Some Urban Legends that Are True (Part 1)

Some Urban Legends Are True (Part 1)

So much for the urban legend status. Information travels fast, and over the length of all ages of mankind, word of mouth made sure that everyone was aware of the craziest, most attention worthy events that came up in people’s lives. In an age ruled by internet, information is even more ridiculously easy to come across – including erroneous, false affirmations that one or another came up with to serve their own purposes; or simply for fun. But at times, things can go the other way around: something that has always been considered a simple urban legend suddenly receives ground and proof that it is in fact, true. Sit down and grab your blanky, because this is going to be scary.

1. Carnivorous escalators

Something that our parents told us when we were kids, right? Tie your shoelace so you don’t end up like those boys on the news that got eaten by the escalator because they didn’t. Yeah, sure. You grow up, it never happens to you, and probably even end up telling your kids the same. And thank god you do because that couldn’t be a more real danger.

There have been several cases throughout the world of people getting literally chewed up by escalators. The rogue shoelace getting stuck in the gritty, metallic stairs going up with no possible stop idea couldn’t be more terrifying until you actually think about it a little. Once the shoelace is in, there’s no getting it out – trying to take your shoe off becomes a little difficult when the caught shoelace keeps tightening around your ankle. What happens after? Well, documented cases speak of toes and feet partially getting chewed off by escalators; upon trying to free themselves, victims also risked other parts of their body – most often their hands. In one case, a man got strangled by an escalator as he bent down to free his shoelace and got his hoodie caught in it as well.

2. Beware of your local mall and/or leveled hyper store.

Ever got the feeling you were being watched?

This is inadvertently becoming a “creepy” list of things that happen to be true too soon and too fast, but that’s urban legends to you. This one might be familiar to many people as it has circulated on the internet quite a lot and falls into the urban legends king category. I have personally never felt like I was being watched but many individuals claim it’s a real thing – not just something you have seen in movies. So the urban legend says that your 6th “someone’s watching me” sense starts tingling before you discover that despite your home security, a malicious stranger has in fact invaded your home and definitely did not bring banana bread to repay your hospitality.

In most cases, that is surely only Hollywood movie material. In one particular case however, it turned out it wasn’t. Few years ago in Japan, a man (although not claiming any 6th sense tingles) kept finding things amiss in his home such as missing food, objects not where he’d put them despite his home being safe and no hint suggesting there had been a break-in at any point. Out on a whim, the man proceeded to set up cameras in his home to clear out the mystery; after everything was set and done, he checked the footage the next morning.

To his horror, the video entailed a woman crawling out of one of his cupboards and going around his home to only return to the cupboard after everything was over. Upon the police’s arrival, a homeless woman was indeed found hiding in the house, in the very cupboard that she had crawled out from on video. While you’d think that’s pretty bad, turns out she had been living in the man’s house for nearly a year, eating, sleeping and even bathing there whenever he left.

3. Shrunken head tales were actually inspired from reality. Amazonian reality.

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While everyone uses the shrunken head thing as a fun – or scary, depending on genre – element addition to their stories and voodoo-themed media, very few actually ask themselves where the trend actually started from. And that’s the case with so many thematic appearances in a lot of videos, films, books and whatnot.

Such goes the story of the shrunken heads. How WOULD you get a shrunken head anyway? There’s no way that was real at any point in history. Well, surprise, it was. In tribes from around the Amazon more specifically. While it wasn’t a very broadly popular practice and was barely seen anywhere else across the planet, head shrinking seems to have taken place until late 19th century in said tribes.

The way they did it was cutting the back of the severed head, skinning the skull, sewing the eyes and mouth shut, boiling it and then drying it with hot rocks until it became a mass of… tissue that you could mold into a head-like shape. While these were kept as trophies most likely, it soon became more of a sport and trade as tribes started hunting and killing enemy tribes just for head-collecting – all because of traders offering guns in exchange for the tokens. This trade actually continued until the 1940s until it was finally outlawed. That’s awfully late if you ask me.

Old Time Activities That You Never See These Days

Have you ever wondered what people did in the old days for fun?

The truth is that old time hobbies and activities were even weirder than the stuff we do to pass the time these days.

Listening to Citizens Band Radios

Old Time Activities That You Never See These Days

My wacky uncle had a CB radio and used to get hours of entertainment out of it. At the time he seemed to me like the coolest guy with the best hobby in the world. However, now that I am no longer a dribbling toddler who can´t be trusted to go to the toilet alone I can see that I was utterly wrong. This is the worst hobby in the world. All he would do was sit in front of the contraption for long spells and listen to complete strangers utter random nonsense like “10-2 big boy, bird dog on the loose, affirmative”. What on Earth were they on about and why didn´t he just listen to a normal radio station with faintly less insane people talking through it?

Playing the Harmonica for Fun

Old Time Activities That You Never See These Days

When was the last time you saw someone younger than Bob Dylan or Neil Young play the harmonica for fun? That´s correct; 1924 is when. For some reason the act of blowing sweet, winsome music out of a piece of metal is a dying art. This is probably why no one gets called things like Blind Harmonica Wolf Boy or Blowing Bill Hickabilly these days.  Give a kid a harmonica just now and he´ll ask you where the USB port is, whether it is compatible with his digital boxers and whether it feeds directly to his Twitter account.       

Visiting the Morgue

Old Time Activities That You Never See These Days

If your ancestors lived in Paris in the 19th century then there is a good chance that they spent some time peering at dead bodies. This quaint old time hobby started when the local morgue was built near tourist attractions like Notre Dame Cathedral and the Seine. It had a glass wall built into it and theatrical style curtains at either end. The morgue got pretty famous among thrill seekers who wanted to see dead French dudes on slabs, which was probably pretty much everyone in those days.

Hoop Rolling

Old Time Activities That You Never See These Days

The gentle pleasure of rolling a hoop along the street with the help of a stick is one of those hobbies that time has robbed us of. To be fair, this is a still a valid pastime in some Third World countries but everywhere else it is something that simply doesn´t exist anymore. If you don´t believe me then try the following test. Take a random 10 year old boy. Hand him a hoop and a small stick and tell him to take the hoop down the street in the most effective and fun way possible. After he has beaten to you to a pulp with the stick he will contact Uber on his iPhone and get a private hire vehicle to transport the hoop to the end of the street. Fact. 

Pistol Dueling

Old Time Activities That You Never See These Days

Wouldn´t you have loved to have lived in the days when the most sensible comeback to someone insulting you was to challenge them to a pistol duel at dawn? Probably my favorite internet myth of all time is that in Paraguay it is legal to carry out a pistol duel as long as both combatants are registered blood donors. In fact, it might be true for all I know but the world can´t possibly be as much fun as that, I don´t think.

The Strangest Medical Conditions Known to Mankind

Most medical conditions are scary but what about those ones that are just downright weird and baffling?

Yeah, they would be pretty awful to have. Like these strange but true medical conditions that you might never have heard of before.

Alien Hand Syndrome

Strangest Medical Conditions

Also known as Dr Strangelove Syndrome, this is an extremely weird medical condition that is also very rare.  The main symptom is, quite simply, a mad flailing hand that the owner can´t control.  It is a neurological disorder that can happen after a stroke or when the two hemispheres of the brain are surgically separated. The people who suffer from this condition lose the ability to control one of their hands.      

Jumping Frenchman of Maine Condition

Jumping Frenchman of Maine Condition

You don´t need to be French to get this condition and I don´t even think that it is strictly necessary to live in Maine, although it probably helps on some level. The rare condition gets its name from a group of French Canadian lumberjacks who were working in Maine in the late 19th century.  These people seemed to over-react to any sort of stimuli, often behaving in a startled way or jumping uncontrollably. It is also known as hyperekplexia, while it is called Stiff Baby Syndrome when seen in new born babies. Unlike some of the other conditions on here, it can be controlled using drugs.

Stone Man Disease

Strangest Medical Conditions

This horrifying medical condition involves the affected person´s soft tissues, tendons and muscles turning to bone. This can eventually turn the sufferer into a human statue over time. There have been around 800 verified cases across the world and a shark extract has been cited as a possible help in treating the condition.

Nail Patella Syndrome

Strangest Medical Conditions and Nail Patella Syndrome

I have got to this stage in my life without being overly concerned about my nails. Sure, there was that time I clipped too much off one and it kind of hurt a bit but I gritted my teeth and got on with bloody life, old boy. However, the appearance in my vocabulary of Nail Patella Syndrome could end my years of care-free summer easy living. You see, this rare medical condition leaves you with no nails or with weird, spilt in two nails. It isn´t just limited to your nails though, as the condition can also affect your kneecaps and pelvic bone.

Foreign Accent Syndrome

Foreign Accent Syndrome

This weird medical condition sees the affected person waking up after an accident or stroke and speaking with an unexpectedly false accent, a bit like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins but without all that lovable soot on their face. No one knows why this happens and there have only ever been a few dozen confirmed cases. Unconfirmed cases also mention people starting to speak a foreign language fluent after some sort of accident. 

Fish Odor Syndrome

Strangest Medical Conditions

This condition is less painful and less life-threatening than most of the others here but a lot smellier. It is very rare (thankfully) and involves – jeez, do you need me to spell it out for you? Ok then, it is when you have a buildup of trimethylamine in your body, like when you had a trimethylamine curry last night and then think, shucks I´ll just have some trimethylamine on toast and a trimethylamine smoothie for breakfast. Do that stuff long enough and you´ll smell like flaming Nemo.

Common Misconceptions: More Things You Thought You Knew But Didn’t Really

The more I find out the less I know, said someone once. Maybe it was you.

After all, there is a lot of stuff you thought you knew but didn’t really. If you don’t believe me then keep reading and you’ll learn something new.

People Didn’t All Die Before 30 in the Middle Ages

Common Misconceptions and the Middle Ages

Those poor sods in the middle ages didn’t even normally live long enough to grow a proper beard, to enjoy the full gray hair experience or to appreciate jazz music, did they? Didn’t they all die at 30 or before? Actually, it is thought that many people lived comfortably into their 60s back then. The figures for life expectancy in this time are distorted by much higher infant mortality rates than those seen in modern times.

Shaving Hair Doesn’t Make It Grow Back Thicker

Common Misconceptions About Shaving Hair

Have you ever held back from shaving a patch of hair because you don’t want it to grow back all horrible and thick? Hey, don’t worry so much; you probably won’t end up looking like a grizzly bear, Tom Selleck or David Hasselhoff. This is because shaving hair just makes it appear coarser and thicker when it grows back rather than actually causing it to be like this.

They Didn’t Actually Think That the Earth Was Flat In Medieval Times

Common Misconceptions about a flat world

Why do you think that Christopher Columbus set up on his voyages? Was it to find out whether or not the Earth was really flat? The truth is that our happy sailor wanted to reach Asia by an alternative route, which shows that people already accepted that the planet was just a giant freaking ball. Plato and Aristotle are among the early dudes who understood the shape of the planet long before medieval times. Conversely, some people still believe that the planet is as flat as a particularly flat pancake.

A Duck’s Quack Does Echo

Common Misconceptions and A Duck’s Quack Echo

Many people believe that a duck’s quack doesn’t echo. I believe that some ducks believe this too. The truth is that they do have an echo. The reason for the long-standing and widespread confusion is rather technical but I’ll explain it as simply as I can; it sounds like there’s no echo but there is. Does that make sense?

Goldfish Can Remember More Than You Think

Common Misconceptions and Goldfish's Memory

How long do you think a goldfish’s memory span covers? If you said just a few seconds then it is time to learn another new fact today. Goldfish can remember things for weeks and possibly months. Of course, if all of your memories involved going round in circles in a glass bowl you wouldn’t be all that bothered about how long your memories lasted for.

Napoleon Wasn’t a Midget

Napoleon Bonaparte's Size and Common MisconceptionsDinky old Napoleon Bonaparte was so small you could have picked him up and put him in your pocket, couldn’t you? It makes you wonder why a diminutive, half pint little short arse ever managed to become one of the most powerful military leaders in history. The truth of the matter is that as 5 feet 7 inches Napoleon was slightly taller than the average Frenchman of his time. One theory suggests that the height of his imperial guards made him seem smaller than he was.

The Food That Is Surprisingly Banned Around the World (and Others That Should Be)

How would you react if your favorite food was banned by the government? You’d be pretty annoyed, wouldn’t you? Well, here are some of the foods that are surprisingly banned around the world, as well as some that really ought to be.

Chicken with Arsenic

Food banned around the world

Chicken with arsenic sounds like the kind of fiendish recipe that a master criminal would concoct in order to kill someone as sneakily (and tastily) as possible. It would probably go great with strychnine potatoes and a hemlock broccoli salad. Chicken laced with arsenic is banned in the sensible old European Union but not in the US. It seems as though the organic version of arsenic helps the chicks grow quicker and, hey, look fresher. That’s alright then.

Curved Bananas

Food banned around the world

One of the things I miss about living in Europe is the flood of bonkers stories about things they had banned for no apparent reason. In the cases of bananas, they needed to meet a certain type of shape in order to be legally sold there. Many people think that it is straight bananas that were banned but it is, in fact, overly curved ones that really get up the noses of EU administrators. Sadly, reports suggest that this strange law on banned bananas has been withdrawn.

Farmed Salmon

Food banned around the world

What could possibly be wrong with good old farm salmon to get the little blighters banned by Australia and New Zealand? What’s that? They get fed an unnatural diet and get given loads of drugs and antibiotics? Their diet leaves them looking horrible and grey so they get  more chemicals to make them look as though they are happy, well fed normal fish? Oh.

Ketchup

Food banned around the world

You would need to be a mad, raving lunatic or utter, utter spoilsport to ban our old buddy ketchup. Or French, I suppose. Our Gallic cousins haven’t banned the sticky tomatoey nonsense on health grounds. No, they have done so for cultural reasons. The ban is effective in schools across France.

Marmite

Food banned around the world

If you have never come across Marmite before then I would urge you to sink to your knees and thank whatever God you believe in for this small mercy. This horrid spread is the fourth most awful thing ever invented by man (closely behind war, sports cars I can’t afford and Tom Cruise). However, banning the rotten stuff seems a touch harsh. Yet, this is exactly what the harsh but fair Danes have done. Surprisingly, our friends in Copenhagen didn’t do this because of the foul taste. It’s something to do with Marmite being fortified with vitamins.

Haggis

Food banned around the world

I almost fell off my bagpipes and ruptured my sporran when I read about this. It seems as though Scotland’s national dish of haggis is banned in the USA. This is something to do with some crazy law about not using sheep lungs in food. Maybe if they made it of arsenic and fish pumped full of chemicals then it would be ok.

Pigs Blood Cake

Food banned around the world

This brilliant sounding food from Taiwan is banned in the USA because, err, it is made with pig’s blood. The method of preparation is described as unsanitary but to be honest it sounds like something I would really enjoy trying. It can’t be any worse than haggis, right?

Unpasteurized Milk

Food banned around the world

Many states across the US ban raw or unpasteurised milk because it could kill you! The microbes contained in this milk can be dangerous. It isn’t banned in Scotland and it isn’t banned in South America as far as I can tell, as I just bought a bottle of it the other day. I didn’t die.