Well to Hell, the Toledo War, supermoon, the straw millionaire legend (and a red peper clip), and being hanged, drawn, and quartered

Today, we look at a particularly vicious method of execution, the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system, the war between Michigan and Ohio, drilling a borehole all the way to hell, and trading from a simple common object to wealth.
Like many medieval methods of execution, being hanged, drawn and quartered was a brutal and painful way to die (though not always in that order). English king Henry III was the first one to order such a death during his reign in 1242 after William de Marisco hired an assassin to kill him. The failed assassin was "dragged asunder, then beheaded, and his body divided into three parts; each part was then dragged through one of the principal cities of England, and was afterwards hung on a gibbet used for robbers," while de Marisco was dragged from Westminster to the Tower of London, hanged from a gibbet until dead, disemboweled, his entrails burnt, his body quartered and the parts distributed to cities across the country for display. Due to decency concerns, only men were so killed, and only for heinous crimes against the crown, such as high treason or threats on a monarch's authority (which were essentially the same thing then). Essentially, the pain was supposed to cleanse away the sin, which allowed the condemned to face death with an unstained soul (though often these were botched, and the man killed too quickly). The display of body parts (London Bridge proved popular) served as a warning.
Sir Thomas Armstrong is quartered in 1684.

The so-called Well to Hell is part hoax and part folklore myth. Like most urban legends, it became popular after being introduced on the internet in 1997, though reports were listed in Finnish newspapers as much as a decade earlier. The legend states that Soviet scientists (sometimes miners) were digging a borehole in Siberia, purportedly to make the deepest sojourn into the earth possible. At about nine miles (fourteen and half kilometers), they broke through into an opening that read to be well over two thousand degrees (1,100 °C). Deploying sensory equipment, including a microphone, they determined that they were hearing the screams of the damned and surmised that they had actually stumbled into a cavern of Hell. The Kola Superdeep Borehole was actually dug by the Soviets, and is the deepest point humans have ever reached at 40,226 ft (12,261 meters) and starts about a thousand feet above sea level; for comparison, the Challenger Deep is 35,797 ft (10,911 m) below sea level.

One of the memories I have from playing Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is the trading minigame. If you win a Yoshi doll from a trendy game, you can trade it for various items along your quest (one of which also unlocks a bridge you need to continue over), until you wind up with a magnifying glass. This lets you acquire a weapon and read a book to navigate the final dungeon, and this style of trading was included in most of the other franchise's games. This minigame was inspired by the Japanese legend of the Straw Millionaire, in which a peasant trades a single piece of straw, and in succession, eventually nets him great wealth. A more modern success story of chain bartering is the story of one red paperclip, where Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald turned a single red paperclip in July 2005 into a farmhouse in Saskatchewan in just 356 days.
Do more with less!

Supermoon is not a new Marvel superhero. Technically, astronomers call it a "perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system", which translates to a new or full moon passing close to the Earth. Since our moon's orbit is slightly elliptical, it's distance from Earth can vary between 252,000 miles (apogee) to 222,000 miles (perigee) in any given month. A few times a year, this coincides with the Earth, moon, and sun's syzygy, or alignment (and thus either new or full). Even though this can exert about 18% greater gravitational force, the tides generally aren't affected more than a few inches. Some folks suggest a causal link between supermoons and natural disaster (such as the Tōhoku earthquake or the 2004 tsunamis), but it's bunk because those two examples actually occurred during an apogee-syzygy, and most other disasters involve stretching the window to about two weeks.
This photo by Marco Langbroek in the Netherlands shows three month's difference.

The Toledo War is probably one of the more obscure conflicts in American history, probably because the boundary dispute between Michigan and Ohio was essentially bloodless. Various territorial legislation passed before 1835 was vague, conflicting, or just plain wrong in regards to the geography of the Great Lakes area, and led to both states claiming the Toledo Strip (about 468 square mile (1,210 km²) that encompassed the entire border between them, and stretched from Indiana to Lake Erie). The Northwest Ordinance and Mitchell Map were a tad inaccurate, while the Enabling Act of 1802 that allowed Ohio to vie for statehood (which led to the boundaries as written in that state constitution) was written slightly different; both not really having a very good grasp as to the location of Lake Michigan's southern shore and the Maumee River. Thus, the law establishing the Michigan territory in 1805 was also written a bit different, but there wasn't any major issue until the Port of Miami, which would become the city of Toledo, grew in prominence. Two conflicting surveys (Harris and Fulton) created the boundaries of the Strip, which Michigan quietly controlled until the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. The suddenly hot dispute delayed Michigan's application for statehood convention, and by 1835, the two governors were trying to govern the land simultaneously. In March, both sent militia to assert their claims, while President Jackson dithered due to political consequences. In April, a group of Ohio surveyors were shot at and chased away at the "Battle of Phillips Corners", which sparked a series of skirmishes on the border through the summer. The next year, Michigan's application for statehood was signed with a compromise: they gave up claims on Toledo, and received the Upper Peninsula that was earmarked for Wisconsin. The fight never quite died, however, as the Supreme Court had to settle Michigan v. Ohio in 1973 in favor of Ohio, and of course, the Michigan – Ohio State football rivalry will probably never die.
"Never in the course of my life have I known a controversy of which all the right so clearly on one side and all the power so overwhelmingly on the other." -John Quincy Adams

That's all for today, dear Constant Reader. Happy reading!

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