Say What? The Clicking Languages of South Africa

I had heard of African names with clicks before, like ǂXóõ, ǂHõã and !Kung, but I thought they were limited to just a few words. Now, after some research, I’ve realized that clicks are used quite extensively in many South African languages.

If you’re having trouble understanding the click and its use, think of it this way – it’s just like any other consonant used in the English language.

The credit for introducing clicks to a worldwide audience goes to singer Miriam Makeba, whose life has been celebrated on Google’s Doodles this year. In her 1957 hit single, Pata Pata, you can clearly hear clicks in the lyrics. “Everywhere we go, people often ask me, ‘How do you make that noise?’” she said during an interview in 1979. “It used to offend me because it isn’t a noise. It’s my language,” she clarified.

Xhosa-language

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Russian Photographer’s Photos Reveal the Unique Beauty of Snowflakes

Alexey Kljatov is a photographer with a difference – he takes incredibly breathtaking shots of snowflakes with equipment that he developed at home, eliminating the need for cameras and lenses worth thousands of dollars.

It’s hard to believe that Moscow-based Kljatov is an amateur. Take a look at these close-up snowflake photographs and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. The amount of precision and clarity he has achieved with just a home-made rig is amazing.

Kljatov used parts from old cameras and attached them to wooden boards using a bunch of screws and some tape. Doesn’t sound like much, but this set-up is really working wonders for him. The close-up views of the snowflakes are enchanting.

snowflake-closeup

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Meet the Man Who Artistically Carves Entire Caves by Hand with a Pickaxe

Sculptor Ra Paulette has a phenomenal hobby – he digs caves in New Mexico’s sandstone cliffs. Not plain, rocky, boring ones. Ra’s caves are smooth, artistic, and breathtakingly beautiful, and he creates them with his bare hands. His only tools – a pickaxe and a wheelbarrow.

67-year-old Ra came into his unusual profession after years of being a drifter. He was a college dropout, was discharged from the U.S. Navy and hitchhiked his way across America. He worked on a series of odd jobs – postal employee, security guard, janitor, and even farmer and one point.

Ra learnt the art of digging in the summer of 1985, when he worked in Dixon as an excavator. He would dig outhouses and build wells, giving him a longing to do something artistic with his hands. One thing led to another and soon, he was digging caves.

Ra-Paulette-caves

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South Korean Twin Sisters Look Unrecognizable after Amazing Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is so common now, it shouldn’t shock us anymore. But you can’t help being amazed at certain transformations. Like these South Korean twins’ almost unbelievable change.

We don’t know their names. All we know is that they were participants on the popular South Korean TV show – Let’s Beauty. The show focuses on people who say they feel held back by their appearance, helping them look better and feel more confident.

Snapshots of the twins’ transformation are all over the internet. Honestly, I think they looked pretty good before the surgery. But they look breathtakingly beautiful now. The photographs show a surgeon analyzing the twins’ appearance and going over the procedure. There’s a sneak preview of the dramatic difference in the making. And the final pictures show a detailed view of the completely reconstructed faces.

cosmetic-surgery

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How Bad Do You Have to Go? Extreme Toilet Perched on a Cliff in Siberia

The world’s most extreme toilet is located in Siberia, 2,600m (over 8,500 feet) above sea level. It’s not just the height that makes it scary; the toilet is perched rather precariously on the edge of a cliff. I think it looks like it might fall right off if a very heavy person used it.

What’s this lonely lavatory doing up there all by itself, you ask? Well, it’s meant to serve just five people – employees at the remote weather station at Kara-Tyurek.

Kara-Tyurek, which means ‘Black Heart’ in the local language, lies in the Russian Altai Mountains. Its weather station has been operational since 1939, and the five people working there have just the one toilet to use.

extreme-toilet

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Israeli Restaurant Offers 50% Discount to Patrons Who Turn Off Their Phones

Restaurant owner Jawdat Ibrahim is making his patrons an offer they cannot refuse – switch off your mobile, reduce your bill by half.

Ibrahim thinks smartphones have completely destroyed the dining experience. “Technology is very good. But just when you eat, just especially when you are with your family and your friends, you can wait for half-an-hour and enjoy the food and the company,” he says. “A lot of people, they sit down and they don’t enjoy their food.”

I must admit he does have a point there. These days, almost everyone looks more at their phones than the people beside them. Ibrahim is dismayed when he sees married couples or friends sitting in silence, staring at their screens and finally asking for their food to be reheated.

on-the-phone

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Woman Has Her Leg Cut Off So She Can Wear High Heels

21-year-old New Yorker Mariah Serrano was born with a painfully twisted club foot, and had never worn high heels in her life. She’d attended her high school prom in golden trainers, insanely jealous of her friends who wore heels.

Like many other girls from New York, Mariah dreamed of a job in fashion, but it seemed like her leg-situation was going to get in the way of that too. “When I was told I’d never be able to wear high heels and I should give up my dream career, I was devastated,” she said.

So when a specialist told her in 2009 that she had another option – to have her leg amputated, she seriously considered it. “Mum was horrified but I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I had to give it some serious thought.”

mariah-serrano

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Artist Mom Creates Amazing Mosaics Out of Thousands of Play-Doh Dots

Who said Play-Doh is just for kids? In an amazing display of pointillism, mother-of-three Lacy Knudson puts together over 10,000 Play-Doh dots to create beautiful mosaics.

It all started when Knudson was putting away her kids’ clay one day. She began mushing it into little balls when she realized that these tiny, colorful dots could be put together to create great artwork. And the best part – she could spend time with her children while working.

Knudson has a unique name for her process – Dozayix. It’s a combination of playDOh and moSAICS. And of course, a whole lot of fun. Her first piece was called A New World, for which she used 23 pounds of Play-Doh. She split it all into 10,000 half-inch dots (called ‘dozaic tiles’) and perfectly arranged each dot to build her mosaic.

play-doh-art

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The Inspirational Story of a Paralyzed Surgeon who Continues to Operate

Dr. Ted Rummel thought his life was pretty much over when he was left paralyzed from the waist-down in 2010. The exceptional surgeon had been diagnosed with a cavernous hemangioma – a blood filled cyst – in the middle of his spinal cord a year earlier. Neurologists told him the cyst couldn’t be surgically removed, as the procedure would paralyze him instantly. Instead he was told to rest, wait, and pray the cyst never ruptured.

Unfortunately for Dr. Rummel, the cyst did burst in September 2010, just a week after he performed a rotator cuff surgery on his wife Kathy – his last surgery for the next two years. He suffered a terrible back ache, followed by numbness and weakness in his legs. Within days, “a wave crashed over his lower body and took all feeling and mobility with it.” Dr. Rummel was paralyzed for life.

It’s sad that something so terrible should have happened to him, after he cured thousands of people in St. Charles County of pain and stiffness in their joints. In his best days, he had practiced over 1,000 surgeries per year in O’Fallon, Missouri.

Ted-Rummel-surgeon

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English Farmer Builds Incredible Hobbit House for Just 150 Pounds

At a time when housing rates are hitting the roof, an English farmer has gone and built a house for almost nothing. 59-year-old Michael Buck spent a measly £150( $250) to construct a small, yet cozy house in the garden of his Oxfordshire home.

The former art teacher drew plans for the house on the back of an envelope. He didn’t need any special planning permissions since it was classified as a summer home. Buck spent two years gathering natural and reclaimed materials for construction. It took him an additional eight months to construct it with his bare hands; he didn’t use any power tools at all.

To make the base, he learned the ancient technique of cob from a book. The technique comes from prehistoric times and involves a mixture of sand, clay, water and earth. Clay based subsoil is mixed with sand, straw and water and then ladled onto a stone foundation. Workers and oxen then trample upon the mixture – a process known as cobbing. The layers of cob gradually build up and harden over time.

For the 300 sq. ft. floor space, Buck rescued the floorboards from a neighbor’s unused skip. He retrieved the windscreen of an old lorry and converted the glass into windows. The walls are painted with a mixture of chalk and plant resin. The roof is a simple wooden frame thatched with straw from nearby fields.

cob-house

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The Unbelievably Cute Blacknose Sheep of Valais

The Valais Blacknose sheep are some of the cutest animals I’ve ever seen. On first glance, they don’t even look real; many people have mistaken them for well-crafted felt projects. I wonder why they aren’t more popular on the internet. They do have a Facebook fan page with over 3,500 likes, butI think they ought to be more well-known.

The Blacknose sheep originate in the Valais region of Switzerland. They are a dual-purpose breed, raised for wool as well as meat. Their most notable features – a black face, black ears, black knees and legs. The rest of their coat is stringy, white and unbelievably fluffy; you’d just want to cuddle up with them. But they’re a pretty tough breed.

The Valais Blacknose are a Heritage breed. These domesticated animals are well suited to live in the extreme climatic conditions of the high mountains and are good at grazing on steep, rocky slopes. Each sheep weighs 80 to 100 kilos and produces about 4 kilos of wool a year. Their earliest mention dates back to 1400 A.D., but they were first recognized as a separate breed in 1962.

Valais-Blacknose

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Guy Steals iPhone Sends Owner 11-Page Handwritten List of 1,000 Contacts

You’d have to agree that when you lose a phone, replacing the device isn’t as painful as rebuilding your list of contacts. That’s why this Chinese thief is so special – he copied over 1,000 contacts on to 11 pages by hand and sent them to the owner of the phone he had stolen.

The $440 iPhone in question belonged to Zou Bin, a barman from Changsha, capital of the Hunan province. Zou told local media that he was returning home wasted from his best friend’s bachelor party earlier this month, when the theft occurred. He had passed out in the taxi taking him home along with three other strangers. Zou isn’t certain which one of them was the culprit.

When Zou discovered that his phone was missing the next morning, he naturally was furious. The device contained more than 1,000 work related contacts that he could not afford to lose. So he did the first thing that came to mind – Zou sent threatening text messages to his own number from a friend’s phone.

contacts-list

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Detroit Homeowner Uses Dummies Dressed as Gang Members to Deter Real Criminals

Who needs live security guards when a pair of dummies can do the job? A Detroit homeowner from the city’s west side has been putting this theory into practice for the past few weeks, with excellent results.

Detroit’s news channel Local 4 reported the story in detail. While the homeowner preferred to remain anonymous, we do get to hear snippets of his voice during the video coverage. “This is my home, my castle,” he says. And he’s converted his castle into a fortress of sorts with a security system, sensor lights, bars on windows, double screen doors and two dogs. The icing on the cake: two security guards stationed at the front door 24/7. If you look closely, you’ll realize they’re just dummies (the kind used for CPR training) dressed as gang members.

The man says he got the idea after several break-ins occurred and he couldn’t afford insurance premiums. His insurance company actually told him that they see risk all around his home – vacant homes and constant crime. So he has been making efforts to minimize that risk. In perfect Home Alone style, he’s doing his best to outsmart burglars.

dummies

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Chinese Millionaire Builds Six European-Style Castles in China, Plans to Make it 100

59-year-old Liu Chonghua is the latest to join a string of wealthy Chinese businessmen with eccentric hobbies. Liu is spending millions of dollars building fake European castles in the megacity of Chongqing. And get this – he copies the designs out of a book of castle pictures he keeps in his office.

One of the castles Liu built is a gray stone structure resembling Britain’s Windsor Castle. The only difference – the Chinese version is surrounded by lush green paddy fields. Another one is a red brick fairytale structure with soaring spires, inspired by the Disney movie, Aladdin. He also has a white castle with candy-colored towers, similar to 19th century Bavarian ‘Mad’ King Ludwig’s hilltop fantasy – Neuschwanstein.

Recreating foreign designs on Chinese soil might involve architectural challenges, but Liu’s team has dismissed them. Ma Wenneng, former soldier and now a construction worker, says, “Actually, European castles are really easy to build.”

Chongqing-castles

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Mas Provencal – The Perfect Restaurant for Flower Enthusiasts

When you first step into Mas Provencal on the outskirts of Eze Village, you’re likely to mistake it for a greenhouse. Located close to the city of Nice in southeastern France, this restaurant has way more flowers than tables.

Mas Provencal’s interior décor is pretty special, perhaps even one-of-a-kind. Almost every square inch is covered with fresh flowers – roses, orchids, ivy, glads and more. There are plants everywhere and it takes some squinting to even spot the sign board. The large amount of flora either enthralls diners, or leaves them a bit overwhelmed. One tourist called the decorations “fabulously gaudy.” I don’t think I could have put it any better.

Inside the restaurant, each table is done up with elaborate center pieces made of flowers. Exotic trees adorn the passageways and you can spot a few carnivorous plants in the crowd. Antique knick-knacks are scattered everywhere. A large glass enclosed waterfall containing ferns is also part of the décor. The best part – diners can munch on grapes and cherry tomatoes hanging from the ceiling at arm’s reach.

Mas-Provencal-restaurant

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