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4 Overshadowed BCSs

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Before the Bowl Championship Series tarnished the "BCS" acronym for all time "“ or at least until college football institutes a playoff system "“ the Bangladesh Civil Service, Berkhamsted Collegiate School, and British Cardiovascular Society carried on in relative obscurity. As Florida and Oklahoma prepare for Thursday's BCS Championship Game, let's turn the spotlight on some of the lesser-known BCSs, both past and present.

1. Boston Computer Society

Jonathan Rotenberg founded the Boston Computer Society in 1977 at the age of 13 to provide an information-sharing forum for fellow owners of personal computers. While similar user groups emerged throughout the country in the ensuing years, none were as successful as Rotenberg's, which offered computer classes and meetings, and published three magazines. According to the Boston Globe, the Boston Computer Society boasted 32,000 members in 50 states and 40 countries at its peak in the early 1990s. Computer companies, including Apple, used the society's gatherings to make major product announcements; the Apple Macintosh made its East Coast debut at a Boston Computer Society meeting in 1984.

With personal computers becoming an increasingly regular part of everyday life and sources for information about computers growing by the day, Rotenberg decided to leave the group in 1990. "I had spent a long time puzzling through what a redesigned BCS might look like," he recalled in the Globe, "and I wasn't able to come up with an answer." Sound familiar? Facing serious financial problems and with membership down to 18,000, the society voted to dissolve in 1996.

What the Bowl Championship Series could learn from this BCS: Computers are really cool and all, but they probably shouldn't decide college football national champions.

2. British Crime Survey

british-crime-survey.jpgThe British Crime Survey is an annual measure of crime in England and Wales. The survey, which was conducted biennially from its beginning in 1982 until 2000, is comprised of questions for crime victims about the circumstances of any crimes they experienced in the past year. The survey has proved to be an especially valuable measure of domestic violence and sex crimes, which are often unreported to the police.

The British government has used the information collected in the British Crime Survey to establish specific crime reduction programs and to measure these programs' effectiveness from one year to the next. The survey also provides a measure of the public's perception of the criminal justice system and attitude toward crime. According to the survey, crime in England and Wales has been nearly cut in half since 1995.

What the Bowl Championship Series could learn from this BCS: Crime may be down in England, but assaults (USC on Penn State), robberies (Utah being denied a shot at a national championship), and indecent exposure incidents (Virginia Tech and Cincinnati playing in the Orange Bowl) are all on the rise in college football.

3. Bulk Cash Smuggling

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Bulk Cash Smuggling is the undeclared transfer of more than $10,000 in currency "“ most often in the form of cold hard cash "“ into or out of the United States. The U.S. Patriot Act of 2001 made the practice—which is a means of avoiding U.S. currency reporting requirements—punishable by a prison sentence of up to 5 years. In addition, the offender is required to forfeit to the U.S. government all currency or other monetary instruments involved in the attempted operation.

In 2005, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement teamed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to launch Operation Firewall, a program designed to curtail Bulk Cash Smuggling. In 2007, Operation Firewall resulted in the seizure of nearly $50 million. For comparison's sake, that's about $15 million more than the combined payout Florida and Oklahoma will receive for playing in Thursday's game.

What the Bowl Championship Series could learn from this BCS: A failure to declare "“ be it money or a legitimate national champion "“ is criminal.

4. Baja California Sur

baja-cali.jpgBaja California Sur comprises the southern half of the Baja California peninsula. Since becoming a Mexican state in 1974, the formerly isolated region has slowly evolved into a destination hotspot for tourists. The state is home to the resorts Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, as well as the city of Loreto, which was the first Spanish settlement on the Baja California Peninsula and the capital of Las Californias from 1697-1777.

Other points of cultural significance in Baja California Sur include a church in the city of Santa Rosalia that was supposedly designed by Gustave Eiffel, and the capital city of La Paz, where Hernan Cortes first set foot in 1535. If you saw the movie Troy, you're familiar with Baja California Sur; production for the film was moved from Morocco to the peninsula due to the impending war in Iraq.

What the Bowl Championship Series could learn from this BCS: After staging an absurd 34 games this season, the college football powers that be should make it a goal to keep the number of bowl games in future years below the number of Mexican states (31).

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15 Must-Watch Facts About The Ring
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DreamWorks

An urban legend about a videotape that kills its viewers seven days after they see it turns out to be true. To her increasing horror, reporter Rachel Keller (then-newcomer Naomi Watts) discovers this after her niece is one of four teenage victims, and is in a race against the clock to uncover the mystery behind the girl in the video before her and her son’s time is up.

Released 15 years ago, on October 18, 2002, The Ring began a trend of both remaking Japanese horror films in a big way, and giving you nightmares about creepy creatures crawling out of your television. Here are some facts about the film that you can feel free to pass along to anybody, guilt-free.

1. DREAMWORKS BOUGHT THE AMERICAN RIGHTS TO RINGU FOR $1 MILLION.

There were conflicting stories over how executive producer Roy Lee came to see the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu, Hideo Nakata's adaptation of the 1991 novel Ring by Kôji Suzuki. Lee said two different friends gave him a copy of Ringu in January 2001, which he loved and immediately gave to DreamWorks executive Mark Sourian, who agreed to purchase the rights. But Lee’s close friend Mike Macari worked at Fine Line Features, which had an American remake of Ringu in development before January 2001. Macari said he showed Lee Ringu much earlier. Macari and Lee were both listed as executive producers for The Ring.

2. THE DIRECTOR FIRST SAW RINGU ON A POOR QUALITY VHS TAPE, WHICH ADDED TO ITS CREEPINESS.

Gore Verbinski had previously directed MouseHunt. He said the first time he "watched the original Ringu was on a VHS tape that was probably seven generations down. It was really poor quality, but actually that added to the mystique, especially when I realized that this was a movie about a videotape." Naomi Watts struggled to find a VHS copy of Ringu while shooting in the south of Wales. When she finally got a hold of one she watched it on a very small TV alone in her hotel room. "I remember being pretty freaked out," Watts said. "I just saw it the once, and that was enough to get me excited about doing it."

3. THE RING AND RINGU ARE ABOUT 50 PERCENT DIFFERENT.

Naomi Watts in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

Verbinski estimated that, for the American version, they "changed up to 50 percent of it. The basic premise is intact, the story is intact, the ghost story, the story of Samara, the child." Storylines involving the characters having ESP, a volcano, “dream logic,” and references to “brine and goblins” were taken out.

4. IT RAINED ALMOST EVERY DAY WHEN THEY FILMED IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON.

The weather added to the “atmosphere of dread,” according to the film's production notes. Verbinski said the setting allowed them to create an “overcast mood” of dampness and isolation.

5. THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER WAS INFLUENCED BY ANDREW WYETH.

Artist Andrew Wyeth tended to use muted, somber earth tones in his work. "In Wyeth's work, the trees are always dormant, and the colors are muted earth tones," explained production designer Tom Duffield. "It's greys, it's browns, it's somber colors; it's ripped fabrics in the windows. His work has a haunting flavor that I felt would add to the mystique of this movie, so I latched on to it."

6. THERE WERE RINGS EVERYWHERE.

The carpeting and wallpaper patterns, the circular kitchen knobs, the doctor’s sweater design, Rachel’s apartment number, and more were purposely designed with the film's title in mind.

7. WATTS AND MARTIN HENDERSON HAD A FRIENDLY INTERNATIONAL RIVALRY.

Martin Henderson and Naomi Watts star in 'The Ring' (1992)
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

The New Zealand-born Henderson played Noah, Rachel’s ex-husband. Since Watts is from Australia, Henderson said that, "Between takes, we'd joke around with each other's accents and play into the whole New Zealand-Australia rivalry."

8. THE TWO WEREN’T SURE IF THE MOVIE WAS GOING TO BE SCARY ENOUGH.

After shooting some of the scenes, and not having the benefit of seeing what they'd look like once any special effects were added, Henderson and Watts worried that the final result would not be scary enough. "There were moments when Naomi and I would look at each other and say, 'This is embarrassing, people are going to laugh,'" Henderson told the BBC." You just hope that somebody makes it scary or you're going to look like an idiot!"

9. CHRIS COOPER WAS CUT FROM THE MOVIE.

Cooper played a child murderer in two scenes which were initially meant to bookend the film. He unconvincingly claimed to Rachel that he found God in the beginning, and in the end she gave him the cursed tape. Audiences at test screenings were distracted that an actor they recognized disappears for most of the film, so he was cut out entirely.

10. THEY TRIED TO GET RID OF ALL OF THE SHADOWS.

Verbinski and cinematographer Bojan Bazelli used the lack of sunlight in Washington to remove the characters’ shadows. The two wanted to keep the characters feeling as if “they’re floating a little bit, in space.”

11. THE TREE WAS NICKNAMED "LUCILLE."

The red Japanese maple tree in the cursed video was named after the famous redheaded actress Lucille Ball. The tree was fake, built out of steel tubing and plaster. The Washington wind blew it over three different times. The night they put up the tree in Los Angeles, the wind blew at 60 miles per hour and knocked Lucille over yet again. "It was very strange," said Duffield.

12. MOESKO ISLAND IS A FUNCTIONING LIGHTHOUSE.

Moesko Island Lighthouse is Yaquina Head Lighthouse, at the mouth of the Yaquina River, a mile west of Agate Beach, Oregon. The website Rachel checks, MoeskoIslandLighthouse.com, used to actually exist as a one-page website, which gave general information on the fictional place. You can read it here.

13. A WEBSITE WAS CREATED BY DREAMWORKS TO PROMOTE THE MOVIE AND ADD TO ITS MYTHOLOGY.

Before and during the theatrical release, if you logged into AnOpenLetter.com, you could read a message in white lettering against a black background warning about what happens if you watch the cursed video (you can read it here). By November 24, 2002, it was a standard official website made for the movie, set up by DreamWorks.

14. VERBINSKI DIDN’T HAVE FUN DIRECTING THE MOVIE.

“It’s no fun making a horror film," admitted Verbinski. "You get into some darker areas of the brain and after a while everything becomes a bit depressing.”

15. DAVEIGH CHASE SCARED HERSELF.

Daveigh Chase in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

When Daveigh Chase, who played Samara, saw The Ring in theaters, she had to cover her eyes out of fear—of herself. Some people she met after the movie came out were also afraid of her.

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European Space Agency Releases First High-Res Land Cover Map of Africa
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Land Cover CCI, ESA

This isn’t just any image of Africa. It represents the first of its kind: a high-resolution map of the different types of land cover that are found on the continent, released by The European Space Agency, as Travel + Leisure reports.

Land cover maps depict the different physical materials that cover the Earth, whether that material is vegetation, wetlands, concrete, or sand. They can be used to track the growth of cities, assess flooding, keep tabs on environmental issues like deforestation or desertification, and more.

The newly released land cover map of Africa shows the continent at an extremely detailed resolution. Each pixel represents just 65.6 feet (20 meters) on the ground. It’s designed to help researchers model the extent of climate change across Africa, study biodiversity and natural resources, and see how land use is changing, among other applications.

Developed as part of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Land Cover project, the space agency gathered a full year’s worth of data from its Sentinel-2A satellite to create the map. In total, the image is made from 90 terabytes of data—180,000 images—taken between December 2015 and December 2016.

The map is so large and detailed that the space agency created its own online viewer for it. You can dive further into the image here.

And keep watch: A better map might be close at hand. In March, the ESA launched the Sentinal-2B satellite, which it says will make a global map at a 32.8 feet-per-pixel (10 meters) resolution possible.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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