Oh what, you thought the 21st century invented weird things? Nope, it’s Weird Things all the way down! They just teach you the boring necessary stuff in school and leave out all of the juicy details. If you lived a hundred years ago you’d be shaking your fist just as much. Of course, they didn’t have Twitter back then so you would probably have to read the funny papers more often.
Tacky tattoos last forever, but once they’re out of sight they’re out of mind. But tattoo typos stick in your brain forever. You just can’t stop thinking: did they not know how to spell the word they wanted on their body forever? Or was it the tattoo artist? Why don’t they just use a spellchecker really quick just in case? Of course, there’s the slim possibility that they tattoo typos on their body on purpose as a way to troll people or start conversations. And if anyone has really done that, then we kind of love them.
“I was born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg”
In August of 1960, a young and struggling group of teenage musicians from Liverpool often hung out, and played occasional gigs, at a club called the Jacaranda. By this time, after many changes, the group had finally decided to call themselves “the Beatles.” The Jacaranda was run by a small-time promoter and hustler named Allan Williams. The Jac, as it was known, was actually the hangout of several Liverpool bands, all hanging around, waiting for their “big break.”
In the early months of 1960, Williams had sent one of these local bands to Hamburg, Germany, to play. This first group was Derry and the Seniors, one of the hundreds of Liverpool bands which existed at the time. This experiment had proven successful and now, an “entrepreneur” in Hamburg, Bruno Koschmider, was asking for a second band to come over and play for his nightclub customers.
Williams’s first choice was a top-rate local band called Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, which featured a flashy drummer named Richard “Ringo Starr” Starkey. But Rory and his boys were booked up, at the time committed to playing the summer at Butlin’s Holiday Camp. Williams also tried to get Gerry and the Pacemakers, but they too declined.
Hard up to find a group, Williams next asked the Beatles, who happily accepted. When Derry and the Seniors heard who was the next Liverpool band to be sent to Hamburg, they were furious at Williams for choosing a “bum group like the Beatles.” Having already heard the fledgling Beatles play in Liverpool, they figured the group would be so bad they’d ruin the fun and partying they were having for everyone.
The Beatles at this time consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and a very moderately talented bass player named Stu Sutcliffe. Having accepted the Hamburg offer, the Beatles needed a drummer and pronto, so a mere formality audition was held with Pete Best, a local drummer who had played with a band called the Blackjacks -and of course, he passed.
A motley crew of nine entered a Hamburg-bound, battered old Volkswagen van on August 16, 1960, the passengers being John, Paul, George, Stu, Pete, plus Allan Williams, his wife Beryl, his brother, plus a local character named Lord Woodbine, who did the driving. With them in the cramped van (besides their instruments) they carried their new stage outfits- matching lilac jackets, which had been sewn by a neighbor of McCartney, and a container of scones to eat along the way, baked by Harrison’s mother.
On the way to Hamburg, they group drove through Holland, where they stopped at a music store. Much to Williams’ fury, Lennon shoplifted a new harmonica from the shop. (Trivia: Lennon was to keep this harmonica and play it on the Beatles’ first record “Love Me Do” two years later).
After finally making it to Hamburg, the group finally arrived at the club they were booked to play in, a filthy dive called the Indra. The Indra was a cheap second-rate club frequented mainly by gangsters, hoodlums, drag queens, prostitutes and drug dealers.
(Image credit: Raymond Arritt)
Worse still were the living quarters for the five Beatles. They were housed in what Lennon was to describe as “a pigsty,” located behind a cinema, right next to the ladies bathroom. McCartney was to recall: “The room had been a stove room, and there were just concrete walls, with nothing else. no heat, no wallpaper, not a lick of paint.” There were stark bunk beds for the five to sleep on, they used Union Jacks for blankets to keep warm on the freezing cold Hamburg nights.
The Beatles were awakened each morning by the sound of the cinema coming on. When they wanted to wash, they had to wait for the German fraus to leave the ladies room, which they would then wash up in, using the toilets for water to wash and shave.
The entire area now surrounding the five Liverpool teenage boys was, in fact, a world of vice called the Reeperbahn, specifically a narrow street called the Grosse Frehieit, where booze and drugs were everywhere and hookers openly plied their trade in shop windows.
The Beatles would play for hours upon hours each evening- sometimes playing as long as eight hours a night. They went through their repertoire of oldies, including Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and all the greats of the day. The majority of the singing chores were carried by John, Paul, and to a lesser extent, George. Stu had his one big number, Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender.” And even the very shy Pete best would hop off his drums nightly and sing his one solo “The Peppermint Twist,” the German frauleins swooning at his brooding good looks.
Because they had so much time on stage to fill, they would sing chorus after chorus of the same song, often making it last fifteen or twenty minutes. Their big number was Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” a song which on one occasion, the boys played for 90 minutes straight (the various band members would go offstage to drink and wash up at different times during this amazing rendition).
The gangsters would come to the Indra to hear the Beatles play and would send them up crates of beer. The Beatles were coaxed and urged on by yells of “mach shau!” (“make show!”) by the gangsters in the audience. The Beatles would drink the beer, combined with a drug called Preludin (or “prellies”), which was a stimulant that kept them awake, jumping and singing through the night.
With the combination of beer and prellies, the band members would often be wide awake for days on end, sacrificing sleep for being onstage and entertaining the ever-growing crowds. While Paul would take one prelly at a time, Lennon would take four or five at once.
This, combined with John’s natural craziness, resulted in Lennon’s very bizarre behavior. Once, he appeared onstage wearing nothing but his underpants and toilet seat around his neck. Another time, to win a bet, he went outside onto the streets wearing nothing but a pair of long johns, where he casually read a newspaper.
As the band would come onstage, John would greet the crowd with a “Heil Hitler,” he would call them “krauts” and take out his black comb, place it under his nose, and do a Hitler imitation, Nazi salute and all. The crowd loved it and ate up John’s act. Back in their living quarters, John would often urinate off the balcony of the room they were staying in. Once, according to Williams, he relieved himself on a passing group of nuns.
The Beatles sexual appetites were assuaged by the many hookers and prostitutes who became their early fans. George Harrison, a virgin when he left Liverpool, had his first-ever sexual encounter with a Hamburg prostitute in their dank bedroom. After the deed was complete, the other Beatles gave George (and his bedmate) a hearty round of applause.
These puerile antics aside, the trip to Hamburg was to prove a metamorphosis in another, much more significant, way. A bunch of rank amateurs when they started, the Beatles, through the process of playing five, six, seven and eight hours each night, became tighter and tighter as a band.
After a hard night’s work, the musicians would troop back to their sleeping quarters, crashing out until they were awakened by the Bambi Kino cinema. They would then wearily walk to the local Seaman’s Mission, where they would dine on their standard breakfast- beer and corn flakes.
It was a life of constant, seemingly never-ending work and practice onstage. Hamburg would prove to be the Beatles “trial by fire,” where they would go from the status of second rate, would-be musicians to a top-notch, incredible band. The crowds at the Indra, which were meager handfuls when they arrived, had grown bigger and bigger, until the club was teeming nightly with Beatle-loving rock ‘n’ roll fans. This trip to Hamburg was to be the boys’ “turning point” as a band and they would never look back.
The Indra club eventually had to close down because of complaints about the noise. The Beatles moved out to play in another club called the Top Ten Club. But soon, George was discovered by the authorities and deported for being underage (George was only seventeen at the time). On November 21, George was deported and flown back home to Liverpool.
When they were packing to leave their disgusting and dank Indra sleeping quarters to move to their nicer Top Ten Club quarters, Paul and Pete best used a condom, which they set of fire, for light to be able to see as they packed. Koschmider, who was angry at the Beatles, reported that Paul and Pete had “tried to burn down” his club. The police corralled the two Beatles, detained them for a few hours at the station and the duo was sent back, by plane, to Liverpool, too.
Poor John had to take a train home all alone. Stu had fallen in love with an attractive Hamburg lass named Astrid Kircherr and decided to remain with her in the German city.
Back in Liverpool, the weary Beatles did not contact each other for a few weeks. John recalled being sad, he came home from Hamburg broke and had no money to buy Christmas presents. But John also had to make a much bigger decision, i.e. he had to decide whether to keep the Beatles going. After their ignominious ending in Hamburg, John thought it might be the end of the road for his band.
Fortunately, he and his fellow musicians did get back together. And as we all know, they kept playing. They got better and better and better, as musicians, singers, and of course, as composers. In a few more years, they were to conquer the world and become the most famous, influential and beloved rock group of all-time. But it was in Hamburg, Germany, in a dingy little club called the Indra, where it really all started.
The Beatles were to make four more trips to Hamburg to play, two residencies with drummer Pete Best and two with their new drummer, Ringo Starr. While these later trips were not necessarily anti-climactic, it was the first trip where the group the world were to know as “the Beatles” were born. Or more accurately, as John Lennon was to recall years later: “I was born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg.”
And thus it was for all the Beatles.
BY Jordan Rosenfel, Mental Floss
The human body is an amazing thing. For each one of us, it’s the most intimate object we know. And yet most of us don’t know enough about it: its features, functions, quirks, and mysteries. Our series The Body explores human anatomy, part by part. Think of it as a mini digital encyclopedia with a dose of wow.
If it weren’t for our immune system, none of us would live very long. Not only does the immune system protect us from external pathogens like viruses, bacteria, and parasites, it also battles cells that have mutated due to illnesses, like cancer, within the body.
Here are 12 fighting facts about the immune system.
The immune system is a complex network of tissues and organs that spreads throughout the entire body. In a nutshell, it works like this: A series of “sensors” within the system detects an intruding pathogen, like bacteria or a virus. Then the sensors signal other parts of the system to kill the pathogen and eliminate the infection.
“The immune system is being bombarded by all sorts of microbes all the time,” Russell Vance, professor of immunology at University of California, Berkeley and an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, tells Mental Floss. “Yet, even though we’re not aware of it, it’s saving our lives every day, and doing a remarkably good job of it.”
Long before physicians realized how invisible pathogens interacted with the body’s system for fighting them off, doctors diagnosed all ills of the body and the mind according to the balance of “four humors“: melancholic, phlegmatic, choleric, or sanguine. These criteria, devised by the Greek philosopher Hippocrates, were divided between the four elements, which were linked to bodily fluids (a.k.a. humors): earth (black bile), air (blood), water (phlegm) and fire (yellow bile), which also carried properties of cold, hot, moist, or dry. Through a combination of guesswork and observation, physicians would diagnose patients’ humors and prescribe treatment that most likely did little to support the immune system’s ability to resist infection.
Two scientists who discovered key functions of the immune system, Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch, should have been able to see their work as complementary, but they wound up rivals. Pasteur, a French microbiologist, was famous for his experiments demonstrating the mechanism of vaccines using weakened versions of the microbes. Koch, a German physician, established four essential conditions under which pathogenic bacteria can infect hosts, and used them to identify the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium that causes tuberculosis. Though both helped establish the germ theory of disease—one of the foundations of modern medicine today—Pasteur and Koch’s feud may have been aggravated by nationalism, a language barrier, criticisms of each other’s work, and possibly a hint of jealousy.
The most powerful weapons in your immune system’s arsenal are white blood cells, divided into two main types: lymphocytes, which create antigens for specific pathogens and kill them or escort them out of the body; and phagocytes, which ingest harmful bacteria. White blood cells not only attack foreign pathogens, but recognize these interlopers the next time they meet them and respond more quickly. Many of these immune cells are produced in your bone marrow but also in the spleen, lymph nodes, and thymus, and are stored in some of these tissues and other areas of the body. In the lymph nodes, which are located throughout your body but most noticeably in your armpits, throat, and groin, lymphatic fluid containing white blood cells flows through vein-like tubules to escort foreign invaders out.
Though you can live without the spleen, an organ that lies between stomach and diaphragm, it’s better to hang onto it for your immune function. According to Adriana Medina, a doctor who specializes in hematology and oncology at the Alvin and Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, your spleen is “one big lymph node” that makes new white blood cells, and cleans out old blood cells from the body.
It’s also a place where immune cells congregate. “Because the immune cells are spread out through the body,” Vance says, “eventually they need to communicate with each other.” They do so in both the spleen and lymph nodes.
While immune cells may congregate more in lymph nodes than elsewhere, “every tissue in your body has immune cells stationed in it or circulating through it, constantly roving for signs of attack,” Vance explains. These cells also circulate through the blood. The reason for their widespread presence is that there are thousands of different pathogens that might infect us, from bacteria to viruses to parasites. “To eliminate each of those different kinds of threats requires specialized detectors,” he says.
From an evolutionary perspective, humans’ high sociability may have less to do with our bigger brains, and more to do with our immune system’s exposure to a greater number of bacteria and other pathogens.
Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have theorized that interferon gamma (IG), the immune cytokine that helps the immune system fight invaders, was linked to social behavior, which is one of the ways we become exposed to pathogens.
In mice, they found IG acted as a kind of brake to the brain’s prefrontal cortex, essentially stopping aberrant hyperactivity that can cause negative changes in social behavior. When they blocked the IG molecule, the mice’s prefrontal cortexes became hyperactive, resulting in less sociability. When they restored the function, the mice’s brains returned to normal, as did their social behavior.
The appendix gets a bad rap as a vestigial organ that does nothing but occasionally go septic and create a need for immediate surgery. But the appendix may help keep your gut in good shape. According to Gabrielle Belz, professor of molecular immunology at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, research by Duke University’s Randal Bollinger and Bill Parker suggests the appendix houses symbiotic bacteria that are important for overall gut health—especially after infections wipe out the gut’s good microbes. Special immune cells known as innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) in the appendix may help to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria and put the gut back on track to recovery.
Researchers at the University of Chicago noticed that one group of mice in their lab had a stronger response to a cancer treatment than other mice. They eventually traced the reason to a strain of bacteria—Bifidobacterium—in the mice’s guts that boosted the animals’ immune system to such a degree they could compare it to anti-cancer drugs called checkpoint inhibitors, which keep the immune system from overreacting.
To test their theory, they transferred fecal matter from the robust mice to the stomachs of less immune-strengthened mice, with positive results: The treated mice mounted stronger immune responses and tumor growth slowed. When they compared the bacterial transfer effects with the effects of a checkpoint inhibitor drug, they found that the bacteria treatment was just as effective. The researchers believe that, with further study, the same effect could be seen in human cancer patients.
Aggressive pediatric tumors are difficult to treat due to the toxicity of chemotherapy, but some researchers are hoping to develop effective treatments without the harmful side effects. Stanford researchers designed a study around a recently discovered molecule known as CD47, a protein expressed on the surface of all cells, and how it interacts with macrophages, white blood cells that kill abnormal cells. “Think of the macrophages as the Pac-Man of the immune system,” Samuel Cheshier, lead study author and assistant professor of neurosurgery at Stanford Medicine, tells Mental Floss.
CD47 sends the immune system’s macrophages a “don’t eat me” signal. Cancer cells fool the immune system into not destroying them by secreting high amounts of CD47. When Cheshier and his team blocked the CD47 signals on cancer cells, the macrophages could identify the cancer cells and eat them, without toxic side effects to healthy cells. The treatment successfully shrank all five of the common pediatric tumors, without the nasty side effects of chemotherapy.
In those with type 1 diabetes, the body attacks its own pancreatic cells, interrupting its normal ability to produce insulin in response to glucose. In a 2016 paper, researchers at MIT, in collaboration with Boston’s Children’s Hospital, successfully designed a new material that allows them to encapsulate and transplant healthy pancreatic “islet” cells into diabetic mice without triggering an immune response. Made from seaweed, the substance is benign enough that the body doesn’t react to it, and porous enough to allow the islet cells to be placed in the abdomen of mice, where they restore the pancreatic function. Senior author Daniel Anderson, an associate professor at MIT, said in a statement that this approach “has the potential to provide [human] diabetics with a new pancreas that is protected from the immune system, which would allow them to control their blood sugar without taking drugs. That’s the dream.”
Over the last few years, research in the field of immunology has focused on developing cancer treatments using immunotherapy. This method engineers the patient’s own normal cells to attack the cancer cells. Vance says the technique could be used for many more conditions. “I feel like that could be just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “If we can understand better what the cancer and immunotherapy is showing, maybe we can go in there and manipulate the immune responses and get good outcomes for other diseases, too.”
The folks from Solarwinds recently asked their community of IT professionals to share helpdesk horror stories with them, and even though I’ve experienced plenty of those in the past, these stories are both new and hilarious! I’d also like to say that I’ve used Solarwinds products quite a bit when I was working full time as a System Administrator, and these guys have really helped me do my job more efficiently!
Read more at https://www.geeksaresexy.net/2016/03/11/hilarious-requests-part-1/#o1rJoZSYam2BwVBZ.99
By Yeoman Lowbrow, Flashbak
Let’s have a look, year-by-year from 1971-1979, at record advertising from musicians ranging from Led Zeppelin to Frank Zappa, from Kiss to Parliament Funkadelic. Enjoy.
Bark – Jefferson Airplane
Bark was the sixth studio album from Jefferson Airplane, released in 1971 – the first without founder Marty Balin. They were still over a decade away from the “We Built This City” days, but also a far cry from their 1966 roots.
20 Granite Creek – Moby Grape
A reunion album of sorts, after a short hiatus. It was good, but their cred as garage rock psychedelia was long in the rear-view window.
Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band
Lennon was the first former Beatle to release an original Christmas song. Next was George Harrison’s “Ding Dong, Ding Dong” (1974), then Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” (1979) and Ringo Starr’s album I Wanna Be Santa Claus (1999).
“History proves: Beck fingers and the big ones follow. Like once, when Yardbird Beck jiggled dials instead of his strings, Townsend and Hendrix copped his style. And then Rod Stewart, Nicky Hopkins and Ron Wood joined Beck’s post-Yardbird crew.”
Rock & Roll to the World – Alvin Lee and Ten Years After
The band would release a live album after this, then abruptly break up in 1974.
Transformer – Lou Reed
I’m not a rock critic, and so can’t really put into words why this album is so listenable. It just never gets old; after almost four decades of being in my record rotation, it still has the charm as when it was put on the turntable for the first time.
Freakin’ at the Freakers Ball – Shel Silverstein
I loved his children’s books as a kid. When I got older and found out that Silverstein was a hippy rocker out of Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, I was disturbed… and still am.
Hard Nose The Highway – Van Morrison
The first Morrison album recorded under his complete control.. and oddly enough, contains the Kermit the Frog’s theme: “Bein’ Green”.
There Goes Rhymin’ Simon – Paul Simon
Containing the classic “Kodachrome”, which was not released as a single in Britain, where it could not be played on BBC radio due to its trademarked name.
Deliver the Word – WAR
Would you believe this was their sixth album? One of the first albums to release a “special edition” for the new 8-track format, featuring “quadraphonic sound” and a variation on the tracks.
Muscle of Love – Alice Cooper
The album was packaged in cardboard with a stain imprinted on the bottom. It was the last of the Alice Cooper band; afterwards it was all a solo venture. I like this one because it contains a track that was actually intended to be a James Bond theme song – “The Man with the Golden Gun”; but the movie company went with Lulu instead.
Apostrophe (‘) – Frank Zappa
Zappa’s most commercially successful LP in the US; contains the classic “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow”.
Son of Dracula – Harry Nilsson
It seemed like every musical venture Nilsson did in the seventies was a self-sabotage, a purposeful attempt to not become successful. Clearly, he was a mad genius with an incredible voice… so why put out a record of all Randy Newman songs? And then a children’s TV record (The Point!) and now this – an extremely eccentric work, destined to not achieve the pop status of his breakthrough Nilsson Schmilsson.
Secret Treaties – Blue Öyster Cult
“If you pride yourself on your normality, go ahead… but if you like to poke into the odd corners of your mind, here are two good pokers. Your cruel and heartless streak will love the sadoferrous penetrations of the world leaders of distructo-rock, who else but – the Blue Öyster Cult.
Or you might want to join the growing legions of cumulo-nimboid new music fanatics whose favorite high-pressure system is Weather Report, now renowned as the most totally innovative rhythmic-rockers in music.”
Crime of the Century – Supertramp
This was their third LP, but the first to gain commercial success…. something that is just not allowed to happen in today’s music industry. The idea that you would allow a band to essentially fail for two records and still believe in them enough for a third is a foreign concept today.
The Basement Tapes – Bob Dylan and The Band
The Hawks (later The Band) were Dylan’s backup group on tour. After suffering widespread criticism for ditching his folky acoustics in favor of an electric rock sound, Dylan then suffered another blow – a serious motorcycle accident which cut the tour short and had him basically immobile for over a year. During this medical hiatus, Dylan recorded a number of tracks with The Hawks, with a selection released here, almost ten years later as The Basement Tapes.
Destroyer – Kiss
Maybe it doesn’t have the critic’s cred, but as a child of the seventies, this was the ultimate album. The Destroyer image was on posters, lunch boxes, puzzles,… Kiss mania was everywhere, and I was right there with it, lapping it up and loving it.
Parents hated Kiss. But if Kiss was “Knights in Satan’s Service” as they used to claim, what were the Rolling Stones?…
Black and Blue – The Rolling Stones
Their new album featured a new guitarist (Wood) and the hit “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)”. The above advertisement was used on a Sunset Boulevard billboard, and inspired protests from feminist organizations. It was ultimately taken down, but it had served its purpose, creating sales-boosting controversy.
The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein – Parliament Funkadelic
“Funk upon a time in the days of the Funkapus, the concept of specially designed afronauts capable of funkatizing galaxies was first laid on mon child, but later re-possessed and placed among the secrets of the pyramids until a more positive attitude could be obtained. There in these terrestrial projects, it, along with its co-inhabitants of Kings and Pharaohs, would wait like sleeping beauties for the kiss that would awaken them to multiply in the image of the chosen one…”
Presence – Led Zeppelin
The album was recorded right after Robert Plant’s major car accident; he was basically in a wheelchair or bedridden for most of the recording. It received lukewarm reception and was overshadowed by the movie and soundtrack The Song Remains the Same released the same year.
Love Gun – Kiss
Quick to capitalize on Destroyer’s success, Love Gun sounded very similar and even had a similar cover (both painted by fantasy artist Ken Kelly). Alas, it was the last Kiss album with Peter Criss.
A Place in the Sun – Pablo Cruise
If you remember the seventies, you remember “Whatcha Gonna Do?”, which received tons of radio airplay and was popular among seventies kids (almost as much as their 1978 hit, “Love Will Find a Way”).
Finale – Loggins & Messina
Time for Loggins to move on and record Hollywood soundtracks like Caddyshack, Footloose, and Top Gun.
French Kiss – Bob Welch
“Sentimental Lady” was a huge hit, that fit well with the late seventies vibe…. but I’ll bet almost nobody knew Welch had originally released this song way back in ’72 when he was with Fleetwood Mac (on the album Bare Trees).
Don’t Look Back – Boston
I found it interesting to learn that the band originally titled the album “Arrival”, but then found out that ABBA had beaten them to it.
London Town – Wings
London Town marked the beginning of a slump for McCartney. Prior to the album’s release, the lead track “With a Little Luck” was a winner, and “Mull of Kintyre” had broken all time records in the UK. But afterwards, it was a bit of a downturn for McCartney, who blamed the record’s lukewarm reception on Capitol records’ poor promotion in the US.
Weekend Warriors – Ted Nugent
It’s fitting that Nugent’s guitar also serves as a gun, considering his later career has focused on hunting and gun rights.
Sorry if Kiss is over-represented in this list, but these guys owned the latter half of the decade. Dynasty followed several cash-grabs after Love Gun – a live album (Alive II), a greatest hits double album (Double Platinum) and the infamous solo records. Dynasty features Peter Criss on the cover, but he had been in a car accident and was basically absent for the entire recording. It also features the Kiss disco single “I Was Made For Loving You”.
And so the seventies have ended. A whole new brand of sound has arrived. A lot of good stuff is in store – stay tuned.
Estelle Thurtle, Listverse
Most of the time, an imaginary friend is just that: imaginary. Children all over the world have them. They play outside with them, leave a space for them at the dinner table, have squabbles with them over sweets, and so on.
But sometimes, the idea of an imaginary friend masks something entirely different. This twisted concept of an imaginary friend has served as an inspiration for horror novels and movies, terrifying people worldwide. And then imaginary friends have played roles in the strangest and most unexplained situations. The following are just a few examples of this.
Ricky Cole hurt and allegedly murdered a lot of people right up until he himself was brutally beaten to death with a pipe by a young man named Jason Cote (pictured above) in 2013.
In court, one of Cote’s lawyers stated that Ricky Cole had an imaginary friend who lived in a black box and went by the name of Vern. It was apparently this Vern who told Cole to maim and murder others. Jason Cote had overheard conversations between Cole and Vern and was terrified for his own life, leading him to kill Cole.
Defense lawyers were building up their case on the premise of self-defense to get Jason Cote off the hook, pointing out that drugs found in Ricky Cole’s system could have made him psychotic and could also have led to the invention of Vern. However, the prosecution believed that Jason Cote simply murdered Cole in cold blood after the latter wouldn’t supply the former with the drugs he wanted.
Jason Cote was sentenced to 45 years in prison in 2016.
When three-year-old Rebecca started talking about her new friend called Jonathon, her parents didn’t take much notice. Even when she became obsessed with her closet and told her parents that Jonathon was in there, they didn’t think anything of it. After all, many toddlers have imaginary friends, and Rebecca would soon grow out of the notion of it.
Then, Rebecca’s mom fell pregnant again, and the family opted to move to a bigger place that would accommodate their new baby. Rebecca moved on from her imaginary friend, and her parents soon forgot about it completely. Four months later, the new owners of the family’s old home contacted Rebecca’s father. They had found a trapdoor in the back of Rebecca’s closet, and below the trapdoor, there was a hole with a box in it.
The box contained baby pictures and baby clothes. On the box was written: “Jonathon’s.”
At 21 years old, basketball player Karl-Anthony Towns became the third youngest player in 30 years to have a minimum of 45 points and 15 rebounds in a game. In 2015, Sporting News wrote an article about Towns because fans were mystified over who the young man was talking to while playing.
According to the article, Towns admitted to having an imaginary friend that, over time, had turned into his alter ego, who he named Karlito. He also stated that Karlito is the “little voice” that sits on his shoulder during games. Towns’s teammate, Tyler Ulis, added his voice to the article as well, explaining that when Towns seems to be looking down and talking to the ground, he is actually talking to Karlito. It seems that Karlito is instrumental in helping Towns to keep from talking back to his coach when he is criticized by him during games. The coach is apparently also not much bothered by the presence of Karlito, as long as it influences Towns’s game in a positive way.
By the time January Schofield turned four, she had so many imaginary friends that her parents couldn’t keep up. Some of these “friends” ordered January to hurt the family dog and even her baby brother. Whenever she would try to hit her newborn brother, her father would have to hold her down. January would then attack the only way she could, by biting down wherever she found a spot on her father’s body. At school, she would hurl herself at windows and doors.
These fits of rage would last seconds or minutes, and then January would be the angelic daughter her parents knew her to be. January is also an extremely smart girl; she was able to speak grammatically correct before she was two years old. At four, she had the mental age of an 11-year-old. However, she preferred the company of her imaginary friends, which included little girls and animals such as dogs and even rats. She also refused to be called by her name. At the age of six, January tried to kill herself by attempting to throw herself from her bedroom window. She also tried to choke herself with her own shirtsleeves.
After several doctor’s visits and trips to a psychologist and then a psychiatrist, a devastating diagnosis was made. January had child-onset schizophrenia. She was one of the youngest people in the US to be diagnosed with this terrible disorder. As if this wasn’t enough to deal with, her brother Bodhi was diagnosed with autism at the age of five, and there is a very real possibility that he, too, might suffer from schizophrenia.
In her book Psychic Kids, Lynne Gallagher attempts to explain the unexplained incidents that sometimes occur around or with children. She also explores the concept of imaginary friends, relating a tale of a couple and their daughter who had a terrifying experience in their family home:
Lorenda and Ben, together with their six-year-old daughter Anna, moved into a Victorian-era house where they could entertain guests and even offer them a spare room to sleep in when they came to visit. After a while, Anna started talking about a little girl named Jess and a dollhouse that Jess didn’t want her to play with. Anna also started to refuse to let the family dog into her room because Jess was terrified of her. Lorenda spoke to Ben about this, but Ben wasn’t concerned, saying that imaginary friends were part of growing up. Lorenda accepted this, and as Anna’s complaints about Jess grew more and more, Lorenda simply brushed them off.
One night, the lights went out in the house, and Lorenda immediately went to the living room, where Anna was sleeping on the couch, to light some candles. It was then that Lorenda saw a strange girl sitting on the floor next to Anna, stroking her hair and singing a lullaby. Lorenda screamed, but the girl did not acknowledge her. Only when the dog, Lulu, started barking at her, did the girl jump up in alarm. The girl ran to the door, froze, and then let out a bloodcurdling scream. She then vanished, leaving behind a pool of blood.
Rylan was born addicted to meth and into a family with a history of bipolar disorder. He was adopted by Kim and Ryan, who wanted to give him a better life. Little did they know that by the time he was seven, he would be swearing like a sailor and have an unhealthy obsession with knives.
His adoptive parents appeared on Dr. Phil, trying to get help for their son, convinced that he would turn into a mass murderer or serial killer when he got older. During their segment, the parents played a video they took of their son screaming and threatening to kill his mother and another woman while they were trying to calm him down during one of his outbursts. Another video showed the young boy mimicking how he would stab his parents if they dared to take his “big knives” away.
Rylan has had problems since birth, which escalated over the years. Before he was two, he would hold his breath until he passed out. He played with knives at the age of three, and when he was six years old, he cut off his fingertips with a razor blade because his imaginary friend told him to do so. This imaginary friend was a robot with the charming name of Bleeder. Bleeder would also tell him to murder his family. Dr. Phil gave his standard advice to the couple, but to date, no update has been given on the child’s behavior since the segment aired.
In January 2013, 19-year-old Logan Fischer tied up his girlfriend, stuck duct tape over her mouth, and tried to smother her with a pillow. He also tied her hands behind her back and attempted to choke her. Fortunately, his girlfriend was able to reason with him when he let go of her, and he released her. She then called her uncle (who, in turn, called the police) and fled, meeting up with them in a parking lot.
Logan followed her there and was arrested on the spot. While being questioned, he told officers that while his girlfriend was at his house, he started hearing the voice of his childhood imaginary friend called Eric. He also told them that he was not the one who tied up the young woman but that Eric had done so, instead. Logan went on to say that Eric spoke to his girlfriend as well and told her to cut Logan with a knife, but she refused to do so. Naturally, the policemen did not fall for this story, and Logan was charged with battery and strangulation.
According to urban legend, Laughing Jack is a creepy clown that appears to children as an imaginary friend but then turns on them by cutting them open from top to bottom and ripping out their organs. He then fills up their empty bodies with candy.
In 2015, a 12-year-old girl from Indiana set her home on fire and then proceeded to stab her stepmother to death. When questioned by authorities, the girl stated that she had been given an instruction by Laughing Jack to kill her stepmother. The girl was taken to a medical center, where it was established that she suffered from PTSD as well as dissociative identity disorder. No private institution would keep her, and she had to be moved to a state mental institution. She was found unfit to stand trial because of her mental disorder.
In a case very similar to the Laughing Jack one, two girls from Wisconsin lured their friend into the woods in May 2014 after having a slumber party. The two 12-year-olds then proceeded to stab her 19 times, very nearly severing an artery close to her heart. Amazingly, the girl survived.
When they were arrested, they told police that Slender Man had instructed them to kill their friend. Otherwise, he would kill their families. Slender Man, a tall, slender creature that wears a black suit and has no facial features, originated as a meme and then morphed into a creepypasta and somehow emerged as a type of imaginary friend/foe to the two girls, who did not hesitate to stab their friend to appease this ghoulish apparition.
The girls also believed that Slender Man would welcome them into his mansion after the murder and that he watched over them, could materialize instantly, and could read their minds.
In a decision that shocked the world, Casey Anthony was found not guilty in 2011 of murdering her beautiful two-year-old daughter Caylee despite many pieces of evidence pointing to her guilt. Instead, she was only convicted of four misdemeanor charges, including providing false information to police.
False information was an understatement, however. Casey Anthony had a whole host of imaginary friends and created a fictitious world for these characters and even fictitious events. Anthony claimed first of all to have had a job at Universal Studios and even led police there before admitting that she lied.
She also told police that she had a babysitter who used to go out with her ex-boyfriend. The nanny’s name was Zenaida, Zanny for short. She claimed that Zanny kidnapped Caylee because she believed Anthony to be a bad mother. Anthony also claimed that a man by the name of Jeff Hopkins was her boyfriend and that he worked for Nickelodeon. She invented a mother for Hopkins and claimed that the woman suffered from cancer. Anthony even lied about her daughter’s father, saying that his name was Eric Baker, but no one in her family had ever laid eyes on this person. A while later, Anthony told her mother that Baker had been killed in an accident.
In spite of all the lies and the obvious flaws in her stories concerning her daughter’s disappearance and murder, Casey Anthony remains a free woman.
We’re constantly told that being honest is the most important thing when dealing with people, but there’s this thing called being TOO honest, and it’s dangerous. Honesty is the best policy, sure, yeah, best military policy maybe. Didn’t like that joke? Don’t tell me, my ego can’t handle it. Being too honest is just as being too deceitful, so let’s all just play nice and pretend that way we can keep functioning as human beings. Thanks.
Oliver Taylor, Listverse
Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution states that an organism will evolve and develop desirable variations and characteristics to ensure its survival. Disease-causing organisms like viruses and bacteria are living true to this theory by evolving and mutating to resist our drugs, vaccines, treatments, and immune systems.
Of course, their quest for survival isn’t in our best interests. But to them, they’re only trying to exist, nothing personal. We would have done the same if we were in their shoes.
There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is the most common and is further classified into four groups: M, N, O, and P. Group M is the most common of all HIV strains and is further classified into subtypes A, B, C, D, F, G, H, J, and K. All these subtypes are genetically different and will readily merge to form new hybrids called circulating recombinant forms (CRFs). Eighty-nine of these CRFs have been identified so far.
This means that people already infected with HIV are still at risk of reinfection, either at the type, group, or subtype level. When they get reinfected, the two strains of HIV merge and create a new strain that could develop drug resistance. This is called dual infection, although coinfection or superinfection could be used, depending on the means of transmission. However, they all mean the same thing.
As if things couldn’t get worse, these hybrid CRFs are still capable of merging with other strains of HIV to create newer and more dangerous hybrids. One of these identified CRFs (called CRF19) is rampant in Cuba, where it was formed by the combination of the A, D, and G subtypes of HIV-1 Group M. CRF19 becomes AIDS within three years as compared to the 10–15 years it would normally take.
Since 1986, former US President Jimmy Carter has been on a mission to eradicate guinea worm, a terrible ailment that always ends with a worm of over 1 meter (3.3 ft) in length slowly leaving the body within a torturous span of one month. Only 11 cases of guinea worm infection were reported in 2016, a far cry from the over 3.5 million cases reported in 1986 when Carter began his anti–guinea worm campaign.
If Carter is successful, guinea worm would be the second disease to be eradicated by humans (after smallpox) and the first to be eradicated without vaccines. However, guinea worms are not giving up without a fight.
How? They’re finding new hosts: dogs.
In Chad, one of the last countries still battling guinea worm, incidences of guinea worm infection in dogs have been documented since 2012. About 600 dogs were known to be infected in 2016, although the real figure will definitely be higher. It is difficult to monitor these dogs because they are allowed to roam freely. This unlimited freedom also makes it difficult to keep them away from water, which is what guinea worms need to reproduce.
Adult guinea worms create a burning sensation in infected people, which forces them to seek a source of water to “cool” the pain. The worm then lays its larvae in this water. The larvae are swallowed by small aquatic organisms, which themselves are swallowed by humans who drink this contaminated water.
These larvae grow into adults in the human body, and the cycle continues. No one knows how these dogs are getting these guinea worms, but it has been proposed that it might be from contaminated fish.
The Black Death was a pandemic that spread through Europe in the 14th century, killing about 25 million people or up to one-third of the total European population. It was caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium that is transmitted from infected rodents to humans by fleas. The Yersinia pestis bacterium causes any of the bubonic, pneumonic, or septicemic plague in humans.
As scary as it sounds, Yersinia pestis is still very much around. It is currently present in 25 countries, including Madagascar (which faced a mild epidemic between August 1 and November 22, 2017).
The scarier part of the plague is that it is becoming drug resistant. As of 2017, at least 10 common antibiotics are no longer effective in treating the disease. The resistance is believed to have been caused by the exchange of genes between Yersinia pestis and other bacteria like E. coli, Klebsiella, and Salmonella, which are all found in food.
Polio used to be one of the biggest killers of young children. When it does not kill, it causes lifelong paralysis. However, it has suffered severe blows in recent years, thanks to vaccination. Normally, young children are given oral doses of a weakened strain of the polio virus which allows their bodies to build immunity against the stronger and natural polio.
Now it has been observed that this weakened polio, which usually leaves the bodies of children through their excrement, can regain its potency, mutate, and infect children. This mutated polio is deadlier than the natural polio. Worse yet, vaccination does not work against this type of polio.
As a result, children already vaccinated against polio are not immune to this new mutated polio, which is caused by the same vaccine used to immunize them. During one outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 47 percent of the infected 445 children died even though they had already been vaccinated.
Most people heard of Ebola for the first time between 2014 and 2016 when it swept through West Africa. This period—which lasted from March 23, 2014, to January 13, 2016—remains Ebola’s deadliest run ever. It killed at least 11,315 people, five times more than the casualties in all its epidemics since it was discovered in 1976. This figure is even on the low side and is believed to be considerably higher.
The 2014 Ebola outbreak actually started in December 2013 when it claimed the life of a two-year-old child in Guinea. By March 2014, it was already in Liberia. From there, it spread to Sierra Leone and a few other neighboring countries. During this period, it infected over 28,000 people, which is 100 times more than the number of people infected in earlier Ebola epidemics.
According to two different teams of virologists who studied the epidemic, it was deadlier because it involved a mutant strain of the original Ebola virus. The mutant is called A82V and was recorded as the virus responsible for over 90 percent of all infections.
Researchers believe that the A82V mutant was destroyed with the epidemic because it was poor at jumping to nonhuman hosts like the fruit bats believed to transmit Ebola to humans.
Data released from 77 countries shows that gonorrhea is rapidly becoming 100 percent resistant to drugs. These days, azithromycin, the major drug used in gonorrhea treatment, fails 81 percent of the time. Other drugs like the extended-spectrum cephalosporins (ESCs), which are the orally ingested cefixime or the injected ceftriaxone, fail 66 percent of the time.
The United Kingdom is one country facing a drug-resistant gonorrhea epidemic. This mutated strain of gonorrhea, which they call “super gonorrhea,” is totally resistant to azithromycin and could soon be to ceftriaxone as well. Investigations by the BBC revealed that gonorrhea may have become resistant to azithromycin because infected people were taking it alone rather than in combination with ceftriaxone as per UK healthcare guidelines.
Cholera is caused by the consumption of food or water contaminated with the Vibrio cholerae bacterium. In most cases, it causes mild diarrhea and an infected person might not even know he has it. In the most serious cases, the disease causes severe dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea that could kill the infected person within hours.
Haiti suffered a devastating cholera epidemic 10 months after the catastrophic January 2010 earthquake. The epidemic killed 9,200 people. However, some international organizations like Doctors Without Borders believe that this figure should be considerably higher because most cholera-related deaths went unreported. In some regions, only 10 percent of deaths were reported.
The Haiti cholera outbreak was caused by a mutated strain called “altered El Tor.” It is deadlier than regular cholera and has been likened to the deadly cholera of the 1800s. Altered El Tor underwent three mutations that allowed it to bypass the body’s early warning system. It was first observed in 2000 and has been traced to Nepal.
Syphilis is also called the “great imitator” because its symptoms often resemble those of other diseases. It is spread through sexual contact, although it can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy.
Researchers have discovered that Nichols and Street Strain 14 (SS14), the two main strains of syphilis, are mutating. As a result, they are developing resistance to common antibiotics like penicillin and macrolides that are often used for treatment.
The mutation is more prevalent in SS14. In one analysis, about 90 percent of SS14 samples were drug resistant versus 25 percent for the Nichols strain. This newfound resistance is allowing syphilis to make a comeback.
Since 2013, there has been a 15 percent increase in syphilis cases. The good news is that syphilis can still be treated by most antibiotics, although the disease could become resistant to these drugs over time.
Tuberculosis is one ailment that is undergoing a serious mutation. Two new forms of tuberculosis have been identified: multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).
MDR-TB is resistant to isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful drugs used in the treatment of tuberculosis. Meanwhile, XDR-TB, a more potent version of MDR-TB, is resistant to isoniazid, rifampicin, and several other drugs.
About 580,000 cases of MDR-TB were reported in 2015. Of this figure, 55,100 (9.5 percent) were XDR-TB cases. XDR-TB has been reported in 117 countries, which means that it’s slowly becoming a global problem.
It is speculated that tuberculosis became drug resistant because infected people were not storing or taking their drugs properly. Tuberculosis is treated with a six-month regimen that must not be interrupted. Any form of interruption allows the ailment to develop a resistance to drugs.
Cancer has been known to evolve and mutate since the 1970s. This mutation allows cancer to become drug resistant, to expel drugs from the body, and to repair cells already damaged by these drugs. Researchers believe that this mutation is caused by cancer cells that are not destroyed during treatment.
One form of cancer known to mutate is prostate cancer, which requires testosterone (the male hormone) for development. One method of treatment is to starve the body of testosterone, but this stopped working when prostate cancer cells learned to use other molecules in place of testosterone. When this happens, it becomes castrate-resistant prostate cancer, which is often fatal.
Lung and colorectal cancers are also capable of mutating. Their cells become resistant to radiation and chemotherapy regimens, leaving them untreatable.
One proposed method of curing these mutant cancers is by “individual specific therapy,” which is a treatment unique to an individual. However, this method is not foolproof.
One of the first drugs created for “individual specific therapy” was Herceptin, which sticks to the HER2 protein to destroy breast cancer cells. However, the cancer mutated and started destroying the parts of the HER2 protein that Herceptin stuck to. Most of the time, the body responds by creating HER3 cells. This compounded the problem because Herceptin could not stick to HER3.