The President

The 3200 year old tree so massive that it had never been captured in a single image until recently.

This giant sequoia stands 247 feet tall and measures 45,000 cubic feet in volume. The trunk alone measures 27 feet and the branches hold 2 billion needles (more than any tree on the planet).

This picture took a team of photographers from Nat Geo, 32 days and stitching together 126 different photos to make.



The Bhaja Caves of Maharashtra, India.

Bhaja contains about 29 rock-cut caves, which date back to the 2nd century BCE, and is described by the Archaeological Survey of India to be “one of the important Buddhist centres of Hinayana faith in Maharashtra.” 

A prominent features of Bhaja is Cave 12, a chaitya-griha, pictured in the final photo, which is considered one of the earliest of its kind. The stupa at the back of the large apsidal hall was used for worship. Cave 20 contains a group of stupas, which were built in memory of deceased monks, and probably once contained their relics.

Cave 18 was a monastery, and its verandah contains two famous sculpted reliefs. One of these (pictured in the 2nd photo) is located to the left of the door. This artwork depicts a person riding an elephant (thought by some to be Indra) who carries an ankusa (elephant goad), with attendants aside the figure, carrying a banner. The second relief shows a royal personage aside two women. The royal figure (who some identify as Sun god Surya), rides a chariot driven by four horses, and appears to be trampling a demon-like figure.

Photos courtesy of & taken by Himanshu Sarpotdar. The write-up of the site done by the Archaeological Survey of India was of great reference to me when writing this post.

August 22, 1934: Al Capone Arrives on Alactraz Island

On this day in 1934, celebrity gangster Al Capone arrived on Alcatraz Island, after being transferred from Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in Georgia. 

Was Al Capone the quintessential self-made American man, a ruthless killer or both? His name sparks images of pin-stripe suits and bloody violence, but why do Americans continue to be fascinated by this man? Al Capone: Icon examines Capone’s lasting legacy to determine why – watch the full episode here

Photo: Al Capone (front and center) being escorted to the train in Chicago that would take him to U. S. Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta. 


TODAY IN HISTORY: 22 August 1485, Battle of Bosworth 

Henry Tudor had a force of about 5000 men while Richard’s army probably was nearer 12,000. However, 4,000 of these soldiers belonged to the Stanley family and no one was sure if the Stanley’s could be trusted. It is thought that Richard did not trust Lord Stanley as he had a reputation of fighting for whoever he felt was going to be the most generous in victory. For Richard it was to be a shrewd judgement of character – and one that led to his death.

The fighting began early in the morning of August 22nd. The two Stanley armies stayed away from the actual fighting at this stage so that the contest was literally a battle between Richard’s and Henry’s forces. Richard held the crest of Ambion Hill with Henry at the bottom in more marshy land. When Henry’s men charged up the hill, they sustained heavy casualties. However, Henry had recruited long bow men while in Wales and these inflicted equally severe wounds on the forces of Richard as being at the top of a hill did not protect them from a deluge of long bow arrows.

Though there are no contemporary accounts of the battle, it is generally accepted that it lasted about two to three hours. Casualties on both sides were heavy. What turned the battle seems to have been a decision made by Richard III to target Henry himself. Henry was seen making a move to where Lord Stanley was almost certainly with the intent to urge Stanley to use his forces on Henry’s side. With some trusted men Richard charged at Henry. He nearly succeeded in getting to Henry, and Tudor’s standard bearer, William Brandon, who was very near his leader, was killed. However, Henry’s bodyguards closed ranks and the future king was saved.

For the duration of the battle, the forces of the Stanley family had stood by the sides – therefore fulfilling what Richard believed - but at this critical moment the army of Sir William Stanley attacked Richard, seemingly coming to the aid of Henry. Richard was killed and his forces broke up and fled. Lord Stanley picked up the slain Richard’s crown and placed it on Henry’s head. Richard’s body was put over a mule and taken to Leicester to be buried. The defeat of Richard ended the reign of the Plantagenet’s and introduced the reign of the Tudors. By marrying Elizabeth of York, Henry unified both houses of Lancaster and York.

NOTE: Margaret Beaufort was not at the Battle.

Frederick the Great was Probably LGBTQ

Frederick William II, Prince of Prussia, had a terrible relationship with his father growing up. Frederick preferred music to martial pursuits and his father thought him effeminate, weak, and unworthy to be heir to a militant kingdom like Prussia. In fact, Frederick Wiliam I often beat his son in public, trying to toughen him up. By 18 Frederick had had enough. He decided to run away with his best friend, and presumed lover, Han Hermann von Katte.

They didn’t get very far before they were discovered, caught, and imprisoned. Frederick was almost executed, but his father’s will unsurprisingly softened. His friend was not so lucky. Von Katte was beheaded and Frederick was forced to watch. They were so close that Frederick was able to beg von Katte’s forgivness, and receive it, before he died. Frederick spent the next ten years under his father’s thumb.

Sorry kid. That guy you’re with accidentally helped eugenicists rank races like Pokemon.

6 Geniuses Who Saw Their Inventions Turn Evil

#6. Alfred Binet’s IQ Test Got Hijacked by Eugenics-Obsessed Racists

First, Binet himself knew his test wasn’t all that scientific. It came with tons of disclaimers stressing that the test does not measure static intelligence and should not be used to label people in any way. And, for the single purpose of figuring out a kid’s level of development, it worked pretty well. But then American eugenicists got hold of his work. The eugenicists loved the idea of intelligence tests because they wanted to use them to identify and weed out “the idiots” from the gene pool, which, by sheer coincidence, all happened to include anyone who wasn’t a white American. Never mind that the score can absolutely be improved with education — why burden the system with teaching children when we can just breed superior intelligence into them!

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Ruby Bridges

This photograph was taken outside William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana, which was one of the first schools in the Deep South to be integrated after the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision had legally overturned the Jim Crow laws. The photo depicts the school’s only African-American student, Ruby Bridges, being escorted to class by US Marshals.

What the photograph doesn’t show is the large crowd that had gathered outside the school, shouting and throwing rocks at the young girl. Ruby admits that this was a terrifying experience, but one of the deputy marshals in the photograph, Charles Burks, remembers her as far braver than she does. “She showed a lot of courage,” he said. “She never cried. She didn’t whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier, and we’re all very, very proud of her.”

This story of triumph almost never happened. Ruby’s father was afraid of the violence his daughter might encounter at the all-white school and didn’t want her to attend, but her mother convinced him otherwise. White families pulled their children out of the school, and only one teacher, Barbra Henry, agreed to teach Ruby. The US Marshals were dispatched by President Eisenhower himself to ensure the girl’s safety. Ruby had to spend the whole day in the principal’s office and was only allowed to eat food from home, as one white mother hadthreatened to poison her. She later became an accomplished civil rights activist. (x)

Spain has over 3000 abandoned villages, mostly dating from medieval times. Today a few are getting rebuilt. They are a few dozen “ecoaldeas” – ecovillages – some nearly thirty years old now. One of the more successful, Lakabe, generates all its own electricity and is economically independent selling a portion of the harvest and their popular organic sourdough bread. Lakabe even has a waiting list of people who want to move in!