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Saturday 10 September 2011, 02:33AM
  Pleasant dreams In 2004, sleep medicine experts treated a rare case of a woman having sex with strangers while sleepwalking – that was her excuse anyway. At night while asleep, the middle-aged sleepwalker from Australia left her house and had sexual intercourse with strangers. Her secret came out one night, when her partner awoke to find her missing, went searching for her and found her engaged in a sex act.   Perfect husband Robert Wood, a 55-year-old chef, apparently gets up four or five times a week and heads to the kitchen where he prepares omelettes, stir fries and chips – while asleep. Once he tried to fill a small bowl with a whole box of cereal and a carton of milk.   Out in the cold In January 2009, Timothy Brueggeman, a 51-year-old electrician from Wisconsin, sleepwalked out of his home wearing only his underwear and a fleece shirt. His body was found the next morning about 150 metres from his rural home. With temperatures around -27°C, Brueggeman had died of hypothermia.   Taking the plunge In May 2009, a sleepwalking teenager stepped out of the bedroom window and plunged eight metres to the ground. Rachel Ward, 18, had got out of bed and pulled on a jumper before making her dramatic, unconscious exit. She landed feet first on a narrow strip of grass next to her car, leaving six-inch divots in the ground, before collapsing. Amazingly, she wasn’t injured and didn’t wake up properly until the next day.   Likely story In 2007, Alan Ball went to a New Year’s Eve house party, drank heavily and fell asleep on a sofa. At some point during the night, he got up, went upstairs and climbed into bed with an under-age girl, whom he kissed on the lips. After a lengthy court case, he was acquitted of any wrongdoing because he was asleep at the time.   The constant gardener In 2005, a sleep-walking computer expert was reportedly caught by his wife mowing the lawn stark naked at 2am. She was afraid to wake him up because she had always been told it can be dangerous to disturb someone who is sleepwalking. She just turned off the mower, went back to bed and let him get on with it.   Staying connected In 2005, a 44-year-old woman went to bed about 10pm but got up two hours later and walked to her computer in the next room. She turned it on, connected to the internet, and logged on before composing and sending three emails. Each was in a random mix of upper and lower cases, not well formatted and written in strange language.   Climbing high A London girl climbed the counterweight of a crane at a construction project, some 40 metres in the air. A fireman climbed the crane to try to talk her down, only to find her sleeping. Not wanting to alarm her and make her fall, the fireman did what any responsible public servant would and went through her personal belongings, found her phone and got her parents to call and wake her up.   Lucky break On a frigid Denver night in 2003, a quiet and unassuming nurse took a sleeping pill and went to bed. While still asleep, she got up, slugged down half a bottle of wine and got into her car. Not surprisingly, she crashed, but as two fully awake police officers watched on, the nurse got out of the vehicle and urinated in the road. When the officers went to arrest her, she assaulted them. Prosecutors let her plead guilty to a reckless driving charge alone.   Just desserts When Anna Ryan inexplicably gained 60 pounds, she sought medical help. But to the surprise of both Anna and her doctor, it was discovered she was eating while asleep, literally devouring boxes of bakery goods without her conscious mind realising it.   On the recordDion McGregor wanted to be a songwriter. He also had the habit of talking in his sleep, clearly and succinctly narrating his dreams in a conversational tone. His roommate decided to record the darkest parts of McGregor’s psyche, and then released it on an album. The audio, however, is not for those at work or for more sensitive souls – McGregor detailed the finer points of shoving fruit up one’s anus (or other orifices depending on one’s gender) and swinging from boobs like Tarzan.   Serious nightmare On May 23, 1987, 23-year-old Kenneth Parks got up, got in his car and drove 23 kilometres to his in-laws’ home. He stabbed to death his mother-in-law and assaulted his father in law. All while asleep – apparently. The man was not only acquitted of the crimes, but reportedly ran, years later, for election to his local school board.
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Saturday 20 August 2011, 03:58AM
If you want a great night out in Phuket Town, with some of the best Thai food around, look no further than Siam Indigo, Exotique Bar & Restaurant. Co-owner Celine Masson has transformed an historical old building on Phang Nga Rd, into a trendy restaurant oozing with character. Celine and friend Pisit Aongskultong decided to go into business together and began searching for the perfect place in Phuket Town, when they came across the 100-year-old building. They redecorated and the inside of the restaurant is now simply spectacular, with various art gracing the walls. The restaurant offers a mixture of "Thai with a twist" dishes, many of which give traditional Thai recipes new life, such as the signature dish of duck massaman curry (B250). Also sampled was pla neung manaow (seabass fish fillet served with Chinese fungus mushrooms), for B280. The restaurant offers a selection of Thai tapas, which is a fantastic idea to ensure you get to sample all the great dishes. Six tapas are B230 per person, while 10 are 290 pp. Our selection of mixed tapas included fresh tuna laab on shrimp cracker (easily the stand out dish), mini shrimp cakes, smoked salmon on a rice noodle bed, smoked chicken wings, smoked duck rolls with ginger orange salsa, and green mango salad with marinated shrimp. Cocktails, including a spicy mojito which has chilli pieces inside, are B190, except during happy hour from 5pm to 7pm when they are only B100. Celine is the perfect host, and sister Cathy runs the night time operations with the same enthusiasm. You can tell that both these women love Phuket Town and are passionate about the restaurant. Siam Indigo is the perfect place for an evening drink, a romantic meal for two, or simple a night out in Phuket Town. With its well-priced, tasty food, it has got to be one of the best restaurants on the island. So if you haven’t been already, make sure you put Siam Indigo on your to-do list while in Phuket. – Siam Indigo Exotique Bar & Restaurant, 8 Phang Nga Road, Phuket Town. Tel/Fax: 076 256 697 or website: siamindigo.com –Claire Connell
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Saturday 20 August 2011, 03:13AM
Last Friday Paolo responded with his second wine dinner, a journey from the sea to the mountains of Italy, accompanied by Allegrini wines via Wine Gallery. As the irrepressible chef explained, all cuisine should be a combination of “tradition, revolution and balance” – Paolo is plainly no follower of fads, no molecular maven. The evening’s first offering was a variation on one of the regulars on the Patong restaurant’s regular menu, carpaccio of scallops, but with the addition of a genuinely memorable teaspoonful of sour cream flavoured with lime. Slippery smooth and then zing. This was followed by a little duet: jumbo shrimp croquette with paprika and capers in filo pastry; and a shot glass of basil pesto foam and caramel hazelnuts. Oh yes. More, please. Into the first course – a rock lobster risotto with saffron and radish. I have to confess that I’ve never been a great fan of risotto. There’s something slippery about it that doesn’t appeal to me. This was tastier than some I’ve had, and others at the table seemed to enjoy it, so let’s give it the benefit of the doubt. The next course was an utter triumph. Given the ingredients it had to be, really: A large raviolo filled with a black truffle and potato filling, a shallot and green apple sauce and topped with foie gras. Pan fried, of course (is there any other way?). And just in case, Paolo came around and shaved a little more truffle on top. “So,” asked Maurizio, “is he going up?” Definitely. Palates cleansed next with a glass of passion fruit and prosecco. The gods were having a good day when they invented passion fruit. Now, the main courses: A tartare of Fassone beef with capers and Parmigiano, followed by braised black Angus fillet mignon in a red wine and mustard sauce.Fassone beef comes from a Piedmontese animal renowned for its muscle mass and sweetish taste. In this case it was mixed with Lardo di Cassone – pork fatback with herbs. The result, very tender but rather greasy. The braised fillet was, if we’re honest, a mistake. Although it was timed to the second, leaving the interior of the meat pink, braising is a technique best left to school canteens. Once one got through the sauce, the meat was tender enough, but rather institutional in taste. The evening was saved, however by the mascarpone mousse dessert, a grand old recipe from Maurizio’s mother, topped with cocoa nibs and a slosh of cognac. Delicious.So Paolo has “gone up”, with a couple of downs. All applause to this delightful man for his courage in going out on a culinary limb. If he falls off every now and again, be sure that he’ll be learning from it - and every diner at Da Maurizio will benefit. As to the wine, Thai law does not permit any discussion of its merits. So while you, had you been at the Da Maurizio dinner, might say that the choice of wines was excellent – particularly the Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2007 and the Amarone 2007 Corte Giara –  we can’t possibly comment.      Da Maurizio is on the hill be­tween Patong and Kalim. Web­site: baanrimpa.com/italian-restaurant. Book through the website or call 076 344079. – Alasdair Forbes
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Friday 1 July 2011, 04:26AM
  It may not be the world’s greatest honour, but when you look like 14-year-old Yoda, you have to take what you can get. The Chinese crested-Chihuahua, with her scruffy short tufts of hair, protruding tongue and bulbous, bloodshot eyes, took out this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog Competition. With it came a cheque for US$1000 (B30,000), a trophy, and lots of pet perks after stealing the hearts of judges and the audience alike with her ‘unique’ appearance. Owner Terry Schumacher of Hanford, California, said when she first encountered the pooch, she was convinced that the animal was a rat. After realising that the ball of hair and limbs was actually a dog, Ms Schumacher took the animal home and named her new pet after the pint-sized Jedi master from the Star Wars films, to whom the dog bears a resemblance. Yoda has since become part of the Schumacher family. She eats the same food as the Schumachers, and often accompanies Ms Schumacher to her day job as a dog groomer. At the contest, held at Sonoma-Marin Fair in California, Miss Schumacher hugged and kissed Yoda after she won the title as a first-time entrant in the 23-year-old show. A variety of other dogs, some missing eyes, fur, and others limping on limbs of a variety of sizes, also strutted their stuff at the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest. The goal of the contest was to raise awareness of rescued dogs and to encourage adoption. Many dogs at the contest were bred unsuccessfully and then abandoned at animal shelters when their owners discovered that they had uneven legs, crooked spines and other deformities. Other competitors included last year’s winner, Princess Abby, a one-eyed Chihuahua, and a blind 15-year-old pug called Hercules.
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Friday 1 July 2011, 04:21AM
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Monday 27 June 2011, 10:55PM
  Internet fame can be fleeting, and while “planking” may be the latest craze, here are a few others you may (or may not) remember. Dancing Baby Also known as “Baby Cha-Cha”, this video file of an animated, 3D-rendered baby dancing for several seconds is one of the earliest examples of an Internet phenomenon. Originating as a motion capture demo file for the 3D Studio Max modelling program, it became hugely popular between 1996-1997 after being distributed widely over the Internet. Several edited versions and parodies were created shortly thereafter. Tourist guy The tourist guy, also known as “the accidental tourist”, “Waldo”, “WTC Guy”, or “tourist of death”, is an Internet phenomenon consisting of a photograph of a tourist (Péter Guzli) that has appeared in many digitally-altered pictures after the September 11 attacks, usually in unfortunate situations (such as on top of the Twin Towers as a plane approaches). As its fame spread, other people started to use the same tourist for other pictures. They included the tourist present at the sinking of the Titanic, at the John F. Kennedy assassination, the destruction of Air France Flight 4590 and at the Hindenburg disaster. Save Toby Save Toby was a humour website which involved a rabbit named Toby being held “hostage”. The site’s proprietor claimed to have found Toby injured outside his home and nursed him back to health. He claimed on the website that unless US$50,000 (B1.5 million) was donated through the website, he would have Toby killed and prepared as a meal. The owner of bored.com eventually bought the website and Toby was “saved”, but not before US$28,000 (B850,000) was reportedly donated by members of the public. Urban legend website snopes.com indicates that the website was a hoax, though the money paid was very real. The Million Dollar Homepage The Million Dollar Homepage was a website conceived by Alex Tew, a 21-year-old student from Wiltshire, England, to help raise money for his university education. The index page of the site consists of a 1000 x 1000 pixel grid (one million pixels), on which he sold image-based links for US$1 per pixel, in minimum 10 by 10 blocks. On January 1, 2006, the final 1,000 pixels left were put up for auction on eBay. The auction closed on January 11 with the winning bid of US$38,100.00 (B1.2 million), bringing his gross income for the site to US$1,037,100 (B31 million). Chuck Norris Facts Norris has been the object of an internet phenomenon known as Chuck Norris Facts documenting and proclaiming fictional, often heroic feats and characteristics, which began to circulate in late 2005. Some of them: Chuck Norris died 20 years ago. Death just hasn’t worked up the courage to tell him yet. Chuck Norris does not wear a condom. Because there is no such thing as protection from Chuck Norris. When the boogeyman goes to sleep each night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris. Norris has written his own response to the parody on his website, stating that he does not feel offended by them (which is perhaps fortunate: “Chuck Norris does not own a stove, oven, or microwave, because revenge is a dish best served cold”), and finds some of them funny. Lolcats An explosively popular phenomenon, lolcats are basically just photos of cats, usually in unusual positions or with unusual expressions, and given a caption in “lolspeak”. These captions might look completely random, but they actually have some popular sentence structures and may even contain other memes. Meme is defined as “an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Epic Fail While fail is normally used as a verb, on the internet it has become a noun. It is used to denote a spectacular failure of some sort – usually involving images of videos of people making an embarrassing mistake.While fail may be labelled more like internet slang than a meme, it has spawned thousands of images and videos. Fail blog, a website dedicated to sharing fail photos and other images, is probably the most popular source.
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Monday 27 June 2011, 10:54PM
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Friday 17 June 2011, 12:50AM
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Friday 17 June 2011, 12:49AM
  Tu Jin-Sheng: Crotch of iron Perhaps Kung Fu magazine puts it best: “When a man can tow a truck with his genitals, that’s all anyone ever really remembers about him.” Tu Jin-Sheng, a 50-year-old man from Taiwan, can do exactly that. In 2005 this martial arts grandmaster of Iron Crotch – a branch of Qigong said to have 60,000 followers worldwide – attached his manhood to a truck for a demonstration, and pulled it several yards across a car park in Fremont. Miroslaw Magola: Magnetic man Reminding one of scenes from The Matrix, Miroslaw Magola – the “Magnetic Man” – apparently defies laws of gravity with an extraordinary ability by using “mind control” to transport objects through the air and affix them to his body. Miroslaw explains that he employs “psychokinetics” to perform these uncanny feats. “It works because I load myself with energy and at the same time I wish for the object to rise.” Miroslaw has undergone numerous tests of his perplexing skill which remains unexplained by conventional science to date. It should be notes that some still question his abilities. Manjit Singh: Pulls a jet with his ears 57 year-old Manjit Singh, aka “Ironman”, holds more than 30 world records including pulling a double decker bus with his hair, lifting 85 kg with his ears, and if that wasn’t enough, pulling a jet with his ears to raise charity money. In April 2007, Singh pulled the aircraft – weighing approximately 7.4 tonnes – four metres at the East Midlands Airport in the UK. Speaking after the record attempt, he said: “I don’t feel too bad, I have a little bit of pain around the ears but I’m ok.” Ru Anting: Tearful art Fifty six year-old Chinese man Ru Anting has a very special talent: he can write calligraphy with water he shoots from his eyes. After sucking up water through his nose, he then sprays it through his tear ducts and onto paper. Ru discovered his unusual talent as a child while swimming in a river. “Sometimes I would swallow water while swimming, and once I accidentally discovered the water I swallowed could be shot out through my eyes. My friends were all shocked to see it,” he said. After three years of intensive practice, he found he could shoot water accurately for distances of more than three metres. Michel Lotito: Eats the odd plane French entertainer Michel Lotito is known as Monsieur Mangetout (Mister Eat-it-all). As a famous consumer of indigestables, Lotito’s performances include eating metal, glass and rubber. He can even claimto have eaten an entire aeroplane. The Cessna 150 took roughly two years to be “eaten” – from 1978 to 1980. Lotito apparently does not often suffer from ill-effects due to his diet, even after the consumption of materials usually considered poisonous. Thai Ngoc: Sleepless nights 64-year-old Thai Ngoc has counted more sheep than perhaps the entire world combined. The Vietnamese farmer is known for a unique talent: he needs no sleep. After getting a fever in 1973, Thai hasn’t been able to sleep for more than 11,700 consecutive nights. “I don’t know whether the insomnia has affected my health or not. But I’m still healthy and can farm normally like others,” Ngoc said. Proving his health, the elderly resident of Que Trung commune, Que Son district, said he can carries two 50-kilo bags of fertiliser four kilometres every day. Zhang Quan: Roaring applause 70 year-old Zhang Quan of China is hoping to get into the record books – by clapping his hands. His claps have been recorded as measuring 107 decibels, just three decibels lower than whirling helicopter blades. The bad news: Local environmental protection officials say Zhang is so loud, he could face arrest for noise pollution if he claps too often. Paul Oldfield: World’s Only Flatulist Former train driver Paul Oldfield doesn’t operate under the alias “Mr Methane” for no reason. The Englishman claims to be the only performing professional flatulist in the world or, more colloquially, a “professional farter”. His ‘talent’ came to light when he accompanied his sister in yoga practice. There, he discovered – to his surprise and delight – that he was able to take in air through his rear end, retain it, and then expel it as and when he chose. At first, it was nothing more than a party trick to entertain fellow railwaymen, but eventually Mr Methane found that by careful control, he could pick out a simple tune. He gradually expanded his repertoire, which now ranges from Strauss’ Blue Danube Waltz through to Kylie Minogue’s I Should Be So Lucky. In 1991, he left his job at British Rail and devoted himself to his new entertainment career, which now has him travelling around the world. On stage, he wears a skin-tight green-and-purple costume with cape and mask, looking like a superhero. Wei Mingtang: Inflating auditories This 55-year-old is a factory worker from Guilin city, in Guangxi province, China. About 30 years ago he discovered his ears leaked air, so he came up with the idea of using his ears and a pipe for his now famous act: inflating balloons with his ears. During a recent Spring Festival Party in Guilin, Wei also blew out 20 candles in a line within 20 seconds using a hose leading out from his ears.
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Friday 10 June 2011, 01:17AM
  456 BC: According to legend, Aeschylus, a Greek playwright, was killed when an eagle dropped a live tortoise on him, mistaking his bald head for a stone. The tortoise survived. 207 BC: Chrysippus, a Greek stoic philosopher, is believed to have died of laughter after watching his drunk donkey attempt to eat figs. 892: Sigurd the Mighty of Orkney strapped the head of a defeated foe to his leg, the tooth of which grazed against him as he rode his horse, causing the infection which killed him. 1327: Edward II of England, after being deposed and imprisoned by his Queen consort Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer, was rumored to have been murdered by having a red-hot iron inserted into his anus. 1478: George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, reportedly was allowed to choose the method of his execution. He chose to be drowned in a barrel of Malmsey wine. 1649: During the English Civil War of 1642-1651, Sir Arthur Aston, Royalist commander of the garrison during the Siege of Drogheda, was reportedly beaten to death with his own wooden leg, which the Parliamentarian soldiers thought concealed golden coins.   1794: John Kendrick, an American sea captain and explorer, was killed in the Hawaiian Islands when a British ship fired a salute to Kendrick’s vessel. The cannon had mistakenly been loaded with a grapeshot. 1911: Jack Daniel, founder of the Tennessee whiskey distillery, died of blood poisoning six years after injuring a toe when he kicked his safe in anger at being unable to remember the combination. 1916: Grigori Rasputin, Russian mystic, was reportedly poisoned while dining with a political enemy, then shot in the head, then shot three more times in the back, and then bludgeoned for good measure. Amazingly still alive, he was then bound and thrown into a frozen river. Breaking free of his bonds, his eventual cause of death was drowning. The credibility of this story has since been called into question though, but Rasputin remains an international man of mystery, with the Russian Museum of Erotica also claiming to be in possession of his severed 13-inch penis, although that claim too is disputed. 1927: Isadora Duncan, dancer, died of accidental strangulation and a broken neck when one of the long scarves she was famous for wearing caught on the wheel of a car in which she was a passenger. 1974: Christine Chubbuck, an American television news reporter, committed suicide during a live broadcast on 15 July. At 9.38am, 8 minutes into her talk show, on WXLT-TV in Sarasota, Florida, she drew out a revolver and shot herself in the head. 1979: Robert Williams, a worker at a Ford Motor Co. plant, was the first known man to be killed by a robot. 1981: Boris Sagal, a film director, died while shooting the TV miniseries World War III when he walked into the tail rotor blade of a helicopter and was decapitated. 1983: Richard Wertheim, a linesman at the boys’ singles finals in the US open, was struck by a ball hit by a young Stefan Edberg. He toppled backwards off his chair fracturing his skull as he hit the ground. 2001: Bernd-Jürgen Brandes from Germany was stabbed repeatedly and then partly eaten by Armin Meiwes. Brandes had answered an internet advertisement by Meiwes looking for someone for this purpose. Brandes explicitly stated in his will that he wished to be killed and eaten. 2002: Brittanie Cecil, an American 13-year-old hockey fan, died two days after being struck in the head by a hockey puck at a game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Calgary Flames at Nationwide Arena. 2008: Marciana Silva, 67, died after her dead husband’s coffin slammed into the back of her neck during a traffic accident en route to his funeral in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. 2005: South Korean Lee Seung Seop died after a 50 hour video game bender. Exhaustion, dehydration, and heart failure caused Lee to collapse, and he died shortly thereafter at age 28. 2007: Surinder Singh Bajwa, the Deputy Mayor of Delhi, India, died after falling from his building’s terrace while trying to fight off attacking Rhesus Macaque monkeys. 2009: Vladimir Likhonos, a Ukrainian student, died after accidentally dipping a piece of homemade chewing gum into explosives he was using on another project. He mistook the jar of explosive for citric acid, which was also on his desk. The gum exploded, blowing off his jaw and most of the lower part of his face. 2010: Mike Edwards, 62, a musician and a founding member of rock group Electric Light Orchestra, was killed when a 600 kg bale of hay rolled down a hill and landed on his passing van in Devon, England. 2010: Robert Boardman, 63, was gored to death by a mountain goat while he was eating lunch at Olympic National Park in the US state of Washington. 2011: John Van Hoy Jr, drowned when he was caught and held underwater by the suction nozzle of a Jacuzzi at the Bahamian resort where he was staying.
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Friday 10 June 2011, 01:16AM
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Friday 10 June 2011, 01:15AM
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Friday 3 June 2011, 05:39AM
  Surgical precision: In 1934, Colonel Robert Wilson, a respected British surgeon, said he noticed something moving in the waters of Lock Ness and took a picture of it. The resulting image showed the slender neck of a serpent rising out of the Loch. The photo came to be known simply as “The Surgeon’s photo”, and for decades it was considered to be the best evidence of the monster. It wasn’t until 1994, when Christian Spurling, before his death at the age of 90, confessed his involvement in a plot, which included Colonel Wilson and big game hunter “Duke” Wetherell, to create the famous photo. Apparently Wetherell’s motive was revenge. He had been humiliated years earlier when the supposed monster’s footprints he found turned out to be nothing but dried hippo footprints. It’s in the name: Idaho – it’s perhaps the only state to be named as the result of a hoax. When a name was being selected for new territory, eccentric lobbyist George M. Willing suggested “Idaho”, which he claimed was a Native American term meaning “gem of the mountains”. It was later revealed that Willing had made up the name himself, and the original Idaho territory was re-named Colorado because of it. Eventually the controversy was forgotten, and modern-day Idaho was given the made-up name when Idaho Territory was formally created in 1863. We are not alone: On May 5 1995, Ray Santilli, a London-based film producer, presented for the first time his alleged “alien autopsy” footage to media representatives and UFO researchers. The body, it was suggested, was that of an alien taken from the supposed Roswell UFO crash site in 1947. The debate on whether the autopsied body is a very realistic mannequin, a girl with a genetic disorder, or a real alien is still going on. Pathologists have also questioned the techniques used in the supposed autopsy. The best evidence against the film comes from one of the background details. On one wall of the autopsy room, there is a type of warning sign that was not produced until 1967, two decades after the supposed autopsy. The missing link: The so-called Piltdown Man was hypothesised from parts of a skull and jaw bone found in 1912 in a gravel pit at Piltdown in the English county of Sussex. Experts of the day claimed the fragments were the fossilised remains of a hitherto unknown form of early man, touted as an evolutionary missing link between ape and man. In 1953, 41 years later, the Piltdown Man was finally exposed as a composite forgery: it consisted of bits of a human skull of medieval age, the 500-year-old lower jaw of a Sarawak orangutan and fossilised chimpanzee teeth. The identity of the Piltdown forger remains unknown. A holy legend: Legend has it that John Anglicus, a ninth century Englishman, travelled to Rome, became a Cardinal, and when Pope Leo IV died in 853 AD, was unanimously elected pope. As Pope John VIII, he ruled for two years, until 855 AD. However, while riding one day from St Peter’s to the Lateran, he had to stop by the side of the road and, to the astonishment of everyone, gave birth to a child. It turned out that Pope John VIII was really a woman. In other words, Pope John was really Pope Joan. According to legend, upon discovering the Pope’s true gender, the people of Rome tied her feet together and dragged her behind a horse while stoning her, until she died. Another legend has it that she was sent to a faraway convent to repent her sins and that the child she bore grew up to become the Bishop of Ostia. It is still not known whether the story of Pope Joan is true. Checkmate: The “Turk” purported to be a chess-playing automaton constructed and unveiled in 1769 by Wolfgang von Kempelen. He first exhibited the “Turk” at the court of Austrian Empress Maria Theresa in 1770, and later took it on a tour of Europe for several years during the 1780s. The Turk defeated prominent world-figures, such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. The cabinet behind which the Turk “sat” had doors that opened to reveal internal clockwork mechanisms, and when activated the mechanism appeared to be able to play a strong game of chess against a human opponent. However, some 50 years later it was revealed that the cabinet was a cleverly constructed illusion that allowed a chess master to hide inside and operate the mannequin. Consequently, it won most games. The Turk was destroyed by fire in 1854. Righteous acquisition: In 1994 a press release began circulating around the Internet claiming that Microsoft had bought the Catholic Church. The release quoted Bill Gates saying that he considered religion to be a growth market and that, “The combined resources of Microsoft and the Catholic Church will allow us to make religion easier and more fun for a broader range of people.” Under the terms of the deal, Microsoft would acquire exclusive electronic rights to the Bible and would make the sacraments available online. Microsoft had to issue a formal denial of the release on December 16, 1994. This was the first hoax to reach a mass audience using the Internet. Its authors remain unknown. Alien invasion: The War of the Worlds, a radio adaptation by Orson Welles of HG Wells’ classic novel, was performed by Mercury Theatre on the Air as a Halloween special on October 30, 1938. The live broadcast was so realistic that it frightened many listeners into believing that an actual Martian invasion was in progress. It has been called the “single greatest media hoax of all time”, even though it was not intended to be one.
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Friday 3 June 2011, 05:38AM
  A life-size toy tiger caused chaos in Britain when panicked villagers called the cops after they spotted what they thought was a man-eating beast in a field. The alarm was first raised by a concerned member of the public who believed there was an escaped white tiger hiding in a field near Hedge End, Hampshire, southern England. Officers were sent to the scene along with a helicopter and thermal imaging cameras. When no body heat was detected police moved in and found a cuddly toy tiger. A police spokeswoman said officers had responded as if it was a real incident, even putting in place contingency plans to close a nearby motorway, which proved unnecessary. Police enlisted the help from animal experts at nearby Marwell Zoo, who offered advice and were prepared to send a team with tranquiliser darts to overcome the tiger. The Rose Bowl cricket ground said a game between South Wiltshire and Hampshire Academy was halted for about 20 minutes before they were given the all-clear to continue. Golfers at a nearby golf course were also told to go indoors. A police spokeswoman said: “After a brief stalk through the Hedge End savannah, the officer realised the tiger was not moving and the air support using their cameras realised there was a lack of heat source. “The tiger then rolled over in the down draft and it was at that point it became obvious it was a stuffed life-size toy. “This incident will definitely be the highlight of our day. The CCTV footage convinced us all we were dealing with a real tiger. “It’s not often an incident leaves our staff with a smile on their face and it just goes to show the diverse type of incident we are called to deal with.”
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The Phuket News
Saturday 28 May 2011, 01:26AM
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Saturday 28 May 2011, 01:25AM
Every year hundreds of eating competitions are held around the world. While some involve eating copious amounts of food, such as pies and hamburgers, others are a bit more obscure, like munching on creepy crawling insects or stinging nettles. The Phuket News looks at some of the more unusual ones. Insect Eating Competition in Vienna, Austria Live maggots, cockroaches, grasshoppers, scrapers and worms were on offer for competitors during an insect eating competition that took place in a shopping mall in Vienna. Mall owner Richard Lugner said he got the idea to hold a competition when he saw his former wife on a German television game show, where she was forced to eat live grasshoppers. The winner of the competition was a “Mister Gerhard” who said the insects were “tasteful delicacies”. “Only the shells of some little animals were annoying,” he said. Mr Gerhard won the competition after a woman vomited and was unable to finish eating the worms. World Stinging Nettle Eating Championships, Dorset, Britain. Competitors have one hour to eat as many stinging nettle plants as their stomach and mouth can handle. Each competitor is served two-foot-long stalks of nettles from which they must pluck and devour the leaves. The bare stalks are then measured and the winner, after an hour of combat, is the one with the greatest accumulated length. The event is limited to 65 competitors every year. “They taste totally foul, and everything comes out bright green for a few days afterwards,’’ shrugged Simon Slee, 48, the reigning world record holder with 76 feet. Jalapeno Eating Championship Challenge, Texas, USA. The annual jalapeno eating competition in Texas attracts hundreds of competitors each year. In 2008, Pat Bertoletti took out the title by consuming an astonishing 275 jalapenos. After the competition, contestants gulp down Pepto Bismol, an American liquid to relieve an upset stomach. World Catfish Eating Championship, Iowa, USA. American man Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti ate 3.4kg of fried catfish in 10 minutes during the annual world catfish eating competition in Iowa, setting himself his 31st world record this year. Last year, he also took out the title at the Rocky Mountain Oyster (deep fried bull testicles) Eating World Championship in Colorado. He ate 1.6kg of the delicacy. Sushi Eating Competition, Suzhou, China Every year contestants from all around Asia and the world travel to Suzhou, in the eastern province of Jiangsu. Competitors often eat well over 150 pieces of sushi in the competition.
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Friday 20 May 2011, 07:08AM
The Phuket News
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The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Friday 13 May 2011, 12:50AM
Okay, so not everyone is dumb enough to get picture evidence of their crime permanently inked on their skin, but there are plenty of would-be criminals out there who could have conquered the world were it not for one simple fact: they’re incredibly stupid. Here is just a handful. Playing dead: On 2008, a burglar broke into a funeral home in Burjassot, a small town just outside Valencia. When police arrived he tried to fool them by playing dead, but two things gave him away. First, he breathed. Second, he wore grungy clothes rather than the Sunday best of those settling in for eternal rest. Doing his homework: In 2008, police charged Daniel Glen, 40, with robbing a convenience store in Windsor, Ontario, after he called ahead to ask the clerk how much money was in the cash register before going to “collect” it. Glen was already a suspect in two similar incidents where the thief called ahead to make sure the clerk had the money bagged and ready for him. Signing the deed: Peter Addison made it easy for police to track him down – by scrawling his name on a wall at the crime scene. The 18-year old wrote “Peter Addison was here” with black marker pen as he and friends raided a campsite for underprivileged children and went on a drunken wrecking spree. And when police tracked him down he did them another favour, by wearing a T-shirt he had stolen from the site, proving they had the right man. Falling on his own sword: A man running from a western Michigan store with stolen hunting knives hidden in his pants tripped, fell and stabbed himself in the stomach. A real blinder: Germany’s dumbest criminal was jailed for four years after he attempted to rob a bank wearing a mask that he couldn’t see out of. He had to lift up his mask so he could demand money from the cashier, allowing cops to identify him from CCTV footage. Going in circles: An armed robber held up a petrol station in Vancouver and then returned to ask the cashier for directions. The 22-year-old man was chased by cops at 100mph after holding up staff at knife point, but got lost and so pulled into a petrol station for help, unaware it was the one he had just robbed. Say cheese! A man successfully broke into a bank after hours and stole the bank’s CCTV camera. While it was recording. Remotely. Drop everything and run! Two men tried to pull the front off a cash machine by running a chain from the machine to the bumper of their pickup truck. Instead of pulling the front panel off the machine, though, they pulled the bumper off their truck. Scared, they left the scene and drove home. With the chain still attached to the machine. With their bumper still attached to the chain. With their vehicle’s license plate still attached to the bumper. Let's do a little math: A man walked into a Circle-K (similar to a 7-11), put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and demanded all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled – leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer? Fifteen dollars. You mean me? A pair of Michigan robbers entered a record shop nervously waving revolvers. The first one shouted, “Nobody move!” When his partner moved, the startled first bandit shot him.
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Friday 13 May 2011, 12:47AM
Sweetbreads: Let’s start gently, shall we? If you’re a meat eater, generally you’ll eat the muscles and fat of the animal, or you might occasionally foray into the liver or kidneys. But let’s not be wasteful, eh? Glands are what you need. Thymus, parotid, sub-lingual glands or, best of all, the testicles of a bull or calf. These are also known as Rocky Mountain Oysters. Why? No idea. Fermented bean curd: Bean curd is okay, if rather bland. Fermented bean curd, on the other hand, is ferociously tasty. And when it’s fried up the aroma is enough to drive off the flies. At certain times of the year in southern China, it’s impossible to walk more than a few yards without walking into a wall of stench. But the Chinese love it. Beetles: There are many edible beetles, and Thais generally love ’em all. But the one that only the real hard cases chomp down with a beer is the meng choochee. To obtain, walk along a dirt road, lift up a pile of buffalo flop, and you’ll find holes beneath. Dig. When you’ve enough beetles, wok-fry them quickly with some salt. Otherwise known as dung beetles. And no, they don’t taste of dung. Greenland shark: The Chinese love their shark-fin soup but one suspects that even they might balk at hakari, an Icelandic specialty. Take one Greenland Shark, bury it for six months or so to ensure it’s good and rotten, then dig it up again and chow down. This is sensible because fresh Greenalnd shark is poisonous. Casu Marzu: Talking of rotten foods, the Sardinians take cheese to new heights (or depths, depending on your perception) by purposely taking perfectly good, if smelly, pecorino cheese and preparing it so that it will attract flies to lay eggs and produce maggots. For a while, after health-and-safety-conscious EU outlawed the cheese, it was available only on the black market. Now, happily the Sardinians ahave found a way round this. Enjoy. Surströmming: People from Isarn, Laos and Vietnam love their fermented fish. And so, too, do the Scandinavians. Surströmming is fermented Baltic herring. You can buy it in cans. The easiest way to find it is look for cans that are bulging from continuing fermentation. The Skandies tend to open the cans and eat the fish only in the open air. Wonder why? Lobster or crab butter: Take your lobster or crab, crack open its head and eat the slimy green stuff inside. Really good, we’re told. In the same class is the goo in the heads of prawns. None of this, by the way, will make you any more intelligent. Balut: We all know that eggs have protein in them. Balut, a delicacy in the Philippines, proves the point. Let your egg develop to the point where the fetus inside is half-grown. It takes a couple of weeks. Pop open the eg and crunch it down, feathers, beak, feet and all. There’s another version that’s buried for a few weeks first. Scrapple: Sometimes described as “all the remaining parts of a pig apart from the oink”, scrapple’s a part of any self-respecting Pennsylvania breakfast. Take all the bits no one else wants – snout, lips, various internal organs, boil it all down to a gelatinous mass then pour into a mould to set. Then slice it and fry it. Kopi Luwak: To finish off your meal, you’ll need a cup of kopi luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee. What makes this coffee really special is the natural process it goes through. The coffee cherries get eaten by the Asian Palm Civet. The beans come out the other end, after which they are collected, washed thoroughly, sun-dried and roasted. It sells for anything up to US$700 a pound (B46,000 a kilo). Another version, kopi muncak, passes through the innards of a barking deer. Sugar and cream with that?
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Friday 13 May 2011, 12:38AM
While William and Kate’s wedding might take the cake for grandiose decadence, it really still falls a little on the conservative side (unlike the wedding opposite). Here’s a taste of a few rather unusual traditions from around the world that probably won’t be making an appearance at the royal wedding (although we can always hope!). Korea: After the wedding ceremony, friends of the groom take off his socks, tie a rope around his ankles, and start beating the soles of his feet with dried yellow corvina, a kind of fish! It supposedly makes the groom stronger before the first wedding night. There is also a tradition where guests at the wedding throw various symbolic objects at the happy couple. These objects include chestnuts (symbolising respect) and jujubes (“daechu”) or dried red dates (symbolising diligence). Scotland: Family members kidnap the bride-to-be and then pour some rather smelly substances on her. Would you like the recipe? Mix eggs, different sauces, butter, cheese, noodles, fish, sausages and carrots. Extra ingredients can be added at your discretion. When she is “blackened”, she is guided through town for everyone to see her. Germany: In the north of Germany people have a “Kössenbitter”, usually one of bride's cousins. He wears a tuxedo and hat, and his duty is to deliver wedding invitations. Traditionally people give him two glasses of "schnapps" – one for the bride and one for the groom. He has several days to perform his duty, meaning his liver will cop quite a beating. After the wedding, some couples have to saw a log in half working together. This should show how they will solve problems which will appear in their life. China: The Tujia people, with a population of more than 8 million, live in central China. For them, crying is a regular part of weddings. A month before the big day, the bride cries for about an hour. Ten days later, she is joined by her mother. Ten days after that, her grandmothers, sisters and aunts join them too. China again: The Uygur people or Yellow Uygurs live in Sunan Uygur Autonomous County in G?nsù Province. During local weddings the groom shoots three arrows at the bride. Don’t worry, they don’t have arrowheads and nobody gets hurt. At the wedding ceremony the groom breaks the arrows and the bow. The act is symbolic, bringing eternal love and life together. Still in China: The Daur people of Chinese Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Heilongjiang Province settle the date of the wedding in a rather interesting, and pretty morbid, way. The young man and his bride hold a knife together to kill a young chick. Then they analyse its liver. If it is of suitable appearance the date of wedding is decided. If not the happy couple kills yet another chick. Okay Chinese weddings are just weird: The Gelao (Gelo) people live in the Guizhou Province located in the southwest of China. They call themselves Klau. For the Gelao girl it is not good to be a virgin. It is believed that the girl who gets married as virgin is a bad luck for the family and her future husband. That is why, to become less attractive to local guys, the girl who is still a virgin knocks out one or two of her teeth. Malaysia: The Tidong (Tedong) tribe lives in the Malaysian state of Sabah and in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province. Both are located in the north of Borneo. The newly-wed couple is not supposed to go to toilet for 72 hours. They spend the time in isolation closely watched by their families. They are given small amounts of food and water. No cheating is allowed. Releasing their bowels will bring them bad luck. Greece: It is a tradition to write names of all single women at the wedding party on the sole of the bride's shoe. Women whose names have been worn off the shoe by the end of the ceremony will be married soon. After the wedding, the bride throws a pomegranate at a door covered with honey. If fruit seeds stay stuck to the door the couple will have many children. The Marquesas Islands: This small nation consist of 14 island in French Polynesia. Local wedding ends in a rather interesting way. The bride's relatives lay face down forming a row in front of the bride and groom. The couple leaves the wedding reception walking over this "human carpet".
The Phuket News
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