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The Walking Dead Spoilers: The Whisperers and the Whisperer War Explained

The Walking Dead has introduced one of the comic series' most terrifying foes. Here's what you need to know about the Whisperers!

The Walking Dead Whisperers
Feature Alec Bojalad
Mar 24, 2019

This Walking Dead article contains spoilers.

So the walkers talk now, huh? Maybe we should be calling them the talkers.

But seriously: at this point, you are likely aware that walkers are not, in fact, learning to speak and organize. There is something far weirder and nefarious afoot and it's taken directly from The Walking Dead comics.

During the season 9 midseason finaleThe Walking Dead TV show officially introduced the comic series' most terrifying group of villains: the Whisperers. The Whisperers resemble the dead because they dress like the dead. Members of the Whisperers wear masks fashioned from the faces of zombies and use the disguise to walk among the herds.

The Whisperers' mastery of their surroundings and this strange new world make them a group that Alexandria, Hilltop, and Kingdom should absolutely fear. When The Walking Dead returns in 2019, we'll learn way more about this strange new group and how they plan to deal with the communities.

further reading: The Walking Dead Season 9: A Spoiler-Filled Guide to A New Beginning

Before then, we've put together a comprehensive breakdown of the conflict between our heroes and the Whisperers in the Walking Dead comics. We'll be covering the events that take place roughly between issues #130 and #173. HUGE SPOILERS follow for The Walking Dead comic and the potential future of the show:

The First Encounters

The characters of The Walking Dead comic come across the Whisperers in a suitably spooky fashion. In fact, it's in a way we've already seen on the show through Rosita and Eugene's misadventure in the first half of season 9. Near the end of "A New Beginning" arc (issues#127-132), two Hilltop guards named Marco and Ken are exploring uncharted areas around the communities (Hilltop/Alexandria/Kingdom/Oceanside) when their horses are spooked by an approaching herd of walkers. 

Marco and Ken observe that this herd is reacting quite strangely: they're whispering. Terrified, Marco and Ken make their way back to the Hilltop, and in the process, hear the dead whispering once again. Only Marco makes it back to Hilltop after Ken was injured in a horse-related accident and is left for dead. Marco tries to tell Maggie (she's still the leader of the Hilltop in the comics) and the rest of the community about the whispering zombies but no one believes him....until some other survivors come across them as well.

Dante (whose closest show analog is Alden) is sent out to rescue Ken. He comes across the Whisperers and is abducted by them. Then Paul "Jesus" Monroe is attacked by the Whisperers while part of a group looking for a missing patrolman. Jesus is able to fight off the Whisperers and takes one of them prisoner. 

The captured Whisperer turns out to be a 16-year-old girl named Lydia who cheerfully tells the Hilltoppers all about her crew. Hilltop arranges a trade with the Whisperers: Lydia for Dante.

Very Few Character Names to Remember

So now we know a little about the Whisperers and how they're introduced into the series. What about the characteristics of individual Whisperers? Who is their Negan or their Governor? Who are some colorful characters involved within the group? Here's the thing: there aren't many "characters" within the Whisperers themselves and that's by design. The Whisperers abandon their names when they join the group so as to fully embrace their bestial nature. 

further reading: Why Rick Grimes Will Never Die

The Whisperers have a leader "named" Alpha, a second-in-command "named" Beta, and then a whole lot of generic Whisperers and so on. 

Alpha is a reserved, yet strong and intimidating woman named Alpha. She has a badass bald head and will be played by Samantha Morton in the show. Alpha is very much in charge and her dialogue frequently reveals why. She has a clear way of articulating the Whisperer's M.O. to the point where it almost sounds appealing. Of course, wearing the skin of the dead is a perfectly rational thing to do when the dead walk the Earth!

Alpha's second-in-command is the physically imposing Beta, to be played by Ryan Hurst on the show. Beta is enormous. He's 7-plus feet of pure muscle. He's so huge that his death mask doesn’t fully cover his face. He's also pretty handy with knives. Whisperer society customs dictate that the strongest among them be the leader. Beta is certainly the strongest physically but seems comfortable in his role as Alpha's bodyguard and confidante. To be leader, he would probably have to kill Alpha, and he doesn't want to do that. 

further reading: How to Fix Daryl Dixon

Then there's this Lydia. Lydia is the only Whisperer who actually gets a name. That's because she's not into this whole Whisperer nonsense. Lydia is actually Alpha's daughter but family isn't supposed to matter in Whisperer society. They're all beasts and only the strongest survive. If Lydia can't deal with that, she should leave. And in fact, Alpha at one point asks Rick to do her a solid and bring her back to the Hilltop with him. Lydia will be played in the series by Cassady McClincy.

Increasing Hostilities

After the Hilltop returns Lydia and the Whisperers return Dante, everything should be squared away, right? Not so much. You see, Lydia was taken back to Hilltop originally....where Carl Grimes is currently training to be a blacksmith. Obviously, Carl falls in love/teenage lust with Lydia almost immediately because pickings are slim in the apocalypse...even if the girls wear corpse masks. When Lydia is returned to the Whisperers, Carl follows them back to their home, which is essentially just an open, empty field. The Whisperers are very nomadic. If the show follows this storyline, then it's likely Carol's son, Henry, will be the young lad to fall for Lydia.

further reading: What Comes After for Rick Grimes?

Rick must go and rescue his son's dumb ass. A group of Whisperers intercepts Rick on the road and brings him back to meet with his son. Alpha uses the opportunity to show Rick a truly enormous herd of walkers that the Whisperers have gathered. Rick can have his son back (and Lydia for that matter) but Alpha makes it clear that that herd will be unleashed on Alexandria if the hostilities continue. 

Welp! The hostilities continue. Not from Rick's people but by the Whisperers. Before she met up with Rick, Alpha infiltrated a massive fair at Alexandria (which the show has been teasing pretty consistently). While there, Alpha somehow managed to kill not one, not two, but TWELVE community members and place their heads on spikes a few miles outside the communities that represents an invisible border between the communities and the Whisperers. Among the dead are Rosita and Ezekiel... 

Rick spends a few weeks trying to keep his people from engaging in another war but it soon becomes clear there will have to be another armed conflict. He charges Dwight with building a militia. 

Negan, the Whisperer

Technically, there is actually a fourth Whisperer whose name is known. That's because, for like two glorious days, our old friend Negan becomes a Whisperer. Really! 

While all this nonsense with the Whisperers is going down (Lydia prisoner exchange, row of severed heads, etc.), Negan is still safely entombed in the prison underneath Alexandria. Then with all the hubbub of an approaching war, someone gets distracted and forgets to lock Negan's cage. Negan escapes and makes a beeline directly for the Whisperers. 

further reading: The Walking Dead Season 9: Who Lives and Who Dies

He is met by Beta, who hates him, and Alpha, who is intrigued by his chatty...somewhat "alpha" ways. Negan says he just randomly came across them but is then forced to admit that he was looking for them specifically. He convinces them to let him join their merry little band. This leads to a truly whimsical "montage," if such a thing exists in comic books, where Negan lives the rustic life as a Whisperer.

Everything is going well with Negan and the Whisperers until Negan commits the cardinal sin: he stops an attempted rape among the Whisperers. Alpha and Beta are furious, as sexual violence is allowed and borderline encouraged in Whisperer culture. They're all beasts, remember? Alpha approaches Negan alone later that night to discuss her worldview further with him.

Negan responds by slicing her throat open, decapitating her, and bringing her head back to Rick as a peace offering. 

The Whisperer War

No fewer than 13 people have literally lost their heads at this point. Clearly, the only option left for both the Whisperers and Rick's survivors is war. 

Truthfully, the Whisperer War isn't the most effective aspect of the Whisperers story in the comics. For one, we JUST had a war with Negan and the Saviors. Secondly, learning about the Whisperers and their weird society is much more satisfying than when the time for war comes. 

further reading: How Angela Kang Could Change the Show

There is really only one battle in this war. The Whisperer forces, led by Beta, meet the Militia forces, led by Dwight, in an open field. Thanks to the tactical brilliance of Negan whooping on people with Lucille (who tragically breaks), the Whisperers suffer heavy losses and are forced to retreat. Beta splits his depleted army into two groups, one heads to Alexandria and one heads to Hilltop. The Hilltop group succeeds in burning Hilltop down but is still ultimately defeated.

As for the Alexandria group...

The Grim Aftermath

The Whisperers ultimately lose "The Whisperer War," (issues #157-162) but not before pulling a real punk move. Beta's forces are basically depleted and victory is impossible. So he picks up his ball and leaves...and also unleashes a Biblically MASSIVE herd of walkers, which shamble towards Alexandria. 

The Whisperer War might have ended quickly, but the herd is something entirely different. The herd is the biggest existential threat that Alexandria has ever dealt with. What's worse is that Hilltop is incapacitated and the Kingdom is still dealing with a complicated leadership situation. 

further reading: The Walking Dead: Movies and New Shows Being Planned at AMC

Alexandria is able to repel the first wave of the herd thanks to Rick's heroism and Negan(!!!). Then Eugene concocts a brilliant scheme to lure the herd into the ocean. 

Ultimately, Alexandria survives but at great cost. Gabriel dies early on in the war. That's unlikely to happen on the show now that Gabriel has taken on a bigger role. Andrea dies while trying to divert the herd as well. Andrea's closest comparison on the show? Michonne.

Keep your loved ones close, the Whisperers and the Whisperer War is going to put a lot of characters at risk. 

Keep up with The Walking Dead Season 9 news and reviews here.

Alec Bojalad is TV Editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his stuff here. Follow him at his creatively-named Twitter handle @alecbojalad

The Walking Dead Season 9: Who Lives and Who Dies

Who will die in The Walking Dead season 9? We're keeping track of the body count and making some predictions!

The Walking Dead Season 9: Daryl
Feature John Saavedra
Mar 24, 2019

This Walking Dead article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for both the show and the comics. 

The Whisperers have arrived on The Walking Dead and have already claimed their first victim. It probably won't be their last either, not if their ruthless leader, Alpha, has anything to say about it. The question is: who is doomed to suffer a terrible fate at the hands of these new enemies? It could be anyone.

Which is why it's time to make some predictions, as we have with the past few seasons, about who is going to become zombie meat this year. For your reading pleasure, we've compiled a list of all the characters left on the show and predict whether they'll survive season nine or reach the end of the road.

We'll be updating this list with the results throughout the season as characters start dying. Here we go...AGAIN, MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW!

DEAD

Paul "Jesus" Rovia (Tom Payne)

Prediction: Lives

Result: Dead

Jesus was stabbed by a Whisperer while holding back the horde at the graveyard.

Arat (Elizabeth Ludlow)

Prediction: Lives

Result: Dead

Arat was executed for her past crimes by members of Oceanside.

Gregory (Xander Berkeley)

Prediction: Dies

Result: Dead

Gregory was hanged by Maggie in a public execution after he plotted to have her killed.

MIA

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln)

Prediction: Dies

Result: MIA

After being severely wounded while saving the communities from a walker horde, Jadis cuts a deal with the mysterious chopper to transport Rick to parts unknown. AMC has announced that Rick will return in a series of original films

Related Article: Our Review of Rick's Final Episode

Jadis/Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh)

Prediction: Dies

Result: MIA

Jadis flew off in a chopper to parts unknown with a severely injured Rick Grimes. We'll likely see more of her in those future Walking Dead movies. 

Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan)

Prediction: Lives

Result: MIA

Maggie moved away from the Hilltop with her son to live with Georgie and her people.

STILL WALKING

Alpha (Samantha Morton)

Prediction: Lives

We're going to assume Samantha Morton will get more than eight episodes to perform her take on one of the comic's most terrifying characters. Judging from past main villains, Alpha will probably stick around through season 10. 

Beta (Ryan Hurst)

Prediction: Lives

Again, introducing this hulking zombie-flesh-wearing Whisperer halfway through the season probably means the show isn't ready to say goodbye to Beta any time soon. Another season 10 casualty.

Lydia (Cassady McClincy)

Prediction: Lives

Considering Alpha's daughter is still around in the comics, she's probably safe for the time being, too.

Magna (Nadia Hilker)

Prediction: Lives

Magna plays a big role in the conflicts to come, so it's likely she'll survive season 9. Besides, she just got here!

Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura)

Prediction: Lives

This bow-hunting badass is unique enough that she'll probably stick around for a few seasons!

Luke (Dan Fogler)

Prediction: Dies

We like Luke, but he's an idealist still stuck to the past. He wants to teach music, not fight wars. This is why he's doomed to die in the upcoming Whisperer War.

Connie (Lauren Ridloff)

Prediction: Lives

Connie is deaf, an unfortunate disability that would doom almost anybody during a zombie apocalypse. This is what makes this toughened survivor such a cool addition to the cast. She's not going anywhere.

Kelly (Angel Theory)

Prediction: Dies

The same can't be said for Kelly, Connie's sister. Yes, it's really fun to watch these two interact and be sort of the moral compass of the group, but that won't be enough to save Kelly. Knowing how this show operates, it will probably kill off Kelly for the tragedy of it.

Henry (Matt Lintz)

Prediction: Lives

Henry is really naive and kind of dumb, but he has a good heart. We're going to guess he lives at least for another season. 

Alden (Callan McAuliffe)

Prediction: Lives

A Savior turned Hilltopper, Alden is one of the newest additions to the cast. So far, his story really seems to revolve around Maggie. Is he a possible new love interest? That's the popular fan theory at the moment. Too bad Maggie's leaving the show this season...

Related Article: The Walking Dead's Most Shocking Deaths

Siddiq (Avi Nash)

Prediction: Lives

Siddiq joined Alexandria just as it said goodbye to Carl Grimes, who died in last year's midseason premiere. Now, he's an important member of the communities as a trained doctor. Avi Nash is a main cast member in season 9 and it'll be interesting to see how his story evolves in season 9. He should be relatively safe.

Enid (Katelyn Nacon)

Prediction: Lives

Enid began her time on the show as a loner and has over the years become a vital part of the Hilltop. We expect to see much more of her this season. 

Related Article: A Spoiler-filled Guide to The Walking Dead Season 9

Tara Chambler (Alanna Masterson)

Prediction: Lives

It seemed that Tara was marked for death after getting his with one of Dwight's "tainted" arrows last season, but she didn't turn. With a fakeout last year, Tara is probably safe.

Buy The Walking Dead Blu-ray sets and graphic novels here.

King Ezekiel (Khary Payton)

Prediction: Dies

Ezekiel lost a lot in the war against Negan, including his beloved Shiva. But things are looking up for Ezekiel this year, as he rebuilds his kingdom and begins a relationship with Carol. Which is exactly why he'll die this year. We all know Carol is a bit cursed when it comes to loved ones. Ezekiel won't fare much better. 

Related Article: New Walking Dead Movies and Shows Planned at AMC

Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam)

Prediction: Lives

Like Carol, Gabriel's really come a long way since his days as a cowardly priest in Georgia. I think Gabriel is probably safe for the time being, as long as he's still willing to fight. 

Aaron (Ross Marquand)

Prediction: Dies

Aaron's has had a hard time these last few seasons. He even lost Eric in the fight against Negan. Will things turn around for him in season 9? We're not sure they will... 

Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos)

Prediction: Lives

Rosita went through hell in season 7 and come out on the other side in season 8. The war is over and she's found peace now that Negan, who killed her beloved Abraham, is behind bars. The show has focused more on her these last two years and we expect new showrunner Angela Kang will find interesting ways to explore this character. 

Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt)

Prediction: Lives

We've said it for several seasons: the mullet will never die and season 8 proved that when he survived working for Negan against Rick's coalition. A last minute plan to sabotage the Saviors saved Eugene's life. A year and a half later, Eugene might be back in the good grace's of the other communities. 

Related Article: How Walking Dead Villains Are Influenced by History

Judith Grimes

Prediction: Lives

AMC IS NEVER GOING TO KILL A TODDLER. Right?

Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride)

Prediction: Lives

Carol has gone through hell and back over and over. From domestic violence to losing her daughter to being exiled to baking cookies to losing her lust for blood and ditching Alexandria to going to war against the Saviors, Carol has faced it all on this show. She's survived it all and she'll survive season 9. 

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus)

Prediction: Lives

This badass fan favorite is never going to die. At least not this season...File this guy under immortal.

Related Article: How to Fix The Walking Dead's Daryl Dixon

Michonne (Danai Gurira)

Prediction: Lives

Michonne is as important to Alexandria as Rick, and with the Sheriff on his way out, the settlement will be looking for a new leader. It'll undoubtedly be Michonne. She's safe this year, but with Danai Gurira becoming a bigger star by the minute (we love Okoye), her time on the show may be coming to an end eventually. 

Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)

Prediction: Lives

After making such a big deal about Rick sparing Negan at the end of season 8, there's no way the former Savior leader will die any time soon. 

John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9

The Walking Dead: 22 Most Shocking Deaths

The Walking Dead has featured some of the most gruesome deaths on television. Here are the 22 most shocking deaths so far...

The Walking Dead: Most Shocking Deaths
Feature Louisa Mellor
Mar 24, 2019

This Walking Dead article comes from Den of Geek UK. It contains spoilers.

Like Daryl’s crossbow or Negan’s Lucille, shock is The Walking Dead’s weapon of choice. Over the seasons, the AMC show has sprung nasty surprise after nasty surprise, killing off beloved and despised characters in ever-more grisly and inventive ways. Eight years in, making a death on the show haunt viewers long after the event requires more than simply having a character pulled apart by Walkers. It takes ingenuity, boundary-pushing, and creativity.

We reminisce about a handful of The Walking Dead's most memorable and shocking character deaths right from day one. Tell us which we missed below.

Summer

Watching our hero Rick Grimes shoot a little girl in the head in the opening minutes of The Walking Dead pilot was excellent preparation for the show to follow. Unsettling, brutal and with a taste for shock-value, the death of young ‘Summer’ paved the way for many, many more gruesome executions.

Further Reading: New Walking Dead Movies and Shows Being Planned at AMC

Incidentally, to mark its 100th episode, The Walking Dead invited Addy Miller, the young actor who played Summer in the pilot, to return in the same make-up to play another gas station walker.

Shane Walsh

Shane’s death is one of The Walking Dead’s most memorable exits. Andrew Lincoln and Jon Bernthal held nothing back in their performances as former partners turned mortal enemies. Rick’s gambit with the gun—pretending to hand it to Shane then stabbing him in the heart with a knife—was a shock as great as the one little Carl faced when he arrived on the scene and took in what had happened.

Further Reading: A Spoiler Guide to the Whisperers and the Whisperer War

Dale Horvath

This one is shocking in its sadness. Like so much of The Walking Dead, Dale’s season two demise was characterised by needless cruelty. Dispirited by the group’s decision to execute prisoner Randall, Dale wandered alone back to the RV, where he was attacked by the Walker Carl had earlier tormented and left to roam. Said Walker pulled Dale apart with his bare hands, leading Hershel to declare him a lost cause. Putting Dale out of his misery, Daryl pulled the trigger with two powerfully simple words, “Sorry, brother.”

Further Reading: Who Will Die on The Walking Dead Season 9?

Hershel Greene

After Rick delivered an impassioned plea to The Governor promising that everyone was capable of change and pulling back from the brink, it almost looked as though it might work. The sword David Morrissey’s character held to the throat of a kneeling Hershel dropped, and it seemed as though Rick’s words were taking hold. That just made the shock even greater when The Governor paused, called Rick a liar, and slashed the blade at the man who had been the show’s moral compass.

Lori Grimes

This entry is shocking for the sheer awfulness of it all. Not only does a Walker invasion cause Lori Grimes to go into early labor with no medical assistance, things get steadily worse from thereon in. Lori hemorrhages and decides the only way to save the baby is if Maggie performs an anesthetic-free cesarean section using Carl’s hunting knife. Maggie does just that and the baby survives but Lori, after a tearful goodbye, dies. Finally, to stop her from turning, little Carl Grimes shoots his own dead mother in the head. This show may be distressing at the best of times, but that really takes the bleakness biscuit.

Further Reading: A Spoiler-Filled Guide to The Walking Dead Season 9

Penny Blake

“Don’t hurt my little girl, please.” The Governor begged Michonne to spare his undead daughter, but, knowing that Penny was already long gone, Michonne ignored his plea. In a moment shocking for its speed and brutality, that katana blade went straight through Walker-Penny’s skull, emerging from her mouth like a bloody steel tongue. Unforgettable.

Merle Dixon

It came as no surprise that The Governor turned on former minion Merle, killing him after he switched sides, but Daryl having to put down his own brother-Walker was shocking in its sadness. It was heart-rending to see the realization spread over Norman Reedus’ face as Daryl recognized the Walker crouched over a pile of guts. Watching Daryl push away his dead brother’s attacks before doing the necessary was also deeply moving. Even if you didn’t mourn Merle, you felt his little brother’s pain.

Related Article: Carl's Death Fixes Nothing for The Walking Dead

Jody

Carl Grimes may have been his mother’s “sweet, sweet boy”, but for a while there it looked as though growing up post-zombie apocalypse was turning him into a… how did Negan put it? A “little future serial killer”. In the season three finale, Carl killed a Woodbury boy after he’d peaceably surrendered, much to the chagrin of Hershel and Beth. There’s nothing especially shocking in this death’s guts or gore, but seeing a 13-year-old kill another kid at point blank range is horribly unsettling.

Karen and David

We initially didn’t see these deaths, only their aftermath. When Tyreese discovers the charred bodies of girlfriend Karen and David in season four, it sparks a mystery that takes Sheriff’s Deputy Rick Grimes to solve. Karen and David had contracted the fatal illness sweeping through the prison, so Carol put them out of their misery and destroyed the bodies to stem the spread of the infection. As she put it, “they would have drowned in their own blood. I made it quick.” Like Carl killing Jody, this marked a turning point for Carol’s character. The zombie apocalypse had changed her beyond recognition, and this act earned her banishment from the group as a result.

Further Reading: Everything You Need to Know About The Walking Dead Season 9

Mika Samuels

Kids killing kids never fails to shock, and the murder of little Mika by her disturbed sister Lizzie is one of The Walking Dead’s most unsettling moments ever. Lizzie repeatedly failed to grasp the threat represented by the Walkers, instead treating them like pets by giving them names and feeding them mice at the prison gates. Nobody, not even sister Mika, whose head was screwed on, could convince her that they were dangerous. When Lizzie stabbed Mika to death, cheerfully telling Carol and Tyreese that it was all okay, her little sis would be back again soon, it was clear that Lizzie was too far gone. Cue: yet another shocking murder, this time by Carol.

Gangleader Joe

This season four finale demise was so gruesome and unexpected (unless, of course, you’d read the comics) it has to appear on a list of The Walking Dead’s most shocking deaths. When it looked as though Rick, Daryl, Michonne and Carl were about to face rape and slaughter by Joe’s evil motorcycle gang, Rick pulled out a move so savage it marked a new phase in the Ricktocracy. With no weapons, Rick used only what nature gave him to kill Joe – he bit out a chunk out of his neck, Walker-style. That was distraction enough for Daryl and Michonne to do their thing and for the group to get away safely, but never quite the same again.

Related Article: How AMC Turned The Walking Dead into Event TV

Bob Stookey

The circumstances of Bob’s demise, rather than his actually fairly peaceful death, are what’s truly shocking. While Stookey actually dies smiling in bed, between being bitten by a Walker and him drawing his last breath is the really unsettling part. Gareth’s Terminus gang catch up with Bob, knock him out, cut off his leg, cook and eat it. Admittedly, Bob takes it pretty well, laughing hysterically about Gareth’s gang having eaten “tainted meat!” That’ll teach them.

Beth Greene

Beth’s death didn’t only come as a surprise to us, but also to her killer, villainous cop Dawn. After Rick and co. had made the hostage exchange to get Beth back from Grady Memorial Hospital, it felt as though things were quietening down. Noah was, albeit unhappily, going back to the hospital in Beth’s place, and Maggie’s little sister was going home.

Not so. Beth’s surprise scissor attack on Dawn made her accidentally fire her weapon, shooting Beth in the head and killing her immediately. Daryl returned fire, and it all happened so quickly, nobody could quite believe it - least of all us.

Further Reading: The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 1 Review

Noah

By this point in The Walking Dead, when we’ve seen such horrors enacted on people by their fellow men, selfishness should feel par for the course. The craven cruelty of Nicholas, though, when he needlessly sacrifices first Aiden, then Noah in his attempt to survive, is still somehow shocking. Compared to Glenn’s loyalty and even pre-Negan Eugene’s collaboration and support, Nicholas forcing open the revolving door in which he, Glenn and Noah are trapped so that he can escape but Noah will be killed by Walkers, is horribly shocking. And that’s before we even come to the sight of Noah’s blood spurting onto the screen. Shudder.

Denise Cloyd

Denise’s death will have even come as a shock to comic readers, as in Robert Kirkman’s book series it was originally not her exit, but Abraham’s. The trainee psychiatrist was shot and killed by a crossbow bolt mid-monologue as she gave it to Daryl and Rosita straight about how they needed to step up and not be afraid to face things. The crossbow bolt was intended for Daryl, but Dwight missed and instead killed Tara’s girlfriend, which would have consequences for him later on.

Related Article: Why Rick Grimes Is The Walking Dead's Best Character

Glenn Rhee and Abraham Ford

Perhaps this entry should belong solely to Abraham, as most people were expecting Glenn to follow his comic book counterpart and fall foul of Negan’s baseball bat. The brutality of Glenn’s death though, with its truly stomach-churning prosthetics and make-up, made it no less shocking than the unexpected addition of Sgt Ford. As punishment for their attack on the Savior satellite outpost, Negan famously beat Abraham to death after a massively publicized season six cliff-hanger. When Daryl punched Negan in retaliation, he provoked the Savior leader into additionally murdering Glenn.

Spencer Monroe

It was hard to mourn the death of Spencer Monroe, Deanna’s out-for-himself son, but that didn’t make it come as any less a shock. Spencer died at the hands of Negan, who used his death to make a very public point about the kind of behavior he sought in his outpost leaders. Rick may be trouble, but Negan could respect him. Spencer, sidling up to the Savior boss behind Rick’s back and asking to be put in charge, was a coward and Negan couldn’t respect that. To show Spencer that he lacked guts, Negan cut a hole in his stomach and let his innards spill out all over the Alexandrian pavement. Point made.

Further Reading: How to Fix The Walking Dead's Daryl Dixon

Dr. Carson

Over the years, The Walking Dead has become a master of making you expect something horrible will happen, and then surprising you by making something really, really horrible happen. That’s exactly what it did with the death of Dr Carson. We thought the Saviors’ doctor was going to get the hot-iron-to-the-face treatment as punishment for helping Sherry escape (he didn’t do it, of course, Dwight framed him) but in fact, his entire body was thrown live into the furnace. As Negan laughed about it being lucky they had a spare Dr Carson in Emmet’s brother, the good doctor’s screams could still be heard.

Richard

Richard’s murder is a turning point for Morgan, signaling his descent back into his unhinged killing days that followed the loss of his son Duane. After learning the art of Aikido, Morgan regained a sense of self through pacifism. Towards the end of season seven though, the grief of losing Benjamin made Morgan revert to his former violence. When he learned that Richard was indirectly responsible for Benjamin’s death after his plan to kickstart war between the Kingdom and the Saviors, Morgan strangled him with his bare hands. That’s what makes Richard’s death by strangling so significant, and shocking – not what it meant to Richard, but what it signified for Morgan’s character journey.

Further Reading: How Angela Kang Could Change The Walking Dead

Sasha

If we’re counting shocks to Negan, then Sasha’s death takes pole position. When she emerged from that coffin after taking her own life and turning, panic broke through his cocky demeanor for perhaps the first time.

Negan was right about Sasha, she was something else. She may not have fulfilled her plan to avenge Abraham’s death by killing Lucille’s owner, but her heroic sacrifice provided just enough distraction for Carl and co. to regain the upper hand in the battle for Alexandria.

Carl

The Walking Dead audience, or what’s left of it, had an entire midseason break to get used to the idea that Carl Grimes was a goner. We all saw the bite-mark, we all knew what it meant. Even if you’d ignored the set leaks and behind-the-scenes rumors, it was clear that in a world without a cure, that boy was no more.

Somehow though, having that certainty made it no less surprising when that final gunshot signifying Carl’s suicide rang out from the destroyed church. They finally really did it, those maniacs! A character we’d known since the pilot had breathed his last.

Further Reading: What's Next for The Walking Dead's Rick Grimes?

Jesus

It was a bit of a shocker to see Jesus go the way he did in The Walking Dead season 9 midseason finale, which introduced a new enemy faction called the Whisperers. The flesh-wearing survivors snuck up and surrounded Jesus, Daryl, Michonne, Eugene, and a few others in a foggy graveyard, ready to slaughter the trespassers. But Jesus, being the selfless hero he's always been, decided to stay behind and fight what he perceived to just be a horde of walkers while the others escaped.

After a few awesome martial arts moves, Jesus discovered that these walkers were actually the living, as one of the Whisperers ducked his attack and stabbed him in the heart. It was a shocking moment that marked the debut of the series' most perverse group of villains yet. 

Comic Store In Your Future – Two-And-A-Bit Days Till Detective Comics #1000

The Walking Dead Season 9 Cast, Trailer, Release Date, Episode Guide, and News

What you need to know about The Walking Dead season 9 episode 15, including latest news, release date, trailer, and much more!

Samantha Morton as Alpha on AMC's The Walking Dead
News John Saavedra Alec Bojalad Joseph Baxter
Mar 24, 2019

The Walking Dead season 9 continues after an explosive midseason finale that saw Daryl, Michonne, Jesus, Eugene, and a few newcomers come face to face with the Whisperers, a deadly new group that will challenge the heroes' notions about the outside world. Not everything has evolved for the better. 

These zombie-flesh-wearing stalkers haunt the lands beyond Alexandria, Hilltop, and Kingdom and introduce a challenge to the survivors unlike any they've ever faced. Can Michonne, Daryl, Tara, Carol, Ezekiel, and the rest of this eternally suffering family come together to fight a common enemy? Time will tell! Surely, it won't be so easy now that Rick Grimes and Maggie are gone...

Here's everything else we know about the second half of The Walking Dead Season 9: 

The Walking Dead Season 9 Release Date

The Walking Dead season 9 will return on March 24 at 9 pm ET with episode 15, which is titled "The Calm Before."

Here's a synopsis: "The fair at the Kingdom is underway, with all four communities coming together in celebration for the first time in years; while some pacts are renewed, other deals will come at a much steeper price."

Check out the trailer for the episode:

And here's a clip:

Check out our latest review of the show.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episodes

Here's where we'll compile episode titles, official synopses, and reviews as they become available. Click the titles to go to the full reviews.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 1: A New Beginning

Rick and his group make a run into Washington D.C. and search for artifacts they will need to build the civilization he and Carl envisioned.

Greg Nicotero directed the episode written by Angela Kang. 

Air Date: 10/7/18

Read our review of "A New Beginning" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 2: The Bridge

The communities join forces to restore a bridge that will facilitate communication and trade. Someone is gravely injured at the construction site.

Daisy Mayer directed the episode written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick.

Air Date: 10/14/18

Read our review of "The Bridge" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 3: Warning Signs

Rick’s vision for the future is threatened by a mysterious disappearance that divides the work camp where the communities are building a bridge.

Dan Liu directed the episode written by Channing Powell. 

Air Date: 10/21/18

Read our review of "Warning Signs" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 4: The Obliged

Rick's vision of a civilized future is threatened by a sudden reckoning with past sins that remain unavenged and unforgiven.

Rosemary Rodriguez directed the episode written by Geraldine Inoa.

Air Date: 10/28/18

Read our review of "The Obliged" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 5: What Comes After

Rick is forced to face the past as he struggles to maintain the safety of the communities and protect the future he and Carl envisioned.

Greg Nicotero directed the episode written by Matthew Negrete. 

Air Date: 11/4/18

Read our review of "What Comes After" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6: Who Are You Now

Six years after Rick's disappearance, a group of strangers tests Alexandria's trust and patience.

Larry Teng directed the episode written by Eddie Guzelian. 

Air Date: 11/11/18

Read our review of "Who Are You Now" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 7: Stradivarius

Carol seeks out an old friend living alone in a wilderness teeming with walkers; survivors make the perilous trek to a new home.

Michael Cudlitz directed the episode written by Vivian Tse. 

Air Date: 11/18/18

Read our review of "Stradivarius" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 8: Evolution

A small rescue mission braves a dangerous herd in their hunt for a missing comrade, only to discover a surprising threat that could doom them all.

Michael E. Satrazemis directed the episode written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick.

Air Date: 11/25/18

Read our review of "Evolution" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 9: Adaptation

The recent loss of one of their own drives the communities to band together. New leaders rise when a disturbing and dangerous threat is unmasked. An escaped captive revisits his past.

Greg Nicotero directed the episode written by Corey Reed.

Air Date: 2/10/19

Read our review of "Adaptation" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 10: Omega

A new arrival at the Hilltop opens up about the leader of a group of mask-wearing savages.  A search party sets out on a daring mission to find two missing friends. 

David Boyd directed the episode written by Channing Powell. 

Air Date: 2/17/19

Read our review of "Omega" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 11: Bounty

The savage group led by Alpha confronts the Hilltop in a harrowing attempt to retrieve her daughter; a supply run for the Kingdom turns into a dangerous quest.

Meera Menon directed the episode written by Matthew Negrete.

Air Date: 2/24/19

Read our review of "Bounty" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 12: Guardians

While one community struggles to ease tensions that threaten to divide from within, the true nature of another group comes into focus; a mission to rescue a friend has deadly consequences.

Michael E. Satrazemis directed the episode written by LaToya Morgan.

Air Date: 3/3/19

Read our review of "Guardians" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 13: Chokepoint

Daryl's daring rescue mission forces Alpha to unleash a group of her own to retrieve what belongs to her, even if the price is paid in blood; the Kingdom's plans to reunite the communities are put in jeopardy.

Liesl Tommy directed the episode written by Eddie Guzelian and David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick.

Air Date: 3/10/19

Read our review of "Chokepoint" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 14: Scars

An outsider's arrival forces Alexandria to rehash devastating old wounds; eye-opening secrets from the past are revealed.

Millicent Shelton directed the episode written by Corey Reed and Vivian Tse.

Air Date: 3/17/19

Red our review of "Scars" here.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 15: The Calm Before

The fair at the Kingdom is underway, with all four communities coming together in celebration for the first time in years; while some pacts are renewed, other deals will come at a much steeper price.

Air Date: 3/24/19

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 16: The Storm

In the aftermath of an overwhelming loss, the communities must brave a ferocious blizzard; as one group deals with an enemy from within, another is forced to make a life or death decision.

Air Date: 3/31/19

The Walking Dead Season 9 Trailer

The trailer for the second half of The Walking Dead season 9 has arrived! Check it out below:

Here are the other trailers released thus far:

The Walking Dead Season 9 Cast

If your favorite character survived the first half of season 9, you'll see them again in the bottom half of the season. There are also a few new castings:

Samantha Morton (Minority Report) has been cast as Alpha, leader of the Whisperers.

Cassady McClincy (Castle Rock) will play Lydia, Alpha's daughter.

Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy) plays Beta, Alpha's second in command.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Synopsis

AMC has offered an official synopsis for The Walking Dead Season "9B."

"The second half of The Walking Dead Season 9 finds our groups of survivors, both old and new, continuing to deal with the impact of events that took place during the six years that have passed. Since the disappearance of Rick, many of these characters have become strangers to each other, and in some ways, strangers to themselves. What they do know is that they are in undeniable danger. They will soon realize the world just beyond does not operate as they thought. The group’s rules and ways of survival no longer guarantee their safety. A whole new threat has crossed their paths, and they soon discover it’s unlike any threat they have encountered or endured before. The group will start to question what they think they see. What may appear to be normal in this post-apocalyptic world could actually be more disturbing and terrifying than when the apocalypse first broke out. All that is certain is the stakes are high and numerous."

The Walking Dead Season 9 Spoilers

The Whisperers have arrived on The Walking Dead. Here are all the spoiler-y details about the show's new villains

John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9

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The ethics of internet culture: a conversation with Taylor Lorenz

Taylor Lorenz was in high demand this week. As a prolific journalist at The Atlantic and about-to-be member of Harvard’s prestigious Nieman Fellowship for journalism, that’s perhaps not surprising. Nor was this the first time she’s had a bit of a moment: Lorenz has already served as an in-house expert on social media and the internet for several major companies, while having written and edited for publications as diverse as The Daily Beast, The Hill, People, The Daily Mail, and Business Insider, all while remaining hip and in touch enough to currently serve as a kind of youth zeitgeist translator, on her beat as a technology writer for The Atlantic.

Lorenz is in fact publicly busy enough that she’s one of only two people I personally know to have openly ‘quit email,’ the other being my friend Russ, an 82 year-old retired engineer and MIT alum who literally spends all day, most days, working on a plan to reinvent the bicycle.

I wonder if any of Lorenz’s previous professional experiences, however, could have matched the weight of the events she encountered these past several days, when the nightmarish massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand brought together two of her greatest areas of expertise: political extremism (which she covered for The Hill), and internet culture. As her first Atlantic piece after the shootings said, the Christchurch killer’s manifesto was “designed to troll.” Indeed, his entire heinous act was a calculated effort to manipulate our current norms of Internet communication and connection, for fanatical ends.

Taylor Lorenz

Lorenz responded with characteristic insight, focusing on the ways in which the stylized insider subcultures the Internet supports can be used to confuse, distract, and mobilize millions of people for good and for truly evil ends:

Before people can even begin to grasp the nuances of today’s internet, they can be radicalized by it. Platforms such as YouTube and Facebook can send users barreling into fringe communities where extremist views are normalized and advanced. Because these communities have so successfully adopted irony as a cloaking device for promoting extremism, outsiders are left confused as to what is a real threat and what’s just trolling. The darker corners of the internet are so fragmented that even when they spawn a mass shooting, as in New Zealand, the shooter’s words can be nearly impossible to parse, even for those who are Extremely Online.”

Such insights are among the many reasons I was so grateful to be able to speak with Taylor Lorenz for this week’s installment of my TechCrunch series interrogating the ethics of technology.

As I’ve written in my previous interviews with author and inequality critic Anand Giridharadas, and with award-winning Google exec turned award-winning tech critic James Williams, I come to tech ethics from 25 years of studying religion. My personal approach to religion, however, has essentially always been that it plays a central role in human civilization not only or even primarily because of its theistic beliefs and “faith,” but because of its culture — its traditions, literature, rituals, history, and the content of its communities.

And because I don’t mind comparing technology to religion (not saying they are one and the same, but that there is something to be learned from the comparison), I’d argue that if we really want to understand the ethics of the technologies we are creating, particularly the Internet, we need to explore, as Taylor and I did in our conversation below, “the ethics of internet culture.”

What resulted was, like Lorenz’s work in general, at times whimsical, at times cool enough to fly right over my head, but at all times fascinating and important.

Editor’s Note: we ungated the first of 11 sections of this interview. Reading time: 22 minutes / 5,500 words.

Joking with the Pope

Greg Epstein: Taylor, thanks so much for speaking with me. As you know, I’m writing for TechCrunch about religion, ethics, and technology, and I recently discovered your work when you brought all those together in an unusual way. You subtweeted the Pope, and it went viral.

Taylor Lorenz: I know. [People] were freaking out.

Greg: What was that experience like?

Taylor: The Pope tweeted some insane tweet about how Mary, Jesus’ mother, was the first influencer. He tweeted it out, and everyone was spamming that tweet to me because I write so much about influencers, and I was just laughing. There’s a meme on Instagram about Jesus being the first influencer and how he killed himself or faked his death for more followers.

Because it’s fluid, it’s a lifeline for so many kids. It’s where their social network lives. It’s where identity expression occurs.

I just tweeted it out. I think a lot of people didn’t know the joke, the meme, and I think they just thought that it was new & funny. Also [some people] were saying, “how can you joke about Jesus wanting more followers?” I’m like, the Pope literally compared Mary to a social media influencer, so calm down. My whole family is Irish Catholic.

A bunch of people were sharing my tweet. I was like, oh, god. I’m not trying to lead into some religious controversy, but I did think whether my Irish Catholic mother would laugh. She has a really good sense of humor. I thought, I think she would laugh at this joke. I think it’s fine.

Greg: I loved it because it was a real Rorschach test for me. Sitting there looking at that tweet, I was one of the people who didn’t know that particular meme. I’d like to think I love my memes but …

Taylor: I can’t claim credit.

Greg: No, no, but anyway most of the memes I know are the ones my students happen to tell me about. The point is I’ve spent 15 plus years being a professional atheist. I’ve had my share of religious debates, but I also have had all these debates with others I’ll call Professional Strident Atheists.. who are more aggressive in their anti-religion than I am. And I’m thinking, “Okay, this is clearly a tweet that Richard Dawkins would love. Do I love it? I don’t know. Wait, I think I do!”

Taylor: I treated it with the greatest respect for all faiths. I thought it was funny to drag the Pope on Twitter .

The influence of Instagram

Alexander Spatari via Getty Images

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Cruise Ship Horror! Passengers Rescued After Luxury Liner Engine Failure Off Norway

Passengers of a Viking Sky cruise ship were rescued off the coast of Norway after the luxury liner suffered engine failure during stormy seas on Saturday, March 23, 2019. In the shocking emergency, the ship was damaged due to severe winds and waves.

A mayday signal was sent out and hundreds of people had to be airlifted to the town of Molde. The ship regained engine power on Sunday morning and the remaining passengers and workers on board were towed safely to port.

Via Twitter, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg thanked rescue workers and volunteers who had helped respond, calling it a “dramatic day” for passengers aboard the Viking Sky cruise ship. Indeed it was, as passenger Alexus Sheppard posted video on her Twitter account of terrifying moments on board of chairs, tables, and large potted plants sliding around on the tipping ship. Ceiling material also appeared to fall down on top of another passenger.

Sheppard wrote at the time, “Still waiting for evacuation. #VikingSky #Mayday.” According to CNN, after being evacuated to shore, American passenger Jan Terbruegen said, “Furniture would slide across the room, slide back and with it came people and glass. It was a very dangerous situation frankly.”

Ryan Flynn tweeted, “It’s miserable as the seas are still very high with strong winds. The ship continues to pitch and roll. Captain is hoping the winds and seas calm enough to bring ship into port.”

Rescue teams airlifted 479 guests from the vessel after it had been stranded with 1,300 passengers and crew on board. Passenger Beth Clark described her nerve-wracking experience: “The guy came down from the helicopter — one of the Coast Guards — snapped my belt and said ‘hold it’ and shot me up about 100 feet in the air and onto the helicopter.”

When the ship regained power, the remaining 436 passengers and 458 crew members on the Viking Sky cruise ship got towed to Molde, accompanied by two supply ships and one tug assist vessel.

Twenty people sustained injuries on the vessel, Viking Ocean Cruises said, and were treated at medical facilities in Norway. Passengers reportedly suffered bruising, cuts, and broken bones.

“Throughout all of this, our first priority was for the safety and well-being of our passengers and our crew,” Viking Ocean Cruises said in a statement.

It’s just the latest incident in a rash of cruise ship horror stories lately. There have been various incidents and freak accidents on board various liners, as Radar has reported.

Last year, a woman on board a Carnival Cruise Line ship reportedly died after she fell from her cabin’s balcony. Also in 2018, a Carnival cruise ship got flooded after a break in the liner’s fire suppression system. Passengers compared scenes on board to the Titanic!

The post Cruise Ship Horror! Passengers Rescued After Luxury Liner Engine Failure Off Norway appeared first on RadarOnline.

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Robert Mueller submitted his final report to Justice, no one knows if it will be released

U.S. WASHINGTON SECURITY THREATS HEARING

Well, I was wrong. I kept saying that people were reading the Trump-Russia tea leaves the wrong way, and that Robert Mueller was going to be investigating for months longer. Nope. Friday afternoon, Mueller submitted his final report to the Department of Justice. Cable news was in full meltdown about what the report *could* say, like the connections between Donald Trump and Russia are still some giant unknown, like we haven’t seen ample evidence of criminality and impeachable offenses and outright treason for the past three years.

On Saturday, Attorney General William Barr spent more than nine hours in his DOJ office, reviewing the report. Rod Rosenstein was called in to work on Saturday too. We got the message that they would not release anything yesterday, and the idea is that they might release something vague – like an outline of Mueller’s findings – at some point today.

House members and senators are freaking out and offering statements about how the Mueller Report just needs to be released, in full, to the general public. The Democratic leadership at one point was asking for their highest-security level members to be briefed on the report, but that tactic has changed over the weekend. Now Nancy Pelosi is leading the charge for the report to just be released in full, publicly:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats on Saturday she’ll rebuff any efforts by the Justice Department to reveal details of special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings in a highly classified setting — a tactic she warned could be employed to shield the report’s conclusions from the public.

Three sources who participated in a conference call among House Democrats said Pelosi (D-Calif.) told lawmakers she worried the Justice Department would seek to disclose Mueller’s conclusions to the so-called Gang of Eight — the top Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate — which handles the nation’s most sensitive secrets. The substance of Gang of Eight briefings are heavily guarded.

“Everyone pounded the transparency drum continuously,” said a source who was on the Saturday afternoon call.

Pelosi said it was her belief that the findings of the report should be unclassified, a consistent theme from Democrats who said they wanted Attorney General William Barr to share virtually every scrap of paper connected to the Mueller report with Congress.

[From Politico]

While the two aren’t comparable whatsoever, I remember Ken Starr’s special counsel investigation into Bill Clinton and Whitewater (massive eyeroll) and that was released publicly very quickly. They published excerpts in the New York Times and Washington Post, and they released the report in book form too, so everyone could read it. They should do the same with the Mueller report.

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Amazon to Whole Foods Online Delivery Customers: We’re Out of Celery, How’s Kale? – The Wall Street Journal

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Hailey Baldwin: ‘Media itself is just awful… they just really want to see you fail’

Hailey Baldwin just keeps cutting sponsorship deals and getting more and more work. I believe Hailey married Justin Bieber because she loves him, but hey, it’s also pretty great that her star is on the rise significantly over the past year. Hailey has a feature in the latest issue of Cosmopolitan where she chats about various things as a way to promote her new collection with ROXY Sister. Some highlights:

On her pro tips for handling social media pressure: “I’ve found that I got to a place where I don’t read the comments. You still care to a certain extent. You really have to train your brain to be like, ‘Okay, why do I even care? I don’t know these people, they don’t know me, they’re not a part of my life or my relationship or whatever it is.’ People can just be mean, and I feel like if you don’t want it to get to you, then don’t read it and allow it to affect your soul.”

Sometimes she’ll completely delete the ‘gram: “Sometimes I delete Instagram for a couple days at a time, which is really nice. I’ve done that when I’ve felt like I really couldn’t handle what people were saying or it was like what I was looking at was unavoidable.”

The relationship between fan & celebrity: “The problem too is kids become possessive over people and feel like if they think they’re hurt, they feel hurt for them and they’re hurt too, or whatever it is. They just think they know these people who are famous because their life is so exposed. And that’s what gets me I think the most frustrated. I’m like, you actually don’t know me. You don’t know him. You don’t know her, you don’t know these people for real. What’s really weird to me is they create scenarios in their head of what they think is happening or what they think should happen, and I’m just like, ‘This is just so dumb. It’s so dumb.’”

Hailey’s opinion on media: “But media itself is just awful. They just really want to see you fail, for whatever reason. I don’t know if it’s because they want to be able to say, ‘I told you so’ or because they want to be right, I don’t really know what the idea is behind trying to tear somebody’s relationship down, or person down, whatever it may be. I guess it’s just kind of an evil world, at the core of it, and humanity is just struggling.”

[From Cosmopolitan]

“But media itself is just awful. They just really want to see you fail, for whatever reason.” She sounds like her Trump-supporting dad here. Next she’s going to label everything #FakeNews whenever something inconveniences her? Anyway, I don’t think the media is out to get her or that the media is rooting for her to fail. There’s a difference between “wanting a celebrity to fail” and “saying that a celebrity will likely fail.” I don’t want Hailey and Justin Bieber’s marriage to fail, but I think that it will. See the difference, Hailey? As for the stuff about fan-culture and all of that… I actually agree with her completely, and I’m glad that she has some distance from it.

View this post on Instagram

need some sun

A post shared by Hailey Rhode Bieber (@haileybieber) on

Photos courtesy of Instagram.

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  5. Alexandra Shulman's Notebook: Smart women don't dress to please men  Daily Mail
  6. View full coverage on Google News

Life on Mars? NASA scientists find growing ‘FUNGI’ in Mars Curiosity Rover photos – Express.co.uk

  1. Life on Mars? NASA scientists find growing ‘FUNGI’ in Mars Curiosity Rover photos  Express.co.uk
  2. 'We will have colonies on Mars' but it will never be a new Earth  Sydney Morning Herald
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Its Territory May Be Gone, but the U.S. Fight Against ISIS Is Far From Over – The New York Times

  1. Its Territory May Be Gone, but the U.S. Fight Against ISIS Is Far From Over  The New York Times
  2. Trump hails fall of Islamic State 'caliphate' in Syria  BBC News
  3. ISIS has lost its final stronghold in Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces says  CNN
  4. The Islamic State Has Not Been Defeated  The New York Times
  5. I've hunted ISIS, and they are far from done  Fox News
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Celebrities, Twitter react to Auburn’s win against Kansas – 247Sports

Celebrities, Twitter react to Auburn's win against Kansas  247Sports

Everyone had a take on Auburn's blowout of blueblood Kansas.

The Daily LITG, 24th March 2019 – Happy Birthday, Glenn Fabry

Family tracking app leaked real-time location data for weeks – Engadget

Family tracking app leaked real-time location data for weeks  Engadget

Family tracking apps can be very helpful if you're worried about your kids or spouse, but they can be nightmarish if that data falls into the wrong hands. Secu...

Family tracking app leaked real-time location data for weeks

Paris Jackson Is In Positive Place One Week After Suicide Scare, Not in Rehab – TMZ

Paris Jackson Is In Positive Place One Week After Suicide Scare, Not in Rehab  TMZ

Paris Jackson is in a much better head space since her suicide scare ... spending time with friends, family and taking advice from people who genuinely care ...

Paris Jackson Is In Positive Place One Week After Suicide Scare, Not in Rehab

Paris Jackson is in a much better head space since her suicide scare ... spending time with friends, family and taking advice from people who genuinely care about her. TMZ broke the story ... Jackson was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital last week…

Norway cruise ship heads to port after passenger airlifts – BBC News

  1. Norway cruise ship heads to port after passenger airlifts  BBC News
  2. Norway cruise ship: Viking cruise ship carrying 1,300 passengers sends mayday call; passengers evacuated by helicopters and boats today  CBS News
  3. A cruise ship issued a mayday during rough seas off the coast of Norway  ABC News
  4. Cruise ship passengers reportedly evacuated from vessel off Norway coast  Fox News
  5. Helicopters sent to rescue 1,300 passengers from cruise ship off Norway  CNN
  6. View full coverage on Google News

Family of Dead Dog Demands Answers from Air France-KLM

The dog that died on an Air France-KLM jetliner bound for L.A. this week was a healthy, happy puppy heading for his new home ... according to the devastated family now demanding answers. The family's attorney, Evan Oshan, tells TMZ ... the dog, a…

Dr. Dre Gloats Over Daughter’s Acceptance Into USC with ‘No Jail Time’

Dr. Dre's rubbing a little salt in the wounds of Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman and all the other parents involved in the college bribery scandal ... while gloating about his USC-bound child. The music mogul and proud papa just shared a photo with…

Todd Gurley Would Whoop Colby Covington’s Ass In Fight, Says Kamaru Usman

Colby Covington better watch his mouth around Todd Gurley ... 'cause Kamaru Usman tells TMZ Sports the NFL superstar would whoop his ass if they ever scrapped!!! "Todd Gurley would maul him," Usman says ... "He would maul him. He'd maul him." Of…

Farrah Abraham Brushes Off Talk of Copying Kourtney Kardashian’s Nude Pose

Give Farrah Abraham credit ... she knows how to change the subject when she's being grilled -- case in point ... copying Kourtney Kardashian's nude bathroom pose. We got Farrah out at LAX and we had to ask about ripping off Kourtney…

Lil Jon Slams Ref In Dreadlock Incident, ‘Shouldn’t Have Been an A**hole’

The wrestling ref who's threatening a lawsuit over the viral dreadlock-cutting incident is "blatantly racist" and has NO CASE ... so says Lil Jon ... who tells TMZ Sports the guy's claims are ridiculous. High schooler Andrew Johnson -- who is black…

AuburnSports.com – Kansas couldn’t hang with Auburn in transition – Rivals.com

  1. AuburnSports.com - Kansas couldn't hang with Auburn in transition  Rivals.com
  2. The 'scary' advantage Auburn exploited to dominate Kansas on way to Sweet 16  AL.com
  3. Kansas vs. Auburn: Second round NCAA tournament extended highlights  NCAA March Madness
  4. Beware of the Tigers: Auburn Is the Hottest Team in the 2019 NCAA Tournament  Bleacher Report
  5. Kansas goes from preseason No. 1 to being embarrassed by Auburn in March Madness  USA TODAY
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Stars and Scars — You Be the Judge

The college admissions scandal is growing, and big news on the home front with Kylie and Travis. So, we gotta ask ... 

No ‘Cinderella’ yet for NCAA Sweet 16 as favorites dominate Saturday games – Fox News

  1. No 'Cinderella' yet for NCAA Sweet 16 as favorites dominate Saturday games  Fox News
  2. 2019 NCAA Tournament bracket: Gonzaga, Kentucky among eight teams to punch tickets to Sweet 16 on Saturday  CBS Sports
  3. Sharpshooting Auburn trounces Kansas to reach Sweet 16  WDAF FOX4 Kansas City
  4. March Madness results: Scores, highlights from Saturday's Round 2 NCAA Tournament games  Sporting News
  5. 2019 NCAA Tournament takeaways: Auburn and Michigan lead dominant day for favorites, Tom Izzo keeps winning in March  CBS Sports
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Ex-‘Idol’ Contestant Chikezie Eze Claims Estranged Wife Vanished with Kids

Former "American Idol" contestant Chikezie Eze says his estranged wife disappeared more than a year ago and took their children ... but he's finally got the court's help trying to locate them. Chikezie and his ex, Linda Iruke, have had their issues…

Celebrity Scramble — Guess Who!

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Tom Brady Has Olympic Skiing Talent, Says Mohamed Hadid

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Akon’s Producing His 15-Year-Old Son’s First Track, Sounds Eerily Familiar

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CM Punk’s Still Training MMA, Says UFC Star Anthony Pettis

CM Punk ain't lettin' his 2 UFC ass-whoopings stop him from training to fight ... 'cause his teammate and UFC star, Anthony Pettis, says Punk is STILL hitting the gym hard. TMZ Sports talked to Pettis -- the former UFC lightweight champ who's…

Birthday Sluts

Donna Pescow (65)
Keisha Castle-Hughes (29)
Finn Jones (31)
Valentin Chmerkovskiy (32)
Chris Bosh (35)
Nivea (37)
Jack Swagger (37)
Lake Bell (40)
Jessica Chastain (42)
Peyton Manning (43)
Alyson Hannigan (45)
Jim Parsons (46)
Tig Notaro (48)
Lara Flynn Boyle (49)
Sharon Corr (49)

Pic: NBCUniversal/Getty

Jeff Lewis (49)
The Undertaker (54)
Star Jones (57)
Nena (59)
Annabella Sciorra (59)
Kelly Le Brock (59)
Robert Carradine (65)
Louie Anderson (66)
Tommy Hilfiger (68)
Nick Lowe (70)
Bob Mackie (79)
Mary Berry (84)
Steve McQueen (1930-1980)
Harry Houdini (1874-1926)

Jordan Peele — Good Genes or Good Docs?!

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Medical News Today: Stroke: Rewiring eye-brain connection may restore vision

Groundbreaking research finds that some vision loss after a stroke may be reversible. The researchers hope that this finding may inform future treatments.

Jump And Find Out

Does This Door Make Me Look Fat?

Powerball jackpot now $750M after no winning ticket drawn – USA TODAY

Powerball jackpot now $750M after no winning ticket drawn  USA TODAY

DES MOINES, Iowa — Lottery officials say the Powerball jackpot has ballooned to $750 million after no ticket matched all six numbers in the most recent drawing ...

View full coverage on Google News

Cool Spray Paint Art In 37 Seconds

Facebook Failed To Properly Secure Up To 600 Million Users’ Passwords

But don't panic.

Facebook Says Users Watched New Zealand Shooting In Real Time But No One Reported It

Here's how the footage of the mosque attack was able to spread.

Can Shooting Plastic Explosive Really Set Them Off?

James H. asks: How realistic is the idea presented in video games of shooting explosives to set them off?

Given that their main and really only purposes is violently exploding, you might be surprised to learn that most explosives utilised by the military are shockingly stable. So much so, in fact, that, contrary to what is often depicted in movies and video games, plastic explosives like C-4 won’t explode if you shoot them or set them on fire. In fact, C-4 won’t even explode if you shoot it while it is currently on fire.

Indeed, beyond the benefit of being able to shape the explosive in a variety of ways to accomplish a given destructive goal, one of the main reasons plastic explosives like C-4 are utilised so extensively by the military is precisely because they are largely inert and can be handled without specialised equipment.

Further, creating C-4 is noted as being a relatively simple process that involves mixing a plasticizer with a conventional explosive (in this case usually cyclotrimethylene-trinitramine, often referred to as “RDX” or “Royal Demolition Explosive”- or for the non-Brits “Research Department Explosive”). While exact ratios vary somewhat, for reference in its C-4 the U.S. military currently uses a mixture of 91% RDX, 5.3% of the plasticizer dioctyl sebacate, 2.1% of the synthetic rubber Polyisobutylene, and 1.6% mineral oil or, for civilian use, motor oil, giving such C4 its telltale odor of, well, motor oil.

Commonly likened to ordinary modelling clay in texture and consistency, C-4 and most other plastic explosives can be shaped, stored and molded just as easily. The key difference being that, unlike modelling clay, a mere half kilogram of C-4 can turn a typical vehicle into a pile of scrap metal. The key to making this happen, though, is attaching some form of blasting cap.

As the name suggests, these blasting caps rely on a smaller, controlled explosion which will in turn cause the explosive components within the C-4 to go off, resulting in the C-4 producing a wave of gasses, including nitrogen and carbon oxides, that rapidly expand out at upwards of 18,000 mph. So fast is this effect that it actually creates something of a temporary vacuum around the core blast area. This results in a second, much less violent, wave of air collapsing in on the vacuum after the initial blast.

Not keen to just rely on theory, the US Army has conducted countless sensitivity tests on C-4 and other plastic explosive compounds, shooting them with bullets of varying calibres and even putting them within feet of things like hand grenades to see if that explosion or subsequent shrapnel could set the C-4 off.  The Army has even conducted tests to see if things like fire will cause C-4 to explode, all with little effect. In fact, it turns out C-4 not only remains stable while on fire but it actually burns quite slowly, making it a good fire starter if you don’t mind the poisonous fumes.

While you might think soldiers would be scared to use this compound in this way, both because of perhaps worrying about an accidental explosion or from the noxious gasses given off, amazingly, during the Vietnam war using small chunks of C-4 as tinder to light campfires, or even as the sole source of the fire itself, was indeed a thing many soldiers did, despite military brass advising against it owing to the poisonous gasses given off.

Further, beyond its use as an explosive, fire starter, and badass modeling clay, it turns out that when eaten in extremely small amounts, C-4 is known to produce a mild high likened to being drunk, something soldiers in Vietnam also took advantage of.

It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that when consumed in anything other than extremely tiny quantities, C-4 can cause a host of health problems, as noted in a case study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine in 2002 where a soldier decided to swallow about a cubic centimeter of the substance… Potential resulting complications of mimicking this moronic act include “generalized seizures, lethargy, coma, muscular twitching, hyperreflexia, myalgias, headaches, vomiting, mild renal injury and haematuria (blood in your pee)”

Back to the extreme stability of C-4- as they often do, the show Mythbusters took the idea of testing this to its logical extreme, shooting a piece that was currently on fire with a high-explosive incendiary round. The C-4 stubbornly refused to explode even then, despite the incendiary round giving a nice little blast on impact.

There is one caveat to all this, however. It turns out there is a way to set off C-4 by shooting at it. How? While there are a variety of designs for blasting caps, some may be set off via being hit with a bullet, thus providing the needed energy to cause the C-4 itself to explode. Why this is an extremely unlikely scenario in the real world is because these blasting caps are typically very small (think a half used pencil) and anyone trying to shoot at them would presumably want to be a fair distance away just in case they were successful.

This all becomes an even less likely in real world scenarios given that you don’t put the blast cap in the C-4 until you yourself are preparing to actually make it go boom.

So, in the end, while there are certainly many unstable explosives that will happily release their destructive power if you were to shoot them, it turns out plastic explosives and pretty much the majority of explosives used by militaries and for industrial use the world over are almost always shockingly stable precisely because these organizations aren’t keen on deploying explosive devices that might go off unexpectedly.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Fact:

  • Speaking of shooting at explosive devices, during WWI there are documented instances of soldiers using shotguns to destroy thrown hand grenades before they could reach their target.  For example, in Leroy Thompson’s U.S. Combat Shotguns book, he notes the following account where a group of soldiers acted in concert in this way: “Their first warnings were German ‘potato masher’ hand grenades lobbing through the air. Few landed as most of them were exploded in the air by the experts in the outposts. Upon the failure of the grenade attack, the enemy launched a mortar attack. Again the trapshooters proved their worth, deflecting the slowly arching bombs. Finally, a vast grey wave of the Kaiser’s best surged forward.”
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The post Can Shooting Plastic Explosive Really Set Them Off? appeared first on Today I Found Out.

That Time the US Military Made an Atomic Cannon

As a wise man once said, “They say that the best weapon is the one that you never have to fire. I respectfully disagree! I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once.”

Adhering closely to this mantra, the M65 was indeed only fired once and then simply used as a deterrent in the early days of the Cold War. Why was this weapon so special? Well, it helps that it fired 280mm nuclear tipped artillery with blast power approximately that of Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima.

Designed by engineer Robert M. Schwartz in 1949, the shells, in addition to being larger than anything the US military had ever produced before, had to have a case some 4000 times stronger than that of the aforementioned bomb dropped on Hiroshima in order for the nuke to survive the extreme forces it would be subjected to when the weapon was fired. While you might think designing such an round would be insanely difficult, if not wholly impossible, Schwartz reportedly had a working rough design ready in just 15 days. The resulting W9 was essentially an 850 pound, 11 by 55 inch shell with a gun type nuclear tip capable of producing a 15 kiloton blast.

Of course, there was also the problem of the U.S. not then having a cannon capable of firing these W9 shells. Schwartz solved this too, drawing inspiration for the ultimate design of the M65 from German WW2-era railway cannons like the Krupp K5. He also designed the M65 such that it could be transported via roads, hugely increasing the weapon’s utility over railway cannons.

That said, to say the M65 was cumbersome is a massive understatement. Weighing around 83 tons tons, it was rather difficult to move, requiring two trucks packing 375 horsepower engines, one truck on each end of the cannon, with the drivers needing to be in constant communication as they drove. The top speed on this setup was a breakneck 35 mph, if the road was straight and reasonably flat.

Its mobility was also limited by the length of the vehicle- about 80 feet- with one soldier, Jim Michalko, recalling that after getting the cannon stuck in a narrow street during transport in Germany, they ended up having to destroy several buildings in order to make necessary turns.

Despite these issues, a well-trained crew of around 5 people could have the cannon ready to fire in around 15 minutes, with the weapon capable of hitting any target within roughly 20 miles with pinpoint accuracy. It likewise only took around 15 minutes to get the cannon back on the road, ready to nuke another target.

As alluded to earlier, the M65 is known to have only been fired once, as part of Operation Upshot–Knothole, a series of nuclear weapons tests conducted at the Nevada National Security Site in 1953.

In the one and only time a nuclear bomb has been shot from a cannon, during the Grable test at Frenchman Flat, the nuke flew 10 kilometres (roughly 7 miles) through the air, where it exploded about 500 feet above the ground.

The resulting explosion incinerated everything within about a mile of desert, excepting of course a lead lined fridge that was thrown free, and released a shockwave of searing hot air that tore apart lightly armoured vehicles positioned at set distances from the target area- all while several thousand soldiers, hundreds of military officials, several members of congress and then Secretary of Defence, Charles Wilson, looked on in awe from a mere 10 miles away.

Footage of this test was quickly circulated by the military as a show of force to the Soviets, and twenty M65 cannons were ordered to be created, all of which were shipped to Europe and South Korea where they spent around a decade being moved to various classified locations.

However, with the combined advent of tactical nuclear missiles and smaller nuclear shells that could fit in more widely used 155mm and 203mm cannons, the M65, which debuted with a bang in 1953, quietly went the way of Dodo by 1963.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

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The post That Time the US Military Made an Atomic Cannon appeared first on Today I Found Out.

How Everyone Plays Monopoly Wrong Which Makes It Worse, Where the Game Pieces Came From, Who Really Invented It and Much More

In this episode of The Brain Food Show, we start by looking at the interesting story behind where the Monopoly pieces came from.

Next we discuss our sponsor, RetailMeNot. Visit http://bit.ly/2BXvyAk to download the free RetailMeNot Genie browser extension today and start saving the easy way.

Moving on to the meat of today’s episode, we jump into the truth about who actually invented Monopoly, which is not the person who has long been given credit for it. That guy, it turns out, flat out stole it from someone else and then proceeded to get rich off it while the original creator mostly got nothing. 😉

We then move into the many, many ways everyone plays Monopoly wrong which is largely why it takes so long to play and lends itself to why it has a reputation for being a game sure to make everyone angry who plays it. If people would just read the rule book, turns out it’s a lot more fun when played the way it’s supposed to be played.

Finally we discuss Simon and Daven’s favorite movies, as well as get around to answering the question of whether horses actually sleep standing up, or just seem like they do.

On another note, if you could do us a huge favor and rate and review this show in whatever podcasting platform you’re using (including hopefully giving us some feedback related to the new format), we would be extremely grateful. Thanks!

(You can also discuss this episode and view references on The BrainFood Show forum here.)

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You can also find more episodes by going here: The BrainFood Show

The post How Everyone Plays Monopoly Wrong Which Makes It Worse, Where the Game Pieces Came From, Who Really Invented It and Much More appeared first on Today I Found Out.

How Exactly Did One Become an Executioner in Medieval Times?

Mary A. asks: How did someone get the job of an executioner in medieval times?

executionerFew occupations from history are as maligned as that of Medieval-era executioner. Popularly painted as gleeful dispensers of death and torture, the truth seems to be that many executioners throughout this period usually treated the occupation with a certain reverence and exhibited an extreme dedication to duty. Beyond trying to minimize the suffering of those slated to be executed, this was, among other reasons we’ll get into, because it would often mean the life of the executioner if they ever botched an execution or otherwise weren’t extremely professional in carrying out their job.

So, moving beyond any Hollywood depictions, what was it actually like to be an executioner in the ballpark of Medieval times and how did someone get the job in the first place?

A thing to note before we continue is that the duties expected of and performed by executioners, as well as what life was like for specific executioners, has varied wildly across time and regions. For example, as we’ve talked before, those condemned to death in the Ottoman empire during the 18th century could potentially get off scot-free by challenging the executioner to a footrace. In this case, in addition to doling out lethal justice with their bare hands, executioners also worked as both bodyguards and gardeners.

That caveat out of the way, how did one become an executioner in the first place? It turns out that many European Medieval executioners were former criminals themselves. You see, for reasons we’ll get into shortly, the role of executioner was so unpopular that finding someone to do the job often required either forcing someone into the profession or offering the gig to someone who was slated to be executed themselves.

Scandinavian countries were known to make extensive use of this novel hiring practice, with a little twist thrown in- they’d maim executioners by cutting off one or both of their ears so that they could be easily identified by the public. It also wasn’t uncommon for people made executioners in this way to be branded somewhere on their head, once again for the purpose of their new profession being, in this case literally, written all over their face. For example, as noted in Hugo Mathiessen’s Boddel og Galgefugl,

In the year 1470, a poor thief stood at the foot of the gallows in the Swedish town Arboga and was waiting to be hanged. The public attending the spectacle had pity on the sinner and when he, to save his neck, offered to become executioner in the town, it was agreed. He was pardoned and the red-hot iron was used to brand his body with both thief and executioner mark.

In Germany, on the other hand, as author Joel Harrington notes in a discussion of his book, The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century, while “standing executioners on salary were the norm” throughout Germany during the 1600s, for many centuries prior to this it was commonplace to thrust role of executioner upon a victim’s oldest male relative.

This all brings us around to why so many avoided the profession like the plague.  To begin with, the general consensus among most was that in taking such a job, one was then sure to be damned in the afterlife. This was despite the fact that in some regions, such as France, executioners were by official church decree absolved of the sins committed while performing their duties.

This still didn’t stop the general public from considering executioners unclean, leading to the more practical problem with the job- nearly being completely ostracized from society. Coming back to those condemned to die instead becoming an executioner, people seem to have been perfectly fine with this as the criminal’s life would still be forfeit, just in a more metaphorical sense.

For example, throughout Medieval Europe executioners were often forced to live in houses outside of the city or town they plied their trade in. In cases where this wasn’t possible, they tended to live near things like public latrines, lepertoriums, or brothels. Executioners were similarly often denied citizenship to the towns and cities they served (and thus had few rights in the town) and were largely barred from holding office or even entering churches, pubs, bathhouses, etc- basically most public establishments were off limits to the executioner.

Thus, despite executioners being deemed critical for a society to remain civilised, they were paradoxically generally forced to live apart from that civilised society.

In fact, some places across Europe went as far to institute laws specifically targeting executioners and what they could and could not do in their day to day lives. For example, the Bavarian town of Memmingen enacted an ordinance in 1528 that forbade members of the general public dining with an executioner.

Such laws and just general attitudes effectively limited the people an executioner could interact with in their day to day lives to their own family and those from the criminal underworld who simply didn’t care that the executioner was unclean. On top of this, an executioner’s children and spouse were likewise similarly shunned by anyone but the underbelly of society.

This, combined with the fact that the children of executioners could usually only find mates with children of other executioners, understandably led to the role of executioner becoming a macabre family trade that resulted in executioner dynasties that spanned centuries.

Beyond being ostrosised and damning your progeny to a similar life, as well as an afterlife full of hellfire, while there were potentially ways for an executioner to make a killing within the profession, it turns out for most there simply weren’t enough executions themselves to make ends meet. Alternate work was limited to jobs nobody else wanted. This included all manner of things, from disposal of corpses (animal and human), emptying cesspools, collecting taxes from the diseased and prostitutes, etc.

Oddly, at least from a modern perspective, another common profession for a well trained executioner was that of a doctor and surgeon. You see, beyond executing people, another thing executioners were often called to do was torture people for various reasons. These two things, combined with the close-knit community of executioners sharing their knowledge amongst themselves, resulted in lifelong executioners generally having exceptional knowledge of human anatomy, and thus they were commonly called on to treat various medical maladies.

In fact, one rather famous 17th century German executioner, Frantz Schmidt, noted in his journal that over the course of his near five decade career he had over 15,000 people he treated as a doctor, while executing only 394 and disfiguring or otherwise torturing or flogging roughly the same number- meaning most of the time he functioned as a doctor, despite society at the time considering him an executioner.

Schmidt was one of those thrust into the profession as his father was strong-armed into becoming an executioner, condemning Schmidt to the same life once he came of age, though Schmidt’s story has something of a happy ending.

Like many executioners, Schmidt was given a wide berth by the public in his day-to-day life, but the incredible professionalism with which he conducted his grisly duties earned him the begrudging respect of both the general public and those in power. In his later years, Schmidt was able to parlay this into a meeting with Nuremberg authorities and then was able to appeal to Emperor Ferdinand II himself, with the goal of restoring his family honor.

Swayed by not just Schmidt’s words, but also letters from city council members and other notable people extolling Schmidt’s character and dedication to his duty, the then 70 year old executioner was granted both Nuremberg citizenship and had his family name cleared, allowing his progeny to escape the bloody spectre of his work.

Of course, being ultra-professional with the profession was something of a necessity for Schmidt as, at the time in Germany, there was a law stipulating that any executioner tasked with doling out death by the sword (a form of execution largely reserved for especially important individuals) who took more than three swings to behead a victim would be condemned to die themselves.

Even where such laws didn’t exist, the job of an executioner was extremely dangerous as executioners were also at risk of being killed either by vengeful relatives or the crowd witnessing an execution. In regards to the latter, if an executioner was especially cruel in their meting out of punishment, simply incompetent to the point that they caused undue suffering, or just otherwise acted in an unprofessional manner in performing their duties, it wasn’t unheard of for a crowd to retaliate by killing the executioner on the spot, generally with no consequence to anyone in the mob.

This constant danger of the job was something Schmidt himself talked about several times in his journal, though he only notes one instance where the crowd turned into a mob. This occurred during a flogging he was performing, with the person being beaten ultimately stoned to death by the crowd.

As you might imagine from this, in cases like Schmidt who was trained from childhood to take over the job from his father, a rather lengthy apprenticeship was called for, including a robust education from one’s parent, followed by assisting in executions and torture from a young age. Schmidt also notes that he practiced executions extensively on various animals before being allowed to actually execute a human himself. The end goal of all of this was to make sure he wouldn’t screw up, as raucous mobs didn’t really care if it was someone’s first day on the job or not.

Now, although being an executioner came with some massive downsides, it wasn’t all bad. Enterprising executioners could actually earn a fairly decent living doling out torture and capital punishment on command if they were smart about it. For example, especially skilled executioners who didn’t mind traveling could take advantage of the scarcity of people willing to do their job by plying their trade across whichever country they happened to live in, rather than just staying local.

Executioners also frequently earned extra money in the form of bribes from the condemned or their families, invariably given in the hopes that the executioner would ensure death was as swift and painless as possible, or otherwise allow the condemned extra comforts leading up to the execution. This might include, for example, slipping them extra alcohol or the like to make the execution a little easier to handle.

On top of this, throughout much of Medieval Europe a perk of being an executioner is that it was customary for whatever property was worn at the time of death to be granted to the executioner.

Additionally, executioners in Germany were frequently tasked with things like arbitrating disputes between prostitutes and driving lepers out of town, among other such jobs, all of which they could charge a premium for because nobody else was willing to do the job.

Executioners were also sometimes not just given the job of disposing of animal carcasses, but also in some regions the explicit right to all stray animal carcasses found in a town. Depending on the animal, this could mean the rights to valuable hides, teeth, etc.

An even greater benefit for certain executioners, this time in France, was the idea of droit de havage. In a nutshell, because executioners were so ostracized and couldn’t in some regions, for example, just go down to the market and shop freely, under droit de havage, executioners were more or less allowed to tax those who sold various food and drink items. This came in the form of being able to demand goods for free.

Finally, there’s the money an executioner would be paid for performing an execution, flogging, or the like. Although it’s hard to say exactly how much an executioner could earn per hanging or beheading in today’s currency due to the inherent difficulty of gauging the value of historic currencies, it’s evident that it was a good amount, at least relative to the generally low social standing of executioners.

For example, according to information gleaned from an old statute dated to a small German town in 1276 an executioner could earn the equivalent of 5 shillings per execution. This is an amount roughly equal to the amount of money a skilled tradesmen could earn in about 25 days at the time. Likewise, an executioner operating in England some two centuries later in the 1400s could reportedly earn a fee of 10 shillings per execution, or roughly 16 times the amount a skilled tradesmen could earn in a single day.

Granted, as you might have deduced from the aforementioned case of Frantz Schmidt only executing about 400 people and flogging a similar number in his near five decades on the job, nobody was getting rich doing this by itself, it at least wasn’t bad pay per hour of work.

Finally, we’d be remiss in any discussion of Medieval executioners to not point out that the idea of executioners wearing masks to hide who they were does not appear to have actually been much of a thing. Beyond, as mentioned, in many regions being literally branded as executioners, even large cities for much of history weren’t actually that large; so people knew who the executioner in a given region was, if not directly, by being marked such. Thus, wearing a mask would have been pointless.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

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How Do the Insanely Wealthy Actually Pay for Something Worth Hundreds of Millions of Dollars?

Isaac R. asks: When people buy expensive art worth hundreds of millions of dollars, how do they pay for it? Like could they pay with cash or do they have to have their bank wire the money? Just wondering about the nuts and bolts here.

As we’ve discussed before, there are a handful of people walking around right now with a hyper-exclusive jet-black American Express credit card in their wallets that they could theoretically use to buy anything currently for sale, regardless of its cost. In fact, the current record we could find charged on such a credit card is $170 million charged by Chinese billionaire, Liu Yiqian, who no doubt is the world record holder for those sweet, sweet flight mileage points. But let’s imagine for a moment that a super-rich person didn’t have such a card or for whatever reason wanted to buy something worth millions of dollars not with a credit card, but cash. Could they? Well, surprisingly, in many countries no, with some exceptions. So let’s now talk about how the uber-wealthy actually go about paying for things worth millions upon millions of dollars.

To begin with, for the most part, paying for something worth a pile of Ferraris is the same as paying for any other item, with the fancy auction houses and stores we researched all offering the same basic payment options as stores for us peons. For example, Sotheby’s auction houses notes that customers can pay for any items they purchase “by bank transfer, cheque or cash (subject to any restrictions and legal limits)” while famed luxury superstore Harrods notes that you can pay for any item they have for sale with PayPal if you really wanted to.

As for how the immeasurably wealthy actually end up paying for such items, most of the time they just put it on their card.

What about transaction limits, you say?

As you can probably imagine, the credit cards used by millionaires and billionaires are different to the ones doled out to us mere mortals and come with a host of additional benefits to ensure the holder doesn’t up and take all of their money elsewhere.

Although the existence of these cards isn’t exactly a secret, banks that issue them don’t usually allow customers to apply for them, instead in most cases invite particularly wealthy customers to use them. While the most famous of these cards is arguably the Black American Express card alluded to at the start of this piece, there are a number of similar credit cards out there that fulfill essentially the same function, in that they allow the holder to buy any item they wish regardless of its value and provide a ridiculous number of services that come for free with simply having the card at all, including what almost amounts to something of a personal assistant in some sense, or at least someone who can figure out how to make whatever you want to happen, happen. This might be something as simple as tracking down tickets to a sold out show and acquiring them, to more outlandish requests.

If your imagination isn’t all that great, according to one executive at Amex asked about the more bizarre requests the company has fulfilled on behalf of customers holding their Centurion card, he noted they had a card holder once call up and ask for a handful of sand from the Dead Sea be delivered to their address in London. The company handled it from there, sending an international courier to the shores of the Dead Sea on a motorcycle.  The courier then posted the sand to the customer. Apparently the sand was to be used in a school project for the customer’s kid.

In another case, the cardholder wanted to appear on a soap opera, but wasn’t sure how to make this happen.  The Amex representative managed to get the woman an audition for a role in such a show.

Yet another bizarre request was from someone wanting Amex to find the horse ridden by Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves. They were not only able to track this down for the customer, free of charge for this sort of service, but were also able to arrange for purchase of the animal and then had it transported to Europe where the customer lived.

In any event, contrary to popular opinion, these cards do often have a maximum limit, it’s just that this limit is informed by the holder’s personal wealth and the relationship they have with their respective bank. So in the case of billionaires and the like, since any theoretical limit put in place would exceed the value of almost any item available for purchase on Earth, it’s easier to just say the card has no limit, even though the bank would almost certainly query such an individual trying to charge a billion dollars to their card unless they got pre-approval for the transaction.

In the event a billionaire, for whatever reason, decided that they instead wanted to pay for something worth millions of dollars out of pocket rather than putting it on a credit card, they could just as easily also pay using a debit card or a personal check. As with credit cards, there’s no set limit to the amount of money an individual could spend in this manner on a single transaction. There would just be similar caveats to the credit card payment method of certain transactions likely to be double checked if they were truly outlandish and out of the ordinary for a given account holder. And, of course, in these cases the one added caveat of the money needing to be in their account at the time, unlike a credit card purchase.

On that note, for anyone curious, the largest known personal check ever written was for $974,790,317.77 in 2014 by one Harold Hamm to pay his ex-wife a court mandated settlement after a divorce. Amazingly, Hamm’s ex-wife originally refused to cash the check, feeling the amount was too small given Hamm’s then net worth of $18 billion. However, she abruptly changed her mind the next day and cashed it anyway. According to Forbes, the process of cashing the check went ahead mostly like any other, with the exception of the bank calling Hamm to make sure the check was genuine before depositing the money into his ex-wife’s account.

The largest known business check on the other hand was written in 2008 by the Mitsubishi Financial Group to basically bail out Morgan Stanley during the 2008 financial crisis. The total amount? A cool $9 billion. It’s noted that ordinarily such a massive amount of money would have been sent via a wire transfer but because the day the money was needed was Columbus Day (a day banks are closed) Mitsubishi decided to just cut Morgan Stanley a check instead of waiting for the banks to reopen.

You’ll note in all of this that we’ve not yet dealt with the issue of paying cash. Interestingly, even though a billionaire could pay for a $100 million yacht with a personal check or use a debit or certain credit cards, as alluded to previously, they generally couldn’t pay with cash.

Why?

Well, to put it simply, nobody would accept it and even the payer probably wouldn’t want to pay this way either as there are a surprising number of very serious laws that are easy to unknowingly break when talking about handling large sums of cash.

While, for example, U.S. law dictates that any debt (regardless of size) that the debtor attempts to settle with cold hard cash cannot be refused (U.S. Code Title 31 §5103), when looking at buying something directly, it would seem no such guarantee to be able to use cash is available, and this seems to be true in many nations the world over.

Beyond this, although most banks we researched note that there’s generally “no limit” to the amount of money a customer can theoretically withdraw from their account at once, in practise actually walking into a bank and attempting to withdraw a million dollars, even if you can easily afford it, is a bit of a process. For starters, many banks simply don’t have all that much cash held in reserve at any one time, so a request to withdraw such a large amount quite literally couldn’t be physically honored in many cases.

For this reason, most banks the world over ask that customers wanting to withdraw large amounts of cash should call several days ahead so that accommodations can be made.

If a customer does call ahead to their bank with a request to withdraw an especially large amount of money, providing they have the money in their account and can prove who they are over the phone, there really shouldn’t be any issues in getting money within a reasonable time frame, though understandably the more money you request, the longer it will take to be delivered either to the bank or your home. Further, most who do this should expect to have the bank look into what they’re planning on using the cash for to make sure the customer is not being scammed.

For the super wealthy, however, they’re likely to face much less scrutiny on that front, especially if withdrawing such large sums is a frequent thing for them. For example, a man known to do exactly this is boxer Floyd Mayweather, who revealed in an interview that he periodically has millions of dollars in cash delivered to his home by his bank, largely just because he can. In keeping with his nickname “Money”, Mayweather has been known to, at least in a few instances, walk around with more than a million dollars in cash on his person and, seemingly in desperate need of a financial advisor he’ll actually listen to, was once observed flashing a bank receipt showing that he had over $100 million, in his checking account.

On the less flashy and more humble side of carrying a lot of cash, keeping with his overall “cool guy” persona, in 2013 George Clooney gathered up 14 of his closest friends and presented each one of them with a briefcase containing exactly $1 million in cash. The star explained to his stunned friends that the money was a gift to thank them for their support when he was just a struggling actor, reportedly stating:

Listen, I want you guys to know how much you’ve meant to me, and how much you mean to me in my life. I came to L.A., I slept on your couch. I’m so fortunate in my life to have all of you, and I couldn’t be where I am today without all of you. So, it was really important to me that, while we’re still all here together, that I give back… I know we’ve all been through some hard times, some of you are still going through it… You don’t have to worry about your kids; you don’t have to worry about school; you don’t have to worry about paying your mortgage.

Going back to somewhat more non-charitable examples, Mayweather is by no means an outlier in this regard and numerous celebrities and millionaires who apparently don’t understand inflation and the power of compounding interest have been observed withdrawing obscene amounts of money from their checking accounts either to show off or make it rain especially hard that day. And don’t even get us started on Nicholas Cage

Something they generally don’t do, however, is spend all that money at once in a single place because a lot of businesses won’t accept that much cash in one transaction. Along with the obvious issues of security and practicality when it comes to accepting payment for something worth millions of dollars in cash, especially large cash deposits often come with a lot of additional scrutiny from both banks and the respective government of the country you’re making them in.

In the UK, for example, under current UK Money Laundering Regulations any business or sole trader that accepts cash payments in excess of £10,000 has to register as a “high value dealer” with HMRC and accepting a cash payment of this magnitude without doing so carries heavy penalties. Business and individuals who are “only ever paid large amounts by credit card, debit card or cheque” on the other hand aren’t required to do this and as a result, many UK businesses will simply not accept cash payments in excess of this amount.

Likewise, in the United States, banks are required by law to report individual cash transactions of $10,000 or more to the IRS under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970. Additionally under current US tax law, all individuals and most (but not all) American businesses are required to report any individual cash payments of $10,000 or more to the IRS, even if the money isn’t deposited into a bank account.

As in the UK, most businesses don’t want this kind of hassle so tend to avoid accepting payments in excess of this amount. And failure to follow the rules on this sort of thing comes with both heavy fines and, for individuals, even potential jail time.

It is noteworthy that the relatively small amount of $10,000 as the trigger point has been something widely railed against in recent years given this figure has not been adjusted for inflation since the law was established in 1970. For your reference, $10,000 in 1970 would be about $65,000 today.

Curiously, one of the few places we found that doesn’t specifically seem to limit the amount a customer can pay at once with cash are auction houses. That said, as you may have noticed when we listed the payment methods accepted by Sotheby’s earlier, the auction house has a disclaimer about cash payments, noting that all such payments are “subject to any restrictions and legal limits”.

The auction house isn’t exactly forthcoming with what exactly these supposed “legal limits” are and it’s noted in the book Money Laundering Through Art: A Criminal Justice Perspective that the auction house has never really made it clear how much cash they’re willing to accept at once for a piece they sell. The same is true of Christie’s who don’t even make mention of a limit on cash payments on any official documentation they’ve ever released.

This is largely because auction houses in the US are under “no specific obligation to report any suspicious operations” to the authorities, unlike many other institutions that handle large sums of money. Because of this, an auction house is likely the only place, at least in the United States, where you could conceivably pay for something worth millions of dollars in cash and not have it be that big of a big deal.

It’s worth noting that your bank would still report the withdrawal of the cash to pay the auction house to the IRS who in turn would probably be very curious about where exactly the money went come tax season. Thus, the insanely wealthy person could very much expect to get a call about what they were doing with those funds, or at least their accountant would likely get such a call.

Unsurprisingly from all this, while it’s technically possible to pay for something worth millions of dollars at an auction house with cash, in relatively recent history with so many other more convenient ways to pay, we were unable to find any evidence of such a transaction ever taking place, though presumably Floyd Mayweather has had some whopper of cash payments for things over the years, unless he’s just re-depositing that cash he withdraws after he’s gotten sufficient “showing off” mileage out of it.

Either way, given the truly shocking number of laws there are concerning large cash transactions, opening one’s self up for scrutiny from the IRS is something even the obscenely wealthy don’t enjoy. Those guys got Al Capone- they can get anyone.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

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Has Anyone Ever Really Inherited Millions from a Random Person They’ve Never Heard Of?

Jessica K. asks: Has anyone ever inherited millions of dollars from a long-lost relative they’ve never heard of like happens in movies?

If you’re like, well, pretty much everyone, at some point you’ve received an email claiming you’ve inherited a large sum of money from some person you’ve never heard of. All you have to do to get it is provide various bits of personal data to verify you are who they think you are and, of course, your bank account information so the deceased’s crack legal team can deposit money… But has anyone ever actually received such a missive noting they’ve inherited a large sum from someone they don’t even know and had it not be a scam?

It turns out, yes. Absolutely. In fact, while it’s certainly uncommon in some sense, it doesn’t take much digging at all to find a variety of known cases of this happening, and presumably there are many, many more instances that have never made the newsreels.

To start with we have the case of a man listed in the newspaper clipping describing the event called only Dr. Meszaros. The good doctor willed around $50,000 in 1930 (about $770,000 today) to an actress by the name of Corin Ward. This came as a rather large shock to the young Miss Ward who Meszaros had never bothered to even introduce himself to. Before receiving the windfall, she hadn’t even known he existed. It was presumed in the news report that Meszaros must have been in love with the beautiful actress.

Apparently a good year for actresses, or at least in this case a former actress, also in 1930 we have the case of one Lillian Malrup.  Five years previous, Malrup inherited $60,000 (approximately $872,000 today) from her uncle George La’Lamontdier. Her uncle made his fortune, along with a business partner named Henri de la Salle, during the Alaskan gold rush.

Five years later, Malrup would receive an even greater windfall from her uncle’s former business partner who she’d never met and only knew of at all from a couple passing references her uncle had made in letters to her years before. How much did this mysterious business partner leave this young woman he’d never met? A whopping $700,000 (about $10.7 million today), which was no doubt a welcome thing to deposit into her account coming on the heels of the 1929 stock market crash.  He left only one stipulation to her getting the money- that she set aside $100,000 (about $1.5 million today) in a trust and use the interest from that fund for scholarships for college students.

In yet another case from the early 20th century, we have the rather odd story of Archibald McArthur- a man who deserves an article of his own. But to sum up his life story for now, as a young man he moved to Dodgeville, Wisconsin, arriving with almost literally nothing but the clothes on his back and a degree from Lawrence college. On his first day in town, he worked sawing logs in exchange for a bed to sleep in that night and a hot meal.

He subsequently spent the next couple decades making a fortune, living lavishly and then, for reasons known only to him, very suddenly liquidated all his assets, became a vegetarian, grew a rather Dumbledore-esk beard, and took a vow of poverty. He lived in a shack from then on and mostly just hung out in a nearby cemetery reading philosophy books and poetry. According to a January 31, 1926 article from the Milwaukee Journal, he  told people who asked that he preferred hanging out with the dead more than the living.

After a few decades living like this, at the age of 78 he seems to have felt the call all elderly feel at some point, and decided to move to Florida. He thus bought a car, drove to Florida, sold the car, and died a few years later. Beyond a few other bequests, including randomly leaving $15,000 (about $216,000 today) to the son of a woman, Mrs. Jane Joyce, whose family he’d been friends with when he was young, he left the bulk of his estate, $300,000 (about $4 million today) to a young clerk by the name of George Rafferty he once met on a park bench in Jacksonville, Florida.

Moving on we have the case of Wellington Burt, who decided not to leave the majority of his reasonably respectable fortune to his living family members, but rather to his future family. He stipulated in his will that the majority of his estate was not to be divided up until 21 years after his last grandchild died. Burt died all the way back in 1919, with his last remaining grandchild dying in 1989. When the trust was cashed out in 2010, it had grown to a whopping $110 million, which was divided up between 12 of his descendants.

In perhaps the largest sum ever inherited by someone who did not know the person who bequeathed it to them, we have the case of Zsolt and Geza Peladi, who were literally living in a cave near Budapest when they were painstakingly tracked down and then, once found, were informed they had inherited over $6 billion- yes, billion- from a grandmother they’d never met. Said Geza of this, “We knew our mother came from a wealthy family, but she was a difficult person and severed ties with them, and then later abandoned us and we lost touch with her and our father until she eventually died.”

In fact, according to Geza, the grandmother had not even known the pair existed. It was her lawyers that learned of their births about four decades previous and hired someone to track them down.

Alright, so those are exceptional cases. What about for everyday Joe Shmows like you and me? It turns out instances of unclaimed estates of people who died without a will or an immediate heir aren’t that uncommon. This is noted to be, in part, because people are horrible at getting around to making wills. For example, in the UK, only about half of the adults in the country have bothered to do this.

So how do you find out if you’re one such lucky individual due an inheritance that you don’t know about?

When a person dies either without a will or with a will that isn’t valid or applicable for whatever reason, they’re classified as dying “intestate”. In the UK, for example, this results in their estate passing on to the Government Legal Department- specifically to a department called, Bona Vacantia which literally translates to “vacant goods”.  Bona Vacantia, who acts on behalf of the Crown, will then make its best efforts to track down the closest living kin of the deceased.

If Bona Vacantia cannot find an entitled blood relative, the onus then falls on the potential heir of the deceased to make a claim. To assist this, Bona Vacantia maintains a frequently updated, easily searchable list of every unclaimed estate in the country.

If a match is found, one of the first things a potential claimant has to do is figure out where they fall on the so called “order of priority”, essentially a list detailing who, in the eyes of the Crown, is entitled to an unclaimed estate starting from husbands and wives on down to half aunts and uncles and their children.

In essence, anyone who falls into one of these categories can theoretically make a claim on an unclaimed estate, though their claim could be superseded by a counterclaim from someone higher on the list.

As for those who simply don’t even know to check if they’re owed some inheritance, there are so-called heir hunters who make their living tracking down the distant relatives of people whose estates lie unclaimed and charging a premium for bringing this knowledge to a person’s attention- in the UK usually a small percentage of the total estate’s value.

In any event, once a claim has been made and Bona Vacantia is happy that a person’s status as a legitimate heir is established through genealogy records, the amount of the estate they’re entitled to will be paid out.

If after 30 years the estate remains unclaimed, it will be dissolved and added to the Treasury. Exactly how much money this amounts to on a given year is unclear, but it’s known that in between 2013 and 2014, a cool £14million in unclaimed money went to the Crown.

As for making making a claim like this in the United States and really in many nations, similar to the the UK, individual states maintain lists of unclaimed property and estates that can be accessed and searched by the public- the scope and accuracy of which vary on a state by state basis.

Again, as with the UK, if a person in the US dies without a will or with a will that isn’t considered valid, the government will take control of their estate. However, there are some notable differences. For a start, while the Crown has a blanket policy of holding estates for 30 years before it goes to the Crown, some States, such as Texas, will do the same after just 4 years. Again, the statute of limitations when it comes to making a claim on an estate varies depending on where you are.

As for what happens to unclaimed money when it is ultimately turned over to the state, that also depends with individual States being largely free to choose what it does with the money. For example, Maryland gives the money from unclaimed estates directly to the Board of Education, unless the deceased died in the care of Maryland Medical Assistance Program, in which case the estate will go to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Like in the UK, so-called heir hunters may also track down distant relatives who have a potential claim to an unclaimed estate. However, unlike in the UK, companies offering such a service are usually (though not always) acting on behalf of the government. As the Heir Hunters Association notes:

Most state organisations make every effort to trace beneficiaries using probate researchers (who may also be called probate detectives or heir hunters). Usually specialist firms are appointed on a regular basis and may work on a fee basis paid from the entire estate, or contingency where tracing fees are deductible from a beneficiaries share.

Finally, while there are some cases of a Brewster’s Millions type scenario involving someone inheriting massive sums from an eccentric, long-lost uncle they didn’t know about, most cases we researched concerned far more modest estates, more in the thousand of dollars range instead of millions or billions. This kind of makes sense if you think about. Because, come on, when an obscenely rich person dies, there are always people lying around who will be quick to try to claim a piece of the pie, whether there is a will or not. For perhaps the most famous case of this happening, do read our piece on What Happened to Howard Hughes’ Fortune After He Died?

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Facts:

  • In perhaps one of the most touching cases of someone being bequeathed something they didn’t know about upon the death of another, we have the case of famed comedian Jack Benny. Not long after he died, his wife of 47 years, Mary Livingstong, received a knock at the door. When she answered it, she was given a single red rose from a local florist. The next day she received another. The next another. And again and again. It turns out Benny had stipulated in his will that funds were to be set aside for a florist to deliver a rose to his beloved wife every single day for the rest of her life. All total, more than 3,000 roses were delivered over the course of the remaining nine years of her life.
  • Going the other way on the love meter, famed poet Heinrich Hein decided to leave his entire estate to his wife when he died in 1856. While you might think that that is a natural and loving thing to do, it came with one condition- she would not receive it until she re-married. As for his reason, to quote his will, so that “there will be at least one man to regret my death…”
  • Speaking of hundreds of millions of pounds worth of unclaimed estates sitting around doing nothing, it turns out the U.K. government itself is currently slated to inherent nearly four hundred million pounds from an unknown donor who left approximately £500,000 in a trust to the government in 1928.  So why hasn’t this been given to the government yet?  The donor included a stipulation that the fund was not to be bequeathed until such time as it is sufficient to pay off the country’s national debt, which is currently just shy of two trillion pounds or about 6,000 times the current sum held in trust.  In the meantime, it’s something of a cash cow for the Baring Brothers law firm and Barclays investment bank, these days earning a cool million or so pounds per year for them for their services in managing the trust.
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Animal Facts Part 3: A Doughnut Brain, Dung and the Milky Way, Ant Overlords and More

In this episode of The Brain Food Show, we start by looking at the massive creature that has a doughnut shaped brain with its esophagus running right through the middle.

Next we discuss Wix! Go to https://www.wix.com/go/brainfood to get started on your website today!
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Next up we begin by looking at the fascinating reason Dung Beetles do a little happy dance after they find and roll up some poop. We then move on to a myriad of fascinating facts about various ants, including their absolutely remarkable ability to find the most efficient route to something, which has in recent years been used by humans to come up with more efficient algorithms for a variety of applications. We follow all that up discussing a rather unique and hilarious way school swimming herring talk to each other.

On another note, if you could do us a huge favor and rate and review this show in whatever podcasting platform you’re using (including hopefully giving us some feedback related to the new format), we would be extremely grateful. Thanks!

(You can also discuss this episode and view references on The BrainFood Show forum here.)

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The Poison Squad – The Men Who Volunteered to Let the Government Poison Them

Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as food began to be more and more mass produced and shipped long distances, instead of locally grown and sold fresh, it was basically the Wild West in regards to food production and there were no real official regulations on what you could add to food, or even that if you labeled something chicken, that it had to contain any chicken at all. And as there were also no rules about reporting any ingredients, businesses pretty much did whatever they pleased.

To give you an idea of the kind of stuff the food and drug industries were cramming into things, secretly adding morphine to children’s cough syrup was a thing and, more pertinent to the subject at hand today, commonly used preservatives back then included borax, formaldehyde, sulfuric acid, and copper sulfate, just to name a few. It also wasn’t uncommon to use lead for coloring candy or to do things like grind up various organs and scraps from animals and sell it as chicken meat; grind up white rocks and clay to fill out flour; and use sawdust, charcoal and ground up charred animal bones to fill out coffee grounds.

As an example of how widespread selling a product as one thing when it was actually something else was, in one experiment conducted by our hero of the hour, Dr. Harvey Wiley, his team found that 9 out of the 10 maple syrup brands sold in Indiana did not actually include any maple syrup in their supposedly pure maple syrup product.

By the turn of the century, the state of the food industry had become a major cause for concern in terms of public health, but nobody was bothering to do anything about. Enter Dr. Wiley and his Hygenic Table Trials. The experiments were designed to test the safety of various preservatives commonly used by the food industry at the time.

Although they began in 1902, Dr. Wiley had been petitioning the government to conduct such experiments for a couple decades (reportedly from almost the moment he scored the gig of chief chemist at the Department of Agriculture in 1883), only to be rebuffed by his bosses when food industry lobbyists caught wind of what he was up to.

Finally in 1902 though, Wiley was given $5,000 (about $143,000 today) and permission to do whatever was necessary to test the safety of various food preservatives. Permission in hand, he set about finding 12 volunteers for a series of experiments the media would come to dub “The Poison Squad Trials”.

While you might think finding volunteers to potentially ingest something harmful to the human body would be difficult, Dr. Wiley would later note that he was inundated with requests from men (women weren’t allowed to take part in the experiment) wanting to join. For example, in one letter, the individual in question wrote,

Dear Sir,

I read in the paper of your experiments on diet. I have a stomach can stand anything. I have a stomach that will surprise you. I am afflicted with 7 diseases. Never went to a doctor for 15 years. They told me 15 years age that I could not live 8 months. What do you think of it? My stomach can hold anything…

Of course, it helped that Wiley was also offering a bit of pay for the gig and providing free lodging and prepared meals for a minimum of six months, with the person otherwise being able to go about their regular lives at normal jobs and the like.

Owing to the nature of the experiment, volunteers were expected to be in perfect health and during their time taking part were given the best medical care money could provide. In return, all the volunteers had to do was eat whatever Wiley put in front of them and agree not to sue him or the government if they suffered serious complications.

The general method used to ensure safety and figure out if the doses in common product were bad was to start with ultra low doses and slowly ramp up over time until the subjects started having adverse effects, if any.

As for the experiments themselves, they began by establishing a baseline for vitals on each subject over the course of weeks and then the fun began, starting with borax which was commonly used to preserve meat at the time. Initially the plan was to add the borax to the food, but Wiley quickly noticed that as the dosage ramped up volunteers started avoiding anything the borax was added to due to its strong, metallic taste. Thus, he simply began giving volunteers a capsule full of borax at the end of each meal instead.

To keep track of any and all effects the borax had on the volunteers, their vital signs were carefully measured several times a day and they were forbidden from eating any outside food so as to not contaminate the findings. Each man’s poop and pee was also analysed extensively and every volunteer was given a medical satchel containing various vials and containers they were asked to do their business into during their day-to-day lives away from the house the experiment was taking place in.

The effects of the borax were noticed within weeks, with volunteers complaining of everything from headaches to depression and symptoms getting more and more severe as time went on.

That said, for the most part volunteers, who were occasionally rotated out when transitioning to a new substance to minimize the chances of long term health problems, remained in good spirits for the five years the experiments took place. Notable exceptions to this were a few months into the borax experiments where volunteers briefly went on strike due to the symptoms becoming severe, as well as during trials involving formaldehyde. At the time this was commonly used as a preservative in various dairy products, but caused such debilitating illness in volunteers almost right away that Wiley cut the experiment short out of concern for their safety.

Other than this, the group that the media would come to dub The Poison Squad seemed to enjoy the experiments and some of the things tested didn’t have any apparent adverse effects, like sodium benzoate, making for a rather pleasant few months for that set of volunteers.

To add a touch of class to the proceedings, volunteers would dress in formal attire for evening meals, which, in addition to making these meals seem fancy, made for excellent publicity shots- shots which appeared in papers across the country alongside stories discussing the details of the experiments.

These stories were immensely popular with the public, particularly when the substances were causing ill effects. The food industry, however, were less enthusiastic with the findings, which showed a lot of the then common preservatives were really bad for you. Thus, they used their collective might and political sway to suppress papers Wiley wrote on the experiments. These efforts were ultimately fruitless, however, as Wiley saw to it that his reports got leaked to the press anyway.

When efforts to block the release of his findings failed, various industry insiders took to attacking Wiley’s credibility instead, as well as spouting rhetoric like claiming he was a “man who is doing all he can to destroy American business” and the like.

In the end, the mob was roused thanks to the expirements, spearheaded by Women’s Clubs across the country who tirelessly lobbied for what would become the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, aptly nicknamed The Wiley Act.

This Act, among other things, put in place rules requiring listing ingredients on labels so consumers could know, at least to some extent, what they were actually getting. The idea at this point was not so much to regulate the industries directly, but rather increase transparency so the consumers could decide whether they wanted to drink something that used formaldehyde as a preservative, for example.

This Act, however, still left an amazing amount of wiggle room for various companies to exploit, culminating in the infamous Elixir Sulfanilamide Incident that condemned over 107 people (most of whom were children) to a slow and excruciating death thanks to the company involved adding a known highly poisonous compound to their product simply because it helped the main ingredient dissolve well in the mixture… Even when the death count started rolling in almost immediately, the company still only sent a telegram to doctors telling them to return the product, but didn’t bother telling them why or express the seriousness of the issue, so many ignored the telegram and continued to accidentally kill their patients. More on this shortly in the Bonus Fact below.

Going back to the Poison Squad, the experiments formally ended in 1907 and although Wiley would eventually be credited as being instrumental in the first significant step towards making sure food consumed in the U.S. is reasonably safe, the contributions of the members of the Poison Squad have been largely overlooked. This is largely due to the fact that volunteers were anonymous, meaning in most cases their names aren’t known, though their badass moniker of “The Poison Squad” has certainly endured.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Fact:

As noted, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, still left an amazing amount of leeway to poison people to save a buck without any real consequences. This leads us to the Elixir Sulfanilamide Incident.  In a nutshell, sulfanilamide is actually a perfectly safe antibiotic when administered properly, and was used, among other things, at the time to good effect at treating streptococcal infections. However, in an attempt to create a liquid version of the drug (it normally came in either powder or tablet form), the lead chemist at S.E. Massengill Company, Harold Cole Watkins, mixed it with diethylene glycol, commonly used today in antifreeze and as a solvent.

At the time, it was known that diethylene glycol was highly poisonous to humans (most notably causing kidney failure), but Watkins did not know this when he decided to use it in the company’s elixir. He chose it owing to how well sulfanilamide dissolved in the substance and because diethylene glycol tastes slightly sweet, making it particularly good for getting children to take their medicine.

In this case, even animal testing would not have been required to discover the substance was toxic. Watkins would have merely needed to do a surface level look into the compound, with several previous published studies noting diethylene glycol, even in relatively small doses, would cause kidney damage and potentially failure of said organ. But no such due-diligence research nor testing to determine the safety of such an elixir before putting it on the market was required at the time.

Blissfully unaware that they were about to start selling a tasty tonic of death to their customers, S.E. Massengill sent out 633 shipments of the elixir in the autumn of 1937 to pharmacists across the nation.

It didn’t take long for disturbing reports to begin coming in, including news of deaths trickling back to S.E. Massengill Co, resulting in them issuing telegrams requesting the elixir be sent back for a full refund, though not disclosing to pharmacists the seriousness of the issue if they ignored the telegram.

This all was capped by a short and truly heart wrenching letter by one Marie Nidiffer to President Franklin D. Roosevelt describing what happened in the days following administering the drug to her 6 year old daughter, who at the time was suffering from a sore throat:

The first time I ever had occasion to call in a doctor for [Joan] and she was given Elixir of Sulfanilamide. All that is left to us is the caring for her little grave. Even the memory of her is mixed with sorrow for we can see her little body tossing to and fro and hear that little voice screaming with pain and it seems as though it would drive me insane. … It is my plea that you will take steps to prevent such sales of drugs that will take little lives and leave such suffering behind and such a bleak outlook on the future as I have tonight.

As for Dr. Samual Evans Massengill, who owned S.E. Massengill Co., he responded to the many dozens of deaths caused by his company’s negligence by issuing the following statement:

My chemists and I deeply regret the fatal results, but there was no error in the manufacture of the product. We have been supplying a legitimate professional demand and no one could have foreseen the unlooked-for results. I do not feel that there was any responsibility on our part…

Needless to say, when all this came to light, the public were more than a little outraged, with S.E. Massengill’s somewhat brazen statement that his drug company wasn’t responsible for making sure their products weren’t simply poison at the recommended dose before selling them.

To add to the tragedy, it appears Harold Watkins did not quite have the clear conscience of Dr. Massengill, with Watkins sadly committing suicide not long after it came to light that his error had resulted in the deaths of over 100 people.

In the end, the Elixir Sulfanilamide Incident was the final straw, spurring an upgraded to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 in the form of the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to hopefully prevent such a tragedy from occurring again. Among other things, the Act required that for the first time in US history, drug makers had to demonstrate to the FDA that drugs were reasonably safe before they could be marketed to the public, set standards for how different kinds of food should look and be packaged, and specified legal maximums for “certain poisonous substances” commonly added to food and drink at the time.

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Could the Queen Get Away with Murder Legally?

Mavos asks: If the queen happened to kill someone can she be prosecuted?

As the current monarch of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and a bunch of other countries that have her on their money, the Queen enjoys something known as sovereign immunity. In a nutshell, sovereign, or crown immunity as it is sometimes known, means that the Queen is for all intents and purposes above the law. So does this mean that the Queen could just up and kill somebody if she felt like it, all the while getting off scot free? In theory, yes, absolutely.

It turns out the queen can commit any crime just about anywhere in the world and get away with it legally thanks to the fact that she enjoys both sovereign immunity and diplomatic immunity. As we’ve discussed in our article on whether diplomats can really get away with murder, diplomatic immunity is so exceptionally far reaching in its scope that a person protected by it could indeed go all Lethal Weapon 2 on everyone with total impunity.

The one problem for those diplomats, however, is that their home nations would in all likelihood not take kindly to them doing so and, beyond recalling them, they’d likely face prosecution at home for these acts if they were serious enough crimes. (Although, as we discussed in that piece, minor crimes like flouting any and all traffic rules and racking up many thousands of dollars in parking tickets without bothering to ever pay tends to be seemingly every nations’ diplomats favorite passtime.)

Going back to the queen, however, unlike most with diplomatic immunity, she does not technically have to worry about what anyone in the UK thinks.

You see, part of her immunity stems from the fact that all justice in the United Kingdom and various other countries she rules is meted out in her name. Now, obviously the Queen doesn’t personally dispense justice like the Kings and Queens of yore, among other reasons because doing so would be impractical. As a result of this, whilst the Queen is considered the “fount of justice” for her subjects, the ability to administer it is doled out to judges across Britain- all of whom are granted the post-nominal of QC (standing for Queen’s Counsel) as a nod to their position as an extension of the Queen’s will.

Likewise, the Crown Court similarly dispenses justice in the Queen’s name and as a result, all cases brought before it are tried as The Crown Versus *Blank*. Unsurprisingly from this, it is not technically possible for the Queen herself to be tried before the Crown Court as it would involve her prosecuting, well, herself.

Looking more deeply, her sovereign immunity also makes it so that the Queen cannot be tried in civil proceedings either, meaning she cannot be sued or have other such civil proceedings brought against her. The Queen also cannot be forced to testify in open court or even be interviewed by the police, not that this matters seeing as she also can’t be arrested.

And even if she could be legally arrested for a crime, it wouldn’t matter anyway. You see, technically no arrest can be made “in the monarch’s presence” without her consent. Thus, arresting her is impossible on this count too because it would most definitely have to happen in her presence.

In addition, as if it being impossible to arrest someone just standing near the Queen, let alone the Queen herself, this protection extends to her various palaces too, meaning the police can’t arrest anyone, including the Queen, in any place she currently inhabits unless she gives assent.

It’s perhaps also worth mentioning that all prisoners in the United Kingdom are held “at her Majesty’s leisure” (which is why the Queen can pardon criminals if she so wills it), meaning she could just walk out of prison anyway by telling everyone to let her go.

Speaking of the police, as with the justice system, they too are charged with dispensing justice in the Queen’s name and all members of British law enforcement, upon joining the force, must swear an oath that reads, in part – “I will well and truly serve the Queen in the office of constable.”

Or to put it another way, the Queen is the absolute authority of the entire UK policing system and her word is, quite literally, law. As a result, the Queen could theoretically shut down any attempt made to arrest her by simply telling the officer to go away.

Now you might say if she did all this, surely Parliament would step in and curtail the murderous Queen’s powers to ensure she could be prosecuted.

The problem is that all laws proposed by Parliament require what is known as Royal Assent before they can be enshrined into British law. As the name suggests, Royal Assent comes directly from the Queen herself so a parliament looking to prosecute the Queen would need the Queen to authorise the bill limiting her own powers, which she obviously would not do if she suddenly decided to start treating life like a game of Grand Theft Auto.

Another avenue that could be pursued in regards to prosecuting the Queen would be to force her to abdicate, removing the many protections she enjoys. To be clear though, this wouldn’t necessarily open the Queen up to prosecution as, under British law, nothing she does as Queen can be considered illegal- it’d just mean she could be prosecuted for any further crimes she happened to commit after.

It’s also worth noting here that the Queen has the power to completely dissolve Parliament if she so chooses and cause a whole new set of people to be elected. And if this group displeased her, she is free to do it again and again. It’s also the Queen’s duty to appoint the prime minister and she could, in theory, appoint anyone she wanted to the position, regardless of the way the British public voted in any elections. So installing someone who would do what she wanted would not be any real hurdle.

Thus, it would take a literal revolution for Parliament to rewrite the laws concerning the Queen without her consent.

There’s a potential problem with this too, though. You see, the Queen is the Commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces. As former professional head of the British Armed forces, Lord Charles Guthrie once noted, “The armed forces are loyal, and we live in a democracy, but actually their ultimate authority is the Queen.”

Yes, like with the police, every member of the Armed Forces in Britain swears an oath of fealty to the Queen and she is considered the ultimate authority in regards to military matters. Thus, if there was an attempt at a Parliamentary revolution and members of Parliament refused to step down as they were rewriting British law without the Queen’s consent, she could simply order the British Armed Forces to forcibly remove them from power or even line them all up and have them executed. The question then would be, in such a scenario, would they honor their oaths to the Queen?

Speaking of her power over the various groups of highly trained armed forces, the Queen has a remarkable number of ways she could theoretically kill someone if she felt so inclined, without need to get her own hands bloody. For example, she could instruct a crack team of SAS commandos to silently make a person disappear, tell her personal guard to charge them with their bayonets, or ask the Red Arrows to crash into someone’s house.

Again, whether the soldier, sailor or airmen in question would honor their oaths and listen to the order is another matter entirely- but the point is, if the Queen ever gave such an order there is no authority on Earth that could legally override it save for herself.

On top of that, if any investigation was every put in place to see why these soldiers had gone on their murder spree, the Queen not only could not be questioned in court, as previously mentioned, but also ignore the matter entirely as, despite her prominent political position, she and everything to do with her private life are exempt from any Freedom of Information requests.

If the Queen felt particularly gung-ho she could even personally declare war on any nation or person and, thanks to her Royal Prerogative, need not consult anyone about it before hand. In fact, she could even authorise a nuclear strike on a person anywhere in the world via Britain’s secretive and expansive network of nuclear submarines, again thanks to the fact that all of the men and women stationed aboard these vessels swear to put the Queen’s orders before all others.

Now you might say a foreign power might get pretty upset if that nuclear strike happened on their soil, and the International Criminal Courts might also try to step in, but if they decided to tangle with this rather formidable woman, the Queen could theoretically make her army larger by commandeering any ships that entered British waters (another power of hers) and by commanding the various armies of the commonwealth (all of whom swear a similar oath of fealty to the crown, same as the British armed forces) to come to her aid- that’s a lot of nations and military might.

Again, how many of these armies would listen, particularly after she decided to go all Armageddon on the world, is irrelevant to the legal discussion at hand- what matters is that the Queen technically has the ability to do all this and that nobody could legally stop her.

Despite the tremendous power she theoretically wields and the fact that she enjoys a “unique legal status” as monarch making her totally and unequivocally above the law, the Queen doesn’t utilise even an iota of her full powers. Why? Well, mainly to keep in the good graces of her subjects with it being noted by the official website of the British Monarchy that , “Although civil and criminal proceedings cannot be taken against the Sovereign as a person under UK law, The Queen is careful to ensure that all her activities in her personal capacity are carried out in strict accordance with the law.”

At the end of the day, she herself swore an oath to her subjects, which she seems to have spent her many decades as Queen taking very seriously. Specifically, in her speech at her 21st birthday, she stated, “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

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What Were Those Weird Metal Things on the Beaches During the Normandy Invasion?

Joshua T. asks: What were all those metal things you see on the beaches in pictures of the Omaha landing?

The Normandy Invasions represented one of the single largest military maneuvers in history. Beginning on June 6, 1944, D-Day (see, What does the “D” in D-Day stand for?), the invasion was the largest amphibious assault of all time and involved what basically amounted to the collective might of a large percentage of the nations in the industrialized world working in tandem to defeat the Nazi war machine. One of the most iconic images of the invasion was that of a French beach covered in oppressive-looking metal crosses. As it turns out, those crosses were merely a small part of an expansive network of sophisticated defences the Allies managed to somehow circumvent in mere hours.

Dubbed “the Atlantic Wall” and constructed under the direct orders of Adolf Hitler himself in his Directive 40, the formidable defences stretched and astounding 2000 miles of the European coast. Intended to ward off an Allied invasion, the Atlantic Wall consisted of endless batteries of guns, an estimated five million mines (of both the sea and land variety) and many thousands of soldiers who occupied heavily fortified bunkers and fortresses along its length.

The wall has been described as a “three-tier system of fortifications” where the most valuable and vulnerable locations were the most heavily fortified while positions of lesser importance became known as “resistance points” that were more lightly defended but would still pose an imposing obstacle to any invasion force.

In the rush to create defences, gun batteries were haphazardly thrown together, consisting of basically whatever the Nazis could get their hands on. As a result, everything from heavy machine guns to massive cannons cut from captured French warships were utilized in the construction of fortresses and bunkers. Though they looked threatening, this “confusing mixture of sizes and calibres” proved to be an issue for the Nazis when they couldn’t scrape together the ammunition to arm them all. Still, the guns, in combination with the several other layers of defences, were believed to make the coast of Europe “impregnable”.

The largest of these guns represented the first line of defence of the Atlantic Wall and the Germans spent countless hours practise shelling “designated killing zones” experts predicted Allied ships would most likely use to invade. After this were expansive submarine nets and magnetic mines chained to the ocean floor to deter submarines and ships. In shallower water, the Nazis attached mines to sticks and buried large logs deep in the sand pointed outwards towards the ocean- the idea being boats would either be taken out by the mines or have their bows broken against the poles.

After this was a defensive emplacement known as the Belgian gate which were large heavy fences attached to steel rollers which could be positioned in the shallows. Following this were millions of mines lying just beneath the sands waiting for soldiers who managed to make it ashore.

Along with all of this, there were also those metal cross thingies- or to give them their proper name, Czech hedgehogs.

As the name suggests, the Czech hedgehog was invented in Czechoslovakia and was mostly designed to serve as a deterrent for tanks and other armoured vehicles, as well as in this particular case if the tide was right, approaching ships attempting to land on shore.

Originally designed to sit along the Czechoslovakia-Germany border as part of a massive fortification effort conducted in the 1930s, the hedgehogs never ended up serving their original purpose when the region was annexed by Germany in 1938.

It’s reported that the Czechs originally wanted to build a large wall between the two countries, but a cheaper solution was found in the form of these hedgehogs, which could be mass-produced by simply bolting together beams of steel.

So what purpose did they serve? Put simply, if a tank or other such vehicle tried to drive over one, the result was inevitably it becoming stuck on the thing, and even in some cases having the bottom of the tank pieced by the hedgehog. When used on a beach like this, as previously alluded to, they also had the potential to pierce the hulls of ships approaching the shores if the tide was high at the time.

On top of that, particularly the anchored variety of hedgehogs proved difficult to move quickly as even massive explosions didn’t really do much of anything to them.

Speaking of anchored hedgehogs, it isn’t strictly necessary for the hedgehogs to be anchored to anything normally. It turns out that tanks trying to drive over the unanchored ones had a good chance of getting themselves stuck just the same. In these cases what would usually happen was the hedgehog would roll slightly as the tank tried to power its way over, with then the weight of the tank often causing the steel I-beams to pierce the bottom of the tank, completely immobilizing it. In fact, in testing, unanchored hedgehogs proved slightly more effective than their anchored variety against heavy vehicles.

However, because of the tide issue in this case, to keep the hedgehogs in place, those closest to the water did have thick concrete bases anchoring them in the sand.

Using about a million tons of steel and about 17 million cubic meters of concrete, the broken wall these Czech Hedghogs created was a much more viable option than trying to create a solid wall over such a span, while also not giving the enemy forces too much cover, as a more solid wall would have done.

That said, while initially a deterrent, the hedgehogs ended up helping the Allies after the beaches were secured, as they proved to be a valuable source of steel and concrete that was repurposed for the war effort. For example, almost immediately some of the steel beams were welded to tanks, turning them into very effective mobile battering rams.

Yes you read that correctly- the Allies cut up dedicated anti-tank fortifications and welded them to their tanks to make them even more badass of weapons.

The Soviets also made extensive use of Czech hedgehogs, often using the concrete to literally cement them in place in cities and along bridges to halt German armored divisions in their tracks. As you can imagine, just one of these in a narrow street proved to be an extremely effective barrier that also left the enemy trying to get rid of it open to weapon fire.

While some Czech hedgehogs were constructed to specific factory specifications, which stipulated exact measurements (usually 1.4 meters in height) and materials (anything sturdy enough to survive around 500 tonnes of force), most were made of scavenged materials.

In the end, the hedgehogs along with the countless other fortifications proved to be a formidable, but not impassable obstacle for the Allies. In fact, thanks to a massive, concerted bombardment effort from the naval and air-based forces of the Allies, strategic commando strikes, and the bravery of the hundreds of thousands of troops who physically stormed the beaches all those years ago, all of the defences were bypassed in a matter of hours, though at the cost of several thousand lives on D-Day alone.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Facts:

  • The beaches of Normandy were shelled so heavily and so thoroughly mined that to this day it’s estimated that 4% of the beach still consists of shrapnel.
  • Czech hedgehogs are near identical in design (save for their massive size) to caltrops- a tiny metal device designed to always land with a jagged spike pointed straight into the air used extensively throughout history to hinder advancing enemy, particularly effective against horses, camels, and elephants, but also foot soldiers.
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