Summer Trivia

Summer Trivia

1123 Hard to Believe Facts, by  Nayden Kostov

Thank you, Mr. Nayden Kostov! Thanks to 1123 Hard to Believe Facts, this summer I am gonna ace the trivia games!! Yeah, I am that geek. But I love quizzes!

It could be the dopamine hitting in the brain coming with the right answer, or maybe proving to yourself and others that you know things -still, trivia is THE game! and I can’t remember one single summer without it.

Did you know that Centralia, Pennsylvania (USA) has been burning for the last 54 years? There is a coal mine just underneath the town that caught fire in 1962 and yet shows no sign of abating-2

Everybody loves it. And it’s not a coincidence if one of the most popular apps in the world is a trivia game, with more than 20 million daily active users. (Trivia Crack) I bet you do have it downloaded on your phone right now.

The word Trivia is fairly recent (1920), the first known documented labeling of this casual parlor game as “Trivia” was in a Columbia Daily Spectator column published on February 5, 1965. The authors, Ed Goodgold and Dan Carlinsky, then started the first organized “trivia contests”.  Less than 20 years later, the famous board game Trivial Pursuit was released (1982) and was a craze in the U.S. for several years thereafter.*(source Wikipedia)

Following the success of his website www.RaiseYourBrain.com, Mr. Kostov decided to compile some of the most interesting facts in an e-book, a collection of the best gems of breath-taking trivia facts, result of years of sifting through history and reference books on a myriad of subjec51rGsHQBR+L._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgts as well as searching the Internt and paying attention to the news.

Six chapters:

  • Unbelievable facts about virtually everything
  • People and animals are awesome
  • Disturbing facts about our world
  • Facts about human and animal sexuality
  • You have been warned – don’t try this at home!
  • Debunked myths or unsubstantiated urban legend

packed with interesting, funny and educational hard to believe facts.

 

This book will provide you with never-ending intellectual ammunition for a lifetime of dinner parties. You will amaze your friends and family by recounting to them that the greatest Chinese pirate of all times was a woman, or that in the USA, vending machines kill more than sharks do!

Visit RaiseYourBrain.com

 


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The Simple Life Comes At A Cost

The Simple Life Comes At A Cost

My Million Dollar Donkey: The Price I Paid to Live Simply, by Ginny East

Feeling stuck is a sign that it’s time to make a change. And that’s exactly what Ginny and her husband Mark did. One day they both decided to cash in their life and reinvent their world; packing up their three kids and a dog, they said goodbye to a successful dance studio business, and moved to 50 acres of land in northwest Georgia.

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In My Million-Dollar Donkey: The Price I Paid for Wanting to Live Simply, Ginny honestly—with both the optimism of the inexperienced and the wisdom of the exhausted—recounts the four years she and her family gave to their incredibly complex attempt to forge a life that would lead to more poignant and heartfelt relationships with the environment, community and, most importantly, one another. 
Eventually, Ginny and Mark are forced to deal with an even more difficult challenge: will the dream of simple living drive them apart?

Today Ginny is the director of Heartwood Retreat Center and the founder of the Heartwood Writers and Artists collective, a community and school that offers retreats, trainings and writing opportunities for ongoing growth and development of writers. After the divorce she set to the work of reinventing herself, and armed with the lessons of the birds, the bees and her million dollar donkey to guide the way, she dedicated to her own artistic passions, and her strong desire to be of service to others.

There is a lot about My Million Dollar Donkey that I particularly enjoyed:  the   writing style -fluid and engaging- but mostly Ginny’s candor and honesty about her experience. This book is splendid and carries a message so powerful that’s impossible to ignore: Ginny’s story is about love, family, faith and resilience. Because even if sometimes new beginnings can feel like endings and life seldom offers smooth and simple paths -in the end- you don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward and become the best version of yourself.

My Million Dollar Donkey: The Price I Paid For Wanting To Live Simply is the ultimate journey of a woman who wasn’t afraid to try, fail and try again: a wonderful read that I wholeheartedly recommend to anybody.

Follow Ginny’s lovely blog @heartofginny.net


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What Happens When People Care

What Happens When People Care

I Wish My Teacher Knew. How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids, by Kyle Schwartz

One day, the third-grade teacher at Dull Elementary in DenverKyle Schwartz, asked her students to “fill in the blank” in a very simple sentence:

“I wish my teacher knew _____.”

She asked all for he children to write down one thing they wanted to tell her, but wouldn’t normally in the classroom situation. The first note that Schwartz shared on Twitter was from a student who said they didn’t have pencils at home to do their homework.

Some of the answers were humorous, others were heartbreaking –all were profoundly moving and enlightening, and opened her eyes to the need for educators to understand the cover87909-medium.pngunique realities their students face everyday. It all started with one simple exercise: Ms. Schwartz asked a question…and she listened for the answer.

In a culture of distraction -where we are increasingly disconnected from the people and events around us, often unable to empathize with the realities people face- it’s easy to ignore that our schools are more segregated by race and socioeconomic status than they were before the civil rights movements.

For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to the latest data collected from the states by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The Southern Education Foundation reports that more than half of the children in our nation’s schools qualify to receive special education services. Today poverty and education are inextricably linked, and educators cannot shy away from this.

What would happen if we just ask -even the simplest question- and actually take the time to listen? What would happen if educators actively build communities and meaningful relationships with students?

Like Ms. Erin Gruwell -the Woodrow Wilson Classical High School teacher known for her unique teaching method, which led to the publication of The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them (1999) and also inspired the 2007 film Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank, Scott Glenn, Imelda Staunton and Patrick Dempsey. images.jpeg

When she was assigned low-performing students in the school, Ms. Gruwell had to face a class  that seemed determined to make her life miserable. But behind those tough faces, she realized there was a burning need to be heard. By giving them composition books to record their diaries -in which they talk about their experiences of being abused, seeing their friends die, and being evicted- she gradually begins to earn their trust, and her students started to behave with respect.

The Freedom Writers journey began in 1994  in Long Beach, CA. With the use of Gruwell’s engaging teaching techniques, 100% of her students graduated from high school, and exceeded expectations by pursuing higher education and advanced degrees. In order to replicate the success she had with her students, Gruwell founded The Freedom Writers Foundation.

When Schwartz shared her experience online, #IWishMyTeacherKnew became an immediate worldwide viral phenomenon.  All teachers want to support their students, and #iwishmyteacherknew was a powerful way to do that.

I Wish My Teacher Knew is a touching portrayal of a teacher who brings inspirations to the lives of students, and cares to build meaningful relationships by giving them a voice in her classroom. Because all it takes is someone who really cares!

They say I gotta learn, but nobody’s here to teach me.

If they can’t understand it, how can they reach me?

I guess they can’t, I guess they won’t, I guess they front.

That’s why I know my life is out of luck, fool!

∼ Gangsta Paradise, Coolio ∼


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How A Mob of Meerkats Will Teach You About Management and Leadership

How A Mob of Meerkats Will Teach You About Management and Leadership

That’s Not How We Do It Here! A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall -and Can Rise Again, by John Kotter, Holger Rathgeber

Step back Tony Robbins, move over Deepack Chopra..here come the Meerkats to teach us about discipline, planning  and efficiency.

I am firmly convinced that animals are the best teachers. In fact, we’ve learned adapting from mice (Who Moved My Cheese, by Kenneth Blanchard), resilience from penguins (Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditionsby John Kotter and Holger Rathgeberand now.. the meerkats are here to share tips and tricks about management.

You know, thmeerkats_crowd_set_on_danger_51545_1280x1024.jpgose squirrel-size fuzzy, little animals who live in the deserts and grasslands of the southern tip of Africa.

Cute in their bushy, brown-striped fur, meerkats live in groups as large as 40, and everyone in the mob participates in gathering food, keeping a look out for predators, and taking care of the babies.

John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber use a simple fable about these bushy, animals to help any team or organization cope with their biggest challenges and turn them into exciting opportunities.cover90684-medium.png

Once upon a time a clan of meerkats lived in the Kalahari, a region in southern Africa. After years of steady growth, a drought has sharply reduced the clan’s resources, and deadly vulture attacks have increased. As things keep getting worse, the har­mony of the clan is shattered. The executive team quarrels about possible solutions, and sugges­tions from frontline workers face a soul-crushing response: “That’s not how we do it here!”

So Nadia, a bright and adventurous meerkat, hits the road in search of new ideas to help her trou­bled clan. She discovers a much smaller group that operates very differently, with much more teamwork and agility. These meerkats have developed innova­tive solutions to find food and evade the vultures. But not everything in this small clan is as perfect as it seems at first. 

That’s Not How We Do It Here! distills decades of experience and research to understand how organization rise, why they often eventually struggle and how and why they can rise again. This is not just a nice fable, but a real-life lesson that will teach you how to create an environment of openness to new and innovative ideas.


Get your own copy now! On Amazon.com (Book) – (eBook)

Who Moved My Cheese (Book) – (eBook)

Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions (Book) – (eBook)

How To Fake Your Own Death

How To Fake Your Own Death

Playing Dead. A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud, by Elizabeth Greenwood

Strangled by debts? Cops are after you? or is it your ex-wife stalking you and demanding for more money? Either be one or the other, here’s your way out: faking your deathcover82152-medium.png could be the solution to your problems.

When I first got a copy* of Playing Dead by Elizabeth Greenwood, I thought of a joke. I’ve heard of people faking dead like a new form of escapology, but I didn’t think it could be “a thing” even now in the 21st century.

Moved by innocent curiosity I asked my best friend in the world wide web -aka Google– about “fake your own death“, and what I found was hilarious.  15,800,000 results after, I had to admit that yes, faking death is still on.

Believe it or not, Wikihow also made a page of “precious” advices called “How to fake your own death” -11 steps (with pictures!) Because, according to the famous online community- “sometimes in life you may need to fake your own death to escape“.

Only a week ago an in-depth investigation by The National ENQUIRER revealed that Patrick McDermott -Olivia Newton-John’s ex-lover who disappeared during a 2005 fishing trip off the California coast- is believed to have faked his death to avoid money woes. McDermott was found living the high life working on luxury yachts south of the border under the protection of some rich Mexican family!

But in the 21st century -when every move is monitored by credit cards, smartphones and  socials network of any kind -how could be possible to disappear? If proving wrong is impossible -because dead are not coming back, right?- than what lesson could we learn from those who had been caught?

What happens to the people you left behind?  What would be lost? And who are the people who’re supposed to “kill” you?

Playing Dead is an empathetic investigation into a universal human fantasy and the men and women desperate enough to give up their lives—and their families—to start again.

*An ARC was kindly sent to me by via NetGalley by Simon & Schuster.


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Brexit? Yes, Please!

Brexit? Yes, Please!

A State of Independence: Why the EU is the Problem and Not he Solution, by Mark Brolin

It is less than 24 hours until polls open for the EU referendum on June 23. Britons are called to make a “momentous” decision about whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union or leave it for good.

According to the latest opinion polls, the British public are fairly evenly split (44% remain – 45% leave) *FT Latest Developments. But in the end, will they get it right?

If following from the outside the debate about whether the UK should leave the European Union is confusing, it is quite perplexing from the inside, too. The debate itself -frankly- has been neither informative nor enlightening.

Mark Brolin –a British-Swedish Economist educated at the Stockholm School of Economics and presently a UK/EU correspondent– believes in the importance of offering an objective and critical analysis of what’s really going on in the Old Country.cover90880-medium.png

By applying a realist approach, Brolin answers some of the most controversial issues; as why is the immigration issue so toxic? or how can the same people responsible for the flagrant mismanagement of the euro project remain in charge of EU economic policies? and how has it also been possible to largely ignore the grumblings of the people despite democratic systems in all EU member states?

A State of Independence is a smart book that deserve to be read. Honest and objective -it will show you why Europe is the Problem and not the Solution.

“If still in doubt this book makes it perfectly clear that the EU of today is a pipe dream and that taxpayers money could be much better spent elsewhere”

Luke Johnson,  Chairman of Risk Capital Partners

True Crime Enthusiasts

True Crime Enthusiasts

Dead Ends. The Pursuit, Conviction, and Execution of Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, by Joseph Michael Reynolds

A lot has been said about Aileen Wuornos, the cold blood woman who killed seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990. Abused as a teen, deep damaged, and mentally disturbed, Aileen never allowed herself to be weak, until her last day in prison.

Written by Joseph Michael Reynolds -the Reuters reporter who initially broke the story, in 1990, Dead Ends is the firsthand account of Wuornos’s capture, trial, and sentencing to death by lethal injection, that goes deep down where nobody ever before.

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When police in Florida’s Volusia County were called to investigate the murder of Richard Mallory, whose gunshot-ridden body had been found in the woods just north of Daytona Beach in December 1989, their search led them to a string of dead ends before the trail went cold six months later. During the spring and summer of 1990, the bodies of six more middle-aged white men were discovered—all in secluded areas near their abandoned vehicles, all but one shot dead with a .22 caliber pistol—and all without any suspects, motives, or leads.

The police speculated that the murders were connected, but they never anticipated what they’d soon discover: The killings were the work of a single culprit, Aileen Wuornos, one of the first women to ever fit the profile of a serial killer. With the cooperation of her former lover and accomplice, Tyria Moore, the police were able to solicit a confession from Wuornos about her months-long killing spree along Florida’s interstate highways. The nation was quickly swept up in the drama of her trial and the media dubbed her the “Damsel of Death” as horrifying details of her past as a prostitute and drifter emerged.

Someone once said “[..] how much suffering one person can inflict upon another before creating a monster”. Sometimes “monsters” are just people who need help. Aileen “Lee” Wournos needed help.


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The Essential Books To Understanding Bernie Sanders

The Essential Books To Understanding Bernie Sanders

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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is a celebrated socialist and one of the most liberal members of the Senate, elected as an independent to his state’s single House seat in 1990 and to the Senate in 2006. Previously he was mayor of Burlington, Vt., and worked as a carpenter and writer and taught at Harvard and Hamilton College.

On the official website berniesanders.com, senator Sanders shows his political program;  a very detailed (and long) list of issues, from immigration policy to affordable housing, racial justice, LGBT equality and social security.

Someone calls it a “populistic crusade” but  -whatever you want to call it-  America is listening.  Sanders wants people in America to take action, to fight for a progressive economic agenda that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment and provides health care for all.

Here the essential books to understanding the man who could be the first Jewish president of the United States of America.

The Speech: On Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class, by Bernie Sanders

5147+3CYdbL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_On Friday, December 10, 2010, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders walked on to the United States Senate and began speaking. A very long speech, lasting over eight and a half hours. And it hit a nerve. Millions followed the speech online until the traffic crashed the Senate server. 

The speech was more than a critique, It was a dissection of the collapse of the American middle class and a well-researched attack on corporate greed and on public policy. It was a plea for a fundamental change in national priorities, for government policy that reflects the needs of working families, and not just the wealthy and their lobbyists.

Sanders’ speech is a call for action, a passionate statement informing us that the only people who will save the middle class of this country is the middle class itself, but only if it is informed, organized, and prepared to take on the enormously powerful special interests dominating Washington.

Get your own copy now! On Amazon.com (Book) – (eBook)


Outsider in the White House, by Bernie Sanders and John Nichols

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Bernie Sanders’s campaign for the presidency of the United States has galvanized people all over the country, putting economic, racial, and social justice into the spotlight, and raising hopes that Americans can take their country back from the billionaires and change the course of history.

In this book, Sanders tells the story of a passionate and principled political life.  

Get your own copy now! On Amazon.com (Book) – (eBook)


The Bern Identity: A Search for Bernie Sanders and the New American Dream, by Will Bunch

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Will Bunch wrote probably one of the best books about Bernie Sanders and how he made it out of the backwoods of Vermont to become a very strong contender in the 2016 race for the White House.

Sanders’ remarkable bio is interspersed with the tale of the true believers who packed hockey rinks and concrete convention floors in crowds of 20,000 or more, who tweeted incessantly and posted memes of Sanders flying in coach class, and who exploded with excitement at their hero’s call for a “political revolution” to raise the beleaguered middle class. In a time of rampant cynicism about American politics, “The Bern Identity” turns into something most unlikely – a love story, between the long-distance runner who never gave up his fantasy of real social change, and the dreamers and the radicals and the formerly hopeless who were waiting for him at the finish line.

 Get your own copy now! On Amazon.com  (eBook)


Why Bernie Sanders Matters, by Harry Jaffe

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Bernie Sanders may be the least political person in politics. He is also, at seventy-four, the rising star of the Democratic party, whose underdog bid for the presidential nomination has hit the marks of a serious contender. He’s closed the fundraising gap, and is drawing crowds of thousands to campaign rallies. Why? Because where most candidates are calculating and rehearsed, Sanders is frank, authentic, and impassioned.

For thirty years, he has spoken out against income inequality, environmental injustice, and privatized healthcare. 

With reporting from inside the campaign, personal relationships with Sanders’s friends and colleagues, and meticulous research, noted reporter Harry Jaffe offers an engaging, insightful portrait of the ultimate outsider candidate, charting Sanders’s course from Brooklyn to Burlington, and now to Des Moines and beyond.

 

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Dear Miss Tate…You’re Fired From Millennials

Dear Miss Tate…You’re Fired From Millennials

Government Gone Wild. How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You for a Ride -and What You Can Do About It, by Kristin Tate

I like politics. I like talking about it and I like reading about it. Government Gone Wild was presented to me as a modern j’accuse addressed to our Government -written with humour and a fresh pecover84111-medium.pngrspective by the “young conservative journalist” Kristin Tate. 

Seen as  a fun way to agitate the entitled political establishment, Tate’s political action handbook is meant for a new generation of voters -the Millennials– who are afraid they will be paying for this out-of-control government their entire working lives.

I was expecting -from a journalist- a precise account of what  the Government is doing wrong; like bad administration and devilish conspiracies. Unfortunately this book is just a bunch of disconnected thoughts so obvious that is actually too embarrassing to believe they come from a 24 years old woman.

Some of her statements are borderline idiotic: in chapter one, Tate states that America has overcrowded prisons packed with people who never committed a single crime against anyone but themselves“. – I’d really like to know what prison Miss Tate visited that was overpacked with innocent people. Because the prison I visited was, yes packed -but with criminals. 

Speaking about drugs and legalization she said:  “Joints, spliffs and bongs should be completely legal” -and also- “If you want to smoke up until your eyes roll into the back of your empty skull, you should be free to do that“. According to Tate as long as we are allowed to eat junk food and waste our bodies with fat, alcohol or cigarette, we should be free to use cocaine or even heroin in the privacy of our home.

I am not the finest connoisseur of the human genre, but one thing I know is that drug addicts rarely stay “in the privacy of their own home“. Nope, they go out and mess with regular people. Like Kenneth Britt Smith, who is accused of striking and killing a bicyclist while was high on marijuana. (Northeast Portland, Dec 13, 2015). Or like David Njuguna– who is involved in the car crash death of a Massachusetts State Police trooper Thomas Clardy. Should I mention that Clardy left behind a wife and six children? And guess what? Njuguna was high on marijuana.

I would die to know if Miss Tate still believes these stoned guys only hurt themselves? Or they was just exercising their right to do what the hell they want with their lives?

And that was only chapter one!!  To be completely honest, I am so disappointed with this book, and  whilst I do appreciate Tate’s young and modern writing style, I am disturbed by the huge amount of stupidity she’s trying to feed the reader, especially because she claimed to write this book for Millennials.

Luckily there are a lot of smart Millennials out there who know how to write and how to deliver a good message. When Millennials Rule: The Reshaping of America by Jack and David Cahn is a splendid example of two dedicated and brilliant young men with valid and solid plans to make America strong again. I highly suggest you to read this book! And the previous post about Millennials, if you haven’t yet.


Get your own copy now! On Amazon.com (Book) – (eBook) ….or not!

 

*Disclaimer* -> Luckily not a single dime has been wasted on this book by me. An advanced copy was kindly sent to me via NetGalley by FaithWords/Center Street

An Unexpected Criminal

An Unexpected Criminal

The Unspeakable Crimes of Dr. Petiot, by Thomas Maeder

Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) believed there was an association between physical characteristics and the innate tendency of individuals toward sociopathy and criminal behaviour. Lombroso.JPG

Lombroso’s main idea was inspired -partly- by evolutionary and genetical studies, and proposed that certain criminals had physical evidence of an “atavistic” or hereditary sort, reminiscent of primitive stages of human evolution. These anomalies -called stigmata– could be expressed in terms of abnormal forms or dimensions of the skull and jaw, assymmetries in the face and in other parts of the body.

These associations were later shown to be highly inconsistent, and that’s when new theories based on the environmental causation of criminality became dominant.

Today studies show that serial killers and psychopaths can look extraordinarily ordinary on the outside. Jack Levin –director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University in Boston– says that’s pure mythology that serial killers are loners or antisocial, and that most of those psychopaths may appear successful and perfectly normal, beyond any suspicion.

Dr. Marcel Petiot was one of those psychopaths who wore the mask of sanity in order to  prey on more than 150 men, women and children desperate to escape Nazi-occupied Paris.

On March 11, 1944, police were called to investigate foul-smelling smoke pouring from the chimney of an elegant private house near the Arc de Triomphe. In the basement of 21 rue Le Sueur, they made the first of many gruesome discoveries: a human handcover90248-medium.png dangling from the open door of a coal-burning stove.

Proceeding to the rear of the home, detectives found rib cages, skulls, and internal organs strewn across the floor and large piles of quicklime mixed with fragments of bone and flesh. Were Hitler’s henchmen responsible for the carnage? Or was it the work of French Resistance fighters purging Paris of traitors and German spies?

As the investigation unfolded, a more sinister possibility emerged. The building’s owner, Dr. Marcel Petiot, was a handsome and charismatic physician whose past was littered with bizarre behavior and criminal activity. When he was finally captured eight months later, Dr. Petiot claimed he was a loyal member of the Resistance who helped kill Nazi collaborators. Prosecutors charged that he was a sadistic mass murderer who lured at least twenty-seven innocent people to their deaths with promises of escape. Estimates of the actual number of his victims ran as high as 150.

Thomas Maeder reconstructs one of the twentieth century’s most cruel and disturbing murder case from the first stages of investigation to the sensational trial. The Unspeakable crimes of Dr.Petiot is a compelling reading about one of the most brilliant yet sadistic mind ever known.

 


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