Best Facts of the Week - Page 5

When a man disappeared in 1660, three of his servants were erroneously sentenced to death for his murder. This bizarre case led to the "no body, no murder" rule

When 70 year old William Harrison of Chipping Campden in Gloucester disappeared in 1660, his wife sent a servant to go and look for him.

William went for a walk on the 16th of August and never returned home.

The servant, John Perry, did not return from his search and William’s son Edward went looking for the pair of missing men.

On his way to Charingworth he met Perry who said he could not find Mr Harrison.

On the main road between Chipping Campden and Ebrington, Williams' slashed hat and bloodied shirt were discovered, but his body could not be found.

When Perry was questioned he suddenly ‘spilled the beans’ and said that his brother Richard and his mother Joan Perry murdered Harrison for his money and hid the body, but that he had nothing to do with it.

There was a murder trial and the court found the entire Perry family guilty of murder, including John, and they were hanged together despite their pleas of innocence.

In 1662 however, Harrison re-appeared in Dover – very much alive! He told a tale of being abducted by pirates and sold into slavery in Turkey.

He managed to escape and made his way back home. Whether that was the truth is not known, but was is known for a fact is that three innocent people were sentenced to death!

It is unclear why John Perry accused his family of murder.

This case, known as the Campden Wonder, lead to the “no body, no murder” rule.


Find out how Mao Zedong's campaign to kill grain-eating sparrows in 1958 contributed to the death by starvation of 30 million people

In 1958 the Chinese leader, Mao Zedong, declared war. He decided there were four things he had had enough of: Mosquitoes, flies, rats and sparrows.

He was informed by his scientists that one sparrow eats about 4.5kg of grain each year. They said that according to those calculations, for every million sparrows killed there would be grain (and therefore food) for 60,000 people.

With only that information and a stubborn unwillingness to listen to anything else, he launched the Great Sparrow Campaign in which all citizens were expected to participate and kill as many sparrows as possible.

On 13 December 1958 alone, 194,432 sparrows were killed! Hundreds of millions were killed during the duration of the campaign and the sparrow almost became extinct in China.

What the scientists failed to mention, was that sparrows eat insects like locusts, and that locusts do much more harm than sparrows can. With no sparrows in sight, the locusts did indeed move in and had free reign.

Suddenly Mao Zedong realized what an eco-system was and hurriedly imported sparrows from the Soviet Union, but it was too late. The overflow of insects contributed to the Great Chinese Famine (1958-1961) in which approximately 30 million people starved to death!


Thor's hammer has a short handle because the dwarf working the bellows was interrupted in his task by Loki, disguised as a fly!

Thor, the Norse god of thunder, was supposed to have a very impressive hammer with a long handle that was intended to be wielded with both hands – a weapon worthy of a god.

The making of Thor’s hammer started with a bet.

Loki bet his head that the dwarf Sindri and his brother Brokkr would never be able to make items as beautiful as those made by the Sons of Ivaldi, who made Odin’s spear.

They accept the bet and get to work.

Sindri put some iron in the forge and told his brother to never, under any circumstances, stop pumping the bellows until he returned to remove the iron from the forge.

Bokkr faithfully pumped the bellows as instructed.

Loki, with his head on the line, disguised himself as a fly and as soon as Sindri was out of sight, he bit Bokkr on the eyelid.

The bite was so hard that it caused Bokkr’s eyelid to bleed!

The blood ran into his eye. He stopped pumping the bellows just long enough to wipe the blood away, but when Sindri returned and removed the iron meant to be Thor’s hammer, the disruption caused the handle to be much shorter than intended.

Despite the flaw, the hammer was so beautiful that Bokkr and Sindri won the bet. They did not take Loki’s head, but sewed his mouth shut instead.


Some awesome lists!

Helen Keller was a radical socialist. She observed that cases of blindness were more prevalent in lower classes and thus felt that blindness was a result of social injustice.

Helen Keller is an inspiring person.

After being born with both her sight and hearing, she lost both before turning 2 years old.

That didn’t stop her, as she was the first dead and blind person to earn a bachelor’s degree. She went on to be a much desired public speaker, writer and political activist.

What popular history tends to leave out, however, is the fact that she was a radical socialist. She believed that blindness was more prolific among the lower class because of working conditions and the greed of the employers.

On top of poor working conditions, she cites prostitution as an indirect cause of blindness among the middle class as well, as the STD syphilis can cause it.

Keller’s motivation in her own words:

“I was appointed on a commission to investigate the conditions of the blind. For the first time I, who had thought blindness a misfortune beyond human control, found that too much of it was traceable to wrong industrial conditions, often caused by the selfishness and greed of employers. And the social evil contributed its share. I found that poverty drove women to a life of shame that ended in blindness.”

Many in the United States were paranoid about socialism and so this piece of information about Helen Keller is often overlooked in popular history. People weren’t happy about it at the time, either.

At least one columnist, a writer for the ‘Brooklyn Eagle,’ who had graciously complimented Keller before knowing of her political allegiance wrote that her "mistakes sprung out of the manifest limitations of her development.”

Keller’s response was nothing short of brilliant:

“At that time the compliments he paid me were so generous that I blush to remember them. But now that I have come out for socialism he reminds me and the public that I am blind and deaf and especially liable to error. I must have shrunk in intelligence during the years since I met him. ... Oh, ridiculous Brooklyn Eagle! Socially blind and deaf, it defends an intolerable system, a system that is the cause of much of the physical blindness and deafness which we are trying to prevent.”


Dave Grohl was honored by his hometown with the world's largest drumsticks!

Dave Grohl's hometown of Warren, Ohio is incredibly proud of their musical prodigy.

As the drummer for the band that defines the 1990s, Nirvana, and the front man for the incredibly popular modern rock group, Foo Fights (among dozens of other musical projects), Warren has plenty of reasons to gloat.

The way they ended up honoring him, though, may be the most appropriate showing of love ever.

Sure, he got his own alley named after him back in 2009, but that's nothing compared to the record-breaking drumsticks.

In 2012, the town presented Grohl with a pair of 900 pound drumsticks that were made of log wood.

The town didn't reach out to Guinness to claim their world record, so technically having the world's largest drumsticks is still unofficial—but it couldn't have happened in a more fitting place.

Grohl tweeted about the honor, saying: “To the wonderful city of Warren, from the bottom of my heart I'd like to thank you all so much... For the childhood memories. For my family. For my very own alley. For the world's largest drumsticks! And for all of your support... But most of all for being such a great community. One that makes me proud to say... I am from Warren, Ohio!”



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