At China’s Most Hardcore High-School Teachers Employ Army-Style Tactics to Best Educate Students

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Tucked away in the mountains of China’s Anhui province, in the sleepy little town of Mao Tan Chang, is one of the world’s most intense educational institutions. Over 20,000 students (that’s four times the local population) at Mao Tan Chang High School study day and night with very little rest to prepare for the gaokao, a highly competitive national college entrance exam.

Most of these students come from rural areas as their parents know that acing the dreaded gaokao could open up a host of opportunities, allowing them to escape a farmer’s life. Mao Tan Chang helps them achieve their goals by creating an environment that encourages serious study, and little else. The school’s strategy is simple – everything that isn’t related to academics is banned.

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Whiz Kids Use Imaginary Abacus to Solve Complex Math Calculations

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In a highly impressive display of mental prowess, young South Asian children are able to solve complex math calculations within seconds simply by flicking their fingers through thin air. Their secret tool –  an imaginary abacus.

News reports on the Mind Mathlon 2014 program held at the Robotics Lab of the Karachi Institute of Technology and Entrepreneurship in March described young children raising and flicking their fingers to keep track of long series of numbers and solve calculations with mind-blowing accuracy.  They were apparently taught to use their hands as the beads of an abacus – an ancient calculating tool – to add and subtract at the speed of a calculator.

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Homeless Bodybuilder Uses the Streets of Paris as His Gym

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50-year-old Sayagh Jacques has a rather unusual hobby for a homeless man – bodybuilding. Although he’s been living on the streets of Paris for years, he hasn’t let his homeless status stop him from training harder than most people, and maintaining his six pack abs. I suppose it goes to show that if you’re really passionate about something, you can make it happen under any circumstances.

Jacques has no qualms about working out right in the middle of the street. When people give him money, he doesn’t use it to smoke or drink. Instead, he tries to eat specific foods that will help him gain muscle. He’s also managed to procure a few pieces of makeshift equipment – a cable and a few ropes – that he ties to lamp poles and park fences. He uses these to do basic bodyweight exercises like pull ups, push ups, pullovers and rows.

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Chinese Zoo Puts Visitors in Metal Cages, Lets Animals Roam Free

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The Lehe Ledu Wildlife Zoo in China’s Chongqing City has put a spin on the usual zoo visit experience – people pay to be locked in cages, while hungry lions and tigers roam free around them. The thrilling experience is meant to show visitors what it’s like to come face-to-face with predators, instead of just viewing them from a safe distance.

The service has proved to be hugely popular, and tickets have been sold out for the next three months. Visitors are apparently forking over their cash just to be caged in the back of a truck as it ambles around the park. To make the experience more exciting, huge chunks of raw meat are tied to the bars of the cage on the outside, just to catch the attention of the beasts and draw them closer.

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Child Spas Make Girls as Young as 7 Look Even Younger

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Only a generation ago, little girls had to beg their moms just to put on make-up for a special occasion. But things have changed quite drastically since then. Moms these days are actually pampering their daughters at kiddy spas with custom-made packages to suit their needs. And believe it or not, some of these girls are as young as seven!

Whoever heard of a seven-year-old needing a massage, right? But the demand is apparently so great that the spa industry has really begun to target children in a big way. Adult spas are adding separate menus of services for little girls, and most major cities in the US have day spas that are meant exclusively for children. Manicures, pedicures, hairdos, makeup, oil rubs and even custom-sized robes are made available to clients, who are often too young to have had their first pimple.

According to the International Spa Association, industry trends indicate that 25 percent of the approximately 20,000 spas in the US now offer services that are specifically meant for the under-13 set. They offer kid-friendly music, banana-scented facials, and age-appropriate vocabulary – customers are ‘princesses’ and toes are referred to as ‘pigglies’.

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Guy Travels 5,000 Miles to Meet Total Stranger That Facebook Suggested He Would Like

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While most people tend to ignore Facebook’s friend suggestions, this Belgian student actually traveled all the way to Austin, Texas to meet up with a stranger just because the social network’s algorithm suggested they become friends!

24-year-old Victor Van Rossem was intrigued when Facebook displayed 49-year-old as a ‘suggested friend’, because they obviously had no connection other than a mutual acquaintance. “Facebook suggested we become friends, and I thought that was pretty absurd,” Victor said.

But as he spent time looking through Neal’s pictures, he became more and more interested in the artist’s life. “I became fascinated by him. He had a long beard and looked a little unusual. He did art performances and paintings of mythical creatures and strange beasts which only made me more interested in him.”

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Hospital Creates Fake Bar to Test New Anti-Drinking Drug

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Believe it or not, the hospital at National Institutes of Health in Washington now has a fully stocked bar! Well, don’t worry, the bar is fake and all the bottles are actually filled with colored water. The whole setup is a part of an experiment to test the effectiveness of a new anti-drinking drug. The dimly lit replica bar is designed to amplify the alcohol craving of test participants in order to determine if the pill is able to counter the urge to drink.

“The goal is to create almost a real-world environment, but to control it very strictly,” said Dr. Lorenzo Leggio, lead researcher of the project. He revealed that the pill contains a hormone called ghrelin that is believed to increase appetite for food and perhaps inhibit the desire for alcohol.

NIH’s bar lab is one of about a dozen other versions in the US that are focused on experimenting with ghrelin. The hormone is produced by the stomach, and controls appetite via receptors in the brain. Researchers have discovered an overlap between receptors that fuel overeating and those that encourage alcohol cravings in the body. Dr. Leggio is now involved in testing whether blocking ghrelin’s actions also blocks those cravings, using an experimental drug that was originally developed for diabetes but never sold.

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UAE Company Creates Compression Suits for Camels

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If high quality sportswear can improve performance in human athletes, then it technically should work for animals as well. Testing this theory is UAE-based camel and horse luxury products company Al Shibla. They recently launched a line of lycra-style outfits for camels, and they claim that the bizarre product has already garnered tremendous interest among stable owners in the Middle East.

It’s true that compression suits are worn by race horses around the world to improve performance, but the owners of Al Shibla believe that camels deserve the very best in comfort clothing as well. “If it’s fitting the horse, why we don’t do it for the camel?” asked Anne Wolter, co-founder and head of research and development.

Made of soft, thick material that covers the body, the suits improve blood circulation by slightly constricting blood vessels. Worn before and after training, it increases blood and oxygen supply to the muscles, reducing the lactic acid build-up that causes cramping. The animal is covered entirely, except for the head and neck.

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Man Pays $460 for Surgery to Save Life of Constipated Pet Fish

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A devoted pet owner in England recently spent nearly $500 on a complicated surgery to save the life of his favorite goldfish. The unnamed man rushed his fish to the Toll Barn Veterinary Centre in Norfolk, when he noticed that it was struggling to eliminate waste. After a thorough examination, the staff at the center informed him that a delicate surgery costing £300 ($460) was required to save his pet. The man declined at first, but he soon changed his mind and 10 minutes later, the goldfish was wheeled into surgery.

29-year-old vet Faye Bethell was given the task of performing the 50-minute procedure, which involved carefully administering anaesthetic and using tiny instruments to carefully remove lumps from the fish’s backside. She said that the three-inch fish made a full recovery after the operation, but it could have died if left untreated.

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Chinese Athlete Has Sights Set on Butt Skipping Record

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Butt skipping is like a bizarre cousin of jumping rope – it involves bouncing up and down on your behind while twirling a rope underneath. The relatively lesser-known sport has gained prominence in south east Asia ever since a Japanese athlete took the world title in 2006. Now, Chinese gymnastics expert Yi Zhihua has set his heart on becoming the world champion.

20-year-old Zhihua wants to beat the world record of 166 butt skips in one minute and says he’s nearly accomplished the feat during training. “I’m up to 152 per minute – you have to get through the pain barrier but after that when your butt is numb you can really notch up the numbers,” he explained. “I am pretty certain I will have it cracked within the week and will start the New Year as the world champion.”

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Jack Daniels Names Newborn Son Jim Beam

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Giving babies weird names like ‘North West’ and ‘Blue Ivy’ has always been a celebrity thing, but it looks like ordinary people are joining in on the trend as well. The Leathers family from Louisiana for instance, name their kids after alcoholic beverages. Keeping up the tradition is new father ‘Jack Daniels’ Leathers, who has recently named his baby boy ‘Jim Beam’.

Jack, 31, and his wife Lydia, 23, said that they decided early-on in their relationship that they wanted to continue the whiskey-name tradition that Jack’s parents had started. “My parents decided they wanted to name their son something to make their parents mad,” Jack explained. “And, at the time, my dad was drinking Jack, which he enjoyed. My mom said, ‘Why not?’”

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The Village of Forgetfulness – Colombian Village Is Home to the World’s Largest Population of Alzheimer’s Sufferers

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At the outset, the mountainous region of Antioquia in northwestern Colombia comes across as a breathtaking natural paradise. But its picturesque valleys and winding green hills hide a chilling secret –  an unusually large number of young people here suffer from a hereditary form of Alzheimer’s. Several of Antioquia’s residents are at various stages of the disease – right from early signs of memory loss to total dementia.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s is quite similar to the typical form of the disease – it is caused by toxic proteins that destroy brain cells, leading to memory loss and eventually, death. But there is one major difference – the symptoms begin to occur at a frightfully young age, sometimes even before the victim turns 40. It begins with forgetfulness and slowly progresses to disorientation and delusional ideas.

Afflicted with this form of Alzheimer’s, the people of Antioquia often reach the final stage of the disease in their mid-forties. And there’s only one explanation for the bizarre condition – it’s all in the genes. Generations of inbreeding has resulted in the spread of the defective gene in the region for the past 300 years – throughout a widely branched family that now has over 5,000 members. This makes Antioquia home to the world’s largest population of Alzheimer’s sufferers. They are all believed to have inherited the ‘paisa’ mutation, which is a simple genetic defect on Chromosome 14. The mutation is named after the people living in the area, who are known in Colombia as Paisas.

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Most Romantic Man in China – After a Lifetime of Struggle 80-Year-Old Man Buys Diamond Ring for His Wife

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Images of a simple-looking 80-year-old man gifting his elderly wife a diamond ring are making waves on Chinese social networking site Weibo. The photos of the couple dressed in plain clothing and trying on rings were posted by Weibo user ‘This is Xinjiang’ last week, and have already been shared over 1,500 times.

Intrigued, the Xinjiang Internet Office decided to investigate the story. They contacted and interviewed staff at the jewellery shop where the photo was taken. According to staff member Zhou Lanlan, the couple had visited their shop at noon on Wednesday. The man then proceeded to ask for diamond rings that were ‘reasonably priced’.

The salesperson recommended one particular ring that was being sold at a discounted price. After trying it on, the man payed for the ring with a huge roll of small banknotes that are believed to have been his entire life’s savings. He mentioned that he wanted to make his wife happy after a lifetime of struggles. “We’ve been leading a hard life. I just hope to cheer her up,” he told the staff.

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Spanish Bakery Makes $150 Glittering Bread Using Gold Dust

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Whole wheat flour, spelt and water are the usual ingredients used to make bread, but add a touch of edible gold and you’ve got wealthy clients from all around the world stepping on each others’ toes trying to secure a loaf of the world’s most expensive bread. Made by Pan Piña bakery in the small Spanish village of Algatocin, the ‘gold leaf bread’ costs an unbelievable $150 per 400-gram loaf.

Pan Piña baker and co-owner Juan Manuel Moreno said that he came up with the idea for the bread after he saw the ‘world’s most expensive coffee’ on sale at another shop in the region. So he decided to dazzle up his own bread with a dash of edible gold worth over $100 both inside and on the surface of each loaf. However, he does agree that the shiny metal does nothing to enhance flavor.

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Chinese Maternity Hospital Lets Expecting Dads Experience Labor Pains

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When a recent study revealed that expectant mothers want more empathy from their spouses, the executives at Aima maternity hospital in eastern China came up with a wonderful idea – ‘Pain Experience Camp’. The camp offers fathers-to-be the chance to experience the pain of childbirth by giving them electric shocks through special pads placed on their bellies.  The shocks simulate labor pains by causing muscles to spasm.

The painful service was started in November and over 300 men have signed up for it since then. In fact, the response has been so overwhelming that in addition to free sessions twice a week at the hospital, Aima has opened a pop-up booth at the local Shi Mao shopping mall. Each session lasts about five minutes, during which a nurse gradually raises the intensity of the shocks between a scale of one to ten.

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