8 ‘famous last words’ that were probably made up

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Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall

  • Many pithy, memorable famous last words are posthumous fiction.
  • Conflicting historical accounts and sparse witnesses make them hard to verify.
  • The reality of famous figures’ deaths tends to be more sobering.

Don’t trust everything you read on the internet — especially when it comes to historical quotes.

And that goes triple for famous last words.

Final words are often notoriously difficult to verify. There are fabrications that are just completely made up for one reason or another. Then there are exaggerations — sayings twisted into more quotable turns of phrase or modern vernacular or authentic quotes said long before the individual ended up on their deathbed.

Lastly, there are some plausible sayings that are simply impossible to confirm either way, because they happened too long ago or in front of people with an agenda.

With that in mind, here’s a roundup of some famous last words floating around there that are almost certainly somewhat inaccurate:

SEE ALSO: 18 people who accomplished incredible things at a shockingly young age

‘Et tu, Brute?’ — Julius Caesar, Roman dictator and general

"Et tu, Brute?" is likely one of the most widely remembered and quoted Latin phrases out there, thanks to William Shakespeare’s dramatic retelling of the Roman strongman’s life.

The words conjure up a stirring image — a powerful politician realizing he’s betrayed — and stabbed — by a beloved adopted son.

However, Roman biographer Suetonius claimed the man’s last words might have been even sadder. He reports Caesar possibly said, "You too, my child?" in Greek, before succumbing to his injuries, according to Livius.org.

Suetonius himself, however, believed it was more likely Caesar had died without saying a word.

‘Either this wallpaper goes or I do.’ — Oscar Wilde, Irish playwright

No, Oscar Wilde didn’t leave this world complaining about tacky interior design choices.

Records indicate the famously witty Wilde did once utter a similar phrase: "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go."

However, according to the book "Oscar Wilde: The Unrepentant Years," he said this to a visiting friend a few weeks before he passed away in Paris in 1854.

‘I should never have switched from scotch to martinis.’ — Humphrey Bogart, actor

The Hollywood star didn’t die mulling over his preferred drink when he passed in 1957.

According to the blog Phrases.org, the quip about the martinis actually might come from a 1975 novel called "What Are the Bugles Blowing For?"

In reality, according to his wife Lauren Bacall, his final words before slipping into a coma were, "Goodbye, kid. Hurry back."

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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So many people read Stephen Hawking’s thesis that it crashed Cambridge University’s site

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So many people read Stephen Hawking’s thesis that it crashed Cambridge University’s site

Image: Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize Foundation

News that the University of Cambridge made Stephen Hawking’s seminal doctoral thesis (on how universes expand) publicly available sent positive shockwaves among physics fans around the world. 

So overwhelmingly good was the response that it crashed Cambridge University’s open access repository site. 

“We have had a huge response to Professor Hawking’s decision to make his PhD thesis publicly available to download, with 60,000 downloads in less than 24 hours,” a spokesperson for the University of Cambridge said in a statement to Mashable. “As a result, visitors to our open access site may find that it is performing slower than usual and may at times be temporarily unavailable.” 

The spokesperson added that 409,977 people have viewed the repository page with the thesis since the announcement yesterday. 

The site couldn’t be reached when Mashable attempted to access it this morning. 

Hawking wrote his thesis, entitled Properties of Expanding Universes in 1966 and recently gave his permission to make the document available. It quickly became the most requested item in the university’s open access repository.

“By making my PhD thesis Open Access, I hope to inspire people around the world to look up at the stars and not down at their feet; to wonder about our place in the universe and to try and make sense of the cosmos,” Hawking said in a statement. 

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Google launches PayPal-like online payment system

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‘Pay with Google’ wants to take the forms out of online shopping

Image: Cultura/REX/Shutterstock

Google is about to make it way easier for you to shop online. 

The search giant’s new Pay with Google payment system allows you to check out quickly from a wide variety of websites. Think PayPal, but powered by Google. 

If you’re using an Android phone or Chrome browser to access one of the participating vendors, you won’t need to type your credit card number — Google will simply auto-send your billing information to the vendor. 

Pay with Google at work on the Instacart app

Pay with Google at work on the Instacart app

At launch, Pay with Google works with fifteen major apps, including Yelp, Eat24, Kayak, and Postmates; Airbnb, Papa John’s, and StubHub are coming soon. Google is also partnering with payment providers, including Stripe and Braintree, to make it easier for developers who already use those services to also work with Pay with Google.

The feature was first introduced in May, where Google also mentioned that it would be compatible with and help promote customer loyalty programs. 

 

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Everybody Is Lying About How to Flatten Your Belly

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Photo via VisualHunt

Core exercises will build up your abs, but they do nothing for the layer of fat on top of them. Likewise, no leg exercise can give you slimmer thighs. And yet headlines and tweets about shrinking specific body parts abound—even when the articles themselves contradict the headline.

For example, this health.com article is headlined as a “10-Minute Love Handle Workout.” It begins by saying that a traditional ab workout won’t get rid of your love handles (true) so you need to target your oblique muscles specifically (uh, that’s no better). Then there is a brief moment of clarity:

That being said, it’s a myth that you can spot reduce fat loss. Yes, you can target your obliques to maximize toning, but fat is lost through cardio and diet. We’ve all heard that abs are made in the kitchen, and (unfortunately) it’s true. You can do crunches until the cows come home, but unless you get rid of your excess fat through healthy eating, your toned abs will never be seen. So here’s the best strategy for kicking your love handles to the curb:

The strategy has three steps. One is to diet, described in four words: “Eat lean. Eat clean.” Uh, thanks. The second is a mention that you should do some cardio. The third is the promised “love handle workout.” Of these three, only the first two can shrink your love handles. And yet the headline and bulk of the article are about the third item, which can’t.

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Or take this shape.com article on the “Best Inner Thigh Exercises for Women.” They asked 16 trainers to “share their go-to move for slim, sculpted hips and thighs,” even though there is no move that can make your hips and thighs slimmer. (You can exercise a muscle to make it larger.) The first seven trainers dutifully offer exercises that strengthen the inner thighs. The eighth objects: “If you want to reduce the size of your thighs and look more toned, then your goal is really fat loss since you can’t spot reduce.”

But then he offers an exercise anyway, and so do all the rest.

I am sure the trainers, many of them impeccably qualified, understand the difference between losing fat (which happens all over) and strengthening a muscle (which you can target). Several of the others mentioned that they chose exercises that burn lots of calories, which seems like a nod to the truth. But then the article gets written anyway, and packaged with a headline that directly contradicts the facts on exercise physiology.

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Why Governments Will Not Ban Bitcoin

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Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Those who see governments banning ownership of bitcoin are ignoring the political power and influence of those who are snapping up most of the bitcoin.

To really understand an asset, we have to examine not just the asset itself but who owns it, and who can afford to own it. These attributes will illuminate the political and financial power wielded by the owners of the asset class.

And once we know what sort of political/financial power is in the hands of those owning the asset class, we can predict the limits of political restrictions that can be imposed on that ownership.

As an example, consider home ownership, i.e. ownership of a principal residence. Home ownership topped out in 2004, when over 69% of all households "owned" a residence. (Owned is in quotes because many of these households had no actual equity in the house once the housing bubble popped.)

The rate of home ownership has declined to 63%, which is still roughly two-thirds of all households. Clearly, homeowners constitute a powerful political force. Any politico seeking to impose restrictions or additional taxes on homeowners has to be careful not to rouse this super-majority into political action.

But raw numbers of owners of an asset class are only one measure of political power. Since ours is a pay-to-play form of representational democracy in which wealth buys political influence via campaign contributions, philanthro-capitalism, revolving doors between political office and lucrative corporate positions, etc., wealth casts the votes that count.

I am always amused when essayists claim "the government" will do whatever benefits the government most. While this is broadly true, this ignores the reality that wealthy individuals and corporations own the processes of governance.

More accurately, we can say that government will do whatever benefits those who control the levers of power most, which is quite different than claiming that the government acts solely to further its own interests. More specifically, it furthers what those at the top of the wealth-power pyramid have set as the government’s interests.

Which brings us to the interesting question, will governments ban bitcoin as a threat to their power? A great many observers claim that yes, governments will ban bitcoin because it represents a threat to their control of the fiat currencies they issue.

But since government will do whatever most benefits those who control the levers of power, the question becomes, does bitcoin benefit those holding the levers of power? If the answer is yes, then we can predict government will not ban bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) because those with the final say will nix any proposal to ban bitcoin.

We can also predict that any restrictions that are imposed will likely be aimed at collecting capital gains taxes on gains made in cryptocurrencies rather than banning ownership.

Since the wealthy already pay the lion’s share of federal income taxes (payroll taxes are of course paid by employees and employers), their over-riding interests are wealth preservation and capital appreciation, with lowering their tax burdens playing third fiddle in the grand scheme of maintaining their wealth and power.

Indeed, paying taxes inoculates them to some degree from social disorder and political revolt.

I was struck by this quote from the recent Zero Hedge article A Look Inside The Secret Swiss Bunker Where The Ultra Rich Hide Their Bitcoins:

Xapo was founded by Argentinian entrepreneur and current CEO Wences Casares, whom Quartz describes as "patient zero" of bitcoin among Silicon Valley’s elite. Cesares reportedly gave Bill Gates and Reed Hoffman their first bitcoins.

Their first bitcoins. That suggests the billionaires have added to their initial gifts of BTC.

The appeal to the wealthy is obvious: any investment denominated in fiat currencies can be devalued overnight by devaluations of the currency via diktat or currency crisis. Bitcoin has the advantage of being decentralized and independent of centrally-issued currencies.

I submit that not only are the wealthy the likeliest buyers of bitcoin for this reason, they are the only group that can afford to buy a bunch of bitcoin as a hedge or speculative investment. Lance Roberts of Real Investment Advice recently produced some charts based on the Federal Reserve’s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) report– Fed Admits The Failure Of Prosperity For The Bottom 90%.

Put another way: how many families can afford to buy a bunch of bitcoin?

Here is a chart of median value of family financial assets: note that this is far below the 2000 peak and the housing bubble of 2006-07:

Here is mean family financial assets broken out by income category: note that virtually all the gains have accrued to the top 10%, whose net worth soared from $1.5 million in 2009 to over $2.2 million in 2016, a gain of $700,000.

The Fed’s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances is a treasure trove of insights into wealth and income inequality in the U.S. Here are the highlights: Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2013 to 2016.

As you’d expect, the report starts off on a rosy note: GDP rose by 2.2% a year, unemployment declined to 5%, and the median family income rose 10% between 2013 and 2016.

Blah blah blah. Meanwhile, on page 10, it’s revealed that the top 1% receives 24% of all income, and the families between 90% and 99% receive 26.5%, for a total of 50.5% of all income flowing to the top 10%.

The top 1% owns 38.6% of all wealth, and the families between 90% and 99% own 38.5%, so the top 10% owns 77% of total wealth.

On page 13, we find that the total median net worth of all families between 40% and 60% went from $57,000 to $88,000, a gain of $21,000, while the median net worth of families in the 60% to 80% bracket rose from $166,000 to $170,000, a grand total of $4,000.

Meanwhile, back in La-La Land, the median net worth of the top 10% soared by $468,000, from $1.16 million to $1.62 million.

Which family has the wherewithal to buy a bunch of bitcoin at $5,900 each as a hedge or investment, the one that gained $4,000 in net worth, the one that gained $21,000 in net worth or the one that gained $468,000?

You see the point: the likely buyers of enough bitcoin to count are the politically powerful financial elite. If any politico was foolish enough to propose banning bitcoin, a few friendly phone calls from major financial backers would be made to impress upon the politico the importance of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to the U.S. economy.

Heck, the financial backer might just suggest that all future campaign contributions to the politico will be made in bitcoin to drive the point home.

My vision of cryptocurrency, laid out in my book A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology & Creating Jobs for All, is of a truly decentralized currency that directly funds work that addresses scarcities in localized community economies. The reality of existing cryptocurrencies is that they are probably being snapped up for buy-and-hold storage by the wealthy.

Those who see governments banning ownership of bitcoin are ignoring the political power and influence of those who are buying enough bitcoin to matter.

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com. Check out both of my new books, Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print) and Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print, $5.95 audiobook) For more, please visit the OTM essentials website.

 

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Scientists Want to Update These Four Fundamental Constants 

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Image: Stoughton/NIST

Some numbers don’t change. These values are deeply connected to the very fabric of the Universe and our human existence. Until they aren’t, of course. Then we change them—for good reason.

Scientists around the world just recommended changes to four fundamental constants. The tiny updates are important for the most accurate and precise measurements, but will ultimately allow researchers to base standard units, like the kilogram, on things more reliable than a metal weight. The General Council of Weights and Measures will vote on these updates in November 2018, with the proposal being published in the journal Metrologia.

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The International System of Units, or SI, still relies on The Grand K—a piece of metal—to define the kilogram. That’s great, except physical things can change over time. Instead, scientists are hoping to update our units such that they’re based on unchanging numbers, the fundamental constants. Doing so, however, requires precise definitions of the fundamental constants.

“I’m happy to see that the definitions are actually simplified considerably and based on fundamental principles of physics,” Peter Mohr, a scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) told Gizmodo, “Rather than on artifacts which are subject to the effects of the environment, or wear and tear.”

The four numbers are constants most physics students should be familiar with. The first is h, Planck’s constant, a tiny number that relates the energy of the smallest unit of light, the photon, to its frequency, or color. The second is e, the amount of electric charge in a single proton (or –e, the charge of the electron), not to be confused with the number you used in calculus, also called e. The third is k, the Boltzmann constant, used to relate the temperature of a gas particle to its kinetic energy. The final is NA, the Avogadro constant, the number of molecules a substance needs to make it weigh, in grams, the same as a single molecule would weigh in atomic mass units.

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The researchers came to these values by making increasingly precise measurements, some as recently as this year. They agreed upon values that fall within the margin of error of as many measurements as possible, like trying to put a binder ring through a stack of mostly well-aligned hole-punched looseleaf paper.

Image: Newell et al (Metrologia (2017))

Sure, the changes will be tiny and (thankfully) won’t require updates to past experimental results. And if you’ve done physics recently, you’ll remember that you usually don’t convert the constant to a number in your answer, you just leave the symbolic representation. But the updates are important. Rather than having to base the constants of the Universe on human-made artifacts, those hoping to make measurements will need to produce standard masses based on the universal constants.

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“You can communicate these constants with someone on Mars and they’d be able to replicate the kilogram,” said Mohr. Other constants to be updated based on the fundamental constant updates including the kilogram, the kelvin, and the ampere according to a National Institute of Standards and Technology release.

If and when the updates are approved, these constants would be set for the foreseeable future, said, Mohr…maybe. “I would guess this is the last one for a while but history may prove me wrong.”

[Metrologia via NIST]

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A gluten scientist explains why gluten-free diets are terrible for you

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Gluten-free diets are probably doing more harm than good to your body. Peter Green, the director of Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, explains the myth surrounding gluten-free diets. Following is a transcript of the video.

Peter Green: I’m Peter Green. I’m the director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

Gluten-free diet is actually the most popular diet that’s Googled throughout the United States. So, it’s a very trendy diet.

It’s a very important diet for people who have celiac disease. Going on a gluten-free diet, if you have celiac disease, saves your life. And there’s very little scientific evidence to support the benefit of a gluten-free diet in anything except celiac disease.

We actually think that a gluten-free diet is not a very healthy diet, and that’s for a whole bunch of reasons. On a gluten-free diet, individuals have to avoid wheat, rye, and barley, and anything that’s derived from them.

All the non-gluten-containing grains are not fortified, whereas wheat flour is fortified with folic acid, B vitamins, and iron. So, it’s not unusual for someone on a gluten-free diet to be folate-deficient or iron-deficient. Another important factor with people on a gluten-free diet is they often don’t eat whole grains.

And what we’ve recently been made aware of is that people on a gluten-free diet have increased levels of heavy metals — arsenic, lead, and mercury. And we think that’s due to the large amount of rice that’s eaten on a gluten-free diet because rice appears to absorb these heavy metals from the ground at a greater rate than say, other grains.

We would suggest that any individual on a gluten-free diet should be under the guidance of an experienced dietitian because there are these factors in a gluten-free diet that we think are not very healthy. And individuals typically who are on a gluten-free diet eat the same stuff all the time because they identify it as being safe.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Introducing Cryonics: Putting Death On Ice

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There is a potent thread winding its way through generations of human culture. From Ancient Egyptian rituals to Kurzweil’s Singularity, many paths have sprung up leading to the same elusive destination: immortality.

Today, as Visual Capitalist’s Nick Routely notes, the concept is as popular as it’s ever been, and technological advances are giving people hope that immortality, or at very least radical life extension, may be within reach. Is modern technology advanced enough to give people a second chance through cryonics?

Today’s infographic, courtesy of Futurism, tackles our growing fascination with putting death on ice.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

THE PROSPECT OF IMMORTALITY

Robert C. W. Ettinger’s seminal work, The Prospect Of Immortality, detailed many of the scientific, moral, and economic implications of cryogenically freezing humans for later reanimation. It was after that book was published in 1962 that the idea of freezing one’s body after death began to take hold.

One of the most pressing questions is, even if we’re able to revive a person who has been cryogenically preserved, will the person’s memories and personality remain intact? Ettinger posits that long-term memory is stored in the brain as a long-lasting structural modification. Basically, those memories will remain, even if the brain’s “power is turned off”.

DESCENDING INTO THE DEEP-FREEZE

There are three main steps in the cryogenic process:

1) Immediately after a patient dies, the body is cooled with ice packs and transported to the freezing location.

 

2) Next, blood is drained from the patient’s body and replaced with a cryoprotectant (basically the same antifreeze solution used to transport organs destined for transplant).

 

3) Finally, once the body arrives at the cryonic preservation facility, the body is cooled to -196ºC (-320.8ºF) over the course of two weeks. Bodies are generally stored upside-down in a tank of liquid nitrogen.

THE ECONOMICS OF CRYOPRESERVATION

At prices ranging from about $30,000 to $200,000, cryopreservation may sound like an option reserved for the wealthy, but many people fund the procedure by naming a cryonics company as the primary benefactor of their life insurance policy. Meanwhile, in the event of a death that doesn’t allow for preservation of the body, the money goes to secondary beneficiaries.

Even if we do eventually find a way to reanimate frozen humans, another important consideration is how those people would take care of themselves financially. That’s where a cryonics or personal revival trust comes into play. A twist on a traditional dynastic trust, this arrangement ensures that there are funds to cover costs of the cryopreservation, as well as ensure the grantor would have assets when they’re unthawed. Of course, there are risks involved beyond the slim possibility of reanimation. The legal code in hundreds of years could be vastly different than today.

If you created a trust for specific purposes in 1711, it is unlikely it would function in the same way today.

 

– Kris Knaplund, Law Professor, Pepperdine University

COLD HUMANS, HOT MARKET

At last count, there are already 346 people in the deep freeze, with thousands more on the waiting list. As technology improves, those numbers are sure to continue rising.

Time will tell whether cryonically preserved people are able to cheat death. In the meantime? The cryonics industry is alive and well.

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