Weeping for Strangers – The Professional Mourners of Taiwan

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In Taiwan, staging a dramatic funeral for relatives who have passed away is of the utmost importance. So, to create the proper atmosphere, wealthy families hire professional mourners who cry, sing and crawl on the ground to show their grief.

Taiwan’s “filial daughter” phenomenon emerged during the 1970s, when sons and daughters left their families to work in the city. Transport was limited, so if one of their parents died and they couldn’t make it back in time for the funeral, they would hire a filial daughter to take their place and lead the family in mourning. For some Taiwanese, showing grief in a dramatic fashion is the highest reverence for relatives who have passed away, because funerals are considered the most important times to honor one’s family. But not everyone has it in them to shed tears and show their pain in public, so to help create a grieving atmosphere, they hire professional mourning daughters. They chant, dance and wail, warming the hearts of the audience and helping them release their emotions. Crying on command isn’t easy, but professional mourners, like 30-year-old Liu Jun Lin, say it helps to really get involved in the event and consider the family that hired them their own. “I just imagine that I am part of the family and I fuse myself into the occasion,” she says.

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Would You Pay $91,500 for a Crocodile Skin T-Shirt?

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French luxury goods manufacturer Hermes has recently made headlines after it’s been discovered that its flagship store on Madison Avenue is selling a crocodile skin shirt for the mind-blowing price of $91,500.

Yes, today is April 1st, but this story is no joke. The pricey men’s garment was actually presented last fall as part of Hermes’ spring 2013 “crocodile chiffon” collection, but was only recently spotted in the company’s New York store. Judging by the French brand’s reputation for outrageous prices and the fact that the t-shirt is apparently made of innovative lightweight crocodile skin, everyone expected it to cost a small fortune, but probably not as much as four decent cars. Most people wouldn’t pay more than $30 for at-shirt, but that didn’t stop Hermes from slapping a $91,500 price tag on its black crocodile tee. Pretty unbelievable right? That’s what bloggers from The Awl thought, so before breaking the story, they managed to snap a shot of the label as evidence, despite the store’s no-photo policy. While the technology behind making Hermes crocodile skin clothes lighter and less sticky during the hot summer months may be impressive, does it really justify the astronomical price?

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Australian Shop Charges Visitors $5 Just for Looking

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Tired of having people walk into her gluten free produce store looking around and asking questions only to leave empty-handed and buy similar products somewhere else, a business owner from Brisbane, Australia, put up a sign announcing would-be shoppers they will be charged a $5 fee for “just looking”.

A photo of the notice in the window of Celiac Supplies went viral on popular social news site Reddit, this week. A lot of people thought it was a joke, but reporters from the Australian Associated Press tracked down the owner of “Brisbane’s only glutenfree and wheatfree store” who confirmed the measure was for real. Apparently Georgina felt forced to take radical action after spending several hours each week giving advice to people only to see them walk out empty handed and buying the same kind of products from local supermarkets or online shops. “I’ve had a gut full of working and not getting paid,” she told AAP. “I’m not here to dispense a charity service for Coles and Woolworths to make more money.” Her frustration is also fueled by the fact that in most cases her prices match those of larger supermarkets, but people still prefer to shop elsewhere thinking they’d find them cheaper. As you can imagine, her $5 “just looking” tax has turned some potential customers away, but Georgina says a few have actually paid up.

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Tom Sukanen – The Man Who Built a Ship in the Middle of the Canadian Prairie

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Driving down the No. 2 highway south of Moose Jaw, bang in the middle of the Saskatchewan prairie, one can see a large ship flying Finnish and Canadian flags. Confused about a ship so far away from the sea? Well, we were too. But it turns out the ship was built there for good reason by a Finn named Tom Sukanen during the Great Depression. His plan was to use the vessel to sail back to his homeland of Finland.

Tom’s story is the stuff that several Finnish and Canadian documentaries and plays are made of. Born in 1878 in the Finnish archipelago, he learned to sail and navigate with a compass and sextant, and also became proficient in steel working and shipbuilding – the only trades available on the coast where he grew up. At the age of 20, he sailed to America and ended up in Minnesota, like many other Norwegians, Finns and Swedes. He married a young Finnish girl and managed to make a small living on the farm his father-in-law had left them, raising a family of three daughters and a son. It wasn’t the life he had dreamed of when he left Finland, so 1911, out of desperation, he abandoned his family and went across the Canadian border in search of his brother. He completed the 600-mile journey on foot, finally reuniting with his brother in the Macrorie-Birsay area in Saskatchewan.

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Chinese Gaming Addict Has Spent the Last 6 Years in an Internet Cafe

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China’s growing problem with internet and video game addiction is probably best described by the case of Li Meng, a young man who has virtually been living in an Internet cafe for the last six years, leaving only to buy food and take the occasional shower.

According to Chinese media, Li Meng graduated from university six years ago, but unlike most of his peers, who went on to look for jobs, make a name for themselves and start a family, he opted for a life in the fantasy world of online gaming. Ever since he finished school, Li has spent most of his time in one of the many internet cafes in China’s Northeast city of Changchun. The owner of the place says he’s been there for such a long time that he’s basically part of the furniture, and doesn’t even notice his presence anymore. He spends every day and night tucked away in a corner, with an open bag of food by his side, staring at the monitor and mashing the keyboard and mouse buttons, leaving for brief periods of time to catch a bite to eat and take a bath. Reporters who visited the young Chinese gamer at his “workplace” described him as a pale “bespectacled youth that clearly hadn’t been to a hairdresser for a long time”.

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Indian City Introduces Cardboard Traffic Policemen

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They work seven days a week regardless of weather condition, never go on breaks, don’t take bribes and best of all, they require no pay. They are – wait for it – Bangalore’s new lifelike cardboard traffic policemen, and they’re watching you!

India’s tech-city of Bangalore has been facing serious difficulties dealing with traffic violations. Despite low car ownership, the rate of row fatalities has risen sharply in this city of 8.5 million people to at least two road-related deaths per day, in 2012. Some sources say Bangalore needs at least 6,000 traffic policemen to keep things under control, but it currently has a personnel of 3,000. Instead of supplementing their ranks, local authorities have come up with an ingenious idea to make drivers behave at the wheel that doesn’t require significant expenditures – life-size cardboard cutouts of traffic policemen strategically placed on the city’s busiest roads. Only three of them have been deployed so far, but results have been so encouraging that 10 more khaki-wearing fake cops will soon be rolled out to improve Bangalore’s chaotic traffic.

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Meet Denis Hope, the Man Who Sells the Moon

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If someone tried to sell me the moon, I would dismiss them as con artists. So I was pretty surprised to learn about Denis Hope, a 65-year-old man from Gardnerville, Nevada, who runs a legit business selling land plots on the Moon, Mars, Venus, Io and Mercury. Of course, there’s no legal backing to all this, but there’s nobody stopping him either. As long as he’s able to make people smile, he says he can do anything he wants. He’s been in business since 1980.

Hope is a former-ventriloquist, now in the business of space real-estate. Some people view his work as the selling of ‘novelty items’ such as pet rocks and certificates. Others argue that he’s taking forth the age-old American tradition of land speculators selling plots of useless land. Hope admits that there are several others selling property in outer space, but the difference is that those people are criminal in their intent. He considers himself the legit owner of the Moon, so what he’s doing is all right. How come he is so confident, you ask? Well, he says this is as real as any other property you can buy on Earth, and that’s because he filed a declaration with the United Nations. Otherwise, Hope says he wouldn’t be selling at all.

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Russian Jack Sparrow Builds His Own Black Pearl Pirate Ship

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After seeing the blockbuster movie series “Pirates of the Caribbean”, Alexander Marchenko, a 38-year-old entrepreneur from the small Russian village of Cheryomushki decided to build his very own replica of the Black Pearl pirate ship.

Alexander Marchenko has traveled all over Russia, and is now convinced there is no land more beautiful than his native land of Krasnoyarsk and no people more friendly and welcoming than his fellow locals. Upon returning from his travels a few years ago, he decided to take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and build a hotel. He had noticed the other resorts and lodgings in the area all looked the same way, so he tried to come up with something special that would attract visitors. As luck would have it, the movie Pirates of the Caribbean was running at local cinemas, and as soon as Alexander saw Captain Jack Sparrow’s beautiful pirate ship, the Black Pearl, he instantly knew that’s what he wanted his unique hotel to look like. Although he didn’t have any ship building experience, he went online and downloaded photos and schematics of the famous ship to use as guides, and started working on it immediately. It’s been two years, and now, his own Black Pearl is starting to take shape on the Yenisei River.

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Guy Turns His Mohawk Hairdo into an Artistic Advertising Billboard

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By design, the “Mohawk” hairdo is really hard to miss, but someone found a way to actually make it even more of an attention grabber. Florida native Mohawk Gaz uses spray paint to turn his head into a truly unmissable advertising billboards for friends and businesses.

31-year-old Mohawk Gaz – real name Gasmy Joseph – from Pompano Beach, Florida, has been a fan of the Mohawk for many years, but it was only a year ago that he discovered the true potential of his outrageous hairdo. A buddy had asked Gaz to spread the word about his birthday party, and suddenly a light bulb went off in his head – why not advertise the event on his hairdo for everyone to see? The idea was a huge success, and he has been spray-painting his Mohawk with all kinds of designs ever since. He has been offering his head as advertising space to friends who needed promotion, and has even been contacted by small businesses. A health-food catering company called Deliver Lean send Mohawk Gaz to Miami Heat and Florida Panthers games with its logo painted on his hair and was very pleased with the results. “It’s been tremendous marketing,” the company’s founder said. “It’s great exposure, and it’s never been done before.”

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Controversial Priest Wears Rocker Clothes, Rides a Chopper and References Rock Songs During Sermons

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Adolfo Huerta Aleman, known to his parishioners as Father Gofo, is not your usual priest. He looks and dresses like a rocker, likes going to bars, loves pictures of naked women,smokes, swears, and tells jokes during his sermons. He’s probably not the only Catholic priest with odd hobbies, but unlike most, he’s open about them.

At one point in his life, Gofo wanted to enroll in the military. Then he thought about becoming a policeman, a firefighter or a teacher, but he ended up as a priest in the Mexican city of Satillo. He says his ultimate career choice was probably influenced by the values passed on to him by his religious family. But for him, entering the Church didn’t mean leaving everything he loved up to that point at the door. That included his love for rock culture, his passion for motorcycles or any of his vices. On the contrary, he decided to let his unique personality play a big role in his profession, as a way to reach those for whom conventional religion held no appeal. He continued dyeing the end of his black locks red, wore skull rings and bracelets in church, rode his chopper around town, and even referenced rock songs during Mass. Obviously, all that didn’t sit well with many of his conservative parishioners, but it got him closer to members of the community that would otherwise be inaccessible to the Catholic Church.

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A Huge Cross to Bear – Man Spends 26 Years Traveling the World with a Giant Crucifix on His Shoulder

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I think it’s amazing how dedicated some people can be towards a cause they believe in. Like 60-year-old Lindsay Hamon, who has spent the past 26 years of his life hauling a giant crucifix all around the world, talking about Jesus to anyone who will listen. He literally carried his faith on his shoulders, trekking across 19 countries including New Zealand, Romania, India and Sri Lanka. During the course of his amazing journey he has had some truly spectacular moments as well as some pretty rough ones. In spite of being attacked and shot at in Bangladesh and thrown out of St Peter’s Square in Rome, Hamon has no plans to stop his work any time soon.

Hamon took up the mission of carrying the huge cross around the world in 1987, and he has rarely put it down ever since . The cross itself is made of cedar wood and measures 12 ft. by 6ft tall. It has a wheel at its base to make it easier to drag around, and he actually carries it over his shoulder for up to 12 hours a day, without having the faintest idea of where he will spend the night. The father-of-two and part-time care worker receives donations from supporters that help him stay committed to his role as a Christian Evangelist. But he does need to stop at his home town in Cornwall every once in a while to work and pay his family’s bills. “I tried giving up my work and doing this full time instead, but I didn’t get enough money to make ends meet,” he says. At times, Hamon has even put his life at risk. “There is fear there sometimes because I have a wife and kids and you don’t want to put yourself in danger. It is really trusting in God, knowing he will protect you.”

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World’s Strongest Coffee Has 200 Percent More Caffeine than Average Roasts

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If you feel regular coffee isn’t strong enough to keep you awake and focused through the day, you might want to try a big cup of Death Wish. It’s advertised as the world’s strongest coffee and allegedly has 200% more caffeine that the average dark roast.

The name isn’t too encouraging for the faint-of-heart, but if you’re not too put off by it and the skull-and-bones logo on the pack, Death Wish may just become the best friend you could hope for. Upstate New York roaster Death Wish Coffee claims they have found a highly caffeinated bean that gives coffee that full Arabica flavor and double the buzz. The creators of this powerful roast explain that while Arabica coffee is smoother and more flavorful than the harsher Robusta variety, it also has a much lower caffeine content. Also, dark roast coffee is weaker than a light roast, because the longer you “cook” it, the more caffeine is pulled out. So while you’re favorite cup of joe might be strong in flavor, it probably has a very low caffeine content. After 5 years of having to tell sleepy customers who asked for a cup of their strongest coffee that their strongest tasting roasts were actually very low in caffeine, the makers of Death Wish went on a mission to find a special kind of coffee bean that had the full flavor of dark-roasted Arabica and the highest caffeine content possible. It seems they were successful.

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Bojana Danilovic – The Woman Who Sees Everything Upside Down

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Bojana Danilovic, a young woman from Serbia, suffers from a strange condition that has left both doctors and scientists baffled. The 28-year economics graduate sees everything upside down.

Experts from Harvard University and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who examined Bojana Danilovic say she suffers from a rare brain condition called ‘spatial orientation phenomenon’. In layman’s terms that means her eyes see things the right way, but for some reason her brain changes them. Although there have been some similar cases recorded in history, Bojana’s case is truly unique. Everything in her life has been backwards, even the way she came into this world – feet first. Her parents remember that when she first started crawling, she would always move backwards, and when she began to walk, she did it in reverse. The remarkable young woman says her mother had to take a leave from her job in order to teach her to walk like all the other children. It took a lot of practice, but she finally managed to walk forward. Only this was only the beginning of a very unusual life.

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Japanese Dude Needs Your Help to Travel the World and Take Photos of Beautiful Women

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Kei Akatsu is a Japanese student who wants to travel the world and take photos of beautiful women for his Beauties World Map project. But he needs your help to do it. Traveling isn’t cheap, so he’s turned to an online crowd funding service to fulfill his dream.

The Tokyo University of Science student spent half a year in Vancouver taking photos of cute girls from all over the world and putting together a collection for his Beauties World Map website. He actually managed to meet an impressive number of women, and organized their photos on his site according to their places of origin, age and height. But it was only the beginning of his great photographic experience. Kei Akatsu now wants to travel the world and capture feminine beauty on camera for everyone see. Sadly, he lacks the funds to journey across North and South America, so he turned to Crowdfire, a Japanese online crowd funding service similar to Kickstarter, for help. To attract sponsors, Kei mapped out the entire project and even posted a promotional video and sample photos.

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Private Zoo Owner Plans to Spend a Year Living with Lions

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Alexander Pylyshenko, the owner of a private zoo in the Zaporozhye region of Ukraine, has announced he plans to spend a year caged with two full-grown lions, in order to raise funds for a  proper care center for big cats.

If this story sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because this wouldn’t be Alexander Pylyshenko first such attempt. Back in 2011 he set a new Ukrainian record, after he spent 35 days caged with two lions, during which time he even helped the female deliver her cubs. From the moment he set foot into the cage, the feline lover started living as if he was a lion himself. That meant sharing the raw meat the lions were fed with and sleeping on hay beds. He even built a toilet and shower inside the enclosure so he wouldn’t be forced to leave the cage at any moment. This time however, he plans on living with male Samson and lioness Katya for a full year, so he needs to plan accordingly. Alexander, who has studied lions his whole life, decided to spend time with his two fanged pets both inside their metal cage and in his nearby country house, where he’ll be able to cook. The Ukrainian beast-master says that although his lions consume between 5 and 10 pounds of meat per day, depending on the season, Katya has developed a taste for his cooking and enjoys mushroom soup and tomatoes with mayonnaise.

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