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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Shine on the Dance Floor with Remote-Controlled LED Club Clothes

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If you’re looking to attract attention when you hit the club on a Saturday night, there are better ways to do it than showing off your funky dance moves. You’re much better off wearing some remote-controlled LED clothes like the ones sold by Chinavasion. You’ll be literally shinning on the dance floor.

The “Senorita” LED mini skirt and the “Maria” LED Boob Tube are the latest in club fashion, and according to maker Chinavasion, “the only way to stand out and light up the dance floor.” Both garments come with hundreds of small LEDs that light up in in shades of red, green, and blue or white, at the simple touch of a button. That’s right, these shiny clothes come with remote controls that allow the wearer to change both the color of the LEDs and the luminous modes ( monochrome, shade, strobe, flash and smooth), depending on what track they’re grooving to. The battery that fits in a special pocket on the inside of the clothes last up to 8 hours, according to the manufacturer, so you’re more likely to run out of energy before your clothes do. Chinavasion says its LED mini skirt and tube top are great “for any geek to give to his girl (Real or imaginary) or for any girl wanting a change on the light side but will be appreciated by them wanting something different for hen nights and raves.”

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Young Entrepreneur Auctions Off His Last Name for 2013 to the Highest Bidder

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Jacksonville-based entrepreneur Jason Sadler has come up with an ingenious way to raise some money- he has offered to legally change his last name for the whole of 2013 to the name of the company who offers hims the most money. The online auction ended yesterday, and starting January 1st, Sadler will be known as Jason HeadsetsDotCom.

The soon-to-be-called Jason HeadsetsDotCom is known for his weird ideas of making money. His original business, IWearYourShirt.com, was launched in 2009 and required Sadler to wear a sponsored T-shirt featuring a company’s logo for a full day or an entire week, for a generous fee, of course. During the first year since the company’s inception, Jason wore a different T-shirt every day, and leveraged the power of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Flickr to get the word out about his clients. “I wore a different T-shirt for 800 days straight. No day off,” he told CNN Money. “I’d make online videos wearing the T-shirts, just going about my daily life.” He also tweeted about the brands, posted about them on Facebook and made a one-hour live video show on Ustream, where he talked about clients. Believe it or not, by 2011, Sadler had hired five people and was earning $250,000 a year in revenue, promoting important companies like Starbucks, Nissan or Zappos. How’s that for an original way of making serious dough?

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Mind-Blowing Portrait Made by Hand with 2.1 Million Dots Hides an Amazing Story

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The portrait below was painstakingly done by hand, in 138 hours, using a technique called stippling, which required the artist, Miguel Endara to “draw” it with around 2.1 million ink dots. As amazing as that may be, it’s the story behind this incredible work of art that’s really mind-blowing.

The man whose face Endara recreated with millions of dots is Benjaman Kyle. You probably don’t know who he is, and believe it or not, neither does he. Back in 2004, he was left unconscious behind a dumpster at a restaurant in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He had no belongings, no ID, suffered from severe sunburns and was almost blind from cataracts. The hospital he was taken to already had a Jon Doe, so they named him Benjaman Kyle, using the initials of the fast-food restaurant where he was found. Benjaman had no idea who he was, and didn’t really remember anything about his life before the incident. After months of medical evaluation, he was diagnosed with retrograde amnesia. Authorities coudn’t find out who he really was, so Benjaman Kyle became the only missing person in America whose whereabouts were actually known. Worse still, without a social security number and a valid ID, his life was about to become even more complicated.

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Remarkable Chinese Girl Can Write with Both Hands at the Same Time, in Different Languages

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Chen Siyuan, a young translator from Handan, China’s Hebei province, has the incredibly ability to write with both hands at the same time. Even more impressive is that fact that she can write vertically with one hand and horizontally with the other, or in two different languages.

In this age of technology, writing with both hands is not as valuable a skill as it once was, but that doesn’t make 24-year-old Chen Siyuan’s ability any less remarkable. This young English translator has been wowing onlookers with her amazing talent of writing with both hands simultaneously, in two different languages (Chinese and English). You’d be tempted to think this kind of unique capacity requires years of practice, but Chen says she discovered her ability completely by accident, during her high-school years. She was overwhelmed by the quantities of English homework, but found that she could complete respective tasks much faster by writing with both hands at the same time. “When I was in high school, I unconsciously wrote with both hands while trying to finish my homework in a hurry,” Chen told People’s Daily Online. “My classmates were curious and tried to imitate me, but none of them succeeded.”

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Pepsi-Chicken Flavor Potato Chips Hit China

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Every year, potato chip maker Lay’s launches a new flavor in China, and this time it seems like they have a real winner on their hands – pepsi-chicken, a very popular dish in the world’s most populated country.

Who new Pepsi and chicken go so well, together, right? Well, the Chinese, apparently. Chicken wings tossed into a wok and caramelized in soy sauce, spices and cola is a simple and common recipe in China, and PepsiCo. wants to capitalize on its popularity by using it as the newest flavor for Lay’s chips. It might sound more like a recipe for disaster to us westerners, but bizarre flavors aren’t exactly new to China. In years past, lays has released a range of unusual flavors, including lemon tea (subtle), cucumber (cloying) and hot-and-sour fish soup (fishy). Knowing that, I think I might find pepsi-chicken potato chips almost edible. According to AdAge, “in potato-chip form, the [pepsi-chicken] flavor is vaguely similar to barbecue with a sugary aftertaste. If there’s any hint of Pepsi, it’s fleeting and lacks fizz.”

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Man Answers Iron instead of Phone, Burns Half His Face

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Yes, apparently this kind of thing can happen. At least according to Tomasz Paczkowski, from Elbag, Poland, who while trying to help his wife with house chores, accidentally picked up the hot iron instead of the phone and ended up burning half his face.

32-year-old Tomasz Paczkowski had taken a week off from his job, and one morning he decided to prove to his wife that he could be a real asset around the house. Before going off to work, she asked him to iron some clothes, and Tomasz was more than happy to oblige. But, as we men know, ironing can get pretty boring after a while, so the young Pole got the “brilliant” idea to multitask. ‘Women are always going on about multi-tasking, so I set up the iron, opened a beer and turned on the TV to watch boxing’ Mr. Paczkowski said. Everything was going great, and he was actually starting to enjoy doing housework, only at one point he got so involved with the boxing that he wasn’t really thinking about what he was doing. That’s when the phone started ringing…

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