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BIG LIST: Eccentric Experiments
Thursday 29 March 2012, 12:58PM
The idea of the mad scientist didn’t just appear out of thin air – take a look at the following wacky experiments and you might just begin to understand why.   Curiosity killed the elephant:   The 1960s was all about experimentation with drugs. But evidently bored with testing brain-bending psychedelics on himself, Warren Thomas got a little curious about the bigger things in life. And by bigger things, we mean elephants. Specifically, what happens when an elephant is tripping on acid. The liberal-minded pachyderm Tusko ‘volunteered’ for the experiment and was injected with 297 milligrams of LSD – about 3,000 times the typical human dose. The result, as anyone (except Thomas) could have guessed from the outset, was a disaster: Tusko died. The conclusion: “Elephants are highly sensitive to LSD”, which in no way makes the experiment worthwhile.     Cholera cocktail:   Max Josef von Pettenkofer developed the very first large-scale pure-water system in Munich, Germany. And while that’s very impressive, from now until the day you die, if you remember anything about Pettenkofer, it will be this: he drank a steaming cup of cholera bacteria that he cultured from a patient’s diarrhea.   Fun fact:   The patient was dead. Pettenkofer suspected that the bacterium which causes cholera was not the only factor in contracting the disease, and that certain environmental conditions also had to be in place. Of course,  Pettenkofer was wrong – it was just the bacterium – but he ended up on a stamp, so the real lesson to learn from this is that if you want to end up on a stamp, drink a dead person’s poo.    One for the team:   John Hunter was a famous physician in England, and the personal surgeon to King George III. Other patients included his own penis. When Hunter was practicing medicine, London was a growing urban center, which is a diplomatic way of saying it was rife with prostitution and venereal disease, namely clap (gonorrhea) and pox (syphilis). Hunter argued that clap and pox were in fact the same disease, just at different stages. But how to prove this fine claim? Test it on himself of course. Hunter made incisions on his own penis and inserted a bunch of infected pus from one of his gonorrhea-stricken patients. The problem was that the patient was, in fact, suffering from both gonorrhea AND syphilis, he just didn’t know it yet. So he accidentally took two diseases, injected them straight into his genitals, drew the wrong conclusion and managed to “set back medical progress for half a century.” Good job guy.    Black sheep:   Researchers needed to study the effects of Tasers on targets under the influence of methamphetamines. But how to get volunteers? Most people won’t even touch meth for fear they’ll wake up in a different timezone, let alone get Tasered while on it. But you know who’s got a pulse, doesn’t mind getting Tased and loves the hell out of meth? Meth addicts! Except rather than opting for reason and logic, the scientists went instead for hilarious insanity: They rounded up 16 sheep, gave them a speedball of powerful sedatives and methamphetamines, and then proceeded to Taser the crap out of them. Despite being given the exact recipe for a nonsensical death, all of the sheep lived, displaying no signs of the potentially fatal heart rhythm that human targets under similar conditions often succumb to. Final outcome: Somewhere out there, there exists a small gang of speed-freak sheep struggling with a dueling sedative addiction. They may or may not be immune to electricity.
Yakshemash! Kuwait in Borat song blunder
Thursday 29 March 2012, 12:51PM
  The shadow of Borat continues to haunt Kazakhstan – and provide amusement for the rest of the world – after bungling officials replaced the country’s national anthem with his parody version at a recent medal ceremony in Kuwait. Surprisingly, the incident wasn’t the work of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.The embarrassing mix-up happened when Kazakhstan shooting-team member Maria Dmitrienko prepared to accept her gold medal. The video involving the anthem blunder starts with a close up of the country’s national flag before it pans in on a stony faced gold medal champion standing on a winner’s podium with her hand placed proudly on her chest. Playing in the background is Borat’s version of the country’s national song ‘My Kazakhstan’, which includes the dubious lyrics: “Kazakhstan greatest country in the world/ All other countries are run by little girls/ Kazakhstan number one exporter of potassium/ Other countries have inferior potassium.” It was made famous by Cohen in the 2006 mockumentary Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, when he sang the spoof anthem to a chorus of boos at a US stadium. The film came under fire from Kazakh officials who criticised Cohen’s portrayal of the transcontinental country labelling it as unfair. It was banned by countries across the globe, including Kuwait where the recent Borat blunder took place. It is unclear as of yet if the error was a practical joke or a genuine mistake. The latest gaffe involving Kazakhstan comes after their anthem was replaced by Ricky Martin song Livin’ la Vida Loca at a recent skiing event.
BIG LIST: Weird Cities
Friday 23 March 2012, 10:02AM
Apparently you can pick up an entire town for an absolute bargain in the US at the moment – but here are a few cities you might think twice about visiting, let alone purchasing: What a dump: Manshiyat Naser is a city with zero unemployment, extremely cheap housing and a populace that mostly describe themselves as “happy”. But looking at a picture of this charming little utopia (above), you could be forgiven for thinking it was shot in an apocalyptic montage. That’s because it’s an entire society based solely around trash. Manshiyat Naser is located right next to Cairo, one of the largest cities on the African continent, and Manshiyat Naser is little more than Cairo’s rubbish dump; which makes the city’s inhabitants like one giant hobo living in a comically oversized dumpster. Oompa loompa land: China. Political correctness. Because we’re morally not allowed to put those terms in the same sentence, it’s fair to say being a minority there isn’t exactly all talent competitions and inspirational after-school specials. Well, one man decided to give little people a place where they could join together to escape the bullying – by living their entire lives on display in the world’s first live-in theme park. The citizens of Dwarf City, outside the city of Kunming in Yunnan province, live in houses shaped like mushrooms, dress up in fairy tale outfits and make their living off of souvenirs and tourism, and even boast a miniature police force, fire brigade and political system. Crime density: Located just outside Hong Kong, Kowloon Walled City is where Chinese laws went to die. When the British went to clear the area in 1948, they failed so spectacularly that everybody, English and Chinese, adopted an official policy of simply forgetting about the god-forsaken hell-hole. And to everybody’s mutual surprise, the Walled City absolutely thrived on the anarchy. The city was only .03 square kilometres, yet housed roughly 33,000 people, making it the most densely populated area in world history. Citizens even jury-rigged up their own water and electric grids, and though it looked like Tim Burton was their city planner, it mostly worked, until it was eventually torn down 30 years later. Waterworld: Back in 1945, the USSR discovered oil just off the coast of Azerbaijan. Of course at that point in history, no one had ever built an offshore oil rig before. Not to be deterred by minor considerations such as reason, the USSR went ahead and built a massive multiplatform oil rig. When even more oil was discovered right next door, they didn’t bother with a whole new platform; they just retired a boat, bolted it to the existing platform and started working on it – and continued in this fashion until they wound up with Oily Rocks, a gargantuan city of 5,000 oil workers, with over 200 kilometres worth of road built into the middle of the Caspian Sea.  World domination: In 2003, Dubai’s economy was raging, and they were sporting more hasty erections than a seventh grade gym class. You could build anything in that city, not in spite of your structure defying logic, but because of it. Such was the attitude when the Nakheel Company set out to create a series of new islands in the shape of a scale map of the entire world, which they creatively named ‘The World’. The private world-islands were completed in 2008. Which was exactly when Dubai’s economy finally tanked. Nobody ever moved onto the islands, and the whole thing has just been sitting vacant ever since, slowly sinking back into the sea.
BIG LIST: Meal breakers
Thursday 15 March 2012, 02:49PM
While we’re generally a fan of the unexpected, there is one place where we draw the line – our food. For us, the following are always going to be serious meal-breakers: Headless chook: An American mother went to McDonald’s with her two children and ordered two Happy Meals with chicken nuggets for the children. But with the six-year-old subsequently refused to touch the nuggets, being a generous soul, the mother decided she would eat them herself. When she looked at the biggest one, she found that it looked just like a chicken’s head (Note: It was a chicken’s head).    Eat fresh: We’ve heard of people getting stabbed on the subway, but apparently you can also get stabbed eating one. John Agnesini, 27, sued his local Subway restaurant after he made a frightening discovery that gives new meaning to his former favourite, the ‘Italian cold-cut trio’: a knife baked into the bun.    Soft serve: An Australian family were pleasantly surprised when they were served complimentary ice cream in a pub after they complained about the noise being made during a football match. But after eating the chocolate gelato, Steve Whyte and his wife Jessica became “violently ill”. It was later revealed those chocolate fudge balls inside the frozen treat were in fact poo. Human poo. Which they ate.    Croaka-cola: Fred DeNegri was barbequing in his backyard when he cracked open a can of Diet Pepsi, took a thirsty gulp and immediately started gagging. The flavour of his Pepsi was rank and the texture was thick like slime – more so than normal. He immediately took it to a sink and shook out the contents until something resembling “pink linguini” slid out, followed by “dark stuff”. Despite persistent shaking, a heavy object remained inside the can, which ended up being a frog. Luckily, DeNegri suffered no health repercussions, but you can bet the poor guy will never again enjoy a carefree sip of soft drink without the fear of finding ‘a frog in his throat’.    Medium rare: When German tourist Axel Sanz-Claus ordered his steak ‘extra bloody’ from a high-class steakhouse in New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel, he wasn’t expecting to get served a blood-soaked tampon with his meat. After the incident, Claus told reporters, “I had [the used tampon] in my mouth, chewed it, and nearly swallowed it.” Enough said.    Finger food: When Clarence Stowers bought a pint of frozen custard, he didn’t expect to have someone’s finger inside one of his orifices. But as he devoured his dairy goodness, he came across what he thought was a piece of candy. You can probably guess already that it wasn’t candy, and Stowers said he spat the object out, and “I said, ‘God, this ain’t no nut!’ So I came in here to the kitchen and rinsed it off with water and realised it was a human finger and I just started screaming.”    This hot dog is loaded: No one said hot dogs promote longevity, but it’s not like eating a frankfurter is as dangerous as someone sticking a gun in your face – unless your name is Olivia Chaines and you’re eating at Costco. She had swallowed a piece of a Hebrew National brand hotdog in the shopping aisle of a Costco in May 2004 before she realised that it contained a piece of metal. X-rays revealed that the hot dog had contained a live 9mm bullet, although in reality, probably safer than half the other things added to hot dog meat.   Listen to Dane's World every day on Live 89.5 FM radio.
THE BIG LIST: Sporting spectacles
Friday 2 March 2012, 04:38PM
Gone are the days of bare knuckle brawling, gladiatorial bloodbaths, and Himalayan bear wrestling. But for those still yearning for more violence in their sport, read on:  High voltage: Because Ultimate Tazer Ball (see below left) and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) are really just for pussies, why not up the ante by combining the two? Michael Alexander did just that, sewing three-million-volt tasers into the gloves of guys already guys already punching and kicking the hell out of each other. Alexander describes Shockfighting as “putting true warriors in a ring, against each other with three million volts of electricity charging out. Winner takes all.” We’re not sure what the “all” the winner takes is, but frankly, we don’t want to.  Kite runner: For people who want to get in the air but aren’t coordinated enough to attempt hang gliding or buying plane tickets, kite jumping is probably the best start. But the recipe for kite jumping is as simple as the recipe for disaster: A comically oversized kite and you, trying not to die when it inevitably snatches you up into the sky. It is considered one of the riskier forms of kiting, an achievement that may seem comparable to being the most hardcore knitter in the Woolly Sock Club, until you actually see it in action.  Armed hold-up: XARM is a combat sport that is equal parts every Stallone movie ever made, the arm-wrestling of Over The Top and the pugilism of Rocky with the futuristic spandex of Judge Dredd. A fighter’s waist is chained to a 28” by 16” table, and his left hand his taped to his opponent’s. Contestants have three one-minute bouts to pin their opponent’s arm or pummel him into a coma – whichever happens first. Crazy Celts: Hurling is a uniquely Irish sport which appears to be a hybrid of field hockey, soccer, football and unremitting, pants-wetting terror. The game is played with axe-like sticks called hurleys or ‘camáns’ and a small, hard ball. Two teams, each with 15 Irishmen of questionable mental stability, attempt to score goals by smacking the ball as hard as possible, at head height and at terrifying speeds.  Need for speed: A game played in an open-walled arena where a rock-hard ball is hurled against the wall at speeds in excess of 300 kph, Jai-Alai is a game the Basque call “the fastest sport on Earth”, because they apparently haven’t heard of Formula One. The game is played like squash, but a version that could only have been dreamed up by sun-damaged Spaniards, with players slinging the ball at a wall using a specially designed wicker basket with a curved glove attached.  Raiders of the lost pants: An Indian team game, which is an official sport at the Asian Games, Kabaddi calls itself a cross between tag and wrestling, which is true, because it’s a lot like tag, and it does feature lots of sweating men in underwear. Two teams of 12 face each other on a court. One team sends a raider into the opponents territory, who must not draw breath whilst he is there. The raider’s job is to ‘tag’ his opponents and get out without being caught. Traditional garb for teams is socks and boxer shorts, or sometimes just briefs.  Iron man: Whether it’s standing on a mountain or in a cave, hanging off a cliff, driving on a motorway, flying through the air, jetting on the water, skiing down a hill or simply standing on a sidewalk in Times Square – Extreme Ironing is a sport that takes the once mundane task of ironing clothes to a whole new level. Housework will never be the same again.