Operation Bernhard


Operation Bernhard was the name of a secret German plan devised during World War II to destabilise the British economy by flooding the country with forged Bank of England £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes.

The plan was directed by, and named after, SS Major (Sturmbannführer) Bernhard Krüger, who set up a team of 142 counterfeiters from among inmates at Sachsenhausen concentration camp at first, and then from others, especially Auschwitz.

Beginning in 1942, the work of engraving the complex printing plates, developing the appropriate rag-based paper with the correct watermarks, and breaking the code to generate valid serial numbers was extremely difficult, but by the time Sachsenhausen was evacuated in April 1945, the printing press there had produced 8,965,080 banknotes with a total value of £134,610,810. The notes are considered among the most perfect counterfeits ever produced, being extremely difficult although not impossible to distinguish from the real thing.

Although the initial plan was to destabilise the British economy by dropping the notes from aircraft, on the assumption that while some honest people would hand them in most people would keep the notes, in practice this plan was not put into effect.

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Cannabis Myth?


“George Washington smoked cannabis.”


Ruling:
False. As far as we know, he farmed hemp for economical purposes.

Analysis:
Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp at their farms. In Virginia, hemp was promoted at the time as an alternative cash crop to tobacco, since it did not deplete the soil as much. Hemp was also useful for rope, paper, and clothing. Now, even though there was no social stigma attached to smoking pot at the time, there is no evidence to suggest Washington also smoked the plant. Having said that, Thomas Jefferson did at some point trade hemp seeds with another farmer in Missouri, which by many modern standards would qualify him as a dealer.

See other: Mythconceptions?

Why Facts do not Matter


Social scientists have some intriguing explanations for why people persist in misjudgements despite strong contrary evidence. In fact, studies conducted over the past 30 years show that attempts to refute false information often backfire and lead people to hold on to their misperceptions even more strongly.

A 2015 behavioural science article examined the puzzle of why nearly one-third of U.S. parents believe that childhood vaccines cause autism, despite overwhelming medical evidence that there’s no such link. In such cases, the study noted, “arguing the facts doesn’t help — in fact, it makes the situation worse.” The reason is that people tend to accept arguments that confirm their views and discount facts that challenge what they believe.[1] Continue reading

Morton’s Fork


A character is presented two alternatives, A and B. If the character chooses A, then something bad happens. If they choose B, a similar or identical bad thing happens—but for a different reason.

Consider the following excerpt from the Jacobean play Pericles, Prince of Tyre, which is at least partly attributed to Shakespeare:

I am no viper, yet I feed
On mother’s flesh which did me breed.
I sought a husband, in which labour
I found that kindness in a father:
He’s father, son, and husband mild;
I mother, wife, and yet his child.
How they may be, and yet in two,
As you will live, resolve it you.
Pericles, Prince of Tyre (Act I, Scene I) Continue reading

On Unattainability of Understanding


“It is only possible to succeed at second-rate pursuits — like becoming a millionaire or a prime minister, winning a war, seducing beautiful women, flying through the stratosphere or landing on the moon. First-rate pursuits involving, as they must, trying to understand what life is about and trying to convey that understanding — inevitably result in a sense of failure. A Napoleon, a Churchill, a Roosevelt can feel themselves to be successful, but never a Socrates, a Pascal, a Blake. Understanding is for ever unattainable. Therein lies the inevitability of failure in embarking upon its quest, which is none the less the only one worthy of serious attention.”

– Malcolm Muggeridge

19/v mmxvi


Gagingwell is a hamlet in West Oxfordshire, England.

Until Abramic religions were introduced in Egyptian society, women had been independent, empowered and emancipated citizens.

Roman Emperor Vespasian introduced a tax on the sale of urine. Therefore, the phrase pecunia non olet, ‘money does not stink’, is ascribed to him.

Mutterkuchen, the German word for placenta literally means ‘mother cake’.

Stravinsky had an affair with Coco Chanel in the summer of 1920. He was revising the Rite of Spring at the time, and she was about to launch Chanel No.5.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Conversations: Conservatism and Society


Helena
The United States is unique among wealthy democracies in its level of religious adherence; it is also uniquely beleaguered by high rates of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, and infant mortality.

Sappho
Sadly, the same comparison holds true within the United States itself: Southern and Midwestern states, characterized by the highest levels of religious literalism, are especially plagued by the above indicators of societal dysfunction, while the comparatively secular states of the Northeast conform to European norms.

Lysandra
Hang on, political party affiliation in the United States is not a perfect indicator of religiosity! Continue reading