Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Snooping Around has won the Liebster Blog Award

Incredible but true. I still cannot believe that Snooping Around was awarded the Liebster Blog Award. Needless to say I'm on cloud nine. But if you have never heard of it, you're probably asking yourselves: "What is the Liebster Blog Award?". Actually the word Liebster comes from the German language, and it means "beloved". So, in this case, the actual meaning is "favorite blog". But winning this award is not so simple. You have to do 5 things to officially receive it, and in this "SPECIAL article" (notice I write special in Caps Lock to emphasize the importance of this) I will do it.

First I think few information is required. This award exists only on the internet, and is given to bloggers by other bloggers and it follows similar principles as a chain letter, in the sense that it should be passed forward to a certain number of people. The rules are simple to follow. If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award and you choose to accept it (like I do) , write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:
1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

This blogger actually made my day nominating me. I'm talking about Drama Queen, also one of my followers. She's an italian blogger with a great passion. Art and Theatre. Go check her work out, because I can guarantee you'll not regret it. Drama Queen, if you're reading this, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU so much. This award means a lot to me, glad you like what I do.

2. Display the award on your blog saving the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post. This is easy.
3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you. I've got the questions and here below I will do my very best to answer them.

- If you had to be a main character of a book, which one would it be?
Premising that I love the Harry Potter series, I would have to say one of Hogwarts students, not necessarily one of the main characters. Experiencing magic would be enough for me.
- Do you believe in coincidence or in a superior force?
I personally don't want to say too much about these two choices. In my opinion, coincidence and this "superior force" work together with us to create fate.
- Are you most fascinated by art or science?
Well, I'm a chemist so I absolutely love science, and I think some of its theories and thoughts are extremely fascinating.
- List 3 characteristics you find unpleasant in people.
When people feel superior, extreme foolishness, evil behaviors in general.
- If you could move to a random place all around the globe, where would you go?
I've always loved Great Britain. The language, the atmosphere, the views, the history, the Queen...a mix of these amazing qualities, and many more...so I would choose Great Britain, but not in a big town like London. Maybe in a suburban area.
- Which song are you playing most often these days?
I'm in love with the song Title by Meghan Trainor, it makes me smile every time I listen to it. Check it out.
- When you were a kid, what was your favorite game?
Hide 'n' Seek. Always!
- Which season do you prefer?
I personally don't have a favorite season. All of them have their pros and cons. So I'd say none.
- Writing on computer or handmade?
I think handmade writing is very useful to remember what you had written, but I admit the computer helps to keep everything in order without waste of space. But sometimes, computers can be so annoying. You probably know what I'm saying.
- You and your Social Netwoks
Facebook, Twitter and Google+. I always keep all of the above fully updated, but I'm not a Social Networkoholic.
- Have you ever thought, for any motivations, to close your blog?
No, actually never. Since I've opened my blog, I've never thought of closing it. And I think I will never. This because Snooping Around is my way to communicate with the internet, sharing my thoughts and the little knowledge I have.

4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself. Snooping Around Style.

1. When I was a kid, I literally saw an angel. I don't remember how old I was, but I remember exactly what happened. I was in an amusement Park with my parents, and we decided to go in one of those dark labyrinths with shadows and lasers. All of a sudden I got lost and started crying, looking for my mum. After few minutes all alone I saw a light behind me. I turned to see If that was my mum, but in front of me there was a black figure, staring at me. After I saw that my mum found me, but when I looked again, there was nothing in front of me. I know it seems crazy but, that's what I saw. Sometimes I think that was my guardian angel.

2. I have a great passion for Creepypastas. The internet is full of fake stories. But I personally think Creepypastas are always perfectly done. I don't know why, maybe I like to be scared.
3. I don't have a favorite color. I love almost every single one.

4. My birthday is the 1st of November. This date have always given me lots of troubles. That's because every single time I said it people use to say I'm born in All Souls Day. But actually I'm born in All Saints Day. And not just two or three people. Everybody. Why is this so difficult ?!

5. I'm also a writer....Well, I'm trying to be a writer. Actually I've already written a little book (and I'm currently finishing my second one). I started doing that because of a disappointment in school. after that I decided to pour my feelings on a blank page. And that's why now I think writing helps me to express myself.
6. Classic Books Mania. During my life I've read lots of books. I love reading. But for unknown reasons, my classic books list is very short. So in these days I decided to start reading all those books "you should read at least once in your life". I'm doing that for cultural purposes, but I've recently found out these are quite enjoyable readings. Now I'm reading 20.000 leagues under the sea.

7. I'm in love with Dancing. I cannot live without music. And when I hear it, I have to dance. This passion followed me since I was a little kid, so I decided to attend a school to learn some crazy choreographic numbers. Now I end it up for a year, but so far I've done about 4 years of these classes. I'm unstoppable. Every evening I have to dance, for at least an hour.

8. I sing under the shower. Don't judge me. I love music, I've said that.

9. One of the reasons I started blogging was to improve my English. If you're new on my blog, you probably don't know I'm Italian. So English is not my mother language. But I think it should be an integrative part of everyone's cultural luggage. I hate language barriers and I always try to break them down. I hope to improve it during my blogging job, and make it better and better as time goes by.

10. When there's something I don't wanna hear, I put my headphones on. A noise, an argument between two friends, someone screaming without mercy. I put them on, even if there's no music playing. But most of the time there is.

11. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actor. I'm still loving this passion of mine, and I think one day I will be brave, attending some acting lessons. There's only a little problem I have to face. I'm very shy at times, so it can be a great way to get over it.
And now you know how weird I am...

5. Nominate other blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers. I don't know if they have less than 200 followers, but I think they deserve this award.

Bared My Soul by Lux Ganzon
Libri da Favola by Sofia P
Feedmeister.com by Bill Mads
Marco Lazzara (he's a wandering blogger, so he writes in lots of blogs. I think I'll let him choose in which one he would like to do this).
Believe me, all of them deserves this award. And here below I listed my questions for them:

- Why did you start blogging? Has it turned out to be what you expected?
- What's one piece of advice you'd give your younger self?
- If you could live one day over again, what day would it be?
- What is the story behind your blog name?
- If you could only eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- What’s your greatest fear?
- When was the last time you had a good belly laugh?
- What’s your favorite quote?
- What has been your biggest challenge?
- If you were going to live on a deserted island, what three things could you not live without?
- If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

And that's it ! Hope you enjoy this little deviation from my usual articles. But don't worry. The next "Random Facts About" will be very interesting...Have a good life and Never Stop Snooping Around.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

50 Special...Misconceptions Revealed

I cannot believe I've written fifty articles so far. It's a great goal for me, and I have to thank all my Snoopers, who come to visit me every time. So, also to thank you, today I'm going to write a special article. Imagine all the things you've learnt in your life. Well, not all of them are true, we all know that! But there are some of those which are so eradicated in our mind we couldn't believe are not true. Well, today we'll try to do this. In the sixteenth century, British cardinal Thomas Wolsey said: "Be very, very careful what you put into that head, because you'll never, ever get it out". Prepare to empty your brain of this 50 common misconceptions, miths, rumors about everything.

1. The Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from space. WRONG! To see something on Earth from space, it would have to be pretty big, which the Great Wall certainly is. But it's only 30 feet across at its widest. Photos taken from the International Space Station can prove you cannot spot a single piece of it, but even if you guessed the actual line by pure luck, the photos were taken with zoom lens. This makes it not visible.
2. Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis. WRONG! That is socially obnoxious for sure, but it does not causes that kind of issues as some kind of karmic punishment.
3. People only use 10% of their brain. WRONG! If you haven't seen a neurologist in the past 30 years, you might not be aware doctors now have machines that can see inside peoples' brains and, contrary to popular belief, 90% of the neurons don't sit all day around doing absolutely nothing.While scientist don't yet know exactly what each part does, they do know that all the bits matter. So if you think someone could scoop out more than a half of the brain and still be fine, that person probably uses only 10% of it.
4. Brontosaurus were fantastic dinosaurs. WRONG! I'm afraid to announce, all Dino-fans, that this kind of dinosaur never even existed. Some paleontologists mistakenly attached two species body parts, claimed then for the new specie. The mistake was discovered in 1903, but the last museum corrected the skeletons only in 1979.
5. Speaking about dinosaurs, Pterodactyls and other Pterousaurs were flying dinosaurs. WRONG! Actually, they were not dinosaurs. Also birds did not evolve from this specie, are in fact a subgroup of dinosaurs.
6. The Far Side of the Moon is the Dark Side. WRONG! Actually it's not. We are not able to see it because the moon is tightly locked with the Earth, but the far side receives just as much sunlight as the face that faces us.
7. The moon is the solely responsible for the tides. WRONG! The sun's gravity plays a role as well, albeit a smaller one.
8. By the way, looking at the Sun means like looking at a burning star. WRONG! The sun is actually not on fire, but what you're seeing is an enormous nuclear reaction, as the sun fuses Hydrogen atoms into Helium.
9. Fortune cookies are one of the most known Chinese sweet. WRONG! Fortune cookies, despite being associated with Chinese cuisine in the United States, were in fact invented and brought to the U.S. by the Japanese.The cookies are extremely rare in China, where they are actually seen as symbols of American cuisine.
10. As you probably remember, in my article about Autumn I said equinox is the only day when you can balance an egg. WRONG! I should say my bad but, what I've said is just partially wrong. Egg balancing is possible on every day of the year, not just the vernal equinox. The tradition of balancing eggs on a particular date originates in China, when it was reported on by Life magazine in 1945. However, it was reported in 1987 that Frank Ghigo was able to balance some eggs on every day from February 27 to April 3, in 1984. At the same time, he also found that "...some eggs would simply never balance, on the equinox or otherwise."

11. Eskimos have hundreds of words to say "Snow". TECHNICALLY CORRECT! yes is technically correct, but misleading. Some languages, such as German, like to make compound words by running several small ones together (which is why German words are sometimes absurdly long). Inuit language (the Eskimos language to be clear) uses compound words as well. So, rather than say something like "Icy Snow" in English, they combines the two words into one, with the final result written "Icysnow". But it's not a "real word", just a quirk of grammar. So technically they do have hundreds of ways to describe snow, because there are hundreds of adjectives related to snow that can be combined. But, in a certain way, so does every other language.
12. Meteorites raise to high temperature when they collide with the ground. WRONG! Meteorites are not necessarily hot when they reach the Earth. In fact, many meteorites are found with frost on them. As they enter the atmosphere, having been warmed only by the sun, meteors have a temperature below freezing. The intense heat produced during passage through the upper atmosphere at very high speed then melts a meteor's outside layer, but molten material is blown off and the interior does not have time to warm appreciably. Most meteorites fall through the relatively cool lower atmosphere for as long as several minutes at subsonic velocity before reaching the ground, giving plenty of time for their exterior to cool off again.
13. Twinkle twinkle little star. WRONG! Stars don't twinkle, despite what you may have heard from the popular rhyme. The light of the stars is refracted through our atmosphere, distorting the image that reaches our eyes.
14. Space is devoid of gravity. WRONG! There's enough of it out there to keep the stars orbiting the center of the galaxy.
15. The Brazilian Wandering Spider is the most poisonous spider in the world. WRONG! Well, this needs an explanation. There's another spider which is more poisonous than the Wandering. You won't believe it, but according to urban legends, the daddy longlegs spider (Pholcidae) is the most venomous spider in the world, but the shape of their mandibles leaves them unable to bite humans, rendering them harmless to our species. In reality, they can indeed pierce human skin, though the tiny amount of venom they carry causes only a mild burning sensation for a few seconds.
16. Harvestmen and Crane Flies can be considered longlegs spiders. WRONG! There is confusion regarding the use of the name daddy longlegs, because harvestmen (order Opiliones, which are arachnids, but not spiders) and crane flies (which are insects) are also known as daddy longlegs, and share the misconception of being venomous.
17. Sunflowers track Sun across the sky. WRONG! The heads point in a fixed direction (East) all day long. However, in an earlier development stage, before the appearance of flower heads, the buds do track the sun and the fixed alignment of the mature flowers is a result of this heliotropism.
18. Killer Whales are whales. WRONG! They' re actually the largest members of the Dolphin family.
19. You need 8 glasses of water a day. WRONG, BUT A GREAT ADVICE! While I'm doubtless some people would benefit from drinking a little more water instead of "awful drinks full of sugar", there is no scientific evidence that 8 glasses of water a day is the required amount, and some evidence that it might be too much.
20. Goldfish have a 3 seconds memory. WRONG! In average the memories can last in their tiny heads for more than a month, so don't torture your pet.

21. This is more for scientists: speed=velocity & mass=weight. WRONG! Speed and Velocity are not interchangeable, and neither are Mass and Weight. Weight is in fact a measurement of the strength of acting on a specified mass.
22. The QUACK doesn't echo. WRONG! Believe me, a duck's quack actually does echo, just like any other sound.
23. Bats are blind. WRONG! While about 70% of bat species, mainly in the microbat family, use echolocation to navigate, all bat species have eyes and are capable of sight. In addition, almost all bats in the megabat or fruit bat family cannot echolocate and have excellent night vision.
24. Well, that pesky fly will surely die before tomorrow. WRONG! Houseflies do not have an average lifespan of 24 hours (though the adults of some species of mayflies do). The average lifespan of a housefly is 20 to 30 days. However, a housefly maggot will hatch within 24 hours of being laid.
25. A dog year is equivalent to seven human years. NOT REALLY! Generally speaking, a one year old dog is between 10 and 15 human years, the second years is equal about 3 to 8 years, and every year after that is 4/5 human years. But of course this actually depends on the size and breed of the dog.
26. The Equator is the point of change of the Coriolis effect. WRONG! If you haven't heard of it, this effect should change the direction of water flowing down the bathtub. Well, The Coriolis effect does not determine the direction that water rotates in a bathtub drain or a flushing toilet, so this direction is not influenced by location, no matter in what hemisphere you are. The Coriolis effect is induced by the Earth's rotation and is far too weak to affect the direction of water in a typical bathtub drain. The effect becomes significant and noticeable only at much larger scales, such as in weather systems or oceanic currents
27. Tap Water is bad, but Bottled Water is good. WRONG! If you live in a paradise free from Government Regulations, I would recommend you to drink bottled water, But modern and functioning countries have something called Health Regulations, which cover both kinds of water. In addition, water is extremely dense, making transporting it from mountain tops and glaciers enormously expensive. And, just between us, sometimes bottles water is just local tap water with a fancy label and an enormous markup. Well, only some of them, not all of them...
28. Gum takes 7 years to pass through your digestive system. WRONG! Are you kidding me? This is pretty easy to disprove yourself, but it's understandable why most people don't try the experiment.
29. Glass is a super cooled liquid. WRONG! Well, it's also though not a solid. It's called an amorphous solid, some state between solid and liquid.
30. You're tongue has separate sections for every taste. WRONG! Every area of the tongue can taste Sweet, Sour, Savory, Salty an Bitter foods that you put into your mouth.

31. Another mistake of mine. The equinox means that day and night have the same length everywhere in the world. WRONG! This is just a particular moment of astronomical alignment that happens twice a year when the Earth's axis is perfectly perpendicular to the Sun.
32. Mental abilities are separated into the left and right cerebral hemispheres of the brain. WRONG! Some mental functions such as speech and language (Broca's area, Wernicke's area) tend to activate one hemisphere of the brain more than the other, in some kinds of tasks. If one hemisphere is damaged at an early age, these functions can often be recovered in part or even in full by the other hemisphere (a process called Neuroplasticity). Other abilities such as motor control, memory, and general reasoning are served equally by the two hemispheres.
33. You cannot have sex freely before a sporting event. WRONG! In fact, There is no physiological basis for the belief that having sex in the days leading up to a sporting event or contest is detrimental to performance.In fact it has been suggested that sex prior to sports activity can elevate the levels of testosterone in males, which could potentially enhance their performance.
34. If you're on a plane, your toilet waste is flushed in the sky. WRONG! Can you imagine?! That would be hilarious, especially for the poor one who will be struck by that thing. In reality, toilet waste is never intentionally jettisoned from an aircraft. All waste is collected in tanks which are emptied on the ground by toilet waste vehicles. Blue ice is caused by accidental leakage from the waste tank. Passenger trains, on the other hand, have indeed historically flushed onto the tracks; modern trains usually have retention tanks on board and therefore do not dispose of waste in such a manner.
35. Blood in your veins is blue. WRONG! The idea here is that the blood in veins is blue and it only turns red when exposed to the Oxygen in the air. Thinking such an idea is unreasonable, after all your veins look blue and anatomic diagrams classify veins with the color blue.
36. People swallow 8 spiders a year while sleeping. WRONG! Thank God, I Add. Supposedly, while you're in bed, helplessly unconscious with your mouth wide open, each year 8 spiders find their way into your mouth and then reflexively swallow them. Well, let me say. Spiders love warm, moist places, so 8 is far too low. NO, SERIOUSLY, JUST KIDDING...
37. Don't shave or it will grow thicker and darker. WRONG! The hair only becomes wider and feels coarser. This belief is due to hair which has never been cut having a tapered end, whereas after cutting the edge is blunt and therefore wider than the tapered ends; the cut hair appears to be thicker and feels coarser due to the sharper, unworn edges. The shorter hairs being "harder" (less flexible) than longer hairs also contributes to this effect.
38. Hair and fingernails continue growing after death, WRONG!  Rather, the skin dries and shrinks away from the bases of hairs and nails, giving the appearance of growth.
39. Alcohol makes me feel warm. WRONG! The reason that alcoholic drinks create the sensation of warmth is that they cause blood vessels to dilate and stimulate nerve endings near the surface of the skin with an influx of warm blood. This can actually result in making the core body temperature lower, as it allows for easier heat exchange with a cold external environment.
40. The molten core of the Earth. WRONG! The core of our planet, which has a radius of 700 miles is essentially a solid ball of Nickel and Iron.

41. Galileo invented the telescope. WRONG! Though he improved it a lot.
42. Charles Darwin and the "Survival of The Fittest". WRONG! This phrase was not his, in fact he borrowed it from an English philosopher, Herbert Spencer, and used it in Chapter 4 of "The Origins Of Species" 
43. Alcohol kills brain cells. WRONG! Alcohol can, however, lead indirectly to the death of brain cells in two ways: (1) In chronic, heavy alcohol users whose brains have adapted to the effects of alcohol, abrupt cessation following heavy use can cause excitotoxicity leading to cellular death in multiple areas of the brain. (2) In alcoholics who get most of their daily calories from alcohol, a deficiency of thiamine can produce Korsakoff's syndrome, which is associated with serious brain damage.
44. Diamonds and Coal. WRONG! Most diamonds are not formed from highly compressed coal. More than 99 percent of diamonds ever mined have formed in the conditions of extreme heat and pressure about 90 miles (140 km) below the earth's surface. Coal is formed from prehistoric plants close to earth surface, and is unlikely to migrate below 2 miles (3.2 km) through common geological processes. Most diamonds that have been dated are older than the first land plants, and are therefore older than coal. It is possible that diamonds can form from coal in subduction zones and in meteoroid impacts, but diamonds formed this way are rare and the carbon source is more likely carbonate rocks rather than coal.
45. Salem's Fires. WRONG, BUT CLOSE! The accused at the Salem witch trials were not burned at the stake; they either died in prison (about 15) or were hanged (19) or pressed to death (only 1).
46. George Washington and his wooden teeth. WRONG! In fact the first President of the U.S.A. had a denture made of  gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, animal teeth (including horse and donkey teeth), and probably human teeth from slaves.
47. The Bull and the Red Cape. WRONG! Bulls are not enraged by the color red, used in capes by professional matadors. Cattle are dichromats, so red does not stand out as a bright color. It is not the color of the cape, but the perceived threat by the matador that incites it to charge.
48. Fan Death. QUIET INTERESTING! This misconception comes from South Korea. Here the belief is that if you spend too much time with a rotating fan in a confined space, it will use up all of you Oxygen and you'll asphyxiate to death. Well, according with the lifeless, anaerobic and plastic material of the fan, this has actually no sense. But Korean manufacturers are so sure of your imminent death that they always put timers to prevent them from running too long.
49. 4th July 1776. WRONG! The American Declaration of Independence was signed on August 2nd 1776. The 4th of July was the date when the declaration was ratified.
50. Albert Einstein and his issue with math when he was a child. WRONG! Einstein never failed math at school, and when he was showed a newspaper claiming he had, Einstein replied: "Before I was fifteen I mastered differential and integral calculus".

And that's it ! 50 misconceptions, 50 times I've written "WRONG!" (and probably this have bothered some of you). But now I just wanna say THANK YOU TO EVERYBODY. Without all the people that visit my blog everyday I wouldn't be able to make it through the Internet. So, you made my dream come true and I couldn't be more happy and thankful. And, thanks to your support, I will continue writing articles, over and over again. WE WILL NEVER STOP SNOOPING AROUND...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Maniacs of the Past - Erzsébet Báthory, The Bloody Countess

History is full of sad and terrifying stories. Blood dripped from innocent people, and most of the time we don't even now this tragedies. With this new collection of articles we'll go back in time, to snoop around the biographies of some of the most maniacal serial killers ever registered in the Old Book of Past. As I just said, the maniacs list is very very.... very long. There are lots that deserve to open up this new section. But I'm a kinda gentleman. SO, LADIES FIRST....

This is the horrifying story of a woman called Erzsébet Báthory de Ecsed. A countess of the noble Báthory family, rulers in the Kingdom of Hungary. The trail of corpses left behind her is unequaled in the history of serial crimes. It is most impressive as it's one of the few cases in which a woman was ruthless with incredible ferocity exclusively towards other women.
We can say that if plastic surgery existed at her time, this story would never be told. This because her problem was only an aversion for the "growing old" perception. And only by precising this we can fully understand the whole story. The terror of aging mixed with a sadism tendency is the deadly formula that made this noble woman a vicious killer.
Erzsébet (or The Bloody Countess, as is now universally called) overcome the original idea of Cleopatra's bathing in milk, replacing it with the scarlet red color of human blood. This incredible "anti-aging remedy" involved the lives of about 600 virgin girls, brutally murdered for letting the countess succeed in this practice.

But let's start from the very beginning. Erszébet Bathory was born in Hungary in 1560, in a noble family which had lots of possessions throughout Transylvania. She had a family tree full of princes, cardinals and ministers. Just to mention few of them, Stephen Báthory became governor of Transylvania. Her uncle was crowned King of Poland in 1575, while her brother Christopher Báthory succeeded Stephen as Prince of Transylvania. Erszébet was therefore the nephew of the King of Poland.
Since her childhood, Elizabeth suffered from severe headaches that resulted in terrible apoplectic seizures. Many doctor explained his behavior as a result of this never cured health problem . It was a dark-eyed lady with long black hair. Quite enigmatic description....
At the age of 15 she married Count Ferencz Nádasdy and went to live with him in the dark castle of Csejthe. She was so powerful all around Europe she kept the name because his family was even more powerful than her husband's.The Count was always far away, engaged in new battles. To chase boredom and melancholy, young Erszébet began to betray her husband with young men and took an interest in the Black Magic Arts.

During her lonely days inside the castle, Bathory discovered a huge amount of torture instruments, all carefully kept in the dungeons of the castle. With these new knowledge, the darker side of his personality slowly emerged. Between studying the occult sciences and handling whips, the madness began to sprout inside her.

Erzsébet toyed with dozens of lovers and horribly played with young serves. Among her favorite tortures (and here I'm going to be brutal in the description...so beware) were setting fire to pieces of paper tucked between the toes of the girls. She used to warm coins until they became hot and forced the victims to take them in hand while shaking the fist. Or even scarred the faces of the maids with hot irons, if they ironed expensive clothes wrong. Sewed with thread the mouths of those who (according to her thoughts) had lied, jabbed needles under fingernails, smeared with honey all over the body of the alleged thieves and then moving into the woods and tied them to a tree, at the mercy of insects and other dangerous animals. The most monstrous practice was to burn the sex of the young people with a candle.

But, among these "innocent" games, Erzsébet found the way and the time to have four children: three daughters named Anna, Orsolya and Katalin, and a son, Pál. However, having four children does not improve her maternal instinct. In fact, she never cared for them and preferred to entrust them to the family nurse Ilona Jó, an old widow, just to devote herself to the tortures of all her maids.

Causing pain became his favorite pastime. She frequently made ​​girls undress in front of the servants for the sheer pleasure of humiliating them. Many times this violence flowed in murder. And just because I haven't been fully explicit so far, I will add that, among the many rumors have been said about the macabre list of practices, there's one, telling how the maid's meat was served more than once to unsuspecting soldiers, returned from the war with the Count. Choosing among the most malignant souls, Elizabeth put together a court composed of individuals united by the common interests in torture. Among them stood the already named Ilona Jó, the ladies of the company Dorottya Szentes and Kateline Beniezky, and a footman named Ficzkó, the most terrible of the group, because he was motivated by a furious ranklement towards women who had always rejected and ridiculed him. The Countess raped young girls everywhere: in its many castles and while travelling on her carriage, when she was bored or when the headache made ​​her angry. But this was just the beginning.In 1604 Count Ferencz Nádasdy died, and the real nightmare began.

Countess Bathory was a beautiful woman, but the men who crowded around here were mostly attracted by its wealth and the chance to get to the throne by marrying her. Obsessed with his own image in the mirror and terrified with the idea of seeing fade its charm, the Countess found a way to stop time. After trying and failing with ointments and herbal cosmetics, devised a new therapy, with the dual purpose of appeasing his phobias and satisfy his cruel nature. Nobody knows exactly when and how she started. It is said that one day, while he was savagely beating a servant, a drop of blood fell on her hand. Perhaps it was just light cheating on her or an altered mental state to make her believe that the wet skin touched by the blood was smoother and therefore younger. She thought that a complete immersion in the plasma of young girls could give her what she wanted. The Csejthe castle became a huge  torture chamber. The destitute peasants of the village came there searching for a job, without ever coming out anymore. The victims were hung upside down over a bathtub and slaughtered, or locked up for hours in tiny cages with iron spikes.

The villagers couldn't do anything against the power of the Báthory family. Those were the days when wealthy landowners could have power over the life of every member of servitude. The abuse were commonplace in every castle, but there are no other cases similar to these.

The Madness of Elisabeth grew at the highest point when she began to drink blood, giving rise to the legends according to which, in addition of being a witch, she was also a vampire. Given that the therapy didn't fully satisfy her thirst, she started to kill up to forty girls in a row, leaving her corpses all around the castle. With these kidnappings and murders, she drew the attention on herself, even by those who, up to that time, had been silent despite all the suspects.

Then the decline begun. The financial problems and debts accumulated during years of poor management of family assets. The suspects became obviously evident. Her scarlet bathrooms were finished. Some men were commissioned to explore the castle of Csejthe in search of evidence. What they saw is documented by some written documents. Believe me, saying the dungeons were soaked with blood is not an exaggeration.

In a cell  some young girls were found covered in dirt and blood, waiting to fall into the Countess' claws. Half of them were starved to death, and the remaining, had to eat the flesh of her companions to survive. All of them had been driven crazy since the first time they entered in that cursed manor. An Iron Maiden stood in a corner, completely caked with dried blood. Wooden tables, whips, chains, piles of metal tools, everything was reddish-brown. A slaughterhouse from which investigators came out pale and unable to utter a word for several weeks.

Erzsébet never showed up at her trial. His faithful dame, considered witches, were condemned to the stake, while the footman was beheaded. But the rich lady suffered something worse than death.
She was walled up alive in one of the castle's towers, with a small opening between her and the world, waited for death in darkness, and tormented of not being able to continue her "beauty care".And finally, in 1614, after four years of loneliness, the prisoner was found dead. She was 54 years old...Quite advanced for the time. 
As I said, the amount of victims has no equal in history. Between 600 and 650 teenagers were documented. And I'm saying documented, so no one can ensure there cannot be more.

Some say that the writer Bram Stoker was inspired by Bàthory for his Dracula, rather than the figure of Vlad the Impaler. Aside from literary disquisitions, there exist some ties between the two families.
Just to mention some examples:

  • The Prince Stephen Báthory helped Dracula regain his throne in 1476.
  • One of Dracula's castles was given to the Báthory family during Erszébet life period. So the Báthory and Dracula, over the years, always lived close enough.
  • In addition, the coats of arms of both families had a dragon (actually Dracula belonged to the Order of the Dragon, which symbol was a Dragon).
Filmmakers did amazing movie using this woman's story, but I personally think the best is without a doubt The Countess, directed by Julie Delpy. But now the Csejthe castle has reduced to desolate ruins, witnesses of unimaginable atrocities.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Random Facts About.... Autumn

Welcome to a season filled with change. Cold at night, but still warm and sunny during the daytime, that becomes shorter. And, first of all, leaves fall off the trees and hedges. Well, everybody knows the main facts about Autumn, with its strong winds and a lot of rain. But what about the interesting facts we don't know. Nothing better than a good old "Random Facts About" to look up on the secrets behind the color of the falling foliage. So, without further do, let's get started.

1. The word "fall" to describe the season that precedes winter was in use in Elizabethan England, and, logically, relates to falling leaves. Although "fall" is the more common term in North America, "autumn" is preferred in Great Britain. It's also a linguistic fact the word "autumn" is more graceful and poetic, but "fall" is easier to rhyme.
2. Evergreen trees will not lose their leaves like deciduous trees. But have you ever found out why this happens? Their leaves, also called needles, are covered with a thick wax. This wax protects the inner components of the needles, preventing them from freezing.
3. Autumn full moon is called Harvest Moon. Long ago farmers would take advantage of the Harvest Moon’s light to harvest their crops, because in late summer and early autumn many of these would ripen all at once. This made farmers have to stay in the fields long after sundown to gather them and the moonlight became essential to their harvest. Several cultures have ancient traditions that coincide with this Harvest Moon. For example, the Chinese celebrate the Moon Festival to give thanks for a successful summer harvest.
4. Those who live closest to the equator, which is the center of the planet, never experience the season of autumn. Around the equator, in fact, temperature remains consistently warm.
5. The first day of autumn is known as the autumnal equinox. On this day, the number of hours of daylight and darkness are equal (soon we will discover this is a common misconception). This is because the sun is aligned with the center of the Earth between the north and south of the planet. The other equinox occurs in spring, which arrives in the third week of March (in the Northern hemisphere).
6. Due to cooler temperatures you sleep longer and well.
7. In Greek mythology, autumn was a time when Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld. During this time, Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, was distraught and the ground grew sparse and cold. When Persephone returned in the springtime, plants and life bloomed anew because of Demeter’s happiness. Greeks made always fantastic explanations of nature.
8. Fall is a peak migration time for many species of birds. During autumn, birds will fly to other areas as they seek more hospitable climates. The Arctic tern journeys about 11,000 miles each way for its annual migration. That is like going all the way across the United States about three and a half times.
9. Contrary to popular belief, squirrels who have spent the entire autumn collecting acorns and other foods do not hibernate for the winter. Rather, they spend the majority of their time in nests they built to shelter them from harsh weather. When squirrels do come out in winter, they are usually tunneling under the snow to find the food they buried during the fall.
10. Halloween has a large spiritual correlations with Celts. The concept of wearing masks and costumes hails from ancient Celtic tradition. The Celts believed ghosts roamed on Halloween, and people wore disguises to hide from the spirits. The pumpkin, instead, was first named by the Greeks. They called this edible orange item "pepon", which means "large melon".But don't worry, soon I'll post an Halloween special to discover some other ghastly secrets...
11. In addition to the brilliant colors of fall leaves, the autumn equinox signals another colorful spectacle: the aurora borealis, also called the Northern Lights. Besides the lengthening of nights and cool evening weather, which are great for stargazers, autumn truly is "aurora season," according to NASA. That's because geomagnetic storms are about twice as frequent as the annual average during the fall. Particles that get discharged from the sun during such geomagnetic storms zip toward Earth at breakneck speed. As the particles slam into Earth's magnetic field, they bump into atoms and molecules of oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. The result is dazzling light shows, with hues most commonly of pink, green, yellow, blue, violet and occasionally orange and white, depending on what elements the particles collide with. Such a wonder...
12. Leaves change their wardrobes in response to chilly temperatures and less light, as days begin to shorten; they stop producing chlorophyll, the green pigment that helps leaves capture sunlight to power photosynthesis. As green fades, the leave's other pigments, such as the orange and yellow of carotenoids shine through. Vibrant red hues are the result of anthocyanins, pigments that are produced in the fall.
13. The autumn colors could be some of the casualties of global warming, say scientists. Research has shown as the world warms, fall-colored leaves are delayed since their cues to change color come partly from cooling temperatures. Fall's cool nights and sunny days also help to trigger trees like the sugar maple to store their anthocyanins temporarily in their leaves, giving them a show of red. But if global warming leads to warmer nights, paired with autumn's shortening days, trees may not use their sugars to make red pigments, instead sending that fuel to twigs or burning it off, according to Howie Neufeld, a plant physiologist at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. So climate change may also alter suitable habitats for trees like the sugar maple known to be big players in fall's vibrant colors.

14. Now a little fact about Thanksgiving. he mythological origins of the cornucopia have to do with baby Zeus, who had to be hidden from his devouring father, Cronus, so he was put in a cave on Mount Ida to be cared for and protected by Amalthea, the goddess of nourishment. Zeus accidentally broke one of her horns, which then had the divine power to provide unending nourishment, much like the cornucopia of Thanksgiving represents.
15. Climate cooling send a signal to humans to pair up, making fall the best season for falling in love.
16. Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites. Also pumpkin pies are very particular, because its aroma is a natural aphrodisiac.
17. Maybe you could have tried this at home some days ago. It is believed the first day of fall ( the equinox to be clear) is one of the 2 days of the year when you can stand an egg on end. Of couse the other is the equinox of spring.
Well, leaves are falling down, 2014 is running out but we keep moving on.
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