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BIG LIST: A talented bunch
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.
BIG LIST: Way to go!
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.
BIG LIST: World's greatest hoaxes
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.
Cuddly tiger scares stuffing out of British police
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.”
BIG LIST: Hungry anyone?
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.
BIG LIST: Brazen and brainless
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.
BIG LIST: A little bite weird
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?
BIG LIST: Weird Weddings
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 scary predictions of Mr Moon
Wednesday 2 March 2011, 06:42AM
 While Canterbury residents deal with the physical and emotional aftermath of last week’s devastating earthquake, some are fearing the predictions of one man will again come true. Ken Ring – or the “Moon Man” as he is known – is gaining plenty of media attention worldwide regarding his latest earthquake prediction. A long range weather forecaster, Mr Ring posted a tweet on February 14 that said “Potential earthquake time for the planet between 15th-25th, especially 18th for Christchurch, plus or minus about three days.” Last week’s devastating 6.3 magnitude quake struck Christchurch on the 26th – just one day outside his prediction. In September last year, after Christchurch’s 7.1 magnitude quake, Mr Ring had said that another big one was on its way. “The Christchurch earthquake was predictable. And there’s another coming in six months.’’ In television and radio interviews he has said there will be yet another earthquake on March 20 along the Alpine fault-line in Marlborough and Canterbury. While many people believe Mr Ring’s predictions are plain delusional ramblings, his comments are certainly raising eyebrows. The attention he is gaining in the New Zealand media is causing a certain amount of panic, with some Christchurch residents planning to leave the city on or around March 20. A self-proclaimed earthquake predictor, Mr Ring has published a number of books and has his own website. He says his predictions are based upon his theory that the Earth’s weather is caused by the moon’s gravitational effect on the Earth’s atmosphere, and therefore our weather can be predicted by observing the position and movement of the moon. A GNS Science seismologist Lara Bland told a New Zealand newspaper Mr Ring’s prediction was “like a horoscope’’ and the risk of quakes along the Alpine Fault was well known. Ms Bland said Mr Ring was correct that there was a risk of an earthquake along the Alpine Fault in March – but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Moon. “From a science point of view, the whole of New Zealand is a large area at risk to earthquakes and the South Island has got a whole lot of it.’’ She said if any unusual quakes happened during this period, it was because of the continuing effects of the Canterbury quake. Scientists, geologists and meteorologists give no credence to Mr Ring’s claims and websites like Sillybeliefs.com say he is just “peddling nonsense”. But there is no denying his opinions are being followed closely by thousands of people. With March 20 just around the corner, no doubt many will be watching even more closely. Last week’s earthquake was the worst natural disaster in New Zealand’s history. With the death toll still rising as bodies are recovered, there surely can’t be a person alive who is hoping that Mr Ring is anything more than an eccentric with a rather crackpot theory. But... The following information was taken from Ken Ring’s website www.predictweather.co.nz We think this recent earthquake sequence has a timeline. It started last September and should finish after April. By June, the earthquake frequency in the region should be moving back to its normal non-threatening pattern. “Perigee” means moon closest to earth for the month. We have seen the September 4’s 7.1 event (new moon+second closest perigee) of 648 kilotons, followed by October 7 (new moon+perigee#6) which brought (8th) the next biggest event, two 4+ jolts around 6.30am totalling 96 metric tons. The following month, on November 4-6, new moon in perigee brought on 7th at just before 3am, the next biggest aftershock of 118 tonnes. The next month? Perigee was December 26-27, as perigeal new moon changed to perigeal full moon. On December 26 came the next biggest jolt since the last, a month ago; a 4.9mag king-hit of 346 tons. With January 20 ’s full moon+perigee, came the next biggest earthquake to hit Christchurch, a 5.1mag event. It has meant that since September, every perigee has brought successive earthquakes that were the biggest since the last biggest, starting with new moons and swapping to full moons. With 6 successive monthly biggest events, equally spaced at 4-week intervals, all coming right on kingtide times, all hitting the Christchurch region, the pattern is obvious. And the next is the March 20 closest-perigee for the year, + full moon. The next (and last) powerful perigeal full moon is April 18 .
The war files
Saturday 26 February 2011, 04:53AM
* The shortest war on record took place in 1896 when Zanzibar surrendered to Britain after 38 minutes.   * The longest was the so-called 100-years war between Britain and France. It actually lasted 116 years, ending in 1453.   * It was during the 100-years war that direct taxation on income was introduced, a British invention designed to finance the war with France.   * Since 1495, no 25-year period has been without war.   * Since 1815 there has been 210 interstate wars.   * During the Battle of Waterloo, Lord Uxbridge had his horse shot from under him 9 times.   * Chevy Chase was a battle that took place on the English-Scottish border in 1388.   * The doors that cover US nuclear silos weigh 748 tons and open in 19 seconds.   * The first recorded revolution took place at around 2800 BC when people from the Sumerian city of Lagash overthrew bureaucrats who were lining their own pockets but kept raising taxes.   * The NATO attack on Serbia in 1999 during the Kosovo war killed more animals than people.   * The very first bomb that the Allies dropped on Berlin in World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.   * There are 92 known cases of nuclear bombs lost at sea.   * When killed in battle, Japanese officers were promoted to the next highest rank.   * During the 1991 Gulf War, the Allies dropped more than 17,000 smart bombs and 210,000 dumb (unguided) bombs on Iraqi troops.   * About 50% of arms exports go to non-democratic regimes.   * Annual global spending on military is $1.3 trillion (45% by USA).   * Iceland has no military and no military expenditure.   * Chemical and biological warfare have been used long before World War 1. During the Peloponnesian War in the 5th century BC, Spartans used sulfur and pitch to overcome the enemy.   * One out of every two casualties of war is a civilian caught in the crossfire.