The Amazing Story of a Gambler-Turned-Conservationist Who Spent $90 Million Saving Nature

Former gambler and businessman M.C. Davis placed the biggest bet of his life about 20 years ago when he decided to spend a considerable chunk of his fortune on nature. Over the past two decades, he spent $90 million purchasing thousands of acres of land all over Florida. And the risk paid off – he managed to revive forests and swamps across the state, saving several wildlife species in the process. Although he tried to do his conservation work without attracting too much attention, the positive effects of Davis’ efforts could not go unnoticed forever. Last year, he was featured in Smithsonian Magazine and on the National Public Radio website, and his story went viral.

Having grown up in a cramped trailer on a dirt road in the Florida Panhandle, Davis set out to make a fortune at a very young age, becoming a self-proclaimed gambler and hustler. He made hundreds of millions of dollars, but it took a simple traffic jam to bring about the epiphanic moment that would change the course of his life forever. “It’s drizzling rain, and I was just sort of frantic with exasperation,” he told NPR. “Stuck in traffic, and I looked up, and I saw on the marquee of the high school, ‘Black Bear Presentation’. Intrigued, he decided to pull over and attend the event.

At the time, Davis didn’t even know that Florida had black bears, but the lecture made by two women of the Defenders of Wildlife piqued his interest – the very next day he donated enough money to keep the Defenders campaign alive for two years. He also began to read more books written by environmentalists, and kept in touch with Laurice MacDonald, one of the Defenders that had oipened his eyes. “He had the steepest learning curve,” MacDonald later said. “We would begin with little debates. They were a little testy but fascinating.”  

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Ukraine’s ‘Land of the Twins’ – Unique Village Boasts 61 Sets of Twins

Velikaya Kopanya village is better known as Ukraine’s ‘Land of the Twins’ because of its record-breaking 61 pairs of twins among the less than 4,000 inhabitants. The village is soon expected to be included in the Guinness Book of World Records, having already made its way into Ukraine’s record book.

According to locals, the number of twins born in the village is higher than anywhere else in the country. “The ultimate baby boom came in the year 2004,” said local councillor Maryana Savka. “But ever since then we are having at least between two and three sets of twins born every year.”

Maria Chorba, the town’s oldest twin with three pairs of twins among her own grandchildren, said the town’s twin-phenomenon is not a recent one. “When we were growing up we had some friends who were twins, so we are definitely not the first ones here,” she said, recalling her twin sister Anna who died in 2007. “No one could tell us apart. Later Anna moved to live far away and we met only once a year. But if she would get sick I would know that straight away. And then I felt that something really bad had happened to her – at the very moment she died.”

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World’s First Hedgehog Cafe Opens in Japan

Tokyo is now home to the world’s first hedgehog cafe, the latest in a long list of animal-themed establishments in the city. Located in the Roppongi entertainment district, the cafe is named ‘Harry’ – a play on the Japanese word for hedgehog.

Hedgehogs aren’t native to Japan, but they’ve long since been sold as pets in the nation that’s crazy for all things cute. At Harry, 1,000 yen ($9) can buy animal lovers an hour in the company of the prickly yet adorable creatures. The cafe is home to 20 to 30 friendly hedgehogs of different breeds that you can spend time with and even take home. A chalk-written blackboard lists all the available hedgehog breeds available for purchase and their prices by sex. So if customers find it hard to part with the adorable rodents once their hour is up, they have the option to give them a forever home.

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Successful Executive Has Been Living Out of His Car for Over a Year

When they hear about someone living out of their car, most people assume they’re either homeless or having domestic problems. But 26-year-old Edward Mjelde doesn’t have financial problems nor is he married. The high-earning regional sales manager has been living out of his 2014 Ford Escape for the past 12 months simply because he enjoys the minimalist lifestyle.

Edward used to live in a conventional home up until two years ago, when he wento on a 5,000-mile backpacking adventure across America. He loved the new-found freedom so much that he decided to keep on living on the open road. So he moved out of his old home and into his SUV. He kept his new minimalist lifestyle a secret for the past year, but recently took to Reddit to post some photos of his humble abode and show other like-minded people that living out of a car was not only doable, but quite practical as well.

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Free Robot Lawyer Created by 19-Year-Old Programmer Is Saving People A Lot of Money in Legal Fees

British programmer Joshua Browder is helping people save  a lot of money on legal fees with his latest project – the world’s first robot lawyer. The 19-year-old developed a free service that allows users to ask any kind of legal question and receive relevant answers autogenerated by bots.

Browder first started the project last summer as a free website to help people appeal unfair parking tickets. He came up with the idea after getting a series of tickets himself for “trivial reasons”. Having wasted several hours on writing appeals to these tickets, he realised that many people do not have the time, legal knowledge or even the energy to appeal. So he decided to create an automatic appeal generator, using previously successful letters as a template. He aptly named the service DoNotPay, given that the legal fees involved in challenging tickets could mount up to  sizable amounts between $400 to $900.

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Single Men in Turkish Village Stage Protest Demanding Women Stop Refusing Their Marriage Proposals

Frustrated by their lack of marriage prospects, a group of single men in the Turkish village of Uzumlu have taken to the streets in protest. The women of the remote village are apparently refusing to accept any marriage proposalz made by the men because they do not want to be trapped there forever. And the men think they’re being ridiculous.

The last wedding in Uzumlu took place nine years ago, and since then the population of the village has dwindled from 400 to 233. According to mayor Mustafa Bashbilan, many women have chosen to move away from the village to cities like Istanbul and Ankara, but the men stayed behind to care for their inherited farm lands. He added that the lack of prospective wives has made the men unhappy, although they are economically well off.


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Japanese Cafe Creates Delicious-Looking Salad Cakes to Make Dieting Less Depressing

Japanese food stylist Mitsuki Moriyasu is on a mission to prove that salads can look much better than they taste. Last year, she introduced the world to the concept of the ‘Vegiedeco Salad’, an exquisite preparation of vegetables made in the likeness of a cake. The hybrid dish was initially featured on the menu of a bistro in Nagoya, but it got so popular that it is now being exclusively showcased at a brand new cafe in the city.

The savory dish consists of colorful layers of vegetables, sandwiched between two soybean-flour sponge and covered in a tofu or cream cheese frosting blended with vegetables for natural coloring. The end result is a sinful-looking salad-cake that is not just a visual treat but also packs a nutritious punch. Containing very little to no sugar, each salad also includes a good amount of roots and peels for fiber.


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Manipur’s All-Women Market – Over 4000 Shopkeepers and Not One Man Among Them

Literally translating to ‘Mother’s Market’, Ima Keithel is Asia’s largest all-women market, where all the stalls are run exclusively by women. Located in the heart of Imphal, in the Indian state of Manipur, the 500-year-old vibrant bazaar has 4,000-odd local women trading with thousands of customers each day. The market also serves as a meeting ground for discussions on important social and political issues of the state.

The market’s origin dates back centuries, to a time when Manipur was ruled by kings. During this time, a tradition called ‘Lallup’ was followed, requiring male members of the local Meitei community to serve the king whenever summoned. So the women of the household would take the responsibility of farming and commerce. This instilled an entrepreneurial spirit in them, which has been passed all the way down to the present generation of female traders. Interestingly, to this day, only married women are permitted to trade at the market.

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Indonesian Singer Performs for 45 Minutes after King Cobra Bite, Dies on Stage

In a bizarre turn of events, Indonesian singer Irma Bule was bitten by a king cobra while performing on stage last Sunday. She chose to go on with the show, ignoring the enormous risk she was exposing herself to, and ultimately died within the hour.

Bule, 29, was a performer of Dangdut – a traditional folk music genre in Indonesia, very popular for its melodious vocals and instrumentation. It is precisely because of this popularity that the Dangdut scene is oversaturated and highly competitive in the island nation, forcing artists to employ all sorts of gimmicks to stand out and attract crowds. Bule was well known for performing with snakes on stage, and on this occasion, she was performing in the company of a king cobra – still venomous and not even defanged.

Video footage of her past performances indicate that Bule was very comfortable in the company of snakes, but something went terribly wrong on Sunday. According to eyewitnesses, she accidentally stepped on the snake’s tail early on during the concert, and it turned and bit her in the thigh. But instead of cancelling the performance, as most people bitten by a king cobra surely would have, the dedicated artist chose to continue with the show, and even refused an antidote that the snake handler offered her.

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Feline Hachiko Has Been Waiting for Its Owners in the Same Spot for Over a Year

Cats are generally perceived as independent, but they’re also capable of displaying undying loyalty, a quality that is usually characteristic of dogs. Proving the point is this poor Russian cat that has been waiting for its owners for over a year at the exact spot where they abandoned him.

The cat was first photographed sitting on a manhole cover in Belgorod city, in the summer of 2015, by a man named Ostap Zadunayski. He then noticed the cat sitting at the same spot day after day, and curious to know more about this unusual behavior, he asked local residents for more information.

That’s when he discovered that the cat’s owners used to live nearby, but they sold their apartment last year and moved away, leaving the poor creature behind . Eyewitnesses told Ostap that they actually saw the cat run after the car as the owners drove away. Since then, it has been patiently waiting at the same spot for their return, living off the food offered to him by kind locals.

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Krishna’s Butter Ball – A Precariously Perched 250-Ton Boulder Defying the Laws of Physics

For over 1,300 years, this large rock has been confounding the locals of Mahabalipuram, a beach town near Chennai, in Southern India. The mysterious landmark is perched on hill at a 45-degree angle, balancing off an extremely small surface area without slipping or even budging an inch. Men and even elephants have tried moving it from its precarious position , but every attempt so far has failed.

The locals call it ‘Vaanirai Kal’ (Stone of the Sky God), but the rock is more popularly known as ‘Krishna’s Butter Ball’, referencing Lord Krishna’s favorite food, butter, fallen from the heavens. The gravity-defying rock, measuring 20 ft high and five meters in diameter, is estimated to weigh over 250 tons, which makes it heavier than the monolithic stones of Machu Picchu, or Ollantaytambo. Despite its massive size and weight, Krishna’s Butter Ball is firmly anchored on a four-foot base along the slope of a small hill located on the outskirts of Mahabalipuram. It looks like it might slip any moment and come crashing down the hill, but it has stayed that way for several centuries now.

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White Ink Tattoos – A Visually Stunning Yet Controversial Type of Body Art

While solid black tattoos are gaining popularity in some circles, others seem to prefer getting their skin etched with white ink. The new trend involves the use of only white ink, without any black outlines or additional color. So a white ink tattoo is pretty much just an outline – it could look amazing if done well, but there’s a high chance of it turning into a disaster as well.

There’s a lot of mixed information about white ink tattoos on the internet – while some sources think they’re brilliant, others believe that no professional tattoo artist would ever recommend them, mainly because they’re too faint and can end up looking like scars, or worse still, a skin disease. To make matters worse, the white ink have a tendency to fade much faster than regular ones, taking on a yellowish tinge that looks absolutely horrible, especially when low quality paints are used.

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Vietnam’s Bikini Airline Proves Unsurprisingly Profitable

VietJet Air, Vietnam’s only privately-owned airlines, has worked up quite a stir in the aviation industry with its young, attractive, bikini-clad flight attendants. Female VietJet employees don colorful bikinis and even put up an inflight performance for their customers, mostly during inaugural flights to beach locations. The marketing gimmick has earned the company huge profits, and plenty of criticism to boot.

These ‘bikini performances’ are not a standard practice on all flights – they’re more like a featured bonus on certain routes. One of the earliest shows was staged on a 2012 flight from Ho Chi Minh City to the coastal city of Nha Trang. As reported by ABC News, “Clad in vaporous string bikini tops and sarongs that flaunted the company colors of red and yellow, young, beautiful women filed down the plane’s aisles for a bikini show.”

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Hong Kong Designer Creates Functional Scarlett Johansson Robot

Graphic designer Ricky Ma is making headlines for creating an incredibly realistic life-sized robot that resembles the beautiful Scarlett Johansson. The homemade cyborg can mimic a limited set of human movements using it’s head and limbs, and even respond to a set of programmed verbal commands spoken into a microphone. He’s even taught it to wink and say “thank you” when complimented on its looks.

Having grown up watching animated films featuring robots, Ricky had always dreamed of building one of his own. And now, at age 42, he’s managed to do just that, working from the balcony of his Hong Kong home. He had to teach himself everything about robotics from scratch, and spent over $50,000 building his first female prototype.

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The Concrete Cowboys of Philadelphia

In a bid to help young men stay out of trouble, southwest Philly resident Malik Divers has come up with his own brand of therapy – horse riding. He allows the kids of a run-down neighborhood to hang around and even ride horses from his own stable, and has them offer $5 rides to local residents in exchange.

By teaching kids to ride and care for horses, Malik has introduced them to empathy, compassion, and responsibility. His teenage horsemen are now part of a unique group called ‘Concrete Cowboys’ – an unlikely yet familiar sight on the neighborhood’s concrete pathways, trotting leisurely alongside cars, buses, and bikes.

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