Facts seem to be surplus to requirements nowadays. How do you verify whether something is true or not, when the internet is crammed full of hearsay and speculation. Detailed below are some ‘Facts’ that may or may not be, well, all is not what it seems……
During the daily ‘Coronavirus: Downing Street briefings’ on the BBC it has been noted that all the main Cabinet Ministers are all shorter than Boris Johnson’s 5 Ft 8in. This is in marked contrast to Dr Chris Witty who is believed to be 6 Ft 4in. The shortest is Priti Patel at a diminutive 4Ft 11in. In fact the whole Cabinet is thought to have been selected on their success at Limbo dancing as much as their right wing politics, or indeed their inability to count.
About $13bn (£10.3bn) was wiped off Tesla’s shares after chief executive Elon Musk tweeted that the electric car company’s “stock price is too high”. In a series of other tweets, Mr Musk, 48, also said he was “selling almost all physical possessions” and “will own no house”. He added his girlfriend was “mad at me”.The subsequent 9% drop in Tesla share prices erased about $3bn (£2.4bn) from Mr Musk’s own stake. Nevertheless, they remain almost 50% up from the start of April.The Wall Street Journal said Mr Musk responded to an email asking whether he was joking, or whether his tweet was vetted, by saying: “No.”
It’s All In The Beak. In recent days the Leader of the Free World has bemused anyone with an ounce of wit by suggesting Disinfectant injections might cure Covid19. Not to far evolved from the Medieval belief that plague and disease was spread by Miasma or bad smells to account for the rapid and pervasive spread. Doctors believed miasma, noxious “bad air,” was the culprit. To protect against this poisonous air, plague doctors filled the beaks of their costumes with theriac. This concoction of more than 55 herbs included cinnamon, myrrh, viper flesh powder, and honey. Some French plague doctors even set the herbs on fire, producing a protective smoke within the beak. They hoped this smoke would repel ill-humors transmitted in the air. An early textual description from the Encyclopedia of Infection Diseases: Modern Methodologies explains: The nose [is] half a foot long, shaped like a beak, filled with perfume with only two holes, one on each side near the nostrils, but that can suffice to breathe and carry along with the air one breathes the impression of the [herbs] enclosed further along in the beak. The costume did little to quell the plague. As for the level of protection it provided so-called “beak doctors”? That remains up for debate. But it did create a highly recognizable costume that has become an iconic part of European culture still seen regularly in Italian commedia dell’arte theater productions and at Carnival in Venice. What are the odds that Professor Trump, a known germ-o-phobe will be sporting a beak when mixing worth the Proletariat.
Belgium’s Potato Association is now encouraging consumers to double the amount of potatoes they eat each week! Because of the shutdown of restaurants, Belgium is currently holding a surplus of over 750,000 tons of potatoes! Instead of eating a small side of fries each week, an association of these potato producers is encouraging Belgians to double their intake to help make a dent in the surplus.
A Tupac Shakur has been labeled as one of the “bad apples” in this global pandemic. During a news conference on Monday, Kentucky Governor, Andy Beshear, labeled Tupac as one of the prank claimers using a fake name to file for unemployment. But, little did he know, this claim was not made for the 90s rap legend. It was filed by a true Lexington resident also named Tupac Shakur. Beshear has since extended his apologies to the [very much alive] restaurant employee.
Just half a mile off the coast of Scotland, lies an island that was once so contaminated with bioweapons that no one was allowed to step foot on it for fear of unleashing an outbreak of anthrax upon the world. Gruinard Island, as it is officially known, measures just 1.2 miles long. Once covered with trees, it was described as the perfect hideout for thieves and rebels in the 16th century. As many as six people were recorded living on the island, but since modern records starting in the 1920s, no one has lived there. It was in 1942, while the second World War raged, that military forces traveled to Guinard in hopes of creating a germ bomb to release on the Germans. Designated Operation Vegetarian, they hoped to disseminate deadly anthrax bacteria into the Nazi’s beef supply, crippling their enemies.The strain they chose—Vollum 14578—becomes more virulent the more hosts are exposed, leading to a snowball effect of infection. Just like other forms of anthrax, it was communicable by eating the flesh of infected animals as well as being deadly to the animals themselves. This approach made the effort two-pronged. It would infect German citizens and also kill cattle, depriving their soldiers of food. While gastrointestinal anthrax infection is the least common, its effects are just as deadly. Instead of causing boils and abscesses on the skin and throat, this type of infection results in bleeding throughout the digestive system. Even with treatment, mortality rates as high as 60% are projected. Meteorologist Sir Oliver Graham Sutton traveled to the island with a team of 50 men and 80 sheep to complete to develop and test the plan. Though Operation Vegetarian parameters called for the dissemination of anthrax into the beef supply through linseed cakes, the scientists simply released a cloud of anthrax upon the tethered sheep. Within days the animals had all died. Though they carefully decontaminated their equipment and incinerated the sheep’s’ corpses, the team quickly realized their plan was too deadly. Once the anthrax was unleashed, there was little they could do to stop it. Cities that suffered such a biological weapons attack would be rendered uninhabitable for decades. Though they managed to spare mainland Europe from such a disaster, it was too late for Guinard Island. The small landmass had to be quarantined. Access to the island became strictly prohibited, and it was even removed from some map for fear that terrorist organizations would travel to the island to procure samples of the deadly bacteria. The island remained off-limits and mostly forgotten until mysterious packages containing infected soil from the island showed up at government offices. The packages were labeled “Operation Dark Harvest” and demanded the government do something to clean up the island. In 1986, over 300 tons of formaldehyde were dumped on the island to try and kill the anthrax spores, and a flock of sheep was placed on the island to monitor for infection. After four years, the island was declared safe, and the quarantine lifted. The family who had been forced to give the land up to the government in the 1940s was also allowed to repurchase it for £500.Despite its return to “safe” status, many remain fearful of Anthrax Island, fearing the biological weapons could have mutated, or remain hidden in microscopic slumber.
Saved from the grave1: Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poems. His own variation on this theme: he buried many unpublished poems in his wife’s grave when she died in 1862, vowing they should remain there for eternity. He changed his mind some years later, dug them up and published them.
Saved from the grave2: George Orwell’s A Clergyman’s Daughter. DJ Taylor in his biography of Orwell said he “described it as ‘bollix’, and would never allow it to be reprinted in his lifetime”. But it was reprinted after his death in 1950, otherwise we might have forgotten “the wages of sin is kippers”.
Saved from the grave3: Philip Larkin’s poems and letters. An ambiguous case. Larkin asked Monica Jones, one of his mistresses, to destroy his diaries; when he died in 1985 she asked Betty Mackereth, another of his mistresses, to do it. She spent a whole afternoon feeding them into a shredder. But he also told Andrew Motion, his biographer, that before he died, “I’ll have a bonfire of all the things I don’t want anyone to see.” But he never did, and unpublished poems and letters have been coming out ever since.
Saved from the grave4: Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Another partial case: Kubrick withdrew it from UK release in 1973. The Scala cinema in London closed after putting on an unauthorised screening in 1992, and losing the subsequent legal action. The ban was lifted only after he died in 1999
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