Monthly Archive: October 2014

What Juries Are Never Told Before Trial

Most people think that the verdict in a criminal or civil prosecution can only return a verdict of “guilty” or “not guilty.” However, it has been a long-standing cornerstone of common law that a third verdict can also be returned by a jury. That verdict is one of “nullification,” which in layman’s terms basically means that although the defendant is guilty in the eyes of the jury, that same jury does not think that the defendant deserves to be punished for his or her crime. With this third option in delivering a verdict, the jury can “nullify” the charge(s) against the defendant and set him or her free, even though the returned verdict is still “guilty.”

The Difference Between Being Anal-Retentive And Having OCD

We all know those people who need to have things just so. Their tendencies might be the target of jokes, but those with real obsessive-compulsive disorders can find that their need to have things just right or their need to repeat things over and over again can ruin their lives. When habits become time-consuming, cause a person mental or emotional distress because they can’t stop their thoughts, and when their compulsions—which they do in order to try to alleviate that distress—only make it worse, they’re not just being anal-retentive, and it’s no longer a cause for jokes.

Patience Worth, Writing From The Spirit World

Between 1913 and 1937, Patience Worth wrote almost four million words, and her works of literature were counted among the nation’s best. The weirdness happens when you tried to talk to Patience. Patience was long dead, a spirit channeled through Pearl Lenore Curran, an uneducated housewife from St. Louis who began writing through a typewriter and dictation after abandoning the Ouija board she’d first used to contact the spirit.

How A Gunshot Wound Cured One Man’s OCD

It was reported in 1988 that a 19-year-old man attempted suicide by shooting himself in the head. Not only did the man survive the brain injury, but it cured him of his debilitating obsessive-compulsive disorder without causing any other permanent brain damage. He went on to be a straight-A college student and live a relatively normal life.

The Dead Magician’s Final Trick

In the early 1900s, London was taken by storm by a magician billed as The Great Lafayette. Booked ten years in advance, getting to see him in person was a massive thrill—except for those who attended a fateful show on May 9, 1911. A fire broke out in the theater and ultimately killed several people, including the magician. His body was recovered and prepared for burial alongside his beloved dog, until workmen clearing through the rubble of the fire found him…. again. The second body was really Lafayette, while the first was that of one of his many doubles used during the show.

The Company That Sent Telegrams To Heaven

In the early 1980s, Gabe Gabor operated a Los Angeles–based company called Heaven’s Union that collected messages from bereaved family and friends for a fee. He then gave the missives to terminally ill people and paid them to deliver the messages, once they died, to residents beyond the Pearly Gates.

Pele Was So Good At Soccer That He Stopped A War

During the 1960s, Nigeria was racked by a devastating civil war. But when soccer legend Pele and his team of Brazilian greats visited the country to play a match, both sides immediately agreed to a truce so they could watch the legend in action. The military even opened heavily guarded checkpoints so that people could make their way to the big game.

Fighting For Feces: The War For Guano

Believe it or not, but in the 19th century, petrified bird dung was a key economic resource. Its use as a fertilizer facilitated the more efficient agricultural sector necessary for industrializing countries. This placed immense focus on the western coast of South America, which contained the world’s best deposits of guano, and, inevitably, wars were fought for control of bird excrement.