Modern Tower of Babel Made of Books Appears in Buenos Aires

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Popular Argentine artist Marta Minujin has created a 25-meter-high spiraling Tower of Babel made from 30,000 books written in various languages.

This modern version of the Tower of Babel was designed in celebration of Buenos Aires’ designation as World Book Capital 2011, by UNESCO, and local authorities say it represents the ideas of pluralism and diversity which also characterize the Argentine capital city. This isn’t Minujin’s first experience with book installations; in 1983, when democracy was restored in Argentina, she built a replica of the Parthenon from books banned by the former military dictatorship.

The tower consists of a spiraling metal frame and around 30,000 books written in most of the world’s languages and dialects. You can find all kinds of books, from dictionaries and encyclopedias to software manuals and classic novels, arranged on six levels. The bottom level features a collection of books from around the world, the first and second levels are for American books, the third and fourth are reserved for Europe, the fifth for Africa and the sixth for Asia. 16,000 of the books were donated by 52 embassies in Buenos Aires, while the rest were provided by Argentine readers.

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Indoor Swimming Pool Hosts Underwater Opera Show

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Aquaria Palaoa is a different kind of opera performance, where the protagonists sing in, out and under the water of a swimming pool, in Berlin, Germany.

Claudia Herr, a former swimming champion before turning to a music career, is the mastermind behind the unique Aquaria Palaoa project. In an interview with news agency AFP, Herr said she first got the idea for hosting an opera show at an indoor swimming pool the first time she visited the art nouveau Stadtbad Neukölln pool, in Berlin, 10 years ago. The large hall, complete with neo-classical pillars made her feel like she was at the opera.

Playing the lead role in Aquaria Palaoa, the former swimmer turned opera performer dives into the pool in a green evening dress, telling the story of a woman looking for the elixir of eternal youth. She sings both above and under the clear water of Stadtbad Neukölln, with the help of oxygen tanks. Special microphones transmit underwater sounds to speakers set up around the hall. Claudia’s voice, and those of other singers also singing underwater (but without oxygen tanks) are mixed with sounds recorded 100 meters under an ice shelf, in Antarctica. Meanwhile, the orchestra stays dry and accompanies them from the side of the pool.

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Germany Hosts Big Nose World Championship

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Ever since 1961, the German town of Langenbruck has hosted the Big Nose World Championship, a competition where “nosy” people from around the world compete for the title of world’s biggest nose.

The history of this wacky contest dates back 40 years, when a group of hops growers and the town minister sat down at the Lagenbruck pub and started making fun of each other’s big noses. “We could actually create a big nose club and you with your nose, could make the board” one of them said, while another replied “If I should be on the board then you would have to be nose king!” It was all in the spirit of fun, but Max Reichart and Wilhelm Höfler actually began thinking about establishing an “Association of Big Noses”, and a few weeks later they had actually done.

Everyone could join, as long as their nose was at least 60-mm-long or 40-mm-wide, and it numbered 40 members in the first hour since sits official inauguration. The Big Nose Club currently has 330 registered members and uses a modern nose gauge to measure the nose size of contestants during the Big Nose World Championship, held every five years. The judges measure the length and width of the noses, and contestants are allowed to frown or make faces in order to enlarge their noses, but they aren’t allowed to use any illegal substances.

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Teacher Ends Shaving Strike Following Bin Laden’s Death

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Garry Weddle, a 50-year-old science teacher from Washington has finally been able to shave the beard he vowed to let grow until Osama bin Laden was captured or killed.

Nearly 10 years ago, during the terrorist attack of “9/11″, Gary remembers he couldn’t take his eyes off the television coverage. “When the twin towers came down, I was horrified and I was glued to that television set for several days,” he said in an interview with KOMO News, back in 2003. He soon realized he not only wasn’t taking showers, but he wasn’t shaving either, so he vowed not to touch his beard with a razor until bin Laden was captured or reported dead, so the people around him would remember the tragedy of September 2001 every time they looked at him.

When President Obama made the announcement that the Al Qaeda leader was finally dead, Gary cried for about five minutes and couldn’t wait to shave off the beard he had been growing for the last 10 years. By the time the commander-in-chief said “I can report to the American people and to the world, that the US has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden”., he had already cut off most of the beard and was shaving the stubble. It was the first time in 3,454 days that Gary Weddle shaved.

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Lelo Burti – Easter Rugby in the Georgian Countryside

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Considered the predecessor of modern Georgian rugby, Lelo Burti is a centuries-old game played every Easter, in the western village of Shukhuti.

Lelo Burti is played only once a year, on Easter Sunday, and only in Shukhuti. Men from the upper and lower parts of the village compete against each other struggling to get a leather ball to a river, on the outskirt’s of their opponents’ half. Whichever team reaches their goal first is declared the winner, there are no other rules.

The morning before the game, participants gather to drink wine from the empty leather ball, before it is filled with 16 kilograms of dirt topped up with some more wine. Before the game begins, the village’s Orthodox priest blesses the ball, and this seems to make it an even more coveted price, as neither of the two halves hold back in trying to control it. Lelo Burti is a primitive tradition that is carried out the same way as it was many generations ago – the two groups smash everything in their paths as they approach the village center, including fences, gardens and orchards, scale walls and scrabble across ditches. As soon as the ball is in play, the game turns into a festival of unrestrained aggression fueled by gallons of previously consumed wine, where getting the ball is all that counts.

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Holy Men Ride Roller-Coasters for the Title of “Extreme Vicar”

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Living on a prayer gets a whole new meaning when 16 vicars jump on all kinds of thrill-rides and compete for the title of “Extreme Vicar“.

A roller-coaster is probably one of the last place you’d expect to see a robe wearing vicar, but 16 of them actually spent last weekend braving a number of grueling rides and Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, during an audition for a special religious service entitled “Extreme Easter”. Some of them asked the Lord to give them courage by clasping their hands,  raising them towards the Heavens and even reading from the Bible during the rides.

Extreme Easter will address the problem of dwindling church goers in Britain, by offering people the chance to worship at two of the most popular attractions in the UK. Sounds a little odd, but you know what they say, the Lord works in mysterious ways…

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Corgi-Shaped Wedding Cake Sets World Record

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Award-winning cake designer Michelle Wibowo has created a giant Corgi-shaped cake in celebration of the upcoming royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.

120 eggs, 20 kg of dry dog food (liver, chicken and beef), 30 kg of wholemeal flour, 25 cloves of garlic and fish oil were used to create a 68-kg-heavy cake shaped like a Corgi, which was recently acknowledged by Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest dog-friendly cake. Michelle Wibowo spent 111 hours, over a period of three weeks, working on the canine-shaped creation, and said the intricate details of the Corgi’s fur took the longest to do, 16 consecutive hours to be exact.

The nearly six-foot-long, 4-foot-high and three-foot-wide was unveiled on April 15, in London, close to Tower Bridge, where commuters stopped and stared at the largest Corgi they had ever seen. Three real representatives of the breed got to sample the delicious artwork before pieces were handed out to other canines on the premises, who were more than happy to act cannibalistic for once.

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Eggshelland – A Colorful Easter Tradition Made of Eggshells

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One of the world’s most impressive Easter traditions, Eggshelland features a number of colorful lawn mosaics made of Easter eggshells.

Every year, Ron and Betty Manolio, from Lyndhurst, Ohio, create a set of intricate eggshell mosaics right on their front lawn. It all started back in 1957, when Ron’s mother used 750 colored eggshells to make a cross on her lawn, and Ron and his wife carried on the tradition, coming up with different themes and complex mosaics each year after that.

First, the Manolios come up with a fresh theme, one that always includes the symbols of Easter – a fifty-foot cross and the Easter Bunny. Then Betty draws a plan of the display on a special piece of paper covered with a grid of small boxes, colors the pictures and they both count the number of eggs required and colors needed for the project. After they make sure they have all the necessary eggshells, they lay out the grid of the drawings on the lawn and start placing support sticks in the ground. Finally, the colored eggshells are placed over the sticks to create the actual mosaics.

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Maine Chefs Make World’s Largest Whoopie Pie

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In an attempt to raise money for charity and claim the title for the world’s largest whoopie pie, a team of Maine confectioners have created a frosted dessert weighing over 1,000 pounds.

They say the Amish invented the simple but delicious whoopie pie, but that didn’t stop the state of Maine from trying to claim it as its official dessert. Back in September 2010, at the annual festival of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania confectioners made a 250 pound whoopie pie, but that record was practically pulverized last Saturday, when Maine managed to top it with their own giant whoopie treat, weighing 1,062 pounds.

Local pie makers Wicked Whoopies provided the necessary ingredients for creating the giant calorie bomb, and assembly began around 8 am. After hours of work, which included lifting the baked top and bottom with a forklift, the drooling crowd gathered in front of Coast 93.1 radio station could finally stuff their face with frosted goodness. The event was also used as an opportunity to raise money for Maine troops serving abroad, so whoever wanted a slice of the world’s largest whoopie pie had to make a small donation. The raised funds will be used by Wicked Whoopies to pay shipping costs for the whoopie pies they plan to send to soldiers serving far from home.

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Professor Splash Sets New Record for High Dive into Shallow Pool

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Darren Taylor, better known as “Professor Splash“, has just set a new world record by swan diving 36 feet into a shallow kiddie pool.

Taylor, a professional diver from  Colorado, has been practicing high diving for the last 25 years, and already has 12 other Guinness Records under his belt. For his 13th one he traveled to Norway, where he jumped from 36 feet into just 12 inches of water. And if that’s not impressive enough, Guinness doesn’t allow the bottom of the kiddie pool to be inflated. “However, there are a couple of foam mats underneath the pool. Believe me, jumping and landing as flat as possible in 12 inches of water is tough enough as it is.” says the Professor.

Using his own special technique, Professor Splash leads with his hands, which breaks the impact on his face and pushes him forward as he hits the thin layer of water. “With my unique technique I can make each jump a world record one, but I must admit they are not getting any easier. You have to judge the wind, the cold, the time of day and become calm so that each jump is a success.” says the diver, who manages to remain unhurt, every time.

In Norway, he wanted the water to be as close to freezing point as possible, so it was dense enough to slow his descent when he impacted the water. He also had to land as flat as possible to “dissipate as much water for a cushion effect”.

Check out the video of his amazing stunt, after the jump.

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Radio Contest Winners Walk Down the Aisle in the Nude

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Kelly Clinton and Lee Wiggets have been together for 11 years, but financial priorities always prevented them from having the wedding they both dreamed of. Now, thanks to an unusual contest held by local radio station BRMB, they got their fairytale wedding, with a twist.

The two were voted winners of BRMB’s Naked Wedding competition, by 65% of voters, and won an all expenses paid wedding ceremony, as long as they showed up naked. It might not have been exactly as they pictured their big day, but you can’t let an opportunity like this just fly by. So on March 15, Kelly and Lee showed up at the Honiley Court Hotel, in Warwick, almost completely naked. The bride wore some skimpy underwear, a veil and a tiara, while the  groom used a top-hat to cover the family jewels.

The happy couple, who met when Lee was a door supervisor and Kelly was out with her friends, said they were a little nervous about showing up naked in front of their family and friends, but they’d recommend the experience to anyone who wants a special kind of wedding.

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Lamborghini Gallardo Owner Destroys His Own Car in Protest over Poor Service

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A Chinese Lamborghini Gallardo owner decided to have his supercar destroyed in public, to show his dissatisfaction with the car maker’s services.

The businessman from Qingdao, Shandong Province, says the engine of his luxury sports-car, a Lamborghini Gallardo L140, failed to start on November 29, 2010, just six months after he bought it. As any other car owner would do, he contacted the Lamborghini dealer in Qingdao, and the trailer of a maintenance service provider entrusted by the dealer was sent to carry the car to a designated maintenance shop. When his Lamborghini was returned, the owner noticed the engine problem still hadn’t been fixed, and that the bumper and chassis had been damaged, probably during the towing.

When the owner pointed out the problems at the maintenance shop, they denied his claims and simply ignored his consumer rights, so the owner tried to work things out with Mr. Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Lamborghini’s China division, with the auto-maker’s after-sales service manager for Asia-Pacific region, and even with brand owner Volkswagen Group, but no one took responsibility for what had happened. Under the circumstances, the outraged car owner felt there was only one thing he could do.

He decided to hire a group of construction workers to publicly destroy his faulty Lamborghini Gallardo L140 on World Consumer Rights Day, to attract attention to the consumer rights problem in China. He stated that, in recent years,  the Chinese people have been more than capable of consuming luxury goods, but international brands seek only to exploit the Chinese market and ignore the interests and rights of consumers. He feels that, in his case, Lamborghini failed to bring their famous high quality service to China, and this was the only way left he could protest.

In China, a Lamborghini Gallardo retails for between $529,000 and $757,000, depending on specifications.

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The Perfect Breakfast – World’s Tallest Pancake Stack

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In a bid to celebrate Pancake Day in a truly memorable fashion, the guys at Food Network UK built the tallest pancake stack ever.

Who doesn’t like pancakes? I must admit I’m a huge fan of the breakfast treat, and often lose count ‘when tackling s syrup-topped stack in the morning, but even I couldn’t hope to eat my way through the pancake skyscraper created by the staff of TV channel Food Network UK. It took 13 hours to create and required 253 eggs, 5 kilograms of flour and 15 liters of milk, but it was all worth it to celebrate Pancake Day. After cooking a whopping 725 pancakes, they somehow managed to stack them into a 32-inch-tall tower that set a new record for the world’s tallest pancake stack.

Nick Thorogood, of Food Network UK said: “One of the greatest aspects of British Food is its tradition and the celebration of events such as Pancake Day. We wanted to celebrate this year’s Pancake Day with something a little different and what better way than to create a giant stack of pancakes!” A fine and tasty choice indeed.

As you can imagine, the giant pancake tower ended up in the bellies of the TV channel bellies, by the end of the day.

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Germany Holds Quirky Deer Calling Championship

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Nine of the best deer call imitators in Germany gathered in the city of Dortmund for the 13th edition of the traditional Deer Calling Championship.

Using specially designed instruments, ox horns, snail shells and even glass lamps, competitors tried their best to imitate the mating call of a red deer as naturally as possible, for a chance to advance to the European Deer Calling Championship, in Slovenia. “It’s important to imitate the deer call as closely as possible, taking into account the fact that a mating deer gives away a different call than an old deer” Konrad Esterl, one of the jury members, said.

For the first time in the history of the championship, a woman tried to best imitate the mating calls of a deer. She did not win, but said “it was a joy” that brought her a bit closer to nature. Which is exactly what this competition is all about – although it is mostly regarded in relation with deer hunting, the mating call itself is considered a nature spectacle that allows some people to get within just a few meters of a deer without the intention of killing it.

This year, the title went to Andreas Toepfer, who used a series of instruments to imitate a deer and impress the judges.

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Takanakuy – The Fighting Festival of Peru

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For most of us, Christmas day is a time of celebration and togetherness, but for the people of the Chumbivilcas community, near Cuzco, it’s the perfect opportunity to get into a fight.

Takanakuy, which means “when the blood is boiling” in Quechua, one of the oldest spoken dialects of Peru, is an annual celebration that gives people the chance to solve personal differences with members of their community the old fashioned way, through violence. The yearly festival, which takes place every December 25th, is an indigenous tradition that has a lot to do with family honor, reputation and distrust in the judiciary system. Takanakuy is viewed by many as the only way to put problems behind them, before New Year’s.

On the day of the festival, participants (men, women and children alike) gather in the local bullring, where they engage in a bare knuckle fight, supervised by local authorities who act as referees. Men mostly stick to punching, but in women’s matches kicking is very popular and while contenders don’t seem to be holding back much, injuries are rarely reported. Fighters are not allowed to hit their opponents while they’re down, and they risk getting whipped if they forget about this important rule.

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