Best Facts of the Week - Page 5

In 1979 a British artist published a book containing riddles and puzzles about the location of a 18kt gold hare, setting off a worldwide treasure hunt which lasted over two years, and ended in scandal

Where’s Waldo is a children’s book where you have to find that character Waldo who is hidden in a picture.

Before this, though, a British writer named Kit Williams wrote a children’s book titled Masquerade with a real life treasure hunt with a much better prize than just satisfaction: an 18-carat golden hare.

Challenged by Tom Maschler, of the British publishing firm Jonathan Cape, to "do something no one has ever done before" with a children's book, Williams set out in the 1970s to create a book of paintings that readers would study carefully rather than flip through and discard.

He sealed the hare inside a ceramic hare-shaped casket both to protect the prize from the soil and foil any attempts to locate the treasure with a metal detector.

On 7 August 1979, Williams (accompanied by celebrity witness Bamber Gascoigne) buried the casket at a secret location within England. Williams announced that his forthcoming book contained all clues necessary to decode the treasure's precise location "within a few inches." At the time, the only additional clue he provided was that it was buried on public property that could be easily accessed.

In March 1982, Kit Williams announced that Ken Thomas had won the contest, but that wasn’t the end of it. On December 11, 1988, The Sunday Times printed a story accusing the winner of the Masquerade contest of being a fraud. The winner, "Ken Thomas", was revealed to be a pseudonym of Dugald Thompson. Thompson's business partner, John Guard, was the boyfriend of Veronica Robertson, a former live-in girlfriend of Williams.

Only later did Williams discover that Thompson had not solved the puzzle in the intended manner, but appeared at the time to have blundered into a lucky guess. Shortly after Thompson was formally awarded the prize, the correct solution was unraveled by two physics teachers, Mike Barker of William Hulme's Grammar School and John Rousseau of Rossall School.

Barker and Rousseau had actually unearthed the prize themselves, but had not noticed it inside its clay box; Thompson, who was loitering in the area, discovered it in the dirt piles they left behind.

Williams was shocked to discover the scandal and is quoted as saying:

"This tarnishes Masquerade and I'm shocked by what has emerged. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to all those many people who were genuinely looking for it. Although I didn't know it, it was a skeleton in my cupboard and I'm relieved it has come out."


American rock band blink-182 named their company 'Pennywise Poo Poo Butt, LLC' because they thought it would be funny if their attorneys had to say it over the phone every day!

When choosing a name for a company, people usually consider many things, because the name is the first thing that conveys a message about your business.

Generally it should convey an immediate understanding of what you have to offer, it shouldn't be too lengthy and contain too many words, and it should preferably be something that will grab the attention enough to be remembered.

American rock band, blink-182, skipped straight to the last bit when they decided to name their company 'Pennywise Poo Poo Butt, LLC'! They also did not name it solely to grab the attention, or to make a social or political statement.

It was already clear in the video for 'What's my Age Again?' that they were all about having fun with what they do when the band was filmed while running around naked through Los Angeles!

By 1999, during the time they released their 'Enema of the State' LP, the band decided to form a company. The decision for the name of their company was not just based on the fact that it sounds funny, but it also revealed the pranksters inside them.

"We did it because it was the most immature, dumbest thing ever," DeLonge said. "We thought it would be funny to have our accountants, managers and attorneys having to say that over the phone every day."


The 'Redwall' children's books are so vividly descriptive because Brian Jacques wrote them for the kids at the Royal Wavertree School for the Blind

Brian Jacques (pronounced 'jakes') was the author of the very popular 'Redwall' children's books of which more than 20 million were published.

Mr. Jacques was a door-to-door milk delivery truck driver in the late 80's and one of his stops was the Royal Wavertree School for the Blind in Liverpool. He loved children and befriended the blind kids and offered to read stories to them.

What frustrated him most was what he called "dreadful literature" available for these kids who were reliant on their own imaginations – not having ever seen the things they were hearing about.

"I thought, 'What's wrong with a little bit of magic in their lives?' "Mr. Jacques said. For the following seven months he came home every night to write a mystical, adventurous story for those children. He made it as descriptive as possible so that they could 'see' everything in their mind's eye.

He wrote the 800 page story longhand on recycled paper and kept it in a grocery bag. It contained vividly detailed anthropomorphic animals and was set in medieval times. His stories are mostly about the adventures of friendly mice, hares and squirrels fighting to protect Redwall Abbey.

"Mice are my heroes," Mr. Jacques said, "because, like children, mice are little and have to learn to be courageous and use their wits."


Some awesome lists!

When the GameCube came out, the Nintendo President priced it significantly cheaper than its competitors because people "don't play with the game machine itself."

Hiroshi Yamauchi is credited as being the person to transform the Nintendo Company. Before him, it was only a playing card company, but afterwards, it would become one of the biggest names in video games.

Yamauchi had most of the control over what was created and released from his company, and he had some pretty interesting views on systems.

When the GamCube was released, he wanted it to be as cheap as possible. The reason he gave wasn't to sell more, but that people don't really use the machine but the software.

He said that people "do not play with the game machine itself. They play with the software, and they are forced to purchase a game machine in order to use the software. Therefore the price of the machine should be as cheap as possible." When it came out, the GameCube was prices significantly less than the competitors' PS2 and Xbox systems.

Yamauchi also thought his system stood out as the only one of the three which was a gaming specific machine. The other two were advertising their CD/DVD capabilities, and the Xbox came with a built-in hard drive.

This emphasis towards "performance only" and the creation of hardware that would allow developers to "easily create games" is what Yamauchi believed would set the GameCube apart from its competitors.


A German abbot wrote a book about magic--or did he? Find out what it's really about!

Ancient tomes scribbled with incomprehensible text, thought to hold thought-provoking insider looks into mysticism and history—or a really awesome secret code.

So, 1499 isn't so much "ancient" history, but that's when an interesting German abbot, Johannes Trithemius, wrote a book on magic, or so they thought. Turns out it was one of the first books on cryptography, the art of secret messages and passwords!

Encryption is all the rage nowadays with computer hackers constantly getting at personal data. Turns out abbots in the 15th century had things to hide too, so they did it in deceiving text. What many thought was a book on magic and using spirits to communicate over long distances, "Steganographia" was actually an early work on cryptography and steganography.

The book was written in three volumes with the first two clearly being on the secret subject after the decryption key was published 100 years later in 1606. Until recently, it was thought that the third volume really was about magic, but the "magic formula" was cracked and shows more cryptology content.



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