Thursday, 31 October 2013


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10 Business Lamely Utilizing Internet Memes
By Gerri,
Business Pundit, 30 October 2013.

Meme-vertising - yes, that’s really a thing - is becoming an increasingly popular way for companies to reach young audiences. They take popular Internet memes and spin them in a way that’s useful for their brand. Well, sort of. Some do it brilliantly and some, quite frankly, should be a little ashamed of themselves. Here are 10 brands that didn’t quite hit the mark when turning a meme into a marketing ploy.

10. Subway Hashtag

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Probably one of the more grating commercials to come out this year, the Subway Hashtag commercial for the restaurant’s new Tuscan Chicken Melt features two young corporate types, one of whom is obnoxiously describing his sandwich in hashtags.

The whole hashtag culture is overdone and tedious to begin with, but watching a corporate chain like Subway ham-handedly use it for advertising purposes is just painful.

9. Honey Badger Wonderful Pistachios

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A play on the wildly popular Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger video, which went viral in 2011 and features a National Geographic section on the honey badger being narrated by a sassy YouTuber.

This commercial falls short in that it just feels like it’s trying too hard. Using a beloved meme for an ad is risky business to begin with, and this one simply fell flat. The honey badger is seen using a snake to crack open some pistachios featuring the same narrator as in the famous YouTube video…making practically the same exact jokes, almost word for word. But then again, this is also the company who had Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom star in a commercial.

8. Davis-Moore Nissan Planking

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It’s not as bad as the Honey Badger’s pistachios, but it’s still not great. This planking video, in which employees at the Nissan dealership, and elderly customers, “plank” (or lie face down in awkward or unconventional places) in a variety of positions and locations.

It’s a mildly amusing commercial, but feels too much as though the company is trying to be hip, capitalizing on an already bizarre meme in too vanilla of a way. Besides, the whole planking trend sort of died out after a few foolish people actually died trying to pull this stunt in dangerous places.

7. Abercrombie & Fitch “What Does the Fox Say?”

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The snobby retailer has come under fire recently for being elitist and only wanting to attract so-called “cool” kids as customers. But the company didn’t do itself any favours with the release of its cover of the bizarre Ylvis tune “The Fox.” The Abercrombie version featured a bunch of admittedly attractive, half-naked models performing the song in a video that came across as kind of pretentious, fratty and unappealing.

It was an underwhelming attempt to get some mileage out of the popular song, and was far less interesting than the original - especially because whoever they hired to do the cover simply didn’t perform as well as Ylvis would have if they had just chosen him for the track instead.

6. Kohl’s Black Friday

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A play on Rebecca Black’s so-bad-it-became-famous hit “Friday”, the Kohl’s commercial (and cover song) is possibly even more irritating. The lyrics have been rewritten to promote Black Friday, the notorious post-Thanksgiving shopping day, and the song is sung by a shrill woman hyped up for some Kohl’s shopping.

Like so many retail commercials, it’s cloying. Despite latching onto Black’s irritating (but catchy) song, the spot is not enticing and, like the original song, just gets on your nerves. Not to mention the fact that Kohl’s target audiences are mostly moms, not the blogging 20-somethings who initially found this song so hilarious.

5. Pepsi Max Harlem Shake

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Though not as cheesy as some of the others on this list, Pepsi loses points for the shamelessness of the ad. It essentially recreates the popular Harlem Shake dance that went viral in early 2013, with a collection of dancers Harlem Shake-ing it around a car emblazoned with the Pepsi Max logo.

Not the most tasteless meme-inspired commercial out there, but it’s not amusing enough to make the audience forget that Pepsi is just trying to hawk more drinks. Plus, the Harlem Shake became old about three days after its release, with thousands of videos popping up depicting people in every scenario imaginable re-enacting the dance.

4. Chuck Norris World of Warcraft

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There are those who can’t get enough of the Chuck Norris meme (mostly 12-year-olds), and the Walker Texas Ranger star has been featured in countless Internet meme images as being an effortless and epic badass in all aspects of life. But sometimes you reach a point where enough is enough, and that’s the case with Norris’ spot for World of Warcraft.

It’s not that the ad is bad or poorly played, or that it doesn’t reach its audience. It just doesn’t quite stack up in terms of originality or creativity. However, we have to give them credit as this advertisement was most likely a hit with WoW-obsessed pre-teens and teenagers worldwide.

3. RNC Mac vs. PC-style Obamacare spot

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The GOP isn’t exactly known for being on top of trends but its recently released anti-Obamacare ad seems a bit of a stretch, even for them. An overweight, sloppily-dressed nerdy type represents Obamacare and a clean-cut, attractive guy represents the private sector.

The point of the brief ad is to highlight the numerous problems with the Obamacare rollout, but it’s not as witty or sharp as the original ads and feels like a lame attempt to appeal to a young adult demographic.

2. Virgin Media Success Kid

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You’ve definitely seen this one - the pudgy baby on a beach holding up his fist became an Internet sensation in 2007, and has been in circulation ever since. In 2012, Virgin Media decided to cast little Sammy Griner’s cherubic face in a billboard ad campaign that might have seemed clever five years earlier but instead comes across as lazy marketing. Recycling a several-years-old meme and leaning on it’s recognizability rather than coming up with a new campaign is a bit cheap, especially coming from a company like Virgin Media. No wonder they never followed through with the supposed commercial featuring this child that they had originally planned on filming.

1. VitaminWater Grab It by the Horns

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Though lauded by some as being a particularly clever spot, VitaminWater’s meme-heavy commercial actually just seems to be pandering, hoping that all of the memes referenced in the commercial (cats, flash mobs and the sexy sax guy, just to name a few) will help it go viral.

They doubly lose points since Smart Water had already released a commercial featuring Jennifer Aniston that poked fun at marketing departments’ obsession with upping their Internet traffic.

[Source: Business Pundit. Edited. Some links added.]


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9 Intensely Creepy Stories To Really Get Under Your Skin
By Mike Floorwalker,
Listverse 31 October 2013.

We know how much our readers love creepy stories, and we’ve once again hit the creepiest time of year. You clicked the article - you must want to be creeped out. In fact, you must want to be downright disturbed, clicking on an article with a title like this.

Allow us to oblige you.

9. The Hellbound Heart

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On March 16, 1995, Terry Cottle shot and killed himself in the bathroom of the home he shared with his wife Cheryl. There had been an argument - there had always been arguments - and Terry had threatened himself with a gun just months before. Cheryl heard the shot from the other side of the door after watching her husband enter the bathroom with a .22. She heard him gasp “Help me, I’m dying,” and then he was gone. He’d fired a single round into his brain.

The only possible silver lining was that Terry, 33, had been in good physical condition - and an organ donor. Terry’s heart saved the life of 57-year-old Sonny Graham, who had contracted an incurable virus of the heart a year earlier.

In 1996, Sonny wrote a letter of appreciation to Terry’s widow, and though the donor procurement agency had advised against contact, they decided to meet. And when they did, Sonny fell instantly in love with the widow of the man whose heart now beat in his chest. “I felt like I had known her for years...I couldn’t keep my eyes off her,” Sonny told a local newspaper in 2006. They were both married at the time, but within a few years both had divorced, and they moved in together in 2001. It was a rocky relationship, just like Cheryl and Terry’s had been, but they eventually married in 2004.

Four years later, with no indication that anything was seriously amiss, Sonny’s life ended the same way Terry’s did - suicide by gunshot. The heart that had beat on for 12 years of borrowed time stopped beating for good.

8. The Unspeakable Banquet

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Pardon us while we take a brief detour through Crazytown. Since we failed to mention it earlier, please note that some of these entries contain stories that are not for the squeamish, and this particular entry - to paraphrase the great Roger Ebert - will make you squeam.

“Asexual” is a perfectly valid sexual orientation, or more specifically a lack of one. Some people simply don’t identify sexually at all, and don’t see sexuality as a component of their being. While this is normal (if rare), Japanese artist Mao Sugiyama took his asexuality to the furthest extreme any of us would ever care to think about: He surgically removed his genitals. But that’s not all; oh, if only that were all (we’re saying that a lot today).

Mao held a banquet during which six guests paid the equivalent of about US$250 per plate for the privilege of eating Mao Sugiyama’s cooked genitals. And yes, they knew what they were eating, willingly paid money for it, and one even blogged about the experience. And though only six ate, over 70 people attended and watched.

Despite somehow adhering to health and cooking codes, and preparing his genitals with mushrooms and parsley (no, we can’t believe we just typed that either), police finally settled on a charge they could make stick - indecent exposure. As of this writing Sugiyama could be looking at a hefty fine and a couple years in jail. So what possible reason could he have for his stunt? To raise awareness of “sexual minorities, x-gender, asexual people.” We’ll leave it to you to ponder if serving your own cooked genitals to paying customers is a valid method of raising awareness of anything except your own gibbering insanity.

7. The Victim’s Ghost

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When hospital orderly Allen Showery was called in for questioning by Chicago police in 1977, he knew what it was about. Or rather whom it was about: Teresita Basa had also worked at Edgewater Hospital, and, early in 1976, Showery had gone to her apartment and stabbed her to death before setting her on fire. He was hoping the police didn’t know anything. They knew everything. Teresita, the woman he murdered, had told them.

Earlier in 1977, respiratory technician Remy Chua - who had worked with Teresita, but not known her well - saw the dead woman loitering about the hospital employees’ lounge. Soon thereafter, a distinct change came over Remy. She started displaying strange mannerisms and following routines that were not her own. She became distant, sometimes seeming to almost be in a trance. She would sing songs she didn’t know, then deny singing them or even saying anything. The strange events grew worse, until one day when Remy fell back on her bed and spoke to her family in Teresita’s voice.

Remy’s husband Joe was a doctor and Teresita mainly addressed him, begging him to go to the police. And she had plenty of information - she named Showery and had Joe write down various items he had stolen from her apartment and the names and phone numbers of relatives who could confirm that the items were hers. Although police were understandably sceptical, they brought Showery in and watched his alibi crumble as Teresita’s relatives pointed out her valuables, which police had indeed found in Showery’s home. He subsequently confessed and was convicted of her murder.

Remy Chua has never had another such experience. Despite the accuracy of her information and the case’s appearance on Unsolved Mysteries in 1996, no one has ever been able to explain how it happened, or why it happened to her.

6. The Enfield Horror

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On the night of April 25, 1973, a little boy by the name of Greg Garrett was playing in his backyard in Enfield, Illinois, when he was attacked. Not by a person, or any animal anyone had ever seen before - to this day nobody knows what it was - but it tore his shoes to pieces and left him in tears. Just minutes later, local resident Henry McDaniel opened his front door after hearing a light scratch, and got a good look at what would would come to be known as the Enfield Horror.

Greg and Henry’s descriptions were pretty much exactly the same: The Horror was short, no more than 1.5 meters (five feet), and had three legs. Yes, three. It also possessed short, stubby arms ending in claws or talons that seemed to be placed in the centre of its body rather than at its sides. It was hairy, yet slimy, and had reddish-pink eyes the size of flashlights. Just minutes earlier, Henry’s children had insisted that a monster of some kind had tried to break into the house while he and his wife had been out to dinner. He’d laughed it off at first, but upon seeing this thing on his porch, Henry slammed the door and went directly for his gun.

Henry ripped open the door and fired four shots. He was sure he hit it on the first, and he said the thing “hissed like a wildcat” before bounding away, covering 25 meters (75 ft) in a few powerful leaps. He immediately called the police, and over the next few days, several more sightings were reported by searchers, sheriff’s deputies, even a radio station news director and his crew. Henry also saw it once more, a couple weeks later, out of his window as it wandered near some railroad tracks.

And then it was gone. Whatever it was, it hasn’t been seen since. Let’s hope it stays that day.

5. The Children

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Brian Bethel is a respected veteran journalist and current columnist for the Abilene Reporter-News. In the ’90s, Brian wrote a blog piece detailing an experience that would soon come to be shared by many others. His story is unique in that it was the first, and it was told by someone with an eye for journalistic detail and absolutely nothing to gain (and a career to lose) by spinning such an implausible yarn.

One evening as Brian sat parked outside the local movie theatre, filling out a check for the night deposit next door, his drivers’ side was approached by a couple of children, no more than 10 or 12. Brian rolled down his window, expecting a request for money. Only one of the boys spoke, but even before any words came out of his mouth, Brian was gripped by fear. An irrational, heart-pounding fear that he couldn’t explain.

The boy told a story: They wanted to see the movie, they’d left their money at home, and could Brian give them a ride? Brian tried to avoid looking at them, not wanting his fear to show; he noticed that the last showing of the movie had already begun. The little boy implored: They were just a couple of kids. They didn’t have a gun. As Brian finally locked eyes with the boy, his mind went wild with horror. Both the kids’ eyes were coal black. Stammering an excuse, he began to roll up his window and put the car into gear, as the little boy called out angrily “We can’t come in unless you say it’s okay! Let us in!

Brian burned rubber all the way home and wrote about the experience later that night. Apparently, he’s far from the only one - stories abound on the Web about black-eyed people, usually children but sometimes adults, with similar requests, who cause unexplained panic in all who encounter them. Perhaps it’s just those eyes, or the odd, somewhat alien nature of their speech - or the malevolent, predatory nature that those who encounter them can feel lurking just beneath the surface. No one has stuck around long enough to find out just who or what they really are. Perhaps you’ll find out some dark night, on some side street as you’re walking alone. Let us know, will you?

4. The Entity

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Lots of people wish that one day the story of their life will be made into a Hollywood movie. Unless it’s a jaw-droppingly disturbing horror film like 1982′s The Entity, a movie that opens with a woman being raped in her bed by an invisible being - and which is based on the events that befell Doris Bither of Culver City, California in the early ’70s.

According to the paranormal investigators who looked into her case (Doris begged them for help after overhearing their conversation in a bookstore), she was a complete mess: alcoholic, constantly drunk, abused by her parents, and abusive toward her own sons. She would also periodically be physically assaulted by three entities nobody could see, and to the investigators there was little disputing their authenticity - a room full of them saw it with their own eyes.

As Doris began cursing at and otherwise provoking whatever the entities were, lights appeared around the room, followed by a swirling green mist in the corner, in which the shape of a man’s upper body appeared. Just the shape, no facial features; just a disembodied torso in the swirling green mist, and that’s when one of the investigators fainted.

The photos captured during the incident don’t show exactly what the investigators described; that’s one of them above. Doris and her troubled family - some investigators think that the three entities were psychic projections of Doris’ hostility toward her three sons - haven’t been heard from since the 1980s.

3. The Saw

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Get ready to squeam again. We won’t say we’re sorry - you’re the one who keeps reading. In June 2011, emergency services dispatched an ambulance to the home of 65-year-old Barrie Hepburn. Barrie was a retired sports car enthusiast and a paraplegic. He’d been left wheelchair-bound in 2000 after being shot by a neighbour in an argument. Barrie had told the emergency operator that he was bleeding heavily, and they feared the worst, as he had fallen silent during the call. They certainly weren’t expecting what they found, which was the shock of their lives, and the grisly stuff urban legends are made from.

Barrie, who had lost all feeling in his legs, had made an enthusiastic attempt to remove one of them with a hacksaw. He had recently become despondent because he was having so much trouble getting into and out of his beloved sports cars, and his overtures to his doctors about amputation had thus far been rebuffed. Barrie had apparently decided that if he began the surgery himself, doctors wouldn’t have any choice but to continue. When the paramedics arrived his right leg was almost totally detached, the plastic sack he’d used for a tourniquet covered in massive amounts of blood, and his bag was sitting beside him, neatly packed for the hospital.

2. The Monster Under The Bed

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Finally, we have the story of Guy Whitall, a former cricketer (one who plays cricket, which is a British sport, Americans) who not that long ago enjoyed a peaceful night’s slumber at the Humani lodge in Zimbabwe. While getting ready for his day, sitting on the edge of his bed, the 40-year-old had no clue that he had just lived - was still living, really - everyone’s childhood nightmare.

Still oblivious as he began preparing breakfast in the suite’s kitchen, he was startled by the blood-curdling screams of a housekeeper, coming from where he had just been sleeping. Whitall came running back into the suite to receive the shock of his life.

For under his bed was a thrashing, 2.5-meter (8 ft), 150-kilogram (300 lb) crocodile. The housekeeper’s screams had startled it, but before that it had lain motionless for hours - while Whitall had prepared for bed, slept through the night, and sat with his feet dangling mere inches away. We assume he immediately began making plans to buy a futon and a very large weapon.

1. The Sleepwalking Suicide

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Soon after 18-year-old Carissa Glenn moved into her new Cornwall flat, she began sensing a presence. She had the feeling that someone or something was there when she was alone at night, and she often brought it up with family and friends over the month or so that she lived in the flat. She could hardly have been that surprised, she’d heard a rumour before moving in that the previous tenant had hanged himself.

According to her friends, she would have extraordinarily vivid nightmares about hanging, in addition to the feelings of being haunted. Her friends were concerned, as Carissa had a history of sleepwalking - and of acting out her dreams. And though the rumour about the previous tenant actually proved false, Carissa may have just been haunted after all.

On April 14, 2008, the “happy young woman” who had been out for drinks with friends the evening before, hung herself with a scarf. Well, her friends agree she’d been happy except for one thing - she sometimes didn’t want to go back to her flat at night because of the presence and the dreams.

And with that, we’ll wish you your own sweet dreams!

[Source: Listverse. Edited.]


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10 Extraordinary Examples Of Forgiveness
By Ana Garcia,
Listverse 31 October 2013.

According to the old saying, when it comes to forgiveness, we should all forgive and forget. Many can attest to the fact that this is usually easier said than done. While smaller grievances may be easily forgiven, serious transgressions are another story entirely. Many people struggle to forgive a serious wrong done to them and many times feel that the perpetrator does not deserve forgiveness. Those are natural human emotions, but some people just don’t bother with them.

10. Green River Killer

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Gary Leon Ridgway is better known as the infamous Green River Killer. In 2003, he confessed to the murders of 48 women. In 2011, Ridgway was convicted of the murder of Rebecca Marrero, bringing the victim count up to 49. By his own confession, he may have murdered as many as 60 women. Ridgway especially despised prostitutes and targeted them for his killings.

At Ridgway’s 2003 sentencing, the families of the victims had the opportunity to speak out and address Ridgway directly. Understandably, many were angry and lashed out at Ridgway for the unimaginable grief he had put them through. As Ridgway stonily listened to the family members express their grief and anger, one person came up and said something unexpected. When the time came for Robert Rule, the father of teenage victim Linda Jane Rule, to speak, Ridgway finally showed a glimpse of remorse.

Rule’s words to Ridgway were: “Mr. Ridgway...there are people here that hate you. I’m not one of them. You’ve made it difficult to live up to what I believe, and that is what God says to do, and that’s to forgive. You are forgiven, sir.” These words brought Ridgway to tears.

9. Patricia Machin

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In 2011, Patricia Machin lost her husband when he set out to buy the morning paper. Gerrard Machin was doing what he always did, but this time would not return home. Patricia sensed something was wrong and went to look for him. She was greeted by the sight of an ambulance and blood on the ground. Her husband had been struck down by a driver.

The driver, Brian Williamson, was extremely distressed over having hit Gerrard Machin. Patricia Machin, though, felt no anger toward the driver. She knew that the horrible accident had not been intentional, and she harboured no ill will toward Williamson. The sincerity of her forgiveness shone through in a letter she wrote to Williamson that was to be used in his defense. In that letter she wrote, “However bad it was for me, I realize it was 1,000 times worse for you.”

8. Charles C. Roberts

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On October 2, 2006, Charles C. Roberts walked into an Amish schoolhouse armed with three guns. There were 26 students in the schoolhouse. He allowed the 15 boys, a pregnant female student, and three other adult females with infant children to leave safely, but held the remaining 15 girls captive and tied their feet together.

His deranged rationale for his actions was that he wanted to exact revenge for something that had happened in his past. Notes that he left behind indicate anger toward himself and God for the death of his new-born daughter almost nine years earlier.

Authorities were alerted, and soon arrived on the scene. Not long after police arrived, Roberts started shooting, killing three children and himself. Two more children died later from their injuries.

In the face of such tragedy, one can only imagine the hurt and anger the loved ones of the victims might feel. In an extraordinary demonstration of forgiveness, members of the Amish community, including family members of the deceased victims, attended Robert’s funeral and comforted his widow. The Amish community did not stop there - they also offered financial support to Robert’s widow.

7. Rachelle Friedman Chapman

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Rachelle Friedman Chapman is a young woman who is filled with a zest for life, but she’s had her share of rough times. In 2010, a month before she was going to be married to her fiancĂ©, Chris Chapman, a freak accident left her paralyzed from the chest down. Friedman and some of her friends were attending Friedman’s bachlorette party. While hanging out by the pool, Friedman’s girlfriend playfully pushed her into the pool. Tragically, what was meant to be a harmless prank backfired. Friedman plunged headfirst into the shallow end of the pool, fracturing two of her vertebrae.

While Friedman could have sunk into despair and depression, she chose to remain positive. Her fiancé stood by her, and they were married one year after the accident.

Did Friedman forgive the friend who pushed her into the pool? The answer is “No, she did not.” As Friedman herself explains, “I know this is hard to believe but I never had to forgive her because I never really blamed her. As I was lying on the side of the pool, I was worried about her.” That’s an amazing woman.

6. Steven McDonald

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In 1986, Steven McDonald was a young New York City police officer. While patrolling Central Park, he and his supervisor questioned three teenagers whom they suspected of stealing bicycles. One of the teenagers, 15-year-old Shavod Jones, pulled a gun on McDonald and shot him three times. Doctors were able to save his life, but the incident left him paralyzed and in need of a respirator to breathe. At the time of this heart-breaking event, McDonald and his wife, Patty, had not yet reached their one-year anniversary and were expecting a child.

It was suggested to Mrs. McDonald that she put her husband in a home, but the McDonalds stayed together through thick and thin. In spite of everything that had happened, Steven decided that revenge was not the answer. Rather than hold a grudge, he forgave the boy who shot him. McDonald’s forgiveness of Jones was so complete that he attempted to correspond with Jones while he was in jail serving his sentence. The two men wanted to work together to promote forgiveness and non-violence, but sadly, this was not to be. Only three days after Jones was released from prison, he was killed in a motorcycle accident.

McDonald did fulfil his own mission though, traveling to various speaking engagements to promote forgiveness, peace, and non-violence.

5. Marion Salmon Hedges

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Marion Salmon Hedges suffered a severe brain injury after two teenage boys dropped a shopping cart on her head from a fourth-story parking garage in a New York City mall.

In a New York City mall, two teenage boys decided to have a little fun, although their definition of “fun” was definitely not very nuanced. As they were hoisting a shopping cart on to the safety railing on the fourth floor of the parking garage, the cart became stuck. Being persistent, the boys did manage to send it over the edge and plunging down onto one Marion Hedges, who was standing below. The incident left Hedges in a coma and blind in her left eye.

Another boy had tried to stop the first two from carrying out their harmful stunt but was unable to do so. He went for help and cooperated with police in identifying the culprits. (The boy’s actions led to him being called a snitch, and his mother even received death threats, which forced them to relocate.)

In spite of Hedges’ severe injuries, she harbours no bad feelings toward the two boys whose malicious stunt changed her life. True to her charitable nature (Hedges was involved in charity work prior to the incident) she said, “I haven’t heard from them, but I wish them well. I do, because I feel very sorry for them.”

4. Pierce O’Farrill

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On July 20, 2012, James Eagan Holmes walked into the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Returns in Aurora, Colorado, and opened fire. The senseless tragedy took the lives of 12 people and injured 58 more. Pierce O’Farrill was among the injured, suffering three gunshot wounds. Fortunately, his injuries were not life-threatening, and he was released from hospital a few days later.

While any hate or bitterness he could have felt would have been understandable, O’Farrill chose compassion instead. In reference to Holmes, he said, “Of course, I forgive him with all my heart. When I saw him in his hearing, I felt nothing but sorrow for him.” Six months later, when the theatre reopened, O’Farrill went back to the seat he was sitting in on that tragic night, as a form of closure.

3. Corrie Ten Boom

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Corrie Ten Boom is a remarkable woman who risked her own life to save the lives of others during the Holocaust. She worked in her family’s business as a watchmaker. After the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Ten Boom and her family became involved with the Resistance, providing shelter for Jews. A false wall was built in her bedroom to provide a hiding place for those seeking shelter.

On February 28, 1944, the Gestapo, on the basis of information obtained through an informant, raided the Ten Boom home and the family was arrested. Those who were hiding in the home at the time were able to avoid detection and escape. Sadly, Ten Boom’s father died a few days after the arrest.

Ten Boom and her sister, Betsy, were deported to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp in September 1944. It was there at Ravensbrueck that Betsy died in December of that same year. Later that same month, Ten Boom narrowly escaped death herself when she was mistakenly released from Ravensbrueck due to a clerical error. Her release came just days before all the women her age were killed.

While at a church service in Munich, she came face-to-face with one of the former Ravensbrueck prison guards. Ten Boom had just delivered a message of God’s forgiveness and the former guard, not recognizing her, asked Ten Boom personally for forgiveness for the atrocities that he had committed. Ten Boom struggled within herself and found that she could not forgive him, but she quickly prayed and found the strength to accept his extended hand.

2. Renee Napier, Phillip And Mary Dickson

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Renee Napier and Phillip and Mary Dickson have lived through a parent’s worst nightmare. On May 11, 2002, Napier’s daughter, Meagan Napier, and the Dicksons’ daughter, Lisa Jo Dickson, were struck and killed instantly by a drunk driver. They were both only 20 years old. The grief was unbearable but Napier and the Dicksons were determined to help others avoid the grief that they were experiencing.

The Dicksons worked through their local Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) organization, and Napier founded The Meagan Napier Foundation with the purpose of promoting safe driving. Napier works to spread her message to as many people as she can in the hopes of saving lives.

The drunk driver, Eric Smallridge, has accompanied Napier to some of her speaking engagements. While still serving his sentence, Smallridge was given permission to travel with Napier to speak and tell his story. He would encourage those in the audience to avoid ending up in his situation. After the presentation, the audience would be given the opportunity to view the mangled car.

Napier really wanted her message of forgiveness to get across. Napier and the Dicksons all lobbied for (and won) Smallridge’s early release, and if that’s not a hallmark of incredible forgiveness, we don’t know what is.

1. Immaculee Ilibagiza

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Immaculee Ilibagiza is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide that took place in the mid-nineties. Political tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes resulted in the massacre of hundreds of thousands of members of the Tutsi tribe and of members of the Hutu tribe who opposed the genocide. On Easter Sunday 1994, when Ilibagiza and her family were gathered together, Ilibagiza’s older brother, Damascene, begged their father to take the family and flee to safety. They made the fateful decision to stay.

On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying the Rwandan president, a Hutu, was shot down, and everyone on board was killed. Soon after, a killing spree began that targeted the Tutsi people. Ilibagiza and her younger brother, Vianney, managed to make their way to a local Hutu pastor’s home, who provided protection from the chaos that was surrounding them. When they arrived, they learned the heart-breaking news that Vianney could not stay. Ilibagiza and seven other women hid in a small (1 square meter) bathroom for three months. When Ilibagiza and the seven other women were finally able to leave their hiding place, Ilibagiza learned that her family had been murdered. Ilibagiza herself lost 22 kilograms (50 lbs) during her ordeal.

While our human nature desires revenge, Ilibagiza chose to forgive the people who killed her family as she felt the bitter feelings of rage destroying her. Though not easy, she was determined to let forgiveness, rather than hate, rule her life. Eventually, she met one of the murderers face-to-face and told him directly that she forgave him.

Ilibagiza is now living in the US with her children, some of whom are adopted from Rwanda. She has written a best-selling book about her experience, Left to Tell, and has made several television appearances. She has spoken at several conferences and founded the Left to Tell Charitable Fund to help children who have been orphaned through genocide. From the unimaginable pain she had endured, Ilibagiza has managed to do a great amount of good and make the world a little bit of a better place.

[Source: Listverse. Edited.]


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10 Weapons That Never Made It
By Erik Schechter,
Popular Mechanics, 30 October 2013.

Making a list of failed weapons systems, the temptation is to trot out the infamous ice-and-sawdust ship, the giant tricycle tank, or some other ridiculous doohickey. But the world of military programs is not neatly divided between the sublime and the stupid. There are a lot in-between cases.

1. Flying Platforms

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Developed by Hiller Helicopters in the 1950s, the VZ-1 Pawnee was a one-person flying platform kept aloft by two rotors housed in a duct, allowing a single soldier to fire from the air. The vehicle lacked fixed wings or a tail rotor, so if the pilot wanted to bank to the left or right, he had to do so by shifting his body weight. (Think Marty McFly's hoverboard in Back to the Future Part II.) Although it performed well during tests, the U.S. Army never deployed the VZ-1 Pawnee because it considered the craft too slow, too small, and too delicate for combat. Nowadays, the concept lives on in quirky recreational vehicles.

2. Stealth Helicopter

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Combining stealth technology and high-speed data links, the RAH-66 Comanche was supposed to be the armed scout helicopter of the 21st century. But all it did was leave a US$6.9 billion-size crater in the U.S. Army's budget. Three things killed the Comanche program: the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of drones, and the fact that this helo was an engineering mess.

Still, the 2011 Navy SEAL raid on the Osama bin Laden compound spurred excited media talk about stealth helicopters. Had they made a comeback? According to Army Times, the modified MH-60s used in the raid belonged to a short-lived program that ended in 2000. So, no.

3. Rocket-Bullets

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In the 1960s, MB Associates developed the Gyrojet, a family of experimental guns that fired tiny rockets instead of bullets and did so in near silence. Despite making a cameo in the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, though, the Gyrojet ran into plenty of problems. The rocket-bullet picked up speed only once it left the barrel, so the gun was useless at close range. It also jammed frequently and was not very accurate.

Nevertheless, alternatives to the conventional bullet still pop up now and again. Just last year, Sandia National Laboratories researchers developed a laser-guided, dart-like bullet that can hit a bull's-eye a mile away.

4. Tailsitter Aircraft

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How does one get a plane off the ground with very little runway? That question drove the development of the experimental tailsitter aircraft of the 1950s. Tailsitters, as their name implies, took off from a vertical position and then turned horizontally in the air, reversing the process when landing. This proved challenging even for expert pilots, and the idea was soon abandoned.

Eventually, engineers found better ways to tackle the runway problem, with aircraft such as the Harrier jet and the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey. But some in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) community have revisited the tailsitter idea for small drones. Perhaps what proved too much for human pilots is within reach for machines.

5. Brilliant Pebbles

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The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was a grandiose program for a grandiose time. One element of this Cold War program - and not even the craziest part - was a space-based system called Brilliant Pebbles. Instead of trying to zap intercontinental ballistic missiles with a laser, Brilliant Pebbles would lob watermelon-size pieces of tungsten at them. All a defense-minded nation needed to do was seed space with 4000 armed satellites. Alas, before the program was completed, the Soviet Union had fallen apart. Brilliant Pebbles was cancelled in 1993.

6. Flying Laser Cannon

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Described as the "closest thing on Earth to the Death Star," the Boeing YAL-1 Airborne Laser Test Bed was a failed attempt by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency to develop a megawatt laser that could destroy enemy ballistic missiles. The main problem was that the chemical oxygen-iodine laser (COIL) modules meant to power the weapon were too heavy. The YAL-1, a converted 747 jet, could carry only six of them.

Last year, the government pulled the plug on the YAL-1 program. But lighter solid-state lasers are advancing where chemical lasers faltered. So we just might see directed energy weapons on the battlefields of the future.

7. Armed Ground Robots

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The MQ-1 Predator took its first lethal shot back in early 2002. Since then, armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have played a significant role in the U.S. military's activities in the Middle East. Meanwhile, armed unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) have been kept on the side-lines. In 2007, a few modified, gun-toting TALON bots did deploy to Iraq, but they never saw combat. This fed rumours of a haywire UGV pointing its barrel willy-nilly. But an industry source tells PopMech that what really happened was that a ground robot's remote locked up during a demo and it kept rolling forward without human guidance.

Whatever the case, the Army is only now looking at armed ground robots again, this time with the Mobile Armed Dismount Support System.

8. Rotor Cars

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During WWII, the British came up with the Hafner Rotabuggy, a flying jeep with a rotor, tail fins, and a sublime name. This ungainly contraption never deployed, because plane-towed gliders were a more practical way of delivering ground vehicles to remote areas.

Yet some ideas never die, especially flying cars. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has revived the concept, this time as a Humvee with folding wings and collapsible rotors. But at least one defense contractor participating in the Transformer TX program is pushing in a more realistic option: a drone wing that drops off wheeled vehicles and other cargo.

9. XM29 Objective Individual Combat Weapon

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It looks like a weapon drawn for a video game, but the XM29 Objective Individual Combat Weapon was a real, badass prototype that could fire both regular 5.56-mm bullets and programmable, exploding 20-mm rounds. Its target: the venerable M-16.

Ultimately, though, the bulky XM29 was broken in half. The XM8 rifle part continued development until 2005, when it was cancelled, while the XM25 airburst weapon (sometimes called the Punisher) lingers on. Maybe. The Senate pulled funding for the XM25 this June, but Army is still talking about going into low-rate production.

10. Spy Airship

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It was supposed to float high above the battlefield like the eye of God. The Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) was a 250-foot-long hybrid airship that combined the buoyancy of a blimp with the aerodynamic lift of a plane. According to designers, the optionally manned craft would carry a 2750-pound sensor payload and keep an eye on a location for three weeks at a time. But citing delays and cost overruns, the Army cancelled the LEMV program early this year. It probably didn't help that the giant airship wouldn't even be ready until the very end of the Afghan war.

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[Source: Popular Mechanics. Edited. Some links added.]