WTF • Fun • Fact    ( /dʌb(ə)lˌju/  /ti/   /ef/ • /fʌn/ • /fækt/ )

     1. noun  A random, interesting, and overall fun fact that makes you scratch your head and think what the...

WTF Fun Fact 13230 – NYPL Gave Away Books

The New York Public Library gave away books in the summer of 2022 – half a million books, to be exact.

The New York Public Library gave away half a million books

According to the NYPL website (cited below), branches in the Bronx, Manhattan, or Staten Island gave away books starting June 9, 2022. The goal was to give away 500,000 diverse books for kids and teens (from birth through 18)!

Certain locations even offered large print books as well as books in Spanish and Chinese.

As they note: “A lifelong love of reading—and your own home library—begin with choosing your first book.”

Personal libraries

Building a personal book collection can provide people with many benefits – so it’s good to start young.

Having a personal library (however small) helps with knowledge, learning, and personal growth. It can also provide relaxation, stress relief, cultural enrichment, and a sense of accomplishment.

Collecting books can be a calming activity that helps reduce stress and promote mindfulness. It can even help you to regulate your emotions, especially if you collect books that address topics that you’re struggling with or that resonate with your experiences.

study conducted by researchers at King’s College London found that over 30 percent of adults participate in some form of collecting, including books. While psychologists can’t pinpoint exactly what makes book collecting worthwhile, many people take great pride in their book collections.

Studies do show that people who engage in hobbies are happier than those who do not. Book collecting can even be a social hobby if it involves getting out of the house and hunting for books in bookstores or attending book clubs.

Read books, live longer

A 2016 study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine actually found that reading books can reduce mortality by up to 20%. You’ll live longer if you read books.

The same was not true of reading other things – like the Internet, newspapers, or magazines!

The researchers noted that “any level of book reading gave a significantly stronger survival advantage.” This was particularly true for adults 65 and older who read books instead of watching TV.

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Source: “Summer at the Library: Free Book Giveaway!” — NYPL


WTF Fun Fact 13229 – Turkey’s Burj Al Babas

Turkey’s Burj Al Babas was supposed to be a luxury neighborhood. But today it’s a ghost town full of abandoned castle-like homes.

What’s the story behind Turkey’s Burj Al Babas?

Turkey’s Burj Al Babas is a luxury residential development located in Mudurnu (near Istanbul). It is full of fairy-tale-style castle-like villas – 732 of them, to be exact.

The Burj Al Babas was developed by the Turkish company Sarot International. Their goal was to provide a unique living experience for residents to wealthy Turkish nationals and foreigners alike. Sarot designed each villa in the style of a castle, complete with turrets, towers, and arched windows.

With a commitment to sustainability, the luxury neighborhood could have been an example of future living. Instead, it’s a ghost town. The villas are abandoned. Sarot declared bankruptcy and had to abandon the project before anyone moved in.

Despite Turkey’s Burj Al Babas being situated in a scenic location surrounded by lush green forests and replete with swimming pools, parks, and playgrounds, the peaceful setting is a bit too peaceful these days.

Why are the villas abandoned?

According to Architectural Digest (cited below):

“Construction started in 2014 and was expected to take four years, though, within that same time, the developers were forced to declare bankruptcy. As building the town got underway, locals became enraged with both the aesthetic of the homes and the business practices of the developers. According to the local news, many were frustrated that the castles didn’t resemble anything in the area, particularly the historical Ottoman-style mansions. A lawsuit against the developers also claimed the company destroyed trees and harmed the environment. Turkey’s economy then struggled in the years after the project started, and developers soon incurred a $27 million debt. A combination of bad choices and bad timing, construction was halted.”

While the Sarot Group was still hopeful about the completion of its project in 2019, they did not predict the pandemic. That further scuttled their plans.

In case you’re wondering if you can move in (the properties were set to be a steal at less than $500,000) the answer is no. Not a single dwelling is totally finished, and there are no utilities.

The site is now reminiscent of a postapocalyptic city. Construction materials lay strewn about. And yet the shells of the homes still look like neighborhoods of Disney castles missing their princes and princesses.

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Source: “Tour Burj Al Babas, a Massive Abandoned Town of Disney-esque Castles” — Architectural Digest


WTF Fun Fact 13228 – The Lupercalia

Each year the ancient Romans celebrated Lupercalia on February 15th. The Romans originally called the festival Februa, and it acted as a purification ritual for the city.

Why did Romans celebrate Lupercalia?

The Romans associated Lupercalia with fertility, renewal, and revelry. But they also conducted it under the eye of a group of priests called Luperci.

The origins of the Lupercalia festival aren’t entirely clear. But they may have something to do with the myth of the she-wolf that nursed the abandoned brothers Romulus and Remus (the founders of Rome). The Romans also associated the festival with the god of fertility, Faunus.

In Rome, March was the start of the New Year

According to Encyclopedia Britannica (cited below):

“Each Lupercalia began with the sacrifice by the Luperci of goats and a dog, after which two of the Luperci were led to the altar, their foreheads were touched with a bloody knife, and the blood was wiped off with wool dipped in milk; the ritual required that the two young men laugh.

The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the sacrificial animals and ran in two bands around the Palatine hill, striking with the thongs at any woman who came near them. A blow from the thong was supposed to render a woman fertile.”

The Romans performed the sacrifice at the cave where the she-wolf supposedly suckled the founders Romulus and Remus.

The end of the festival

In 494 CE, Pope Gelasius I banned the Lupercalia because it was a pagan festival.

Some believe he tried to replace it with the Church’s Feast of the Purification (Candlemas), on February 2nd. But that holiday was likely established earlier.

Many people try to make the connection between Lupercalia and St. Valentine’s Day on February 14th. And while the holiday may have picked up some minor influences from the Lupercalia, the creation of that holiday came much later.

Regardless, Romans likely celebrated the Lupercalia for close to 1200 years. (However, academic Agnes Kirsopp Michaels has made the case that the festival only goes back to the 5th century B.C.)  WTF fun facts

Source: “Lupercalia” — Encyclopedia Britannica


WTF Fun Fact 13227 – The First Insurance Company

The first insurance company was established in the city of Genoa, Italy in the late 14th century. It provided coverage for ship captains and merchants in case their cargo was lost at sea.

Technically, it was the first modern insurance company, since insurance goes back to roughly 2000 BC.

What do we know about the first insurance company?

The city of Genoa, Italy was a center of commerce and trade in the 15th century. That’s partly because it was a natural stop for merchants and ship captains traveling across the Mediterranean to trade goods.

With so much trade and commerce taking place, loss was inevitable – especially at sea. it was only natural that a system of risk management would develop to protect merchants and ship captains from financial loss. In fact, these types of contracts had existed for over 1000 years, but had previously been tied to loans.

While we don’t know much about the group that constituted the first insurance company Genoa in the late 14th century, it appears to have been created as a mutual aid society. In other words, members paid premiums and shared the cost of losses in case their cargo was lost at sea.

By the mid-15th century, insurance was a well-established industry in Genoa, and the city became known as a hub of insurance and risk management.

However, the insurance industry did face challenges at the start. For example, the city and its docks were at constant risk from attacks by pirates and other thieves. As a result, insurance companies had to find ways to provide coverage in the midst of many unpredictable dangers.

Of course, the insurance industry became incredibly lucrative. So much so that the government subjected it to hefty taxes.

Much of what we know about the details of Genoa’s early insurance days comes from two contracts. They were signed by seafarers in 1343 and 1347. These were the first insurance contracts not to be tied to marine loans. This made them unique by tying them to a company that solely dealt in risk management. In other words, the first insurance company.

The first insurance contracts

But insurance itself doesn’t begin in Genoa.

Insurance contracts have a long history, dating back to ancient civilizations. Over 2000 years ago, people would pool their resources to protect against financial loss. The loss could have been caused by unforeseen events such as fire, theft, or death. While it’s unlike the modern contracts offered by insurance companies today, this concept of mutual protection and risk sharing is considered to be the earliest form of insurance.

We know this took place in ancient Babylon because we still have fragments of the stones the contracts were chiseled into. They indicate that merchants would pool resources to protect against losses from shipping and trade. If a merchant’s goods were lost or damaged during transit, the other members of the pool would share the cost of the loss.

Merchants in the Roman Empire also used mutual aid insurance to protect against the loss of cargo and ships during sea voyages. Merchants would form associations to share the risk of loss.

While this may seem benevolent in terms of modern life, a person who engaged in mutual aid could rest easier knowing that it was unlikely that one event would cost them everything.

These early forms of insurance were informal. Many times, there were no formal contracts or regulations, and the terms and conditions of the insurance arrangements were often defined by custom and tradition.

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Source: “The Earliest Insurance Contract. A New Discovery” — The Journal of Risk and Insurance


WTF Fun Fact 13226 – The Amazon Two Pizza Rule

One of the secrets of Jeff Bezos’ success may just be the Amazon Two Pizza rule.

What is the Amazon Two Pizza rule?

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos apparently requires his senior executives to abide by a Two Pizza rule. Any team that can’t be fed with two pizzas is too big and should be broken into smaller teams. The rule ensures that teams include only essential members and that everyone stays focused on their specific area of expertise.

This rule encourages efficient and effective teamwork and ensures that communication remains open and clear.

Bezos believes in the importance of keeping teams small and nimble. He believes that small teams can move more quickly and make more efficient decisions. He also believes smaller teams are better equipped to communicate effectively. When a team is too big, communication breakdown can lead to delays and inefficiencies.

Bezos believes smaller teams are more focused. As a result, teams are more likely to work on the most important tasks and make the best use of their time. In the end, it’s all about preventing teams from becoming bogged down in tasks that are not relevant to their goals and allowing them to focus on delivering value to customers.

Small teams and success

Business leaders believe the Amazon Two-Pizza Rule helps foster innovation. Small teams ensure members are more likely to feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things.

In addition, by keeping teams small, managers and leaders get to know their team members. This helps them understand their strengths and weaknesses. This helps managers develop their skills in areas such as coaching and mentoring.

The purpose of pizzas

Amazon applies the Two Pizza rule in various forms, with teams ranging from two to a dozen people. It has been widely adopted by other companies.

By keeping teams small and focused, companies can ensure that they are able to work together effectively, deliver results quickly and foster innovation and creativity.  WTF fun facts

Source: “How Jeff Bezos Used the 2-Pizza Rule to Put an End to Useless Meetings at Amazon” — Inc.


WTF Fun Fact 13225 – Emotions and the Stock Market

There is a connection between emotions and the stock market. In fact, the stock market can move dramatically even when the underlying fundamentals suggest it should move in the opposite direction.

What’s the connection between emotions and the stock market?

The stock market is driven by a variety of factors, including economic indicators, company performance, and investor sentiment. However, research has shown that emotions play a significant role in stock market behavior, and can often drive prices higher or lower regardless of the underlying fundamentals.

For example, studies have shown that stocks tend to perform better on sunny days, when investors are in a positive mood, and worse on cloudy days, when investors are in a negative mood. Similarly, stocks tend to perform better on days when there are more positive news articles, and worse on days when there are more negative news articles.

How does human behavior affect stock prices?

The stock market is often thought of as a rational, data-driven market, but emotions can have a major impact on prices and investment decisions. Investor sentiment can be just as important as financial data in determining stock prices.

When investors are feeling confident and optimistic, they tend to be more willing to take risks and invest. This, in turn, drives prices higher. When investors are feeling uncertain or fearful, they tend to pull back from the market, thereby causing prices to fall.

This emotional component of the stock market is particularly evident during times of economic uncertainty, such as recessions or market crashes, when investor sentiment can change rapidly and drive large swings in stock prices. In these situations, emotions like fear, panic, and greed can drive investor behavior and create market volatility.

While emotions can have a significant impact on the stock market, economic indicators, company performance, and macroeconomic factors such as interest rates, inflation, and political events play an integral role in determining stock prices.

Still, the emotional component of the stock market is a key factor to consider for investors. They need to be aware of how their own emotions and those of the market can impact their investment decisions.

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Source: “How emotions affect the stock market” — OUP Blog


WTF Fun Fact 13224 – Full Moons in February

It’s possible to have no full moons in February. It doesn’t happen often, but February goes by without a full moon roughly every 19 years.

How can there be no full moons in February?

The lunar cycle starts with a new moon and ends with the next new moon.

The length of a lunar cycle is roughly 29.5 days. In a normal year, February has 28 days. This makes it shorter than the average length of a lunar cycle.

February does not have a full moon in a year when there are two full moons in January and none in March. This occurs approximately once every 19 years, as part of the Metonic cycle, which is a pattern of full and new moons repeating approximately every 19 years.

Recent years in which February did not have a full moon include 2018, 1999, 1980, 1961, and 1942.

What’s the significance of a full moon?

The gravitational pull of the moon and the sun causes the tides to rise and fall. The full moon has the strongest tidal effect because it is in direct line with the earth and the sun.

The full moon also provides brighter light at night. This can impact the behavior of nocturnal animals, such as owls and bats. It can also affect the migratory patterns of some species.

A full moon has the strongest effect on tides, and it is responsible for producing spring tides, which are the highest tides of the lunar cycle.

In some cultures, the full moon is used as a reference point for planting, harvesting, and other agricultural activities. And for many cultures and religions, the full moon has spiritual significance and is associated with rituals, ceremonies, and festivals.

In the future, February is expected not to have a full moon in 2037, 2056, 2075, and 2094.

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Source: “Why no full moon in February 2018?” — EarthSky


WTF Fun Fact 13223 – The Benefits of Reading Physical Books

Reading is generally good for you, no matter how you do it (unless you’re falling down a rabbithole of conspiracy theories). And your body likes reading in any form. Still, research shows that the benefits of reading physical books is higher than reading on a screen.

What are the benefits of reading physical books?

Reading physical books has numerous benefits. For starters, it helps improve concentration and information retention. Physical books require more focus and concentration than digital books, as there are fewer distractions. This helps to improve memory retention and recall, especially for complex information.

Research suggests that reading online results in lower understanding and less critical reflection. That can even be the case when parents read to children from an ebook. But that’s largely because screens don’t help them enhance elements of the story that would make a book more engaging.

Learning is just better when it’s done on paper.

Physical books are also better for eye health. Digital screens emit blue light, which has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns and cause eye strain.

A paper book in your hands also helps promote relaxation (though we’ve certainly felt the relaxation from reading an ebook!). But it turns out physical books can help to reduce stress and anxiety. The act of holding a book and turning its pages has a calming effect, and the absence of screens and digital distractions can provide a sense of peace.

Paper books also encourage us to unplug. They provide a break from technology and encourage people to unplug and disconnect from their screens. This is especially important in today’s digital world, where people are constantly bombarded with information and distractions.

Love building a library

While ebooks can be very convenient for travel or people with small apartments who don’t have places to store books, it turns out that collecting physical books can be a source of pride and personal fulfillment. A personal library of physical books is a tangible representation of one’s interests and reading history, which can be enjoyed and shared with others. It makes people feel good about their reading habits.

Believe it or not, physical books are more environmentally friendly in some ways. They do not require any batteries, electricity, or other power sources. They are also made from natural materials, such as paper, making them a more sustainable option than digital books, which rely on electronic devices that contribute to electronic waste.

The benefits of reading physical books also help independent bookstores. And purchasing physical books from independent bookstores supports local communities and small businesses, helping to preserve the cultural heritage of local neighborhoods.

For the love of books

If you love books, you’re not alone. People still prefer and buy more physical books than ebooks. And considering how many devices we all own, that’s pretty impressive.

In an era where convenience rules, there’s still something so compelling about holding a physical book that ebooks have never been able to take the lion’s share of the book market.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Reading on-screen vs reading in print: What’s the difference for learning?” — National Library of New Zealand


WTF Fun Fact 13222 – Buffalo Tool Library

The Buffalo Tool Library is a magnificent idea that we wish could happen in every city. It would sure save us a lot of cash during our DIY home improvement adventures!

What is the Buffalo Tool Library?

The Buffalo Tool Library is a non-profit community organization that provides a lending library of tools to its members in Buffalo, New York. Members can borrow tools for home improvement, gardening, and repair projects, much like they would borrow books from a traditional library. The goal of the organization is to promote sustainability, community building, and self-sufficiency by making tools accessible to everyone.

The Buffalo Tool Library operates as a membership-based service. Members pay a fee to join and are then able to borrow tools from the library’s collection for a set period of time.

To borrow tools, members must check out the tools in person. They can do this either at the library’s physical location or through its online platform. The borrowed tools must then be returned in good condition within the agreed-upon loan period. Late fees may apply if the tools are returned past the due date.

The library also offers classes, workshops, and events to help members learn how to use the tools and develop new skills.

The library is run by volunteers. It relies on community support to continue its mission of promoting sustainability and self-sufficiency.

Building community

According to the University at Buffalo’s website:

“The Tool Library—which celebrated its eleventh anniversary this summer—lends over 4,000 tools, large and small, to over 1,000 individual and group members for both personal and collective projects. In addition to aiding personal do-it-yourself efforts, it organizes extensive community work: planting and maintaining trees, flowers, and neighborhood gardens; spearheading organized cleanups and streetscape and store-front maintenance; staging do-it-yourself and repair clinics; equipping and training in safety and lead abatement efforts.”

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Source: “The Tool Library: How to Build and Maintain a Social and Environmental Justice Not-for-Profit Organization” — SUNY Buffalo