont have any evidence of that.”
He later states, “Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. Theres a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.”

Bruce Lee
“Lee felt that anything which substituted the ways or beliefs of others in the place of teaching you how to cultivate your own was a step in the wrong direction. For this reason, Lee was opposed to the doctrines–or rather the dogmas–of organized religion.
When asked by journalist Alex Ben Block in the summer of 1972 what his religious affiliation was, Lee answered: None whatsoever.
Block then pressed him further, asking him if he then believed in God: To be perfectly frank, I really do not.
The submitter, Brad, comments Lees responses to these questions are perfectly understandable given the depth and nature of his philosophy. Lee believed that we are beings of self-made soul that were part of a vast, eternal process. Therefore, any person or organization that held creed or, in the martial arts nomenclature, style as the ideal was moving in the wrong direction, away from spiritual growth and knowledge of self…Lee was once asked by his younger brother Robert if he believed in God, to which he replied, I believe in sleeping.”

Angelina Jolie
“Lionsgate intends to make a film based on Russian author Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged, and market it worldwide. According to Variety, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are considering leading roles in the film. Jolie is known to be a huge fan of Rand and her novel.” — from an April 27, 2006 IGN report [1] by Paul Davidson.
In the September 6, 2000 edition of The Onion A.V. Club titled “Is There A God?”, celebrities were asked the question. Jolie was among those asked.
Actress and tabloid fixture Angelina Jolie will soon play computer-game character Lara Croft.
The Onion: Is there a God?
Angelina Jolie: Hmm… For some people. I hope so, for them. For the people who believe in it, I hope so. There doesnt need to be a God for me. Theres something in people thats spiritual, thats godlike. I dont feel like doing things just because people say things, but I also dont really know if its better to just not believe in anything, either.

John Malkovich
John Malkovich, with 2 Oscar nominations and dozens of films to his credit, was in Chicago directing a play in January of 2000 at the Steppenwolf Theatre, which he helped found several years ago. The play was a fictionalized story about Sigmund Freud entitled “Hysteria.” He was interviewed by Martha Lavey for a WTTW Chicago Public television program entitled “Artbeat Chicago” which aired on January 6. Here, Malkovich explains his thoughts on Sigmund Freud:
“I think he was fantastic, a fantastic man. I mean, flawed, sure, but I dont even know what that means. I think his basic premise is people are strong enough to bear and to comprehend, and if they could remember and name the source of various griefs and sorrows, that they would, by that act, be able to live with them, and I think thats quite a fantastic notion.
I also particularly like him because he was an atheist, and I grew tired of religion some time not long after birth. I believe in people, I believe in humans, I believe in a car, but I dont believe something I cant have absolutely no evidence of for millenniums. And its funny — people think analysis or psychiatry is mad, and THEY go to CHURCH…”

The Agnostic : Antonio Banderas
From an interview in People Magazine, April 2006
Q: The movie [Take the Lead] has an uplifting message. Are you religious?
A: I have to recognize that I am agnostic. I don’t believe in any kind of fundamentalism. I prefer to take life in a different way, with a sense of humor. I try to teach my kids to be open. Whatever they believe is fine with me.
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), biologist who founded evolutionary biology by raising the concept of descent with modification from vague speculation to rigorous science. He proposed an important mechanism, natural selection, though he did not think that it was the exclusive mechanism of evolution. His published his Origin of Species when he learned that Alfred Russel Wallace had also thought of natural selection, caling it an “abstract” of a much larger tome that he one day hoped to write. He carefully avoided discussing the question of human evolution, instead treating it in some later books like The Descent of Man.
He performed naturalist duties in his famous Beagle voyage, which he later wrote at length about, and he did detailed studies of barnacles and orchids, showing how their various parts were modified in different ways to serve different purposes.
He started out as a rather orthodox Anglican who had wanted to become a country clergyman, but his religious beliefs gradually evolved toward agnosticism; in his biography, he wrote things like
I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine. (p. 87)

Umberto Eco  : Writer
Umberto Eco is an Italian writer best known for his novel “The Name of the Rose.” The book was made into a movie starring Sean Connery. His religious beliefs are summed up by Nora Gallagher in an LA Times review of his latest book, “Belief or Nonbelief? A Confrontation.”
Gallagher says:
Eco is the nonbeliever, an agnostic intellectual who left the church when he was 22, but he is neither angry nor anti-religious. He thinks that a person may not believe in God but “one should not have the arrogance to declare that God does not exist.”

Uma Thurman : Actress
From an About Uma bio published November 1995 in Cosmopolitian magazine:
Full Name: Uma Karuna Thurman Place of Birth: Boston, Massachusetts, USA Date of Birth: April 29, 1970 Current Residence: New York City, New York, USA Current Occupation: Film Actress Religion: Agnostic (Buddhism if must choose)
“I grew up in a mostly Buddhist environment. My father, when very young, was the first American to be ordained as a Buddhist monk. He now teaches Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia University and is regarded as this countrys foremost authority on Buddhism. When the Dalai Lama comes to America, its my father who is his host. When asked if I consider myself Buddhist, the answer is, Not really. But its more my religion than any other because I was brought up with it in an intellectual and spiritual environment. I dont practice or preach it, however. But Buddhism has had a major effect on who I am and how I think about the world. What I have learned is that I like all religions, but only parts of them.”

Roman Polanski : Film Director
His autobiography, Roman, describes him as an atheist. He intentionally made “Rosemarys Baby” ambiguous so that it can be interpreted as having no genuine supernatural events (all just in Mia Farrows head).
Apparently Polanski has drifted from atheist to agnostic. The following is from a March 5, 2000 New York Post interview discussing his [recent] movie, The Ninth Gate, starring Johnny Depp:
Polanski, who has previously made movies about satanism and vampires, claimed to have no interest in the occult.
“Im totally disinterested, personally, with that sort of thing,” he said. “It does absolutely nothing for me. Im neither religious nor superstitious. At best I can be counted as an agnostic. Science and technology get me a lot more excited.” –BZ

The Ambiguous : Arthur C. Clarke
See his autobiography. Also, in The Making of Kubricks 2001, Clarke says that he is an atheist.
It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him.
— Arthur C. Clarke
In an April 1, 1997 profile in the New York Times Clarke speaks about his new book 3001, the latest and perhaps final in the series of books beginning with 2001:
In the world of 3001 Clarke envisions for the story, the writer of the piece, John F. Burns, says: “Perhaps most controversially, religions of all kinds have fallen under a strict taboo, with the citizenry looking back on the religious beliefs and practices of earlier ages as products of ignorance that caused untold strife and bloodshed. But the concept of a God, known by the Latin word Deus, survives, a legacy of mans continuing wonder at the universe.
“In this, Clarke is giving vent to one of the few things that seem to ruffle his equable nature. Religion is a byproduct of fear, he says. For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil, but why was it more evil than necessary? Isnt killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity? ”
28 May 2001 – A reader reports that in a CNN interview when Clarke was asked if he believed in God, he replied, “I do not believe in God, but I do not disbelieve in her either.” If anybody can confirm this and provide a date of the interview, please send it in. Thanks.
A reader writes: Arthur C. Clarke was a strong atheist. When he was in the British military, he was adamant about having his religion listed as atheist. Refer to his biography for more info.

Dalai Lama
“Basically, religions may be divided into two groups. One group, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and some ancient Indian traditions, I call God religions. Their fundamental faith is in a Creator. The other group of religious tradition, including Jainism, Buddhism, I usually call godless religions. They do not believe in a Creator. But, of course, God is a sense of infinite love. The religions are not so different in this understanding. But God in the sense of Creator, something absolute, that is difficult to accept.
“According to some, godless religion is more effective; according to others, God religions are more effective. The position is individual; it is a matter of choice.”
Update (28-May-01): A reader writes in with some background describing how Buddhists (and presumably the Dalai Lama) think of gods:
“This is one of the fuzzy areas of Buddhism, and one that is hard to explain … while there are gods in most branches of Buddhism, they are not of the same stature as Yaweh, Allah, or even Zeus. They are not omnipotent, omniscient, nor worshipped in the Judeo-christian sense of the word. For most Buddhists, these have the same stature as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
“They are in some ways a role model or target behavior: Kwan Yin being a model for compassionate behavior in Chinese Buddhism, the various colors of Tara are models for healing, compassion or protective behavior in Tibetan. In this way, they are used during meditation as a focus point, almost a visual aid for guided visualization.
“They are also used as a symbolic way to talk about something by personifying it: Mara is the goddess of evil and temptation but only for purposes of discussing evil as an abstraction or worldly force. Demons were used in old teaching tales to play the part of the undesireable behavior, and gods or minor dieties played the part of the good guys.
“Complicating things further, Buddhism usually grafted itself onto a healthy local culture with a strong shamanic tradition in the local religion. And because Buddhism has no one True God requirement, the local religions and the gods of that culture usually persist in a slightly altered form. Among a local peasantry in most Buddhist areas you will find that they take the local gods and demons more seriously than urban Buddhists of the same area do. But because Buddhism emphasizes behaviors more than beliefs, if a Javanese village wants to have a ceremony to placate the Water Demon, they are not considered any less Buddhist for it.”

Natalie Portman
Rolling Stones: 20 June 2002, Vol. 1, Iss. 898, pg. 52-58, by: Chris Heath, “The Private Life of Natalie Portman”
Of her religion, Portman says, “Im much more like the product of a doctor than I am a Jew.” She is uncomfortable about the concept of the afterlife. “I dont believe in that. I believe this is it, and I believe its the best way to live.”

Monica Lewinsky : former Presidential Mistress
TIME: What steps are you taking to put your life back together?
Lewinsky: I think probably the biggest step that I am taking is trying to work on myself in therapy. Its hard. Its painful.
TIME: You have been praying from time to time?
Lewinsky: I think, for me, my definition of praying might be a little different. I think, for me, in some ways therapy is sort of praying. Its like what you learn in therapy and what you walk away with. You kind of think to yourself, oh, I really hope that I can learn to assimilate. But Im not very religious.
from “My Story: Exclusive interview and photos of Monica Lewinsky”, TIME magazine, March 15, 1999, p. 36.

Whipping therapy cures depression and suicide crises

The effect is astounding: a patient starts seeing only bright colors in the surrounding world.
Russian scientists from the city of Novosibirsk, Siberia, made a sensational report at the international conference devoted to new methods of treatment and rehabilitation in narcology. The report was called “Methods of painful impact to treat addictive behavior.”
Siberian scientists believe that addiction to alcohol and narcotics, as well as depression, suicidal thoughts and psychosomatic diseases occur when an individual loses his or her interest in life. The absence of the will to live is caused with decreasing production of endorphins – the substance, which is known as the hormone of happiness. If a depressed individual receives a physical punishment, whipping that is, it will stir up endorphin receptors, activate the “production of happiness” and eventually remove depressive feelings.

Russian scientists recommend the following course of the whipping therapy: 30 sessions of 60 whips on the buttocks in every procedure. A group of drug addicts volunteered to test the new method of treatment: the results can be described as good and excellent.
Doctor of Biological Sciences, Sergei Speransky, is a very well known figure in Novosibirsk. The doctor became one of the authors of the shocking whipping therapy. The professor used the self-flagellation method to cure his own depression; he also recovered from two heart attacks with the help of physical tortures too.
“The whipping therapy becomes much more efficient when a patients receives the punishment from a person of the opposite sex. The effect is astounding: the patient starts seeing only bright colors in the surrounding world, the heartache disappears, although it will take a certain time for the buttocks to heal, of course,” Sergei Speransky told the Izvestia newspaper.
Read the entire article here.

A socialites life

Advices for those who take life too seriously

  1. Save the whales. Collect the whole set
  2. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.
  3. Plan to be spontaneous – tomorrow.
  4. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
  5. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
  6. Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how popular it remains?
  7. Borrow money from a pessimist – they don’t expect it back.
  8. A day without sunshine is, like, night.
  9. I intend to live forever – so far so good.
  10. He who laughs last thinks slowest.
  11. On the other hand, you have different fingers.
  12. 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
  13. Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
  14. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.
  15. Nothing is foolproof to a talented fool.
  16. Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
  17. A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
  18. If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
  19. The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the ability to reach it.
  20. No one is listening until you make a mistake.
  21. Success always occurs in private and failure in full view.
  22. You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.
  23. The sooner you fall behind the more time you’ll have to catch up.
  24. Always try to be modest and be proud of it!
  25. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
  26. If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving isn’t for you.
    via: wordworx.co.nz

Scientists find way to calculate peoples real age

Researchers studying genes believe they can now detect exact “physical age” by looking at a number of clues – or biomarkers – in DNA. They believe that the tests will be the first time doctors can accurately predict someone’s physiological age objectively without resorting to asking them how they feel or looking at their appearance.

The breakthrough could solve the mystery of why some 70-year-olds function at the level of those in their 50s, while others become frail sooner than would be expected. The researchers made the breakthrough by isolating the “biomarkers” of ageing in tiny worms which behave similarly to humans,

“This is the first evidence that physiological age can be predicted non-subjectively,” said Simon Melov, the lead author at Buck Institute for Age Research in California.

“This is a first step; our results were not perfect, but we were able to predict the ages of the animals 70 per cent of the time, which is far better than anything that has been done before.”

The speed at which people age depends on a number of factors including genetic inheritance, lifestyle and mental health.

Determining chronological age in both worms and humans is easy – count forward from birth. But determining physiological age has remains subjective – based on how someone looks or functions.

The team has identified for the first time biomarkers of ageing which are highly predictive of both chronological and physiological age.

The research, published in the journal Aging Cell, involved 104 worms, which had an average lifespan of three weeks.

Like humans, some of the worms remain sprightly much longer than their similarly-aged brethren, while others show signs of premature ageing – lack of symmetrical appearance, uncoordinated motion, and the need to be prodded into movement.

By genetically profiling 104 different worms – at various ages – the researchers isolated a suite of genes and biomarkers that are actively involved in the ageing process.

Now they want to extend their studies to mice and eventually humans.

“I am optimistic that we will be able to pursue this line of research further,” said Mr Melov. “Research into the biology of ageing in humans has been hampered by the lack of irrefutable biomarkers that correlate with the aging process”. He added: “I am confident that at some point there will be a non-subjective method of determining how old someone is with a high level of confidence.”

Via telegraph.co.uk

Funny and weird facts about world and humans

  1. The women of the Tiwi tribe in the South Pacific are married at birth.
  2. When Albert Einstein died, his final words died with him. The nurse at his side didn’t understand German.
  3. St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was not Irish.
  4. The lance ceased to be an official battle weapon in the British Army in 1927.
  5. St. John was the only one of the 12 Apostles to die a natural death.
  6. Gabriel, Michael and Lucifer (more commonly known as Satan) are the only 3 angels to be named in the bible.
  7. According to Genesis all demons are angels who were cast out of heaven after Lucifer tried to take God’s throne and several of the other angels bowed down and worshiped him.
  8. Many sailors used to wear gold earrings so that they could afford a proper burial when they died.
  9. Some very Orthodox Jew refuse to speak Hebrew, believing it to be a language reserved only for the Prophets.

  10. A South African monkey was once awarded a medal and promoted to the rank of corporal during World War I.
  11. Born 4 January 1838, General Tom Thumb’s growth slowed at the age of 6 months, at 5 years he was signed to the circus by P.T. Barnum, and at adulthood reached a height of only 1 metre.
  12. Because they had no proper rubbish disposal system, the streets of ancient Mesopotamia became literally knee-deep in rubbish.
  13. The Toltecs, Seventh-century native Mexicans, went into battle with wooden swords so as not to kill their enemies.
  14. China banned the pigtail in 1911 as it was seen as a symbol of feudalism.
  15. The Amayra guides of Bolivia are said to be able to keep pace with a trotting horse for a distance of 100 kilometres.
  16. Sliced bread was patented by a jeweller, Otto Rohwedder, in 1928. He had been working on it for 16 years, having started in 1912.
  17. Before it was stopped by the British, it was the not uncommon for women in some area’s of India to choose to be burnt alive on their husband’s funeral pyre.
  18. Ivan the terrible claimed to have ‘deflowered thousands of virgins and butchered a similar number of resulting offspring’.
  19. Before the Second World War, it was considered a sacrilege to even touch an Emperor of Japan.
  20. An American aircraft in Vietnam shot itself down with one of its own missiles.
  21. The Anglo-Saxons believed Friday to be such an unlucky day that they ritually slaughtered any child unfortunate enough to be born on that day.
  22. During the eighteenth century, laws had to be brought in to curb the seemingly insatiable appetite for gin amongst the poor. Their annual intake was as much as five million gallons.
  23. Ancient drinkers warded off the devil by clinking their cups
  24. The Nobel Prize resulted form a late change in the will of Alfred Nobel, who did not want to be remembered after his death as a propagator of violence – he invented dynamite.
  25. The cost of the first pay-toilets installed in England was tuppence.
  26. Pogonophobia is the fear of beards.
  27. In 1647 the English Parliament abolished Christmas.
  28. Mao Rse-Tang, the first chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, was born 26 December 1893. Before his rise to power, he occupied the humble position of Assistant Librarian at the University of Peking.
  29. Coffee is the second largest item of international commerce in the world. The largest is petrol.
  30. King George III was declared violently insane in 1811, 9 years before he died.
  31. In Ancient Peru, when a woman found an ‘ugly’ potato, it was the custom for her to push it into the face of the nearest man.
  32. For Roman Catholics, 5 January is St Simeon Stylites’ Day. He was a fifth-century hermit who showed his devotion to God by spending literally years sitting on top of a huge flagpole.
  33. When George I became King of England in 1714, his wife did not become Queen. He placed her under house arrest for 32 years.
  34. The richest 10 per cent of the French people are approximately fifty times better off than the poorest 10 per cent.
  35. Henry VII was the only British King to be crowned on the field of battle
  36. During World War One, the future Pope John XXIII was a sergeant in the Italian Army.
  37. Richard II died aged 33 in 1400. A hole was left in the side of his tomb so people could touch his royal head, but 376 years later some took advantage of this and stole his jawbone.
  38. The magic word “Abracadabra” was originally intended for the specific purpose of curing hay fever.
  39. The Puritans forbade the singing of Christmas Carols, judging them to be out of keeping with the true spirit of Christmas.
  40. Albert Einstein was once offered the Presidency of Israel. He declined saying he had no head for problems.
  41. Uri Geller, the professional psychic was born on December 20 1946. As to the origin of his alleged powers, Mr Geller maintains that they come from the distant planet of Hoova.
  42. Ralph and Carolyn Cummins had 5 children between 1952 and 1966, all were born on the 20 February.
  43. John D. Rockefeller gave away over US$ 500,000,000 during his lifetime.
  44. Only 1 child in 20 are born on the day predicted by the doctor.
  45. In the 1970’s, the Rhode Island Legislature in the US entertained a proposal that there be a $2 tax on every act of sexual intercourse in the State.
  46. Widows in equatorial Africa actually wear sackcloth and ashes when attending a funeral.
  47. The ‘Hundred Years War’ lasted 116 years.
  48. The British did not release the body of Napoleon Bonaparte to the French until twenty days after his death.
  49. Admiral Lord Nelson was less than 1.6 metres tall.
  50. John Glenn, the American who first orbited the Earth, was showered with 3,529 tonnes of ticker tape when he got back.
  51. Native American Indians used to name their children after the first thing they saw as they left their tepees subsequent to the birth. Hence such strange names as Sitting Bull and Running Water.
  52. Catherine the First of Russia, made a rule that no man was allowed to get drunk at one of her parties before nine o’clock.
  53. Queen Elizabeth I passed a law which forced everyone except for the rich to wear a flat cap on Sundays.
  54. In 1969 the shares of the Australian company ‘Poseidon’ were worth $1, one year later they were worth $280 each.
  55. Julius Caesar wore a laurel wreath to cover the onset of baldness.
  56. Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour during World War II, left school at the age of eleven.
  57. At the age of 12, Martin Luther King became so depressed he tried committing suicide twice, by jumping out of his bedroom window.
  58. It is illegal to be a prostitute in Siena, Italy, if your name is Mary.
  59. The Turk’s consider it considered unlucky to step on a piece of bread.
  60. The authorities do not allow tourists to take pictures of Pygmies in Zambia.
  61. The Dutch in general prefer their french fries with mayonnaise.
  62. Upon the death of F.D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman became the President of America on 12 April 1945. The initial S in the middle of his name doesn’t in fact mean anything. Both his grandfathers had names beginning with ‘S’, and so Truman’s mother didn’t want to disappoint either of them.
  63. Sir Isaac Newton was obsessed with the occult and the supernatural.
  64. One of Queen Victoria’s wedding gifts was a 3 metre diameter, half tonne cheese.
  65. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, never phoned his wife or his mother, they were both deaf.
  66. It was considered unfashionable for Venetian women, during the Renaissance to have anything but silvery-blonde hair.
  67. Queen Victoria was one of the first women ever to use chloroform to combat pain during childbirth.
  68. Peter the Great had the head of his wife’s lover cut off and put into a jar of preserving alcohol, which he then ordered to be placed by her bed.
  69. The car manufacturer Henry Ford was awarded Hitler’s Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle. Henry Ford was the inventor of the assembly line, and Hitler used this knowledge of the assembly line to speed up production, and to create better and interchangeable products.
  70. Atilla the Hun is thought to have been a dwarf.
  71. The warriors tribes of Ethiopia used to hang the testicles of those they killed in battle on the ends of their spears.
  72. On 15 April 1912 the SS Titanic sunk on her maiden voyage and over 1,500 people died. Fourteen years earlier a novel was published by Morgan Robertson which seemed to foretell the disaster. The book described a ship the same size as the Titanic which crashes into an iceberg on its maiden voyage on a misty April night. The name of Robertson’s fictional ship was the Titan.
  73. There are over 200 religious denominations in the United States.
  74. Eau de Cologne was originally marketed as a way of protecting yourself against the plague.
  75. Charles the Simple was the grandson of Charles the Bald, both were rulers of France.
  76. Theodor Herzi, the Zionist leader who was born on May 2 1860, once had the astonishing idea of converting Jews to Christianity as a way of combating anti-Semitism.
  77. The women of an African tribe make themselves more attractive by permanently scaring their faces.
  78. Augustus II, the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland seemed to have a prodigious sexual appetite, and fathered hundreds of illegitimate children during his lifetime.
  79. Some moral purists in the Middle Ages believed that women’s ears ought to be covered up because the Virgin May had conceived a child through them.
  80. Hindus don’t like dying in bed, they prefer to die beside a river.
  81. While at Havard University, Edward Kennedy was suspended for cheating on a Spanish exam.
  82. It is a criminal offence to drive around in a dirty car in Russia.
  83. The Emperor Caligula once decided to go to war with the Roman God of the sea, Neptune, and ordered his soldiers to throw their spears into the water at random.
  84. The Ecuadorian poet, José Olmedo, has a statue in his honour in his home country. But, unable to commission a sculptor, due to limited funds, the government brought a second-hand statue .. Of the English poet Lord Byron.
  85. In 1726, at only 7 years old, Charles Sauson inherited the post of official executioner.
  86. Sir Winston Churchill rationed himself to 15 cigars a day.
  87. On 7 January 1904 the distress call ‘CQD’ was introduced. ‘CQ’ stood for ‘Seek You’ and ‘D’ for ‘Danger’. This lasted only until 1906 when it was replaced with ‘SOS’.
  88. Though it is forbidden by the Government, many Indians still adhere to the caste system which says that it is a defilement for even the shadow of a person from a lowly caste to fall on a Braham ( a member of the highest priestly caste).
  89. In parts of Malaya, the women keep harems of men.
  90. The childrens’ nursery rhyme ‘Ring-a-Ring-a-Roses’ actually refers to the Black Death which killed about 30 million people in the fourteenth-century.
  91. The word ‘denim’ comes from ‘de Nimes’, Nimes being the town the fabric was originally produced.
  92. During the reign of Elizabeth I, there was a tax put on men’s beards.
  93. Idi Amin, one of the most ruthless tyrants in the world, before coming to power, served in the British Army.
  94. Some Eskimos have been known to use refrigerators to keep their food from freezing.
  95. It is illegal to play tennis in the streets of Cambridge.
  96. Custer was the youngest General in US history, he was promoted at the age of 23.
  97. It costs more to send someone to reform school than it does to send them to Eton.
  98. The American pilot Charles Lindbergh received the Service Cross of the German Eagle form Hermann Goering in 1938.
  99. The active ingredient in Chinese Bird’s nest soup is saliva.
  100. Marie Currie, who twice won the Nobel Prize, and discovered radium, was not allowed to become a member of the prestigious French Academy because she was a woman.
  101. It was quite common for the men of Ancient Greece to exercise in public .. naked.
  102. John Paul Getty, once the richest man in the world, had a payphone in his mansion.
  103. Iceland is the world’s oldest functioning democracy.
  104. Adolf Eichmann (responsible for countless Jewish deaths during World war II), was originally a travelling salesman for the Vacuum Oil Co. of Austria.
  105. The national flag of Italy was designed by Napoleon Bonaparte.
  106. The Matami Tribe of West Africa play a version of football, the only difference being that they use a human skull instead of a more normal ball.
  107. John Winthrop introduced the fork to the American dinner table for the first time on 25 June 1630.
  108. Elizabeth Blackwell, born in Bristol, England on 3 February 1821, was the first woman in America to gain an M.D. degree.
  109. Abraham Lincoln was shot with a Derringer.
  110. The great Russian leader, Lenin died 21 January 1924, suffering from a degenerative brain disorder. At the time of his death his brain was a quarter of its normal size.
  111. When shipped to the US, the London bridge ( thought by the new owner to be the more famous Tower Bridge ) was classified by US customs to be a ‘large antique’.
  112. Sir Winston Churchill was born in a ladies’ cloakroom after his mother went into labour during a dance at Blenheim Palace.
  113. In 1849, David Atchison became President of the United States for just one day, and he spent most of the day sleeping.
  114. Between the two World War’s, France was controlled by forty different governments.
  115. The ‘Crystal Palace’ at the Great Exhibition of 1851, contained 92 900 square metres of glass.
  116. It was the custom in Ancient Rome for the men to place their right hand on their testicles when taking an oath. The modern term ‘testimony’ is derived from this tradition.
  117. Sir Winston Churchill’s mother was descended from a Red Indian.
  118. The study of stupidity is called ‘monology’.
  119. Hindu men believe(d) it to be unluckily to marry a third time. They could avoid misfortune by marring a tree first. The tree ( his third wife ) was then burnt, freeing him to marry again.
  120. More money is spent each year on alcohol and cigarettes than on Life insurance.
  121. In 1911 3 men were hung for the murder of Sir Edmund Berry at Greenbury Hill, their last names were Green, Berry , and Hill.
  122. A firm in Britain sold fall-out shelters for pets.
  123. During the seventeen century , the Sultan of Turkey ordered his entire harem of women drowned, and replace with a new one.
  124. Lady Astor once told Winston Churchill ‘if you were my husband, I would poison your coffee’. His reply …’ if you were my wife, I would drink it ! ‘.
  125. There are no clocks in Las Vegas casinos.
  126. The Great Pyramid of Giza consists of 2,300,000 blocks each weighing 2.5 tons.
  127. On 9 February 1942, soap rationing began in Britain.
  128. Paul Revere was a dentist.
  129. The Budget speech on April 17 1956 saw the introduction of Premium Savings Bonds into Britain. The machine which picks the winning numbers is called “Ernie”, an abbreviation, which stands for’ electronic random number indicator equipment’.
  130. Chop-suey is not a native Chinese dish, it was created in California by Chinese immigrants.
  131. The Russian mystic, Rasputin, was the victim of a series of murder attempts on this day in 1916. The assassins poisoned, shot and stabbed him in quick succession, but they found they were unable to finish him off. Rasputin finally succumbed to the ice-cold waters of a river.
  132. Bonnie Prince Charlie, the leader of the Jacobite rebellion to depose of George II of England, was born 31 December 1720. Considered a great Scottish hero, he spent his final years as a drunkard in Rome.
  133. The Liberal Prime Minister, William Gladstone, was born of the 29th December 1809. Apparently, as a result of his strong Puritan impulses, Gladstone kept a selection of whips in his cellar with which he regularly chastised himself.
  134. A parthenophobic has a fear of virgins.
  135. South American gauchos were known to put raw steak under their saddles before starting a day’s riding, in order to tenderise the meat.
  136. There are 240 white dots in a Pacman arcade game.
  137. In 1939 the US political party ‘The American Nazi Party’ had 200,000 members.
  138. King Solomon of Israel had about 700 wives as well as hundreds of mistresses.
  139. Urine was once used to wash clothes.
  140. North American Indian, Sitting Bull, died on 15 December 1890. His bones were laid to rest in North Dakota, but a business group wanted him moved to a ‘more natural’ site in South Dakota. Their campaign was rejected so they stole the bones, and they now reside in Sitting Bull Park, South Dakota.
  141. St Nicholas, the original Father Christmas, is the patron saint of thieves, virgins and communist Russia.
  142. Dublin is home of the Fairy Investigation Society.
  143. Fourteen million people were killed in World War I, twenty million died in a flu epidemic in the years that followed.
  144. People in Siberia often buy milk frozen on a stick.
  145. Princess Ann was the only competitor at the 1976 Montreal Olympics that did not have to undergo a sex test.
  146. Ethelred the Unready, King of England in the Tenth-century, spent his wedding night in bed with his wife and his mother-in-law.
  147. Coffins which are due for cremation are usually made with plastic handles.
  148. Blackbird, who was the chief of Omaha Indians, was buried sitting on his favourite horse.
  149. The two highest IQ’s ever recorded (on a standard test) both belong to women.
  150. The Tory Prime Minister, Benjamin Disreali, was born 21 December 1804. He was noted for his oratory and had a number of memorable exchanges in the House with his great rival William Gladstone. Asked what the difference between a calamity and a misfortune was Disreali replied: ‘If Gladstone fell into the Thames it would be a misfortune, but if someone pulled him out again, it would be a calamity’.
  151. The Imperial Throne of Japan has been occupied by the same family for the last thirteen hundred years.
  152. In the seventeenth-century a Boston man was sentenced to two hours in the stocks for obscene behaviour, his crime, kissing his wife in a public place on a Sunday.
  153. President Kaunda of Zambia once threatened to resign if his fellow countrymen didn’t stop drinking so much alcohol.
  154. Due to staggering inflation in the 1920’s, 4,000,000,000,000,000,000 German marks were worth 1 US dollar.
  155. Gorgias of Epirus was born during preparation of his mothers funeral.
  156. The city of New York contains a district called ‘Hell’s Kitchen’.
  157. The city of Hiroshima left the Industrial Promotion Centre standing as a monument the atomic bombing.
  158. During the Medieval Crusades, transporting bodies off the battlefield for burial was a major problem, this was solved by carrying a huge cauldron into the Holy wars, boiling down the bodies, and taking only the bones with them.
  159. A ten-gallon hat holds three-quarters of a gallon.
  160. George Washington grew marijuana in his garden.


Organized crime

No matter how much the government fights it, organized crime just seems to get
more organized every day.

The police pulled in a Mob kingpin recently and reminded him he had the right to make a phone call.

“Just fax the arrest report to my lawyer,” the mobster said calmly.

Photography by Donncha

No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted

Evolution is an advertising campaign launched by Unilever in 2006 as part of its Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, to promote the newly created Dove Self-Esteem Fund. The centre of the Unilever campaign is a 75-second spot produced by Ogilvy & Mather in Toronto, Canada. The piece was first displayed online on 6 October 2006, and was later broadcast as a television and cinema spot in the Netherlands and the Middle East. The ad was created from the budget left over from the earlier Daughters campaign, and was intended to be the first in a series of such online-focused spots by the company. Later pieces include Onslaught and Amy. Evolution was directed by Canadian director Yael Staav, with sound design handled by the Vapor Music Group, and post-production by SoHo.

The advert was a critical, popular, and financial success. It won a number of the most prestigious awards in the advertising industry, including two Cannes Lions Grand Prix awards and an Epica D’Or. It has been discussed in many mainstream television programmes and print publications, and the exposure generated by the spot has been estimated at a value of over $150M. Evolution has also spawned numerous unofficial copycat versions, including a title sequence to a BBC sketch show and a short parody called Slob Evolution, created by a British production company, Blink Productions, which has gone on to itself be nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award.