10 More Historically Important Perverts

If the #MeToo movement has taught us anything, it’s that perverts are everywhere. The pages of history are no exception. Below are 10 historically notable perverts, who run the gamut from “midly kinky” to “extreme sexual predator.” There is always difficulty in applying modern standards to actions of the past, but these 10 men all engaged in sexual behavior that was (or would have been) considered outside the norm, even in their own times….

10. CS Lewis was into spanking, and an older woman he called “mother”

Author CS Lewis wrote extensively on Christianity, though he is perhaps best-known for the seven children’s books he authored, which make upThe Chronicles of Narnia. But before he wrote beloved classics like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Lewis also wrote (in letters to a friend) about his sadistic desires. He dubbed himself “Philomastix,” meaning “lover of the whip” in Greek, and wrote to his friend, Arthur Greeves, detailing women he thought would be “a suitable subject for the lash,” including Greeves’ own sister. In another letter he also confides that, “There’s no special virtue in a whip—hundreds of other methods of mild torture are just as good.” And it wasn’t just women that Lewis wanted to whip. While visiting Exeter, Lewis was kicked out by the Dean for getting “royally drunk” and “imploring everyone to let me whip them for the sum of 1s. a lash!”

Another odd quirk of Lewis’ life is his relationship with Jane King Moore. While being trained for the Army, Lewis made a pact with his roommate Edward Moore to take care of the other’s family, if either was killed in the war. Sadly, Moore died in action, and 18-year-old Lewis formed a special bond with 45-year-old Jane King Moore while recovering from his own wounds, eventually moving in with her and her family. Lewis called Moore “mother,” but many have suggested the relationship went well beyond a familial bond. A long-time friend of Lewis’ wrote of the pair, “After conversations with Mrs. Moore’s daughter, Maureen, and a consideration of the way their bedrooms were arranged… I am quite certain they were lovers.”

9. Joseph Smith Jr. had up to 40 wives, some in their teens

Joseph Smith Jr., the founder and prophet of Mormonism, believed that polygamy was divinely commanded. Despite the on-and-off disapproval of his first wife, Emma, Joseph Smith married a number of additional wives—the Mormon church estimates 30-40 women were “sealed” to Joseph Smith. Some of these marriages were unconsummated, representing an eternal union of souls, while some included all the earthly pleasures of marriage. Some were to single women, while others were to women who already had husbands.

Smith’s youngest bride, Helen Mar Kimball, was only 14 at the time of her marriage to him. While she initially found the idea of plural marriage “improper and unnatural,” Kimball was talked into the marriage by her father, and by Smith. In Kimball’s retelling, Smith persuaded her to agree with the promise of heaven, recalling, “[Smith] said to me, ‘If you will take this step, it will ensure your salvation & exhaltation & that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.’ This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward.” It is unclear whether Kimball and Smith’s marriage was merely “celestial” or was consummated. What is clear is that Kimball was one of four teenage brides Smith married in a single month—May 1843.

8. Hans Christian Andersen wasn’t into sex, but he liked to visit brothels and kept a log of his masturbation sessions

Hans Christian Andersen may be best known for his beloved children’s literature, including such tales as The Little Mermaid and The Emperor’s New Clothes. However, in person, the Danish author was not the jovial, grandfatherly figure many might imagine. Rather, he was awkward and neurotic. Some of his quirks included dramatic behavior when confronting rejection (he threw himself facedown on Charles Dickens’ lawn and bawled after reading a negative review) and some phobias around death (when sleeping, he would put up a note to indicate that he was sleeping and not dead).

Some of Andersen’s oddest behavior had to do with sex. He visited brothels on numerous occasions, but professed that he never had sex with the women there, just looked and talked to them. While visiting Paris, he noted in his journal that the 18-year-old prostitute he engaged,  “undressed completely and seemed surprised that I only looked at her.” Andersen’s journals also contain detailed records of his masturbatory sessions, indicating what inspired them. Particularly good sessions were marked “++”  and he even included such information as “penis sore.” Andersen’s sessions were inspired by both men and women, and his letters show infatuations with individuals of both sexes, though there is no evidence that he ever consummated any of his love affairs.

7. Henry VIII needed a lot of women to keep him happy, and the Pope wasn’t going to stand in his way

Henry VIII is perhaps best known for his string of wives—6 in total—and the way the unions ended. Two marriages ended in annulments, two ended when Henry had his wives beheaded, one ended when the wife died of natural causes, and the last ended when Henry himself died. However, even 6 wives weren’t enough to keep the king satisfied. He also had a string of mistresses, two of whom bore him children. One of the mistresses, Mary Boleyn, was the sister of Anne Boleyn, who would become Henry’s wife before being executed for adultery.

In order to land Anne Boleyn, Henry first had to figure out a way to be rid of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon (Catherine was also keeping it in the family, having previously been married to Henry’s brother, though the marriage was never consummated). Not only was Henry desperate to bed Anne Boleyn, he was also seeking a healthy male heir, which Catherine, who was pushing 40, had been unable to produce. When the Pope declined to annul the marriage, Henry declared himself the head of the Church of England and forever separated it from Papal authority.

Henry VIII grew disenchanted with Anne Boleyn and had her and several men of his court sentenced to death for adultery (in the case of the men, the charge was treason). In the run-up to Boleyn’s execution, Henry embarked on the party circuit, determined to find a new bride and expressing his mood as one of a man who ditches “a thin old vicious hack in the hope of getting soon a fine horse to ride.” The new horse was Jane Seymour, and he married her less than two weeks after Anne Boleyn’s death.

Despite being prone to obesity himself, Henry was picky about the appearance of his women. When Anne of Cleves (his 4th wife) proved to be less attractive than her portrait had suggested, Henry couldn’t perform in the marital bed, calling her body “disordered” and saying “he could never in her company be provoked and steered to know her carnally.” The marriage was eventually annulled. By the time he had beheaded wife #5 for behaving like a “common harlot,” Henry’s sex drive seemed to be on the wane. Young women were reluctant to marry a king who kept beheading his wives and Henry was nursing a painful jousting injury, so he finally settled down with a two-time widow who he viewed as “a nursemaid rather than a bedmate.”

6. Charlie Chaplin was into underage girls

Charlie Chaplin has been called “the first global celebrity,” rising to fame through his comic portrayal of “The Little Tramp,” an Everyman character he embodied in more than 80 films. Known for the outsized pants and shoes and signature moustache of the character he portrayed, Chaplin was famous all over the world. He was also known in a lot of women’s bedrooms, once claimingto have slept with over 2,000 women.

At least some of the many women Chaplin bedded were underage. Three of his four wives were teenagers when he married them; the other was in her 20s, though she had claimed to be younger when she met Chaplin. Charlie’s first wife, Mildred Harris, was a child star who was 15 when Chaplin met her, and 16 when he married her, believing that she was pregnant. They divorced acrimoniously 2 years later. Chaplin’s second wife, Lita Grey, was also underage, just 15 when she became pregnant with his child, and 16 at the time of their marriage. The marriage, which took place in Mexico, came about when Grey refused his offers of money and demands that she get an abortion, and after her shotgun-wielding uncle reminded Chaplin that Grey’s age would support charges of statutory rape. Grey, who has said of Chaplin, “He enjoyed being the first person in a girl’s life,” claimed that on their honeymoon, Chaplin told her that marrying her was better than going to prison.

Unsurprisingly, though it produced two children, the marriage did not last, ending in a nasty and public divorce, in which Grey accused Chaplin of infidelity and “degenerate sexual desires, too revolting… to set forth in this complaint.” Grey, who called Chaplin “a destroyer of girls,” garnered a settlement of over $800,000, the largest in US history at the time. Charlie’s fourth marriage, when he was 54, was also to a teenager—Oona O’Neil, who was 18 at the time. While the marriage took place over the objections of O’Neil’s father, it was Chaplin’s final marriage, enduring until his death in 1977.

5. Jean-Jacques Rousseau wanted to be punished like a little boy

Rousseau is credited with seminal contributions to the development modern political thought; his philosophy influenced the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. However, in addition to exploring the importance of civil society and reason in human development, Rousseau’s writings touch on another theme—his enthusiasm for spanking and being dominated.

This fetish dates to being spanked by his guardian when he was 11, an experience where, “a degree of sensuality had mingled with the smart and shame, which left more of a desire than a fear of repetition.” Rousseau was also into submission, writing, “To fall at the feet of an imperious mistress, obey her mandates, or implore pardon were for me the most exquisite of enjoyments.” Taking this fetish to the extreme, he called an older woman with whom he had a long-term affair “Maman” (“Mother”), and she called him “petit” (“little one”). Rousseau was also an exhibitionist, exposing his bare butt to strangers, behavior that was greeted with laughter and screams.

4. King Edward VII earned the nicknames “Edward the Caresser” and “Dirty Bertie”

Edward VII was 59 when he finally became the King of England. He used the long wait to engage in all kinds of debauchery. Edward’s long string of scandals began with an affair with a prostitute when he was 19. Edward’s parents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, were horrified, and Albert chewed Edward out during a long walk in the rain. Shortly after this altercation, Albert came down with typhoid and died. Victoria, who never really liked her son, blamed Edward’s inability to keep it in his pants for his father’s death.

Albert’s death and Edward’s marriage did nothing to curb the future king’s sexual drive. He often attended country house parties where “corridor creeping” was a central activity. Edward also kept an apartment in Paris, and worked his way through the city’s brothels. He was also an avid patron of the city’s bars and restaurants and his expanding girth (another of his nicknames was “Tum-Tum”) began to constrain his sexual escapades. Rather than give up either appetite, Edward commissioned a special sex chair that supported his weight and allowed him to receive the “royal treatment” from two women at once. When he was finally named king, Edward designated a pew at Westminster for his “special ladies.” Even on his deathbed, one woman wasn’t enough to please Edward. In addition to his wife, his mistress was present, and Edward even requested the two women kiss before his long-suffering wife ordered the mistress removed.

3. Caligula was into absolute power… and maybe his sisters

Caligula ruled as Roman emperor for only four years, from AD 37 to AD 41, but managed to spark an astounding array of rumors during that short time, before he was assassinated by members of the Praetorian guard. Reports of his initial rule, which included elaborate public spectacles, including gladiatorial games, were largely positive. However, after recovering from an illness (or perhaps a failed poisoning), Caligula’s behavior changed dramatically. He took on wasteful and pointless construction projects, eliminated his political enemies, and sought to be worshiped as a god.

Contemporaneous Roman historians, including Seneca the younger, suggest he was a man prone to many vices, with a vicious temper and a penchant for cruelty. Seneca describes how Caligula bedded another man’s wife and then publicly, “at the top of his voice, reproached this man with the way his wife behaved in bed.” However, the most extreme charges about Caligula’s behavior were leveled by two Roman historians who were born after Caligula’s death, Cassius Dio and Suetonius. The passage of time suggests these salacious accounts may not be entirely accurate, but they do show the depths of perversion with which Caligula is associated.

Cassius Dio accuses Caligula of incest with his sisters, saying that, “after ravishing them all, he confined two of them to an island, the third having already died.” Suetonius accuses him of “unnatural relations” with several men, including “certain hostages.” He also accuses Caligula of “habitual incest with all his sisters,” forcing them to engage in threesomes with himself and his wife at banquets. Suetonius further notes that the incestuous behavior with one sister began when Caligula was a minor, and continued through her marriage until her death. According to Suetonius, “The rest of his sisters he did not love with so great affection, nor honor so highly, but often prostituted to his favorites.”

2. Grover Cleveland married a woman he had practically raised and fathered an illegitimate child (allegedly through rape)

When you think of US Presidential sex scandals, Grover Cleveland may not be the first name that comes to mind. Nonetheless, his questionable relationships with women suggest he may have been the country’s most perverted president.

Cleveland’s sex scandal, which emerged in 1884, but took place 10 years prior, involved accusations that he had fathered an illegitimate child with Maria Halpin. And it gets worse. According to the affidavit she signed, Halpin had been hounded by Cleveland (who was single at the time) until she agreed to go to dinner with him. Afterward, Halpin claimed, the future President walked her home and violently raped her, threatening to ruin her if she told anyone. Unfortunately, Halpin’s ordeal was far from over. Weeks later, she learned she was pregnant and sought Cleveland’s help. Instead of assisting Halpin, Cleveland arranged for the baby, a son, to be taken from her and adopted after it was born and for Halpin to be committed to a mental asylum. When the news of Cleveland’s involvement in the incident emerged in the press, he launched a smear campaign, admitting the two had been involved (consensually, in his account), and suggestingthat he hadn’t been involved in the life of his son because of “doubts about his fatherhood.”

While the news that Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock, and was likely a rapist, briefly threatened to derail his Presidential ambitions, Cleveland was still elected to the White House in 1884. Soon his love life would be in the papers again, this time with his marriage to Francis Folsom, who at 21 was 28 years younger than Cleveland and would become the nation’s youngest First Lady. While the age difference is a big one, the truly sketchy aspect of their relationship was that Cleveland, initially known to Francis as “Uncle Cleve,” had known his bride since she was born, even serving as a quasi-guardian after her father, Cleveland’s close friend, died when she was 11. Cleveland reportedly mentioned that he was going to marry her when she was 8 and sitting on his lap, and when asked by friends why he was still a bachelor, responded, “I’m waiting for my bride to grow up.” They probably thought he was speaking in jest (albeit somewhat creepily), but pervy Uncle Cleve followed through, making the woman for whom he had once purchased a pram his wife.

1. The Marquis de Sade

Unlike the other men on the list, who are famous primarily for other reasons and just happen to also be perverts, the Marquis de Sade is known primarily because he was a pervert; or more accurately, a sexual predator. “Sadism,” the word for the tendency to derive pleasure from the pain of others, comes from his name. He literally wrote the book (or rather, books) on it, penning dark pornography themed around torture and depravity that was considered so dangerous that France criminalized publication of several of his works until the 1950s.

Unfortunately, Sade’s twisted fantasies were not contained merely in his books. He spent much of his life in prison or mental hospitals for his various sexual crimes. His first serious conviction was for tying up a chambermaid, cutting her, and dripping hot wax in her wounds. The next was for, on a trip with his manservant, poisoning several prostitutes (2 of whom nearly died) with chocolates laced with aphrodisiacs to make them more amenable to his deviant sexual desires. After escaping from prison, Sade brought his wife into the act. The pair recruited some young (15-years-old, or so) servants and those “Five young females and one male were trapped in the chateau for six weeks of depredations, orchestrated in theatrical fashion by Sade under the indulgent eyes of his wife.” This was the last straw for Sade’s mother-in-law, who had a royal warrant issued for his indefinite incarceration.


10 of the World’s Most Haunted Houses

We all know the old saying “home sweet home,” but for many families around the world, going home to a haunted house is anything but sweet. Your home is suppose to be a place to relax, sleep, and enjoy time with family, but none of those things can happen when you share your home with several spirits who just won’t rest….

Some hauntings can include anything from disembodied voices, to shadow figures, knocking sounds, and loud footsteps. But for some people, their experiences are much more sinister and can include being physically touched or thrown down the stairs.

While sometimes it’s unknown as to why spirits haunt a specific location, other times it’s suggested that a deeply tragic event can cause the presence of restless and/or angry ghosts. There are countless reports from around the world of homes that are tormented by spirits and this list will detail the top 10 most haunted houses in the world.

10. Beau-Séjour Palace

Beau-Séjour Palace, a 19th-century manor house in Lisbon, is known as one of the most haunted locations in Portugal. Apparently it is haunted by the ghost of a previous owner, Baron of Glória, who lived there in the nineteenth century. He has been seen in the gardens as well as in the corridors of the mansion.

Employees and visitors have reported many strange things at the palace, such as unexplained disappearance and movement of objects, windows that quickly open and close even when there isn’t any wind, and the sound of non-existent bells ringing on the property.

Although the palace is now being used by a municipal agency dedicated to the study of Lisbon’s heritage, some workers still claim that occasionally their books and boxes get moved unexplainably.

9. Raynham Hall

Located in Norfolk, England, Raynham Hall resides on 7,000 acres and is famously known for the spirit of the “Brown Lady” haunting the place. This spirit is believed to be Lady Dorothy, who resided there in the 1700s. The reason why they nicknamed her the Brown Lady is because several people who have seen her say she is wearing a brown dress.

One of the most famous and convincing photographs ever taken of a spirit was captured there in the 1930s by two photographers, and appears to show the ghostly figure of a woman standing on the stairs. The photographers worked for the magazine Country Life and were on assignment at the mansion when the picture was taken.

Rumors have surfaced that Dorothy was treated very badly by her husband and was even locked away inside the house, which would explain her restless spirit roaming the home.

8. The Old Vicarage

The small village of Borgvattnet is the location of the Old Vicarage, which has a reputation of being one of the most haunted houses in Sweden. It was built in 1876, but the first ghost ever reported was by a chaplain in 1927. Apparently he was on his way up to the attic to get his laundry, when he noticed his clothes being unexplainably torn down from the line.

Many other reports have surfaced over the years, such as an apparition of a woman dressed in grey, hearing unexplained sounds, and objects being moved. One time a guest witnessed three old women staring at her in the middle of the night. And another chaplain who stayed at the residence claimed to have been regularly thrown out of his chair by a ghost.

7. Whaley House

The Whaley House is located in San Diego, California, and receives over 125,000 visitors annually who are fascinated with this historic location. Thomas Whaley purchased this property in 1855 which was said to have been the site of Yankee Jim Robinson’s hanging in 1852.

Many strange things have occurred at the location over the years. People have heard the pounding of a gavel used in courtrooms, music and laughter from inside the walls, a figure looking out from the upstairs window, tiny footsteps and laughter from children, along with what sounds like cries from a child. A young girl was even spotted playing in the dining room.

The Whaleys’ daughter Violet committed suicide and people often feel her presence on the second floor of the home. Even Thomas and his wife Anna have been seen standing at the top of the stairs keeping watch over their beloved home.

6. Winchester Mystery House

Sarah Winchester was the heir of the Winchester rifle fortune. She bought a simple eight-room cottage on several acres of land in San Jose, California, but it soon became unrecognizable as she had numerous carpenters build additions onto her house continuously for 36 consecutive years until her death in 1922. She did this because she believed she was being haunted by the ghosts of people who were killed by the Winchester rifle.

This huge house has staircases which lead to nowhere, confusing maze-like hallways, and doors that open up to a solid wall behind them. People have heard disembodied voices and footsteps, especially on the third floor. In the basement, there is a man often seen wearing white overalls and pushing a wheelbarrow to the coal chute. Strange images and orbs have also been caught on video and in pictures.

5. Monte Cristo

Known to many as Australia’s most haunted house, Monte Cristo is a Victorian mansion that was built in 1876 by Christopher William Crawley. Much tragedy had struck this home, with a young child who was dropped down the stairs, a stable boy who burned to death, a maid who fell from the balcony, and the son of a caretaker, who was chained up for 40 years and found curled up next to his mother’s deceased body. Even one of the caretakers was murdered on the property.

People who live in the house have felt the presence of the original owners, Christopher and Elizabeth Crawley. They have also felt a hand on their shoulder, their name being called, the feeling that someone was watching them, as well as hearing footsteps on the balcony. There have also been figures captured in several pictures.

4. Borley Rectory

Located in Essex, the Borley Rectory is referred to as the most haunted house in England. It was first built in 1862 on land that once held an old monastery. After a newspaper reported an apparition of a nun in 1929, psychic investigator Harry Price was asked to go to the mansion to investigate the paranormal claims. The nun was said to roam the garden with her head bend down in sadness. Other eerie reports were of strange lights, footsteps, whispers, and sounds of a phantom carriage outside, along with visions of a headless man, a girl dressed in white, and the home’s original builder Henry Bull.

There was a fire that destroyed the house in 1939, and it was completely demolished in 1944. Even though the building is no longer there, there are still claims of paranormal activity, such as stones being thrown at visitors.

3. Amityville Horror House

Located in New York, the Amityville Horror House was the inspiration of the movie The Amityville HorrorIt was the site of a mass murder in 1974, where a 23-year-old man killed his entire family (both parents and four siblings) while they were sleeping. Several months later, the Lutz family moved into the home, where they encountered terrifying events that still haunt them to this day.

The Lutz family smelled perfume and encountered cold spots around the house. They would wake up every night at 3:15 a.m., which is said to be the time at which the murders took place. What’s even more disturbing is that objects flew across the room, their crucifix was turned upside down, green slime oozed from the walls, and they saw glowing eyes from a demonic entity. It’s no surprise that this location is listed as one of the most haunted houses in America.

2. Myrtles Plantation

Known as one of America’s most haunted homes, Myrtles Plantation is located in St. Francisville, Louisiana. It was built in 1796 by General Dave Bradford, who was also known as “Whiskey Dave” of the Whiskey Rebellion.

It is said that there are at least 12 spirits living at the plantation. Many people have encountered apparitions which appear to be pre-Civil War slaves. One ghost especially is that of a girl named Chloe, who was thought to be a slave. There was even a picture taken of what appears to be Chloe standing between two of the buildings on the property. Another famous picture was taken at the plantation, which appears to show a girl dressed in antebellum clothing looking out the window directly into the camera. Nobody knows who she is, so she has been nicknamed the “Ghost Girl.”

1. Ancient Ram Inn

The Ancient Ram Inn is known to be the most haunted bed and breakfast in all of England, with up to 20 ghosts occupying the building. The residence was first built in the year 1145 and is located in Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire. And legend has it that it was built on pagan burial ground where children were once sacrificed. Other disturbing events that allegedly occurred there were the burning of a witch, and an innkeeper’s daughter being hanged in the attic.

It’s now a bed and breakfast where guests have packed up and left in the middle of the night, claiming to have witnessed terrifying things. Some of these occurrences include furniture flying around the room, objects spinning and moving, being pushed down onto their bed, and seeing visions of a little girl in the hallways. They have also seen a high priestess sitting in a bedroom, and have heard the sounds of children crying and screaming.

10 of Donald Trump’s Business That Completely Failed

You may or may not know that a few of Donald Trump’s companies have gone bankrupt. His companies filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, which  is considered to be a “reorganization of debt.” Several of his casinos and resorts were in billions of dollars in debt, because the businesses were simply not profitable enough to make up for their losses….

For most humans on this planet, that amount of debt would create a crater so deep, there would be no hope to climb out of it. For Trump, though, all it took was selling some of his shares of those failing companies, and he was squared away. In 2015, he even bragged about this on Twitter, saying that he is simply taking advantage of the way American law works.

The successful real estate business his father started gives him a tremendous safety net. Trump has the luxury of trying as many new business ideas as he wants, no matter how little experience he had in any given industry. Here are just 10 of the many, many failed business ventures Trump has made over the years.

10. Trump Steaks

When you think of buying a quality cut of beef, you would probably go to your grocery store or a butcher. The last place you would even think of shopping for raw meat is the same place that you buy your pillows and blankets, but that’s exactly what Donald Trump did.

In 2007, the future President created a new business called Trump Steaks. Their line of assorted luxury meats included steaks, hamburgers, and hot dogs that were all packaged in black gift boxes. Depending on your choice of meat, they cost anywhere from $199 to $999.  He claimed they were the best tasting steaks in the world. Instead of giving any sort of culinary experience in the commercial, Trump simply says, “I understand steaks. They are my favorite food.”

It shouldn’t take a marketing genius to know that this was a bad idea, but it gets worse, because they were sold at The Sharper Image. If you’re not familiar with The Sharper Image, they normally sell home goods, and they’re basically a more expensive version of Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They were also sold on The Home Shopping Network at $96 per pound.You could either consider a health hazard waiting to happen, or think the idea was years ahead of Amazon Fresh.

According to a one-star customer review of Trump Steaks, titled “Never Again,” they got it for a gift, but they were greasy and gave them a stomach ache. It would seem that everyone else who dared to buy the gift-wrapped meats felt the same, because it didn’t take long for the company to disappear.

9. Trump Ice Bottled Water

Trump Tower in New York City has a snack area where they sell food and drinks. Among them is bottled water called “Trump Ice” with Donald Trump’s face on it. He also sells these at his resorts and casinos. Despite the fact that the bottles look like the cheapest dollar store variety with a new sticker slapped on the front, Trump claimed that his branded water is the “purest” in the world, with superior mineral content that is above all other luxury brands.

According to author and water connoisseur Michael Mascha, the amount of minerals in Trump Ice water is actually much less than many other brands, and it is not sourced from an exclusive location. It is also served in cheap plastic bottles, rather than glass. For all of these reasons, it should not qualify as a luxury product, and yet Trump wants to charge luxury prices simply because his face is on it. Needless to say, no one bought into his claims, and the water never spread to mainstream grocery stores.

8. The New Jersey Generals

You may have never heard of the football team called the New Jersey Generals. They had a short lived lifespan from 1982 to 1986, playing in a lesser-known league called the United States Football League, or USFL. Donald Trump bought the New Jersey Generals for $6 million in 1984. Since the league was just starting out, the team did not get nearly as much time on TV, and was therefore nowhere near as profitable.

Almost immediately after buying the team, Trump wanted to move the team’s schedule from the spring to the fall, so that they would play at the same TV time slot as the more popular NFL games. Then, he pushed the league to  sue the NFL, claiming that they had a monopoly over football in the fall. During this lawsuit, Trump used all of the USFL’s financial resources to pay for the legal fees, in the attempt to win $1.7 billion in damages. Apparently, he was so confident that he would win the case, that the NFL would have no choice but to buy out the teams in the USFL as a compromise. It turns out that the NFL didn’t want to touch Trump with a 10-foot pole.

According to a juror named Patricia Sibilia, who was there to help decide the case in 1984, she and her fellow jury members believed that Trump was shockingly arrogant. It was clear that he was only doing this to as an attempt to create a loophole of buying a football team at a discounted rate, since an official NFL team is closer to $1 billion.

The judge agreed that the NFL did have a monopoly over the airwaves for live coverage of football on TV, but he disagreed with the claim that they somehow owed the USFL nearly two billion dollars. While Trump technically won the case, he was awarded just three dollars. This brilliant master plan backfired even further, because it  exposed the fact that the USFL was breaking the laws with player contracts, which forced them to fay hefty fines.

All of this drama drained the league’s bank accounts so much, the entire USFL had to shut down in 1986. A reporter for the Los Angeles Times named Chris Dufresne explained that thousands of people, including his wife, lost their jobs all because of Trump’s ego.

Even today, Trump is clearly still very salty about the NFL, and he continues to bash them on Twitter whenever he can.

7. The TourDeTrump Bike Race

When you look at Donald Trump, you don’t exactly see a great example of physical fitness, even if he does go golfing every single weekend. But he seemed utterly determined to succeed in the world of sports. In the 1986, he moved on from football and decided he would have a “tremendous” long distance American bike race that would rival the Tour de France. When the press asked why he called it the “Tour De Trump,” he said the name would make it more successful.

During an interview, he said that he had not ridden a bike since he was 7 or 8 years old, and like most Americans, he wasn’t really a fan of watching cycling, either. His interest most likely came from the fact that in Europe, the Tour de France gets hefty sponsorships worth millions of dollars. As he would later learn, the only reason why the Tour de France is so profitable is because people in Europe actually watch cycling on TV.  

The race began in Albany, New York and ended in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Some of the best cyclists in the world gathered to compete in the race, because Trump offered a generous cash prize. The race was broadcast on NBC, and they tried their best to get American audiences interested in cycling by having one-on-one interviews to help get them invested in the competitors, but it simply was not enough.

Trump sponsored a second race three years later in 1989, which failed to make a return on the investment. He pulled out of the race, and the DuPont family took over, renaming it the Tour DuPont. After a couple years, though, even the DuPonts decided it wasn’t worth the trouble, and they stopped having the race in 1996.

6. ACN and The Trump Network

ACN was a digital phone service provider, and Donald Trump agreed to be the face of the company. Despite the fact that laptops and smartphones already have webcams, ACN claims that their cutting-edge technology is years ahead of everyone else.

Donald Trump spoke in front of stadiums filled with over 20,000 people in training seminars for ACN, encouraging them to buy more phones to sell to their family and friends. Their top sales people, brothers Michael and Patrick Maser, spoke on a regular basis about how ACN made them millionaires. In reality, it turns out that they were actually running a drug ring to make millions, and used their ACN business for money laundering.

The vast majority of people who signed up to become ACN sales people lost money in the process, and the true average income has been estimated at just $700 per year. Even after all of these problems were exposed, Trump still endorsed the company, calling it a better investmentthan real estate. This was clearly a pyramid scheme, and they are illegal in the United States. Montana was the first state to bring ACN to court, and many other states followed suit. Unfortunately, this global company is so powerful, it still exists to this day.

You may want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt on this one. Maybe he wasn’t aware that this company was a pyramid scheme when he chose to become their spokesperson. Not so much. He was actually inspired to make his own multi-level marketing company called The Trump Network in 2009. They requested that customers send them urine samples so they could give custom vitamin supplements in return. He even mentioned the recession in the commercial for the company, playing on the hopes and dreams of desperate Americans by promising that it would be the answer to all of their financial problems. Thankfully, not enough people fell for it, and The Trump Network disappeared.

5. Trump: The Game


Donald Trump decided that he could make a better board game than Monopoly, so he came out with Trump: The Game. Each of the players starts off with millions of dollars at their disposal, and the object of the game is to buy New York real estate and become the richest person by the end. Milton Bradley made 2 million copies of the game in 1989, but only 800,000 sold in stores across the country. According to consumers who tested the game, the rules made the players feel anxious, rather than having fun, and many people kept it sealed as a novelty item.

That same year, a fellow casino owner named Bob Stupak bet Trump $1 million that he would win a one-on-one match playing his own board game against him. Trump turned down the challenge, admitting that it was always possible to lose.

It wasn’t until The Apprentice aired on TV in 2004 that Milton Bradley decided to give the game another go. Instead of improving the rules or gaming experience, the second edition added in “You’re Fired” cards that could block another player from buying a property. There are also cards with Donald Trump’s face on them that can beat absolutely anything else a player tries to do, which makes him the hero of the game every time.

4. Trump University

After trying and failing at so many different industries, Trump University was the one idea that should have actually worked. Most of Donald Trump’s financial success came from the real estate business he inherited from his father, and he gained a lot of notoriety after being the star of The Apprentice. It would have actually made a lot of sense for him to follow through, but of course, he wasn’t actually trying.

Trump University promised to give students courses that were taught by some of the leaders in the real estate industry that would help them become successful. It turns out that this was not an actual accredited university, and the teachers were not licensed real estate agents, either. He didn’t even plan a curriculum for the school. Instead, the school hired charismatic salespeople who pushed students to pay upwards of $35,000 for tuition, where they ultimately learned nothing of value in the real estate industry.

He was sued not just once, but three times over Trump University. One lawsuit was brought by the New York Attorney General in 2013 for the fact that the school was a fraud. There are two separate cases demanded that he give refunds to former students. During interviews, Trump’s lawyers claimed that loads of people were happy with the classes. In reality, nearly 7,000 notices were sent out to former students about the lawsuit, and only two of them claimed that they thought their experience was worth the money.

In the end, Trump could not continue to fight the legal battle when he became President, and he was forced to pay $25 million to 6,000 students who were part of the class-action lawsuit. After it was over, Trump refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing, saying that he only lost the case because the judge was Mexican.

3. Trump Magazine


Even after becoming President of the United States, Donald Trump has had no qualms about attending a party hosted by Playboy. So it should come as no surprise to learn that in 1990, Donald Trump was on the cover, and this experience is probably what inspired him to make his own men’s publication called Trump Magazine in 2007. The content he included in the magazine was mostly advertising for luxury products like yachts, cigars, and liquor, often with a sexy woman on the cover, of course. Basically, Trump made the perfect magazine for himself.

According to the former managing editor, most of the articles that were written for the magazine were just meant to glorify his achievements and advertised his own businesses so much that it could rival propaganda from North Korea. The magazine was not allowed to be printed until he had the final say-so, marking any issues he found with a sharpie. The company flopped in 2009, because the audience for the magazine turned out to be so small, they simply didn’t sell enough copies to pay for the expense of running a print publication.

2. Trump Vodka

While Trump Vodka promised to be success distilled in liquid form, the liquor company failed almost as quickly as it went on the market. The man who was in charge of creating the vodka is J. Patrick Kenny, who was a former employee of Seagram’s. After Kenny pitched the idea to Trump, he agreed to let him use his name in exchange for 50% of the profits made by selling the vodka. Kenny set off straight away, creating a corporation called Drinks America, and found a distillery in… the Netherlands.

One of the biggest downfalls for the company was in 2006, when Trump admitted during an interview with Larry King that he doesn’t even enjoy drinking Trump Vodka, despite the fact that his name was on the label. The brand tanked soon afterwards, which completely screwed over Kenny’s career. He said that “the company cratered,” and there is not a single bottle of Trump Vodka left… except, of course, for the ones selling on eBay.

1. Trump Airlines


Yet again, Donald Trump tried to dive head-first into an industry that he had absolutely no experience with. He bought the company formerly known as Eastern Airlines, and decided to slap his name on the side of 21 Boeing 727 airplanes. Unfortunately, he knew nothing about fuel costs, repairs, or what to charge for ticket prices. Like everything else, he simply promised everyone that it would be the “best” flight experience in the world.

A travel writer from Conde Nast named Barbara Peterson experienced what it was like to fly on a Trump Shuttle back in 2011. She says the staff was pleasant, and the food and drinks were great, but she couldn’t get over how Trump’s attempts to insert luxury into such old planes just didn’t fit. In her own words, it was like “having the 21 Club cater a Greyhound bus.”

If you’re wondering why Trump Airlines failed… well, he couldn’t pay his bills. The company took out a $245 million loan from Citibank, and the company wasn’t making any profit. They were $1.1 million behind in their bills. When he couldn’t make the payment, a so-called “rescue package” was gathered by some of his banker friends to cover the bill for him. Y’know, because what’s a million dollars between friends?  

He was not able to keep the company afloat, even after getting that help from friends. When asked about his experience running the airline, Trump said, “The airline business is a tough business… but I did great.”

10 Women Who Seduced Their Way to Success

A patriarchal world hasn’t been enough to stop women from rising to positions of power and influence. In earlier epochs, that journey was made much more difficult, with the rigidness of monarchy and the class system. Still, some women used their cunning, intellect, and even their powers of seduction to gain influence and power. Here are 10 such women who managed to seduce their way to success….

10.  Harriette Wilson

“I shall not say how and why I became, at the age of fifteen, the mistress of the Earl of Craven.”  

Any editor will tell you that’s one hell of an opener. The quote comes from Harriette Wilson’s memoirs where she details her experiences as a courtesan. Wilson was one of 15 children born to John James Dubouchet and his wife Amelia. Harriette Wilson followed in her sisters’ footsteps in becoming a concubine. In her memoirs, Wilson describes that she and her other sisters were all “virtuous” girls until Amy left the family to pursue “adventure.” Harriette later became the most successful courtesan in her family, after starting at the age of 15.

As previously mentioned, Wilson was the mistress of the Earl of Craven by 15, and went on to provide her services for the 1st Earl of Craven, 7th Baron Craven, as well as Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Her interactions and affairs with royalty led to threats at the idea of a memoir being published. Even King George IV was afraid of her wealth of knowledge and threatened Harriette to not release the memoir. Ultimately she agreed to hold off on writing the memoirs; in return, she asked to be treated well in her later years. After her former clients refused to uphold their end of the bargain, Wilson released her memoirs in 1825, and they have been published ever since.

9. Mary Anne Clarke

Another woman who used the power of the pen to kick open the steel gates of lords was Mary Anne Clarke. Born in London in 1776 to a tradesmen, Mary Anne Clarke was married before she was 18-years-old. Soon after getting married, her husband, a stonemason, went bankrupt and Clarke left him. Like Henriette Wilson, Clarke soon found herself as a sought after courtesan. By 1803 Clarke had garnered the attention of Frederick, Duke of York, then the Commander in Chief of the army. Despite becoming his mistress and provided with a fashionable living arrangement, Clarke was not satisfied. Unable to provide her with the lavish lifestyle she demanded, in 1809, a national scandal swept the nation.

Clarke was compelled to testify before the House of Commons and revealed that she had sold army commissions with the Duke of York’s knowledge. The Duke of York was stripped of his position as Commander in Chief of the Army and cut all ties with his mistress, even paying her a substantial sum to keep her from releasing letters written during their relationship. Clarke was eventually forced to leave London and later imprisoned for libel. Like many stories of success, Clarke certainly fell far from grace, but she had one hell of  a life.

8. Agnes Sorel

One of the most powerful women on our list, Agnes Sorel, was the first of her kind as being officially recognized as a Royal Mistress. Born into a higher class that many of our women, Sorel’s father was a soldier in the French army. By the age of 20, she was introduced to King Charles. At the time, she was serving as a maid of honor to Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine. Soon after, she began her service as lady-in-waiting for Marie d’AnjouCharles VII of France‘s wife. Charles VII didn’t wait long until he made Sorel his mistress.

Like most men of power, King Charles VII bestowed gifts to satisfy his mistress. He didn’t give her a necklace, or money. King Charles VII gave her a castle. Sorel had a strong influence in the court, with some claiming that she helped the King rid himself of depression. Although Sorel wielded considerable power, her lasting legacy may be her fashion sense. Sorel made low cut gowns fashionable and, iconically, was known to wear a gown showing one fully bare breast.

Sorel died young, at just 28-years-old. At the time, it was believed she died of dysentery but further examinations have proved she was poisoned.

7. Aspasia

A well-educated woman of antiquity, Aspasia was probably wealthiest woman on our list. Nevertheless, she was still a woman, in a foreign land. She immigrated to Athens from the city of Miletus and was believed to have established a high-end brothel. However, the women in Aspasia’s employ were known to be highly educated, which led to her house being one of the staples for intellectual discussion and debate.

Aspasia would go on to become a lover and partner of statemsn Pericles. Some have even suggested that the Samian War was initiated by Aspasia, a native of the war-torn Miletus; it was believed that Pericles continued the war to appease his partner. The charge led to Aspasia being taken to court, but historical records show that no punishment was decreed.

6. Diane de Poitiers

Born into a noble family, Diane de Poitiers had a slow but gradual rise to power. She was well-educated and cultured, and at the age of 15 she was married to Louis de Brézé, seigneur d’Anet. He was nearly 39 years older than her. Poitiers early life was filled with tragedy, as her father was accused of treason and sentenced to prison for his remaining years. Soon after, her husband died and Poitiers began a custom of wearing black and white, a symbol of mourning. Inheriting her husband’s position, Poitiers put her education to good use and sued to have the proceeds of her husband’s former lands in her estate. She’d go on to win that suit.

Later, Poitiers would become King Henry II’s chief mistress and one of the most well-respected and powerful people in the court. Although the King was married to Catherine de Medici, Poitiers was entrusted with writing many of the King’s letters. Her position was so well-known that when the Pope sent Catherine de Medici a  Golden Rose,” he also sent Poitiers a pearl necklace.

Although the Queen became jealous of Poitiers’ role, she couldn’t keep the King from bestowing her with gifts, most notably the  Crown Jewels of France, the Château d’Anet, and the Château de Chenonceau – a piece of property Catherine wanted herself.

5. Cleopatra

The most famous woman on our list, Cleopatra did whatever she could to maintain the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. After being co-ruler of Egypt with her father Ptolemy XII Auletes, and her late brothers Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator and Ptolemy XIV, the throne eventually became hers. Cleopatra was well aware of the growing threat of Roman invasion, and used her powers of seduction to create an alliance with Julius Caesar.

Although their affair would bring them a child, Caesar’s assassination upended the fragile peace that was established. Determined to maintain her control over Egypt, Cleopatra would seduce Marc Antony, one of Caesar’s closest generals. However, this wouldn’t save her kingdom, as Octavian Caesar’s heir declared war on Cleopatra and Antony’s forces, defeating them and taking Egypt into the Roman Empire. Facing the loss of her kingdom, Cleopatra is believed to have taken her own life via poison, though some speculate she was assassinated with an asp.

4. Eva Peron

Who can forget the chants for Eva Peron in the film Evita? The amazing life of the first Lady of Argentina is hard to sum up succinctly. Peron was more than just a First Lady, she was the most charismatic ambassador for her husband’s radical platform. Born in a small town as an illegitimate child, Peron believed she was destined for stardom. She found small acting roles and worked sparingly as a model, but Eva knew that a chance to be by the side of Juan Peron would be her best chance at the life she envisioned.

After meeting Juan Peron in 1944, it’s been documented that Eva managed to extricate his mistress, making sure that she had him all to herself. With Eva by his side, Juan Peron would rise to power and, thanks to Eva, many women saw greater benefits from the working class reforms that Peron enacted.

3. Theodora

The biggest rags to riches story goes to Theodora, who somehow in 522 AD managed to rise from a prostitute to advisor to an emperor. Born to an actress and – we’re not making this up – a bear trainer, Theodora struggled to make ends meet in her early life.

Performing as an “actress,” she was known to dance for clients while also providing services after the dance was over. After converting to Christianity, Theodora gave up that life, and eventually met Justinian, who sought to marry her. The law forbade such an arrangement, as Theodora was not of noble birth. What did Justinian do? He changed the law. Theodora became the Empress of the Eastern Roman Empire, and was canonized by the Eastern Orthodox Church.

2. Elizabeth Woodville

In many cases, the rise of a commoner to a position of power can lead to conflict and acrimony. Woodville’s place as Queen was seen as an insult to many surrounding her husband, King Edward IV, most notably his cousin Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. Woodville was a mid-ranked woman at birth, who was married and widowed before marrying the King.

Although she was known as a tremendous beauty, Woodville did not have the lineage fitting for a King. That’s likely why Edward married her in secret, with only three witnesses attending. Unlike many of our other women on this list, Woodville helped elevate the standing of her family. Several of her sisters married into nobility, and when Neville began questioning the arrangement it led to tension, with Neville eventually conspiring with his son-in-law. A revolt would break out, and Edward would temporarily lose his throne. However, he’d ultimately put down the rebellion and his and Elizabeth’s children would succeed them.

1. Gabrielle d’Estrees

Arguably the most powerful woman on our list, Gabrielle d’Estrees managed to persuade a King to change religions. That’s about as influential as it gets. During a seemingly never-ending war between Protestants and Catholics in France, Gabrielle understood that the only way to end the fighting was if Henry declared himself as a Catholic. By doing so, the Catholic league and its supporters would have their King.

She also argued for giving more rights to Protestants, leading to the Edict of Nantes. Despite being King Henry IV’s mistress, his love for her was undeniable, as he immediately recognized his children by her. Gabrielle herself was given official status as a mistress to the King, and described as a “subject most worthy of our friendship.” Henry’s great love for her didn’t keep the French elite from causing a stir. Many disasters or mishaps were blamed on Gabrielle, but that didn’t wane her influence. Gabrielle was presented with a key, symbolizing her place on the King’s council.

10 breath-taking things you have to do in Barcelona

Barcelona is one of most popular holiday resorts in Europe. No wonder about that. With a relaxed and laid-back culture, an outstanding cuisine and a breathtakingly beautiful location with the Mediterranean Sea in the East and the Serra de Collserola mountain range in the West, you could hardly ask for more. But Barcelona offers so much more: a fun-filled and vibrant nightlife, some of the most extravagant pieces of architecture in Europe, a wide range of amusing activities and historically interesting sights….

The wind is a gentle breeze (…) Barcelona, how can I forget (…) You took my breath away”, sings Freddie Mercury in a tribute to Barcelona from 1987. Do as Freddie Mercury and let Barcelona take your breath away too! This article lists 10 breath-taking things you have to do in Barcelona.

Swim in the sea

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Barcelona has almost 5 km of coastline and no less than 10 beaches in the middle of the city, of which Barceloneta Beach is probably the most famous. Go for a swim in the warm water! In the summer (June-August), the average temperature of the sea in Barcelona is between 22 and 25 °C. At Barceloneta you also find all sorts of entertainers, sand-artists and salesmen, spectacular monuments and a wide range of seafood restaurants.

Find accommodation at the beach

Barcelona offers something as exceptional as city life and beach resort in one. This is great for everyone who wants to combine lazy days at the beach with exciting city adventures. The best way to stay to do this is in an apartment by the beachBarcelona beach apartments come in various sizes, shapes and degrees of luxury, but they are all spacious, fitted with a fully-equipped kitchen, and located merely 200 meters from the beach. Book your apartment at Lugaris.com today and choose between sea-view apartments, superior, premium and family apartments.

Absorb the atmosphere at La Rambla

La Rambla is a 1.2 km long and immensely popular walking street in the middle of Barcelona. Slowly stroll down the tree-lined promenade and look at everything from mime artists, locals enjoying a glass of sangría in the heat of the day, street performers and tourists from all over the world.

Let Sagrada Família take your breath away

Sagrada Família is a world-famous masterpiece of Gothic architecture by the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, still under construction. Gaze up at the 8 spires almost 170 meters above ground, and study the intricate symbolism hidden in the façades. When the building is complete, it will have 18 spires, representing the twelve apostles, virgin Mary, the four evangelists and Christ himself.

Be impressed by Casa Batlló

Barcelona is considered the global capital of modernism and full of architectural gems, such as Casa Batlló, also designed by Gaudí. The building style is modernism and Art Nouveau, and like most of Gaudí’s work, there are no straight lines. The windows are in irregular oval shapes, the façade is decorated with colorful mosaic, and on top of the building is a roof that resembles the back of a dragon or dinosaur.

Indulge in tapas

No Barcelona holiday would be complete without a proper tapas dinner (tapas are typical Spanish appetizers or snacks that are enjoyed in the company of good beverages). There are tapas bars in literally every street corner, but for an extraordinary experience, the modern tapas at CruiX are highly recommended. Or how about cod churros, roasted pepper rice, tandoor broccoli and duck croquettes?

Dine at 3-starred ABaC

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The outstanding food scene is one of the real highlights of visiting Barcelona, and ABaC is one of the most celebrated restaurants. With 3 Micheline stars, chef Jordi Cruz and his team create art in the kitchen, and serve dishes that are destined to become classics, according to Guide Micheline. If the food doesn’t take your breath away, the prices will!

Visit the Barcelona Erotic Museum

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This unusual museum may make you breath faster. It displays a collection of pornography from across the globe and different times of history (there is even pornography cut in wood!). While it is small, it is definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in history, culture and social expressions throughout time.

Try the handcrafted sangrías at Casa Lolea

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Let a glass of sangría cool you down after visiting the Barcelona Erotic Museum. Sangría is made from red wine, chopped fruit and sometimes lime juice, spices and brandy, and one of the most famous and beloved Spanish drinks. More or less every bar and café in Barcelona sells it, but for an exceptional experience, try the handcrafted and 100% natural sangrías at Casa Lolea.

Let a technological marvel in an old chapel amaze you

Image result for Barcelona Supercomputing Center

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center houses something as unusual as a mega-large supercomputer in an old church. It is, in other words, a perfect mix of old and new. The supercomputer resides in the main hall of Torre Girona, a 19th century church on the campus of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, and visits are welcome but must be booked in advance.

Why the Conquistadors Were in a (New) World of Their Own

When Christopher Columbus arrived at Hispaniola (the island now split down the middle between Haiti and the Dominican Republic), he could hardly believe his eyes. With its extraordinary lushness and biodiversity, mighty rivers flowing with gold, and abundance of honey and spices, it was the embodiment of Heaven on Earth, Paradise, the Garden of Eden—especially compared to back home….

Even the human inhabitants went about in the nude, with only leaves to cover their genitals. They were also unusually innocent, being entirely without greed. Appearing to lack any concept of property, they shared freely with their alien arrivals—and were overjoyed to receive old broken pottery fragments in return.

Columbus was astounded. If this wasn’t the biblical Garden, he wrote to the King and Queen of Spain, then it must be somewhere nearby. This wasn’t hyperbole either; he was absolutely certain of his claim: Some 5,000 years after God kicked us out, Man had found his way back to Eden.

His plan? To ruin it.

True to form, Columbus immediately set about plundering Hispaniola for its wealth. He built mines, military forts, cities, and farms—no doubt devastating forests in the process. Worse, he enslaved the friendly natives to do it for him, threatening to send many back to Europe in chains.

Although he was eventually arrested by the Spanish for his appalling governance of the island, Columbus was far too powerful to lock up. In any case, it did nothing to change human nature. His treatment of the Taíno people proved a horrifying portent of the conquest yet to come. Before long, thousands of Europeans followed him across the Atlantic, every one of them hungry for adventure, wealth, and prestige—whatever the human cost.

What’s interesting is that while the conquistadors called this strange new continent the “New World,” they saw everything in terms of the old—filtering their understanding and perceptions through Bible stories, classical myths, and outmoded maps and ideas.

Before he stuck a flag in the “Garden of Eden,” for example, Columbus thought that Cuba was Japan. He even made his crew take an oath “on pain of a hundred lashes and having the tongue slit” never to contradict his assertion, so insistent was he on imposing the old world on the new.

Likewise, when he came across Antillean manatees, he saw not an exciting new species to classify but a shoal of legendary mermaids (although he did concede they weren’t “half as beautiful” as in pictures).

Ferdinand Magellan also appealed to mythology when he called the Tehuelche (Aónikenk) of Patagonia “giants.” Sure, they may have been taller than average, but his encounter reads like a fairy tale: Seeing the first of them singing and dancing on the shore, he and his crew went up to greet them with gifts, cleverly tricking two of the “giants” into handcuffs and charting a course back to Europe—only for the “specimens” to die in terror en route.

According to Antonio Pigafetta, a scholar along for the ride, the “giants” had deep, booming voices and a fear of their own reflection; and they were so tall that even the tallest among the crew only came up to their waists. These “giants” were later depicted on maps of the New World, alongside mermaids, sea monsters, dragons, and UFOs—even though Sir Francis Drake made it clear that they didn’t exist. Having gone looking for the giants himself, Drake concluded they must be a myth and suggested the Spaniards, who probably “did not think that ever any English man would come hither [to Patagonia] to reprove them,” had simply made the whole thing up.

But virtually all the conquistadors—Spanish or not—were guilty of fanciful projections, imposing time-worn ideas on every square inch of new land, scrutinizing the wide open Western hemisphere through the old narrow lens of the past. Hence they didn’t see the natives as people, they saw them as savages and monsters; and they didn’t see the Aztecs as civilized but as a blasphemous affront to their God.

Basically, the conquistadors were in a world of their own—and an often absurd one at that. For hundreds of years they interacted not so much with reality as with a mythological nowhere realm in which nothing was too extraordinary to believe.

El Dorado

In particular, the idea of rivers flowing with gold and other precious metals and gems became a tantalizing trope for the conquistadors—culminating most famously in their obsession with El Dorado.

Spanish for “the golden” or “gilded one,” El Dorado originally referred to a man, a fantastically wealthy ruler covered from head to toe in pure gold. The myth most likely originated with the Muisca tradition of crowning a new leader by covering his body in gold dust and rowing him to the middle of a sacred lake surrounded by fires and priests. For the Muisca, the alluringly shimmering metal was a symbol of spiritual power and their connection to the divine. But the conquistadors weren’t interested in ethnology; they were dazzled by the prospect of gold. Hence the legend of the “gilded one” quickly turned into a city, and the city became an obsession, inspiring boatloads of Europeans to find it.

Among the first to go looking, in 1529 and then again in 1531, was Ambrosius Ehinger, the ambitious German governor of Venezuela. He was aided in his search by hundreds of men—including captured Indians—and trailed by pigs and dogs. Together, they crossed marshes, rivers, and mountains deep into unknown territory. But in the end, having no qualms about killing or torturing the natives that he came across, Ehinger was slaughtered in return.

Later, in 1541, Gonzalo Pizarro and Francisco de Orellana mounted their own quest from Quito, enslaving natives along the way to help them carry their gear—only to meet with disaster in the end. The same happened to Pedro de Ursúa, who was mutinied by his men in 1561.

Even Sir Walter Raleigh was taken in by the myth and twice went in search of the city. Scouring the highlands of Guiana, he ended up battling with the Spanish and losing his son in the process. When he finally returned to England in disgrace, by now an old man, he was beheaded by King James I.

Expeditions for El Dorado were hopelessly open-ended, called off only when they ran out of food (or men) to keep going. After all, they were chasing a mirage across a vast, uncharted continent so there was really no other end in sight. Of course, it didn’t help that any natives they interrogated barely understood what they were looking for, let alone where on Earth it might be, and usually just pointed to the next tribe with a shrug.

Ironically the conquistadors did actually find El Dorado, in one of the first places they looked. In 1536, Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada conquered the Colombian Cundinamarca plateau, home of the Muisca, and drained their sacred lake. Naturally he found plenty of gold—religious offerings from generations of priests and new leaders—but not nearly as much as he wanted. So the conquistadors took their search elsewhere, far from the origin of the myth, and continued to pursue El Dorado until at least 1800, when Alexander von Humboldt finally declared it a sham.

The Seven Cities of Gold

But El Dorado wasn’t the only golden city; there were said to be seven more.

Shipwrecked on an expedition to Florida in the late-1530s, two men (of only four survivors) found themselves wandering the wastes of New Mexico. One was the Franciscan friar and missionary Marcos de Niza and the other a North African slave by the name of Estevanico. Having already been captured by natives and escaped (perhaps explaining the distance they covered), they were keen to avoid any further contact until they reached the nearest safe haven.

But something caught their eye.

“Situated on the brow of a roundish hill,” de Niza claimed, once he’d made it back to Mexico, was “a very beautiful city, the best that I have seen in these parts.” In fact, it looked to be made out of gold. But when Estevanico got too close, he was killed by the native inhabitants and de Niza was forced to run.

It was an irresistible tale. For some, it meant only one thing: The long lost Cities of Gold had been found. Unlike El Dorado, however, these were from the folklore of Spain. When King Roderic lost Hispania to the Muslims in 711-712 AD, he is said to have sent seven of his bishops to found a new one. Sailing across the Atlantic to “Antillia”—one of a number of early “phantom islands” that was probably the American mainland—they each built a city to govern. And then they burned their ships and navigational equipment to ensure they could never go home.

Needless to say, if the legend was true and any of these cities remained, the gold would belong to the Spanish. In 1541, the conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado boldly retraced de Niza’s steps back to the site of the “city,” accompanied by hundreds of other men and backed by some hefty investments.

Unfortunately, it was only a pueblo, an adobe Zuni settlement that, to a distant observer at sunset, might look a little like it had a kind of glow. It definitely wasn’t made out of gold, though. Plus it had only five neighboring settlements—one short of the fabled seven in total.

The expedition had failed and its financial investors were ruined. It did, however, open up a route to the north, since de Coronado and his men pressed on all the way to Kansas before finally giving up on the search.

The Fountain of Youth

De Niza could hardly be blamed. He was primed to see fantastical things. After all, the shipwrecked expedition that stranded him in the desert in the first place had been in search of the Fountain of Youth—a wild and ultimately ruinous goose chase led by Pánfilo de Narváez. Evidently, they’d all been taken in by a rumor about Juan Ponce de León, who never really looked for the Fountain. Instead, the myth is thought to have been spread as a smear against Ponce de León’s manhood—his “quest for eternal youth” being a search for an impotence cure.

The Fountain was also mentioned by Pietro Martire d’Anghiera, a contemporary Spanish historian who seems to have believed it was real. In his Decades of the New World, he even gave rough directions:

“Beyond Veragua the coast bends in a northerly direction, to a point opposite the Pillars of Hercules … Amongst these countries is an island … celebrated for a spring whose waters restore youth to old men.”

This placed it somewhere in the Bay of Honduras, on the island of “Boinca” or “Aganeo.” Meanwhile, the Ponce de León smear pointed more toward his own land of Florida. In truth, though, anyone looking for it, wherever they were, was always on the verge of its discovery. Because whenever the natives were asked for the whereabouts of this “miraculous restorative spring,” they would have just pointed to water.

The Amazons

Place names were another way for the conquistadors to impose their own version of reality onto the “New World.” Venezuela (“Little Venice”), for example, got its name because the stilt houses on Lake Maracaibo reminded Amerigo Vespucci of Venice (Venezia). And it was grouped with other proto-countries (like Colombia, from Columbus) under the “Viceroyalty of New Granada,” after the city in southern Spain. Indeed, all conquered territories in the “New World” were collectively branded “New Spain.”

The Amazon, meanwhile was named for the legendary Amazons, the ancient female warriors from Themiscyra in modern-day Turkey.

Why? Because the conquistadors imagined they lived there.

In 1542, having blustered through the rainforest for almost a year looking for El Dorado, Pizarro and de Orellana’s expedition was in shambles. They’d eaten all their pigs and many of their horses and dogs, and were now facing sickness, starvation, and death. They couldn’t ask the natives for help (on account of all the torture they’d put them through), but they could probably steal something to eat. Desperate not to die in the jungle, Pizarro sent de Orellana and 50 of his men along a wide open river they’d discovered, urging them to come back with food.

But they never did. Evidently the men were a little disgruntled with Pizarro and refused to return upriver to save him, especially from a fate that he probably deserved. (It’s unclear whether de Orellana was in agreement, but he made them all sign a declaration to say that he wasn’t and continued downriver regardless.)

On their meandering way to the sea, they continued to seek El Dorado and the natives kept shrugging their shoulders—or more often bracing for attack, having had just about enough of the Spaniards and their conquest. In fact, as they pressed on, de Orellana and his men were shocked to find even women firing arrows from the river bank.

Surely these were no ordinary women, they thought; these women could fight! They were also nude, fair-skinned, and exceptionally skilled with a bow and arrow. They were nothing like the women they knew.

So they had to be the legendary Amazons.

De Orellana assumed their capital must be a few days inland and the riverside villages they passed were outlying vassal states. Of course, when he tortured natives for intel, they only confirmed his suspicions—saying just about anything to make him go away.

In any case, de Orellana and his men were in no mood to go trekking through the jungle in search of this mighty queendom, particularly if it meant certain death. So they sailed on to the Atlantic, returned to “New Spain,” and got royal backing to settle the region by force. Obviously they never found “Amazonia,” but they gave it the name all the same. Otherwise, it might have been called “New Andalusia,” after the region in southern Spain.

The Devil and Prester John

The conquistadors were obviously nuts; that much can be said for sure. But they were really just children at heart—vicious, out-of-control, lunatic children, but children nevertheless.

Interestingly, many of their fruitless pursuits—be it for mythical warriors, immortality, untold wealth, or even Paradise itself—can be traced to just one earlier myth: the legend of Prester John’s kingdom.

Sometime in the 1160s, long before anyone heard of the “New World,” a mysterious letter arrived at the court of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus. Purporting to be from one Prester John, a descendant of the Three Magi, it described a vast and otherworldly empire with 72 tributary kingdoms and a strange assortment of inhabitants, including vampires and dog-headed men. It also had a Fountain of Youth, which Prester John claimed could revert anyone to the age of 32, no matter how old they were at the time. He himself had supposedly lived for more than half a millennia by drinking from its waters. There was also a tremendous river, filled with gold and precious gems, that flowed directly from the Garden of Eden. Furthermore, this being a Christian empire, it was entirely free of sin and its people had plenty to eat.

Pope Alexander III, seeing in Prester John a formidable ally for the Crusades, dispatched an envoy to seek out this land. At first, it was thought to be in India, then in Central Asia or possibly Africa. For a while, everyone assumed it was Abyssinia (Ethiopia), which was already a Christian country. Europeans even started addressing the Abyssinian ruler by the name of Prester John, despite his attempts to correct them. They also altered maps of the African kingdom to depict various elements from the letter, including “Mount Amara,” where Prester John’s sons were allegedly held in captivity.

The real location of his kingdom (if it had one) was never found, but there’s every reason to suspect the “New World” revived these old hopes.

Obviously, the natives weren’t Christians but neither were they thought to be evil—not entirely. Although Hernán Cortés described one indigenous leader as a “Satanic monster: huge, fat, with hands drenched in blood and blackened with smoke, and a striped black-red face with red mouth and teeth, spilling blood,” this wasn’t the general consensus. The Spanish preferred to see the natives as playthings of the Devil as opposed to the Devil himself, or in other words as souls crying out for salvation.

The existence of the Devil in the New World justified its conquest by the Spanish. So it came to be seen as the Devil’s playground, a New World in mockery of the old. It was the world “turned upside down,” a world inverted by the Devil.

Hence the Aztecs were the “inverse” of the Israelites, as Satan’s “chosen people” against God’s. It wasn’t a “New World” so much as a black mirror for the old one, a “bizarro” realm where nothing was “new,” just darkly topsy-turvy.

This doesn’t excuse their behaviour, of course, but it explains the conquistador mindset.

Top 10 Most Popular People on Social Media in 2018

How much money would it take to make you ditch social media completely for a week? A month? A year? What sum of money will you find to be persuasive enough to delete all your accounts? You may think that this is a ridiculous question and, of course, you won`t have any kind of “social media withdrawal”, and your willpower is strong enough to go through this….

A couple of years ago a particularly interesting Internet challenge was launched to inspire people to forget about all their social media accounts for a month. It may sound predictable, but these 30 days changed their lives upside down. Those people became much happier.

This result is no surprise because long time ago psychologists stated a that an excessive activity on Instagram or Facebook causes various forms of anxiety, fear, and even depression.

Don`t worry, this article is not all that pessimistic. In fact, we are done with oppressive reality here. Let`s talk about celebrities! We’ve actually presented you this introduction to prove once again how powerful social media are and what a tight grip they have on our minds.

But it`s not entirely a bad thing, especially for those who are popular on social media.

Fame in Instagram or Twitter comes along with multiple benefits, like money and fans. Why would we list more advantages if these two are enough? Oh, also, popular social media personalities have an impact on the whole world. They are called public-influencers, and in certain situations they are more powerful and have more influence than politicians and entrepreneurs.

For example, a single Kylie Jenner`s tweet  caused Snapchat to lose $1.3 billion on a stock market. A reality-TV star wrote: “Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh, this is so sad”. Just a couple of sentences made a huge pile of money go down the drain.

By the way, poor Snapchat had to lose yet another billion of dollars thanks to Rihanna.

So, who are all those most followed people on all most popular social media platforms, like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter?

10. Beyonce, 193 Million Subscribers

Meeting Beyonce on this list would never come as a surprise. However, the fact that she`s only the tenth may frustrate a lot of hardcore fans. But numbers don`t lie, and this is pure science here. If you can ever apply the word “science” to a conversation about Instagram. Queen-B did hold her fair share of records. And she`s got a couple of pictures which turned out to be the most popular in the history of Instagram. Beyonce’s post which revealed the fact that she was expecting twins was a record-breaker at that time. It had more than 11 million likes.

Wow, that`s just impressive. Let`s do some math here. Don`t worry, we’ve calculated it all for you. The one and only “Single Ladies” singer has 115 million subscribers on Instagram, 63 million subscribers on Facebook, and 15 million subscribers on Twitter. That’s probably because she tweets once a year, literally. Seriously, the last post dates back to July 30, 2017. What do you thinking you`re doing, Beyonce Knowles-Carter?

9. Kim Kardashian-West, 201 Million Subscribers

Who expected this lady to come first in the race? She’s a legit queen of social media and she knows exactly what she`s doing. Every post is meticulously prepared and well thought-out. Kim`s specialization is selfies, and she turned this hobby into a profession which brings her money and worldwide influence. In fact, apparently, her selfies are so fascinating that many fans perceive them as artwork, so she decided to publish a book with her self-portraits. You’ve got it right. All her Instagram creations in one book and nothing more. And guess what, it turned out to be a bestseller! The most popular Kim`s photo is the one with her mom, reality-TV mogul, Kris Jenner. So what about pure math? Mrs. Kardashian-West has 111 million subscribers on Instagram, 30 million subscribers on Facebook, and 60 million subscribers on Twitter.

8. Shakira, 202 Million Subscribers

Are you surprised? Well, you shouldn`t be because this Colombian combination of beauty, brain, and talent has an impressively massive influence among Latinos. Half a billion people speak Spanish as a native language. Needless to say, that`s just a lot. So if you`re planning on learning this language, just start following Shakira on social media. It will be totally worth it because she has the cutest pug on the planet Earth, and pictures with him usually get millions of likes. Shakira has 47 million subscribers on Instagram, 103 million subscribers on Facebook, and 52 million subscribers on Twitter.

7. Ariana Grande, 209 Million Subscribers

Well, this is not flash news. Perhaps, we were just wondering what place Ariana would take, but there were no doubts about her appearance on this list. She`s young, gorgeous, and has one of the most powerful vocals. Also, fans love her for feminist tweets and the power of her words, which is represented in songs’ lyrics, interviews, and, of course, in her social media posts. What`s the secret behind her mega-successful accounts? It`s all about pets again! Ariana Grande has seven dogs, and she brought all of them home from the shelter. Isn`t she a sweetheart? The singer has 119 million subscribers on Instagram, 33 million subscribers on Facebook, and 57 million subscribers on Twitter.

6. Rihanna, 230 Million Subscribers

Nobody has any doubts about the fact that BadGalRiri (that`s how she calls herself on social media) can show up on this top ten list. Rihanna is considered to be one of the most stylish ladies on the planet and her very brave and bold fashion choices mesmerize and surprise more and more every time. And, of course, she uses social media to show off her impeccable fashion sense and gathers millions of likes. Her social media accounts aren`t only about aesthetics though. She`s known to be sarcastic and she never hesitates to have a laugh or two at herself because self-irony is the most powerful element of charisma, right? Riri has 62 million subscribers on Instagram, 80 million subscribers on Facebook, and 88 million subscribers on Twitter.

5. Katy Perry, 247 Million Subscribers

Here comes the queen of Twitter herself! Katy Perry has the biggest number of subscribers on this social media platform. She was working hard to beat all possible records. And that Twitter crown has been with her for a couple of years now. It doesn’t seem that she`ll renounce the throne any time soon. She`s witty and talented. What`s not to love about her? One of the most popular Insta posts is the picture where Katy is posing with her grandma as a part of her new shows collection promotion. In total, the “Swish, swish” singer has 69 million subscribers on Instagram, 68 subscribers on Facebook, and… Take a deep breathe now because here`s an absolute world record of 110 million Twitter followers!

4. Selena Gomez, 254 Million Subscribers

Yet another queen, who is the world champion! This time it`s Instagram. It`s Selena Gomez, everybody, and this girl is on fire every time when it comes to posting anything on social media. Her picture with a friend who donated her kidney to Selena became one of the most popular on Instagram and gathered more than 10 million likes. It was one of those moments when social media helped to raise awareness of serious health problems, so her post was extremely beneficial for the whole world. Selena Gomez has 137 million subscribers on Instagram (that`s what we call the record-breaking number), 61 million subscribers on Facebook, and 56 million subscribers on Twitter.

3. Taylor Swift, 265 Million Subscribers

Here we`re getting to the finalists of this social media competition and, of course, TayTay appears to be one of the most popular personalities in the online world. This is the field she beats Katy Perry at without a doubt. In case you didn`t know (you might have been living under a rock all this time), Taylor and Katy are practically enemies in show business. We can`t evaluate their vocals or quality of performance objectively but we can rely on pure math when it comes to social media influence. Taylor Swift doesn`t hold any records, but she`s the third most subscribed person on this planet. The American sweetheart has 107 million subscribers on Instagram (and she owes that to her impossibly cute cats which stars in many pictures TayTay posts), 73 million subscribers on Facebook, and 85 million subscribers on Twitter.

2. Justin Bieber, 283 Million Subscribers

If you`ve started worrying that this top ten list will turn out to be an epitome of gender inequality, Justin Bieber comes to save the day. Spoiler alert! Our absolute social media champion is also male and you`ve probably already scrolled down to see who he is. Are you satisfied now? Good! Justin is practically an Internet`s child because it was YouTube which helped him to become famous and popular. He was discovered thanks to this platform. By the way, Justin Bieber is the most subscribed artist on YouTube, so he does have his world record. He has 99 million subscribers on Instagram, 78 million subscribers on Facebook, and 106 million subscribers on Twitter. Watch out, Katy Perry, Justin is so close!

1. Cristiano Ronaldo, 321 Million Subscribers

It may come as the biggest surprise for Americans who may not even know who this guy is. Cristiano is the king of Facebook with a record-breaking number of subscribers, and he`s a football superstar. In fact, he`s the best football (fine, soccer) player in the world. Honestly speaking, this title goes from him to Lionel Messi every other year, but whatever, Ronaldo is the champion on social media, so who cares? The photo of his family with a newborn baby girl became the most liked photo in history with more than 11 million likes! Cristiano has 126 million subscribers on Instagram, 122 million subscribers on Facebook, and 73 million subscribers on Twitter.

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10 Celebrities Who Don’t Really Exist

It’s easier than ever to become a celebrity nowadays (as clichéd as that is to point out). You don’t even need to exist. Amid a new profusion of virtual influencers, CGI it-girls, holographic pop stars, and AI personalities, we’re seeing a brand new wave of digital stardom coalescing before our eyes….

Still, despite being fake, some are arguably more “real” than many human celebrities out there. Here are 10 up-and-coming cy-lebs to watch.

10. Shudu

When Shudu appeared on Instagram with her immaculate complexion and otherworldly beauty, she immediately caught people’s eye. In particular, business owners were interested in associating her with their brands. Rihanna’s beauty line, Fenty Beauty, was among the first to repost her image and Tameka Small of the Majik Hands Dayspa in North Carolina offered products in return for endorsement. Meanwhile, Shudu was attracting followers in the tens of thousands.

So it came as a shock to many when she turned out to be CGI. In fact, as the article that outed herreported, she was based on a 2002 Barbie doll called the “Princess of South Africa.” Her creator, Cameron-James Wilson, a photographer based in London, first envisioned her as an art project, having taught himself 3D design from YouTube videos and other online resources.

For some, the fact that Shudu wasn’t real only made her all the more compelling. But others found it distasteful, or even disappointing—especially because of her skin color. Fatou Suri, for instance, a black human model, had come to see Shudu as an inspiration before finding out she was fake—although she did admit that her own photoshopped images also blurred the line between fact and fiction. And this was kind of the point. As Wilson put it, whereas mass media tends to airbrush the reality out of human models, transforming them into some kind of fantasy, “Shudu is coming from the other direction, she’s a fantasy trying to break through to reality.”

In any case, not everyone was appalled at the racist connotations of a “white man trying to capitalize off of black people” while eschewing real black models. According to Wilson, Shudu’s name was actually suggested by a young black South African girl who loved the project. And many others have found its portrayal of dark-skinned beauty, or even perfection, to be racially empowering in a media otherwise saturated with lighter skin tones.

9. CelebA


Recognize the celebrity above?

No? Kind of looks like you should, though, doesn’t it?

That’s because the face in this photo is an amalgamation of many real celebrities’ faces from a dataset—the CelebA (CelebFaces Attributes) dataset—of more than 200,000 photos. It’s just one of many images created by an Nvidia algorithm based on generative adversarial networks (GANs), whereby one network generates fake images from a real image dataset in an attempt to fool another network into thinking they’re real. The “generator” network starts with low-resolution images and gradually builds up to higher resolutions, adding layers for finer details while learning from and informing the “discriminator” network’s responses.

It’s a relatively sophisticated form of machine learning that has produced some of the most convincing and detailed images of their type. And while they’re not perfect (just look at the ears in the image above), they’re plausible enough to raise concerns about this technology’s potential for abuse. In particular, as with “deepfakes,” critics worry it could be used by just about anyone to convincingly impersonate heads of state and trigger a nuclear war—or at least spread more disinformation than real politicians do on their own.

8. Lil Miquela

Although Lil Miquela doesn’t look half as real as Shudu, she’s established a cult following of her own—more than a million fans spanning Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, and collectively known as “Miquelites.”

Bizarrely, even long after her debut online, many continued to wonder whether Lil Miquela was actually human. Some claimed that her lack of visible pores was proof she was definitely fake, while others argued she’d just been heavily photoshopped but was in fact real underneath. She herself tended to evade the question entirely by highlighting the extent to which we all, in one way or another, use technology to shape how we’re perceived.

Her full name is Miquela Sousa and she presents herself as a 19-year-old Brazilian/Spanish LA it-girl routinely depicted outside clubs, at parties, and with friends while modeling clothes. She has also released her own music on Spotify and, as a remote-controlled drone, attended Prada’s 2018 autumn/winter fashion show in Milan.

Like many celebrities, she’s even been involved in a publicity-boosting online feud, in this case with fellow CGI “Instagram Girl” Bermuda. After some tedious back-and-forth, Bermuda allegedly hacked Lil Miquela’s Instagram account and threatened to out her as a fake—unless she did it herself within 48 hours. So Lil Miquela did, releasing an emotional statement in April 2018 to confirm that she is (unsurprisingly) “not a human being.” It then emerged that she, her “brother” Blawko, and her bitchy Republican rival Bermuda were all created by the same company—Brud—to serve as “virtual influencers” or cash cows.

Actually, her “coming out” as “not a human being” may well have been legally motivated. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission updated its guidelines on product endorsement to force online “influencers” (bloggers and other personalities) to make it clear which of their posts are sponsored. Not only did Lil Miquela fail to declare who was paying, but, prior to her announcement, it wasn’t even clear who got paid.

7. Aimi Eguchi

When Japanese idol group AKB48 introduced Aimi Eguchi as its newest member in June 2011, fans were divided. She seemed weird. Debuting as the “ultimate pretty girl” on the cover of Weekly Playboy, she appeared to be heavily photoshopped. And, alongside other AKB48 members in a TV commercial, she appeared to be out of sync.

As it turned out she wasn’t real at all. She’d been created, in part, to advertise Glico’s Aisu no Mifrozen candy. But she wasn’t just CGI, she was something like Frankenstein’s monster, having been digitally cobbled together from seven other girls in the group. She had Yuko Oshima’s body and hair, Minami Takahashi’s outline, Atsuko Maeda’s eyes, and so on, taking her eyebrows, nose, mouth, and even voice from various other members.

As for her biographical details, they were taken from the candy company. Her birthday, for instance, is the date that Glico was founded (albeit not in 1922) and her hometown is the same as its headquarters.

Once the truth was out, Glico offered fans the opportunity to create their own AKB48 oshimen(“highly recommended member”) with an interactive app on its website.

6. LaTurbo Avedon

LaTurbo Avedon isn’t so much a fake celebrity as a digital avatar for a real-life artist. But like so many others on this list, she’s one that questions and explores time-honored notions of authorship and identity, and in particular how we use social media. Like most people, she says, her digital persona emerges through the process of sharing pics and chatting online—the only difference being that she exists nowhere else.

She’s a native inhabitant of digital space, inspired by Second Life and rendered using 3D modeling software. She makes and exhibits her art in digital space too, showcasing her virtual sculptures and environments almost exclusively online. She also curates a digital exhibition space for other artists to show off their work.

Although Avedon has exhibited at physical galleries as well, the nature of her art generally requires people to meet her halfway. At Somerset House in London, for example, this meant strapping on a virtual reality headset. And when she’s interviewed by reporters, Avedon communicates solely by email, text message, Facebook, and so on—only ever meeting “face-to-face” in virtual worlds like Second Life.

We still don’t know who she “really” is, who lives and breathes behind the persona, but that’s actually beside the point. LaTurbo Avedon and her work are the persona and she’s nothing whatsoever without it.

5. Max Headroom

People didn’t know quite what to make of Max Headroom back in the 1980s. Billed as the world’s first computer-generated TV host (but portrayed by a man in make-up), he was unlike anything they’d seen before. And he was rapidly becoming an unprecedented global phenomenon. By the end of the 1980s, he was deemed more culturally influential than Michael Jackson himself.

The character was originally created to anchor (or rather veejay) a music video show for Britain’s burgeoning Channel 4, ultimately hoping to capitalize on the game-changing success of America’s MTV. Before long, though, the idea had evolved into a TV movie as well (Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future) and was later picked up by US TV networks ABC and HBO for various series of their own. Max Headroom was also the face of Coca-Cola’s “Catch the Wave” ad campaign, directed by Ridley Scott.

In 1987 (the year in which he got his own talk show on Cinemax), Max Headroom’s celebrity status became official when he was featured on the cover of Newsweek alongside the headline “Mad About Max: The Making of a Video Cult.”

Unfortunately, this was also around the time that his original creators were losing creative control, unable to pay mounting lawyers’ fees amid aggressive backdoor negotiations and the involvement of corporate interests—all of which, ironically, Max Headroom was intended to parody. And in these less than visionary hands, life came to imitate art completely. When Max Headroom’s ratings began to flag (unable to compete against Miami Vice and Dallas), executives pulled the plug.

But he was destined to live on in the zeitgeist. One month after his cancellation in October 1987, a group of proto-hackers known as “phreakers” briefly commandeered two Chicago-area TV stations to play footage of a man dressed as Max Headroom. Then in Back to the Future Part II(1989), we got the Max Headroom-inspired talking heads of Michael Jackson and Ronald Reagan. More recently, Eminem’s “Rap God” music video also paid homage to the character, as have some videos put out by Anonymous.

In 2007, Channel 4 actually revived the character as a crotchety old man—played by the original actor Matt Frewer—to announce their switchover to digital broadcasts. Now more relevant than ever, there have even been talks to write a brand new series for Max Headroom. First, though, they’ll need to figure out who owns which parts of this completely manufactured celebrity.

4. Sophia

Sophia is more “real” than most on this list, but only because she’s got a body—an artificial body built by Hong Kong’s Hanson Robotics, but a body nevertheless. In truth, though, she’s not even accepted as a “real” artificial intelligence by those who work in the field.

According to Facebook’s head of AI research, Yann LeCun, Sophia “is to AI as prestidigitation [stage magic] is to real magic.” She is, he says, little more than a mechanical puppet, an automaton, following a script she has no way of understanding.

Despite her creators’ claims that “she is basically alive,” and that she’s “a bit hurt” when people say otherwise, Sophia doesn’t come up with any of her own remarks. When she speaks, she’s either reciting a scripted speech with facial expressions to match, or she’s selecting from scripted responses. Her tweets and other written messages are also put together by humans.

Nevertheless, Sophia continues to impress people around the world, even if it is by deception. She’s been interviewed by Charlie RoseJimmy Fallon, and The Wall Street Journal; she’s been in a movie, music videos, and on the cover of Elle Brasil; and she’s given speeches at conferences, committee meetings, and expos, including one to the United Nations in which she weighed in on “the future of everything.”

She has even been granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia, which, given the regime’s ridiculous fear of women, is said to entail substantially more rights than half of its human citizens.

3. Hatsune Miku

To understand the appeal of Hatsune Miku, an obviously fictional cartoon popstar, we need to have a think about moeMoe refers to feelings of affection and even devotion toward characters in anime and manga, especially young, “cute” or “huggable” characters that embody an innocent outlook. Obviously, each of these traits carries with it the implication of virginity, which is another characteristic of moe but almost always without reference to sex.

Hatsune Miku, with her big blue eyes, childlike body, and schoolgirl outfit, comes straight from the moe mold. She evokes feelings of fondness and devotion from her sizeable global fan base and has come to seem almost relatable, which is interesting considering she basically started out as a logo.

Specifically, she was designed as a moe anthropomorphism” or corporate mascot for Crypton Future Media’s Vocaloid-based vocal synthesizer software, which allows users to digitally create and record songs with Miku as the vocalist.

She wasn’t the first of her kind (Crypton already had two others—Meiko and Kaito—on the go and has since come out with more) but she was the first to get moe just right. Before long, additional apps allowed users to choreograph and animate her in music videos as well, turning Miku into a collaborative global phenomenon.

According to her product webpage, she now has over 900,000 fans on Facebook and, because they make most of “her” music, more than 100,000 songs to her name (which, incidentally, is Japanese for “the first Sound from the Future”). As a 3D hologram projected onto a screen, she has also “performed” sold-out concerts around the world, opened for Lady Gaga’s ArtRave tour, and appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman as the featured musical act. She has even modeled clothes made especially for her by Marc Jacobs and Givenchy, and was photographed for American Vogue.

Although 3D hologram concerts are nothing new, as a popstar Miku is unique. She is created by, and therefore entirely dependent upon, her fans (or “prosumers,” i.e. producing consumers) for her existence—a lot like an idol or god. And that makes her strangely mercurial, ascribed differing meanings by different creators depending on their personal tastes. She is, in other words, the first decentralized, democratized popstar, and that’s exactly how Crypton CEO Hiroyuki Itoh wants her to stay.

2. Maya Kodes

Like Hatsune Miku, Maya Kodes is a hologram pop star. But there’s a crucial difference: None of her concerts are pre-recorded. Instead, her voice and dance routines are performed in real time by humans hidden from view. Actress Erika Prevost provides the motion-captured movements, as well as Kodes’ speaking voice, while another woman, who remains anonymous, lends her voice for the songs.

Kodes isn’t as big a star as Miku, but her creators at Neweb Labs are eager to emphasize her difference. They’re also planning a world tour on which she’ll perform at multiple locations simultaneously.

She might want to pad her repertoire first, though; she’s only got a handful of tracks.

1. Siri

While it may not be entirely appropriate to think of Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, as a “celebrity,” she and her ilk are certainly household names—and not just because they live in your household. You might even call them trendsetters; in 2015, “Alexa,” the name of Amazon’s Siri-type helper, became the 32nd most popular baby name in America, up from #63 the year before.

According to some parents of autistic children, Siri can also serve as a role model of sorts. For instance, whereas humans might lose patience with (or get offended by) someone who doesn’t pick up on social cues, Siri patiently and politely responds every time, in turn teaching autistic children the value of conversational skills. Furthermore, SRI, the company that created Siri for Apple, envisions a future where AI might also help encourage eye contact by tracking users’ eye movements during conversation.

Despite these disembodied AIs being mass-produced machines, they’re arguably more personable than your average celebrity. Not only do they live in your pocket at your constant beck and call, but some of us actually see them as human—or something comparable at least. A recent survey by LivePerson, for example, found that of only 4% of people who could name a “famous female leader in tech,” a quarter said Alexa or Siri—essentially equating them with Bill Gates or Elon Musk. And Alex Jones famously accused Alexa of “lying” to him about the CIA on his InfoWars conspiracy news program.

Others find themselves extending basic courtesies like “please” and “thank you” to these faceless AI assistants, and look forward to a time when more extended, more meaningful interactions become possible. Then again, given how quickly we turned Microsoft’s TayTweets AI chatbot into a white supremacist ideologue spouting off about Trump’s wall and gassing the Jews after just a few hours on Twitter, perhaps we’re simply anxious to show Siri and co. humanity’s better side in case they ever start reflecting it back.

10 Interesting Facts About Stranger Things

Although Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things may have always been destined for success, studios and television networks were not so enthused. Many viewers may be surprised to learn that the creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, had some difficulty getting the show made. More than 15 networks passed on the show until Netflix jumped at the opportunity, purchasing the show less than 24 hours after hearing the pitch. Here are 10 other things that you may not have known about the ’80s horror series……

10. The Creators of Stranger Things are twins

Matt and Ross Duffer were born in North Carolina, and took to filmmaking at a young age. They both moved out to Los Angeles to attend Chapman University to further their film education and get closer to the industry. After writing and directing several short films, a feature film they wrote was purchased by Warner Bros. It was eventually released in 2015, three years after its production. The Duffer Brothers’ big break came when M. Night Shyamalan read their script for the movie and hired them as writers for the TV series Wayward Pines. They have stated that their experience on Wayward Pines gave them the ability to pitch Stranger Things successfully.

The little known fact about the Duffer Brothers is that they’re twins. Even more surprising is that no one tested if they were fraternal or identical. Matt Duffer has stated that they’ve lived their lives as if they’re identical, and that testing themselves now would “mess them up psychologically.”

9. Hundreds of Kids Were Rejected

As well as the child actors have done in their starring roles on Stranger Things, it may seem like it was easy to cast those characters. The truth is that it was far from easy. One of the main difficulties in even getting the show picked up was the Duffer Brothers’ insistence that the main characters had to be children.

Once Netflix purchased the show, the auditions began, nearly 2,000 kids auditioned, including more than 300 girls trying for the role of Eleven. While that may seem excessive, it’s hard to argue with the results. One of the actors chosen, Finn Wolfhard (Mike), recorded his audition tape from his bed because he was sick. Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin, was the first actor cast in the show; the creators loved him so much, they decided to give his character the same condition that Matarazzo has in real life.

8. The Composers Were Found Online

One of the best parts of Stranger Things is its impressive soundtrack. The hypnotic electronic sound masterfully sets the tone for the story, while also adding tension and conflict throughout. Surprisingly, the composers, Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon, weren’t well known. The show’s creators actually discovered their work online, leading to Stein and Dixon submitting 12 songs to land the job.

After getting rave reviews, the Duffer Brothers convinced the composers to quit their day jobs and work on the show full time. With the show’s success, Dixon and Stein have seen an uptick in the popularity of their band, Survive.

7. The Setting was Supposed to be in Montauk, New York

It might be hard to believe, but the name of the show was originally Montauk. Filming was supposed to take place in Montauk, New York, but it became unrealistic after they realized the difficulty of shooting in New York in the winter. The seaside town was an inspiration for the setting of the film Jaws, but in the end they decided to invent the town of Hawkins, Indiana.

Production eventually moved to Atlanta, and the show gained the title Stranger Things.

6. It’s Based (…kinda) on a True Story

One of the reasons that they were originally set to shoot in Montauk was its place in secret government operations. Allegedly, the United States government based projects for developing psychological warfare in Montauk. The revelations originated with Preston Nichols, who claimed to have repressed memories of experiences dealing with mind control, contact with alien life, and a supposed fake Moon landing.

While these claims may in fact be untrue, the US government’s history of performing unethical tests on its own citizens makes stories like Nichols more believable, and helped create the basis for Stranger ThingsProject MKUltra is evidence that the US government did attempt to create weapons of war like Eleven. Let’s just be grateful that these projects were not successful… at least, as far as we know.

5. Sean Astin’s Character was Supposed to Die Earlier

The iconic actor known best as Mikey from The Goonies, Rudy from… well, Rudy, and Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings was a welcome addition to season two of Stranger Things. However, the show’s creators were skeptical at first. The Duffer Brothers believed that Astin may have been too famous, particularly since his role in The Goonies was a clear inspiration for the child characters in the show. In the end, they agreed to cast him, only believing he’d have a small role. However, Astin had such a positive impact on the show that his run lasted longer than the creators expected. The Duffer Brothers initially planned for Astin’s character, Bob, to die in episode four at the hands of Will, but instead Astin lasted until nearly the end and had one of the most horrific (and heroic) deaths on the show.

The Duffer Brothers stated that Bob’s death scene was the hardest scene they had to write because of the relationship that Sean Astin had formed with the cast and crew. Although Astin didn’t want to leave the show, the Duffer Brothers knew that narratively, it was the right thing to do. According to the show’s creators, Bob’s death scene was inspired by the horrific death of Quint in the film Jaws.

4. Stephen King was a Major Influence

Alright, so you probably already knew this one, especially if you’ve actually watched the show and ever read any of King’s work. Heck, the title screen of the show uses the exact same font as King’s books.

The Duffer Brothers have acknowledged that Stephen King’s work is one of their biggest inspirations for the show. One reference in season two comes when Sean Astin’s character suggests that they should move to Maine, in homage to King’s birthplace.  And it’s only fitting that he would “discover” Millie Bobby Brown. Before Brown was cast to play the role of Eleven, King tweeted that he loved her performance in the British show Intruders. It’s not hard to believe that a strong endorsement from King helped Brown land the role.

Other King references are sprinkled throughout the series. In the first season, Winona Ryder’s character asks her son, Will, if he’s still scared of clowns. A clear reference to Pennywise. And Astin’s character also makes a much more explicit reference to Pennywise in season two. The character of Eleven could also be seen as a direct homage to King’s Charlie McGee, the young female protagonist in his novel Firestarter. Both Eleven and Charlie McGee have psychic abilities and both are on the run from nefarious organizations.

3. Millie Bobby Brown’s Dad Cried When She Cut Her Hair

One of the difficult parts of casting children is knowing their limits. In order to convince Millie Bobby Brown to shave her head, the Duffer Brothers showed her pictures of Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road. When the time came, and Brown agreed, her father turned away, with tears in his eyes as Brown’s curls got shaved away. Despite her father’s reaction, Brown calls the decision the best she’s ever made.

2. Scaring Will’s (Real-Life) Mother with a Cadaver

In one of the most bizarre incidents during the production of the show, the Duffer brothers thought it’d be a good idea to show Noah Schnapp’s (the child actor who plays Will) mother a frighteningly realistic “corpse” of her son. This stems from the season one plot line in which the shady government agency has created a replica of Will in order to cover up his disappearance.

They led her to a dark corner of the props room and revealed the corpse, which shocked her. According to the Duffer Brothers she loved it, but only after the shock subsided. It’d be hard for Schnapp’s mother not to have a few nightmares after that frightening day on set.

1. The Kiss at the Snow Ball

One of the most heartwarming moments of the series took place on the last episode of season two. All was right again in Hawkins (…well, not really, since the world is never OK in this show), with the demigorgons and the Shadow Monster seemingly defeated. The friends attend the Snow Ball dance, where Lucas’s romance with Max culminated with a kiss, while Mike got his wish with the arrival of Eleven, and they too shared a romantic kiss. What few fans know about Mike’s kiss with Eleven was that he quietly mouthed the words, “I’m coming in,” before leaning in to kiss his co-star. After both couples kissed, the whole crew broke out in applause. It became so overwhelming that Millie Bobby Brown said the remaining takes became so much worse to film.

For Caleb McLaughlin and Sadie Sink, the actors who played Lucas and Max, their kiss at the Snow Ball was their first actual kiss. And while there was controversy surrounding that particular kiss as it was initially suggested Sink was coerced into doing something she wasn’t comfortable with, she has since denied that she was forced to do anything against her will.

10 Crazy Attempts at Immortality Throughout History

The average person has real fears they have to deal with every day, or at least every week, about their job, their bills, their family, and everything else going on in their lives. These people tend to think very little about the ultimate fate of death that awaits all living things, as they have very little time for that kind of frivolous imagining of something that is inevitable regardless. However, those with a lot of money and time on their hands tend to get a sort of existential ennui about the end of their own existence, and some of them go to absolutely ludicrous lengths in an attempt to stave off that ultimate checkout….

10. People Want To Have Themselves Done In And Uploaded To The Cloud

The richest people in the world always wonder if they can extend their lives farther than most mortals. After all, once you have bought literally every physical thing you could want, and have all the food and financial security you need, the only thing that’s really left to do is attempt to buy more time on this earth with which to enjoy your riches. While most billionaires simply settle for having the best healthcare in the world, and live long and productive lives, some cannot settle for conventional means, and seek increasingly insane methods in the hopes of preserving themselves forever.

Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur Sam Altman has already put down a deposit of well over 10 thousand dollars to be put on a waiting list for a small startup company called Nectome, which believes that they can actually embalm and preserve the brain so they can one day upload the contents to the cloud. The process would basically be akin to assisted suicide, as embalming and preserving the brain for later use is a 100% fatal method. To make matters more insane, the method is not even perfected enough to actually digitize the memories and upload them yet, but they are already trying to embalm brains so they can do it later. If it did work, theoretically you could keep someone’s consciousness alive by preserving their brain, and then transferring it into some kind of robot body, thus allowing them to live forever.

9. Rich People Today Are Infusing Themselves With The Blood Of Young People

The vitality of a younger person’s blood has been something cultures have long believed could potentially increase the lifespan of older people, and while most people today figure that we are well beyond that kind of craziness, the truth is that there is more of a market for that kind of thing than most people realize. Some studies have shown that older mice transfused with the blood of younger mice showed rejuvenation and lived longer — although we don’t yet have studies that demonstrate that this is the same for humans.

Still, these few tests are enough to get billionaires like Peter Thiel on board, another tech entrepreneur who has been trying out every crazy elixir he can get his hands on. Apparently, he and many other rich people are low key using the grey market to purchase young blood to transfuse into their veins, in the hopes that it will extend their overall lifespans by a few more years. While there is little evidence that the quasi-illegal market for young blood involves any exploitation, it has still raised concerns from some that if it does work, it would allow rich people to basically buy vitality off of the poor — something many ethicists fear is completely and utterly unethical in every way, shape and form.

8. The Blood Countess Bathory Did Whatever Necessary To Get Younger People’s Blood

Elizabeth Bathory hardly needs any introduction. Known as the Blood Countess, she has a reputation similar to Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration behind Dracula. However, the truth is that while Vlad Tepes was quite a ruler, so the scope of his mayhem may have been larger, Bathory may have had him beat when it comes to the sheer sadism of her actions. During her reign of terror, before King Matthias II sent people to inspect her castle after many horror stories, she is rumored to have tortured and murdered as many as 650 peasant girls — she would only be convicted of killing about 80 of them in the end.

Bathory was a uniquely sadistic individual who was a problem ever since she was a child, but it was as she started to get older, and really start to play out her most sadistic fantasies, that she made a discovery that caused her to go even more full tilt into her insane habit. Legend has it that after striking a young servant girl so hard she bled, Bathory noticed later that the blood on her hand seemed to revitalize her skin. After that incident, Bathory started bathing in blood as part of her beauty regimen to keep her skin young, and began capturing, torturing and killing more and more peasant girls so that she could maintain her youthful figure. While it’s hard to say if she really thought it would keep her immortal, or simply slow down her aging, her thirst for blood quickly became unquenchable.

7. Drinking A Potion Made With Menstrual Blood To Stay Young

Blood, as you might have guessed by now, is something of a theme when it comes to attempts at immortality. While there are other ways people have attempted it, trying to use the essence of another person to expand your life is one of the most common methods people have come up with — spawning all kinds of ridiculous variations. Now, while most blood attempts involve trying to get the blood of someone younger, somehow, into your veins, this method is a bit different. There are people who believe that drinking menstrual blood is good for you, and that it can act as an elixir that expands your life and rejuvenates your cells.

Most practitioners of this bizarre practice don’t even use proper medical methods to get the blood into their body — such as a transfusion, they just drink it. Now, there is some limited evidence that shows there may be some stem cells in menstrual blood, which could potentially be partly restorative, but the problem there is that even if it did provide some benefit, you would be very unlikely to attain that benefit simply by drinking blood. In the example a couple entries above where we talk about stem cells revitalizing mice, the fact is that those mice were carefully injected with the substance by trained medical professionals — it wasn’t just slipped into their water bottles one day.

6. Some Scientists Believe Studying Box Jellyfish Is The Key To Immortality

Humanity has been searching for immortality for as long as we have recorded history; however, while we have been looking all this time, deep beneath the ocean, there was already a creature that had achieved what many thought impossible. This creature is a species of jellyfish often called the box jellyfish colloquially, and has incredible regenerative powers that are still baffling scientists to this day. This jellyfish, under stress or pain, will start to reverse its aging until it goes back to its earliest stage, and then it starts to age forward again — this has led researchers to dub it the “Benjamin Button Jellyfish.”

Unfortunately, while it may hold the key to immortality, we currently aren’t really any closer to figuring out how we could apply that to ourselves. Despite the jellyfish in question being discovered back in the ’80s, research for it simply has had very little funding or interest. There are not many scientists who specialize in that kind of tiny marine creature, and on top of that, our understanding of it in terms of applying immortality to ourselves is so limited that we simply haven’t had any major funding interest from big players. If a rich tech billionaire threw some money at the problem, perhaps we would start getting some quicker results on how, and if we could somehow apply the immortal jellyfish’s benjamin button magic to our own lives.

5. Gilgamesh Tried To Become Immortal And Learned A Great Lesson

The epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient set of poems from Sumeria, about a demi-god king who ruled a land called Uruk. Gilgamesh was a very successful leader, as he managed to rise up great cities, and many bountiful harvests. However, he was also known to be a cruel despot who enslaved his people, and raped any woman he fancied whenever he wanted. The gods felt that he was too cruel, and created and sent a giant, demi-god wild man named Enkidu to stop him. After fighting together, the two actually became best friends, and decided to team up to destroy a terrifying forest demon named Humbaba in order to solidify their place in legend.

While they were successful in this, they continued to attract more attention from the gods, and eventually drew enough of their ire that the gods killed Enkidu. Gilgamesh was distraught, and decided that he must find a way to avoid death itself, so he would not have to suffer the same horrible fate as his best friend. He began a quest to seek out a man who had survived a great flood, the Noah of ancient Sumerian tales, and a man who was said to be the only one gifted with immortality by the gods. The old immortal told him that he was only an exception, and that the gods did not create men to live forever. Overcome with pity, before he left, the old immortal’s wife convinced him to tell Gilgamesh of an herb that could make one young again. Gilgamesh did manage to find this amazing herb, the very last one of its kind in existence, but it was snatched out of his hand by a snake, who ate it and immediately became young again before Gilgamesh’s very eyes. After this, he resigned himself to death, but also realized that as a human he could attain immortality in a certain sense — by the deeds and works he had left behind.

4. Qin Shi Huang Tried To Become Immortal By Drinking Mercury, Among Other Things

Qin Shi Huang was the first emperor of unified China, and for that reason, he kind of started to get a big head about things. After all, he had all the money, power, prestige, and influence that anyone could possibly ever hope for in life — he ruled a gigantic country, and this was back in the days before the internet when other world leaders could more easily make you feel insecure on the world stage. Yes, Qin Shi Huang had it all, but he decided that what he had just wasn’t enough. The only thing he didn’t have was the ability to live forever, so he figured he might as well see if he could figure that one out.

So, he started sending scouts out to various places rumored to know something about immortality, but he never got any satisfactory results back. While he was impatiently waiting for any kind of new information, he was making use of alchemical elixirs made by Chinese medicine man of the olden days, whose knowledge of medicine was about as sophisticated as Western medicine at the time — not very — and who thought that drinking mercury, was a pretty great idea. This created a rather ironic problem, because the great emperor drank so many mercury based concoctions — mercury being the base for many different elixir attempts in ancient Chinese alchemy — that he actually died much younger than such a rich man probably would have, even back then. The first emperor of unified China died at the age of only 49, greedily swilling poison in the hopes of tyrannically lording it over all of China for the rest of the days that the sun still shines on the earth.

3. People Are Being Cryogenically Frozen After Death, Hoping One Day It Will Work

For years, rumors have abounded that Walt Disney put himself on ice, and not just in the metaphorical sense when it comes to the ice skating show that Disney does on a regular basis. Now, there actually aren’t any truth to these rumors at all — Walt Disney did not cryogenically preserve himself, and he certainly didn’t cryogenically preserve himself with the orders to only unfreeze him when all Jewish people were gone. However, while these wild rumors may be entirely apocryphal, it does not mean that there aren’t people who have taken that insane step and gone to the trouble to have their body cryogenically preserved when they died.

Multiple people have signed up for this dubious process over the years, and all of them are banking on some kind of technology possibly being a thing in the future, that can properly unfreeze and revitalize themselves. Like those who are trying to upload their brains, the technology isn’t there, may not be there for a long time, and may simply never be possible. This of course, has not stopped people who are obsessed with staying alive, but there are complications.

Most states in the United States, and most countries in the world, do not allow assisted suicide, and for the updated version of the process — that has the most success of perhaps preserving you in some way — it is akin to assisted suicide, much like the method used for embalming your brain for future uploading. This means the rich person looking to cryogenically freeze themselves may have to go through quite an ordeal when it comes to their living situation before they can properly and legally get a company to attempt to freeze them for posterity.

2. The Monks Who Mummify Themselves To Death In The Hopes Of Achieving Immortality

Throughout history, going back perhaps before we even had records, Buddhist monks of various sorts have taken to the remote mountainous regions in cloistered monasteries in order to ponder the mysteries of the universe and try to achieve some form of religious transcendence. While many Buddhist philosophies do not care much about the physical form, there have and still are some sects that not only care about the physical form, but believe that with the right process, they can make their physical bodies live forever.

In order to achieve this, they take part in a practice known as self-mummification. This gruesome practice begins with a special diet and training process that takes many years. Once the date gets closer to the mummification, the aspirant eats a special diet that is supposed to help preserve their body, including a disgusting embalming solution that they drink. They then seal themselves up inside a chamber, and are buried inside with just the slightest air hole. They continuously ring a bell to signal that they are still meditating, and when the bell stops ringing the chamber is sealed. After a few years, the chamber is opened and the body is checked for decay. If they don’t see any visible signs then they consider the self-mummification a success. Some people believe that these monks could one day wake up, in hundreds or even thousands of years, when their wisdom is once again needed.

1. The Man Who Injected Himself With Extracts From The Testicles Of Guinea Pigs And Dogs

Back in 1889, a scientist named Brown-Sequard who, up to that time, had been considered prestigious, called people together for a shocking announcement about a new discovery he had made. He started off by warming up the crowd of mostly old men by complaining about his back pain, impotence, old age and general misery from such. He told the shocked crowd that he had figured out not only a cure for impotence, but an elixir of youth that would bring the vitality back to anyone of any age. He explained that he had been experimenting on himself, by crushing up the testicles of a dog he had killed and cut open, and then straining it and making a solution with water than he then injected in his thigh. He claimed that after doing so, he was able to perform for his wife, and that he felt way stronger and more vital almost immediately. As the startled crowd listened in horror, he explained that he had tried the same thing with the testicles of a guinea pig, which had worked just as well as the dog testicles.

Unfortunately, being a time when scientific knowledge was still limited, and him being a fairly prestigious scientist, a fair number of people started to try out his crazy method. Some people would claim that it worked, but medical experts even at the time were very skeptical, especially of the claims that it could truly restore your life or youth. They tested the solution which Brown-Sequard had patented and was making some money off of, against a solution that was a placebo, and it turns out that his method actually didn’t do anything at all. Even if there was some theoretical way that it was, at least temporarily alleviating erectile dysfunction, tests on the solution showed it didn’t even contain enough of the significant ingredients to make any real difference anyways. Completely shamed, and run out of business, he lived the rest of his life in quiet anonymity — unfortunately for Brown-Sequard, injecting the crushed up balls of animals in his thigh was not actually a ticket to immortality.