The My Way Killings

Posted on: August 21, 2017

In the Philippines a disproportionate number of people were killed during the singing of the song My Way by Frank Sinatra in karaoke bars. It got so bad that some bars removed it from their selections and people still refuse to sing it. Opinions differ over whether the possible connection is due to the coincidence that the song was simply frequently sung amid the nation’s karaoke bars where violence is common or to the aggressive lyrics of the song itself. The number of killings is reported to be between six and 12.

North Sentinel Island

Posted on: August 21, 2017

North Sentinel Island is in the Bay of Bengal, between India and Myanmar. No one knows a lot about the island, because the Sentinelese who live there, often violently, reject any contact with the outside world, and are among the last people worldwide to remain virtually untouched by modern civilization. There are stories of people going there and being killed. After the Primrose grounded on the North Sentinel Island reef on 2 August 1981, crewmen several days later noticed that small dark-skinned men carrying spears and arrows were building boats on the beach. The captain of Primrose radioed for an urgent drop of firearms so his crew could defend themselves. They did not receive any because a large storm stopped other ships from reaching them. However, the heavy seas also prevented the islanders from approaching the ship. Again, that is islanders who were building ships to get out in the water to kill some near visitors!

Ramon Artagaveytia

Posted on: August 14, 2017

On 24 December 1871 Ramon survived the fire and sinking of the ship America, close to the shore of Punta Espinillo, Uruguay. Reports were that the ship had been racing another into the harbour and high boiler pressures had led to a fire. There were 114 first class, 20 second class and 30 “popular” class. Only 65 passengers survived, one of whom was Ramon who survived by jumping into the sea and (literally) swimming for his life. The whole thing left Ramon emotionally scarred.

On April 10, 1912 Ramon boarded another ship…the Titanic. Two months before this he wrote to his cousin with all his hopes for a successful sailing. Here is a snippet from the poor guy’s tragic letter “At last I will be able to travel and, above all, I will be able to sleep calm. The sinking of the America was terrible!… Nightmares keep tormenting me. Even in the most quiet trips, I wake up in the middle of the night with terrible nightmares and always hearing the same fateful word: Fire! Fire! Fire!…I have even gotten to the point where I find myself standing in the deck with my lifebelt on…”

About a week following the disaster, Mr Artagaveytia’s body was pulled from the North Atlantic by the MacKay-Bennett, the recovery vessel chartered by the White Star Line to search the scene of the wreck for victims.


Queen Henrietta Maria with Sir Jeffrey Hudson

Sir Jeffrey Hudson

Posted on: August 7, 2017

Sir Jeffrey Hudson (1619 – circa 1682) was a court dwarf of the English queen Henrietta Maria of France. He was famous as the “Queen’s dwarf” and “Lord Minimus”, and was considered one of the “wonders of the age” because of his extreme but well-proportioned smallness. He fought with the Royalists in the English Civil War and fled with the Queen to France but was expelled from her court when he killed a man in a duel.

Being fed up with the constant ridicule, having essentially been the youngest child of the court, Hudson challenged the brother of William Crofts to a duel. Yes, I know we don’t know who William Crofts is, but apparently a big enough deal to be written in this way. Anyway, the exact offence leading to this challenge is unknown, poor old Crofts thought it was a bit of a joke. He turned up to the duel armed with a large squirt. That is basically a syringe style water pistol. Hudson responded to this by shooting him in the head. He was initially sentenced to death, but the Queen had this commuted to exile, and he was sent back to England.


Agricultural Bank of China Robbery

Posted on: August 7, 2017

This is the biggest bank robbery in the history of China. The year was 2007, and involved the embezzlement of nearly 51 million yuan (~US$6.7 million) from the Handan branch of the Agricultural Bank of China in Hebei province between March 16 and April 14, 2007. The crims were two vault managers employed at the branch. Our story focuses on one of these legends though, a man by the name of Ren Xiaofeng. Ren was OG for the stealing, having kicked things off by stealing 200,000 yuan (~US$26,000) in October of 2006 with the complicity of two guards. Being the clever man that he was, the master plan was to purchase tickets for the Chinese lottery, with the intention of winning a sufficiently large prize that he could return the missing funds before their absence was noted, and still have money left over for himself. Despite the absurdity of this, Ren was successful and he was able to return the 200,000 to the vault.

Rather than resting on his laurels and reflecting on just how lucky he had been, Ren did what so many have done before and decided to go hard or go home. He joined forces with another manager, Ma Xiangjing, to perpetrate the same crime on a far larger scale. During March and April 2007, they stole 32.96 million yuan (~US$4.3 million), and spent almost the entire amount on lottery tickets. This time the lottery did what it is supposed to, and they lost it all. In desperation they doubled down, stealing six cash boxes containing a further 18 million yuan (~US$2.3 million) on April 14, spending 14 million in a single day in an effort to recover their losses. They recouped only 98,000 yuan (~US$12,700). So for those of you struggling to keep up with the maths here, they owe the bank about 50.96 million yuan and have around 5.8 million of those. Fair to say that they have stuffed it.

The end game was all the accomplices getting 5 years in prison, and the two leaders of the exploit being sentenced to death, a sentence that was carried out on April 1, 2008.