Wednesday, December 27, 2006
This story from OddPeak brings together the 10 most bizarre, downright weirdest people in the world.
* Thai Ngoc has not slept for three decades.
* Sanju Bhagat stomach swelled so big that he couldn't breathe properly. When surgeons cut him open, they found his twin brother inside his stomach, with fully formed arms, legs, teeth and hair.
* Shoichi Yokoi was a Japanese soldier sent to Guam in 1941. He was discovered hiding out in a cave, still believing he was at war, 28 years later.
* Mehran Nasseri is an Iranian refugee who has lived at a French airport since 1988.
* Matayoshi Mitsuo claims that he is Jesus Christ. The Japanese Jesus that is. He's a politician who has urged those running against him to commit suicide. He expects to one day be named Secretary General of the United Nations.
* Lal Bihari was officially dead from 1976 to 1994. It took him eighteen years of fighting Indian bureacracy to finally be recognised as...a living person.
* David Icke used to play professional football in the UK. Now he is world famous for his theorising that the human race was once ruled by reptillian humanoids. He claims the Queen of England, President George W. Bush and, uh, Kris Kristofferson are direct descendents of the lizard people.
* David Bawden is an American who claims he was elected Pope in 1990.
* Yoshiro Nakamatsu has analysed and photographed every single meal he has eaten for the past 34 years. He believes he will live to 140 years old. He also invented the computer floppy disk.
* Michel Lotito is a French entertainer whose claim to fame is that he can eat just about anything, including cars, bicycles and televisions. He has an extraordinary stomach, obviously, and is able to consume toxic materials that would kille most normal people.
To this list I would also add this Russian man who manages to remain alive even though his heart no longer pumps blood through his body.
Go Here For The Full Story
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Iraqi Omar Satar Hussein has survived 30 bombings, 37 shootings and 11 mortar strikes.
He just happens to work with the US Army as a translator.
He is known as "Lucky". No surprises there.
Working for the US Army is about the most dangerous profession an Iraqi can have today. 'Lucky's' a association with the Americans, and the Iraq War, have cost him dearly. His fiancee, family, friends.
Hussein mastered the English language with the help of Abba, Lionel Richie and Bryan Adams cassettes.
His favourite, most inspiring song? "Stayin' Alive' by The Bee Gees.
From the AFP :
"...I'm lucky with my job. I've survived many attacks, but I'm very unlucky with my private life."
The life of an interpreter for the US army in Iraq is not an easy one. From social ostracism to death at the hands of insurgents, the job is fraught with risk.
"Everybody in Baquba knows my job -- I work for the Americans," said Lucky, who, alone among his translator colleagues, does not wear a mask to conceal his identity.
"I have no family anymore. My grandfather told me that I didn't belong anymore, so America is all I have."
Hussein himself has become pretty familiar with the inside of a US military operating room and he likes nothing better than showing off his collection of scars that stretch from his head to his toes, including a nasty cut on his leg from shrapnel that came from a rocket launched by an Apache attack helicopter.
"If I hadn't been lucky I would probably be dead," he said.
A bit of a show-off, Hussein is one of the rare interpreters who actually speaks English like a native, having particularly mastered American slang and profanity...
It is what it is. A shortage of kilts :
Soldiers in Scotland's new "super regiment" have to share kilts because of a shortage of the ceremonial dress.
The Royal Regiment of Scotland has 5,000 soldiers but just 320 kilts, just one for every 15 men.
An MoD spokesman said: "A planned deployment will be agreed with the Royal Regiment of Scotland on a roll-out basis with two battalions of kilts made by May 2007 and the full programme completed by January 2008.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Over the decades, the criminal entity commonly known as the 'Italian Mafia' have turned a buck (or ten million) from bootlegging booze, smuggling heroin and cocaine, exorting shopkeepers and presidents, performing assassinations by contract - you name, and they've found a way to make money out of it.
But times are getting tough, even for the Mafia. There used to be a lot of money to made from olive oil, but now the Mafia has found something even more profitable.
Hijacking cheese trucks, particularly the ones carrying wheels of Parmasen.
From the UK Observer :
Gangs lie in wait at service stations on the Milan-Bologna motorway to ambush drivers when they stop for coffee. In one instance, a driver was threatened by four armed men, tied up and gagged, and his van carrying 300 wheels of cheese was driven away. The wheels were taken to an industrial estate, cut up and then sold in stores.
To counter the thefts, producers and the Italian farmers' union, Coldiretti, are experimenting with microchips hidden in the crusts of the cheese, which means they are more easily identifiable. Markings burnt on to the crust can also help police track the stolen cheese.
Although similar hard cheese is made all around the world, the authentic Parmesan comes from a specific area around Parma and Reggio Emilia and is made from cows' milk.
The average Italian family is said to eat half a kilo of Parmesan a week, mostly by sprinkling it on pasta.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
METHANE VENTS LIKE UNDERWATER ZOOS FOR EXOTIC CREATURES
From New Scientist :
Go Here For The Full Story
The deep-sea communities live around methane seeps off New Zealand’s eastern coast, up to 1 kilometre beneath the sea surface. The team of 21 researchers from the US and New Zealand, who spent two weeks exploring the area, have just returned to shore.
Cold seeps are areas of the seabed where methane or hydrogen sulphide gas escape from stores deep underneath. Like hydrothermal vents, the gases support unique life forms that can convert the energy-rich chemicals into living matter in the absence of any sunlight.
(Researchers) used sonar to map the seafloor and to detect plumes of water rich in methane, then lowered a video and stills camera system over each site.
This allowed them to record images of tube worms between 30 cm and 40 cm in length as they emerged from beneath limestone boulders. They also recorded corals, sponges and shell beds covered with various types of clam and mussel.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Is the mystery stranger who has left more than more 170 roses on the grave of an unsolved murder victim the person responsible for the murder?
This is exactly the question that the family of Frances Lunsford are asking.
One month after Frances was murdered, five years ago, a single, long-stemmed fake rose appeared on her grave. The roses still appear on her grave, but nobody knows who is leaving them there.
From the Associated Press :
When I first found them, I started to throw them away," said Lunsford's siter, Rhonda Shaw, who first found the roses at the Ty Ty Baptist Church cemetery.
"But then I thought, 'No, these must be from someone who truly cared about Frances.'"
Lunsford's murder remains unsolved and no arrests have ever been made in the case.
Family members asked relatives and just about anyone who they could think of who might be visiting the grave. No one knew anything.
Shaw decided the roses were from someone devoted to her sister. But the problem was that her family didn't know anyone in Lunsford's life who was devoted to her.
Lunsford's sister decided that maybe the roses didn't come from someone who loved her sister, maybe they came from someone who had a guilty conscience. Maybe they came from the person who had killed her sister.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
One of the most amazing segments from a nature doco I remember seeing as a kid showed a group of African elephants congregating around piles of fermenting fruit and berries, and tucking in, with obvious delight.
The elephants got pissed, then partied...which for these elephants meant charging around in circles, trying to trip each other over and falling in a heap harumphing in delight. The elephants were shown the next morning, looking hungover, moving slow, squinting at the sun, trying to sleep off the damage.
The narrator explained that this group of elephants returned to the same area each year, just in time for their fermented fruit piss-up.
This story from the London Times claims that elephants tearing apart villages, and villagers, in India in search of rice beer are only doing so because they smell the beer as a food source. Perhaps. Or maybe they want to party, like their ancient African relatives :
A herd of elephants drunk on rice beer has trampled three people to death, including a four-year-old boy, on a rampage through a village in the northeastern Indian state of Assam.
Residents of Teok Kathoni tried to scare them off using drums and firecrackers, but the elephants consumed the remote village’s stocks of rice beer, then charged through huts, killing the boy and injuring his eight-year-old brother.
...as those forests have shrunk, the elephants have strayed into villages, destroying crops, raiding granaries and attacking humans. They also appear to have developed a taste for the potent rice beer that villagers brew and store in their homes.
It's a war. The villagers of Assam have killed some 265 elephants in the past five years. The elelphants have killed 239 people. The villagers are winning, for now.
Go Here For The Full Story
“The elephants don’t have a home and their food supplies have dropped, so they go into the paddies and villages in search of food,” said Ravi Singh, of WWF India.
“They have a sharp sense of smell, so they are attracted by the pungency of the rice beer. It’s not the alcohol, it’s the smell from the fermentation process that attracts them.”
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
BRITISH FISH AND CHIP SHOP OWNERS "PEEVED"
All across China, replica English villages are popping up on the outskirts of major cities. British Town, Thames Town, it's a remarkable housing phenomenon, and is proving extremely popular with the cashed-up Chinese middle class.
Reproducing English villages and architecture in China is not necessarily a new thing, however. When I was living in Somerset in the late 1990s, a local village church was bought by a Chinese developer, who then dismantled the church brick by brick and sent it back to China, where it was rebuilt for English-themed weddings and baptisms.
From YahooNews.com :
An hour's drive from Shanghai's skyscrapers in the suburb of Songjiang lies Thames Town, complete with pub, fish-and-chip shop and even a bronze statue of Winston Churchill.
"I wanted the properties to look exactly the same as those in the United Kingdom," James Ho, the director of privately owned Shanghai Henghe Real Estate Co. Ltd., one of the town's five developers.
"I think English properties are very special. When we decide to learn from others, we should not make any improvements or changes. I emphasised this policy to my staff," he told Reuters.
The development, which cost about 5 billion yuan (334 million pounds), is expected to house 10,000 people.
Yet that copycat feeling has irked some people, not least Gail Caddy from Lyme Regis in Dorset, southwest England.
She said her pub and fish-and-chip shop have been replicated in Thames Town. Her establishments, the Rock Point Inn and Cob Gate Fish Bar, have both been reproduced almost exactly, though Caddy's fish-and-chip shop is spelt "Cobb".
"I feel cheated considering that they have copied the whole unique experience of my two businesses here," she said.
Almost all the houses have been sold for prices starting at three million yuan (about 200,000 pounds). Most buyers are from Shanghai.
British architecture is not the only inspiration for town planners in China. An Italian and German town are also planned.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Some cloned meat products have already been cleared by the US Food And Drug Administration for retail sale, and scientists have talked about likelihood of something close to a 'meat tree' becoming a reality.
In the meantime, we have the bizarre reality of genetically altered animals.
Super cows, pigs that glow in the dark and goats that produce spider's silk. Not fantasy, but already a reality.
Genetically altering, or tinkering, with the building blocks of animal life is now a booming industry. Curiously, those furiously opposed to stem cell research, claiming a religious pre-requisite, have little to say about the human alteration of some of God's other creatures.
From the UK Daily Mail :
If a human gene or two is added to the DNA of a cow to produce leaner meat, and you eat it in steak form, does that count as cannibalism?
Channel 4 is to unveil a shocking menagerie of genetically modified animals in a new show revealing the frightening leaps technology has taken.
Among the bizarre engineered creatures from around the world is a giant cow, three times the size of ordinary cattle, reared without fat to produce gallons of milk.
But the so-called Belgian Blue - pictured here - is perhaps the least disturbing of the creatures to be shown in the three-part series Channel 4 Farm this winter. There are also glow-inthedark pigs and goats which produce spider's silk.
TV scientist Olivia Judson and journalist Giles Coren travel the world to visit the places where these animals are now being reared.There is even a genuine "allotment" of growing human noses.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
And you thought your neighbours were a bunch of loud, wild, violent monkeys.
From the National Georgraphic :
Conflicts between baboons and humans in the suburbs of prosperous Cape Town have gotten so bad that monitoring teams have been deployed to keep the animals away.Residents are now basically waging war on the baboons, shooting and poisoning them, and running them down in their cars. The baboons, meanwhile, have worked out how to open doors and windows, zeroing in on the fridges, lazing around on the furniture and taking dumps on the carpet.
The large monkeys invade people's homes in the coastal Table Mountain region, sometimes confronting people who try to scare the baboons off.
Sounds like some of my old house guests, back in the early 1990s.
The situation has also caused rifts within communities. In a suburb ironically named Welcome Glen, rival societies have formed, with some trying to protect the baboons and others wanting them removed or killed.
Amazing stuff. The baboons are no longer scared of the local humans.
"I have had them in my house several times, even while I was there. They simply brushed past me. I had to get out of the way," Laing said. "Even my husband got threatened by a baboon.""They move in a troop of about 30, and they are so wide apart that it is impossible to stop them slipping into built-up areas."
Teams of humans are now lying in wait for the baboons to make a move on the populated areas, they then keep up with monkeys as best they can and try to scare them off when they try and get inside the houses.
But the baboons aren't dumb. They've already worked out what's going on. So some of them have given up the daylight raids, and get up before dawn to sneak into the towns before the locals can get organised into their patrol units.
Apparently they also know the days when rubbish is collected. They get into the garbage bins and bags before the rubbish trucks arrive.
The source of the problem is human encroachment into the baboons' historic habitat.
There are about 370 baboons in the area, and they are essentially trapped by coastal cliffs to the south and nearly complete development on the plains to the north.
Some 250 baboons live in the region's Table Mountain National Park, but it is hardly a secure home.
At about 148,260 acres (60,000 hectares), the park is a narrow, jagged strip of mountainous terrain, which is surrounded and in places fragmented by urban development.
A few years back, one of the locals decided it was time to try and freak out the baboons, by catching one and painting it white. The idea was that this would somehow scare off the others.
....all it led to was the heartbreaking sight of the rest surrounding it and grooming it until all the paint was off...Go Here For The Full Story
Monday, October 16, 2006
FEARFUL THEY COULD BE USED AS MINI-CAR BOMBS
Taking a remote control car, filling it with high-powered explosives, and then running it into a crowd or under a real vehicle, is an idea that has been used in countless American action movies.
Now, in Sri Lanka at least, there are real fears that remote control trucks, cars, aircraft and fire engines could become the latest weapon of 'terrorists' in the region. All such toys have now been banned.
From the TimesOnline :
(Sri Lanka) Customs officials have been ordered to seize shipments of the toys and confiscate them from tourists bringing them into the country as presents.
Amid rising violence, the decision reflects government fears that separatists are becoming ever more creative in their bomb-making skills.
“Even small objects could be packed with one or two kilogrammes of plastic explosives,” R. M. K. Ratnayake, the Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, said.
“Anyone mischievous, not necessarily the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam], could use a remote-controlled device. We just want to prevent it. This is for national security.”
The arrival of international aid after the devastating 2004 tsunami brought with it container loads of foreign-made toys.
The ministry said it has evidence that some were used as bombs.
While most of the fighting is restricted to the northeast of Sri Lanka, Colombo has been rocked by car bombs in recent months and there is concern that the violence could spread as the tourist season looms.
The ban doesn't affect all the remote control toys already on store shelves, or the thousands that arrived in the country via charities. If terrorists hadn't already thought of using these toys as weapons of minor destruction, they certainly will now.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
DOCTORS TURN BACK TO ANCIENT REMEDY AS MODERN MEDICINE FAILS
From Wired.com :
When Jennifer Eddy first saw an ulcer on the left foot of her patient, an elderly diabetic man, it was pink and quarter-sized. Fourteen months later, drug-resistant bacteria had made it an unrecognizable black mess.
Doctors tried everything they knew -- and failed. After five hospitalizations, four surgeries and regimens of antibiotics, the man had lost two toes. Doctors wanted to remove his entire foot.
"He preferred death to amputation, and everybody agreed he was going to die if he didn't get an amputation," said Eddy, a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
With standard techniques exhausted, Eddy turned to a treatment used by ancient Sumerian physicians, touted in the Talmud and praised by Hippocrates: honey.
Eddy dressed the wounds in honey-soaked gauze. In just two weeks, her patient's ulcers started to heal. Pink flesh replaced black. A year later, he could walk again.
"I've used honey in a dozen cases since then," said Eddy. "I've yet to have one that didn't improve."
Eddy is one of many doctors to recently rediscover honey as medicine. Abandoned with the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s and subsequently disregarded as folk quackery, a growing set of clinical literature and dozens of glowing anecdotes now recommend it.
Most tantalizingly, honey seems capable of combating the growing scourge of drug-resistant wound infections, especially methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, the infamous flesh-eating strain.
These have become alarmingly more common in recent years, with MRSA alone responsible for half of all skin infections treated in U.S. emergency rooms. So-called superbugs cause thousands of deaths and disfigurements every year, and public health officials are alarmed.
Though the practice is uncommon in the United States, honey is successfully used elsewhere on wounds and burns that are unresponsive to other treatments. Some of the most promising results come from Germany's Bonn University Children's Hospital, where doctors have used honey to treat wounds in 50 children whose normal healing processes were weakened by chemotherapy.
"We're dealing with chronic wounds, and every intervention which heals a chronic wound is cost effective, because most of those patients have medical histories of months or years," he said.
Honey, formed when bees swallow, digest and regurgitate nectar, contains approximately 600 compounds, depending on the type of flower and bee. Leptospermum honeys are renowned for their efficacy and dominate the commercial market, though scientists aren't totally sure why they work.
"All honey is antibacterial, because the bees add an enzyme that makes hydrogen peroxide," said Peter Molan, director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. "But we still haven't managed to identify the active components. All we know is (the honey) works on an extremely broad spectrum."
"The more we keep giving antibiotics, the more we breed these superbugs. Wounds end up being repositories for them," Eddy said. "By eradicating them, honey could do a great job for society and to improve public health."
It's absolutely shocking that such a simple and widely available cure, that produces virtually no side effects, is not in total common usage around the world.
Another chapter in the Lost Knowledge of our modern world.
If you don't believe honey works as described above, simply try it for yourself. I've been using it for years for everything from burns to shaving cuts.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
DOLPHINS AND WHALES COME CLOSE, SAY RESEARCHERS
Dolphin and whale watchers have known the truth about these remarkable creatures for years, but it's taken time for the scientific researchers to catch up. And they seemed startled by revelations that environmentalists, fighting for the protection of dolphin and whale habitats, have been telling the world for decades.
Dolphins and whales are not just smart, they can tools, language, express grief, show empathy and compassion and solve complex problems.
From The UK Independent :
Go Here To Read The Whole Story
A growing number of behavioural studies strongly suggest that whale and dolphin brain power is matched only by the higher primates, including man....
For instance, captive animals have been shown unequivocally to be able to recognise themselves in a mirror, which was previously known to be the domain only of humans and the great apes.Dolphins can "point" at objects with their heads to guide humans to them, and they can also manipulate objects spontaneously, despite their lack of fingers and thumbs.
There is a well-documented use of tools in an Australian population of wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins...
They show remarkably human-like emotions, ranging from joy to grief to care for the injured.
(In one example cited in a report) a 30-strong pod of false killer whales which remained with an injured member in shallows for three days, exposing themselves to sunburn and the risk of stranding, until it died.
Dolphins Can Feel Joy And Sadness
Whales And Dolphins Show Distinctive Human Traits
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I've spent far too much time, since coming online in 1996, looking at literally hundreds of thousands of wildlife photographs. And the picture above, without doubt, is one of the most extraordinary images I've ever come across.
Lions Hunting Elephants is a new phenomenon that is freaking out animal experts, and wildlife documentary film-makers, and wildlife photography addicts.
In nature, nothing is stagnant, nor anything too sacred. Lions and elephants have moved amongst each other in Africa for hundreds of thousands of years, but there are few, if any, credible reports of lions hunting and killing elephants, until now.
The image above was taken by a BBC crew in Botswana, where a pride of lions have been apparently driven by hunger to turning on one of the few animals that poses a serious threat to their lives.
Excerpts From Feature Story In The 'London Times :
Lions are among the animal kingdom’s most brutal and efficient predators but no one had heard of them hunting elephants before. These two big beasts of the savannah have plenty of mutual respect and normally give each other a wide berth.
The lions hunt elephants because they have discovered that they can. The Savute elephant killers are an unusually large pride that fluctuates between 30 and 50 animals. The dry season has always been a desperate time for wildlife in northern Botswana. One year, perhaps, water, and therefore prey, was scarcer than ever and a small or weak elephant was killed in a moment of bold opportunism. Then there was no turning back.
Most of the hunting takes place at night when it is cool and the elephants, with their poor night vision, are at a distinct disadvantage against lions.
By day the elephants rule, dominating the water holes that are at the centre of the nocturnal dance of death.
The balance of power shifts as night falls. Breeding herds start to pass through. Groups of female elephants guide their young to the water hole, which becomes crowded with as many as 30 or 40 elephants, noisily sluicing and splashing.
...when the roaring begins, it comes as such a surprise that we are surrounded by lions. The noise is intended to intimidate the herds passing through. The lionesses check out the elephants as they pass, looking for vulnerable targets. They get very interested in a calf and its mother and other adults have to close ranks to shepherd it through the pride.
The elephants trumpet with panic as they crash through the undergrowth. One of the lionesses jumps on the young elephant’s back and another grabs its haunches. The hind-leg tendons are severed and the animal crashes to the ground. The rest of the lions pile in. The mother thunders off into the bush, apparently realising that there is nothing she can do to protect her child from this onslaught. “
The hunt, from the moment the lionesses spotted their victim until they felled it, lasted just 30 seconds.
The whole story of the BBC crew witnessing, and filming, the lions taking down and devouring elephants is worth a read. But it's not pretty.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Tigers would happily rip into a goat or a cow in the wild, so is it cruel to feed them to tigers in a zoo? While the public looks on?
Is it lunch or is it demented live entertainment for the Chinese, who copped a pasting in Western media last week for the 'Animal Olympics' in Shanghai, which saw monkeys weightlifting, bears attempting gymnastics and kangaroos boxing...clowns.
Live mice and rats are fed to snakes in zoos, and many would argue rats are more intelligent than goats.
Does it come down to a question then of the size of the 'live lunch'?
Why should tigers miss out on something still kicking when snakes can gorge themselves and the RSPCA says nothing?
Ahhh, moral quandries.
Meanwhile the photos are indeed damn spectacular.
From the DailyMail.co.uk :
According to officials at Changchung Wildlife Park, staff are training the big cats to kill live prey in order to hone their hunting skills.
But animal rights campaigners questioned the park's motives and said the practice of feeding goats and calves to caged tigers raised serious welfare concerns.
A spokesman for the RSPCA said: 'We would question the motives behind feeding live animals to tigers in a non-wild environment. It raises concerns over animal welfare on behalf of the livestock being fed to these tigers.
'Throwing live animals to caged tigers doesn't re-create anything that happens in the wild, if that is their aim.'
Tigers are one of the world's most endangered species, with only 6,000 remaining in the wild. In the past century alone, three sub-species of tiger has become extinct die to illegal hunting and a continued loss of habitat.
Friday, September 29, 2006
CROWDS IN CHINA GO WILD FOR VIOLENT ANIMAL SPORTS
It's a pretty safe bet that Australia invented kangaroo-boxing as a sport, but it's been officially banned here for decades.
Not so in China, where crowds apparently roar with delight when kangaroos are are turned loose on...clowns.
It's hardly a fair fight. The kangaroo's boxing gloves are tiny, plus he's been tethered in place.
But then, if the kangaroo was free he probably would have completely destroyed the clown. Anyone who has ever copped a double kick from even a small kangaroo knows just how strong, how powerful they really are.
From the Daily Mail :
An Australian kangaroo receives a fierce blow to the head by a man dressed in a clown suit in a shameful contest that will further fuel fears over China's barbaric attitude to animals.
The bizarre marsupial-versus-human bout happened during the so-called Animal Olympics in Shanghai.
Animal rights campaigners say the Chinese have an appalling poor record for animal rights protection and have no laws to protect them.
In the fight, the Australian kangaroo appears to reel backwards after receiving a right hook from its garishly attired opponent.
But the 'roo, which was wearing boxing gloves on its front paws, fought back, grappling with the clown who was forced back towards the ropes by its onslaught.
The kangaroo is just one of 300 'athletes' taking part in the annual event, now in its fourth year, at the Shanghai Wild Animal Park.
The event held in a large arena also involves an elephant carrying the Olympic torch and various animals including zebras and mountain goats put through a series of events such as hurdles and races.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
He may have been one hell (literally) of a dicator, but he was one extremely average painter.
These images show the handiwork of a young Adolf Hitler, when he still entertained the fantasy that he was, and would one day be recognised, as a great artist.
The history of these paintings appears to be sketchy, and they are being promoted as "believed to have been painted by Hitler". Presumably it's hard to authenticate the 'art' of one of history's greatest monsters.
Hitler is estimated to have completed some 3000 paintings before he turned to politics, and collecting his art has long been a controversial and extremely competitive business in the United States.
From the Daily Mail (UK) :
Few would give house room to the indifferent scenes of churches, cottages and woodland. Even the auctioneer concedes the amateurish paintings have little artistic merit and would perhaps raise £1 apiece if they went under the hammer.
But a closer look at the signature penned in the corner of the 21 watercolours and two rough drawings might explain why bidders from around the world descended on a quiet Cornish hotel yesterday.
....the pictures are signed AH or A Hitler and believed to be the work of the Nazi dictator, drawn while a young corporal billeted on the France/Belgium border in the First World War.
As a boy Adolf Hitler fantasised at becoming a painter but was twice turned down by Vienna's Academy of Fine Art for lack of talent.
Whatever the childhood artistic abilities, his notoriety pushed prices way above the estimates at the Hitler sale.For 70 years the paintings sold yesterday had been tucked away in a suitcase gathering dust in a Belgian attic.
They are believed to have been painted between 1915 and 1918 on the borders of France and Belgium where Hitler was a corporal.
Much of the work spent authenticating the paintings was carried out in Belgium. The paper was found to be the right age and the style matches other Hitler works but because 100% authentication could not be guaranteed the auctioneers sold them as 'attributed to Hitler.'
Said one of the auctioneers : "I fully admit the paintings are amateurish and their value was purely down to the artist. If it wasn't for who painted them they would probably not be worthy of selling."
The 23 watercolours and sketches raised a total of more than $US160,000, with the most expensive painting going for around $US14,000.
The modified gas bread ovens used to exterminate millions of Russians, Poles and Germans during the 1940s could also be called "pieces of history", but you wouldn't expect them to go up for auction.
Some people will blow their money on any old piece of crap, as long as they determine it has "name value".
Soon to be auctioned, Stalin's pisspot and Mussolini's muddy old boots. Maybe.
UPDATE : Good Christ, I just found a serious appreciation of Hitler's watercolours and an examination of his "artistic style" :
Comfortable with classical European styles, Hitler apparently was unable and unwilling to accept modern developments in art after 1910. Because the new schools broke radically with comfortable tradition and increasingly with reality itself, he branded them as "degenerate."
....he disliked modern works.
Hitler's fascination with and preference for the realism of the 19th century remained unshakable. His typical landscapes, city scenes and still lifes all dearly indicate how completely he was captivated by conventional forms of expression.
Even though Vlenna was at the height of the art nouveau era during Hitler's years in the city (1907?1913), he was totally unaffected by the movement, and continued to paint conservative subjects in older styles.
Of course, one should not ignore the fact that such traditional themes and styles were the preferred taste of his customers from Vienna's lower middle class. As can be seen in numerous paintings in the catalogue, he frequently copied well-known city views, old engravings and popular paintings of an earlier era: they were undoubtedly easier to sell.
Hitler believed that the foremost requirement for an artist was the ability to reproduce details of life in realistic form. This attention to detail can be seen in his landscapes, city scenes and architectural designs.
Hitler believed that a "proper sensitivity for art," as he expressed it, governed the content of art as well as the techniques. Above all, the subject matter must be understandable for the masses.
"Healthy" art has a "healthy soul," he claimed. It should be "uplifting," "noble," and "idealistic."
He considered certain themes such as the family, everyday work, mythology, rural life and landscapes, the perfected human body, or the heroic soldier to be subjects worthy of art.
His insistence on what he considered "normal" and "healthy" attributes obviously conflicted with the emerging schools of modern art - Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, etc.
He claimed these "terrible aberrations" were produced by "scribblers, canvas scrawlers, mental defectives or cultural Neanderthals."
Cultural Neanderthals? Mental defectives?
Hitler didn't just do boring landscapes. He also painted and sketched buildings, nudes and...dogs.
Hanging A Hitler In Your Hallway - The Art Of Evil
Friday, September 22, 2006
FANTASY FOODS AT A FANTASY PRICE
Do you like gold with your marmalade? Would paying $US15 for one spoonful make you laugh, or would it make you nod eagerly?
British food giants now regularly turn out publicity grabbing dishes and delicacies to mark this anniversary or that billion dollar holiday or special day. Easter eggs worth tens of thousands of pounds or the $100 Wagyu beef and foi gras sandwich are just a couple of the recents.
Now comes the world's most expensive, ahh, marmalade :
Duerr's, a family-run Manchester firm....has broken its budget to make this superlative version of its signature spread marmalade to mark its 125th anniversary.
The commemorative marmalade costs £5,000 for a 1kg jar. According to the makers, that is the equivalent of £11 per mouthful and £76 per slice of toast significantly beyond the reach of marmalade's most famous fan, Paddington Bear.
The £1,100 hand-crafted crystal jar contains £3,450 worth of 62-year-old Dalmore whisky, £348 worth of vintage Pol Roger champagne, and £120 of edible gold which gives the marmalade a glint when it catches a ray of sunlight.
The makers had the tricky task of ensuring the expensive alcohol did not evaporate during the cooking process, that the gold leaf did not become lumpy, and that great care was taken to cool the mixture, as it could have cracked the jar.
Marmalade arrived in Britain in 1945, from Portugal. For some two hundred years, it was the preserve of the upper classes, until a recipe was published in a cookbook.
Winston Churchill loved his marmalade, and liked to pair it up with some breakfast champagne. Apparently.
"IF YOU DON'T BURY ME WITH HEADERS, I'LL HAUNT YOU"
It's how he wanted his coffin to be. He was a local top-bloke legend, and he was reknowned for his devotion to restoring hot rods.
When he died, his mates were crushed, but his wife remembered his 16 year old dream of the ultimate coffin for a hot rod enthusiast. They got to work and even included gauges on the inside of the coffin.
This is a bloke has mates.
From the Orange County Register :
Best. Coffin. Ever.
Friends and family tricked out Calabrese's gunmetal gray casket with chrome and aluminum parts from his beloved 1958 Chevy Biscayne, complete with license plates and dangling dice (but no purple paint).
(His wife) recalled something her husband of 29 years said at a funeral in 1990, as he was admiring the black, bullet-shaped casket that housed a brother-in-law.
"I want that when I die," he told his wife, "and I want headers on it."
"Whatever you want, dear," Karen Calabrese told her husband.
"If you don't bury me with headers, I'll haunt you."
Friends bolted to the side of the casket two pristine Hooker-brand V8-engine headers Calabrese long had admired. The aluminum-finished exhaust system had hung in Suskie's garage for years.
They affixed to the top of the casket the hand-polished housing for an air cleaner that came from Calabrese's baby, his '58 Chevy.
They fastened valve covers to both sides of the casket, and when pallbearers carried Calabrese's 6-foot-2, 300-pound body to his grave, they gripped clear-backing tape that had "ghost flame" designs on it.
Near the headers, aluminum decals cut in the shape of flames provided the finishing touch.
"If we had another week, I could have slapped an engine and wheels on the casket and driven it here," Suskie said.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
From the Wiltshire Times :
A large fairy circle has appeared in the lawn of Tom and Sue Gaylard's home...
"It amazed me. I had never heard of it or seen anything like it before and I couldn't believe it."
The perfect ring of mushrooms, know as a fairy or pixie circle, first appeared about three years ago and has re-appeared annually, each time getting bigger.
"We don't believe in fairies of course but it is known as that. We didn't really pay much attention to it but then our daughter-in-law saw it and ran out to make a wish in it."
In times gone past the rings, some of which are hundreds of years old, defied explanation spawning a host of legends in countries around the world to explain their presence.
In English folklore the rings were said to be caused by fairies dancing in a circle, wearing down the grass beneath their feet. Toads would then sit on the worn down areas, poisoning it and allowing the fungus to grow - hence the name toadstool.
The rings are in fact naturally occurring circles of fungi that can grow up to 10 metres in diameter. They are caused by fungi under the ground casting out spores in a circular pattern resulting in the distinctive ring.
In some cases the fungi remain underground and the ring is marked by discoloured patches of grass.Now You Know.
Monday, September 11, 2006
The worldwide trade, worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year, in human organs, bones and body parts just keeps on getting more twisted and more gruesome.
Now comes news from the UK that patients on the public health system have been implanted with body parts stolen illegally from corpses in the United States :
Several companies have set up in the UK to sell bone implants, ligaments and skin grafts to hospitals and clinics. It is illegal to pay donors for tissue but businesses are paid to harvest, store, process and distribute samples.Go here to read the whole story.
The imports have increased because of shortages of bones and other tissue in Britain due partly to restrictions imposed after the scandal over the unauthorised retention of organs at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool.
Despite the new international trade, the government organisation responsible for human tissue, the Human Tissue Authority, does not know which countries export skin, bone and ligaments to Britain or the quantities shipped in every year.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
A 70 year old German-language book that detailed the life and times of Adolf Hitler as a young man has been translated into English and published, revealing a wealth of curious information long forgotten, or ignored, by many English-language biographers of the World War 2-era Nazi leader.
Among the more bizarre claims is that a teenage Adolf Hitler had an obsessive love for a Jewish girl, Stefanie. A girl he never plucked up the courage to actually speak to. None the less, Hitler had once planned on kidnapping her, and also taking her life along with his own in a suicide pact (a fantasy he would live out with wife Eva Braun).
From the Daily Mail :
Hitler would compare opera singers whom he admired to Stefanie, and he ‘took it for granted’ that she had the necessary voice and musical talent to be a great opera singer herself: "Her Valkyrie-like appearance never failed to attract him and fire him with unbounded enthusiasm."
This enthusiasm took the form of writing ‘countless love poems’ to Stefanie, with titles such as Hymn To The Beloved.
Perhaps it is fortunate they no longer exist, as Kubizek recalls Hitler reciting one to him in which "Stefanie, a high-born damsel, in a dark blue, flowing velvet gown, rode on a white steed over the flowering meadows, her loose hair falling in golden waves on her shoulders; a clear blue sky was above; everything was pure, radiant joy."
Kubizek remembered ‘Adolf’s face glowing with fervent ecstasy’ as he recited these verses. Yet in all the four years he worshipped Stefanie, Hitler never once plucked up the courage actually to exchange a single word with her. He insisted that once he met her, no words would be needed.
"For such extraordinary human beings as himself and Stefanie," he told Kubizek, "there was no need for the usual communication by word of mouth: extraordinary human beings would understand each other by intuition." Moreover, Hitler convinced himself not only that Stefanie knew what his views and ideas were, but also that she shared them enthusiastically. Such was the power of his crush on this unwitting girl that he even believed her capable of telepathy.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
"CAN I USE THIS FOR AN OMELETTE?"
The man who found a monster mushroom in his garden has asked for it to be identified so he can decide whether or not he will slice it up for an omelette, or 70.
From This Is London :
A pensioner is puzzled about an enormous mushroom which has grown in his garden.
Jan Wocial, 70, first noticed the whitish-grey fungi in his garden in Addison Road, Bromley, about three weeks ago.
It was only slightly larger than normal but following the recent heavy rain - it mushroomed to 96cm wide.
Those eyebrows are almost as spectacular as that mushroom.
A conference on obesity in Australia has produced a rising torrent of curious, strange and downright bizarre headlines, including the one above. Here's part of the More Fat People Than Starving claim :
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are about 1 billion overweight people in the world of whom 300 million are obese; if this an accurate figure it equates to a world epidemic. There are 800 million underweight people worldwide.Obesity Now Recognised As A Global Epidemic :
"Obesity is now recognised by the World Health Organisation as an insidious killer and the major contributing cause of preventable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease."
Psychiatrist Claims Drinking Coca-Cola Can Actually Good For You
Dr Foreyt says soft drinks have copped too much criticism in the war on fat.You probably won't be surprised to learn that Dr Foreyt was paid by Coca-Cola to attend the obesity conference.
"I think the answer to really looking at a healthy lifestyle is balance and variety and moderation, and any time you pick out a single culprit you're going to really be in trouble, because, you know, obesity and health risks are all associated with multiple factors."
One wag described this move by Coca-Cola as being the equivalent of sending cigarette manufacturer reps to a conference on lung cancer.
Australian Health Minister Refuses To Install Any Bans Regarding Junk Food Ads Targetting Children
Abbot likes to badger and ear bash suburban Australians about the need to exercise regularly and eat healthy, fresh foods.
There's nothing wrong with the odd treat every now and then, according to Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, so junk food ads will stay on Australian televisions and in magazines.
Mr Abbott today described obesity as potentially the greatest health problem of our time, but said bans on junk food ads would not fix the growing crisis which claims 7000 Australian lives a year.
“There's a big difference between food and tobacco,” Mr Abbott said after opening the 10th International Congress on Obesity in Sydney tonight.
“Every single cigarette does you harm, but even so called junk food in small quantities occasionally is OK, there's nothing wrong with the odd treat.
“To try to treat certain foods as you would cigarettes, it's not an equivalent comparison.”
He's so utterly removed from the reality of the lives of most suburban Australians that he doesn't seem to realise that millions of Australian mums and dads spend hours every day sitting in traffic jams or commuting on trains and buses (facing regular delays).
Also, fresh fruit and vegetables are not only more expensive in the outer suburbs of Australian cities, they have also found to be far older, less fresh, than the fruit and vegetables available in major city centres. The older the fruit and veg, the less nutritious it usually is.
Australians are working longer hours than any Australians since the convict era. Less time at home means less time to prepare healthy meals, forcing a reliance on fast foods and highly processed "instant dinner" meals.
7000 Australian untimely deaths per year blamed on obesity but no major attempt from the Health Minister to do anything serious about those numbers.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Ahhh, yeah, that's right. A major discovery of...whale vomit on a Welsh beach has been headlined as "Gold Rush" in this article.
Here's the high points :
It's good to know the ingredients of expensive perfume are sourced from such....interesting scent manufacturers. Whale guts, basically. How stupid of me to think those wonderful fragrances came from, like, flowers or something.Local officials in North Wales fear of an impending gold rush after beachcombers found precious ambergris or "whale vomit" along its coastline.
The ambergris, also known as grey amber, is considered by many as floating gold because of its high value.
Top perfume makers pay as much as $65 a gram for ambergris - a substance also deemed by Chinese to be an aphrodisiac. One find of ambergris can be worth as much as $3,800.
It is produced when the whale has been eating squid and their parrot-like beaks have irritated the walls of its innards
Here's some info on ambergris, if you must know more..
Friday, September 01, 2006
I no longer care whether these were made by alien visitors trying to tell us something important, or the result of bizarre atmospheric conditions beyond current explanation, or somehow the work of hoaxers who possess the ability to create vast masterpieces across a half acre of wheat in less than 45 minutes (the time frame in which some massive crop circles have mysteriously appeared).
Whatever they are, whoever made them, however they were created, crop circles are extremely cool and easily the most spectacular public art form in the world today.
No background on these pics (for the moment), just enjoy the visual feast.
14 year old Khagendra Thapa Magar, of Nepal, wants to get listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as The World's Smallest Man, because that's exactly what he is. If he has actually finished growing.
The current record holder of the World's Smallest Man title is a whopping 64cm, porking out at more than 10 whole kilograms.
But Magar is less than 51cm tall and weighs 4.5kg.
Look at a bottle of wine, he's not much taller than that.
Go here for more.
"Thapa Magar was born in 1992, a couple of hundred km west of Katmandu. From the very beginning it became clear that the boy was far behind others in his growth process. According to his mother, the child began walking independently only at the age of 8 but by the time he was 11 he completely stopped growing. For a long time the parents hid the boy because they were ashamed of his defect but now he has received the long-awaited world-wide fame.
Thapa Magar now has his own support group that has created a special Internet website dedicated to him alone. The activists are hoping to use the site as a fundraising resource in order to gather enough money for the boy’s medical needs, for his education and for his family’s support.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
The holiday is over, apologies to all regular visitors who kept coming here to find no new updates.
We'll try and keep the updates steady to five times a week, as long the strange and weird news keeps flowing strong, and for now there is plenty about, seeing as we've posted no new links for a month.
Go to the posts HERE and HERE from our main site, Your New Reality, for a bit more info on where we've been, what we've been doing and why we disappeared from this site for five or so weeks.
We promise, there's a whole planet of strange, weird, freaky, sick, demented, hilarious Things out there and we will be bringing them to you, right here, once more.
Thanks for your patience.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
BECAUSE THEY CAN!
The always excellent 'The Register' has more of these amazing images picked up by a dedicated Google Earther.
The first image shows a Chinese military base, next to which has been constructed a mind-blowing model of a mountainous section of the China-India border.
As you can see in the comparison images below, showing the a close-up of the model and the real location, the attention to detail is absolutely extraordinary.
One theory goes that Chinese military use the model for the training of helicopter pilots. Presumably they fly over the model to gain familiarity with the terrain of the real location.
The benefit of using a model for such training is they don't actually need to send helicopters over the real location which might stir up the military of India.
The US Airforce, and Australia during World War 2, have also used models of real locations to train pilots, but I've never seen anything with such attention to detail.
Imagine walking around the model? You'd feel like you were forty foot tall.
Truly, truly awesome.
Go to The Register For More Images And The How, Where And Why
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The symmetry of this two faced kitten looks so perfect I thought it was photo-shopped. But it's real enough, and it's healthy, and it's nursing along with the rest of its normal-enough litter.
There seems to be a growing number of mutant animals popping up all over the world, and while we've covered the five legged dog and the four-footed duck below, there have been many others we passed on.
Maybe it has more to do with the widespread use of video and phone cameras. Same number of mutant animals being born, more cameras to catch them before they die, or are put down, and a worldwide circulation system for blogs like us to find them and post them onwards.
Here's the news story that went with the pic :
A kitten has been born with two faces and veterinarians don't understand why.
The kitten was born Wednesday morning in Ohio. It has two mouths that meow in unison, two noses and four eyes that have not opened yet.
The little boy who owns the cat said he hasn't decided on a name for the kitten yet, but said he wants to name it Tiger.
Monday, July 17, 2006
NO-ONE INTERESTED IN OVERNIGHT MEAT TECHNOLOGY
Why do these stories of fast-growing, semi-synthetic meat just totally gross people out so much?
It's wrong, it's unnatural.
But what is the average normal growth cycle for the flesh we eat as hamburgers and steaks?
In the wild it can change according to breed, diet and environmental conditions.
Obviously as this meat growing technology is so new there aren't any long term studies to determine whether it has far-reaching health fallout effects for the consumers, but it can barely get off the ground because people just don't like the idea of it in total.
But no animal dies to produce this meat. So is that what meat-eaters want from their steaks and lamb chops? That it came from an animal slaughtered to feed us?
Very weird and strange territory. It seems mired in ethical minefields when, in reality, there are none at all. Unless you believe that all growing flesh has a soul or spirit.
Whatever, here's the story :
A U.S. scientist has developed a process to grow cow cells into full-size hamburger overnight but he can't get anyone to invest in the process.The whole deal with this amazing meat tech is going to be a hard cell.
Vladimir Mironov, a biology researcher at the Medical University of South Carolina, said the process involves taking immature cells that develop into skeletal muscles from cows -- or pigs, or chickens, or turkeys -- and fusing them to a protein that, with the help of steroids, grows into big hunks of meat, The Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier reported.
The newspaper said the process isn't exactly cloning, but more like cattle farming through chemistry.
The scientific procedure has been published in tissue-engineering journals, but Mironov says he can't find any financial backers, Post and Courier says.
"In business, who pays to make a product nobody wants to buy?" Mironov asked. "You show this technology and say, 'Do you want to try the meat?' and they all say, 'No.'"
But Mironov says the long-term benefits of the technology could outweigh the negative public perception.He told the newspaper: "It's not Frankenstein meat. It's like hydroponic tomatoes."
But what about McDonalds? Or Burger King?
How about making it fun? Beef steak grown into the shape of a plucked chicken?
Okay, now I feel sick.
The quick-grow meat tree is coming, get used to it. Choose a flavour, choose a texture, set and let grow in time for tomorrow night's big dinner.
Who knows, it might even be good for us....
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Grandma was right all along. A hot water bottle kills pain more effectively than most pharmacuetical pain killers, and now scientists know why :
From the UK Guardian :
The old wives' tale has it that a hot water bottle can relieve pain deep in the body - and now scientists have discovered why. A hot compress can physically shut down the normal pain response involved in stomach aches, period pain or colic.
"The heat doesn't just provide comfort and have a placebo effect - it actually deactivates the pain at a molecular level in much the same way as pharmaceutical painkillers," said Brian King, a senior lecturer in physiology at University College London, who led the research.
Dr King found that if heat of more than 40C (104F) is applied to the skin near where internal pain is felt, it switches on heat receptors at the site of injury. These in turn block the body's ability to detect pain. He will present his findings today at the annual meeting of the Physiological Society.
"Heat is recognised by a group of receptors called transient receptor potential channels," said Dr King. "One of them, TRP1, responds to heat at around 40C. It's known to be on the sensory nerves that supply the internal organs like the gut."
When someone feels pain in the gut, a separate mechanism is firing. Receptors called P2X3 have detected ATP, a chemical that pours out of cells when they are damaged. The heat response appears to shut these receptors down.
"You've got the heat receptor on one side and the ATP receptor on the other side that will recognise the pain. Both are present in our cells and yet, when you activate one, it switches off the other," said Dr King. "What appears to be something that can sense heat can help you get over visceral pain by switching off the pain mechanism."
Friday, June 30, 2006
The story is that this dog has five paws, he's up for adoption, but vets want him to lose that extra paw.
The dog's name is Charlie, the condition that led to his right front paw becoming conjoined is regarded as a "medical oddity." Charlie and his bro dog, Hank, were found abandoned in Alabama.
And that's about all there is to report.
Wicked photo, though.
Go here for a brief background story.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Gas masks were even more more popular in the US during the Cold War 1950s than they were during World War 2. If you had a nuclear bomb shelter in your backyard, you just had to have a rack of gas masks, one for each member of the family and perhaps even one for the dog.
But when all those bomb shelters were widened into swimming pools during the 1960s, the market for two decades old gas masks fell off sharply, leaving literally millions of the things stockpiled in Army surplus warehouses.
Which is why some innovative genius decided there just had to be market flogging them as toys for children. What could be more fun? What childs' eyes wouldn't light up on Christmas morning when they opened their presents to find a gas mask staring back at them?
Unfortunately, old gas masks can be as toxic as the air you might be wearing one to protect yourself from. The filtration systems wore out, and the filters sometimes rotted. Plus, kids with low lung capacity, or asthamtic-ish breathing problems, would have found getting a decent air supply through one of these some pretty hard going.
It'd be interesting to know just how many kids keeled over after snapping on one of these before running around like 'A Man From Mars!'
Not suprisingly, gas masks as toys for kids didn't really take off. But at least the marketing campaign produced this hilariously bizarre ad.
(Via Modern Mechanix)
Poison Gas As A Shocking New Weapon During World War I
Absolutely Shit Gas Masks Handed Out To US Soldiers During The Gulf War And War On Iraq
Winston Churchill Wanted To Use Poison Gas In 1919 To 'Subdue' Arabs In What Would Become Iraq. He Thought It More Humane Than Bombing, And Argued Against It Being Outlawed As A Weapon Of War During The 1920s :
"I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror..."
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
That headline might make you think this is one of those weirder-than-strange stories that occasionally crops up in the media for a few weeks, or months, and is then exposed as an urban myth.
Maybe that might be the case with other stories about gangs of travestites going on shoplifting jags, but not this story of transvestite shoplifters causing terror and mayhem in the high-end fashion district of New Orleans.
Store owners in New Orleans have been hit a number of times, clocking up thousands of dollars worth of losses. Now they're on the lookout, and warning each other when they see the gang approaching the shopping district :
Monday, June 26, 2006
Young American women, many facing crippling student loan and credit card debts, are selling their eggs for a base rate of $15,000. Is this free market capitalism in action, or is nothing sacred anymore?
The Boston Herald has a fascinating feature on this rapidly growing new industry :
Galbraith's fee is on the high end of the spectrum, which starts at about $5,000 per donation cycle. That's the process by which eggs are artificially stimulated to mature, then surgically "harvested," or extracted.
Each of her three prior donations produced egg counts in the 40s - more than double what is typical - and each resulted in offspring. So her price has climbed, from $5,000 to $8,000 to $15,000.
What's more, she and her sister, a nursing student in Illinois who is also a donor, are starting their own agency to recruit other donors and match them with patients. The sisters have already recruited a few of their friends and are actively looking for more donors.
And they know where to look: college towns, where the perfect specimens - young, SAT-tested women deep in debt - can be recruited through school newspaper ads, websites like craigslist, and photocopied fliers stapled to trees. The ads probably won't mention the medical and psychological screenings. Or the injections of hormones. Or the suctioning. They will mention families in need. And they will promise cash."That's why it's tempting," Galbraith says. "If they can squeeze in $10,000 in a couple of months, that's good money."
Friday, June 23, 2006
Unmanned planes patrol the skies over German cities, and tank-track robots patrol the streets as the World Cup unfolds. But there has been little need for the robot force so far. No terror attacks, no serious terror threats and barely any booze-battered brawling.
But then, half the point of unrolling this kind of robotech at the World Cup was to live-field test it. There's also the added benefit of getting people from all over the world used to the curious sight of surveillance robots tracking through the streets, and eye-in-the-sky roboplanes buzzing through the air.
That way, they won't be so suprised when they see similar robots in the streets of their home cities. They'll just think, 'Oh, I saw one of those at the World Cup....but I don't remember those ones being fitted with machine guns.'
From the AP :
"This is the first time robots like this have ever been used at a major sporting event," Robowatch spokesman Benjamin Stengl said. "They haven't caught anybody. They haven't actually had much to do. This has been a very safe World Cup, luckily."
The outdoor robot OFRO, which starts at $76,000 and resembles a Mars rover on treads, uses thermal cameras at night to spot intruders from their body heat. Similar to ones used by the U.S. military as scouts in Iraq, the OFRO is capable of far more - with sensors equipped to detect radiation, toxins, viruses and chemical warfare agents.
"These things won't be used here, but we see this as a learning experience, where we can go back and better the technology," Stengl said. "The robots here will be mostly used where it's very boring or very difficult to see."
The robots get navigation help from the Global Positioning System satellites and send pictures back to a central room in the stadium called the skybox. Through remote control, they can be sent to check out anything suspicious.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
$100 doesn't get you much when it comes to hamburgers these days....at least, not when it comes to an ultra-swank, three-types-of-beef burger from some steakhouse in Florida, only open to members of a stupendously expensive resort club.
You can either blow $100 bucks on a few dozen cheeseburgers from Maccas, or you could lash out for one serving of the "Beluga Cavier Of Sandwiches."
So whadda you get for your $100?
A 20-ounce, 2.5 inches thick mound of meat, bringing together American prime beef (from Texas), Wagyu/Kobe beef (from Japan) and Argentine cattle.
Here's how the chefs put the burger together :
...workers sliced the meat into two-inch cuts and pressed them into a grinder, producing a velvety red and white pile of ground beef. Each saucer-shaped mound was sauted without seasoning in a pan with grape seed oil for about five minutes on each side before being finished in an oven at 375 degrees.You've got to be a member of the club to get your mouth around that burger, but if you're in New York City, and you want to throw away $120, go to the DB Bistro Moderne and order the Double Truffle Burger.
"We let the meat do all the talking," said assistant chef Joseph Galison. "You really don't need to add any spices at all."
The bill for one burger, with garnishing that includes organic greens, exotic mushrooms and tomatoes, comes out to $124.50...
A British hacker went searching for proof of UFOs on NASA websites and databases. He claims he found proof of something beyond belief.
From an interview in Wired Magazine :
The 40 year old hacker, Gary McKinnon, is now days away from being extradicted to the US, where he faces some monumentally heavy charges for his hacking activities and a possible 70 years in jail, and fines of $US2 million.
McKinnon: I knew that governments suppressed antigravity, UFO-related technologies, free energy or what they call zero-point energy. This should not be kept hidden from the public when pensioners can't pay their fuel bills.
WN: Did you find anything in your search for evidence of UFOs?
McKinnon: Certainly did....A NASA photographic expert said that there was a Building 8 at Johnson Space Center where they regularly airbrushed out images of UFOs from the high-resolution satellite imaging. I logged on to NASA and was able to access this department. They had huge, high-resolution images stored in their picture files. They had filtered and unfiltered, or processed and unprocessed, files...
I was able to briefly see one of these pictures. It was a silvery, cigar-shaped object with geodesic spheres on either side. There were no visible seams or riveting. There was no reference to the size of the object and the picture was taken presumably by a satellite looking down on it. The object didn't look manmade or anything like what we have created.
I also got access to Excel spreadsheets. One was titled "Non-Terrestrial Officers." It contained names and ranks of U.S. Air Force personnel who are not registered anywhere else. It also contained information about ship-to-ship transfers, but I've never seen the names of these ships noted anywhere else.
Although McKinnon doesn't go into too much more detail, he appears to subscribe to the unusual theories that NASA has been anything but slack when it comes to outer space, or high-earth orbit work over the past decade.
The theories go that there are any number of classified NASA/US Air Force programs currently underway far above our heads, outside of the International Space Station and space shuttle flights.One theory goes that the highly visible failures of the US space program (exploding space shuttles, failed satellite launches, etc) are part of a disinformation campaign to cover up exactly what NASA and the US Air Force are doing hundreds of miles above us.
Most of these, theorised, programs apparently centre around the US dominating outer space and establishing weapons systems in orbit around our planet. Military domination of space is the proposed goal of the US.
A few years ago, these type of theories belonged in the 'nutter' category, but strangely enough, there is no shortage of mainstream news stories now discussing something of an undeclared 'war' between the US, Russia, China and a number of other countries who either want to get their own weapons into orbit, or want to try and stop the US, in particular, from dominating the higher orbits of our planet with laser and nuclear weapons systems.
North Korea Warns US Of 'Space War'
Pentagon Begins 'Space War' Training
The US Air Force "Want To Do Warfare In Space"