Monthly Archive: July 2015

The Strange Tale Of The Western Family Trapped In North Korea

In 1978, promising young Romanian artist Doina Bumbea agreed to take a job in the Far East. It was the start of a nightmare. On arriving in Asia, Bumbea was kidnapped and smuggled into North Korea. There she was introduced to her real mission: to become the loving wife of American defector James Dresnok, now a PR tool for the regime. Together, they started a Western family in the heart of the most dangerous state on Earth. Her children remain trapped there to this day.

The Mannequin Who Became A Celebrity (And Other Tales)

Some people have unusual relationships with mannequins. There’s Davecat, the man who married a mannequin and has a mannequin mistress because he doesn’t like human inconsistencies. Then there’s Viennese artist Oskar Kokoschka, who bought a mannequin to cope with a lost love. When he finally got over the real woman, he decapitated the mannequin. Finally, there’s the story of Cynthia, the mannequin who enthralled a nation as a public celebrity when Life magazine published a photo shoot with her in 1937. Cynthia starred in American movies, had a TV talk show, and was engaged for a short time to a radio star. By the 1940s, her star had faded.

The Naked Hermit Of Sotobanari Island

If you were to visit the Japanese island of Sotobanari, you might be surprised to find a naked, 78-year-old hermit. His name is Masami Nagasaki, and while he used to be a photographer, these days he prefers living on his own … in the middle of the ocean … without any clothes on. Needless to say, this guy has quite an interesting lifestyle.

The Mad (Potential) Cure For Schizophrenia

In the early 1900s, two US surgeon-psychiatrists, Bayard Holmes and Henry Cotton, championed the removal of parts of the intestine to cure schizophrenia. Both men believed in “autointoxication,” insanity triggered by infectious bacteria in the patient’s body. Death rates were high and successes were questionable. By the mid-1930s, psychiatric treatment began to concentrate on brain pathways. However, recent studies suggest that gut bacteria may affect our physical and mental health, including a possible link to schizophrenia.

The Minister Who Butchered A Peaceful Native American Village During The Civil War

On November 29, 1864, Colonel John Chivington led 700 men on a raid against a peaceful Cheyenne village at Sand Creek, Colorado, slaughtering between 200 and 400 Native Americans, with at least 70 percent of them women and children. He wanted to regain his Civil War hero status as a stepping-stone to become the first Congressman from Colorado, which didn’t happen. However, Congress later condemned Chivington for his “foul and dastardly massacre.” But he had already resigned from the army, so he was spared a court-martial. Later that year, the federal government promised reparations for the “Sand Creek Massacre” but never paid them.

How Two Of The Lincolns’ Political Favors Ended In Tragedy

The Lincoln family’s political wheeling and dealing may have contributed to the tragic loss of life twice. Abraham Lincoln’s bodyguard left his post while Lincoln was at Ford’s Theater the night he was shot. It’s believed that Mrs. Lincoln had the bodyguard exempted from the draft a few weeks earlier. In another tragedy around the same time, the steamship Sultana blew up, killing 1,800 of the 2,400 onboard. The man responsible had repeatedly managed to avoid punishment for his crimes because of Lincoln’s maneuvering to protect him.

The Tragic Story Of The Dionne Quintuplets

In the 1930s, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Canada was the nursery of the Dionne quintuplets. Born at a time when giving birth to five babies at one time was unheard of, the government took the girls from their parents and raised them until they were nine years old. More than three million people (spending a collective total of around $500 million) came to see them, and by the time they were released back into the custody of their parents, not only did those parents not really seem to want them, but they grew up sad, lonely, and poorly adjusted to life in the real world.

The Man Who Was Fired For Taking A 24-Year Leave Of Absence

India is known for having a problem with absenteeism in its work force. But A.K. Verma can’t accuse his employer, the Central Public Works Department in India, of a rush to judgment. They didn’t fire him until 24 years and one month after he began taking an unauthorized leave of absence. That’s a lot different than what you see in other countries like China, where a bank regulator was praised by the government for dying of overwork, or Thailand, where bus conductors wear adult diapers because they don’t get enough bathroom breaks.

Yi Seok, Living Heir To A Forgotten Kingdom

Korea has a tragic history of being a bit player among more powerful actors on the world scene. The deposed Korean royal family personifies this situation, particularly in the life course of the current heir, Yi Seok. Often living a life of poverty and wandering, he failed to get recognition for his familial legacy until recently. Now he wants to ensure the world doesn’t forget the fallen Joseon dynasty.

Jihadist ‘Adult’ Flicks Take A Serious Psychological Toll On CIA Analysts

Some US intelligence analysts from the CIA, the NSA, and the National Counterterrorism Center view terrorist videos all day for clues to where the terrorists are hiding or when and where their next attack will occur. Whether the intelligence analysts are combing through beheading videos or pornographic images, the psychological toll can be enormous. Not only are the images disturbing, but the analysts work with the added pressure of knowing that one missed clue could cost lives. So each of the intelligence agencies has a staff of therapists and psychiatrists that work with the analysts to make sure it doesn’t become too much of an emotional burden.