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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Young Woman Is Strangely Addicted to Sponges and Soap

While the rest of the world is awakening to the benefits of eating organic food, 21-year-old Kerry Trebilcock is doing just the opposite. Actually, what she eats isn’t even food. The young girl from Cornwall eats (yes, eats) soap and sponges. So far, she’s consumed 4,000 washing sponges and over 100 bars of soap. Well, I suppose she at least has super-clean intestines!

It’s no laughing matter though, as Kerry is suffering from a condition called Pica, which makes her crave things that have nothing to do with food. People with Pica are known to eat a variety of things ranging from metal to sand, and even chalk, coal, light bulbs and furniture. For a long time, Kerry’s diet consisted of sponges dipped in tea or hot chocolate, or spiced up with mustard and BBQ sauce. She would never leave the house without a snack – a small plastic bag of cut up sponges and sauce in a Tupperware.

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Poveglia – The Venetian Island of the Dead

When I first saw a picture of Poveglia Island, I couldn’t help but notice how pretty it is. But then I read the story behind the place and let me tell you, there’s nothing pretty about it. For centuries, the island has attracted nothing but the worst fate, with hundreds of thousands of people suffering torturous deaths. Today the island may look uninhabited, but legend suggests otherwise…

Poveglia is located in northern Italy, in the Venetian Lagoons. It has no owners and entry to the place is strictly forbidden. The only time any visits are made is to harvest vineyards. Even fisherman won’t venture intot  the waters near the island, for fear of catching human bones in their nets. For a time, it was owned by the Italian state but was sold to a private buyer in the 1960s. The poor guy lived there for a short while, but abandoned the place after a short while. More recently, a family was known to have purchased Poveglia in an attempt to convert it into a holiday home, but again, they couldn’t spend more than one night there. Rumors say that their daughter’s face was split open and 14 stitches were needed to fix it.

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Mysterious Real-Life Robin Hood Leaves Envelopes of Cash to the Needy

It’s nothing short of a modern-day miracle,when envelopes stuffed with cash just keep appearing all over town. And not just small cash, we’re talking large amounts. Since late last year, envelopes containing sums up to 10,000 euros are being mysteriously ‘given’ to those who are in need of money, in the German town of Braunschweig. The donated money that’s been accounted for so far amounts to a whopping 200,000 euros.

While the benefactor is unknown, the beneficiaries have so far “suspected” a hospice, a robbery victim, various charities, and also the family of a handicapped boy. The cash-stuffed envelopes have been left in prayer books in churches, beneath doormats and also in letterboxes. There are several theories as to who is behind this sudden ‘shower’ of cash in the settlement. Some say that it could be a lottery winner and others feel it’s probably someone who’s received a large inheritance. Whoever it may be, the person is being hailed as a present-day reincarnation of Robin Hood, who we’re not yet sure if  is stealing from the rich, but is certainly giving to the needy.

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Really Hang-Out at Tokyo’s Hammock Cafe

Who needs chairs when you can just relax and have a cup of coffee or tea in a comfortable hammock, right? That was probably the idea behind Mahika Mano, a popular Tokyo venue, better known as the Hammock Cafe.

Located in the Kichijoji district of Tokyo, a place renowned for its chill-out atmosphere, Mahika Mano fits in just perfectly, with its hammocks hanging from the ceiling inviting passers-by to just sit back and enjoy a tasty drink. As soon as you walk in, the first thing that hits you is the absence of chairs, but as soon as you lay down in one of the hanging nets you start to wonder who ever got the crazy idea of using chairs, when hammocks are so much more comfy. As you can imagine, this unique cafe is pretty busy (sometimes you have to wait in a queue to grab a seat hammock) so the place has implemented a time limit of 90 to 120 minutes, so that everyone can have a chance to literally hang out. Whether this policy is enforced or not depends on the occupancy of the cafe.

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