The Paris Syndrome – A Bizarre Psychological Condition Affecting Japanese Tourists?

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Among a host of first world problems is the mysterious Paris Syndrome – that horrible feeling you get when you realize the beautiful City of Lights isn’t all that you imagined it to be. And strangely, the worst to be affected by this bizarre condistion are the otherwise calm and collected Japanese.

As ridiculous as it sounds, Paris Syndrome is very real. Because of the way the city is represented in the media, especially the Japanese media, a lot of people labor under the misconception that Paris is a quaint, friendly little place with affluence reeking in its every corner. The women are imagined to be dainty and beautiful, the city is expected to smell like Chanel No. 5, parks filled with pigeons and waiters bursting into song at the drop of a hat. In fact, many Japanese really believe that Parisians are all thin, gorgeous and unbelievably rich. Inevitably, their bubble is burst on their very first day in the city.

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Danza Voluminosa – Cuba’s Plus-Size Dance Group

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If you thought the world of ballet dancing was reserved exclusively for the slim and petit, well, it’s time to think again. Because the Cuban dance troupe ‘DanzaVoluminosa’ (literally meaning Voluminous Dance) is here to prove you wrong. Comprising of eight dancers and a combined total weight of over 1,600lbs (more than 200lbs per dancer), these heavy beauties have taken the tutu way past its traditional size ‘zero’.

In a recent video report on DanzaVoluminosa by the Associated Press, the founder of the troupe Juan Miguel Mas explains, “The most important thing is that it elevates the self-esteem of the overweight. It helps them to not be sedentary and get out and move, live, work, investigate and love their bodies, too.” Juan says that the purpose of the dance troupe is to find harmony, and the fulfillment of being human. The group was founded way back in 1996 and had been a hit in Cuba ever since. In 2004, it was the subject of a documentary film called Defying Gravity. Hailing from Cuba’s capital city of Havana, the group is focused on breaking traditional stereotypes and giving overweight performers a chance to realize their dreams. The dance troupe is the brainchild of Juan Miguel, who wanted to find a way to adapt modern dance techniques to suit the physical possibilities of overweight people. It has so far produced three full-length choreographies and thirty shorter works. The latest offering from DanzaVoluminosa is called ‘Crisalidas’ or ‘Chrysalis’.

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Dutch Artist Spends 20 Years Building Life-Size Replica of Noah’s Ark

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Inspired by Noah’s Ark from the Book of Genesis, Dutch artist Johan Huibers built a modern day replica spending a whopping $1.2 million on it. His reasons for building the vessel  – he feared the effects global warming would someday have on his country, flooding included. The idea came to him in 1992, when he had a dream about his native land submerged in a flood similar to the one in the Book of Genesis. He continued to think about it until he finally did something about it. And the result is a 130m long, 29m wide, 23m high ark that he completed in 2005. Weighing almost 3000 tons and built from Swedish pine reinforced with steel, it is quite hard to believe that ark might be seaworthy at all, but this modern-day Noah assures us it does indeed float.

A carpenter by profession, Johan Huibers has now opened his full scale ark to the public and is attracting thousands of tourists from the world over. Located in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, the ark is something that would even surprise Noah, for it has a restaurant, two cinemas and of course, a menagerie of life-sized plastic animals. Towering over the flat Dutch landscape, the ark is easily visible from a nearby highway. Across the arks main hold is a huge space of stalls, where visitors can view a large collection of stuffed and plastic animals like zebras, gorillas, lions, tigers, bears and buffaloes. There’s also a petting zoo, where less dangerous real-life animals like dogs, sheep, rabbits, ponies and a few exotic birds are housed . On each level of the boat, around its edges, are displays about the history and dress of the ancient Middle East, a few scenes from the life of Noah, and games for kids like water pumps and levers that lift bales of hay. But the ark is not just about tourist attractions. Down below, there exists a honeycomb system of hatches, each opening an area where food could be sealed in for long-term storage. The curvature of the upper deck could be used to collect rainwater and also to let the horses and other animals get some exercise. Huibers says that his boat gives people a pretty good idea of how Noah’s ark would have worked in practice.

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Chinese Farmer Builds Wind-Powered Car

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A 55-year-old Chinese farmer has come up with a unique invention that might just make him a millionaire. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen vehicles that run on alternative fuel sources, but Tang Zhengping’s invention is really something else. The car he built in three months is 1m high,  3m long and powered by wind. But the best part is this – it has the potential to reach a speed of 90mph (140kmph). This does seem too good to be true for a wind-powered vehicle, but Mr.Zhengping from Beijing, the city that hosts the largest car show in the world, has a different story to tell.

According to Mr.Zhengping, the vehicle runs on electric generators and batteries, which are recharged by the large fan spinning in the front of the vehicle. The two solar energy wings at the back also support the generation of electricity. While one set of generators and batteries are working, another two get charged. For now, the batteries need to be charged every two days and the fan and wings provide extra electricity when the car is in motion. “It goes at a maximum speed of 140kmph and lasts longer than an electric car, which usually doesn’t have generators,” says Mr.Zhengping.

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Off with Her Toes! Growing Number Of Women Shortening or Removing Toes to Wear High Heels

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The things some women will do to fit into a beautiful pair of high-heel shoes. Apparently, a growing number of women are having their toes shortened or even completely removed, in order to make wearing stilettos a less-painful experience.

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, eighty-seven percent of women have had foot problems from wearing uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes, like high-heels. But while some give-up on the problematic footwear, others love wearing them so much they will appeal to surgical procedures such as shortening toes, receiving foot injections and even completely cutting off pinky toes in order to make walking in them bearable. “Unless you’ve been there, and you can’t find shoes, and you’re in pain, don’t judge,” Susan Deming, a patient who recently had one of her toes shortened, told Fox News. “I was having calluses, and just, all sorts of problems with my left foot.  And there finally was a solution.  There’s never been a solution before.” Some of Susan’s toes were longer than the others, making her left foot an entire size longer than her right foot, so she cut off about a centimeter off her second toe. “I’ve never felt this good about something I’ve done,” she said.  “If it’s vain, it’s vain.”

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Party Like There’s No Tomorrow – Russian Revelers Pay $1,000 to Celebrate Apocalypse in Soviet Era Bunker

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A Cold War bunker in Moscow designed to protect Soviet leaders in case of nuclear attacks will host the ultimate doomsday party. Revelers willing to part with $1,000 will be able to celebrate the coming of the Apocalypse in a safe environment that can withstand nuclear catastrophes and earthquakes.

Sure, $1,000 isn’t cheap, but with the world coming to an end, you might as well spend your life savings partying, right? That’s what the administrators of Bunker 42, in Moscow, are hoping, anyway. The shelter located 65 meters underground has been decorated especially for this special end-of-the-world party, after receiving a large number of requests from Russians looking for a chance to survive the impending doom. According to senior bunker guide Alexei Pavlovsky, the idea behind the event is pretty simple:  : A lot of many people would feel much calmer if they could spend this critical day surrounded by maximum comfort and safety. And who are we to say no?” Can’t argue with that, now can you?

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Style Oddities – Fake Braces Worn as Fashion Accessories

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It’s at times like this that I simply don’t understand fashion trends. I mean, what would prompt otherwise normal teenagers to consider something as horrendous as braces to be a fashionable accessories? Don’t get me wrong, I think braces are an extremely useful dental tool and I used to wear them as well, but I always dreamt of the day I would be done with them forever. Kids in countries like Thailand, Indonesia and China, however, think very differently. For them, braces have become a huge teenage fashion statement.

As unfathomable as the trend sounds, there’s actually a reason behind it. Just as ‘plump’ people were thought to be attractive at one point – as a sign of prosperity – braces to the Asian kids are a sign of wealth, status and style. The reason: genuine orthodontic braces are quite expensive. A set of braces in Bangkok would set you back about $1,200. So all the kids want to wear what the rich kids are wearing. Braces are also popular among young celebrities and youth icons like Indonesian heartthrob Andika Kangen and Thai pop singer Earn the Star. Many Thai and Indonesian websites display pictures of Gwen Stefani sporting braces back in the 90s. Apparently, she had recently confessed that her braces were a ‘fashion choice’, and she’s since become an instant hit with Asian kids. The internet is littered with countless blogs and websites on fashion braces. I tried googling them and found that braces are available in an explosion of colors and varieties.

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Russian Journalist Holds Promise to Literally Eat His Words after Prediction Proves Wrong

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Vyacheslav Ledovsky, a journalist from the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk, surprised a lot of people when he decided to hold true to the promise he made two years ago, to eat his own article should his prediction about work on local infrastructure prove wrong.

Ledovsky, a writer for The Builder newspaper, wrote an article in 2010 entitled “Promises are made to be broken”, in which he expressed serious doubts about the promises made by Krasnoyarsk region governor Lev Kuznetsov regarding a plan to start the construction of a fourth bridge over the Yenisei River, before 2015. The journalist was so convinced Kuznetzov wouldn’t keep his promise that he in turn assured his readers he would eat his article should work on the bridge begin before the announced deadline. Much to Vyacheslav’s surprise, construction on the fourth bridge began in September of 2012, forcing him to make a decision – either eat the newspaper article like he said he would or look for excuses and possibly have his reputation tarnished.

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The Party Never Stops with the CataCombo Sound System-Equipped Coffin

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Embrace your passion for music in this life or the next with the CataCoffin – a unique coffin equipped with a high-quality sound system that will keep you rocking six feet under. An afterlife of partying awaits.

Do you want to keep in touch with the latest trends in music, even after death? It seems impossible, I know, but Swedish company Pause has just turned your weird dream into a reality. Introducing the CataCombo sound system, an original solution that will help you take your passion for music to the grave, literally. The unique sound installation comes incorporated in a high quality coffin with “godlike comfort and angelic interior”, and features a pair of two-way speakers, tweeters, a custom-built 2.1 amplifier and “a divine 8-inch subwoofer fine tuned to the coffin’s unique interior acoustics”. And it gets better – the CataCoffin comes with matching CataTomb tombstone that has a built-in upgradable music server. Powered by a 2.5 GHz Intel processor, this unique piece of technology allows your friends and family to update your playlist through the Spotify music service, with the help of 4G connectivity. The tombstone also has a a 7-inch LCD that displays what song is currently playing inside the coffin. It’s safe to say CataCombo can take anything the afterlife throws at it.

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Shine on the Dance Floor with Remote-Controlled LED Club Clothes

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If you’re looking to attract attention when you hit the club on a Saturday night, there are better ways to do it than showing off your funky dance moves. You’re much better off wearing some remote-controlled LED clothes like the ones sold by Chinavasion. You’ll be literally shinning on the dance floor.

The “Senorita” LED mini skirt and the “Maria” LED Boob Tube are the latest in club fashion, and according to maker Chinavasion, “the only way to stand out and light up the dance floor.” Both garments come with hundreds of small LEDs that light up in in shades of red, green, and blue or white, at the simple touch of a button. That’s right, these shiny clothes come with remote controls that allow the wearer to change both the color of the LEDs and the luminous modes ( monochrome, shade, strobe, flash and smooth), depending on what track they’re grooving to. The battery that fits in a special pocket on the inside of the clothes last up to 8 hours, according to the manufacturer, so you’re more likely to run out of energy before your clothes do. Chinavasion says its LED mini skirt and tube top are great “for any geek to give to his girl (Real or imaginary) or for any girl wanting a change on the light side but will be appreciated by them wanting something different for hen nights and raves.”

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Overtoun Bridge – Scotland’s Mysterious Canine Suicide Spot

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There are some things in this world that are simply beyond explanation. Like the fact that in the past 50 years, about 50 dogs have jumped to their deaths from the exact same spot on the 100-year-old Overtoun Bridge in Milton, near Dumbarton, Scotland. In 2005, five dogs had jumped in a span of just 6 months. The canine suicide spot is located between the last two parapets on the right-hand side of the bridge, which is where all the dogs took the fatal leap. And to add to the strangeness, almost all the incidents have taken place on clear, sunny days, the dogs always being long-nosed breeds – collies, retrievers and labs.

The situation, according to the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is a ‘heartbreaking mystery’. “There are lots of owners whose dogs have died and who are trying to find out why they jumped,” the Society says. One of the victims on the bridge was collie dog Ben, who leaped to his death in 1995 while taking a walk with his owner Donna Cooper, her husband, and her son, Callum. Without any warning, Ben just leapt over the parapet and landed on the rocks below after a 50ft fall. Suffering a broken paw, back and jaw, the vet decided that it wasn’t worth putting him through the pain. “Callum still asks about Ben. He was very upset by the dog’s death and wants to know if his leg has been fixed in heaven,” said Cooper, a year after Ben’s death. The case of golden retriever Hendrix was pretty much similar, although she got very lucky. Kenneth Meikle, her owner, said, “I was out walking with my partner and children when suddenly the dog just jumped. My daughter screamed, and I ran down the bank to where the dog lay and carried her up to safety. Next day, thank goodness, she was fine. We were lucky because she landed on a moss bed which broke her fall.”

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Indian Believers Roll in Food Scraps of Higher Caste to Cure Their Illnesses

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A century old ritual in India dictates that those considered low-caste Hindus must roll in the remains of food eaten by members of a higher caste. But it’s not the ritual itself that’s strange. The strange part is that while social activists are actually seeking to outlaw the practice, the ‘low-caste’ Hindus don’t want to stop rolling in the leftovers.

The ritual, called Madey Snana (Spit Bath) is specific to the state of Karnataka, during an annual event at the famous 4000-year-old Kukke Subramanya temple in the coastal district of Mangalore. It is also followed at the Sri Krishna temple in Udupi town. As a part of the century-old Snana, Dalits (members of a lower caste) roll over leftover food eaten by Brahmins (the upper caste) every year, in the belief that all their troubles will disappear and ailments will be cured. It is practiced every year on the festival of Champa Shasti or Subramanya Shasti. Last year alone, 25,000 people rolled over the ‘spit’ of the Brahmins. This happened even as the district administration watched helplessly after their attempts to ban the practice failed.

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Young Entrepreneur Auctions Off His Last Name for 2013 to the Highest Bidder

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Jacksonville-based entrepreneur Jason Sadler has come up with an ingenious way to raise some money- he has offered to legally change his last name for the whole of 2013 to the name of the company who offers hims the most money. The online auction ended yesterday, and starting January 1st, Sadler will be known as Jason HeadsetsDotCom.

The soon-to-be-called Jason HeadsetsDotCom is known for his weird ideas of making money. His original business, IWearYourShirt.com, was launched in 2009 and required Sadler to wear a sponsored T-shirt featuring a company’s logo for a full day or an entire week, for a generous fee, of course. During the first year since the company’s inception, Jason wore a different T-shirt every day, and leveraged the power of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Flickr to get the word out about his clients. “I wore a different T-shirt for 800 days straight. No day off,” he told CNN Money. “I’d make online videos wearing the T-shirts, just going about my daily life.” He also tweeted about the brands, posted about them on Facebook and made a one-hour live video show on Ustream, where he talked about clients. Believe it or not, by 2011, Sadler had hired five people and was earning $250,000 a year in revenue, promoting important companies like Starbucks, Nissan or Zappos. How’s that for an original way of making serious dough?

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Mind-Blowing Portrait Made by Hand with 2.1 Million Dots Hides an Amazing Story

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The portrait below was painstakingly done by hand, in 138 hours, using a technique called stippling, which required the artist, Miguel Endara to “draw” it with around 2.1 million ink dots. As amazing as that may be, it’s the story behind this incredible work of art that’s really mind-blowing.

The man whose face Endara recreated with millions of dots is Benjaman Kyle. You probably don’t know who he is, and believe it or not, neither does he. Back in 2004, he was left unconscious behind a dumpster at a restaurant in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He had no belongings, no ID, suffered from severe sunburns and was almost blind from cataracts. The hospital he was taken to already had a Jon Doe, so they named him Benjaman Kyle, using the initials of the fast-food restaurant where he was found. Benjaman had no idea who he was, and didn’t really remember anything about his life before the incident. After months of medical evaluation, he was diagnosed with retrograde amnesia. Authorities coudn’t find out who he really was, so Benjaman Kyle became the only missing person in America whose whereabouts were actually known. Worse still, without a social security number and a valid ID, his life was about to become even more complicated.

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Remarkable Chinese Girl Can Write with Both Hands at the Same Time, in Different Languages

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Chen Siyuan, a young translator from Handan, China’s Hebei province, has the incredibly ability to write with both hands at the same time. Even more impressive is that fact that she can write vertically with one hand and horizontally with the other, or in two different languages.

In this age of technology, writing with both hands is not as valuable a skill as it once was, but that doesn’t make 24-year-old Chen Siyuan’s ability any less remarkable. This young English translator has been wowing onlookers with her amazing talent of writing with both hands simultaneously, in two different languages (Chinese and English). You’d be tempted to think this kind of unique capacity requires years of practice, but Chen says she discovered her ability completely by accident, during her high-school years. She was overwhelmed by the quantities of English homework, but found that she could complete respective tasks much faster by writing with both hands at the same time. “When I was in high school, I unconsciously wrote with both hands while trying to finish my homework in a hurry,” Chen told People’s Daily Online. “My classmates were curious and tried to imitate me, but none of them succeeded.”

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