…and do it!
…and do it!
This story is from the very recent archives of St. Petersburg’s agency of Russian EMERCOM (the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense, Emergency Situations and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters), one of the Russian Federation’s emergency services.
The EMERCOM agents respond to the unusual complain from a citizen residing in the second floor apartment of an upscale St. Petersburg’s building.
The agents ring the doorbell. A man wearing an aluminum foil cap opens the door just a crack. When the agents announce themselves and enter the apartment, they can hardly contain their bewilderment. Every surface in the entire flat — walls, floors, ceiling and every piece of furniture — is covered with aluminum foil. The owner, still wearing the foil cap, explains the reason for his obsession with foil covering as an attempt to protect himself from the deadly radiation emanating from upstairs. “You see,” he laments, “My neighbor from the apartment directly above mine constantly, day and night, irradiates me. Do something. Help!”The agents gently reassure the “victim of irradiation” and, on his insistence, head upstairs to visit the villainous neighbor. They don’t mind, really. As a matter of protocol, they have to make sure that the paranoiac foil-capped man doesn’t bother the inhabitants of the upstairs apartment.
Another doorbell, and the neighbor — bespectacled, bearded, looking, incongruously, like a mad scientist from a bad movie — opens the door. EMERCOM agents walk in and… encounter yet another curious setup. The entire apartment is filled with… microwave ovens.
Dozens of them. All turned on and facing down. The “mad scientist” explains that this is how he fights against an alien living downstairs who wants to enslave the world!
Funny or not, this is a real and fairly recent story from Russia. I would’ve forgotten about it, if not for this article in Daily Mail: Billionaire Bigelow space mogul says he is ‘absolutely convinced’ there are aliens on Earth.
Robert Bigelow, aforementioned billionaire space mogul, runs Bigelow Aerospace, a private space technology company, often partnering with NASA.
Speaking in an interview with 60 minutes, asked if he believed in aliens, Mr Bigelow responded: ‘I’m absolutely convinced. That’s all there is to it.’
Mr Bigelow made a number of other statements about his belief in aliens among us:
‘There has been and is an existing presence, an ET presence [on Earth].
‘I spent millions and millions and millions – I probably spent more as an individual than anybody else in the United States has ever spent on this subject [aliens].’
Mr Bigelow did not specify exactly how much he has spent on this research, and declined to comment on any personal UFO encounters.
Correspondent Lara Logan, who was leading the interview, then asked Mr Bigelow whether he felt it was risky for him to say in public that he believes in aliens.
She asked him whether he worried that people might think he was ‘crazy’.
Mr Bigelow responded: ‘I don’t give a damn. I don’t care.’ (–Excerpt from the article.)
Must’ve been a tremendous effort to put together such an amazing clip…
Cockroaches, fortunately, are not an everyday occurrence in my life. However, if in the same day you come across not one but three stories related to cockroaches, perhaps, it’s worth mentioning.
The first story comes from China: One million cockroaches escape from Chinese farm.
At least one million cockroaches have reportedly escaped a farm in China where they were being bred for use in traditional medicine.
Unidentified wildlife enthusiast — cockroach sympathizer? — broke into the enclosed area where the insects were held and cracked the terrarium open. To this day, residents of a small town next to the farm remember the event and curse the guy back and forth: instead of running into the unknown wilderness, cockroaches smartly decided to resettle in the town’s warm and comfortable apartments.
Another one was reported in BBC News Magazine: How cockroaches could save lives.
“Cockroaches are often associated with dirty kitchens and grimy bathrooms — scuttling away as soon as you enter the room and turn on the light. But pest controllers aren’t the only people interested in them — these insects are inspiring research into antibiotics, robots and mechanical limbs,” writes Mary Colwell in the article.
And on a humorous note, from the Russian source, comes a newspaper article Fortune-telling using a cockroach.
This is an image of an article in an unidentified Russian newspaper, appearing, appropriately, in the section UNKNOWN or, rather, UNBEKNOWNST. Wanted to learn everything about yourself but didn’t know how? Read translation below (loose translation is mine with a few comments.) To glean the most benefit from it, you need to catch yourself a cockroach.
And now pay attention to the cockroach’s legs.
Run by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research, Ig Nobel is a jubilantly irreverent affair. It has become world famous for recognizing scientific achievements that “make people laugh, and then think”.
This year Ig turns 25. Since 1991, scientists have won for such various feats as levitating a live frog with magnets, teaching pigeons to discern between Monet and Picasso, studying the effect of country music on suicides and experimenting with Coca Cola as a spermicide.
This year’s Ig winners traveled from six continents to accept their trophies.
DIAGNOSTIC MEDICINE: Discovering that acute appendicitis can be identified by driving a patient over speed bumps.
The idea started as a running joke among surgeons, but Helen Ashdown decided to test it out while working as a junior doctor at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury. In a formal study of 101 patients, 33 of 34 people who were diagnosed with appendicitis reported pain travelling over speed bumps.
The copulative prowess of a 17th-century Moroccan emperor was the subject of a study by German and Austrian mathematicians who won a prize.
Intrigued by the story of Moulay Ismail, born in 1672 and dead at the age of 55, Elisabeth Oberzaucher and Karl Grammer sought to learn whether it would be physically possible for a man to sire between 600 and 888 sons as the fable alleges.
“It’s a lot of work it turns out,” Oberzucher said. “Moulay had to have had sex once or twice a day, which you might actually regard as a low number, but if you think this is every day, every single day for an entire life, this is quite a lot.”
Moulay Ismael, who was also apparently known as Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty, was Emperor of Morocco from 1672 to 1727, and is reputed to have fathered almost 900 children during his reign.
BIOLOGY: Noting that chickens walk like dinosaurs probably did, when you attach weighted sticks to their tails.
“We cannot test it in a real T. rex or any theropod dinosaurs – but we can in a chicken,” Dr Vasquez told the BBC. “[The gait] is a little bit crouching and the steps are a bit longer, because the centre of gravity of the animal is changed… and they have to counterbalance the weight of the tail by stretching their neck a little bit.”
MEDICINE: Hajime Kimata (Kimata Hajime Clinic, Japan) and Jaroslava Durdiaková (Comenius University, Slovakia) and her collagues awarded the prize for experiments to study the biomedical benefits or biomedical consequences of intense kissing (and other intimate, interpersonal activities).
Gennaro Bernile (Singapore Management University) and colleagues, discovered that many business leaders developed a fondness for risk-taking because they experienced natural disasters (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and wildfires) in their childhood, disasters that had no dire consequences for them.
ECONOMICS: Paying Bangkok Metropolitan Police officers bonuses if they refuse to take bribes.
PHYSIOLOGY AND ENTOMOLOGY: Awarded jointly to two individuals: Justin Schmidt (Southwest Biological Institute, US) for painstakingly creating the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, which rates the relative pain people feel when stung by various insects; and to Michael L. Smith (Cornell University, US), for carefully arranging for honey bees to sting him repeatedly on 25 different locations on his body, to learn which locations are the least painful (the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm). and which are the most painful (the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft).
Well, that’s a commendable dedication to science that should undoubtedly put Michael L. Smith into the ranks of scientists who risked their health and life in the name of science. An obscure Australian physician named Barry Marshall, for instance, drank bacteria-laden broth to discover the true cause of peptic (stomach) ulcers — a corkscrew-shaped bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori and point out the cure was a course of antibiotics. For his daring experiment he won a Nobel Prize in 2005.
LITERATURE: Mark Dingemanse of Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, The Netherlands and colleagues, for discovering that the word “huh?” (or its equivalent) seems to exist in every human language and for not being quite sure why.
Well, some years are better than others where wackiness and fun of Ig Nobel prize-winning submissions goes. I remember laughing much harder in prior years. Which makes me think… Ah, never mind. Might as well be that with the passage of years I’ve become a grumpier person. But then again, see for yourself and recall your favorite Ig Nobel winners: Celebrating 25 years of wacky Ig Nobel Prize brilliance.
Here is a collection of odd, strange, unusual and otherwise curious superstitions and prejudices from around the world for your Saturday amusement.
In Denmark, broken dishes often kept around until New Year’s Eve. The shards and pieces must be shared with family and friends. It is believed that the more pieces of broken porcelain has been collected, the more successful the coming year will be.
In Egypt, it is considered a very bad luck to open and close scissors without cutting the object, and far worse than that is to leave the scissors open. At the same time, the Egyptians believe that placing a pair of scissors under the pillow before going to sleep can fend off nightmares.
France: Stepping in dog excrement with one’s left foot is for good luck, with one’s right foot — for bad.
In Haiti, many superstitions surround mother’s figure in the life of a person. If you walk wearing one shoe, sweep the floor at night, crawl on your knees or eat watermelon tips, the premature death of your mother is your fault.
In India, a lot of odd superstitions have to do with grooming. For instance, nails are better not be cut at night, as well as on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Washing one’s hair on Thursday and Saturday brings bad luck because sweeping floors at night might lead to a number of small valuables being lost. Historically, Thursday is a day off for hairdressers and barbers, and Saturday is the day of Saturn (planet Shani) that ancient Hindus revered.
In Japan, every child knows that you have to hide your belly during a thunderstorm and, even more importantly, before bedtime. It is believed that if you’re not careful, then Raijin (god of thunder) might steal and eat your navel.
In South Korea, it is considered that the fan running in a closed room can kill you in your sleep. That is why many fans in South Korea are equipped with a timer to turn them off before they turn into killing machines.
Sitting on pillows brings extremely bad luck to Malaysians. It is thought to cause itching, blisters and other discomforts affecting their backsides. Perhaps, no Malaysian likes to sleep on a pillow someone was sat on, just like most of people?
Visiting Sweden, one might notice that sometimes people walking down the street change direction or scratch their backs repeatedly and seemingly for no reason at all. This is because of manholes. In Sweden manhole covers marked by the letters “K” or “A”. “K” indicates “fresh water” and, coincidentally, “love”, while “A” indicates “sewage” and “unrequited love”. It is believed whichever letter one encounters more, that’s the kind of love one is going to have. However, this “curse” can be removed by stroking one’s back three three times. Works 50% of the time.
In Zimbabwe, the life is largely ruled by black magic, thus every prejudice and superstition is deeply rooted in magic spells and curses. The groom, for instance, may impose a spell of infidelity on his bride. If she cheats on him with another man, the spell will inseparably twine illicit lovers together. This practice is believed to be a serious deterrent against infidelity.
Russians fend off evil eye using a variety of uncomplicated actions, such as biting one’s tongue, curling one’s finger into a fig (gesture of extreme contempt), spitting over one’s left shoulder three times, knocking on wood three times, wear underwear inside out, wash one’s face in water ‘puified’ by inserting a silver spoon. Works every time!
The following is an update to my Breaking News: Murder In A Wax Museum post of June 6, 2014.
PARIS, Oct 15 (Reuters) – A Ukranian activist belonging to topless feminist group Femen was convicted for exhibitionism by a Paris court on Wednesday for having attacked a statue of Russian President Vladimir Putin at a wax museum in the capital.
Iana Zhdanova, with “Kill Putin” written on her nude breasts, attacked the likeness of Putin at the Musee Grevin in the capital with a wooden stake in June.
The activist, who has lived in France for two years as a political refugee, laughed in court after the judge ordered her to pay fine of 1,500 euros ($1,897) for vandalism and a crime called “sexual exhibition” in French, as well as other damages payable to Musee Grevin.
“I’m laughing because it’s very strange,” said Zhdanova, 26, outside the courtroom. “I’m very surprised by this decision.”
Zhdanova’s lawyer, Marie Dose, said it was the first time a French court had sentenced a Femen member for sexual exhibition, calling it a precedent that would thwart the group’s ability to protest. Dose said she would appeal.
Buried on the military’s secret computer network is an unclassified document, obtained by Foreign Policy, called CONOP 8888, otherwise known as “Counter-Zombie Dominance”, and dated April 30, 2011.
It’s a military training plan, a how-to guide for military to identify, isolate and eliminate the threat to citizenry from all sorts of the undead — vegetarian zombies, “evil magic zombies,” chicken zombies (!), bio-engineered, alien and whatnot.
Yessss! Everything is there:
Very timely, too.
As it turns out, CONOP 8888, is no laughing matter, although it’s hard to take it as anything but. As clearly stated in the disclaimer section of the document, “this plan was not actually designed as a joke.”
“This plan fulfills fictional contingency planning guidance tasking for U.S. Strategic Command to develop a comprehensive [plan] to undertake military operations to preserve ‘non-zombie’ humans from the threats posed by a zombie horde.”
“Because zombies pose a threat to all non-zombie human life, [Strategic Command] will be prepared to preserve the sanctity of human life and conduct operations in support of any human population — including traditional adversaries.”
“Planners … realized that training examples for plans must accommodate the political fallout that occurs if the general public mistakenly believes that a fictional training scenario is actually a real plan,” the authors wrote, adding: “Rather than risk such an outcome by teaching our augmentees using the fictional ‘Tunisia’ or ‘Nigeria’ scenarios used at [Joint Combined Warfighting School], we elected to use a completely-impossible scenario that could never be mistaken for a real plan.”
The CONOP 8888 text uses verbiage that reads like the phases of a counterinsurgency campaign:”shape”, “deter”, “seize initiative”, “dominate”, “stabilize” and, after “prepare to redeploy the forces to attack surviving zombie holdouts” and “provide support to federal, state and tribal agencies’ efforts to restore basic services in zombie-related disaster areas,” there is an optimistic “restore civil authority.”
During 2009 and 2010 US military planners were looking for a creative way to devise a planning document to be enacted in the event of an attack of any kind. The task was assigned to the U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska. The zombie-movies-loving officers used zombies as their creative muse.
“The document is identified as a training tool used in an in-house training exercise where students learn about the basic concepts of military plans and order development through a fictional training scenario. […] This document is not a U.S. Strategic Command plan.” (Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze, a spokeswoman for Strategic Command.)
“I hope we’ve invested a similar level of intellectual rigor against dragon egg hatching contingencies,” one defense official quipped.
The way I see it, the military simply doesn’t give a damn about snatching bread and butter out of the mouths of the Comedy Central folks.
See the text of CONOP 8888
Plebs needed teeth cleaned. Plebs went to a dentist…
A funny thing can happen in the dental office while you are waiting, particularly if your smartphone looses its marbles. You settle down, pick up an old magazine from the rack and travel back in time.
You observe a visage of Kim Kardashian with Kanye West to the east of her, and baby North still inside her, to the south of her navel. And you marvel at life’s miracles.
Seriously, there is a lot of accidental knowledge that comes to us directly from the old magazines on the coffee tables in dental offices.
My latest find is an old issue of the TIME Magazine, dated Thursday, Aug. 08, 2013. The article was Hello, Sweet Prince. Hamlet is reborn as a Choose Your Own Adventure, by Lev Grossman.
Much scholarly commentary has been expended on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, maybe more than on any other play in the English language, but I don’t think it’s ever been said of Hamlet that it would make a good Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Nevertheless: that was the pitch that a 32-year-old Canadian writer named Ryan North made last November on Kickstarter. North figured it would take about $20,000 to produce To Be or Not to Be: That Is the Adventure. The Internet disagreed. It gave him $580,905.
Teeth cleaned to gleaming shine, I found out that the book, To Be or Not To Be by Ryan North is being published already, to great accolades from everywhere.
To Be or Not To Be is a choose-your-own-path version of Hamlet by New York Times best-selling author Ryan North. Play as Hamlet, Ophelia, or King Hamlet—if you want to die on the first page and play as a ghost. It’s pretty awesome! Readers can follow Yorick skull markers to stick closely to Shakespeare‘s plot, or go off-script and explore alternative possibilities filled with puzzles and humor. (-–Amazon)
I also checked the KICKSTARTER page, where Ryan North makes an excellent pitch of his book. The hyperlink To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure will take you there. Below and on the KICKSTARTER page, you can indulge in viewing a promotional video, starring the author.
And no, I don’t have a book yet. Am I planning to travel Shakespearean landscape, following Yorick skull markers? I donno... Should you do it ahead of me — lemmeno.
Well, it looks like my yesterday’s post didn’t sit well with some of my admirers. Perhaps, they don’t like cats. Or they don’t care about Russian Kitty Day. Or they feel that adorable/smart/sick/cross-eyed/limb-challenged/impossibly cute/talented felines overpopulate internet as is, and I should be the last person to infiltrate this domain.
With that, I retreat to a more familiar territory — Memento Mori, Ars Longa while Vita est incredibly brevis, new frontiers of populorum scientia et cetera.
All right then. No more meowing against the wind. I’ll just re-post my own blog entry from TFW. If you don’t need a lesson in creative writing, you might want to have an infusion of good humor entirely devoid of feline cuteness. After all, it’s Kurt Vonnegut giving a lesson…
Kurt Vonnegut. American writer celebrated for his books, his style, his humanity, his sense of irony.
Lapham’s Quarterly published excerpts from Vonnegut’s Here is a lesson in creative writing, a parody of literary seminar. It’s at once hilarious and highly educational. If you are a writer and haven’t read it, then you should. “Visual aid” graphics are provided by the writer himself.
“If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable.
Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
On September 13, 2005, Jon Stewart invited Kurt Vonnegut to The Daily Show. The interview is remarkable in many ways. For one thing, curiously, Kurt Vonnegut believes that the planet’s immune system is trying to get rid of humans, and, in Vonnegut’s opinion, it probably should. Watch the interview here.