WTF Fun Fact 13198 – Turkey’s Library of Books Thrown Away

Garbage collectors in Turkey have curated their own library from books thrown away by residents. The books were destined for landfills, but around 6,000 books now sit on shelves waiting to be re-read by the public.

Reusing books thrown away

The trash collectors kept finding books and eventually found a place to put them. It’s an old brick building outside of Ankara that used to house a factory. Its long shape makes it ideal for the long bookshelves that make libraries so fun to browse.

In the beginning, the trash collectors would stash the books and lend them to friends. But as more people heard about it and the number of books grew, they searched for a more sustainable option. The local municipality, Çankaya, found money in the budget to open a library with these books.

We started to discuss the idea of creating a library from these books. And when everyone supported it, this project happened,” the mayor of Çankaya, Alper Tasdelen, told CNN (cited below).

Turkey doesn’t have a public library system, so it’s up to each region to build, curate, and staff a library themselves.

A new collection and a public good

The library full of books thrown away has a full-time staff member. They’ve even converted a garbage truck into a mobile library/donation truck!

The public has started donating books to the library instead of throwing them away to rot in landfills. You’ll also find magazines and other types of reading materials in the library.

There are some other items found in the trash that have made their way to the library, such as furniture and even games. Some of the space acts as a social center for people in the town.

Talk about turning trash into treasure!

Check below for a video about these garbage collectors’ awesome efforts!  WTF fun facts

Source: “Garbage collectors open library with abandoned books” — CNN

WTF Fun Fact 13195 – Tartle

The Scots have some great words in their vocabulary. Take “tartle,” for example. Have you ever heard of it?

What is a “tartle”?

Tartle is a Scottish word. It refers to the feeling of hesitation or panic that one experiences when one can’t remember someone’s name. Scots also use it to describe the act of hesitating to introduce someone because you can’t remember their name.

When someone experiences tartle forgetfulness, it can be caused by a number of factors. These include age-related memory loss, lack of attention when the person was first introduced, or normal forgetting. It can also be related to a condition known as anomic aphasia. This is a type of language disorder that affects the ability to recall words, including names.

The word tartle is not widely known outside of Scotland, but it is a useful word to describe a common experience of social awkwardness. You can also use the word tartle to describe the general feeling of hesitation when you are trying to remember something (not just a name) or when you are in a situation where your memory failed.

According to The Scotsman (cited below): “What makes the word so special is that it doesn’t apply when you forget the person’s name entirely. Oh no. It exists only to encapsulate the brief awkwardness while you rummage around your brain for the answer.”

Describing social awkwardness

There are many words and phrases in the English language that describe social awkwardness, here are a few examples:

  • Inept: This word is used to describe a lack of social skills or ability.
  • Bumbling: This word is used to describe someone who is awkward, clumsy or inarticulate in social situations.
  • Tongue-tied: This phrase is used to describe the feeling of being unable to speak coherently or express oneself effectively in a social situation.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Scottish word of the week: Tartle” — The Scotsman

WTF Fun Fact 13184 – People in India Read the Most

People in India spend 10 hours and 42 minutes a week reading, the most of any country on Earth. The U.S. makes up about 30% of the world’s book-buying population. But Americans don’t crack the top 5 for the time spent reading metric.

Where do most readers live? People in India read the most

India, Thailand, China, Phillippines, and Egypt round out the top 5 for the most time spent reading per person, on average, per week.

Data collected between 2017 and 2022 showed that:

  • India ranks first, with people spending 10 hours and 42 minutes reading per week (556.4 hours per year).
  • Thailand ranks second with weekly totals averaging 9 hours and 24 minutes (488.8 hours per year).
  • China readers average 8 hours a week (or 416 hours per year).
  • Those in the Philippines tend to read 7 hours and 36 minutes per week (395.2 per year.)
  • And Egyptians read for 7 hours and 30 minutes per week (or 390 minutes per year).

Books and their readers

Data collected between 2011 and 2020 shows that Americans love buying books (and they do read them, so it’s not just book hoarding). And most Americans do read books.

The World Population Review compiled numbers from various research studies and showed that while people in India read the most (in terms of hours spent reading):

Altogether, Americans read 275,232 books per year and makeup 30% of the market share of book buyers. A Pew Research Center study published in 2016 found that 72% of Americans had read a book the preceding year, a number that rose to 75% in 2022. But that rise was almost certainly due to the pandemic keeping people at home. In 2016 Americans read an average of 12 books a year (though 50% of the nation reads 4 or fewer, so we’re depending on some people to read a lot of books to make us look good). But we still tend to read more physical books than e-books, even though the e-book trend is growing in the U.S.

In other countries:

  • China reads 208,418 books on average per year (10% of all books purchased).
  • The United Kingdom reads about 188,000 books every year, and book sales have reached about 212 million!)
  • Japan makes up 7% of the market share for book buyers, and the Japanese read an average of 139,078 books per year. This makes up about 7% of the total market share.

What are the most popular books in the world? Well, you can probably guess – it’s the Holy Bible and the Holy Qu’ran. Next in line come The Harry Potter Series, The Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse Tung, and Lord of the Rings. Eclectic!  WTF fun facts

Source: “Average Books Read Per Year by Country 2023” — World Population Review

WTF Fun Fact 13183 – The Gruen Transfer

We’ve all fallen victim to the Gruen Transfer. In fact, stores, casinos, and malls are built around this theory in order to make us fall victim to it. The payoff is more spending on our part.

What is the Gruen Transfer?

Have you ever gone to a store and just started wandering around? Plenty of us can run in and out for what we need, but it’s hard to not start wandering occasionally, just to see if there’s anything else we might need or want. And that’s the whole point.

Marketers and designers specifically build floor plans and displays that disorient us and lure us in. It’s all designed to give us a general desire to keep shopping and looking at things. If you just go to Target for fun, you’re WAY deep into the Gruen Transfer.

According to Gizmodo (cited below): “The Gruen transfer is the idea that the shopping experience itself was worth doing, and that paying money for something not on any specific agenda was the agenda.”

Of course, it’s all about getting you to consume more things.

Who was Victor Gruen?

The Gruen Transfer “mind trick” is named after architect Victor Gruen. But he’s probably rolling over in his grave since he hated the idea of disorienting consumers. His goal was to put items people needed in the same general location for convenience.

What his goal WASN’T was to confuse people and make them feel disoriented. In fact, Gizmodo’s article on the Gruen Effect (cited below) brings this to the fore, noting that “Gruen wasn’t a fan of the transfer at all. He railed against confusing, maddening stores that baffled consumers. In fact, his whole idea of a mall was based on efficiency on a very wide scale.”

“And, because there were only so many ways to design efficiently, many stores would be standardized. But Gruen wanted something more. Shopping places, he thought, should feature gardens, benches, cafes, and courtyards. It should be an experience. Then things like malls wouldn’t just be commercial zones, but would serve as public gathering places, where everyone, from every level of society, could mingle. He wanted to entice people, and get people to interact with each other, not confuse them.”

Making the transfer

Nevertheess, his name became associated with what the marketers and other designers did with his ideas. It became applicable within a store as well – such as a grocery store. Confusion reigns so you can see more things you might want to buy. The same is true of casinos. It’s easy for people to become disoriented, spend more time there, and part with more money.

Gruen just wanted public space for all. Now those places are ones where you can’t go to socialize anymore. You can only be there if you plan to shop.

As Gizmodo notes: “And so the guy who wanted to provide a public space, where everyone could get their shopping done so they could socialize, ended up inventing a system in which socialization equals shopping.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “The cruel irony of the Gruen Transfer” — Gizmodo

WTF Fun Fact 13175 – California’s Glass Beach

California’s Glass Beach was used as a trash dump in the early 20th century. But as the decades have gone by, trash has been washed out to see and discarded bottles, tail lights, and other glass has been polished into what look like colorful sea pebbles. What was once trash now looks like treasure.

What is California’s Glass beach?

Glass Beach is located in Fort Bragg, Califnornia at the south side of MacKerricher State Park. It gets its name from the smooth, colorful pebbles on the shore.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as beautiful as it used to be. Tourists have decided to help themselves to its beauty.

According to California Beaches (cited below):

“This site was once a trash dump so broken bottles from the garbage cans of local residents have been transformed into little treasures to be found and photographed (and left behind). It is illegal to remove any glass from Glass Beach, but this hasn’t stopped people from taking what seems like a harmless amount. Over the years thousands of these pocketfuls have depleted the beach of its namesake glass. It still has a lot, but nothing like it used to.”

How the beach came to be

Trash was dumped on the beach from 1949 until it was full in 1967. Then, in 1998, the property was cleaned up and sold to the state of California.

Today’s Glass Beach is actually the third in a series of local dump sites that filled up in the area. But it’s the only one that is part of the California Parks system today.

While the beach is still beautiful, you’ll often find visitors collecting pieces to take home, despite that being illegal. The beach today won’t look quite like the photos from decades ago, but it’s still a unique and beautiful place to watch the waves roll in. California’s Glass Beach is also a reminder of the power of nature to transform whatever humans make.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Glass Beach” — California Beaches

WTF Fun Facts 13174 – Beaver College Name Change

In 2001, Beaver College changed its name to Arcadia College because it found the original name appealed to 30% fewer prospective students. But the Beaver College name change was also the result of the rise of search engines. Web filters intended to screen out explicit material blocked access to their website, categorizing it as pornographic.

The Beaver College name change

In 2000, Beaver College threw a pajama party for students and used the occasion to announce that the school’s name would be changed the following year. The new name – Arcadia University.

The small women’s college was founded in 1853 in western Pennsylvania’s Beaver County. However, it moved outside of Philadelphia in 1925. So the name was no longer accurate. However, that’s not the real reason behind the Beaver College name change.

According to ABC News (cited below), then-President Bette E. Landman said in a letter that the old name “too often elicits ridicule in the form of derogatory remarks pertaining to the rodent, the TV show Leave It to Beaver and the vulgar reference to the female anatomy.”

Honestly, we doubt Leave it to Beaver jokes were the real motivator there.

There were two significant problems with the name. First, “The college’s own research shows the school appeals to 30 percent fewer prospective students solely because of the name,” according to ABC News. “And the problems worsened with the rise of the Internet, since some Web filters intended to screen out sexually explicit material blocked access to the Beaver College Web site.”

What’s in a name?

The small school sent out surveys about the name change to 20,000 alums, students, parents, faculty, and staff in the hopes of finding a new name (after they had narrowed it down to six choices).

College spokesman Bill Avington said at the time that Arcadia “seems to be a perfect name,” harkening back to a region of ancient Greece known for its centers of learning.

And they did their research before making the final decision, ensuring there were no dirty jokes to be made. Avington said: “We tried to go through every scenario. We’ve looked pretty carefully at it.”

Beaver College’s name change became official on July 16, 2001.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Beaver College Announces New Name” — ABC News

WTF Fun Fact 13170 – The Baarle Border

On the borders of the Netherlands and Belgium is the town of Baarle. But the Baarle border is anything but straightforward. In fact, the official borderline cuts through houses and cafes in some areas, allowing residents to jump back and forth between countries or even stand with one foot in each.

The Baarle Border

Culture Trip (cited below) describes the border as “erratically shaped” and zigzagging through the town, “creating an erratically-shaped Belgian enclave that somehow contains even smaller parcels of Dutch land.”

While you can see it from above, when you’re on the ground near this Dutch-Belgian border, you’ll see crosses on the ground and the letters “B” and NL” on each side, designating the country it belongs to.

In some cases, the lines divide private property. We don’t even want to know what that tax situation looks like!

How do you live in two countries?

Culture Trip explains that this isn’t quite as complex as one might imagine.

“Thankfully, the Netherlands and Belgium are both located in the Schengen Area, which means that their borders are completely seamless, making it possible for travelers (and residents) to walk through Baarle without stopping for passport checks.”

Both countries administer the town. The Netherlands administers Baarle-Nassau, and Belgium is in charge of Baarle-Hertog.

Another interesting fact is that the Belgian sections are not all connected to the Belgian border. These sections are enclaves. And Culture Trip notes that: “To make matters even more confusing, several stretches of Belgian land in Baarle encircle plots that are claimed by the Netherlands, creating enclaves within enclaves.”

Who divided Baarle?

The confusion with the Baarle border dates back to the Middle Ages when a wealthy duke traded pieces of territory. Local wealthy aristocrats created these bizarre borders in the Middle Ages.

“Essentially, one duke from what would become Belgium handed over territory to another noble who controlled the lands around the Dutch city of Breda. However, the aforementioned duke retained some smaller plots in Baarle, leading to border disputes in the 19th century, when Belgium and the Netherlands split into two different nation states. It took another century for the two countries to resolve the borders that pass through Baarle, leading to the town’s current patchwork-like cartography.”

The controlling country’s legal system applies to each part of the town. This makes for some clever workarounds and loopholes. For example, “bars in Baarle (at some point in recent history) would continue serving alcohol after licensing hours were over in the Netherlands by simply moving their tables and chairs across the border to Belgium.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “This Is the Most Complicated Border Town in the World” — Culture Trip

WTF Fun Fact 13167 – North Korea’s Hotel of Doom

The Ryugyong Hotel (also known as the Ryu-Gyong Hotel, Yu-Kyung Hotel, 105 Building, and Hotel of Doom is a 105-story 1000+-foot-tall pyramidal skyscraper in Pyongyang, North Korea. Architects designed it to be a mixed-use building with a hotel. But it is unfinished, making it the second-largest unoccupied building in the world. (First place goes to China’s Goldin Finance 117.)

Why is the Ryugyong Hotel unfinished?

Construction on the building began in 1987. But the dissolution of the Soviet Union and North Korea’s subsequent economic crisis brought it to a halt in 1992.

According to CNN Travel (cited below), “The Ryugyong Hotel was a product of the Cold War rivalry between US-supported South Korea and the Soviet-backed North.” And as the North watched South Korea transition to a capitalist democracy, they needed a symbol to show their achievements. Part of the North Korean government’s response was to hold a socialist pseudo-Olympics called the World Festival of Youth and Students, planned for 1989. The North Korean government hoped the hotel would house visitors and embarrass South Korea before they hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics.

CNN Travel continues: “The government had already poured billions into the event, building a new stadium, expanding Pyongyang’s airport and paving new roads. That put a strain on the hermit state’s frail economy, while the Soviet Union’s collapse left it deprived of vital aid and investment.”

If it were complete today, it would be the 4th tallest hotel in the world. If completed on schedule, it would have been the tallest.

Construction commenced again in 2008 in the hopes of opening it on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il-sung. But that was canceled. In 2019, a sign bearing the hotel’s name in Korean and English was installed. And while rumors constantly swirl over its “imminent” opening, it’s not finished.

One tour company gives foreign visitors a peek inside the so-called “Hotel of Doom.” But the North Korean government does not allow its citizens to enter.

Ok, but why do some call it the Hotel of Doom?

The building didn’t get its nickname based on any danger it poses to those who step inside. It’s not haunted or anything.

According to CNN Travel: “While the structure reached its planned height in 1992, it stood windowless and hollow for another 16 years, its naked concrete exposed, like a menacing monster overlooking the city. During that time the building, which dwarfs everything around it, earned itself the nickname ‘Hotel of Doom.'”

The Hotel of Doom appears doomed to stay unfinished despite the start and stop of construction over the decades. (At this point, it likely needs an investor to completely retrofit it with modern amenities, like Wifi.)

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Ryugyong Hotel: The story of North Korea’s ‘Hotel of Doom'” — CNN

WTF Fun Fact 13163 – The Goodyear Blimp Redondo Beach Connection

In 1983, the city of Redondo Beach, CA adopted a resolution “recognizing the Goodyear Airship Columbia (aka Goodyear blimp) as the “Official Bird of Redondo Beach.”

What’s the Goodyear blimp Redondo Beach connection?

To many, the Goodyear blimp is simply a novelty or publicity stunt. But some people in southern California have more of a connection to the airships. In fact, the Goodyear ships have even received “get well” cards after they’ve been in accidents.

But nothing tops Redondo Beach’s connection with the Goodyear blimp, or more specifically, the fleet ship known as the Columbia. That’s the official bird of the city.

Rather than act as a simple billboard (after all, we don’t know how many tired the blimp has convinced people to buy), the airships become sights for sore eyes. Even neighborhood mascots. There’s a sense of fun and familiarity when you catch sight of one.

To be fair, it is cool and pretty rare to see a blimp. We’ve just never thought about making one our official “bird.”

The blimps were once used to escort military flights across the Atlantic. Now they’re largely used for aerial shots in live televised events. You can even take a ride in the blimp – and over 1 million people have!

The Goodyear Columbia (later “Eagle”)

In 1984, the Olympics were held in Los Angeles, California. Nearby cities, such as Redondo Beach, would be featured during the games, but wanted a way to stand out. Enter the aerial shots provided by the blimp.

The Goodyear blimps have always provided free video shots in exchange for their own publicity during the events (just count how many times it’s mentioned during the Superbowl). Since Redondo Beach didn’t have any control over how many times the blimp got mentioned in return for aerial footage, they went so far as to honor the specific ship taking footage, the Columbia, by declaring it the city’s official bird a year prior to the event.

Of course, the move made headlines across the nation.

In the early 1990s, the Goodyear Columbia had its name changed to the Eagle and given a new paint job.

 WTF fun facts

Source: Redondo Beach Meeting Minutes