BySam Plank, writer at
"You have to be what you are. Whatever you are, you gotta be it." -Johnny Cash. Tweet a tweeter at my twitty twitter, @tw1tterintw1t
Sam Plank

Throwing a stone into a calm puddle or pond will not only make mad and wet whoever is standing nearby, it will cause all sorts of ripples. According to the Butterfly Effect, a butterfly flapping its wings could have the same effect on the opposite side of the world. The hurricane the butterfly might cause will undoubtedly make a few ripples, and someone is going to get wet...really, really wet.

You could be a college student who has just discovered that, by reading his old journals, he can travel back in time and change the entire world with one simple act. Or, you could just be normal guy who decides to take a chance on a blind date where you really don't expect much to happen. Then, 6 months of dating, 13 months of being engaged, 10 years of marriage, kids, a cat and a house later, you look back and realize that taking that one little chance of a girl you've never even met was your stone in the pond.

Little things lead to huge results every day, all around us. Here are some times in history where one tiny decision changed the entire course of everything.

10. A nice night to go watch a play

Abraham Lincoln made the decision many of us have made in our lives, to go out and catch a flick. Or, the play “Our American Cousin” with Laura Keene, in Lincoln's case. According to one story as told by his friend, Ward Hill Lamon, he even had an eerie dream a few days before his assassination about his own murder. One would think that would be enough to make a president stay home and chill for a while, but this guy. He went to the play, with hardly any security, was murdered by a well-known actor at the time, John Wilkes Booth, and was succeeded in the presidency by Andrew Johnson, who believed it to be an individual's constitutional right to own slaves. Quite the far cry from Lincoln's wish to eventually abolish slavery.

What if Lincoln had paid attention to his dream, or made other plans? Booth, as it turns out, was pretty determined to kill him, so the president may have died by his hands later anyway. But had he not, think of the all ripples with slavery and presidential security, among others, that wouldn't have happened.

9. I just pooped in the woods...I better burn the evidence

At first thought, someone lighting their used toilet paper on fire to get rid of the trash in drought conditions sounds like a really, really bad idea. But if done properly, like sitting there and watching your poop burn (wasn't that a Batman Begins quote?) and making sure you don't burn down 73 acres. See that ember? Stomp on it before it...oops.

Like with any hot news story, there doesn't seem to be a website with the ending of this incident, but at the time, they were talking about taking his $250 fine, and tacking on all the costs of the helicopters, tankers, and firefighters that had to stop the blaze before it took down some houses. All that trouble, just because he didn't think that maybe he should bury his business instead of burning it.

8. A friendly snowball fight never hurt anyone

Let's go from one extreme, fire, to the other. Ice, baby!

It was March 5, 1770. It was cold (obviously), and some residents of Boston were sick and tired of the British occupation of their city, and the unpopular taxes that the British Parliament was shoving in their faces. So, like any good protestor would do, they started throwing stuff. Sticks and stones, two objects that kind of got the shaft in this historical story, and snowballs. It's a widely spread story that a snowball fight started the Revolutionary War. It's not exactly like that, but with the ripple effect, it's not too farfetched. The protests led to the troops firing on the Patriots, as they called themselves, killing 5 and wounding 6, which we know as the Boston Massacre. The protests and shootings forced the Royal Governor to take his troops and leave Boston, and the massacre it was one of the events that led to the Revolutionary War, which was kind of a big event in American history.

7. A slap in the face

We've all heard of Rosa Parks, and the role she played in the civil rights movement. If one Tunisian street vender could be picked to be Rosa's equal, that man would be Mohamed Bouazizi. From the age of 10, until his fiery demise when he was 26, he lived a life of poverty, and being a big source of income for his family. One day in December of 2011, he was working as a street vendor, when some of his stuff was confiscated by market inspectors, claiming he didn't have a permit.

If they would have left matters there, the president at the time might have remained in power for a while longer, corruption might still be rampant, and Bouazizi might still be alive. But a female police officer slapped him, embarrassing him pretty bad. His complaints to the corrupt governor's office fell on deaf ears, so he did what only a handful of protestors have done in the world's history. No, he didn't start a snowball fight. He set himself on fire outside the office, Before he could die of his injuries on a few days later, Tunisia was full of protests, protestors were suppressed by force from the president's regime, and international criticism started pouring in. President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was forced to resign, and the pro-democracy movement began, and politics in the country were forever changed for the better. The Tunis town square was even named after Bouazizi.

All this, from a slap in the face.

6. Oh, ho, ho, it's magic, ya know?

Let's lighten the mood up a bit, from all the burning poo, burning protestors, snowball throwing violence. Let's talk about Harry Potter! In was is truly a case of a very happy ending (that still hasn't ended!), J.K. Rowling wasn't always the billionaire author the entire planet knows.

A single mom, divorcee, and on welfare, Rowling got an idea for a book on a train ride from Manchestor to London. She tried to sell the book to multiple companies, but nobody would bite, until she finally sold Sorcerer's Stone for around $4,000. Ten years, three books, and $480 million dollars in sales later, Rowling, with her Deathly Hallows, would eventually lay claim to having the most pre-ordered book at Barnes & Noble, Borders, and

A simple train ride and an idea for a fun little book resulted in all this Harry Potter mania!

5. Something doesn't add up


This one is sure to make anyone with a background in engineering, or those who hates it when the government wastes money, to cringe. Back in 1999, you may remember a slight mishap at NASA making the news, when they lost a $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter, after it got too far into the Mars atmosphere, did some bad mechanical stuff to some things, and caused the orbiter to fall apart. It was designed to orbit the planet, not land on it.

No single agency or person was blamed, as Lockheed and NASA both dropped the proverbial ball. But so much money and time was wasted on such an easily preventable error.

4. Put the top down

It's a nice day, why not? A simple act like putting the top down when someone goes for a drive downtown doesn't seem like a bad idea at all. Surely not one that would change pretty much everything about the presidency and how he stays safe.

On November 22, 1963, JFK told his secret service agents that he was going to keep the top down on the car so people could see him. He also asked that they not stand on the back of the car. Nobody knows for sure if keeping the top on would have stopped Oswald's bullet from killing the president, but there's a good chance any obstruction in the way of his shot could have changed the course of history. The secret service beefed up, no more open cars with presidents in them or the presidents out in the open; just more security for the POTUS than ever before.

3. If only we had binoculars

Of all the people in the history of the world that would need binoculars, who would you guess needed them the most? At the top of the list is the crow's nest crew on the Titanic. This is not a certainty, but maybe, just maybe they might have seen that iceberg, and man talk about ripples. Everyone who died on the titanic lives, and all the sudden, families that were torn apart are still whole. Think about how different this world might be. But Second Officer David Blair, a man who was supposed to be on the Titanic after its maiden voyage was finished, knew where a pair of binoculars was. He didn't tell anyone of their location.

2. Always time to stop for lunch

When you're hungry, you stop and get a bite to eat, right? Here's a story of a day that, just when it seemed it couldn't get any worse for a bunch of assassins, luck strikes in their favor, and they end up help start the First World War. Wait, what?

Gavrilo Princip was a part of a group of assassins in Bosnia, in 1914, that wanted to stir stuff up. The didn't want to be a part of the Austria-Hungarian empire, but Bosnia was the newest member. When it was announced that Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne, would be visiting Sarajevo, they saw their chance. After one assassin throws a grenade at the motorcade, the fuse is too long and it misses its target. The assassin drinks cyanide and jumps in a river to drown himself, but the cyanide is outdated and the river is four inches deep. Sounds like a Laurel & Hardy episode.

This is where the stone in the pond comes in. One of the assassins, Gavrilo, goes to a deli for lunch and orders a sandwich. Ferdinand is at the town hall, and wants to go visit his men in the hospital, who were injured by the stray grenade, but the driver gets lost and ends up driving in front of the cafe, where Gavrilo is sitting outside. He looks up, sees them, and with two bullets, kills Ferdinand and his wife, and boom, here comes World War I. All because a guy was hungry for a sammich, and was the luckiest guy in Sarajevo.

1. They didn't like my drawings...I'll show them

The last one on the list is actually one result of the second to last. When Gavrilo ordered that sandwich, he unwittingly started a chain of events that would eventually lead to the leadership of the one and only Adolf Hitler. Long before he killed millions of people, he was just a kid with a dream, to get accepted into the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and become an famous artist. Getting rejected not once from the school, but twice, his anti-Semitic beliefs were born. Fast forward a few years, and there we have it; some very large and deadly ripples.


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