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Famous people who may never have existed

In our present age of ubiquitous information, it’s easy to search for the biography of a celebrity or politician, since history is better preserved now than ever before. Alas, it was not always this way. The facts about many historical figures weren’t written down until years — sometimes decades or even centuries — after they allegedly lived. Given this amount of time, the evidence of the individual’s existence itself may have completely deteriorated, aside from the stories themselves. Here are some famous people whose names you will recognize but who may never have existed at all, at least in their popular form.

The 4-Letter Code You Do NOT Want To See On Your Boarding Pass

Some passengers on flights within or bound for the U.S. may find “SSSS” printed on their boarding passes, Business Insider pointed out this week. That stands for “Secondary Security Screening Selection,” and it entails a 10- to 30-minute additional screening that may involve a thorough search of your bags, a full-body pat down, questioning about your travel plans and additional body scans. Unless something sketchy turns up, you’ll board as usual after the screening.

The Transportation Security Administration’s Secure Flight program, which is currently responsible for that “SSSS” code, has been around since 2010 and stems from laws passed after 9/11. Travelers report seeing the “SSSS” code on their boarding passes years before that, so it’s likely that another government program used the code earlier, according to TSA spokesman Mike England.

Today, the “SSSS” code is printed on travelers’ boarding passes if they appear on an FBI counterterrorism watchlist called the Selectee List, England said. Others are assigned the “SSSS” code at random.

“Secure Flight is a risk-based passenger prescreening program that enhances security by identifying low and high-risk passengers before they arrive at the airport by matching their names against trusted traveler lists and watchlists,” England told HuffPost.

You may be more likely to wind up with the code if you booked your flight last-minute, booked a one-way ticket or are returning from a high-risk country, travel expert Ben Schlappig writes. Experienced flyer The Points Guy noted he seemed to get the “SSSS” code on every airport visit after taking a trip to Turkey, for reasons unknown.

It’s normal for travelers to get the “SSSS” code every once in a while, but if it happens frequently, you may be on a watchlist by mistake, Lifehacker notes. You can contact the government’s Traveler Redress Inquiry Program for any issues related to screening delays and request a review, England said.

Meanwhile, cross your fingers and read up on how to breeze through security with ease.

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this story said the “SSSS” code came into use in 2010. While that was when the TSA’s Secure Flight program began using the code, the TSA says another government program may have been using it before that, as travelers reported seeing it years earlier.

Lindsay Lohan Is On A Magazine Cover

Lindsay Lohan

Lots of weird shit has happened in 2017, but “Lindsay Lohan on a magazine cover not announcing her death” probably ranks pretty high. Per ET:

Lindsay Lohan is a fresh-faced beauty! The 31-year-old actress stuns on the cover of L’Officiel Spain’s October issue, reminding fans that she’s still got it going on.

It’s really that ET tells their writers to be nice. Hard to do in this Lindsay Lohan/political climate.  The people who pay me here talk to me like once a month and we never discuss how I can be nicer, so that’s a plus. And we never discuss Lindsay Lohan at all.

Actors who ruined their career in a matter of seconds

We’re all guilty of making split-second decisions that we later come to regret. When you’re in the business of show, those moments can be potentially career-ending. Scandal is nothing new in Hollywood, but if you’re an actor and your private transgressions happen to go public, you better be prepared to look for a new line of work. While some disgraced stars manage to claw their way back into the limelight from seemingly impossible positions, for most, retiring from the public eye with whatever dignity remains intact is the only option.

Suspected Lung Tumor Turns Out To Be A Playmobil Traffic Cone

Doctors at a respiratory clinic in Preston, England, made the discovery after the patient, a 47-year-old handyman, was referred to them because of a nagging cough that had lasted more than a year, according to the BBC.

Doctors did a scan on the patient’s lung and noticed something on it. Because the man was a longtime smoker, they assumed it was a tumor.

The truth made the doctors gasp themselves: During a bronchoscopy, they discovered the tumor was actually a tiny toy traffic cone the patient had received as part of a gift when he turned 7, according to The Guardian.

Doctors removed the tiny plastic cone with forceps.

Afterward, the patient confessed he had swallowed Playmobil pieces during his childhood, according to a report in BMJ Case Reports, but didn’t know he had inhaled one.

The doctors who wrote the report said while kids commonly inhale small objects by accident, this case was unusual because the onset of symptoms occurred nearly 40 years later.

To their knowledge, they said it was the first reported case of a tracheobronchial foreign body that was overlooked for 40 years.

They hypothesize the patient’s airway somehow adapted to the presence of the plastic toy or was absorbed into the lining of the lung.

The best part is that four months after the procedure, the patient is reportedly not coughing and other symptoms have improved, according to The Guardian.

Did you know that ecotourism could endanger wildlife?

Sometimes it seems humans just can’t do anything right. The well-intentioned, conservation-minded people who spend millions of dollars a year on ecotourism might be making the very critters they’re trying to preserve more vulnerable to predators.

That’s the warning from a group of ecologists working in Brazil, France and the United States. Writing in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution, they offer a plethora of reasons why wild animals might suffer from the benign attention of humans.

People visit protected nature areas an estimated 8 billion times a year, and they spend about US$600bil (RM2.56tril) while doing so, according to a report in PLOS Biology. What distinguishes these trips from other types of travel is that they allow tourists to see wild places in a way that “conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education,” according to the International Ecotourism Society.

But there are several ways that these well-intentioned visits can backfire, the report says.

For instance, simply spending time around humans can lull animals into a false sense of security. Evidence for this comes from studies of “flight initiation distance,” which is a measure of how close to a threat an animal is willing to be before it tries to escape.

Researchers have found that the wild animals living around people in urban areas have smaller flight initiation distances than animals living in rural areas, where humans are more scarce.

In one experiment, urban fox squirrels allowed people to get seven times closer to them before running away compared with fox squirrels in rural areas. (Similar patterns have been observed with birds.) The foxes that were used to people also had a tamped-down response to the vocalisations of their predators, according to a 2009 study in the journal Landscape Ecology.

Even when people ignore the wildlife around them, they tend to create a “human shield” that protects certain animals that would otherwise wind up as prey, the authors of the new study warn. That’s because their predators are afraid to penetrate the human shield to hunt. As a result, the prey animals become less vigilant to threats.

When ecotourists venture into the wild, they create what amounts to a “temporary human shield,” the study authors wrote. Evidence for this comes from Grand Teton National Park, where the more tourist traffic there was, the less time pronghorn sheep and elk spent in “alert postures,” according to a 2014 report in PLOS One. The animals also gathered in smaller groups when more tourists were nearby.

There’s even biological evidence that some animals (in this case, iguanas) exposed to tourists produce fewer stress hormones.

In places where tourism is seasonal, the temporary protection afforded by tourists could make wildlife more vulnerable in the months when humans are not around, the study warns.

Ecotourism may also make life easier for poachers, the study authors added. Some animals, such as elephants, are able to distinguish between threatening and nonthreatening humans. But other animals are less savvy. Field researchers have found that gorillas and Barbary macaques that have become habituated to tourists were slower to hide, flee or attack when poachers approached.

These risks may mean that ecotourism should be added to the list of human activities that are making the world less hospitable for wildlife – a list that includes things such as climate change, deforestation and pollution, the ecologists wrote.

The untold truth of The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski is a quirky, charming cult film that dances a fine line between being completely random yet somehow still grounded. There are so many odd details about the 1998 Coen brothers comedy to obsess over that people are still discussing new theories, making new connections, and swapping trivia. Did you know, for instance, that the Dude’s sweater is called a Westerly Cardigan and is based on a style created by indigenous Canadians? Did you know the “The Dude abides” quote is actually a butchered Bible verse? With this article, we’re gonna dig a bit deeper, but try not to get too far out of our element.

Stars you may not know passed away

We look up to our favorite stars, and when one of them passes, it leaves us all with a heavy heart. Whether they were actors, musicians, or sports legends, each of these people left an undeniable mark on our lives and the world we know today. Some were cut short in their prime while others led a long, fulfilled life before leaving the mortal coil, but they all have one thing in common: they will be missed.