10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ancient Greece

Why do the ancient Greeks continue to fascinate us in modern times? Are we morbidly intrigued by the brutalities of their culture or do we prefer to focus on their rich, religious lives?

Most of what we know about the ancient Greeks has come to us through their literature, comedies and poetry, as well as through their artwork that portrayed scenes of their daily lives. Archaeological digs give us an even deeper insight into how they lived and worshiped, and it is through the endless work of scholars that we are able to piece together the mysteries of ancient Greece.

10. Almost Every Family had a Slave

Nearly every family in ancient Greece had a slave. In fact, it is believed that only the poorest of the poor did not own a slave. Poor to average families, in general, kept at least one slave. Middle class families could have anywhere from three to twelve slaves, depending on where they lived and their families’ main source of income.

These slaves, first and foremost, represented the wealth of the family that owned them. Slaves were considered status symbols and owning slaves who were docile and obedient was the goal of most Greek families.

The slaves were expected to work for the families that owned them. They were kept to make the lives of the Greeks easier. Slaves would serve their owners’ personal needs, clean, cook, and even raise the families’ children.

Many of the slaves were foreigners. They were captured in war or abducted from their homes by pirates and slave traders. Greek slaves were not as common as foreign slaves, but they did exist. Abandoned Greek children were sometimes placed into slavery.

9. Slaves Tortured in Court

Free citizens were considered to be a higher class of human than slaves. In the court of law, it was recognized that free citizens could easily lie to save their own skins. Slaves, however, were considered to be the equivalent of livestock and, under torture, were believed to be incapable of telling a lie.

In both civil and criminal cases, the slaves of Greeks could be tortured to discover “the truth.” Slaves were whipped, placed on the rack, or put on the wheel. Truth, Greeks believed, was hidden in the bodies of the slaves. The slaves saw and knew all there was to know about their masters. They showed off the wealth of their masters and, just as quickly, could bring ruin to an entire household.

It was inconceivable to torture a free man in a court of law, but it was also acknowledge that free men had the natural gift of logic. Any testimony given by a free man held little weight whereas the slave, viewed as a physical extension of his master, could be forced to tell the truth without realizing that he was doing so.

8. Marriage and Having Children was a Duty

The people of ancient Greece did not marry out of love. On the contrary, marriage was considered the duty of every free born citizen of Greece. Fathers would arrange the marriages of their daughters and sons. Oftentimes, daughters were betrothed when they were infants. When it was time to formally take on the roles of husband and wife, the daughters were usually as young as 15-years-old and the sons averaged age thirty.

After the marriage was completed, the couples were expected to have as many children as possible. These children would later become soldiers, workers, and, again, parents for future generations.

Greek marriages could easily take place within wealthy families. A family’s desire to maintain its stature was a strong motivation to literally “keep it in the family” and there were many cases where first cousins and uncles and nieces were married to each other. In Sparta, the law even allowed siblings who shared the same mother to marry each other. This way, the money and properties held by the family would remain undivided and kept within its small social circle.

7. Divorce was Allowed

There were three ways to get divorced in ancient Greece, and all of them were rather easy to do.

First, a husband could dismiss his wife from his home. All he had to do was send her back to her family’s home with her dowry and the marriage was over.

If the wife wanted to leave the marriage, she was free to do so after she received the approval of an official called an “archon.” However, if a wife left her husband and returned to her family’s home, it gave her the reputation of being a disloyal wife.

The third way to enact a divorce could come from the wife’s father or brothers. This was the most common form of divorce in ancient Greece. Many times, when no children were produced in a marriage, the husband would ask the wife’s family to retrieve her. In other instances, the family would step in if no child was produced and then marry the woman to another man in the hope that she would finally be able to produce children.

In all instances of divorce, any children produced during the marriage were considered to be the property of the husband. For this reason, there were very few divorces initiated by the wives.

6. Military Service

While motherhood was the only acceptable occupation for the women of ancient Greece, men were expected to serve as soldiers. In the city-state of Athens, this meant two years of mandatory service for each male. In the city-state of Sparta, being a soldier was the only occupation available to its male citizens.

Spartan boys left their homes at the age of seven and went to live in the barracks. Life in these boy barracks was brutal. The boys were often starved and encouraged to steal food if they wanted to eat. However, if the boys were caught stealing the food, they were beaten for being caught.

Young boys were also ritually beaten. They were flogged until they bled and any show of pain was discouraged. This was to harden the boys until they were twenty-years-old and ready to serve as soldiers.

While men served in the military, slaves were used to grow crops, build, and perform trade work. In fact, all the work needed to make Sparta thrive as a city-state was performed by the slaves the Spartans captured during their military campaigns.

5. The Education of Girls

Throughout most of ancient Greece, girls were given no formal education. While boys were sent to schools, girls would learn how to be housewives from their mothers. Some of the wealthier families would hire tutors to teach their daughters how to read and write, but such knowledge was generally not taught to the majority of females.

In Sparta, girls were treated differently than in the rest of the country. While boys were sent off to the barracks to become soldiers, girls were given a public education in mythology, philosophy, and literature. Girls were taught to sing, dance, and were allowed to express themselves creatively.

Spartan women were also discouraged from living a secluded life like the women in Athens. Instead, the Spartans strongly believed that in order for women to produce strong sons, they must also be strong and active. Slaves were used to keep the home in order while Spartan women participated in strenuous athletic training and sports.

4. Different Types of Sacrifices and Offerings

Religion was central to the Greek way of life and they expressed their faith in many different ways. There were monthly festivals, yearly festivals, feasts, and competitions where everyone, except for the slaves, were allowed to celebrate.

One common feature of their worship was sacrifice and offerings. There were two different types of sacrifices. The first was the blood sacrifice. This was when an animal was ritually killed and then eaten. A portion of the slaughtered animal was offered to the gods. Male gods received the offering of male animals and female gods received female offerings.

Bloodless sacrifices could be vegetables and grains that were offered to the gods. These bloodless sacrifices were burned upon the altar.

Finally, there were offerings. Offerings were left out in the open, sometimes placed on an offering table, where birds and other animals might reach the items. The offerings could be anything, from food to childhood toys. The items were not burnt and could simply be left outdoors to rot.

3. Beer was a Woman’s Drink

The men of ancient Greece did not care for beer. They considered the drink to be effeminate and preferred wine with their meals.

What is interesting about their wine was that it was stronger than the wine we drink today. With a higher alcohol content, the ancient wine was also far sweeter than what we are accustomed to. Because of this, the ancient Greeks watered down their wine before drinking it. Undiluted wine was considered unhealthy to drink whereas watered down wine was seen as medicinal, especially when it was mixed with aromatic herbs or honey.

2. Chamber Pots and Outdoor Etiquette

The men and women of ancient Greece used separate chamber pots within their homes. The men’s chamber pot had an opening in the front for urination and women used a boat-shaped pot. These would be emptied out onto the street.

There were even chamber pots for babies that contained two holes for the legs and a hole in the seat so that the baby could be held in place while going to the bathroom. However, it is believed that few of these types of baby potties were used. In general, people in the cities would hold their babies out of the windows until their business was done on the streets below.

According to Hesiod, the famous Greek poet, there were rules when it came to urinating outdoors. For one, men were not supposed to relieve themselves outside while facing the sun. This was considered offensive to the sun god. Hesiod also believed that good men should sit or use a wall away from the roadways because, again, the gods walked among people and might be offended by the sight.

1. Ankle Deep in Waste

Of course, not too many people appeared to listen to what Hesiod thought regarding toilet habits and they continued to use the streets as their literal dumping grounds. The simple fact is that there were no public bathrooms in ancient Greece and there was no indoor plumbing. People had to do something with the waste, and the streets were the easiest place to dump it.

In crowded cities, such as ancient Athens, it takes little imagination to realize just how terrible this waste dumping could be. In fact, with so many people dumping waste out of their windows and doors, it was said that while walking through the streets of Athens, the human fecal matter was ankle deep in some places.

Men, women, children, and livestock sloshed through the mess on the streets, dragged it into their homes, and contaminated drinking water and food. Drawn to the disgusting mess were rats, mosquitoes, and hoards of flies. There is very little wonder that disease and epidemics were rampant in the cities of ancient Greece.


10 Common Myths About US Presidents

Separating fact from fiction can be challenging when examining the lives of historical leaders — especially American presidents, who have, well, history on their side. After all, school children are taught all about presidential exploits and achievements, instilling national pride at an early age. However, as John Adams famously once said, “Facts can be stubborn things.”

Oddly, for a country founded on the principles of liberty and free speech, the United States has a long, troubled relationship with the truth. From the cooked up “yellow journalism” that led to the Spanish-American War or claims of smoking weed but not inhaling (seriously, Bill?) and repeated cries of “fake news,” words can be cheaper than a dented can of beans in the discount bin.

Additionally, it can’t be overstated that 12 American presidents owned slavesTwelve. So regardless of how noble the words “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” might look on paper, our founding fathers clearly didn’t mean all men were created equal.

10. Nixon Resigned Because Of Watergate

Richard “Dick” Nixon possessed many talents and wore several hats during his well-chronicled life — most of which he spent in public service. Soldier. Lawyer. Congressman. Senator. Vice President. President. Trickster. Etc. Furthermore, he even managed to get his drink on regularly, pounding rum and Cokes late at night while roaming the White House and drunk-dialing old pals. Despite his multi-tasking prowess, Nixon’s paranoia and vindictive nature ultimately led to his disgraced ouster from politics.

Although the Watergate scandal would define the Nixon presidency, it was all his shady shenanigans prior to the infamous break-in that set off a domino effect and fall from grace. Nixon’s insatiable thirst for power didn’t stop after winning the White House in 1968. It was just the beginning. In an effort to wield control over his enemies (both real and imagined), he organized a goon squad led by aides G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt to find dirt by any means possible

Among other criminal activities, the team carried out the office burglary of the psychiatrist treating the infamous Pentagon Papers whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg. Nixon feared the ex-military analyst might squawk more about the government’s misinformation involving the Vietnam War, and wanted him silenced — even if it meant blackmail.

But in the end, “Tricky Dick” would be exposed for orchestrating a massive cover-up of multiple wrong-doings, including obstruction of justice, destroying evidence, secret bombing missions in Cambodia and Laos — as well as that little incident at the Democratic National Committee headquarters — better known as Watergate.  

9. Teddy Roosevelt Once Rode a Bull Moose

There’s a famous scene in the classic western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance when a reporter discovers that an esteemed politician (Jimmy Stewart) managed to build his entire reputation on a myth. In the end, however, the journalist comes to the conclusion, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” While that works to sell newspapers and Hollywood endings, the truth usually surfaces. Such is the case of a well-circulated, grainy photo of Teddy Roosevelt riding bareback on an enormous bull moose. Sadly, it never happened — the legend is a much better story.

What makes this ruse particularly deflating is that for decades Roosevelt really did live an extraordinary life. To wit: he triumphantly emerged as the hero of San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War; he once gave a stump speech while bleeding from the chest after being shot; and fittingly, as a champion of America’s Progressive Era, Roosevelt became forever enshrined in stone on Mount Rushmore along with fellow Presidential titans George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.

Nonetheless, the phony photo was pure bull (moose) sh… er, stuff. The publicity stunt was hatched during Roosevelt’s comeback attempt to win a third presidential bid as the candidate for the new progressive, “Bull-Moose Party.” Having lost the Republican nomination to incumbent William Taft, Roosevelt hoped to blaze a new trail by breaking away from the GOP, relying on his aforementioned hyper-masculinity and magnetic personality. It didn’t work. The cleverly doctored image would be eventually exposed and voters opted for new leadership with the election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

8. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation Freed The Slaves

No other U.S. President has been equally worshipped and vilified as much as Abraham Lincoln. Although history typically shines a glowing light on our 16th President as a beloved martyr who helped preserve the Union, Lincoln’s views on slavery didn’t always live up to his appeal for “better angels of our nature.”

While Lincoln stood against the expansion of slavery, he never campaigned as an abolitionist and wrestled with the constitutionality to end slavery. In a letter dated August 22, 1862, to renowned newspaper editor Horace Greeley (of “Go West, young man” fame), Lincoln wrote, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

Infusing a similar wavering tone, Lincoln used his executive power to issue the Emancipation Proclamation six months later. The carefully worded document only granted freedom to slaves in states that had seceded — but it didn’t apply to those in border states, or certain regions considered loyal to the Union. For the record, slavery would not be formally abolished until two years with the passing of the 13th Amendment into law.

7. Gerald Ford Had Two Left Feet

For those old enough to remember the early days of Saturday Night Live, Chevy Chase performed a series of running gags depicting then-President Ford as a clumsy buffoon. The comedy sketches drew big laughs and even bigger ratings, helping to launch the stellar cast into superstardom as the show became one of the longest-running programs in television history.

Although Ford had his share of political stumbles (pardoning Nixon; losing to Carter in ’76) the 38th president had been a bonafide star athlete at the University of Michigan. Ford played center and linebacker on the Wolverines football team that went undefeated for two years, winning national titles in 1932 and 1933. After graduating with a degree in economics, he turned down offers from the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers of the NFL to pursue a coaching job while attending Yale Law School.

Ford later served with distinction in the U.S. Navy during WWII, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. The athletic and well-respected officer took part in numerous combat operations in the Pacific while stationed aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Monterey, including the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and carrier strikes against Japanese forces at Wake Island, Marianas and New Guinea.

Flash forward to 2018: SNL is in its 44th season, Bill Murray is still funny, Chevy Chase isn’t, and Gilda Radner and John Belushi died way too soon. But for the record, Gerald Ford may have only served a brief, largely forgettable 2-year term, but his impressive athleticism is no laughing matter.

6. Zachary Taylor Was Poisoned To Death

On July 9, 1850, President Zachary Taylor suddenly died from a mysterious illness. Rumors immediately began to swirl that he had been poisoned — with his wife, Margaret “Peggy” Taylor as one of the prime suspects. Although some historians still debate the exact cause of death for #12, we can safely rule out that the First Lady didn’t whack Ol’ Zach.

Taylor, a career soldier and the hero of the Mexican/American War, reluctantly entered the political arena as the Whig Party’s nominee. Although his views were seen as vague at best, he vehemently opposed slavery and saw preserving the Union as his primary objective. In the 1848 Presidential election, the veteran fighter nicknamed “Ol’ Rough and Ready” (great male stripper name) narrowly defeated democrat Lewis Cass to become the first President to be elected without having ever previously served public office.

A few days before his death, Taylor attended a fund-raising event for the Washington Monument, where he consumed an ample serving of raw fruit and iced milk. Soon after returning to the White House he began feeling violently ill with a stomach ailment. At the time, cholera outbreaks were common — especially in the warm Summer months in which the disease easily spread in Washington’s open sewers. Unfortunately, Taylor’s condition never improved and he would be eventually diagnosed as having most likely suffered a bacterial infection of the small intestine or possibly gastroenteritis.

Although speculation circulated in some circles that pro-slavery southerners may have carried an assassination plot, no hard evidence ever surfaced. As for Taylor’s widow, Peggy had already been in poor health by the time the couple arrived in Washington and typically delegated most of her First Lady duties to her daughter, Mary Elizabeth.

5. Ronald Reagan: Conservative Icon Or The Great Compromiser?

For most Republicans, the mere mention of the 40th President invokes hushed reverence for a man known as “The Gipper” and a beacon of conservative ideals. But a closer examination of the facts reveals a cunning politician, who frequently raised taxes to support federal programs, nearly tripled the national debt and considered FDR one his early idols. Not exactly talking points heard in conservative media.

Nonetheless, Reagan’s complex legacy remains tilted heavily to the right. His fiscal policies, labeled “Reaganomics” (or “voodoo economics” by his opponents) touted a trickle-down effect to stimulate the economy built on lower income tax, and reduced government regulations and spending (except for the military). Results were mixed. While GDP growth flourished, income disparity grew — as did homelessness, resulting from slashed federal programs for mental health and assistance to the poor.  

It’s also worth noting that Reagan spent most of his life as a Democrat. The former actor, best known for his role of George “The Gipper” Gipp in Knute Rockne All American, (and who also once starred with a chimpanzee in Bedtime for Bonzo) got his first taste of power as a five-term president of the Screen Actors Guild. He later switched sides shortly before making a successful gubernatorial bid in California, where he served two terms.

The fervent wave of nostalgia may also be rooted in a desire for basic civility. Reagan, reflecting his core Midwestern values, never disparaged his opponents, frequently reached across the aisle, and always upheld the dignity befitting the office of the Presidency — a concept long gone in today’s toxic political environment.

Regretfully, the Iran-Contra Affair left behind an ugly stain in which the government sold arms to Iran (the bad guys) to help fund Nicaraguan rebels (the good guys) to fight the Sandinistas (good and bad guys) — all in an effort to raise money and rescue Americans in Lebanon. Yes, that really happened. In the end, however, none of that really matters because Rambo Ron ruled the ’80s, won the Cold War, and ended the Iran hostage crisis (even though Carter did most of the heavy lifting — but that’s another story).

4. JFK Was Groomed To Be President

John F. Kennedy was born into a juggernaut political family as the son of wealthy businessman and politician Joseph “Joe” Kennedy and the equally well-connected Rose (nee Fitzgerald) Kennedy. The handsome young man called “Jack” certainly looked the part and even married the perfect wife, Jackie, while living like royalty on their idyllic compound dubbed “Camelot” (Massachusetts, actually). However, Joe Kennedy, Jr., JFK’s older brother, had been originally anointed as the chosen one to become the first Roman Catholic President.

Joe, the oldest of nine Kennedy children, possessed the same good looks, smarts (pronounced “smahts”) and charm than ran deep in the family bloodline. He graduated from Harvard with honors in 1938 and studied abroad at the London School of Economics before enrolling at Harvard Law School. Naturally, the political arena beckoned. America’s involvement in World War Two would temporarily curtail those ambitions as Kennedy set his sights on becoming a naval aviator. After getting his wings, he eventually flew 25 combat mission in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) as a bomber pilot.

Meanwhile, back home, the Kennedy clan eyed the 1946 Massachusetts Congressional District 11 seat for Joe to make his initial strides towards the White House. But first, the recently promoted Lieutenant Kennedy accepted one last assignment before rotating stateside.

The dangerous mission involved deliberately crashing a modified B-24 loaded with munitions inside enemy territory. Codenamed Operation Aphrodite, Kennedy was tasked with setting the course before parachuting to safety but the explosives detonated prematurely, killing him instantly. Kennedy’s remains were never found. For his actions on August 12, 1944, he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

The tragic event would become the first of many to befall the Kennedy family. Joe later received a commemorative headstone at Arlington National Cemetery, where he would be joined by his brothers, John and Robert.

3. Taft Got Stuck In A Bathtub

William Taft was a large man. Weighing in at a robust 340 pounds, he easily holds the record for the heaviest U.S. President to date. Although portly caricatures dominated political cartoons of the day, the story about Taft getting stuck in a tub and having to be extracted by six men is pure fiction.

America’s hefty head of state did, in fact, have an over-sized bathtub installed in the White Houseduring his four years at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But having a big boy tub would have also made it far less likely to be trapped like a wet blubbery walrus at the zoo. Fat jokes aside, the apocryphal fable continues to persist.

The account is attributed to Ike Hoover, a White House butler and usher, whose 1934 memoir, 42 Years in the White House, contains a small anecdote in which Taft “would stick” in the tub while bathing. That’s all. No other details are provided nor were ever substantiated by any other credible person. Furthermore, the notoriously reticent Taft did not have a friendly relationship with the press, who would have been merciless had the whale tale ever leaked (sorry, cheap pun).

Fortunately for Taft, his legacy includes being the only president to also serve a chief justice — and began the grand tradition of the president throwing out the ceremonial pitch on major league baseball’s opening day. Go, number 27!

2. George Washington Had Wooden Teeth

Wearing dentures is one of the many dreaded predations associated with aging. Whether stemming from poor dental hygiene, genetics or just one too many barroom brawls, tooth loss occurs — even to Presidents. Although orthodontia has come a long way since the 1700s, George Washington’s chompers were NOT made from lumber.

A full set of Washington’s false teeth can be found in the permanent collection at Mount Vernon — the site of his ancestral estate in northern Virginia. Unfortunately, painful dental problems troubled the Revolutionary War hero and future president throughout his life. As a result, he wore several sets of dentures made from various materials such as ivory, gold, and lead, and held together by uncomfortable metal wires. Ouch.

The myth undoubtedly grew over time when visitors to Mount Vernon noticed that one of his ivory sets appeared stained and wooden-looking. The yellowing discoloration, however, is completely natural — even though an adoring public much prefers the image of Washington crossing the Delaware sporting pearly whites.

1. Washington And That Cherry Tree

When you’re the father of a country, it’s not surprising the man would have more than one pervasive myth clinging to his legend. And as this fable goes, a young George Washington once cut down a cherry tree on the family farm near Fredericksburg, Virginia. When later confronted by his father, Augustine, the wee lad replied, “I can’t tell a lie, Pa; you know I can’t tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet.“ Sure, it’s a swell little folktale — but phonier than a three dollar bill.

Washington’s first biographer, Mason Locke Weems, concocted the yarn shortly after his subject’s death in 1799. Weems, a traveling book salesman, and ordained Episcopal minister, felt obliged to exalt the fallen leader by using the story to symbolize Washington’s honesty and integrity. Published in 1800, The Life of Washington provides an effusive, veracity-challenged account of Washington’s charmed life. Not surprisingly, the book became an immediate best-seller — even though the passage about the cherry tree doesn’t appear until the fifth edition six years later.

Analyzing the case from a CSI lens, here’s what we know for sure…

Location: Fredericksburg, Virginia
The victim: mature cherry tree.
The suspect: Washington, George. 6 years old. Male. Caucasian. Approx. 3-foot-9 /45 lbs.
The weapon: small blade

Clearly, the facts simply don’t add up, folks. So unless this still-wet-behind-the-ears first grader secretly possessed some kind of Paul Bunyan, superhuman lumberjack strength, it’s fairly unlikely — if not damn near impossible — that a little boy in knickers could have chopped down that timber with his pocket-knife.

Decades later, legendary huckster P.T. Barnum helped perpetuate the myth by employing a former slave named Joice Heth, who according to Barnum, was not only 161 years years, but had also raised Washington and could corroborate the great Horticulture Homicide of 1738.

10 Times Rich People Got Away with Murder

It’s no secret that the rich and powerful get away with crimes that would normally put most people in jail. But these next 10 stories of wealthy people getting away with murder are so cringe-worthy, it’s almost beyond belief…

10. Laura Bush

If you watch Family Guy, you might have noticed in one of the episodes that there was a casual mention that “Laura Bush killed a guy.” Well, sadly, this is actually true. Before she became First Lady of the United States, she was a high school student named Laura Welch, living in Midland, Texas.

In 1963, Laura was just 17-years-old, and she and a friend were trying to rush to the movies before the film was set to start. She was in such a hurry that she accidentally ran a stop sign and killed one of her school’s star football players, Mike Douglas. Laura is the daughter of a wealthy property developer, so her father was able to pay for a lawyer, and she never had to go through any kind of punishment for killing Douglas. As an adult, she wrote that the whole experience made her feel so guilty that she was afraid to ever apologize to Douglas’s parents, and she tried to pretend that the accident never happened.

9. John McAfee

John McAfee is best known for creating the McAfee antivirus software in the 1990s. After he became a multi-millionaire, he began to spend his money in strange ways, like opening a yoga ashram in the Rocky Mountains. He became increasingly paranoid that someone would come after his money, so he decided to pretend that he was almost broke, and moved to the country of Belize. He paid to build a compound, and hired a security team made up of former convicts. He also paid the local police department over a million dollars for their loyalty.

While living in Carmalita, Belize, he stabbed a man named David Middleton, because he stole something out of his house. He then dumped Middleton’s body into the middle of a busy street. Even though there were dozens of witnesses, the police turned a blind eye. After authorities searched his property under suspicion of drug and gang activity, McAfee ran to the city of San Juan, where he murdered his neighbor, an American named Greg Faull. Immediately after killing Faull, McAfee went on the run. He hired a lawyer, and had his posse help him escape across the border to Guatemala. He was later extradited to the United States, but he’s never served a single day of jail time for killing two people.

8. Robert Durst

Robert Durst grew up in a wealthy New York real estate family, and he went against his family’s wishes by marrying a woman named Kathleen McCormack. When she disappeared in 1982, he was the prime suspect. There was an incredible amount of circumstantial evidence, but no physical evidence to tie him to her murder. Later, one of Durst’s close friends, Susan Berman, and one of his neighbors, Morris Black, were also killed.

Durst claimed that he was simply very unlucky, and he didn’t know why all of these people in his life were being murdered. He was so confident that he was fooling everyone that he even agreed to be interviewed for a documentary series by HBO called The Jinx in 2015. During the taping of the series, he was caught with his mic on confessing to the murders. This year, in 2018, he is finally standing trial for his crimes, but only after getting away with it for decades.

7. Vorayuth Yoovidhya

In 2012, the young heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune, Vorayuth Yoovidhya, was driving his Ferrari through Bangkok. He was drunk and driving well over 100 miles per hour when he hit a police officer riding a motorcycle. The man’s body was dragged along the ground underneath the Ferrari for miles, but Yoovidhya did not even attempt to stop, and kept driving. There was security camera footage that captured proof of the accident, but before he could be called to trial for the police officer’s murder, he fled the country on his parents’ private jet.

In 2017, Interpol finally submitted an order to extradite him to stand trial for his crimes, but only after years of public outcry. As of this moment, he is considered to be a wanted fugitive, but the authorities have never brought him into custody.

6. Leopold and Loeb

In 1924, two students from the University of Chicago named Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb kidnapped and murdered a 14-year-old boy named Bobby Franks. When asked why they did it, the young men said that they wanted to prove how smart they were by pulling off “the perfect crime.”

But these weren’t just two garden-variety sociopaths. They were the sons of millionaires. So, of course, their defense lawyer somehow convinced the jury that Leopold and Loeb were victims of poor parenting, and even blamed the teachings of Friedrich Nietzsche for brainwashing their impressionable young minds. The jury ate it up, and the duo were spared the death penalty.

5. Marguerite Alibert

Born in 1890, Marguerite Alibert actually grew up in poverty, but her parents were servants in an affluent neighborhood in Paris so she had the benefit of knowing how to blend in with wealthy people. After getting pregnant at just 15-years-old, she was forced into prostitution. Since she was beautiful, elegant, and well-educated, she was able to become a high-class courtesan. One of her most important affairs was with Prince Edward of Wales, and she held onto his dirty love letters for safe keeping. Over the years, Alibert used men to climb the social ladder and make enough money to financially support her daughter. She eventually had so much money from her sex work that she could pretend to be a wealthy widow.

She caught the attention of an Egyptian prince named Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey. And in typical gold-digger fashion, she agreed to marry him even though they barely knew one another. She figured that she could just divorce him later and take half of his money, but this plan backfired. She moved to Egypt with him, where she was forced to keep her head and face covered at all times, and her husband married multiple wives. She convinced him to take her to an opera in England, where she shot him in their hotel room. She was able to blackmail the royal family with those letters from Prince Edward, and it was her very literal “get out of jail free” card. The lawyers painted a scenario where she killed her husband in self-defense, and she never served any time for killing her husband.

4. Ethan Couch

In 2013, a 16-year-old named Ethan Couch stole beer and went drunk driving with his friends. He killed four people who had been standing on the side of the road in Fort Worth, Texas, and his passenger is now living with severe brain damage. Couch’s parents were millionaires, and they often left him alone to have parties in their mansion unattended. They paid for a lawyer who convinced the jury that the boy was suffering from “affluenza”- a made-up psychological syndrome where someone can be so rich, spoiled, and privileged that they cannot even grasp consequences of reality, and should therefore not be responsible for their own actions. He was ordered to go to rehab, instead of prison.

If you think this sounds like total bull, that’s because it is. Ethan Couch refused to finish his time in rehab, and went on to violate his parole. When he was 19, he tried to run to Mexico. He spent two years in jail, but he now walks free once again.

3. Orachorn Thephasadin Na Ayudhya

In 2010, a 17-year-old girl named Orachorn Thephasadin Na Ayudhya was driving one of her father’s cars without a proper driver’s license. She was texting and driving, and slammed into a passenger van that was carrying 14 people. She killed 9 of the passengers, and seriously injured the rest, causing a massive pile-up on the highway. After the accident, she seemed to be unfazed, and unhurt. She got out of the car, plopped her purse on the ground, and continued texting. Someone took a photo of her in that moment, and once it was passed around in the press, the public was understandably outraged.

Her wealthy parents paid for a lawyer, of course, and they somehow brought the sentence of three years in jail for driving without a license down to just a few months of community service. Even then, she was so spoiled she often refused to show up to her duties volunteering at a hospital, and complained the entire time.

2. Sao Boonwaat

In 1967, a Burmese ambassador named Sao Boonwaat was living as a diplomat in Sri Lanka when he murdered his young wife, Shirley. If you are unaware, international ambassadors get a special perk called “diplomatic immunity,” which means that they do not have to abide by the laws of the land where they are working.

Several people witnessed Shirley running away from her husband as he shot her with a gun. Then, he cremated her body. Boonwaat claimed that his wife died of a cerebral hemorrhage, and he never spent any time in jail for her murder.

1.Issei Sagawa

Growing up in Japan, Issei Sagawa was the only child of very rich parents. He was small and weak, so when he began to show signs of having mental illness and admitted to having the very strange sexual appetite for cannibalism, they decided to simply placate him, and gave him nearly everything he wanted. He had a particular fascination with Western women. He once broke into a German girl’s house with the plan to eat her, but he was caught and charged with attempted rape. His parents paid for him to go to graduate school in France in 1981.

He became friends with a young Dutch woman named Renee Hartevelt, and he invited her over to study for an exam. He shot her in the back of the head, and began to eat her body over the next several days. He was caught by the police, but a French psychologist said he was too insane to stand trial, so he was deported back to Japan. He has never served any jail time for the murder. His wealthy parents continue to financially support him, and he now writes books about his cannibalism fetish.

10 Fabulous Freak Farms from Around the World

Farms. We rely on them to provide us with food, and they serve as a bastion of familiarity on our often puzzling planet. Yet certain farms represent some of the aberrant and exotic places on Earth. Whether by location, purpose, or function, farms can be freakish. In this account, we profile the most extreme freak farms for a fine harvest of fascinating facts. Get ready for wine growing out of volcanic eruption aftermath, entire farms floating in a lake, and learn what is going on under the ocean in Italy…

Desertification may be among the greatest of threats to the future of agriculture in the more arid portions of the Earth’s agricultural regions. But rather than being driven away by desertification, pioneering agricultural works can conquer the desert and alter the very composition of the biosphere. The incredible work of Faisal Mohammed Al Shimmari in growing crops in the Al Ain oasis located within the United Arab Emirates has been aided significantly by the use of nanoparticles created by a literally ground-breaking Norwegian company known as Desert Control.

A desert agriculture project would likely bring to mind efforts to re-route a watercourse or build a reservoir, but Desert Control is enjoying particularly significant results to operate on a molecular scale. The work aims not to gather in large quantities but to make nanoparticles of water stick to the hostile sand of the desert in the form of a mixture with clay nanoparticles. The result is a substrate that holds water rather than losing it. As a result of the work, plants such as okra have been grown in inhospitable desert soils with remarkable results. Surprisingly, nanoparticle capabilities have included a 50 percent decrease in required water usage to sustain crop life where tested in the trials hosted by Faisal Mohammed Al Shimmari.

9. Nemo’s Garden

While farms are typically associated with fields, a lot more than seaweed is growing under the ocean in a certain location in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy. Whimsically named, Nemo’s Garden may be located undersea but this facility does not grow seaweed. Rather, Nemo’s Garden stands out as a marvel of extreme agricultural innovation as an experimental farm growing in trapped and carefully controlled high tech bubbles of air under the waves and salt water.

Growing off Noli in Italy, the submerged pods of Nemo’s Garden can produce a variety of delicious land crops at 15 to 36 feet below the surface. Nemo’s Garden is the first undersea garden on the planet but looks extraterrestrial with its acrylic spheres that provide a large pocket of air. Tomatoes are among the crops produced hydroponically.  The project site consists of six plastic pods that are shaped in a manner similar to the bell of a jellyfish, with weighted ropes and chains holding the structures to the seabed. A control tower built on the shore allows operators to adjust the parameters of the undersea farm, stay in contact with divers working on the garden and conduct research as experimental conditions are adjusted.

8. Iceland’s Geothermal Lit & Heated Farms

Iceland might not seem like a good choice for a farming operation, which would at first thought be better suited to a less frozen climate for best results. Cold and dark, the location is opposite to the imagined habitat of most vegetables. Yet family-operated Fridheimar Farm is located in the frigid climate of Iceland with long hours of extended darkness creating a significant challenge to growing project success. Still, this remarkable northern agricultural facility, with rows of greenhouses, produces hothouse plants to a top quality standard year-round in a seemingly out of context environment.

Drawing on direct geothermal energy, the greenhouses provide a sheltered environment for growth with plenty of warmth as well as lighting installations. A café is included on the property, which was established by husband and wife Knutur Rafn Armann and Helena Hermundardottir. They purchased the property and did all of the work of turning the site into a farm amongst inhospitable surroundings. At Fridheimar Farm, delicious tomatoes of four distinct varieties, plus plenty of succulent cucumbers, grow vigorously all year surrounded by cold and extensive darkness for much of the year with powerful lighting and heating that is tapped from the geothermal energy of volcanically active Iceland. What will they think of next?

7. Canary Island Volcano Ash Farming

Volcanic activity may pose a threat to farming operations, yet its aftermath can have the opposite effect. Rich in nutrients, volcanic ash can support rapid plant growth. If carefully utilized in situ to create a farm, a volcanically enriched landscape can create a farm that is not only surreal and bizarre but also exceptionally successful. Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands, is home to one of the most unearthly farms in existence. The surreal scene consists of the results of great ingenuity where carefully cultivated grape plants emerge from the aftermath of volcanic eruptions. Bedded in volcanic ash, dry growing grape crops–meticulously arranged–grow green against the dark ash fields. Many years passed before farmers realized the benefits of growing grapes for wine in volcanic ash. The resulting product has become known for its quality. Even US president Thomas Jefferson is known to have requested the product.

Three scales of elements–in the form of the imposing volcanic landscape of mountains in the background, the volcanic soil in which the plants grow, and the molecular structures that support fertile soil for growth–come together with careful attention to produce quality crops. A prime example of Canary Islands volcanic farming is a scene of perfect harmony, volcanic soil in which bright green grape plants grow is terraced by meticulously placed walls made from stacked chunks of volcanic rock. The scene represents a high level of order among elements that came from disastrous chaos, producing mineral rich wine directly from the volcanic ashes.

6. Floating Farms of Myanmar

A farm typically consists of land to which water is commonly added in the form of irrigation to address the ever-present problem of having a sufficient water supply to nourish crops. Alternatively, plants may be grown in shallow standing water, as in the case of rice paddies. In bold contrast is a farm in a form which few agricultural enthusiasts may have seen or even imagined. This bizarre innovation is the floating farm, in which natural resources created by unusual processes of evolution have been harnessed on a grand scale. Inle Lake in Myanmar is home to floating farms where crops grow on the lake, taking an ample supply of water and nutrients in a bid to produce large quantities of quality food crops for the populace.

The floating farms are not created through a high tech process or even artificial material. Rather, the floating farms consist of modified water plants. The farms are created by squeezing bulbous water hyacinth plants, which have natural spongy, pith-like floats below each shiny leaf to allow the plants to float on the water’s surface into massive vegetation mats. These water plant mats float on the lake, and upon them, crops are grown. Sediments are piled onto the weird and wonderful mats, making floating islands of agriculture. Upon them crops like eggplant, squash and, most significantly, tomatoes are grown.

5. Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Being one of the planet’s top staple foods for an extraordinary number of the global population, rice is the subject of some of the most impressive works of terraced agriculture in existence. Closely associated with East Asian cuisine, rice not only shapes popular ethnic dishes but also dramatically influences the landscapes in countries where it is cultivated on a grand scale. Amongst the global rice landscape, Yunnan Province in China is famous for holding the world’s largest rice terraces. China may be known for its rice growing and cuisine that includes rice, but the Yuanyang rice terraces are no ordinary rice paddies. The giant complex of rice terraces is set in a meticulously constructed, ancient, and vast complex of water holding terraces on hillside and cliff environments.

Resembling giant glass artwork pieces from the air, or a series of shiny ribbons winding along in parallel, the enormous flooded rice terraces manage to cover a variety of elevations as they hold water on slopes, hilltops, and valleys. The agricultural works not only catch the eye due to their immense size and intricate form. The site of waterbodies perched at various angles not only in low lying areas but on top of mounds and hills while surrounding by cliffs, slopes, and valleys creates a most spectacular agricultural vista that is unparalleled in scale.

4. Russia’s Moose Dairy Farm

Milk may be associated with cows, while the world’s largest deer may be symbolic of Canada. Yet female moose (the world’s largest deer species) are in fact technically referred to as cows and produce excellent milk. The world distribution of this huge animal species goes far beyond Canada, as they are native to diverse northern regions including Scandinavia and Russia. A remarkable moose farm in Russia is dedicated to the raising of moose and offering of moose milk for sale. A little different? Yes, indeed. The history behind the moose farm is more than a little bizarre, placing the strange and exotic farm in an unusual context.

The former USSR had embarked on domestication efforts following the failure of attempts to use moose as cavalry animals. The bid centered on efforts at Pechora farm, which was set up in the 1940s for moose milk and meat production before the farmers gave up. In 1963, another attempt to farm moose was made when Kostroma Farm was built, beginning with only a pair of calves. Since Kostroma farm was opened, more than 800 moose have been kept onsite. The moose milk produced is sold to a nearby hospital on the basis that moose milk is believed to aid in the alleviation of ulcers. Furthermore, Kostroma Farm offers tourists the opportunity to visit a real moose farm and encounter the giant beasts.

3. Elephant Poop Coffee

Coffee is the second most significantly traded commodity on the planet, coming in second to only crude oil. Yet despite the popularity of coffee, it’s not a normal coffee that is the most expensive on the planet. The fact is, some truly ardent coffee connoisseurs who are not at all squeamish will pay a mini-fortune for the chance to drink coffee that is literally poop, and therefore seen as especially good quality. This apparent contradiction is the exact situation seen in Thailand, where a well-organized and superbly weird farming operation sees elephants offered coffee cherries mixed in with their food. After the elephants eliminate, the coffee cherries are sifted out by workers and washed (boy, do we hope it’s thorough) before being processed into extraordinarily expensive coffee.

The literal dung coffee is the most expensive in the world in fact, at $198 for just 1.2 ounces of “Black Ivory Coffee” that is available at luxury hotels. The large quantity of food that elephants are able to ingest and eliminate increases the quantity of Black Ivory Coffee that industrial coffee workers are able to process. The Thailand-based operation pays workers at a premium to extract beans from dung, offering what equates to $10 for 15 minutes of dung sorting. In contrast, rice farming may only pay $6 equivalent for a full day.

2. Malaysian Swift Nest Farming

The most unusual way humans utilize birds is not by eating a chicken or the egg but, in the case of a certain small bird species, where the nest itself is the focus of culinary activities. With a demand for such a product, it is no surprise that efforts to procure the product would turn quasi-agricultural in lieu of reliance upon simple gathering. Farming chickens for eggs will look old hat in comparison to a bizarre twist to bird product production fueled by the popularity of saliva nests of small insectivorous birds in the Asian delicacy known as bird’s nest soup.

In George Town, Penang State, Malaysia’s capital, tiny birds that are related distantly to hummingbirds known as Cave Swiftlets that produce saliva nests by spitting and moulding actions are being “farmed” through efforts to attract them en masse to urban locations, harvest the nests and then entice them to return. As with any farming effort, increasing the numbers of a single species at a given site may create the opportunity for disease to spread as waste levels increase and numbers of individuals in a limited area grows with time. The efforts to “cultivate” the bird nests have led to the presence of so many tiny, pooping birds that health risks are considered to be a significant concern.

1. Crazy Cactus Farms

Some farms may be a little prickly when it comes to their design and purpose, and you definitely would not want to casually wander through these most extreme of farm fields. In New Mexico, cactus is eaten like a fruit or vegetable in great quantities. A certain number of entrepreneurial farms like Bach’s Cactus Nursery in Arizona and Red Rock Ranch in California are braving the desert and the prickle multitudes to mass cultivate awesome and succulent cacti for either most exotic aesthetics or for large scale human consumption.

Of course, farming cacti presents some interesting practical considerations. Firstly, it is important to provide the correct irrigation system as cacti may be desert plants but they still require sufficient water to develop their succulent components. Additionally, spines are indeed as sharp as needles and do present a very tangible risk of serious injuries if a worker were to fall into a cactus patch or carelessly grab hold of fresh product. For the prickly pear cactus in particularly, great challenges emerge because of nature’s tendency to produce finely adapted life forms. The cactus may be a plant of harsh environments, but while Prickly Pear Cactus has adapted to limited water quantities, it depends on selenium rich soils, limiting opportunities to establish prickly pear cactus farms.

Internet TV vs. Cable TV: Which is the Better Bet for You?

Cable television is great, right? After all, the average viewer will have anywhere from 50 to 2,000 channels depending on their cable provider, subscription, and budget. That’s a boatload of content, so why are so many subscribers quickly and quietly making their way over to internet TV? In fact, in a recent study, it came out that cable subscribers who jumped ship for streaming services instead numbered a whopping 33 million citizens at last count. What’s up with that?

Of course, ardent cable fans will argue that you can’t get live footage of your favorite games or watch some shows the night they come out. This was true a few years back, but it’s not anymore, thanks to services like DirectTV NOW, Philo, and Sling. No, today there are simply more and more people waking up to the reality that cable just doesn’t pay anymore. If you’re on the fence about the switch, here are ten reasons why you might want to cut the cord in 2019.

Reason #1 Why it’s Time to Switch: Live & in color

So, we already touched on this one a minute ago, but we figured we might as well get it all clear before we go any further. Yes, the number one complaint most cable lovers always had on streaming services was that you couldn’t get your up-to-the-minute kind of screen time like you could with cable TV. Well, those days are gone, and there are now plenty of services to choose from that offer you live streaming of the best sports, news, and entertainment content around today. Take that, cable.

Reason #2 Why it’s Time to Switch: It’s just so easy

Probably one of the biggest pulls towards internet TV is how freakin’ easy it is. If you’ve got an internet connection, you are good to go. There’s no complicated configuration, equipment, or (gasp) installation. You sign up, and you can get down to serious entertainment business within minutes. Cable just can’t hold a candle to that kind of convenience. And don’t even get us started on equipment (think compatibility, think wiring, think dollar bills flying out of your wallet)…

Reason #3 Why it’s Time to Switch: Too much of a good thing…

As mentioned, the average American can toggle through roughly 2,000 channels. In fact, if you add them all up, it’s probably closer to ten times that number. The real question is, who the hell needs that many channels?! We challenge you to find one friend who has ever sat through all of the channels made available to them through their cable network. You won’t find them because nobody needs that much content. In fact, the numbers are just an inflated projection of would-be entertainment.

After all, how many viewers are really tapping into the Recipe Channel, Smithsonian Live, and Rural Free Delivery TV? And even if you’re into niche shows, how many cooking channels do you need? Streaming gives you plenty of variety without the headache of surfing through endless options. (Do you want us to say that in fifteen different languages you don’t speak, like half the channels you get on your cable network?)

Reason #4 Why it’s Time to Switch: Original content you’re going to love

What’s more, when you sign up for a lot of these streaming services, you get access to some of the hottest original content available today. From the epic HBO fantasy drama series Game of Thrones to Netflix’s hilarious Orange is the New Black, there’s some amazing programming available through these networks, and we’re talking Emmy award-winning shows.

Reason #5 Why it’s Time to Switch: Get content under the radar

This is something travelers are really going to love. Cable TV is available at your house, but if you go anywhere else, you’re stuck. So, if you want to watch your favorite shows while you’re on vacation, sorry Charlie.

But with internet TV, this is not the case. In fact, you can use a good Hulu VPN service to take your subscription with you wherever you go. Log in through the VPN, and there are no geo-restrictions on your favorite shows, games, music, and channels. It’s all there, all the time.

Reason #6 Why it’s Time to Switch: Not interested? No problem

When it comes to signing up for cable, we already mentioned what a process it is. But what we didn’t tell you was how much harder it is to CANCEL your subscription too. Some customers have complained vehemently online about what kind of loops you have to jump through just to get someone to answer the phone, and then you have to explain yourself. And if you don’t have a really good reason for cancelling, well, you might just be out of luck.

So, unless you’re a fan of the idea of selling your firstborn to get out of a contract basically signed in blood, internet TV is a better option. These services let you sign up for monthly contracts. That means if you want to cancel the next month, it’s no problem. There are no strings attached and no lengthy commitments that you’re obligated to stick to.

Reason #7 Why it’s Time to Switch: Personalization

From t-shirts to shopping experiences, everyone likes to have things personalized. Streaming services learn your viewing habits and use AI to generate new suggested content that fits your preferences. It’s like having a personalized shopper for your shows!

Reason #8 Why it’s Time to Switch: Download content for offline viewing

Another convenient perk to streaming services is that most of them let you download their content so that you can watch it later. That way, even if you don’t have a solid internet connection, you’ll be able to enjoy the show anyway. This is also a good option if you’re going on vacation to a remote destination that might not have 3G or internet access constantly. And of course, downloaded content means you can watch your fave scenes over and over again.

Reason #9 Why it’s Time to Switch: Who says you can’t take it with you when you go?!

Ok, this is a really big one. One of the most frustrating things about cable is the installation and setup. Like we covered already, internet TV is just so much easier on so many levels. What’s more, it’s portable. You can take your streaming with you wherever you go and onto multiple devices. That’s a big perk if you’re moving apartments, but it’s an even bigger perk if you like to watch content on the go or want to switch from one device to another.

So, if you’re riding the train, waiting in line, or going on vacay, all your content comes right along with you. No fuss, no muss.

Reason #10 Why it’s Time to Switch: $$$

But of course, the number one reason why so many Americans are switching from cable, satellite, or telco TV to streaming (up by 32.8%) is…the price tag. No surprise here, Americans are a frugal nation, always looking to save a buck when they can. And as it turns out, switching from cable to internet viewing can save you a whole lot more than a pretty penny.

The typical cable subscription costs you $100/month, and that’s before fees. Streaming services can run you less than half of that, and for the real penny-pinchers, there are workarounds to save even more (like sitting through ads or minimizing the number of devices you can stream from). Cable is exorbitantly priced, rates keep climbing every year, and you’re paying for thousands of useless channels that you’ll never even watch.

Obviously, internet TV is the wave of the future, so cut the cord, and start enjoying entertainment the way it was meant to be viewed.