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7 Famous New Year's Babies

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It’s been said that it's good luck to be born on New Year’s Day. While we can't say whether being born on January 1st will actually pave the path to riches, we can tell you that those with the earliest birthday of the year are certainly in good company.

1. Paul Revere (1735)

You’re all familiar with Paul Revere and his Midnight Ride, even if it was only the fictionalized version written in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem about the revolutionary fighter. While Revere wasn’t the only rider that night, he is rightfully the most famous character involved with the incident. After all, he was the one who created the idea of using lanterns hung in the steeple as a communication system, and he was also the one who had to row across the Charles River, past the HMS Somerset, despite a ban on crossings at that time of night.

Although he didn’t ride down the street shouting, “the British are coming,” like Longfellow’s poem suggests, he and the other riders did quietly notify patriotic-sympathizers along their route that the “Regulars are coming out.” Before reaching Concord, Revere was captured by the British, but another rider made it.

In the years after the revolution, Revere’s silversmithing business suffered, but he was successful in a new market—bell making. His company would cast over 900 bells.

2. Betsy Ross (1752)

Apparently, New Year’s Day was a popular birthday for icons of the Revolutionary War. Of course, while most Americans recognize her as being the creator of the first American flag, this credit is debated by historians. The thing is, there is no evidence to prove conclusively that she was or was not involved with creating the flag.

Betsy never bragged about it during her lifetime and the only record of her involvement with the flag came from her grandson, William J. Canby, who heard the tale from his aunt. Even this account doesn’t cast her as designing the flag from scratch. According to Canby’s account, Washington and another man approached Ross and presented her with a potential flag design for her to put together. Betsy looked at the design and provided a few critiques—most notably, that the stars should be five-sided rather than six-sided—and the flag was then redesigned by Washington. She was then given the revised mock up and asked to turn it into an actual flag.

Whether or not Mrs. Ross actually sewed the first flag, we do know she was born on January 1.

3. Pierre de Coubertin (1863)

While the name might not be as familiar as many of the others on this list, you certainly are familiar with his creation—the modern day Olympic Games. Coubertin was fascinated by ancient Greece and believed that by reorganizing the Olympic Games in the modern day, nations could learn more about each other and peace could be more easily achieved. He believed that organized sporting events can cause “moral and social strength” for those involved.

Surprisingly, the idea of an international amateur sporting competition was very poorly received at first. In fact, it was only due to Coubertin’s persistence that the new Olympic Games were ever put together. The hard work paid off though, and the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens were the first such event held since the third century A.D.

Later on, Coubertin went on to win a Gold Medal for literature, back when the games still had art competitions, for his poem Ode to Sport.

4. J. Edgar Hoover (1895)

Even if you aren’t very familiar with the history of the FBI, you still know the name J. Edgar Hoover. That’s because the FBI’s first Director was a major player in the American government from the time he was first appointed to head the Bureau of Investigation (the FBI’s predecessor) back in 1924 until he passed away in 1974.

While he was critical in building the FBI into the central crime-fighting agency it is now and helping to take down some of the biggest criminals in American history, he remains a controversial figure. That’s because he pushed for investigations into people believed to be subversive, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Charlie Chaplin. These inquiries used illegal methods such as wiretapping, burglary and infiltration, and the organization has been accused of much worse.

Since Hoover's days, congress has implemented a ten-year limit on FBI Director terms, although this time period can be extended by the Senate. Even in Hoover’s time, he shouldn’t have been allowed to work as long as he did, given that the government had a mandatory retirement age of 70. But Lyndon B. Johnson waived this restriction in 1964, just for Hoover, who was then allowed to serve his title “for life.”

5. J.D. Salinger (1919)

Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye is considered an American classic, but you almost never hear about his other novels or the author himself. That’s because The Catcher in the Rye was his only novel. Other than that, Salinger printed a few short stories and four novellas. The notorious recluse published his last work in 1965 and his last interview was in 1980.

Since his last interview, Salinger’s contact with the public was largely limited to time spent in court. He fought against unwanted looks into his private life, fighting against biographies and memoirs about him printed by his ex-lover and his own daughter. Shortly before he passed away, he filed another lawsuit against a writer who used one of his characters from The Catcher in the Rye.

6. Jerry Robinson (1922)

Image courtesy of Dan Chusid

Here’s another name that might not be immediately recognizable, but everyone knows his creations: Joker, Two-Face and Alfred Pennyworth. Sherrill David Robinson, better known as Jerry Robinson, was one of the first artists hired to work on the Batman series and while he didn’t come up with the original idea, he did develop some of his most famous acquaintances and enemies.

Later in life, Robinson was known for his work trying to secure artist rights. He was a crucial supporter of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in their fight with DC Comics to receive compensation for creating Superman. In 1978, he founded the Cartoonist & Writers Syndicate/CartoonArts International, which now has more than 550 members from 75 countries.

In 2004, Robinson was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame. Sadly, the artist passed away December 7 of this year in New York.

7. Grandmaster Flash (1958)

Born Joseph Saddler, Grandmaster Flash is one of the pioneers of hip hop and using the turntable itself as an instrument. He was so revolutionary, he and his group, the Furious Five, were the first hip hop/rap artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2007.

Grandmaster Flash is credited with coming up with a number of turntable innovations that are still widely practiced today, including backspinning, punch phrasing and scratching. Although the technique of scratching was invented by Grand Wizzard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash is said to have perfected it and brought it to new audiences.
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Are any of you Flossers New Year’s Babies? If so, let us know if you feel like the birthday has brought you good luck. (Also: Happy Birthday!)

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.

1. THREE IN FOUR AMERICANS BELIEVE IN THE PARANORMAL (2005)

According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.

2. ONE IN FIVE AMERICANS THINK THE SUN REVOLVES AROUND THE EARTH (1999)

In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.

3. 22 PERCENT OF AMERICANS ARE HESITANT TO SUPPORT A MORMON (2011)

Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.

4. MISSISSIPPIANS GO TO CHURCH THE MOST; VERMONTERS THE LEAST (2010)

This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.

5. ONE IN FOUR AMERICANS DON’T KNOW WHICH COUNTRY AMERICA GAINED INDEPENDENCE FROM (1999)

Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.

6. ONE THIRD OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IN GHOSTS (2000)

This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.

7. 5 PERCENT OF WORKING MILLENNIALS THRIVE IN ALL FIVE ELEMENTS OF WELL-BEING (2016)

This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.

8. THE WORLD IS BECOMING SLIGHTLY MORE NEGATIVE (2014)

If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”

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