Interviews Before Execution – China’s Successful Death Row Show

A creepy show capturing the last moments of criminals on death row – that might sound like the worst kind of reality TV, but “Interviews Before Execution” has been hugely popular in China, where it was first aired on Henan Legal Channel on 18th November, 2006. After over 5 years, the show ended last Friday.

As a part of the reality show, journalist Ding Yu would interview a person on death row every week in almost cruel detail. So yes, every person featured on the show was a hardened criminal, whose fate had already been sealed – in death. Sometimes, the criminals were recorded speaking just minutes before their execution, many describing the details of their crimes, displaying remorse and even begging for forgiveness at times. It sure does sound like an unnecessary exploitation of people who are about to die, but the creators of the show have a different perspective. Lu Pejin, the director of the Legal Channel says that the purpose of the show was to warn audiences. “If they are warned, tragedies might be averted. That is good for society.”

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A-Team Fan Spends $50,000 to Convert His Van into Iconic Transport

A 40-year-old businessman, Tag Majid, has done something that will make A-Team fans the world over both proud and jealous. He’s actually spent $50,000 to convert an old and bashed-up 1985 GMC Vandura Van into a replica of the legendary vehicle driven by B.A. Baracus on the show. It took him over eight months to complete the project and the vehicle is now decked out in all the colors and features of the original show van. Of course, there are a few of the latest conveniences added as well.

Majid, from Dudley, West Midlands, owns a car rental firm called Just For Hire West Midlands. He actually started the renovation of the van over a year ago, and spent a good amount of time just searching the internet for parts. He wanted to make sure that every detail down to the wing mirror, wheels and even the aerial was exactly the same as on the original. He also added a 26-inch LCD TV, a DVD player and a sound system, to play the A-Team theme tune on loop. It blares out through a speaker behind the front grille.

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Vaportrim Makes Cupcakes Inhalable, Cuts Calories to Zero

Don’t you ever wish you could stuff your face with all kinds of delicious treats without feeling guilty about putting on weight? I know I have, and it seems now, thanks to some simple inhalers from a company called Vaportrim, we’ll be able to do just that.

Are you familiar with electronic cigarettes? They are ingenious cigarette-like gadgets designed as an alternative for smokers who just can’t shake the habit. Basically they turn a nicotine-containing liquid into vapor that is allegedly a lot safer than tobacco smoke. US-based company Vaportrim was apparently inspired by e-cigarette technology to create a similar device that is meant to help people lose weight. Their particular health-aids apparently allow users to inhale delicious sweets like vanilla cupcakes or blueberry muffins without the many calories that usually come with them. The US-based company is actually advertising its product as the world’s first calorie-free dessert. That sounds great in theory, but does it really work?

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Master the Force at New York’s Jedi Club

Flynn Michael calls his students a “bunch of Star Wars dorks.” But that doesn’t mean he’s any less passionate about the sci-fi series himself. Especially since he’s created a whole club on the concept of Jedi, and teaches his trainees how to use the Force to navigate the pressures of living in New York City – be it a stressful workplace, a rowdy bar or a crowded subway. His project is called the New York Jedi Club.

Born Michael Brown, the sound engineer from Brooklyn calls himself a “sci-fi, heavy metal, over-the-top geek.” During his growing-up years in Rhode Island, he watched the first Star Wars film 32 times, and when he saw Luke Skywalker learning the way of the Force, like millions of other fans he wanted to be able to do that himself. Michael’s childhood was not unlike other geeky kids’, he was bullied and beat up a lot. He says that the lightsaber helped bring out the hero inside him, and helped him stand up for himself.

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Homeless by Choice – Philosophy Student Has Been Living as a Homeless Person for 9 Months

It’s almost impossible to find someone that thinks housing is “more of a luxury good than a basic good.” Especially a homeless person. But there is a guy who thinks just that, and he’s homeless by choice. Meet Shane Dussault, a student of Philosophy at McGill University in Montreal. Since July last year, he has been living on campus, spending his nights in a sleeping bag, doing pushups in the library, showering at the gym and eating at student lounges. Contrary to expectations, his living choices haven’t been made for quick fame. Read on, and you’ll understand why Shane doesn’t have a home.

For starters, the undergrad student does have a financial problem; his parents and family do not provide him with any monetary support. So he’s pretty much on his own. He is able to pay for college and books through the system of loans that exist in Quebec, renting a living space is definitely out of the question. Of course, he could always get a job to be able to afford rent, but he simply chooses not to. Shane would rather live rent-free, than take up a job just to pay for an apartment. And given the way  he is living right now, he is actually doing pretty well for himself financially, compared to many other students at McGill. “Depending on how I do the math, I could end up with zero debt at the end of university,” he says with confidence.

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Brazilian City Hires Real-Life Batman to Help Fight Crime

Batman fans in Brazil now have a reason to rejoice,  as this is probably the closest they will ever get to their favorite super hero. Inspired by the role played by Batman in the protection of Gotham city, officials of Taubate, Brazil have gotten a real-life Batman for their protection too. Except, this one has no batmobile.

The Brazilian superhero is actually a  former soldier, Andre Luiz Pinheiro, who has been hired to patrol the streets of Taubate. Oh, and he sports a Batman costume while he’s at it, just for kicks I suppose. The details are still being worked out, so it’s not exactly clear yet if there will be other things from the comic-strip like a bat-signal for when he’s needed on duty. Thankfully, cops don’t really expect the faux-Batman to seriously combat crimes such as drug trafficking and murder. Instead, he will play a more indirect role in the fight between good and evil. A social and educational crime prevention project is being planned, which targets children from the city.

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Bikini-Clad Baristas Serve One Hot Cup of Coffee at Java Girls Cafe

At Java Girls, you don’t just get hot coffee, you get it served by hot women too. And to top it all off, they’re wearing nothing but bikinis and boots. I guess there couldn’t be a better way for men to kick-start their mornings. Java Girl’s latest franchise opened in Orlando last November, although the concept has been around since the early 2000s. Other branches are located in Oregon and Texas.

The Orlando franchise of Java Girls is co-owned by Todd and Bill Brognano, and thought to be the only bikini coffee shop located in central Florida. The shop employs only women, who come dressed to work in either bikinis or lingerie. So it’s not unusual here to spot a woman dressed in a two-piece, brewing espressos, lattes and frappucinos. And the girls don’t mind it one bit. “We like showing off what we got,” says 20-year-old Java Girl Belinda Messer. When they aren’t making coffee, the girls make it a point to stand outside the shop and entice passengers to a cup of coffee. They hold up signs like, “Now Open Extra HOT Coffee Spot.”

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Shattering Nerdiness at Canada’s Spaghetti Bridge Building Competition

So what if geeks can’t lift heavy weights? They sure can build bridges to do their lifting for them. And that’s exactly what Peter Sandor of Hungary has done. He built a 967 gram bridge made of spaghetti that was able to hold a whopping 384.06 kg, before it shattered into pieces.

The bridge was made for Okanagan College’s 29th annual Spaghetti Bridge Contest, in Kelowna, Canada, as a part of Engineering Week. Contestants from around the world brought in structures made of spaghetti to be tested by pressure added in increments. The bridge that held the maximum weight before it broke was declared the winner. Sandor, a student of engineering at the College of Nyiregyhaza, in Hungary, was awarded the ‘heavyweight champion’ title, hands-down. The pasta-engineering efforts of this 23-year-old bright young student won him $1500.

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The God Squad – Russia’s Parachuting Priests

Until now, only angels were able to drop in from the skies, but not anymore. Russian priests will be joining in pretty soon, complete with church and everything. No, they won’t be sprouting wings, they will be using parachutes to do their flying. Confused? I’m talking about an elite unit of priests that are currently being trained as a part of the Russian Army. Once the training is complete, they will be able to drop in along with their mobile churches, to hold services for Russian troops posted around the world. Their code name – The God Squad (of course).

More interesting than the parachuting priests themselves, are the mini hi-tech churches they are to carry with them. The self-assembled Russian orthodox churches will come with crucifixes, replica icons, bells and chalices. In short, everything that’s needed for the rituals performed as a part of their religion. An air conditioning unit, generator, refrigerator and mini-theatre will also accompany the priests. The chapel will be placed on the ground using an airborne platform, generally meant for carrying heavy military equipment. Once on the ground, the priests would get to work in assembling the entire church unit, before holding a service.

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Coolest Finds of the Week #31

Cupcake ATMs Bring Sweat Treats to the Streets of New York (NY Post)

The Grinning Skeletons of Peru’s 1000-Year-Old Nazca Cemetery (Environmental Graffiti)

England’s Guerrilla Tree Sculptor (Treehugger)

World’s Most Expensive Watch Costs $5 Million (LA Times)

Common Heart Disease Drug May Also Cure Racism (Orange News)

Kim Jong-Il Lookalike Has Problems Getting Dates (The Sun)

Woman Is Really in Love with the Statue of Liberty (Daily Mail)

Welded Sculptures Made from Discarded and Recycled Objects (This Is Colossal)

25 Vertigo-Inducing Views from the Highest Atriums in the World (Environmental Graffiti)

Graffiti Artist Decorates Paris Hotel Room (The Big Addict)

Innovative Artist Creates Beautiful Dust Paintings

Los Angeles-based artist Allison Cortson collects dust from her art-subjects’s homes and uses it to paint the background of their portraits. She started her series of “dusty” artworks, called Dust Paintings, several years ago, but she’s only just now getting the online exposure she so rightfully deserves.

Dust paintings…Now here’s something you don’t see every day, right? Well, actually, just a month ago we posted a story about Alessandro Ricci, an Italian artist who paints with dust collected from historical buildings in Florence. But while his dust creations are more like environmental statements against the pollution in his home city, Allison Cortson’s paintings are much more elaborate, and have a completely different purpose. Through her dust paintings, the artist tries to emphasize the fact that “matter is mostly empty space” and  it’s only through interactivity with living beings that they provide any value. That’s why, in all of her Dust Paintings artworks the human subjects are painted in color, while the background is recreated with dust.

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Aggravure III – A Unique Mural Made with 450,000 Staples

In all the years I’d stapled posters on my wall, I never gave it a second thought, let alone consider it an art form. But an artist has painstakingly created a series of beautiful murals made from nothing but staples tacked onto a wall. The pictures you’re looking at are the works of French artist Baptiste Debombourg, and a part of  a collection named Aggravure. His last artwork, Aggravure III, took him 340 hours to complete and consists of over half a million staples.

The collection itself is inspired by engravers of the Renaissance period, Jan Harmensz, Cherubino Alberti and Hendrick Goltzius. It’s amazing what an artist can do with a boring, everyday, office supply like the staple. But hey, if people can make art out of packing tape, maybe staple-art is not so surprising after all.

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Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School Brings Sexy Back into Art

Serious artists are bound to find Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School rather blasphemous, but the more lighthearted ones obviously think it’s a lot of fun. How else would you explain a Dr. Sketchy’s branch in 100 cities spread over 5 continents, merely 6 years after the first class was held in a dive bar in Brooklyn?

It’s hard to call the place an ‘art school’, as it looks more like a pub where artists come to hang out, socialize and have a good time. But they do make a lot of drawings while they’re at it. And the major attractions are the ‘subjects’ that they get to sketch. Founders A.V. Phibes and Molly Crabapple make sure to find the most beautiful burlesque dancers, the most rippling hunks of men and the most bizarre circus freaks, who pose for artists every other Saturday for three whole hours. An artist herself, Crabapple decided to create an alternative drawing school to counter the conventional restrictions of mainstream art. She asked a simple question: why can’t drawing naked people be sexy? And this unique anti-art school was her attempt at an answer. So Dr. Sketchy, a fictional corrupt Viennese doctor, was born. On their official website, the school is described as ‘the world’s premier alternative drawing movement’.

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Eating Carrots Causes Kid to Turn Orange

“Violet, you’re turning violet!” That’s the classic line from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, spoken by a dad to his naughty daughter who eats blueberry candy and ends up looking exactly like one. It’s funny in the movie, but it’s hardly something anyone would expect to happen in real life. But as it turns out it can and it has. There’s this 4-year-old kid in the UK, Leo Barnett, who turns a bright shade of orange when he eats carrots.

Leo actually suffers from a condition called hyper-beta carotenemia. This means that his body lacks the necessary enzymes to digest carotene, the substance that provides the orange color to carrots and other foods. So carotene just builds up in his body, turning him orange over time. Leo’s mother Angie says the boy is now on a diet devoid of any food containing the substance. The only vegetable that he’s allowed to eat is cauliflower. According to Angie, the problem was first noticed when he was 6 months old and suffered from pneumonia. His kidneys and liver were failing so they had mistaken the color to be a symptom from the disease. But a month after recovery, he was still orange and that’s when they discovered his allergy to carotene.

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Artist Twists Aluminum Wire into Beautiful Tree Sculptures

I find it fascinating how some artists can turn rigid materials into works of art that seem almost organic. Case in point, Kevin Iris, a man who creates beautiful tree sculptures exclusively from aluminum wire.

A self-proclaimed “treenut” Kevin Iris has been making incredibly detailed tree sculptures from aluminum wire for the last 23 years. His works vary in shape and size, as he’s trying to inspire different emotions with each one, but the most remarkable thing that’s common to all of them is that they are made only out of twisted wire. That means he uses no glue, coatings or any other substances. he simply takes tens of feet of aluminum wire and twists them into a variety of shapes. As you can imagine, Kevin’s artistic process is very laborious and time-consuming. For example, talking about the aluminum tree n the photo below, the artist says “I average about 26 leaves per strand so I have about 10,062 leaves up there on the top. This [22-inch wide] tree took about 450 hours or so of hands on twisting wire time over four months.” Pretty remarkable stuff…

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