Turkish Doctors Use Islamic Music as Medicine

A group of doctors at the Memorial Hospital in Instanbul, Turkey, have started using traditional Islamic music as complementary treatment for various illnesses.

Using music as therapy might sound strange in an age where medicine is relying more and more on science and technology, but the benefits of musical treatments have been known for almost 1,000 years. The makam, a musical mode unique to traditional Arabic and Turkish music, was used in Islamic medicine as early as the 9th century, when philosopher al-Farabi cataloged the effects of different musical modes on the human body and mind. Makam defines the pitches, patterns and development of a certain musical piece and the different tone scales must be largely played by ear.

Doctors at Istanbul’s Memorial Hospital are convinced different makams have positive  psychological and physiological effects on their patients. Dr. Eroll Can discovered musical therapy while working at a hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria, where they used a tape recorder and headphones, but after he immigrated to Turkey in 1996, he started using live instruments and noticed the effects were even more significant. Now he, along with professor Bingur Sonmez and Mehmet Susam are masters of traditional instruments like the ney (Turkish flute), yayli tan bur (Ottoman violin) and the guitar.

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Asylum Seekers Compete in Crazy Dutch Game Show

Weg van Nederland is a televised game show that supposedly pits asylum seekers against each other for the chance to win a cash prize before being deported to their home countries.

Translated as “Leaving the Netherlands”, Weg van Nederland will air on the VPRO channel this Thursday, and while it sounds like a big joke, VPRO editor-n-chief Frank Wiering says contestants are real unsuccessful asylum seekers who have to leave the country in a month or two. They are offered the chance to compete for a $5600 cash prize to take with them when they get deported. Contestants have to answer questions about Dutch culture, history and language, to prove which of them learned most about the Netherlands during their stay in the country. Losers get consolation prizes like tulip bulbs and bulletproof vests.

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Toasted Celebrity Portraits by Henry Hargreaves

New York artist Henry Hargreaves makes portraits of modern icons using dozens of pieces of toast. You have to admit, burnt toast never looked this good.

With his series of toast portraits entitled “Toasted”, Henry Hargreaves joins the ranks of established artists who chose toast as their art medium, the likes of Maurice “Toastman” Bennett, Laura Hadland or Adam Sheldon. Using dozens of pieces of toast, some barely toasted, other burned to a crisp, Hargreaves managed to create a series of mosaic portraits that includes The Beatles, Che Guevarra, Jim Morrison and Marylin Monroe. I gotta say they all look good good enough to eat.

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Malaysians Sleep in Coffins for Good Luck

Most people would prefer to stay out of a coffin for as long as possible, but for devotees at the Looi Im Si temple, in Penang, Malaysia, sleeping in a coffin is the best thing that could happen to them.

The Taoist temple located in Jelutong worships deities linked to the afterlife, like Xiao Xian Bo, one of the two guards responsible for bringing the dead to the other side. Chu Soon Lock, the temple’s secretary, claims his grandmother founded the temple after receiving instructions in a dream, from hell deity Di Fu Bao Zhang. As the years went by the temple started worshiping various other deities like Ji Gong, Si Da Jin Gang and Mile Buddha. The weirdest part of the story of Looi Im Si temple started in 2007, when the spirit of Xiao Xian Bo arrived at the holy place and began addressing his devotees through the body of Chu Soon Lock’s brother.

Chu Soon Chye says he doesn’t know a word of Teochew, yet he speaks the dialect fluently each time he is possessed by Xiao Xian Bo. Back in 2008, when he was in a trance, Soon Chye instructed temple devotees to place five coffins within the temple, and only allow people with serious problems caused by bad luck to sleep in them. Only one of the five coffins is used, because the other four are apparently too small to fit into.

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Man Has Sinking Titanic Tattooed on His Back

Titanic enthusiast Steve Hide, from Southampton, England, had his entire back tattooed with the faithful moment the iconic ship sank into the Atlantic, in April of 1912.

45-year-old Steve has always been interested in the history of the Titanic, and since he’s also a big fan of tattoos, he figured a full-back ink-job of the Titanic sinking would be a great way of remembering it. Work on the stunning piece began five years ago, in a tattoo parlor in Eastbourne, and since then Steve spent around 40 hours in various tattoo shops getting his back inked. When he first got the idea, in 2006, he wanted to have it done for the 100th anniversary, and used books and pictures of the Titanic sinking in order to have a realistic replica tattooed on his back.

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Artist Turns Dull Buildings into Fairytale Settings

Ukrainian artist Daria Marchenko and her team were commissioned by a night-time delivery company to turn their dull-delivery points into something truly special, and the results are just fantastic.

Night Express, a courier service operating in the Ukraine, decided to remind their clients about their favorite fairytales, cartoons and childhood dreams, by turning delivery points in various Ukrainian cities into mind-blowing optical illusions. The fact that Night Express operates at night, when people dream, was the inspiration behind this amazing project carried out by Daria Marchenko and her team of gifted artists.

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Chinese Couple Convert Cargo Truck into Mobile Home

Unable to buy a real house, a young couple in Kunming, China, have opted to convert a small cargo truck into a comfy mobile home.

It’s hard to imagine someone living comfortably in the back of a truck, but the high housing prices in China have forced young people to be resourceful and find all kinds of original alternatives. Last year, a young Chinese student from Beijing built himself a sustainable egg-house from bamboo and insulating materials, and now a young couple have turned a cargo truck into an 8.5-square-meter living space.

It’s not the spaciest home ever built, but it features just about everything anyone needs to live a decent life, including a small kitchen with a sink and electric stove, bunk-beds, refrigerator, flat screen TV and even a computer. The only thing that isn’t shown in the photos is also one of the most important – the toilet, but, even if they haven’t improvised one on their truck, I’m sure they have some way of dealing with personal hygiene.

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Displaying Cars on Rocks Is a Favorite Pastime in Saudi Arabia

The young men of Saudi Arabia’s Abha region have a rather peculiar pastime: they like to build rock structures on which they display their cars.

Abha, a city in south-western Saudi Arabia has a moderate climate and features green landscape which make it a popular getaway for tourists from all over the country and other neighboring lands. Over 1.5 million people come to spend their weekends and vacations here, and that number is about to grow thanks to a new and intriguing attractions – the unique car displays in the countryside around Abha.

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Artist Writes Detailed Portraits of Dogs

Florida-based artist Stephen Kline has created a new artistic technique that allows him to draw detailed portraits of dogs, using only text. For example he can draw the portrait of a poodle just by writing the word ‘poodle’ a few hundred times. You’d think writing the same  word so many times would eventually get boring even for the most patient artist, but Stephen has so far created hundreds of these brilliant litographs of every dog breed you can think of.

Stephen Kline introduced his Lines of Language technique in 1999, and since then he’s gained thousands of art-collecting fans from 20 different countries and every state in the US. His litographs have so far generated tens of thousands of dollars for dog rescue centers around the world.

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Snapperfest – Yet Another Another Animal Cruelty Fest

Snapperfest is an obscure Indiana festival where participants have to yank a snapping turtle’s head out of its shell until they can wrap their hands around its neck.

It has been taking place in Ohio County, Indiana, for over a decade, despite PETA’s numerous attempts to shut it down, and sadly, it was organized this year as well, on August 20th. As always a big crowd gathered at Campshore Campgrounds to see the “brave” competitors tormenting a bunch of frightened snapping turtles. Now that right there sounds like a great way to spend your weekend.

Every Snapperfest contestant has to run up to a tank full of snapping turtles, grab one by its tail, slam it onto a piece of tarp and yank its head out of the shell. Apparently, each participant has his own techniques to get the wild-caught turtles to reveal their heads, but most popular are the repeated slamming against the ground, and pounding on the shell. While the crowd cheers them on, they grab the snapper turtle’s head and yank it out enough to wrap their hands around its neck. The one who manages to yank the turtle’s head fastest, wins.

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Jugger – The Post-Apocalyptic Sport of Today

Appocalipse is not yet upon us, yet more and more people are already playing a post-apocalyptic sport named called Jugger, inspired by a 1989 movie starring Rutger Hauer and Joan Chen – Blood of Heroes.

In Blood of Heroes, Jugger was simply called ‘The Game’ and was a violent sport played for food and money, and while the real-life version follows the main rules, it tries to keep violence to a minimum. Instead of money, food and other prizes, juggers play for fun. The sport was invented by David Webb, writer/director of Blood of Heroes, but soon after the movie was released, it became a real sport played in two different regions of Germany, independently. The first was Berlin, a perfect setting with its post-apocalyptic look during the first years after the fall of the wall, and the other was Hamburg, where the first Jugger tournament took place in 1995.

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Computerspielemuseum – Berlin’s Computer Game Museum

If you thought the Video Card Museum of Kharkov was a geek paradise, than the Video Game Museum in Berlin is really gonna blow your mind. It features vintage hardware, interactive installations, and over 300 video games, including the first ever arcade game, Computer Space, released in 1971, which by the way was a total commercial failure.

The Video Game Museum was first opened for a brief period at the end of the 1990s, but was eventually closed down in 2000. The new museum opened in January 2011 and is located in an east Berlin building formerly occupied by Cafe Warsaw. The exhibits in this geeky museum aim to document all the aspects of video games, including graphics, hardware, music, storylines, etc, since 1951 to current day. Apart from tracking the evolution of video games, the museum also explores the effects gaming has had on modern society, from positive ones like social networking to negative, like addiction and video-game-inspired violence.

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The Magnificent Floating Puppets of Les Plasticiens Volants

Les Plasticiens Volants is a world-renown theater group that stages monumental performances using giant inflatable puppets, some over 20 meters long.

Ever since it was established, in 1976, the unique group has been entertaining audiences world-wide withe their amazing shows. From just two members, the group has grown to a company of 30 enthusiasts who create the puppets and masterfully operate them over the heads of the audience, telling a story. According to the members of the Les Plasticiens Volants, the advantage and at the same time the biggest challenge is building a marionette without a solid or fixed structure. They bend in the air and turn their heads in a way that makes them seem alive. But, as you can imagine, they are lot harder to control from the ground.

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The Subway-Riding Dogs of Moscow

Everyone knows dogs are some of the most intelligent animals on Earth, but the stray canines in Moscow have really impressed scientists with their metro-riding routines. Every day, the dogs living on the outskirts of Russia’s capital jump on the tube all the way to the city center, the best place to scavenge for foods.

During the soviet era, dogs weren’t allowed into subway stations, and since restaurants and fast-food stands were scarce all around Moscow, they had no reason to venture into the city. Most canines preferred to live in the industrial areas, where they searched for food in garbage dumps, or lived on whatever workers threw away. But after the fall of the USSR, the situation changed drastically: their homes on the outskirts of Moscow were taken over by commercial centers and apartment complexes, while restaurants and fast-food carts popped-up downtown. A while ago, I wrote about Cacao, the bus-riding dog of Milan. I thought he was unique, but it appears Moscow strays mastered public transportation years ago.

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Designer Creates Modern Persian Rugs Using Google Earth

Using images from Google Earth, German designer David Hanauer was able to give a contemporary twist to the ancient craft of Persian carpet making.

Hanauer first began working on his “Worldwide Carpets” project in 2008, after finding himself fascinated with Las Vegas’ uniform, top-down suburban planning. After he got the idea of using aerials images of the city as prints for a modern Persian carpet, he needed to find the best aerial views, and what better alternative than the free-to-use Google Earth? And since our eyes are used to a horizontal view, rather than seeing things from above, at first most people assume it’s just an abstract pattern, instead of a Las Vegas building block.

Persian rugs are arranged around a central point and are always symmetrical, so after David Hanauer finds the right sections from the 3D satellite maps, all he has to do is mirror the images in four directions, which automatically gives the carpets a Persian look. But instead of being hand-knotted, like the original carpets, these contemporary interior design accessories are printed on polyester using colorfast dyes.

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