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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.  


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