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5 Famous Missing Fingers

You can do a lot with less than the normal complement of fingers -- including becoming a guitar legend! Here are five famous examples of people achieving fame despite missing some digits!

Jerry Garcia's missing finger1. Jerry Garcia

Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia lost two-thirds of his right middle finger as a child, while steadying wood his father was chopping. (A similar scene was shown in The Royal Tenenbaums to explain Margot's prosthetic finger.) Despite the accident, Garcia went on to play a mean guitar, and often showed off his missing finger in a sort of salute to fans. Today the Barley Mill Pub (a virtual museum of Dead memorabilia) in Portland, Oregon features an illustration of Garcia's right hand, encouraging us all to keep on truckin' regardless of life's little wood-chopping accidents.

James Doohan's missing finger2. James Doohan (Scotty on Star Trek)

James Doohan landed at Normandy on D-Day as part of the Royal Canadian Army. After taking out two snipers, Doohan was hit by six rounds from a Bren light machine gun fired by a sentry (in other words, friendly fire). He took four bullets in one leg, one in the chest (stopped by a silver cigarette case), and the final round amputated his right middle finger. Trek fans who haven't noticed the missing finger have a good excuse: special stunt hands were used in closeups whenever Scotty operated the transporter.

Django Reinhardt's missing finger3. Django Reinhardt

Jean Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt played banjo, guitar, and violin starting in childhood, but his fame as a performer didn't come until after he lost the use of several fingers. At age 18, Django was severely injured in a fire -- he and his wife sold paper and celluloid flowers, which likely fed the fire that consumed their caravan one night. His right leg was paralyzed and the fourth and fifth fingers of his left hand (the hand he used to fret the guitar) were badly burned and remained partially paralyzed for the rest of his life. Django painfully relearned the guitar, developing a new playing style to work around his bad fingers -- becoming a jazz legend in the process.

Tony Iommi's missing finger4. Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)

The blokes from Black Sabbath were genuinely working-class, holding tough industrial jobs in Birmingham, England. Guitarist Tony Iommi was working his last day at a sheet metal factory when an industrial accident severed the tips of the middle and ring fingers on his right hand -- because he's left-handed, the right hand was what he used to fret the guitar. Iommi was heartbroken, but after hearing about Django's recovery, Iommi became inspired. First he tried learning to play guitar right-handed -- no dice -- then he re-strung his guitar with extra-light strings and fashioned prosthetic fingertips from plastic covered in leather. Using his "Iron Man" (okay, "Plastic Man") style artificially enhanced fingers, Iommi rocked on.

Jesse and Frank James5. Jesse James

Although accounts differ, some historians believe that infamous outlaw Jesse James was missing the tip of his left middle finger. (Some think it was a different finger, or that there was no missing finger at all. But anyway....) It's unclear exactly how the fingertip was lost, but it's a good bet that a gun was involved. After Robert Ford killed Jesse James in 1882, a photo showing the body had James's left hand concealed under his right, causing some to believe that the photo was fake and Jesse James lived on. An exhumation in 1995 proved that the body was indeed Jesse James, but no mention was made of his missing finger. Pictured at right: Jesse and his brother Frank James.

If you enjoyed this list, check out Neatorama's Missing Body Parts of 10 Famous People which includes a great story about Saint Catherine of Siena's finger!

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The Very Disgusting Reason You Should Always Wash New Clothes Before Wearing Them
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It’s sometimes assumed that clothing with a price tag still dangling from the sleeve can skip an initial wash. Someone else may have tried it on, sure, but they didn’t run a marathon in it. Why not just throw it in the closet as soon as you get home?

One big reason: lice. As The Independent reports, Donald Belsito, a professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center, told NBC's Today show recently that clothing fresh off store racks can harbor infestations of lice, scabies, or fungus.

You might be familiar with head lice as the dreaded insects that occupy the scalp and give school health monitors cause for concern. Head lice can be transmitted via clothing and other fabrics, and anyone who tried on a shirt or dress before you did can be a carrier. While they only live for one or two days without a blood meal, that’s still enough time to cause problems if something is being tried on frequently.

Scabies is far more insidious. The mites are too small to see, but the allergic reaction they cause by burrowing into your skin to lay eggs will be obvious.

Both scabies and lice can be treated with topical solutions, but it’s better to kill them by washing new clothes in hot water. A good soak can also get rid of formaldehyde, a common chemical used in fabrics to help ward off mold in case stock gets wet in transit. Formaldehyde can cause allergic skin reactions. For all of these reasons, it’s best to hit the washing machine before those new pants ever hit your hanger.

[h/t Independent]

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How Promoting Handwashing Got One 19th Century Doctor Institutionalized
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Regardless of how often we actually do it, it's common knowledge that washing our hands before eating, after coughing, and after using the bathroom is good for us. But the connection between handwashing and health wasn't always accepted as fact. As Danielle Bainbridge explains in the PBS web series Origin of Everything, the first doctor to campaign for cleanliness in hospitals was not only shunned by other medical professionals, but ended up in an insane asylum.

Prior to the 19th century, handwashing primarily existed in the context of religious ceremonies and practices. It plays a role in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, and Buddhism in some form or another. But washing up to stop the spread of disease wasn't really a thing for most of history. People weren't aware of germs, so instead of microbes, they blamed illness on everything from demons to bad air.

Then, in 1846, a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis made a breakthrough observation. He noticed that women giving birth with the help of midwives were less likely to die than those treated by doctors. He determined that because doctors were also performing autopsies on victims of puerperal fever (a bacterial infection also known as childbed fever), they were somehow spreading the disease to their other patients. Semmelweis started promoting handwashing and instrument sterilization in his clinic, and the spread of puerperal fever dropped as a result.

Despite the evidence to support his theory, his peers in the medical community weren't keen on the idea of blaming patient deaths on doctors. Partly due to his commitment to the controversial theory, Semmelweis was shunned from his field. He suffered a mental breakdown and ended up in a mental hospital, where he died a few weeks later.

Germ theory did eventually become more mainstream as the century progressed, and washing hands as a way to kill unseen pathogens started gaining popularity. Even so, it wasn't until the 1980s that the CDC released the first official guidelines instructing people on best handwashing practices.

If this story suddenly has you in the mood to practice good hygiene, here's the best way to wash your hands, according to experts.

[h/t Origin of Everything]

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