How One Little Mistake Can Lead to Disaster

This is why people should do and re-do their math until they’re completely sure they got it right. Because in the real world of architects and engineers and so on, a slight miscalculation can wreak havoc: after a certain figure leaves the writing sheet, there might be no turning back. And by the time the people who are applying the miscalculation can figure out what’s going on, it might just be too late. Here’s a small list of famous disasters brought upon by one little mistake.

1. Square Windows on an Airplane

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As anyone who’s ever ridden an airplane knows, the windows we peek through today have round edges. And their round shape is designed like that for a reason: to prevent the pressure build-up from breaking into the airplane at its weakest spots, those square points. In engineering language, those square angles are now called a “stress concentration. But what today is common wisdom, back in the 50s was yet to be discovered.

It took the crash of two Havilland Comets that disintegrated into thin air mid-flight for no predictable reason for the scientists to finally figure it out: it’s the square windows that get people killed.

2. The Hyatt Regency Walkway Collapse

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In the early 1980 Kansas City, the Hyatt Regency was attempting to be the talk of the town with its posh designs and breath-taking views. To this effect, the hotel managers ordered several aerial walkways to adorn the top of the room, so people can admire the lower lobby in its full splendor. Unfortunately, at one point during the build planning, they decided to do a minor design change, meant to make the whole build easier: namely, they replaced a long rod with two shorter rods. Seemingly harmless, right? Well, yes, until the whole thing collapsed and killed 114 people and injured a further 216. This disaster was considered the world’s greatest structural collapse until the World Trade Center. And it all started with one little mistake.

3. The Nuclear Disaster of Chernobyl

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Everyone has heard of this one. The nuclear catastrophe that left the region desolate (the after-math can be explored through this series of hauntingly beautiful pictures) could have been prevented by simply paying more attention. After first placing the blame on power plant operators, the Russian authorities later admitted that a design deficiency was in fact responsible for the explosion. The event took countless lives, either immediately or by slower paced cancer and deformities caused by the radiation.

4. The Cocoanut Grove Fire of 1942 Chicago

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A fire broke out in Cocoanut Grove, a hip club that was all the rage at the time. Never mind that the club was highly flammable to begin with, but the really outrageous mistake is how the bar’s doors functioned. They were typical-looking saloon doors that only allowed the user to enter the bar hands-free, but required to be pulled back upon exiting. So guess what happened when hundreds of scared people attempted to get out once the fire broke loose? They crammed against those doors and there was simply not enough space for to pull the doors back and thus be able to exit. Official estimates say that if the doors would have worked both ways, at least 300 people would have escaped.

5. The Titanic

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This is most probably another story that everyone’s familiar with. But fewer people know that what sunk the mighty ship wasn’t the iceberg that collided with it, and not even the lack of boats from the ship’s decks. It was actually the fact that its center propeller didn’t work in reverse, but only the left and right ones did, in order to make the ship make gentler moves through the water. But when the First Officer Murdoch wanted the ship to really reverse fast in order to avoid the iceberg, the only result was, unfortunately, an epic fail.

So beware and do your math right: one little mistake can breed chaos.

5 Politicians with the Weirdest Backgrounds

If you think Ronald Reagan, Shirley Temple, and Arnold Schwarzenegger are weird, because they’re actors turned politicians, then you really don’t know the first thing about just how strange the world of politics can be, in terms of backgrounds. Then, there’s former beauty queen Sarah Palin, astronaut John Glenn, and singer Sonny Bono. And, of course, some politicians, like Finland’s Jon Gnarr and Toronto’s Rob Ford are just weird, because… well, they behave in ways quite unlike any we’ve seen before them. But they’re not the focus of today’s post either – for today we look at the five politicians with the weirdest backgrounds. Brace yourselves, because the people on our list really come from the strangest, most unexpected places.

5. Francisco Everado Oliviera Silva ‘Tiririca’ – Clown (congressman, Brazil)

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Clown has got to be one of the tamer professions on our list of politicians with the weirdest backgrounds, but this guy sure has some story. Silva was born into one of the most underprivileged areas in Brazil. He left school at 9 years-old and became a clown immediately after that. It was the circus that helped turn his dream of a singing career into a reality; from music to TV comedian it only took one step. And then, in 2010, his political career began, with a run for the country’s National Congress. The odds against him ran high, as many deemed him a joke and illiterate, but in the end Tiririca prevailed. He was the most popular candidate in the vote and won the Sao Paulo seat. He went on to become one of the most notable and appreciated congressmen in the country.

4. Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura – Wrestler (mayor, state governor, MN, U.S.A.)

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You wouldn’t believe it if you saw it in a movie, but here’s a man who went from professional wrestler to actor to mayor to state governor to Harvard faculty! Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura, a former U.S. marine and Rolling Stones bodyguard performed for the World Wrestling Foundation for more than 10 years. After discovering he had blood clots, he became a TV commentator and an actor, but in 1990 he decided to run for mayor in Brooklyn Park, MN. He defeated the former mayor of 18 years and, in 1998, ran for governor, on a platform that promoted pro-choice, the right to bear arms, and LGBT rights. He never ran for a second term, but briefly taught at Harvard and had his own talk show.

3. Peter Garrett – Rock star (member of the House of Representatives, Australia)

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Remember Midnight Oil, the band that sang about serious issues like the nuclear threat, homelessness, and Australia’s aboriginal population? Remember their hit single Beds Are Burning? Well, what you might not know, however, is that their lead singer Peter Garrett has a longstanding history in politics too. In 1984, he ran for Senate for the Nuclear Disarmament Party and lost, but he did become a member of the House of Representatives in 2004, on behalf of the Labor Party. In spite of the fact that his former rock star status makes him one of the politicians with the weirdest backgrounds ever, Garrett has served two terms (1989-1993; 1998-2004) as the President of the Australian Conservative Foundation.

2. Ilona Staller ‘Cicciolina’ – Adult film star (MP, Italy)

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She barely needs any introduction, especially for Europeans. She held a 5 year term in the Italian Parliament, founded the ‘Party of Love’ together with colleague Moanna Pozzi, struggled to get brothels in Italy legalized and played a part in the furthering of sex ed in Italy. However, she also continued to perform in adult films. During the Gulf War, she actually proposed she have sex with Saddam Hussein, the then-leader of Iraq, in order to persuade him to make peace in the area. Hussein did not respond – nor did the Hungarian-born bombshell receive a second term.

1. Stubbs – Cat (mayor, AK, U.S.A.)

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Forget about those human politicians with the weirdest backgrounds. Mayor Stubbs is, well, a cat. And, yes, he’s the (honorary) mayor of the town of Talkeetna, AK. He’s held that position since 1997, when he got elected into power. He’s a major tourist attraction, hugely fond of catnip-spiked water, and a Facebook star, with more than 10,000 followers. Also, he’s adorable.

Most Famous Hippie Communes Still Alive Today

Hippie communes were largely popular in the 1960s and are still associated today with that “back-to-the-land” philosophy and the idealistic world-view of the hippie movement. But not all such communities and settlements are driven by spiritual rather than pragmatic principles, and some of them managed to endure and even thrive better than what our prejudice might have predicted for them.

Often misrepresented and ridiculed as being nothing more than unrealistic phantasies for slightly deranged, even though harmless people, the communes actually have a history that goes beyond the hippie movement and are not (only) failed social experiments. They should be seen instead as alternatives to the capitalistic way of life or to larger-scaled human settlements; and as every alternative to an established system, they can be more or less successful, depending. Anyway, not that we’re advertising them as better, but given how the macro-scale world system we’re living in is faring at the moment, when world peace seems to be threatened, we totally understand why some people would prefer to live in a hippie commune.

Here is how such gatherings of people function and a few things you probably didn’t know about them.

1. History of communes

As we were saying, communes didn’t get invented in the 1960s, by far. Their history is older than that of the hippie movement, even in the United States. Basically, whenever utopian communities were discussed, the concept of a commune was involved.

In other parts of the world, namely in European countries, communes have existed successfully as far back as the 19th century. The people within them were gathered and organized either around a leading principle (opposition to a regime, or a political belief such as socialism, or a religious belief), or around a charismatic leader or guru figure. A good example of such an old commune is the one founded by John Vandeleur in 1831, Ireland, even though the commune was short-lived due to its leader’s gambling debts. On the other hand, communes like the Scottish Findhorn-based Ecovillage (founded in 1962) are models of success: the village’s wind turbines (pictured below) make it a net exporter of electricity.

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2. Hippie communes still active

The most famous commune in the United States today has got to be The Farm, founded in 1971 and still thriving. The settlement has gone through some economic turbulence and change in the 80s, when the all-pooling way of life wasn’t sustainable anymore and people had to begin self-supporting themselves. In spite of this change, the commune still features communal property and its revolutionary principles are intact. The Farm became very well-known with the release of a documentary about it, called American Commune, produced by the Mundo sisters who grew up in the settlement.

Hammocks in Twin Oaks

Another famous commune example is the Twin Oaks commune, founded in Virginia in 1967 and still faring well. Pictured above is one of its members making a hammock. It is the largest and one of the most enduring secular communities in North America and its principles are those of cooperation, non-violence, egalitarianism, income-sharing and sustainability. It was founded by six individuals with no prior experience in farming, and yet it managed to thrive. Twin Oaks has 100 members, but doesn’t lack in wannabe members: since 2011 the commune has a waiting list for people who want to join, and an old members has to drop membership before a new one can join.

Ongoing hippie communes situated in less secluded, urban areas, include the Ganas (which you can find on Staten Island, New York), or the Jesus People USA (in Uptown, the North side of Chicago). Here is the “Everything goes” free bookstore and library of the Ganas commune:

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3. Info resource on hippie communes

If you’re planning to visit a hippie commune so you can see it with your own eyes, a good place to start looking is this index here. Whether you’re looking for a brief getaway or just curious about how a famous commune functions, a place like that may be so different and exotic compared to what we’re accustomed to that it would be a shame not to be visited.

Three Secret Societies that Supposedly Created the Modern World

Conspiracy theories have always been popular. Nowadays people believe that the world is being run by a secret organization called the Illuminati, and the people of power are nothing but tools. Others think that we are at the mercy of a select few individuals who can decide our fates. Are these theories far-fetched, or is there any truth to them? We might never know the truth, because the whole point of secret organizations is for them to be, well, secret. Nevertheless, there have been quite a few secret organizations in the past who have supposedly created the Modern World, as we know it today. Let’s take a look at the most popular ones.

1. Filiki Etaireia – The Friendly Brotherhood

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The Friendly Brotherhood, with it seemingly innocent name, is actually responsible for the formation of modern-day Greece. They apparently formed during the Greek revolutionary war in 1821, and since then have made plans to overthrow the Ottoman rule in Greece, and re-establish important trade routes. Most of the members were merchants, and everyone in the organization had to pass through 4 levels of membership to gain supreme authority. Of course, everyone also had secret identities. Sadly, the Friendly Brotherhood only managed to recruit 30 members, the most enthusiastic of which was Nikolaus Galatis (who claimed to be the relative of Greek Ambassador for the Russian Empire Ioannis Kapodistrias). This society was responsible for the outburst of the Greek Revolution in the spring of 1821, and although it broke apart during it, Greece managed to win its independence.

2. La Trinitaria

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Another country that owes its existence to a secret society is the Dominican Republic, which was helped by the Trinity Secret society. This society was formed in 1838 due to the desire for independence that was finally voiced through Juan Pablo Duarte (who is often referred to as the father of the Dominican Republic). The goal of la Trinitaria was actually quite grand: members wished to educate the people and spread nationalist sentiments.

Although they attempted a revolution in 1843, they failed miserably and were imprisoned. A handful of members, with Duarte fled to Venezuela and plotted their second uprising for February 27, 1844. In the end Duarte returned to become president but was exiled from the country.

The Trinitaria Oath:

swear and promise, by my honor and my conscience, in the hands of our President, Juan Pablo Duarte, to cooperate with my person, life and goods in the definitive separation from the Haitian government and to plant a free, sovereign and independent republic, free from all foreign domination, that will be called the Dominican Republic.” (Source: Listverse.com)

3. The Hawaiian League

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Somewhere around the beginning of the 19th century the Kingdom of Hawaii was formed. Of course, it did not last long because a secret organization called the Hawaiian League plotted its downfall. This organization consisted of over 200 wealthy Europeans and Americans who were not very happy with King Kalakaua’s rule, who was believed to be too extravagant. Their motto revolved around the constitution written by Lorrin A. Thurston in 1887. Although opinions were contrasting, they all wanted the same thing: to overthrow the monarch. In the end they allied with the Honolulu Rifles and attacked Queen Liliuokalani. In the end Hawaii became US Territory, and in 1959, a state.

There are several other secret societies which should be mentioned because they had an impact on different countries. The list includes, but is not limited to The Union of Salvation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Katipunan. For all we know, there could be other societies that we do not know about even now.

5 Mysterious Places that Will Make the Bermuda Triangle Seem Safe

Everybody knows about the strange sightings and happenings from the Bermuda Triangle, but as creepy as the stories may sound, this place is not the only one teeming with supernatural and paranormal activities. Theories about this place range from plausible, to absolutely ludicrous. Some talk about alien abductions while others have reported time warps and other strange things. If these theories enthrall you, you will definitely love the following 5 Most Mysterious Places that will Make the Bermuda Triangle Seem Safe.

1. Bigelow Ranch

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If animal mutilations, UFO sightings, paranormal creatures and mysterious happenings sound like your cup of tea then you should definitely consider buying your own ranch near the Bigelow one in Utah. There have been many strange occurrences documented in this place since the 50s, but without a doubt the most notable one was that of the Sherman family. In 1994 they encountered a large wolf on their pasture, so the first thing that they thought of was to pet it, since it seemed tame. Although it was gentle with them, it apparently grabbed a calf through the bars of its enclosure, and when they tried to shoot it, nothing happened. In the end it left, and although Terry Sherman tried to track it, its tracks stopped all of a sudden, as if it disappeared. The family also reported UFO sightings, and intelligent floating orbs. In the end they sold the ranch to Robert Bigelow, the founder of the National Institute of Discovery Science.

2. The Bridgewater Triangle

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The first Triangle on our list, is the Bridgewater one. It is literally like an all-you-can-eat buffet of the supernatural. Since 1970 numerous people have documented sightings of tall, hairy, ape-like creatures, Thunderbirds, and even giant Pterodactyl-like creatures. Six years later, a man reported the existence of a red-eyed dog that ripped the heads of his two ponies. But it doesn’t stop here! Physical evidence under the form of mutilations point to the practice of satanic cults in the area. Inexplicable objects in the sky have also been seen, including a sphere of fire which hovered over New England.

3. Point Pleasant

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Point Pleasant is not as pleasant as it may sound. Since 1966 it has been shrouded in tales of mystery and strange events. Besides the “usual” UFO sightings and reports of “Men in Black” it is also the place where the Mothman hangs out. We don’t know if it is an alien, cryptid or just a mutant creature, but hundreds of citizens have reported a 7-foot tall broad chested man with glowing red eyes and wings that stretch 10 feet long (and drag behind him on the ground). The Monthman has appeared in movies, books and stories, and although there have been many scientific theories that tried to explain him, it was to no avail. Sightings ceased on December 15, 1967 when the Silver Bridged collapsed and took 46 people with it.

4. Bennington Triangle

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By now you probably already know that you should stay away from triangles. The Beinnington one has seen its fair share of disappearances, UFO sightings and other strange occurrences. During 1945-1950 five people disappeared in this area, and there was no connection between them, except the geographical one. Only one body was found, the last one, after more than 6 months of searches, but it was so mangled and destroyed that forensics could not determine the cause of death. People from the area believe in things like aliens, Bigfoot monsters, or serial killers that walk the woods. Whatever it may be, one thing is clear, you should stay as far away from triangles as possible.

5. The Devil’s Sea

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Another scary place, with an equally scary name is the Devil’s Sea (or the Dragon’s Triangle, you can call it whichever way sounds more ominous) can be found in the Pacific Ocean, near the coast of Japan. This place is home to unexplained phenomena such as magnetic anomalies, lights, and disappearances. In 1952, Japanese authorities send a vessel with 31 people to investigate the place. They were never seen or heard of again. People believe that the Devil’s Sea is home to gates to parallel universes (even to the Atlantis).