Establishing a Habit of Learning

In 5 Steps

Establishing a Habit of Learning

5 Ideas for Supporting Employee Learning

to Empower Your Learners

5 Ideas for Supporting Employee Learning

6 Ways to Learn When Your Interests Are Always Changing

6 Ways to Learn When Your Interests Are Always Changing

Wright-Brothers4

In the age of endless self-documentation and instant gratification, it’s easy to fake passion. If the thing you loved to do was widely believed to be impossible—or people called you a crackpot for trying— would you still do it?

In the late 1800’s, most people believed aeronautical engineers were crackpots. It was widely believed that man-powered flight was impossible. Airplane crashes made for great stories, and journalists were all over that. Who doesn’t love to hear about stupid people getting injured by jumping off roofs thinking they can fly? (cough cough Tosh.0, Ridiculousness, AFV, Jackass… not much has changed in the last 200 years.) But the fear of embarrassment didn’t stop everyone from trying to fly.

The Race For First In Flight

“If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advance.” – Orville Wright

Wright-Brothers1

Orville and Wilbur Wright worked as a team for most of their lives. They started with a printing company, and later opened a bicycle shop. It was the bicycle shop that eventually enabled the Wright Brothers to experiment with flight. But they weren’t the only ones.

In 1887, a man by the name of Samuel P. Langley began experimenting with flight.

Langley held the highest scientific office in the country, so of course the media had an eye on his work. It was Langley who initially inspired the Wright Brothers.

Langley had a full staff of employees working on his machines, which he called Aerodromes. By 1898, with the Spanish-American war on the horizon, the military decided to back Langley and help fund his project.

With financing of $70,000, the support of the U.S. military, and the prestige of the highest scientific office in the country, Langley built what he coined the Great Aerodrome.

When the day came in 1903 to show off the fruits of his five-year labors, the plane crashed into the Potomac on take off. The press had a heyday with Langley’s failure. Embarrassed by the ridiculing stories and the withdrawal of support from the military, Langley halted operations and gave up for good.

Nine days later, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wright Brothers carried out the world’s first controlled, sustained powered flight. But at the time, no one even seemed to notice. In fact, they weren’t even recognized as the first to flight until 1942.

 

Don’t Play It Safe

While there were many things, including the decades long legal battles, that determined who got credit for being the first to flight, I would like to focus on one intriguing aspect of the story.

When it comes to your passion, it’s more risky to play it safe.

Wright-Brothers2-

Langley was interested in flight, and would have loved to be the first to do it. But I’m not so sure he was as dedicated as the Wright Brothers. Why do I think that?

All of Langley’s flights were over water.

It makes a lot of sense. If your plane has an issue and doesn’t fly as planned, the safest place to crash would be a body of water. It’s the safe thing to do.

I think playing it safe may have lost Langley the race.

The Wright Brothers focused on control. They had done the research on flying machines. In 1899, the brothers even wrote Langley at his position at the Smithsonian requesting access to his aeronautical research. They credited Langley and his research for having given them a “good understanding of the problem of flying.”

However, Orville and Wilbur understood that the challenge wasn’t in sustained powered flight alone, but in controlled, sustained powered flight. This is evident in the fact that they invented an airplane control system, and later spit flaps (to slow down a plane in a dive), that were both eventually patented.

All of the Wright Brothers’ test flights were performed on the dunes at Kitty Hawk.

No soft water landings if they messed up, so they needed to be able to control the plane once it was in the air.

It’s like in Batman: The Dark Knight Rises when Bruce Wayne had to get out of the pit. He couldn’t do it until he took off the safety rope and sacrificed everything.

Passion is something that will lead you down the road to the happiest, but also the hardest days of your life. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. You’ll have to sacrifice a lot, but in the end, it’s worth it.

Wright-Brothers3-640x640

If you have a passion for something, you won’t care if you don’t get any likes when you post about it. You also don’t listen to the critics who try to score a quick laugh at your expense. You believe in yourself, get to work, and eventually prove the h8rz wrong.

The seatbelt light is off. Get up and do something great!

 

You just learned about passion, leadership, and achieving goals. Be sure to add this article to your Degreed profile. Login or Sign Up here.

“Why don’t you cure leukemia?”

As a hematologist, this was the charge given to Emil Freireich when he arrived at the National Cancer Institute in 1955. He focused his work on children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Children with ALL suffer from severe bleeding. In the children’s leukemia ward it would get so bad that kids couldn’t eat because their mouths and noses were bleeding so badly. Freireich elaborated on the grim reality of the situation in a 2013 interview.

“These children literally bled to death. They drown in their own blood. Now they’re 4-10 years old, they don’t know what the hell is going on. It’s really horrible.at that time leukemia diagnosis were death certificates. Median lifespan was about 6-8 weeks and 100% of them were dead in 8 months.”

Freireich focused first on the problem of bleeding. He knew if he could at least stop the children from bleeding, he could give all his attention to finding a cure for the disease. When he believed he had an explanation and a remedy for the bleeding, he took it to his superiors. Freireich was told the idea wouldn’t work. He stood firm in his belief and decided to go against the better judgments of many of his superiors.

It worked. The children stopped bleeding.

Up until this time, chemotherapy had really only been done using a single chemical at a time. However, those chemicals were never strong enough to overcome the leukemia on their own. Freireich knew there had to be a better solution.

But if using one toxic chemical didn’t work, who in their right mind would ever think to use more than one—especially on children? No one. That’s why the children and their families needed someone who would try something “insane.”

Freireich had a theory that leukemia could be cured with the same method used in the treatment of tuberculosis—administering multiple drugs simultaneously. The problem was that the cytotoxins used for chemotherapy were harsher. There was more risk with possible side effects. Many leading hematologists, including the world’s expert in hematology, thought the humane thing to do was to forego treatment and create a comfortable environment for the children to meet their end. Why do anything to prolong or increase a child’s suffering?

Freireich didn’t feel the same way. He was going to fight for his kids. The children were going to die anyway. Why not try and help? He chose to discuss his theories openly with the parents of the children he was treating. The parents were in favor of him at least trying for a cure. With a green light from the parents, he began his trials.

Using a combination chemotherapy regimen with three different drugs administered simultaneously—each with a unique purpose—Freireich began to see improvement. But the kids were still dying. It wasn’t until he added a fourth drug to the mix that he found himself on the brink of a cure. The first child he tried his four-combination chemotherapy on was pushed to the brink of death. She suffered immensely from the treatment. She eventually recovered from the effects of the chemotherapy, but later died of an infection.

Freireich went back to the drawing board and made adjustments to the chemical doses. Remarkably, in the very next trial, he got it right. Freireich had cured a child of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Today, a childhood diagnoses of acute lymphoblastic leukemia has a 95% chance of attaining remission.”

Freireich doesn’t deny that concocting a super drug by combining four toxic drugs was insane. He had to make objective decisions that meant possibly killing his patients, because he knew that making those decisions was the only way a cure would ever be found—if one even existed.

Difficult-Decisions2_

We all have instances in our lives where we can take the easy way out. There are choices that are easy and comfortable, and then there are choices that are difficult and require work.

“…our formulation of the ethics of research was the same as the ethics of getting out of a [sinking] boat, I mean, you just did what you could do…there weren’t any options.”

I invite you to evaluate your life right now. Are there sinking boats you should be getting out of? It’s certainly easier to sink with the boat than it is to swim for safety. Don’t let the ease of doing nothing stop you from swimming. Make the decision to do what you can do and get at it.

In addition, like Freireichs’ combination chemotherapy, each little thing we do to improve our lives adds up. If we make enough little decisions to live better, we’ll eventually find success.

 

Difficult-Decisions

symposium

Degreed was thrilled to participate and sponsor Human Capital Media’s 2015 Spring CLO Symposium at Trump National Doral Miami. The three day conference, from April 13th – 15th, brought together over 300 learning executives.

Degreed’s COO, Chris McCarthy, and Hellman Worldwide Logistics’ Chief People Officer, Kenneth Finneran, presented an outstanding workshop on The New Generation of “Bring Your Own Learning”, What Every CLO Needs to Know. During the presentation, they explained what the consumerization of learning means and how executives can create a “learners first” culture in their organization while maintaining security and visibility. The key takeaways from the presentation included:

The learning levy has burst. People are taking learning into their own hands.

Empowering employee learning is the next big movement in education. Those who embrace it will thrive.

Accountability equals love. Empower while enforcing learning outcomes.

The workshop also included a breakout session where the 60 attendees were asked ‘What can we do as learning leaders to support and empower our learners?’ and discussed solutions in creating a learning culture in their organization.

It was an honor to have Degreed be considered as one of the elite thought leaders and solution providers in the learning and development community. The quality of sessions, speakers, organizations and networking opportunities were outstanding

Read more on the CLO symposium presentations and learning cultures with this Miami Herald Article ‘On-demand courses help employees learn on their own schedules’

Check out the Bring Your Own Learning presentation here:

 

Did you miss our webinar on Building a Learning Culture? Catch up with this wrap-up and tell us your thoughts on learning cultures by tweeting us @Degreed

First, why build a learning culture?

LearningBreakfast

In 2009 Bersin by Deloitte surveyed 40,000 organizations to see how they used various HR & training processes and how they performed on 10 business measures. They discovered “Among all the HR and training processes we study, the single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organization’s learning culture.” The study found the following about High-Impact Learning Cultures:

-32% more likely to be first to market

-58% more likely to have skills to meet future demand

-37% greater employee productivity

Here’s how to start building a Learning Culture that can bring lasting payoffs.

LearningCulture

Of a survey we administered, 89% of learners would rather be given credit for their own learning than learn at HR’s direction. It is an impossibility for you to know the needs, desires, goals, and real-time challenges for every individual within your organization, so how can you be expected to tailor fit learning initiatives that are top down? You can’t. It has to come from the bottom up.

LearningControl

 

For a Learning Culture to thrive, you must give the freedom to learn to the individual. It doesn’t matter what they learn, just that they are learning. Employees have goals and desires outside of our organizations, but part of their lives is their work. This means that while people will desire to learn about things like WWII history, and deep sea diving, they will also want to learn how to become better at their jobs within our organizations. Focus on making learning social, and implement it using these 3 key principals:

1. Trust. Trust that your employees want to develop new skills, and they will spend some time learning things that will improve their jobs within your organization.

2. Empower. Empower your employees to learn with time, money, and resources. For example, at Degreed, every employee is given $100 in FlexEd money a month to support whatever learning they want.

3. Personalize. Support people’s own unique learning strategies.

When the strategy, objectives, and policies are established and communicated within the organization, the culture and action can follow.

Here are the 3 big takeaways for building learning cultures:

1. Learning cultures focus on the needs of the employee and empower them to achieve their dreams.

2. For learning cultures to develop, it doesn’t matter what people learn.

3. Alignment is achieved through strong mission, strategy, & clear objectives.

Do you have questions about building a learning culture? Tweet them to us @degreed and check out the full webinar here:

 

benjamin_franklin_study

1. Ben Franklin came from a large family.

In fact, his father, Josiah Franklin, had 17 children with 2 wives. He was the 8th to the second wife but the 15th in total. He started to work with his brothers in a print shop at the age of 12.

2. Ben Franklin was a writer.

Franklin started out with a passion in writing and wrote many writings immediately after starting work. However, his older brother refused to publish his writings. After more work and effort, he was able to take his writings elsewhere to get published, many of which are famous today.

3. He was a volunteer fireman.

benfranklinfireman

He had a passion for “paying it forward” and giving back to the community. The department he volunteered for is called the Union Fire Company, but is now known as “Benjamin  Franklin’s Bucket Brigade”. After volunteering multiple times, he wrote articles on fire safety.

4. Ben Franklin is known for inventing the glass harmonica.

armonica

He designed the glass harmonica, or armonica, in 1761. It creates musical tones by using different sized glass bowls. It’s kind of like the old-fashioned version of rubbing your finger on a crystal glass.

5. Franklin could speak 5 languages.

He taught himself to read French, Latin, Italian, and Spanish, after already knowing English. He was always looking for ways to self-improve and figured being fluent in other languages would help him in his future.

6. During experiments, Franklin was almost killed twice.

The only reason he survived was because he didn’t receive a strong enough charge. One time he was trying to help cure a paralyzed man with electric shock. The other time was a result from his attempt to kill a turkey with electrical shock.

7. He created the first insurance company in the colonies.

The number one adversary? Fire. The full name was Philadelphia Contributorship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss By Fire. The idea was so every man could help each other.

8. Franklin invented the rocking chair.

Next time you’re sitting in a rocking chair and thinking, “This is the life!”, remember our good pal Benjamin Franklin. He fitted the legs of his armchair with curved pieces of wood and made an invention that is still widely used today.

9. Ben Franklin owned his first company at the age of 22.

He was the owner of the Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper. His printing company also printed paper money for Pennsylvania and Delaware.

10. 20,000 people attended his funeral.

benfrankfuneral

This is a large number today, but especially back then it was huge. Franklin died on April 17, 1790. His funeral was well attended by people who had been touched by his life and looked up to his legacy.

skeleton2

We’re constantly making new discoveries about the human body. Below we created a list of some fascinating facts about bones in the human body.

Scientists recently discovered a new body part that has eluded or remained undetected for over a century. As Science Daily reports, two surgeons at University Hospitals Leuven have located a new ligament in the human knee. Dr. Steven Claes and Professor Dr. Johan Bellemans, after four years of research, discovered a new ligament and called it the anterolateral ligament.

1. Smallest Bone in the Human Body: Stirrup Bone

humanear-300x228

The smallest bone in the human body is the stirrup bone, the stapes, one of the 3 bones that make up your middle ear; measuring 2-3 millimeters. It is shaped like a “U.” It is the innermost bone that receives sound vibrations and passes them along to the cochlea to eventually be interpreted by the brain.

2. Biggest (and Strongest) Bone in the Human Body: Femur

Femur

The femur is the strongest bone in the human body. It extends from the hip to the knee.  It can resist a force of up to 1,800 to 2,500 pounds. Only events of a large amount of force can cause it to break, such as by a car accident or a fall from an extreme height, taking months to heal.

3. Body Part with the Most Bones: The Hands

Hand Bones

The hands have the most bones — 27 in each hand.The hands and feet together make up more than half the bones in the human body. There are 206 bones in the human body; 106 of these are in the hands and feet (27 in each hand and 26 in each foot).

4. Most Fragile Bone in the Body: The Toe Bones

Toe Bones

The small toe bones break the easier and most often. Almost everyone has broken a toe, even a small one, in their life. And there’s really you can do about it, but let it heal.

5. Most Commonly Broken Bone: The Ankle!

Even more common than breaking a toes is spraining or breaking your ankle. It happens almost everywhere: on the field of play, on a hiking trail or trying not to trip over children’s toys. There is a difference between a sprained and broken ankle. Ankle fractures and sprains are both often accompanied by tendon damage.

6. Most Common Form of Bone Surgery: Arthroscopic Surgery

arthro

Arthroscopic procedures on the knee increased 49% between 1996 and 2006. Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure by which the internal structure of a joint is examined for diagnosis and/or treatment using a tube-like viewing instrument called an arthroscope. Arthroscopy can be helpful in the diagnosis and treatment of many noninflammatory, inflammatory, and infectious types of arthritis as well as various injuries within the joint.

7. Most Common Bone Disease: Osteoporosis

osteo

Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease, which is characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone structure. Osteoporosis can be prevented, as well as diagnosed and treated. Low bone mass is when bones lose the minerals that make them strong, especially calcium, which makes them weak and fracture easily.

8. Most Common Forms of Bone Cancer: Osteosarcoma

Bone Cancer

These are some of the most common types of bone cancer:

  • Osteosarcoma  start in bone cells and found most often in the knee and upper arm. It is diagnosed most often in teens and young adults.
  • Ewing’s sarcoma is seen in younger people between the ages of 5 and 20. It most commonly occurs in people’s ribs, pelvis, leg, and upper arm.
  • Chondrosarcoma occurs most often in people between 40 and 70. The hip, pelvis, leg, arm, and shoulder are common sites of this cancer, which begins in cartilage cells.

Although almost always found in bone, multiple myeloma is not a primary bone cancer. It is a bone marrow cancer. Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside bones.

9. Weirdest Disease of the Human Bone: Disappearing Human Bone Disease:

disappering

The clinical terms for this disease is massive osteolysis. It’s more commonly known as Gorham’s disease. Regenerating bone after a fracture is overtaken by the process of absorbing bone and the bone is broken down into almost nothing. The bone just kind of disappears, as the name suggests. What’s perhaps most mysterious is that a number of cases of Gorham’s have ended in spontaneous remission. The disease itself disappears.

 10. Broke the Most Bones over a Lifetime: Evel Knievel

evel

Evel Knievel (USA, b. Robert Craig Knievel), the pioneer of motorcycle long jumping exhibitions, had suffered 433 bone fractures by end of 1975. In the winter of 1976 he was seriously injured during a televised attempt to jump a tank full of sharks at the Chicago Amphitheater. He decided to retire from major performances as a result.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to have only one No. 9. Thanks Jared!

twitter-292994_640

Since the face of psychology is constantly changing, it is impossible to end the “History of Psychology” series with a definitive, “…and that’s how psychology came to be.” Separate branches of the discipline have formed, medicine has become staggeringly important in treatment and prevention of mental illnesses, theories have formed and crumbled, and scholars have dedicated their careers to advancing the field. The science has been adapted by the masses, and has even become prevalent in pop culture – music (Blink 182’s “Stockholm Syndrome” comes to mind), television, and films have all explored mental illnesses and treatments.

The series has only briefly outlined the science’s origins and growth, and it continues to inspire many to study the workings of the human mind. Luckily, those who came before us provided us with the tools and terminology to hit the ground running and discover incredible things they couldn’t have even imagined.

More recently, the incorporation of technology into psychology has made it possible to supplement therapeutic techniques with computer-based counseling, test brain activity, and accurately record and analyze complex data – and that’s not even the beginnings of its potential influence on the field. Although technology will undoubtedly open up doors for the next generation of researchers, a Google search of “psychology technology” actually leads to a number of pages dedicated to explaining the effects of technology on our own minds.

The topic is broad enough to expand into dozens of articles, so this top 10 list tackles only some of the most staggering results of studies and surveys pertaining to social media. Chances are, if you’re reading this you participate in social media in some way or another, so next time you go to check your Facebook, retweet an interesting link, or choose an Instagram filter for a selfie, think about the ways your brain is processing the seemingly endless stream of information it is taking in.

1. Social media is addictive.

Studies show that 63% of Americans log on to Facebook daily, and 40% log on multiple times each day. People use the site for myriad reasons; however, it usually serves, on some level, the same basic purposes: distraction and boredom relief. “Likes” and comments are positive reinforcement for posting information, making it difficult for a person to stop. Researchers have found this so common that they created a scale to measure this addiction: The Berge Facebook Addiction Scale.

2. Social media makes us compare our lives with others’.

Posts on social media many times present an idealized version of what’s happening, what something looks like, or how things are going. This can lead users to constantly compare themselves to others and think less of their own lives. If things are going particularly well for people in your newsfeed and you’re having a rough day, of course this will likely negatively affect your mood. In fact, in 2012 a team of researchers in the UK surveyed users, 53% of whom said social media had changed their behavior; 51% said it was negative behavior because of decline in confidence they felt due to unfair comparisons to others.

3. Social media makes us restless.

Out of the same sample as the above example, two-thirds admitted to having difficultly relaxing when unable to use their social media accounts.

4. Social media gives rise to cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is an enormous concern, especially for adolescents. An organization that aims for internet safety, called Enough is Enough, conducted a survey that found 95% of teenagers who use social media have witnessed cyberbullying, and 33% have been victims themselves.

CDC data

5. Social media glamorizes drug and alcohol use.

A study that explored the relationship between teenagers, social media, and drug use found that 70% of teenagers ages 12 to 17 use social media, and that those who interact with it on a daily basis are five times more likely to use tobacco, three times more likely to use alcohol, and twice as likely to use marijuana. In addition, 40% admitted they had been exposed to pictures of people under the influence via social media, suggesting correlation between the two factors. Although a correlation is all it is, it makes sense that social media would amp up the amount of peer pressure to which teenagers are exposed.

6. Social media can make us unhappy.

A study from the University of Michigan collected data about Facebook users and how it correlated with their moods. Simply put, they found that the more avid users were overall more unhappy than those who used the site less. Over more time, avid users also reported lower satisfaction in their lives overall.

7. Social media can lead to fear of missing out, aka FOMO.

Fear of missing out is a phenomenon that occurs when you feel pressure to be doing what everyone else is doing, attend every event, and share every life experience. It can evoke anxiety and cause social media users to question why everyone is “having fun without them.” Surveys have even found that people feel insecure after using Pinterest because they feel that they aren’t crafty or creative enough. Facebook and Twitter can make people feel like they aren’t successful or smart enough.

8. Social media often leads to multitasking.

How many tabs do you have open right now? How are you even concentrating on one thing? The thing is, you’re probably not – especially if one of those tabs is a social media site. Research has shown that our brains don’t have the capacity to fully focus our attention on two things at once, and instead multitasking causes our brain to quickly switch from one task to another. This hinders information processing and productivity. Closing out your Twitter feed can seriously help you get some work done.

Social media isn’t all about selfie-taking narcissists, cyberbullies, and killing productivity. When used in moderation with the right intentions, it really can achieve what it was first set out to do: connect people. Which brings us to…

9. Social media enhances our connectivity.

A paper linking social media usage to the Freudian ideas of the id, ego, and super-ego cites many examples of positive psychological effects of social media. Perhaps one of the most important points is that social media doesn’t necessarily take us out of the real world. It can instead be used to revive and preserve relationships with other people. Even more exciting about this technological world is that there is an incredible number of like-minded people who can connect in just one click. Research presented in the journal The British Psychological Society found that students who experience low self-esteem can take advantage of social media and its capability to bond them with others in order to pull themselves up from slumps in their mood.

10. Social media can help with socialization.

Research presented at the 119th annual American Psychological Association found that introverted adolescents can actually gain social skills by using social media. In part, this is because shy individuals may feel safer behind a computer screen (or smartphone, or tablet, or… well, you get the idea…it’s everywhere). Dr. Larry D. Rosen, who presented the information, also stated that teens were becoming very good at virtually expressing empathy towards others.

History of Psychology series. Previous post: The Stanford Prison Experiment

Sources

Academia.eduPsychological impact of social networking sites: A psychological theory
iVillage. 10 (good and bad) ways social media affects your mental health
Medial News Today. Social media: How does it really affect our mental health and well-being?
Science Daily. Social networking’s good and bad impact on kids

Photo credit: Multitasking by Sorosh Tavakoli [CC-BY-2.0]

757px-Van_Gogh_-_Starry_Night_-_Google_Art_Project

Vincent van Gogh is one of the most prominent artists in history. Here are 10 facts about this incredible painter.
1.  He was born in Holland
Have you heard of Groot-Zundert, Holland? That’s where artist Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853.
2. He had a brother with the same name
Vincent had an older brother who died at birth. His name was also Vincent van Gogh.
3.He was supposed to be a pastor
Van Gogh was supposed to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a pastor. Would the world have been robbed of his art if he had stuck with this career path?


4. He didn’t start painting until he was older
Van Gogh was 27 years old when he painted his first piece. Before that, he was failing as an art dealer and engaging in missionary work. He was mostly self-taught and he started out by painting dark and sad depictions of peasants. Maybe there’s still hope for other late bloomers out there.
5.  He enjoyed painting himself
Vincent van Gogh is well-known for his self-portraits — he painted over 30 of them between 1886 and 1889. Post-impressionist selfies?


6. He produced his most famous artwork while in a mental hospital
Vincent van Gogh painted Starry Night while residing in an asylum in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France. You can still see this painting at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
7. He was very prolific
Vincent van Gogh produced his most famous paintings in the 10 years before he passed away suddenly. In that time frame, he made roughly 900 paintings. Think about it – in just 10 years, he did 900 paintings that are now considered some of the greatest works of art ever created. His most expensive painting, Portrait of Dr. Gachet, is valued at $148.6 million dollars. He painted it in 1890 and it was sold for this price in May 1990.


8. He was best friends with another artist
Van Gogh was very close friends with artist Paul Gauguin. The famous incident of van Gogh’s ear actually involved Gauguin. According to the well-known version of the story, van Gogh chopped off his own ear after having a fight with his friend, but a recent book suggests it was actually Gauguin who cut off the ear.
9. He sold only one painting while he was alive
Van Gogh sold just one painting, The Red Vineyard, during his lifetime. He became famous only after his death.


10. His death may, or may not, have been a suicide
Van Gogh died in 1890 under mysterious circumstances. He was thought to have committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest, but a recent theory suggests he might have been shot by a local teenager.

 

Sources
Vincent van GoghBiography
Fun factsVan Gogh Gallery

 

CroppedStalin1943

Joseph Stalin was a ruthless dictator who transformed the Soviet Union into a world superpower. Here are 10 facts that help paint a picture of this man who changed the world.

1. His last name is a title meaning, “Man of Steel.”
Stalin was awarded the title “Man of Steel.” Why this Superman-esque name? It fit perfectly with his stern image as leader of the industrial-powerhouse of the USSR. Moreover, it hid his true identity, protecting his family from the many assassination attempts and deceptions that plagued him, as well as the communist party.
2. He had another nickname, “Comrade Index Card.”

The name came from a joke made by Stalin’s rival in the communist party, Leon Trotsky. A play on Stalin being only a small contributor to the party, the name was given when the Man of Steel took his first major political position as General Secretary of the Russian communist party. It was in fact a secretarial position, thus the nickname “Comrade Index Card” mocked Stalin’s duties. However, Trotsky would not be laughing as history would unfold to see Stalin at the head of the country and Trotsky on the run for his life.
3. He may not have actually said his infamous statistics quote.
“A single death is a tragedy, a million dead is a statistic.” Cold, harsh, yet truthful words that Stalin is often quoted as saying. The reports are easily believed, due to the various purges, unexpected “missing” people, and general fear created by his regime. However, there is little evidence that the quote was real. It was reported originally by the German writer and pacifist Erich Maria Remarque and, judging by the source’s background and stance against war, it might be reasonable to assume that Man of Steel did not in fact say the infamous words.
4. He would not even give ransom for the return of his own son.
During World War II, Stalin’s son, Yakov, was taken prisoner by the Nazis and of course, Hitler was ready to make as audacious a ransom offer as possible. True to his Man of Steel moniker, Stalin refused any ransoming agreement. No matter what torture Hitler threatened would befall his son, Stalin did not budge. His son would go on to die in prison. Tough love.
5. He had a city named after him.

The famous siege of Stalingrad was fought during World War II. Because the city was named after its leader, Stalin ordered a victory at Stalingrad, and there was no arguing with the man. Though pushed to the fringe of survival, the Russian Army was able to achieve a decisive victory. Some speculate that this victory was the turning point in favor of the Allies in the war against Adolf Hitler. Following the victory, the Russians would go on to push the Nazis all the way back to Berlin.
6. He was very paranoid.

His goal of uniting the nation with him as the leader grew to frightening heights. Stalin enacted a series of purges known as “Stalin’s Terror,” whereby millions of people were sent to forced labor, assassinated, or publicly executed, out of fear that they were enemies of the state. With the state police, the NKVD, at the helm of the purges, millions were condemned for having even a single contact with questionable individuals on Stalin’s hit list. Interestingly enough, it was found out after his death that Stalin had been suffering from atherosclerosis (fatty tissue build-up in the arteries) of the brain, possibly explaining his deranged “terror.”
7. He ordered the development of a half-human, half-ape hybrid.
With a desire to create a new human that would be resilient to pain beyond normal man and would not care about the quality of food eaten, Stalin ordered his top scientists to create a hybrid ape-man. In the dictator’s eyes, this hybrid man would be the greatest solider, capable of great strength but with an underdeveloped brain so as to be easily controlled. Aside from military purposes, such a man would provide greater manpower to speed up Russia’s industrial development. Unfortunately, the chief scientist for the job, Ilya Ivanov, was unsuccessful. Because of this failure, in typical Stalin-fashion, Ivanov was arrested and exiled to Kazakhstan.


8. He trained as a priest.
Before being swayed by the leftist ideas of Marxism and anti-religious thought, Stalin intended to become an Orthodox priest. Following the wishes of his mother, he attended the Tbilisi Theological Seminary on a full scholarship, with the goal of becoming ordained at the Russian Orthodox Church. However, as fate would have it, Stalin would pick up the works of Karl Marx and forgo the priesthood.
9. He was not actually Russian.
Stalin was actually not a native Russian. Rather, he hailed from impoverished beginnings in the country of Georgia. However, as he became acclimated to Marxist thought, he grew in power, slowly rising up in the communist party of Russia. His home country would not escape him, however. He played a key role in the forced military imposition of Vladimir Lenin’s communist movement in Georgia. This military campaign in his home country was the first of many that exemplified Stalin’s hard-liner approach to spreading the communist ideology.
10. He had a rough childhood.

Stalin’s father, Besarion, was an alcoholic, leading to business failures and violence towards Joseph and the boy’s mother. On top of this, Joseph experienced many physical calamities in his youth. He grew up constantly getting into brawls with others his age, and smallpox left his face extremely scarred. Moreover, he was struck by a horse-drawn carriage not once, but twice, leading to permanent damage of his left arm, which in turn exempted him from fighting in World War I, where he would likely have died.
Sources
Haugen, Brenda. Joseph Stalin: Dictator of the Soviet Union. Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point, 2006. Print.
Military History Monthly. Stalin Facts
TVtropesUseful Notes: Josef Stalin
RussiapediaOf Russian Origin: Stalin’s Purges

Photo Credits: “Joseph Stalin” and “Stalingrad” by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R80329 [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons; “Young Joseph Stalin, 1894” by paukrus [CC], via Flickr

Pluto_and_Proserpina_-_Amsterdam_1703

Although he is depicted as evil in most Greek myths and fables, he is much more than just a merciless god of the underworld. Here are 10 facts about Hades.
1. Hades isn’t actually evil
He is actually altruistic and passive, bringing balance to the human world. He’s only harsh when souls try to leave the underworld or people try to cheat death.
2. Hades was one of the first heroes of Greek myths
Hades, along with his brothers Zeus and Poseidon, led the rebellion against their titan father Kronos for power over the universe. Hades’ part included slipping by Kronos’s armies to destroy their weapons.


3. Hades, Zeus, and Poseidon took dominion over parts of the earth
Hades got unlucky.
4. The god of the underworld is also the god of wealth
Silver, gold, and other precious metals are under his domain. Besides the name Hades, he also goes by Pluto or Plouton, the giver of wealth.
5. He has his own set of enchanted tools and a chariot led by four black horses to announce his arrival
The tools include an ebony throne, a bird-decorated scepter, and a helmet that gives him the power of invisibility.


6. Hades has a three-headed dog as his pet
The three-headed dog is not unique to Harry Potter. Cerberus has a serpent’s tail, lion’s claws, and a mane of snakes.


7. In Ancient Greek, Hades means invisible
This refers to his helmet.
8. The word Hades also refers to the underworld in general
The Greeks believed that all souls, after death, went to the underworld.
9. Charon is Hades’ ferryman who brings souls from earth into the underworld
He takes a token from the dead and ferries them across the River Styx.


10. Hades cannot have children, but he is married to Persephone, the daughter of the goddess Demeter
He…may or may not have abducted Persephone and forced her to marry him. Their children, according to Orphic fables, were a result of Zeus, in the form of Hades, seducing Persephone.

Photo Credits: “Greek Trinity” by British Museum (photo by FinnBjo); sculpture in Copenhagen Port (photo by Hansjorn and Aviad Bublil [CC-BY-SA-3.0]; “Hades with Cerberus” by I, Grizzli [CC-BY-SA-3.0]; “Héraldique meuble Cerbère” by Tretinville [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Page 18 of 20« First...101617181920
Menu