Feed Your Brain With These Fascinating Facts

November 16, 2017 | 1 Comment » | Topics: Facts

12,000 bears are farmed for their bile in Asia which is used in traditional Chinese medicine and generates $2bn per year. Farming always involves surgery on the bears to insert a catheter or to cut a hole through the abdomen by which the bile leaks. Bear bile has no medicinal effect

Here’s a rescued one getting out of his cage for the first time:

“The vet team has been working hard to rehabilitate him after years of having his bile extracted. In fact his gall bladder was so damaged it had to be removed. Examinations had found numerous gallstones, meaning he’d lived in pain for years. That wasn’t the only surgery Tuffy faced. He also had painful, dry, cracked paws. Animals Asia Bear Manager Louise Ellis said: “The cracked paws are common to bile farm bears as they only walk on bars, not grass. Dehydration is likely to have contributed to this too. So for his carers to see him take to the pool so quickly after he first became ready to face the outdoors was an amazing moment.” In fact Tuffy loved being outdoors so much he decided not to return to his den in the evening – choosing instead to sleep under the stars.”


Gary Webb, the reporter from the San Jose Mercury News who first broke the story of CIA involvement in the cocaine trade, was found dead with “two gunshot wounds to the head.” His death, in 2004, was ruled a suicide

When asked by local reporters about the possibility of two gunshots being a suicide, Lyons replied: “It’s unusual in a suicide case to have two shots, but it has been done in the past, and it is in fact a distinct possibility.”

Gary Webb on C.I.A. Trafficking of Cocaine


A man who committed suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge had left a suicide note that read “I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I won’t jump.” (article)



In 1903 after camping with John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt established Yosemite as a national park to preserve its “majestic beauty all unmarred.” As President, TR signed into existence four other national parks, 18 national monuments, 55 national bird & wildlife refuges, and 150 national forests

both Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir were actually prescribed the outdoors by their doctors by a condition that is no longer diagnosed called neurasthenia. This was basically a “disease of the modern person,” thought to be caused by all the technological advances of the time. The common saying for how to treat neurasthenia was “For the men, go west; for women, go rest.”

Ken Burns: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History | Netflix



In 1980, Nauru the island nation was considered the wealthiest nation on the planet; in 2017, BusinessTech listed it as one of the five poorest countries in the world. (article)

Selling fossilized bird excrement was lucrative business. In the late 60s and 70s, people on Nauru were living large: In 1975, the country earned the equivalent of $2.5 billion — more than enough to satisfy its then population of 7,000 people.

With its newfound wealth, people in Nauru bought cars and houses; the country built a hotel, a golf course and founded an airline so it could import Western food. But as the 80s became the 90s, Nauru’s phosphate resources became depleted — and its pile of unpaid bills grew higher.

It was around this time that Nauru’s financial strategy took a turn for the weird. Duke Minks, one of the country’s financial advisors, convinced Nauru’s president to invest in a new piece of musical theater. Before embarking on his finance career, Minks served as a roadie for an obscure British pop band called Unit 4 +2. Together with the band’s lead singer, Minks co-wrote and co-produced a show loosely based on the life of Leonardo da Vinci.

This American Life did a great story about Nauru



There is a company that secretly takes continuous, rapid, high-resolution aerial photos of crime-plagued cities to help police “rewind” time to view a crime as it happens and then to “fast-forward” the movement of suspects to their present locations. (article)

In 2004, when casualties in Iraq were rising due to roadside bombs, Ross McNutt and his team came up with an idea. With a small plane and a 44 mega-pixel camera, they figured out how to watch an entire city all at once, all day long. Whenever a bomb detonated, they could zoom onto that spot and then, because this eye in the sky had been there all along, they could scroll back in time and see – literally see – who planted it. After the war, Ross McNutt retired from the airforce, and brought this technology back home with him. Manoush Zomorodi and Alex Goldmark from the podcast “Note to Self” give us the low-down on Ross’s unique brand of persistent surveillance, from Juarez, Mexico to Dayton, Ohio. Then, once we realize what we can do, we wonder whether we should.


Radiolab Podcast:



A “devil’s advocate” was a person sanctioned by the Vatican to argue against the canonization of a potential new saint by pointing out their flaws and critically evaluating their miracles. Christopher Hitchens served as a devil’s advocate for Mother Theresa.

“When the late Pope John Paul II decided to place the woman so strangely known as “Mother” Teresa on the fast track for beatification, and thus to qualify her for eventual sainthood, the Vatican felt obliged to solicit my testimony and I thus spent several hours in a closed hearing room with a priest, a deacon, and a monsignor, no doubt making their day as I told off, as from a rosary, the frightful faults and crimes of the departed fanatic. In the course of this, I discovered that the pope during his tenure had surreptitiously abolished the famous office of “Devil’s Advocate,” in order to fast‐track still more of his many candidates for canonization. I can thus claim to be the only living person to have represented the Devil pro bono.”



In Delhi, India, there’s a vigilante group of guys called the “Love Commandos” that protects young couples who are from different castes or religious backgrounds, but have fallen in love and want to marry. 

In India, falling in love with the wrong person can be deadly. Every day, sons and daughters are beaten – some even killed – by their own families for rejecting the caste system and falling in love across strict social boundaries.

But in Delhi, a group of men calling themselves the Love Commandos are risking their own lives to save young people from vicious honour killings and forced marriages.


An American man was arrested near the border of Afghanistan while hunting down Osama bin Laden with a sword. (article)

An American carrying a sword and pistol who told police he was on a mission to kill Osama bin Laden has been arrested in a remote mountain forest in northern Pakistan.

Police said they detained Gary Brooks Faulkner, a construction worker from California, as he attempted to cross the border with Afghanistan in Chitral district.

“He told the investigating officer he was going to Afghanistan to get Osama. At first we thought he was mentally deranged,” said Muhammad Jaffar Khan, the Chitral police chief.

But when police realised he was carrying a loaded pistol, a 40in sword and night-vision goggles, Khan said, “we realised he was serious”.

He posted on 4chan before doing it, asking for advice:



People leave pennies on John Wilkes Booth’s grave to give Lincoln the last word


Why John Wilkes Booth Shot Abe Lincoln: