Chinese Millionaire Works as a Street Cleaner to Set a Good Example for Her Kids

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Yu Youzhen, a millionaire from Wuhan City, China, has been making headlines recently, after it was discovered she works as a street cleaner, for a 1,420 yuan monthly salary, in order to set a positive example for her two children.

During the 1980s, Yu Youzhen was just an average vegetable farmer in the Hongshan District Donghu Village Huojiawan, working hard with her husband in order to save some money. After years working from dawn till dusk, they became the first family in the village to own a 3-storey house. At the time, a lot of people were coming to Wuhan looking for work, and many of them needed a place to stay, so Yu started renting the spare rooms in her home. Each room would bring about 50 yuan every month, and the resourceful woman used the extra earning to build even more houses and add more floors. After several years, she had three 5-storey buildings, most of which were rented out. Construction regulations were loose in China, and everyone was building houses, but Yu Youzhen really lucked-out when, according to the policies of requisitioning and redevelopment of land, she and her family were compensated with 21 apartments for the houses they had built in Huojiawan. She wasn’t the only one, of course, but she personally witnessed how fellow villagers squandered away their fortunes on gambling, drinking and even drug use, so she made it a goal to set a good example for her kids and act responsible.

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Gold-Obsessed Man Shows Off Solid Gold Shirt, Takes Pimping to a Whole New Level

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Datta Phuge, a chit fund businessman from Pimpri, India, refers to himself as “The Gold Man of Pimpri” and in order to live up to this image, he has recently commissioned a 22-karat gold shirt weighing 3.2 kilograms that’s bound to make some Western rappers green with envy.

According to India Today, gold-obsessed businessmen and politicians are nothing new in India. Not long ago, a man by the name of Ramesh Wanjale was spotted wearing 2 kilos of gold, then NCP functionary Samrat Moze wore 8.5 kilograms of gold in the form of jewelry and ornaments, but chit fund Datta Phuge found a way to one-up them both. He had a team of 15 goldsmiths working 18 hours a day for over 15 days in order to finish a 3.5 kg woven gold shirt. ”The gold shirt has been one of my dreams,” Mr Phuge told Indian newspaper the Pune Mirror“It will be an embellishment to my reputation as the ‘Gold man of Pimpri’”, Phuge said. His extravagant garment consists of 14,000 gold flowerrings, interwoven with one lakh spangles. It was assembled on a fabric base of imported white velvet, and comes with six Swarovski crystal buttons and an intricate belt, also made of gold.

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13-Year-Old’s Christmas iPhone Comes with 18-Point Contract from Mom

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“Merry Christmas! You are now the proud owner of an iPhone.” Who wouldn’t want to find a message like that next to their Christmas gift, right? Only in the case of 13-year-old Greg Hoffman, from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, this was only the beginning of an elaborate 18-point contract he had to abide by in order to keep using his brand new Apple iPhone.

Greg Hoffman had been begging his parents for an iPhone for a whole year, so when he finally fond it under the Christmas Tree, he was the happiest 13-year-old in the world. Only his joy was short-lived, for with the popular smartphone came a contract put together by his mom, Janell, which conditioned the use of the gadget. The first of 18 points in the contract made things very clear for Greg. It read: ”It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?” His first reaction was “Why? Why did she really have to do this?”, but his mother revealed her motives on ABC’s God Morning America: ”What I wanted to do and show him [is] how you could be a responsible user of technology without abusing it, without becoming addicted”. Although she ultimately admitted the 18-point “document” was created partly in jest, Janell Hoffman wanted to help her son avoid many of the pitfalls that both smart phone using teens and adults fall prey to, and teen behavior expert Josh Shipp agrees with her. ”You wouldn’t’ give your kid a car without making sure they had insurance,” he says. ”And so giving them a cell phone or a computer without teaching them how to use it responsibly is irresponsible on the part of the parent.”

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Orlan – The French Performance Artist Who Used Plastic Surgery to Challenge Beauty Standards

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We’ve heard countless stories of women who go through procedure after procedure in an attempt to improve their looks, but when I first read about Orlan, a French performance artist, I was shocked. She has also undergone several surgical alterations to her face, but for a different reason – to challenge the standards of beauty that society has set for women. She makes use of plastic surgery as a part of her art, to transform her face and body in such a way that it questions traditional perceptions of beauty.

Orlan has done things to herself as bizarre as reshaping her face to resemble Zimbabwe’s Ndebele giraffe women. The whole purpose of her art, she says, is ‘to shock’. “The whole point is to be against the idea of social pressure put on a woman’s body,” Orlan is reported to have said. Her present day career is inspired from an incident that occurred in her life, way back in 1978. She was preparing to speak at a symposium one day, when she was rushed to the hospital for an emergency surgery. “I almost died because I had an ectopic pregnancy,” she said. “They had to operate to save my life and remove what they told me was a non-viable fetus.” What was most unusual about this incident was the way Orlan chose to handle it. In what can only be called the beginnings of reality television, she took a camera crew along with her to film the operation as it happened. She also insisted that she remain conscious throughout the procedure. “I wasn’t in pain and what was happening to my body was of profound interest to me. Pain is an anachronism. I have great confidence in morphine.”

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Black Gums Are Considered a Sign of Beauty in West Africa

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I’ve read about people getting tattoos on the weirdest places of their bodies, but this one just beats them all. Never before have I heard of people getting their gums tattooed. Not in any particular design, but just a uniform black color. This is actually a popular practice among women in West African countries like Senegal, because over there apparently, black gums are a thing of beauty.

Tattooed black gums are especially popular in small towns and villages like Thies, in Senegal. Women here practice this ancient tradition to get a smile that is considered more attractive. Of course, the process is nothing short of painful. Marieme, from Thies, is one such young girl to have gone through the procedure. I watched a documentary on YouTube that covered her journey from having regular gums to the more desirable black variety. Before she went for it, she said, “I want black gums to obtain a more beautiful smile. It’s become an obsession. I do fear the procedure. But I’ll be OK.”

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The Real-Life King Arthur and His Biker-Druid Followers

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If you’re a King Arthur fan and plan to visit Stonehenge sometime soon, you should totally go there on the summer solstice. Because that’s when your chances are high to spot the real-life King Arthur and his 20,000 followers – a motley crew of tourists, pilled-up teenagers in sportswear and neo-druids.

Their leader, formerly known as John Rothwell, now claims that he is the living embodiment of the 1575-year-old legendary British monarch – King Arthur. He rose to fame in the 1990s, when his efforts to open up access to Stonehenge during religious festivals like the summer solstice paid off, after winning a case at the European Court of Human Rights. Fast forward to present-day and you will find Arthur elected as the ‘Battle Chieftain’ of the Council of British Druid Orders. ‘King Arthur’ and his ‘Loyal Arthurian Warband’ represent the political wing of Britain’s neo-druid community. What’s more, King Arthur also has a partner, his very own High Priestess, and the two of them are quite active these days in protesting for ancient druid remains to get out of the hands of archaeologists and reinstated to their rightful resting place.

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Macabre Rituals – The Annual Cleaning of the Dead at Pomuch Cemetery

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It’s fascinating how bizarre the rituals of the dead can get. The latest we’ve discovered is from Pomuch, Campeche, a small Mayan town in Mexico. In Campeche, the day of the dead, which is not unlike Spring Cleaning, is honored each year. On this particular day, families visit the cemetery to participate in the ritual cleaning of the bones of their loved ones. The squeaky-clean remains are then placed on display along with flowers and a new cloth for veneration.

The custom applies to anybody who dies in Campeche, ranging from young to old. Every corpse is buried for three years and then, on the Day of the Dead, the bones are dug up, cleaned and transferred to a wooden crate. The waiting period of 3 years is important because the bones need that time to dry out. The wooden crate is placed on permanent display in the cemetery. From then on, people go to the cemetery to pay their respects and clean the remains every year. Nov 1st is the day dedicated to dead children, known as the Dia de los Niños (Day of the Innocents), and Nov 2nd is for everyone else. The custom of cleaning the remains of dead relatives is said to date all the way back to Mayan practices – when the skulls of ancestors were retained and worshipped. The significance behind the ritual is to help people deal with the pain of losing a loved one. It is also believed to keep families together. The most important belief, however, is that a relative whose remains are poorly taken care of can become angry and wander through the streets.

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Man’s Addiction to Heavy-Metal Earns Him Disability Benefits

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Here’s something worth banging your head over: 42-year-old Roger Tullgren, from Hässleholm, Sweden, was cleared for state disability benefits after he’s been certified by three psychologists as a heavy-metal addict who can’t function at his workplace unless he is allowed to wear black T-shirts and camo pants, and rock out to loud heavy metal music.

The Swedish edition of The Local first reported about Roger Tullgren back in 2007, soon after his addiction to heavy-metal was acknowledged by psychologists and the state employment service agreed to pay part of his salary. Apparently, his interest in heavy-metal started in 1971, when his brother came home with a Black Sabbath album. Since then he’s been hooked to everything that screams heavy-metal, sports long black hair, a collection of tattoos and wears skull and crossbones jewelry. Nothing really out of the ordinary so far, he’s not the only man in the world passionate about this culture. But in Tullgren’s case, it started interfering with everything else. Because he couldn’t help attending hundreds of heavy-metal shows and events every year, often skipping work, his employer eventually tired of his antics and the aging rocker found himself without a job and relying on welfare. Luckily, after some sessions with occupational psychologists who certified his addiction to heavy-metal as a disability, Roger Tullgren earned the right to a wage supplement from the local job center.

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The Blood Qur’an – A Holy Book Written with the Blood of Saddam Hussein

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We’ve heard of fanatical lovers writing letters to their beloved in blood. But Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein took this practice to a new level. In the late 1990s, he commissioned a calligrapher to make a copy of the Qur’an, using his own blood as ink. For the project, Saddam donated 7 gallons (27 liters) of blood over the course of two years – the time it took for the book to be completed. The book still exists, and no one knows what to do with it.

For now, Saddam’s blood-inscribed Qur’an is being kept behind locked doors in Baghdad. The unusual book is both sacred and profane, so officials are quite unsure as to how to deal with it. Islamic clerics are confused over the decision to either destroy the book or preserve it as a reminder of the dictator’s brutality. It is most likely that Saddam was quite aware of the controversy his project would spew, given the taboos in Islamic culture over human bodily fluids, but he went ahead with it anyway. His intentions were clear – he had said that the book was his tribute to God because his son had survived an assassination attempt. In the words of one Iraqi citizen, “On one flank had been the government, doing all it could to prevent access. The Shia-led regime is highly sensitive to the re-emergence of any symbols that might lionize the remnants of the Ba’athist rank and file, which still orchestrates bombings and assassinations every few days. And then there are the Sunnis themselves, who are fearful of government retribution if they open the doors and of divine disapproval if they treat this particularly gruesome volume of the Qur’an with the reverence of a holy book.”

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The Paris Syndrome – A Bizarre Psychological Condition Affecting Japanese Tourists?

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Among a host of first world problems is the mysterious Paris Syndrome – that horrible feeling you get when you realize the beautiful City of Lights isn’t all that you imagined it to be. And strangely, the worst to be affected by this bizarre condistion are the otherwise calm and collected Japanese.

As ridiculous as it sounds, Paris Syndrome is very real. Because of the way the city is represented in the media, especially the Japanese media, a lot of people labor under the misconception that Paris is a quaint, friendly little place with affluence reeking in its every corner. The women are imagined to be dainty and beautiful, the city is expected to smell like Chanel No. 5, parks filled with pigeons and waiters bursting into song at the drop of a hat. In fact, many Japanese really believe that Parisians are all thin, gorgeous and unbelievably rich. Inevitably, their bubble is burst on their very first day in the city.

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Dutch Artist Spends 20 Years Building Life-Size Replica of Noah’s Ark

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Inspired by Noah’s Ark from the Book of Genesis, Dutch artist Johan Huibers built a modern day replica spending a whopping $1.2 million on it. His reasons for building the vessel  – he feared the effects global warming would someday have on his country, flooding included. The idea came to him in 1992, when he had a dream about his native land submerged in a flood similar to the one in the Book of Genesis. He continued to think about it until he finally did something about it. And the result is a 130m long, 29m wide, 23m high ark that he completed in 2005. Weighing almost 3000 tons and built from Swedish pine reinforced with steel, it is quite hard to believe that ark might be seaworthy at all, but this modern-day Noah assures us it does indeed float.

A carpenter by profession, Johan Huibers has now opened his full scale ark to the public and is attracting thousands of tourists from the world over. Located in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, the ark is something that would even surprise Noah, for it has a restaurant, two cinemas and of course, a menagerie of life-sized plastic animals. Towering over the flat Dutch landscape, the ark is easily visible from a nearby highway. Across the arks main hold is a huge space of stalls, where visitors can view a large collection of stuffed and plastic animals like zebras, gorillas, lions, tigers, bears and buffaloes. There’s also a petting zoo, where less dangerous real-life animals like dogs, sheep, rabbits, ponies and a few exotic birds are housed . On each level of the boat, around its edges, are displays about the history and dress of the ancient Middle East, a few scenes from the life of Noah, and games for kids like water pumps and levers that lift bales of hay. But the ark is not just about tourist attractions. Down below, there exists a honeycomb system of hatches, each opening an area where food could be sealed in for long-term storage. The curvature of the upper deck could be used to collect rainwater and also to let the horses and other animals get some exercise. Huibers says that his boat gives people a pretty good idea of how Noah’s ark would have worked in practice.

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Off with Her Toes! Growing Number Of Women Shortening or Removing Toes to Wear High Heels

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The things some women will do to fit into a beautiful pair of high-heel shoes. Apparently, a growing number of women are having their toes shortened or even completely removed, in order to make wearing stilettos a less-painful experience.

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, eighty-seven percent of women have had foot problems from wearing uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes, like high-heels. But while some give-up on the problematic footwear, others love wearing them so much they will appeal to surgical procedures such as shortening toes, receiving foot injections and even completely cutting off pinky toes in order to make walking in them bearable. “Unless you’ve been there, and you can’t find shoes, and you’re in pain, don’t judge,” Susan Deming, a patient who recently had one of her toes shortened, told Fox News. “I was having calluses, and just, all sorts of problems with my left foot.  And there finally was a solution.  There’s never been a solution before.” Some of Susan’s toes were longer than the others, making her left foot an entire size longer than her right foot, so she cut off about a centimeter off her second toe. “I’ve never felt this good about something I’ve done,” she said.  “If it’s vain, it’s vain.”

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Party Like There’s No Tomorrow – Russian Revelers Pay $1,000 to Celebrate Apocalypse in Soviet Era Bunker

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A Cold War bunker in Moscow designed to protect Soviet leaders in case of nuclear attacks will host the ultimate doomsday party. Revelers willing to part with $1,000 will be able to celebrate the coming of the Apocalypse in a safe environment that can withstand nuclear catastrophes and earthquakes.

Sure, $1,000 isn’t cheap, but with the world coming to an end, you might as well spend your life savings partying, right? That’s what the administrators of Bunker 42, in Moscow, are hoping, anyway. The shelter located 65 meters underground has been decorated especially for this special end-of-the-world party, after receiving a large number of requests from Russians looking for a chance to survive the impending doom. According to senior bunker guide Alexei Pavlovsky, the idea behind the event is pretty simple:  : A lot of many people would feel much calmer if they could spend this critical day surrounded by maximum comfort and safety. And who are we to say no?” Can’t argue with that, now can you?

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Style Oddities – Fake Braces Worn as Fashion Accessories

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It’s at times like this that I simply don’t understand fashion trends. I mean, what would prompt otherwise normal teenagers to consider something as horrendous as braces to be a fashionable accessories? Don’t get me wrong, I think braces are an extremely useful dental tool and I used to wear them as well, but I always dreamt of the day I would be done with them forever. Kids in countries like Thailand, Indonesia and China, however, think very differently. For them, braces have become a huge teenage fashion statement.

As unfathomable as the trend sounds, there’s actually a reason behind it. Just as ‘plump’ people were thought to be attractive at one point – as a sign of prosperity – braces to the Asian kids are a sign of wealth, status and style. The reason: genuine orthodontic braces are quite expensive. A set of braces in Bangkok would set you back about $1,200. So all the kids want to wear what the rich kids are wearing. Braces are also popular among young celebrities and youth icons like Indonesian heartthrob Andika Kangen and Thai pop singer Earn the Star. Many Thai and Indonesian websites display pictures of Gwen Stefani sporting braces back in the 90s. Apparently, she had recently confessed that her braces were a ‘fashion choice’, and she’s since become an instant hit with Asian kids. The internet is littered with countless blogs and websites on fashion braces. I tried googling them and found that braces are available in an explosion of colors and varieties.

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Russian Journalist Holds Promise to Literally Eat His Words after Prediction Proves Wrong

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Vyacheslav Ledovsky, a journalist from the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk, surprised a lot of people when he decided to hold true to the promise he made two years ago, to eat his own article should his prediction about work on local infrastructure prove wrong.

Ledovsky, a writer for The Builder newspaper, wrote an article in 2010 entitled “Promises are made to be broken”, in which he expressed serious doubts about the promises made by Krasnoyarsk region governor Lev Kuznetsov regarding a plan to start the construction of a fourth bridge over the Yenisei River, before 2015. The journalist was so convinced Kuznetzov wouldn’t keep his promise that he in turn assured his readers he would eat his article should work on the bridge begin before the announced deadline. Much to Vyacheslav’s surprise, construction on the fourth bridge began in September of 2012, forcing him to make a decision – either eat the newspaper article like he said he would or look for excuses and possibly have his reputation tarnished.

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