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12 Other People We Lost in 2013

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Many famous people passed away in 2013, from Patti Page (in January) to Nelson Mandela (in December). In between, we said goodbye to the legends (Lou Reed, Roger Ebert), the tragically young (Cory Monteith, Paul Walker), the much-loved (Annette Funicello, Deanna Durbin) and the political (Margaret Thatcher, Hugo Chavez). Once again, it’s time to remember some of the other significant or inspiring people who left this mortal plane this year—people whose deaths (or whose lives) might not have been on your radar. 

1. and 2. Tony Sheridan (1940-2013) and Sid Bernstein (1918-2013): Beatles discoverers

Many people have made a claim to discovering the Beatles. These two gentlemen, however, have two of the strongest claims. Tony Sheridan, a northern English rock'n’roller, was playing in the German clubs when the Beatles arrived in 1960. He took them under his wing (Paul McCartney called him “The Teacher”), and they made their recording debut as his backup band. He remained in Germany, however, and never became a major star.

Later, New York concert promoter Sid Bernstein (top) turned the Beatles into international superstars. Intrigued by British reports of Beatlemania in 1963 (though he hadn’t yet heard their music), Bernstein persuaded their reluctant manager to send them to the U.S. the following year. None of Bernstein’s colleagues were interested, so he borrowed money himself to book Carnegie Hall. In 1965 he booked them into Shea Stadium, attracting a then-record crowd of 55,000. He also brought other top British bands to America, launching the so-called "British Invasion." 

3. George Gray (1926-2013): liquid crystal wizard

If inventors became famous because of their effect on our everyday lives, Scottish chemist George Gray would be a household name. In the 1950s, he invented stable liquid crystal materials, which led to liquid crystal displays (LCDs). He was originally contracted to the UK Ministry of Defence, but by the late 1960s, LCDs were seen as an alternative to the heavy and expensive cathode-ray tubes used by television sets of the time. Still, it took a few more decades before they became the basis for common flat-screen televisions—not to mention smartphones and MP3 players. There are now more LCD screens in the world than there are people!

4. Mavis Lever (1921-2013): Enigma code-breaker

As an 18-year-old university student at the outset of World War II, Mavis Lever volunteered to be a British army nurse, but was instead recruited by British intelligence. Her job was not to be “Mata Hari seducing Prussian officers,” as she initially thought, but to use her German language skills to decipher secret codes used by Nazi Germany, especially the Enigma code. As many others had studied German, she was not sure why she was chosen, but later noted that Britain’s top code-breaker, Dilly Knox, liked to hire pretty young women for important jobs. It seemed to work; through a mixture of intuition and linguistic skill, she played a key role in at least two major British naval victories. In 1941, Lever and her colleague Margaret Rock deciphered part of a message by the German secret service. With this information, British spies learned that German generals were preparing to repel an Allied invasion of Calais in 1944. On D-Day in 1944, the Allied forces invaded Normandy instead—catching the Germans unaware—in one of the turning points of the war. “Give me a Lever and a Rock,” said Knox, “and I will move the universe.” 

5. Sir Robert Edwards (1925-2013): the other IVF genius

Along with Patrick Steptoe, Yorkshire physiologist Robert Edwards worked for a decade on the most important discovery to treat infertility: in vitro fertilization. In 1978, this led to the first “test tube baby,” Louise Brown, who would regard Edwards as a “grandfather” figure. As of now, there have been more than four million IVF babies. Steptoe, as the senior partner, was more well-known than Edwards. However, as he died in 1988, he missed sharing Edwards’ knighthood and 2010 Nobel Prize.

6. Adrienne Asch (1946-2013): civil rights champion

Like many supporters of women’s rights during the 1970s, ethicist Adrienne Asch favored abortion rights—but not in every case. She strongly opposed the practices of prenatal testing and abortion to avoid bringing children with disabilities into the world. Asch, blind since her childhood, knew that disability did not make her worthless. She graduated in philosophy in 1969, but employers discriminated against her due to her blindness. Not as helpless as they thought, she saw disability as a civil rights issue, fighting for more respect and opportunity for people with disabilities. She later became a clinical psychotherapist, and received a PhD in 1992. 

7. James H. Steele (1913-2013): super-vet

Steele was known as “the father of veterinary public health” for his work to prevent the spread of disease from animals to people. Even the ancients knew that animals spread disease, and numerous epidemics have happened over the millennia to remind us. However, after all that time, it was left to Steele to pioneer mass vaccination for animals—not just to protect them, but to protect humans as well. Steele brought more attention to zoonoses—diseases that spread from animals to humans. As these include 70 percent of diseases to emerge in the last 20 years (including West Nile virus, monkeypox and mad cow disease), he might yet prove to be one of the most important medical innovators of the past century. 

8. and 9. Mother Antonia Brenner (1926-2013) and Sister Mary Nerney (1938-2013): prison angels

Some people who died this year were notable for their goodness as much as their great achievements. Mother Antonia Brenner, twice-divorced and active in charity work, left the high life of Beverly Hills at age 50 to be ordained as a Roman Catholic nun. She devoted herself to helping the inmates at Mexico’s notorious La Mesa state penitentiary, and lived in a cell at La Mesa for more than 30 years to be closer to them. Inmates recalled that she once walked fearlessly into the middle of a prison riot, avoiding the bullets and tear gas. But when the inmates saw her, they stopped fighting.

Another Roman Catholic nun, Sister Mary Nerney, was an equally tireless advocate for female convicts, especially survivors of domestic violence (who were, in many cases, imprisoned for murdering the perpetrators). She started Project Green Hope (to help reintegrate ex-prisoners into society) and Steps to End Family Violence (which assists battered men as well as women). 

10. Natalya Gorbanevskaya (1936-2013): freedom fighter

A Russian dissident, Natalya Gorbanevskaya protested in Moscow’s Red Square in 1968 when Russian troops sent tanks into Czechoslovakia to quell the Prague Spring. Unlike most of her fellow protesters, she avoided arrest. Her activities, however, became even more courageous: forming a civil rights group; co-founding The Chronicle of Current Events, an influential underground newspaper focusing on civil rights news; and publishing a book about the trials of her arrested comrades. She was finally arrested in 1969 and thrown into a psychiatric prison for “continuous sluggish schizophrenia.” Joan Baez’ song “Natalya” was inspired by her plight. “It is because of people like Natalya Gorbanevskaya, I am convinced,” said Baez, “that you and I are still alive and walking around on the face of the earth.”

Happily, Natalya was released in 1972 and became known as an influential poet—whose poems, it so happened, rarely mentioned politics. Shortly before her death, she returned to Red Square with nine other demonstrators, to commemorate on the 45th anniversary of the Russian tanks. They were arrested for holding an unsanctioned rally.

11. Raymond Cusick (1928-2013): Dalek designer

BBC production designer Ray Cusick died early in 2013, just as the Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebrations were being planned. He had designed the Daleks, the show’s most popular alien monsters. Presented with a very low budget, and the directive to avoid making them look like a “man in the suit,” he envisioned them as robot-like creatures who resembled pepper-pots. (Indeed, he demonstrated them to a model-maker by gliding a pepper-pot across a table.) The children of Britain were scared witless by these metallic killing machines, making the Daleks an instant success—and making Doctor Who a must-see kids’ television show. Cusick designed other monsters for Doctor Who, and worked on more earthly television shows like Miss Marple, but would never equal the Daleks. 

12. Mark Sutton (1971-2013): the Queen’s favourite James Bond

As Andy Warhol said, everyone might someday be famous for 15 minutes. Other people might provide an immortal moment, but they still might not become famous. Mark Sutton was one such person. In one of the opening ceremony highlights of the 2012 London Olympics, James Bond and Queen Elizabeth II parachuted into the Olympic Stadium. It was a terrific surprise – funny, ridiculous, thrilling and completely unexpected. However, the Bond who parachuted was not Daniel Craig, but Sutton, a veteran stuntman. (The Queen? No, that wasn’t her either. That was another stuntman, Gary Connery.) Sadly, Sutton died after hitting a cliff during a jump in Switzerland.

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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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