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Don't tell us your password: the top ten

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Passwords rule our lives. You need one to access your computer, your email, your bank account, and on and on. To make matters worse, there are hordes of thieves and hackers out there trying to get the virtual keys to our online kingdoms, via phishing, the hacking of corporate databases, spyware, etc. So why is it, then -- despite ubiquitous warnings to the contrary -- that so many people still make their passwords simple, intuitive, and use the same ones over and over for years at a stretch? The simplest answer, which via Occam's Razor is probably the correct one, is that we're just lazy. If that's the case, and you can't bring yourself to memorize eight randomly-generated numbers and letters strung together rather than using the name of your family pet to secure that million-dollar 401k account, then at least take our advice and avoid these most commonly used passwords:

10. [The user's first name.] In Britain, the tenth most common password is "Thomas," which in 2000 was also the second most popular name given to male British children.

9. blink182. Lord knows, Blink182 isn't the most popular band in America. We're betting it has something to do with the fact that it combines numbers and letters, which many password engines require of new passwords these days. Just don't do it, people -- the band, or the password.

8. password1. Lazy, lazy lazy.

7. myspace1. This is likely a testament to the staggering number of people that have MySpace.com accounts, all of which require a password. (We think it's up to about 177 million now; that's how many friends MySpace co-founder and face-of-myspace Tom Anderson has. And everybody is Tom's friend.)

6. monkey. This one baffles us a bit. 1.33% of all passwords are "monkey," which may be because a) it's six letters long, the minimum number allowable in most passwords, b) easy to remember and c) the keys required to type it are spaced out in a way that makes typing it quick, and actually, sort of pleasant. (Monkey. Monkey monkey monkey. I could type that all day.) If there's some other reason that millions of Americans use this as their password, I'd rather not know about it.

5. letmein. I guess there's a certain power thrill in commanding a site to "letmein" and then being obeyed?

The top four passwords are so mind-numbingly lazy they require almost no comment. They are:

4. abc123

3. qwerty

2. 123456

1. password

Let's just hope that people using any of the above four passwords don't really care if their respective accounts are safe or not. I'll admit to making up crappy passwords like, say, "password" when forced to register for a website that I'm only ever going to view once, and on which I leave basically no personal information. But statistically, it's a sure bet that somewhere out there are nuclear secrets or marriage-ruining emails flimsily protected with a mere "123456." Don't let it happen to you!

Thanks to our friends at Howstuffworks for the cool close-up of a lock!

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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