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5 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Joan of Arc

On April 29, 1429, Joan of Arc entered the besieged city of Orleans and led the French to a victory over the invading English. Joan was eventually captured, imprisoned, and burned at the stake. Here are 5 interesting facts you didn't know about Joan of Arc...

Joan of Arc Had Many Names

She didn’t hail from a place called Arc, nor was her name Joan. Though illiterate, she could sign her name. When she did, she signed it "Johanne" or "Jehanne" which was translated to "Joan" by her English captors.  She didn't come from any place named Arc — she was born and raised in Domrémy in northeastern France. The surname "d'Arc" was a misunderstanding of her father's name which was pronounced "Dark" but written nine different ways in the original records. Her real name may have been one of several names, including Jehanne d'Arc, Jehanne Romée, Jehanne Tarc, or Jehanne de Vouthon. She even referred to herself as "Jehanne la Pucelle" throughout her trial in 1431 and even went so far as to claim that she didn't know what her actual last name was. It was not until the mid-19th century that her name was standardized as Joan of Arc.

Joan Never Fought in Battle

One of the things that Joan of Arc was most famous for was being a brave warrior during the Hundred Years' War between England and France. However, she was never actually an active part of the battle, nor did she kill any enemy. Instead, she served mainly as a symbolic figure that offered inspiration to those fighting. Despite this, she was wounded twice during the battles she attended, first by an arrow in her shoulder and later by when a crossbow bolt struck her in the thigh. 

She Was Burned At The Stake For Heresy

Joan was famously burned at the stake, but not necessarily for witchcraft, as legend has it.  She was charged with dozens of crimes, including sorcery, when she was captured by enemies in 1430. But by 1431, her charges were reduced to just 12, most of which had to do with her wearing men's clothing and claiming that God was speaking directly to her. She was offered life in prison in exchange for her admission of guilt, after which she signed a document confessing her wrongdoings. It is said that one evening the judges visited her in captivity and she was wearing men's clothing again and still hearing voices. They dubbed her a “relapsed heretic” and for this she was burnt at the stake.

Many Women Posed As Joan After Her Death

One of several women who posed as Joan in the years following her death was Claude des Armoises, who resembled the well-known heretic.  She together with Joan's two brothers Jean and Pierre, came up with a plan to pretend that Joan had escaped her captors to fool the people of Orleans. The three enjoyed being showered with gifts and travelling to receptions until Claude eventually confessed their scheme to Charles VII, who Joan had helped ascend in 1429.

She Inspired a Popular Haircut

The cute bob haircut was modeled after Joan of Arc's hair.  Joan claimed that the voices she heard had commanded her to wear men's clothing. But they also told her to cut her hair, too. A Paris hairdresser started a fashion for a short bob cut in 1909, claiming that Joan of Arc was the inspiration for the haircut. The look really caught on in the 1920s, popularized by silent film stars and embraced by the flapper set. 

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5 Things You Didn't Know About The 1939 World's Fair_3

The 1939 New York World’s Fair opened on April 30, 1939, which was the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington in New York City, the nation’s first capitol. Here are 5 things you probably didn't know about the 1939 World's Fair...

The Fair Featured Two Imposing Structures

Spanning 1,200 acres at Flushing Meadow Park in Queens, the fairground was marked by two imposing structures—the “Perisphere” and the “Trylon” —which quickly became symbols of the fair. Planners of the fair wanted to develop structures comparable to the Eiffel Tower, which was constructed for the Universal Exposition of 1889 in Paris, France. The Trylon and Perisphere were chosen for their unique yet simple shapes, which symbolized the fair's futuristic vibe. To get into the Perisphere, guests had to ride up an electric escalator, which was the longest of its kind back then. When visitors wanted to get back out, they had to go down the Helicline, a 950-foot-long curved ramp that took guests back to ground level.

The Fair Introduced Some New Technology

The 1939 World's Fair exhibited new technology such as FM radio, nylon fabric, the View-Master, robotics, and a crude fax machine. Norman Bel Geddes designed a Futurama ride for General Motors, and users were transported through an idealized city of the future. The fair was also the first public demonstration of several lighting technologies that would become common in future decades including the introduction of the fluorescent light by General Electric. Other exhibits included Vermeer’s painting The Milkmaid from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, a streamlined pencil sharpener, and early televisions. 

It Was The First Day Television Was Broadcasting In New York

The opening ceremony, which featured a speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt ushered in the first day of television broadcasting in New York. As a reflection of the wide range of technological innovation at the fair, Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech was not only broadcast over the various radio networks but also was televised on 200 television sets scattered throughout the New York metropolitan area. During this formal introduction at the fair, television sets became available for public purchase at various stores in the New York City area. 

A Popular Exibit Was The Westinghouse Time Capsule

One of the first exhibits to receive attention was the Westinghouse Time Capsule. The time capsule was a tube containing writings by Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann, copies of Life Magazine, a Mickey Mouse watch, a Gillette safety razor, a kewpie doll, a dollar in change, a pack of Camel cigarettes, millions of pages of text on microfilm, and much more. The capsule also contained seeds of foods in common use at the time: (wheat, corn, oats, tobacco, cotton, flax, rice, soy beans, alfalfa, sugar beets, carrots, and barley, all sealed in glass tubes). The time capsule is buried at a depth of 50 feet and is not to be opened for 5,000 years (the year 6939). 

The Fair Was A Financial Flop

Sixty-three nations participated in the fair, which enjoyed large crowds before the outbreak of World War II interrupted many of its scheduled events. The great fair attracted over 45 million visitors and generated roughly $48 million in revenue. Since the Fair Corporation had invested $67 million (in addition to nearly a hundred million dollars from other sources), it was a financial failure, and the corporation declared bankruptcy. The next day after the gates closed to the fair for the last time, demolition of the fair site started, including the Trylon and Perisphere. It's believed that some parts of the structures were used to make military weapons and equipment for the Second World War.

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5 Unexpected Facts About The Empire State Building_2

On May 1, 1931, the Empire State Building was officially opened when President Herbert Hoover turned the lights on with a push of a button from Washington, D.C. Think you already know a lot about this iconic landmark? We’ve got 5 more unexpected facts for you….

President Herbert Hoover Turned On The Lights

President Herbert Hoover was the man who turned on the lights in the Empire State Building for the first time. He never went to New York to accomplish this task. Approximately 200 miles away in Washington, D.C., Hoover pressed a button that signaled the instantaneous activation of the building’s electric illumination system. Some 350 guests attended the opening ceremony on the 86th floor including New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Unfortunately, they chose the wrong day as the entire view was obscured by dense fog for the duration of the event. 

A B-52 Bomber Struck the Building in 1945

On the morning of July 28, 1945, while flying an Army B-52 bomber toward New York’s La Guardia Airport, Army Lt. Col. William F. Smith became disoriented in heavy fog and drifted over Midtown Manhattan. The World War II combat veteran was unable to avoid plowing into the 78th and 79th floors of the Empire State at 200 miles an hour. Smith and two crewmen were killed, as were 11 people inside the building. A four-alarm fire broke out on several floors but firefighters managed to extinguish it in just 40 minutes. Amazingly, the undamaged sections of the building were reopened for business just two days later.

Three People Have Parachuted Off The Building's Observation Deck

If you've ever been to the top of the Empire State Building, you know there is security and fencing up everywhere. And for good reason: In 1986, two daredevils successfully hid parachutes from security and launched themselves from the top of the building. Both survived and were arrested. Fourteen years later, another man followed suit and jumped from the observation deck. He managed to evade capture and later successfully jumped from the Chrysler Building, too. He was finally caught while attempting a jump from the World Trade Center.

It Has Its Own Personal Zip Code

Although the Empire State Building is geographically located within the boundaries of Manhattan’s 10001 ZIP code, it was assigned its own zip code of 10118 in 1980. The U.S. Postal Service says that a building with over 150 businesses located inside that receives mail can have its own zip code. (Unique zip codes are sometimes also assigned to universities and government agencies.)

The Sends a Father’s Day Card Every Year

William Frederick Lamb, the architect for the Empire State Building, used an old design of his for the Reynolds Building, as the model for the Empire State Building. As a fond gesture to the “parent” of the Empire State Building, a Father’s Day card is sent each year to the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to show gratitude for the grand design. It is probably the only known instance where a building sends a Father’s Day card to another building. The card simply reads, "Happy Anniversary, Dad.”

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5 Delicious Facts You Didn't Know About Cheerios_2

On May 2, 1941, General Mills began shipping Cheerioats, their new dry cereal, to different test markets. The breakfast cereal was later renamed Cheerios. Here are 5 delicious facts you probably didn’t know about Cheerios…

They Were Originally Called CheeriOats

A physicist named Lester Borchardt worked in Minnesota for General Mills in 1941 and helped invent the soon-to-be popular breakfast cereal. His team’s contribution was in developing a gun-shaped machine that caused oats to puff into an “o” shape. The original name of the cereal was Cheerioats, but a trademark infringement claim by Quaker caused General Mills to change the name to Cheerios in 1945. 

The First Mascot for Cheerios Was a Little Girl

Cheeri O’Leary was the name of the little girl who first appeared in the 1940s as the mascot in ads for Cheerios. During the 1950s and 1980s, animated television commercials featured the Cheerios Kid and a sidekick named Sue, where the Kid ate Cheerios and then went on to solve problems  and save the day— similar to Popeye eating his spinach. Those two characters were revived in 2012 to explain to viewers how Cheerios could help lower cholesterol.

Cheerios Boxes Were Early Examples of Cross-Marketing Campaigns

In the 1960s, General Mills had a media division dedicated to creating children’s cartoon programs. The division worked directly with studios such as Hanna-Barbera and Total Television, and with cartoonists such as Bullwinkle creator Jay Ward to create and supply fully-produced half-hour cartoon shows to television stations. Among the classics that they helped create were “The Bullwinkle Show,” “Underdog,” and “Tennessee Tuxedo and his Tales.” These popular animated characters that appealed to children soon began to appear in Cheerios commercials. General Mills then partnered with Disney to co-brand Cheerios boxes with comic books and the Mickey Mouse Club. Action figures of the Lone Ranger as well as small toys were also packaged inside Cheerios boxes.

It Was Decades Before Cheerios Came Out With a Different Flavor

General Mills only produced plain Cheerios for about 30 years, but began selling Cinnamon Nut Cheerios in 1976 and Honey Nut Cheerios three years later.  The Honey Nut Cheerios were a big hit and a bumble bee became recognized as its mascot. For nearly 20 years, that famous bee went mostly unnoticed because he didn't have a name. In 2000,  Kristine Tong, a fifth grade student from Coolidge, Texas, won a national contest to name the bee, dubbing him "BuzzBee". Honey Nut Cheerios has outsold the original flavor since 2009, and has been the #1 selling breakfast cereal in America every year since 2009.

There’s a “Cheerios Effect”

A Harvard University mathematician and graduate student attending Cambridge University used the name Cheerio Effect to demonstrate three physics concepts: surface tension, the meniscus effect and buoyancy. If one Cheerio is placed in a bowl with milk, its weight makes the cereal dip a little, which forms a dent in the milk, while an additional Cheerio will do the same thing. However, if the two pieces of cereal come close to each other, they will touch as though they are attracted to each other.

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5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About James Brown_2

On May 3, 1933, James Brown was born in a small wooden-frame shack in Barnwell, South Carolina. To celebrate the anniversary of his birthday, here are 5 things you didn't know about the legendary entertainer best known as ¨The Godfather of Soul.¨

He Is The Most Sampled Artist Of All Time

Having been sampled more than 5,200 times, James Brown is the most sampled artist of all time. Just the beat of “Funky Drummer” has been copied some 1,584 times by, among many others, Madonna, Britney Spears, George Michael, Public Enemy, Run DMC, Ice Tee, Jay-Z, and  Kanye West. 

Brown Fined Band Members Who Played a Bad Note

In March 1970, Brown fired his band for complaining about his system of fining anyone who played a wrong note. In their place he pulled in a young Cincinnati act named The Pacesetters, led by brother Catfish and Bootsy Collins, aged 27 and 19 respectively, and renamed them The JB’s. The first recording Brown made with The JBs as his band was “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine.”   It is regarded as one of the greatest and most important soul records ever made.

A Movie Restarted Brown’s Career

Disco appeared in the 1970s, sending Brown’s career into a nosedive.  He was rediscovered after he met John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd in Studio 54 in 1979 and they asked him to play Reverend Cleophus James in 1980 movie The Blues Brothers. By the mid-1980s his music was everywhere all over again, and he was earning millions from the myriad hit records that sampled his work. “There’d be no hip hop without James Brown,” clarified Chuck Dee of Public Enemy.

He Impersonated Little Richard

Early in his career, James Brown had the same manager as Little Richard, and on more than one occasion, the future Godfather of Soul impersonated his friend onstage when the rock and roll pioneer couldn't make a date. Brown reportedly did a great Little Richard impersonation, but he never managed to fool the audience. 

He Never Topped The Billboard Hot 100

Though Soul Brother No. 1 lived up to his nickname on the R&B chart, where he scored 17 No. 1 hits, none of his singles made it to the top of Billboard's pop chart. The one that came closest was his 1964 hit "I Got You (I Feel Good)," which peaked at No. 3.

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5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Rhode Island

On May 4, 1776, Rhode Island became the first colony to declare its independence from England and renounce its allegiance to King George III. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Rhode Island.

The State Is Small, But The Name Is Big

The smallest state in the Union also boasted the longest official name: the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The name itself was a result of a land merger dating back to pre-Revolutionary War days when the two separate colonies — Rhode Island and Providence Plantations — joined up. Of course, the lengthy name was not without controversy. In 2009, a referendum proposed eradicating the latter half of the name. The vote to keep “and Providence Plantations” won, with advocates noting that the use of “plantations” is not a nod to slavery but an archaic English synonym for “colony.” But last November,. Rhode Island voters finally approved shortening the state’s official name and lopping off the centuries-old phrase  “and Providence Plantations” that supporters said held connotations of slavery.

Rhode Island Is a Small State With A Huge Population

Yes, Rhode Island's the smallest state in the U.S. But its population density—an estimated 1,050,292 people—is second only to New Jersey. According to Rhode Island's official government website, the distance from north to south is just 48 miles. If you want to travel from east to west, you'll only need to drive about 37 miles at the widest point. The total area of the state is about 1,500 square miles, but an astonishing 66% of that consists of bodies of water. So, those million or so Rhode Island residents are crammed into a region spanning 34% of habitable land.

The People of Rhode Island Have Some Strange Local Words

For a state so small, Rhode Island certainly has a large, unique vocabulary. In little Rhody, a “cabinet” is a milkshake and chocolate sprinkles are called  “jimmies.” A “grinder” is a submarine sandwich and “hot wieners” are hotdogs served with onions and mustard. Thirsty? You won't find a water fountain in Rhode Island, but they do have "bubblers." A "casino" is not necessarily a place to gamble in Rhode Island. This word refers to any public building including some form of entertainment, or fun attraction.

College Students Have Rhode Island to Thank for Pell Grants

If a Federal Pell Grant helped you pay for college, you can thank Rhode Island's longest-serving senator, Claiborne Pell. In 1972, Pell was the sponsor of the bill that reformed the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant, which provides financial aid funding to college students. The grant was later given Pell's name in honor of his work in education legislation. 

A Rhode Island Governor Invented Sideburns

Governor Ambrose Burnside was a Union Army general during the Civil War, the first president of the National Rifle Association, and the inventor of … sideburns. The trend sparked by his unique facial hair was originally called "burnsides," until someone decided that reversing the name better defined the style.

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